Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Lent and Things

I gave up the sauce again for Lent this year. Hands down winner among the things I could stand to do without. Last year I tried to give up TV (and junk food?) along with the nightly wine. Bad decision. I can do without TV but not during March Madness. I made it most of the way through Lent before I gave in to watching my Tarheels play hoops. I think God understands. There's only so much Woody Durham, the radio "Voice of the Tarheels", a girl can endure in a six week period.

Patch, the adolescent Basset Hound, a.k.a. Houdini for his late breaking ability to jump his fence and case the neighborhood, had the runs yesterday and today. It was like having a baby in the house. Three times I washed his kennel bedding, twice I cleaned the poo out of his kennel, once bathed his nasty coat - in our bathtub, which required of course more cleaning. Makes me grateful that my two human children are old enough to have the good sense to make it to the toilet and wipe their own bums.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Back Home

I spent the weekend with my man in not-so-sunny St Petersburg FL, but no worries, as we were alone and my boys were having a blast with my parents in Fayetteville; a girl couldn't ask for much more. Since I had to run my boys the 4&1/2 hours to "the ville", I flew out of their tiny airport to Atlanta and then on to Tampa. Fayetteville being a military town, my flight to Atlanta was full of fresh face military youngsters, some donning fatigues, on their way to family and friends. From talking to my aisle mate, I gathered that most were on a short leave before they return to the battle grounds in Iraq.

My aisle mate was on his way to see his "wifey", in KC. I wanted so much to engage this articulate young man in a conversation regarding this absurd war but skirted it, not wanting him to feel uncomfortable - or was it me who didn't want to feel that? We did have a superficial conversation and I wished him well as he hoofed it off the plane in futile hopes of catching his connecting flight. I thought about him a lot over the weekend. I thought i should have done something, said something to show my appreciation for what i presume to be dedication and loyalty to his job, although, in truth, i don't know that. Didn't matter. I still should have said something. My insecurity paralyzed me.

On both of my return flights, as well as in the Atlanta terminal, the Delta folks recognized the military personnel, announcing their presence and thanking them for their commitment to our country. It always ended in a resounding applause from the rest of us. Certainly, it was a nice sentiment but it rang hollow. I wonder if it did to any of them. Surely at least one of them wanted us to get off our collective bums and do more than politely applause them for risking their effing lives for this ridiculous war, contact our representatives to let them know, ENOUGH already. Not one more death. Bring our boys, girls, men, and women home.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

20 Years

He showed up at my third floor Avery dorm room (UNC-CH) dressed in a coat and tie. It was Valentine's Day, 1987. I immediately thought, I'm under dressed, no doubt, in stirrup leggings and an over sized sweater. I need to change, I said. No you don't, he said, you're dressed fine. We had only be dating 4 months so I had believed him when he told me he was taking me to a restaurant where he knew the owner, the kind of tale I would learn to suspect as time wore on.

After he pulled my roommate aside to let her in on the "secret", they convinced me that I didn't need to change. Holding hands, we were down one flight of stairs when he abruptly stopped and said, I forgot my wallet, and headed towards his suite to retrieve it, me in tow. The door opened and I was greeted by a dank candlelit room, aromatic with Chinese take-out (or was it the funk of of he and his two roommates?). He had his parent's china, borrowed from his last trip home, laid out over a cloth covered trunk. We ate and then slow danced to tunes played on his cassette player, taped from the radio earlier in the week. His roommates were sweet to accommodate him. Of course, they were boys with raging hormones, so I'm sure they were expecting reciprocation when they were in the same position.

I don't have any vivid recollection of any Valentine's Day after the first, apart from the one where he showed an hour late, his just-bought greeting card in hand, and found his carefully planned dinner(and me)cold. But this is our 20th together, something to celebrate. We have never felt the need to submit to the commercialism of the Day but have always done some little thing. We have said that we will save the celebration for this weekend, when we will be somewhere sunny and warm, without our boys. Perhaps, though, I'll find some way to mark our 20th VD together. I'll have to think on it, but if all else fails, I'll take a shower and we'll have sex on a school night - that's outside the norm. Sad but true.

My Job

Someone sent this to me today...

Mother, Mom, Mama, Mommy, Momma, Ma

Long term, team players needed, for challenging permanent work in an, often chaotic environment. Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills and be willing to work variable hours, which will include evenings and weekends and frequent 24 hour shifts on call. Some overnight travel required, including trips to primitive camping sites on rainy weekends and endless sports tournaments in far away cities. Travel expenses not reimbursed. Extensive courier duties also required.

The rest of your life. Must be willing to be hated, at least temporarily, until someone needs $5. Must be willing to bite tongue repeatedly. Also, must possess the physical stamina of a pack mule and be able to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds flat in case, this time, the screams from the backyard are not someone just crying wolf. Must be willing to face stimulating technical challenges, such as small gadget repair, mysteriously sluggish toilets and stuck zippers. Must screen phone calls, maintain calendars and coordinate production of multiple homework projects. Must have ability to plan and organize social gatherings for clients of all ages and mental outlooks. Must be willing to be indispensable one minute, an embarrassment the next. Must handle assembly and product safety testing of a half million cheap, plastic toys, and battery operated devices. Must always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst. Must assume final, complete accountability for the quality of the end product. Responsibilities also include floor maintenance and janitorial work throughout the facility.

Virtually none. Your job is to remain in the same position for years, without complaining, constantly retraining and updating your skills, so that those in your charge can ultimately surpass you

None required unfortunately. On-the-job training offered on a continually exhausting basis.

Get this! You pay them! Offering frequent raises and bonuses. A balloon payment is due when they turn 18 because of the assumption that college will help them become financially independent. When you die, you give them whatever is left. The oddest thing about this reverse-salary scheme is that you actually enjoy it and wish you could only do more.

While no health or dental insurance, no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid holidays and no stock options are offered; this job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth and free hugs for life if you play your cards right.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Things I Learned Today

1. A Yoga mat can be washed in the washing machine with vinegar. You should throw in some towels with it.
2. A female Cardinal builds a nest, while the male gets food for her. (Sounds like humans).
3. Cardinals don't migrate south in the winter.
4. Cardinals are omnivores but they are partial to sunflower seeds and will seek them out of bird seed.
5. How to make Navratan Korma. Pretty good but not spicy enough for me.
5.5 Tomato Puree has onion, celery and bell peppers in it.
6. My youngest brother and his wife, who are in Guatemala, are one step closer to bringing their daughter home. Hopefully it will be within a week.
7. Patch's birthday is tomorrow- oops I thought it was the 15th. My youngest wants to know if we can invite two of his dog friends over, since it is his second birthday. Uh, no, because he's a dog.
8. It is $50-60 cab fare from the Tampa airport to our hotel in St Petersburg. YIKES!
9. The shuttle costs $22.
10. The folks at At Play With Sparky are nice but the dude who showed me around referred to dog owners as "parents". Uh, hello, these are dogs.
11. Dogs who board at Sparky's can play with other dogs for 12 hours.
11. Patch liked Sparky's and he will be staying there while we are away. He will be one worn out puppy when we return.

Friday, February 09, 2007


Last year, my Dad asked me to play in a "Father Son" Golf Tournament with him. For thirty plus years he has been participating in these with my brothers, and more recently with my husband, but I have never played with him, never been asked to play with him until now. I suck at golf, therefore I'm not very fond of criss crossing the golf course for five hours in the blazing humidity of an August day, chasing a minuscule ball with a tiny metal rod. There many more desirable things that I could do with my precious leisure time; a couple of tennis matches or five yoga classes or plucking my mustache.

Take a close look at most golf professionals, they are not the picture of health, sans Tiger Woods. Most have protruding guts and some even have man boobs. Golf doesn't lend itself to being a healthy workout, even if you walk.

The expense of the game is a whole other ball of wax. Clubs, shoes, balls, greens fees, more balls(because since I suck, I lose many) food/drinks and (if you are a 'real' golfer) cash for betting.

So last year, I begged off of the tournament, buying some time to practice some for this year's event.

And things change in a year's time.

Wednesday I trekked down and back to Fayetteville for a memorial service. Although it was a long day for me, it wasn't near as long as it was for my childhood friend, whose Dad just unexpectedly died. There were a fair amount of folks there my age, most who had already lost one or both parents. Most likely, that's what brought them there - they know how it feels to lose a parent and what it means to have your friends show their support.

I can't empathize; both my parents are living. But my Dad had a mini stroke last summer, making us all mindful that he won't be here forever.

Time to dust off my clubs and buy some balls. This year I'm looking forward to spending the time on the links with my Dad. It's the time that matters. Time others don't have.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Superbowl Halftime with Prince

Watching Prince perform the halftime gig at the Susperbowl was nastolgic. Luckily for me, since my 9 year old was watching, he didnt't do anything erotic with the end of his guitar as he was famous for in his 80's concerts. I never saw him in concert but some of his songs are etched in my memory. Little Red Corvette, reminds me of my Junior Prom. And the whole Purple Rain soundtrack reminds me of my freshman year in college. As DH and I were trying to impress upon oldest boy how talented Price is, we googled songs written by Prince and came up with this list.

The legendary Prince has been known for several of his talents: funk-guitar playing, soulful falsetto singing, and micro-detailed song production. One talent that where he is often underrated and seldom-mentioned is his ability to write and produce songs for other artists. Prince has collaborated with a wide variety of yesterday and today’s artists to include Mavis Staples, No Doubt, Chuck D. of Public Enemy, Ani Di Franco, Kate Bush and Sheryl Crow. This top 10 list will reflect some of his more chart successful songs that he wrote, produced, or was heavily sampled upon.

10-Jungle Love- The Time /#20 Hot US 100. Drawing from the successful movie Purple Rain, This hit from longtime Prince associates The Time became a staple party song in the mid-80s. The time featured the self-obsessed Morris Day singing the lead while Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who went on to become mega producers throughout the next two decades, laid down a solid foundation of new-wave party funk instrumentals.

09-I Feel For You- Chaka Khan /#14 US Charts. This was originally a Prince-performed song off of the 1979 self-titled album. He allowed Chaka Kahn to remake it in 1984, a remake featuring legendary rapper Melle Mel and super legendary musician Stevie Wonder on harmonica.

08-Love…Thy Will Be Done- Martika /#10 US Charts. Martika was an early-90’s pop chanteuse who originally had a hit with “Toy Soldiers” from her first album. On her second, Martika’s Kitchen, “Love” became a hit as well in the UK, reaching #9 on the British pop charts. Martika was one of the first pop stars to come out of the Disney show Kids, Inc.

07-Sugar Walls- Sheena Easton/ #9 US Charts. Prince wrote this song under the pseudonym Alexander Nevermind for this single on Sheena’s album “A Private Heaven”. Sheena Easton was also featured in the hit duet “U Got the Look” from Prince’s most critically-acclaimed work, Sign O’ The Times.

06-Yo Mister- Patti Labelle/ #6 on US RnB Charts. Patti Labelle had been a big fan of Prince for many years before he finally produced and wrote songs for her. This track, released in 1989, was featured on her Be Yourself album. That album reached the top-100 charts of that same year.

05-Stand Back- Stevie Nicks /#5 US Charts. Stevie Nicks often retells the story of listening to Little Red Corvette and calling up Prince to see if he could lend a hand in this song. Supposedly, Prince came into the studio, layed down tracks on the synthesizer for 20 minutes, and left without talking to Stevie Nicks ever again. Whatever he did to the song apparently worked!

04-A Love Bizarre- Sheila E. /#3 US Charts. Another hit song of the Romance 1600 album, it also features Prince singing background! He also co-wrote "Glamorous Life" on the album, another track that made the top 10 in the US. Sheila, daughter of famed percussionist Pete Escovedo, went on to do more solo albums and several future collaborations with Prince.

03-Pray- MC Hammer/#2 US Charts. This song was one of the few that featured a Prince song being majorly sampled. The “When Doves Cry” background featured heavily in MC Hammer’s hit about needing faith to survive in the world. He also sampled Prince’s “Soft and Wet” on another track of the wildly successful album Please Hammer Don’t Hurt Him.

02- Manic Monday- The Bangles- / #2 US Charts. The rumor is that while Prince was trying to court lead-singer Susanna Hoffs, he offered the The Bangles this song for their 1986 album Different Light. It was originally intended to be a duet sang with Apollonia of Apollonia 6, but the track never made it to her album.

01-Nothing Compares 2 U- Sinead O’ Connor /#1 US Charts. Probably one of the most successful songs written by Prince (to include ones he performed on himself!), this track became a huge career boost for the often-controversial Sinead. It reached-and stayed- #1 on the US, British, and Australian pop singles charts in 1990.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Joy and Sorrow

My childhood friend's father died today. He'd been sick for a month, but none of us ever expected him to die. He's batttled various health issues for almost 30 years and always came out on top but not this time. When I spoke with my friend this afternoon, she said it was hard on her kids, their 'Popsie' gone. He lived in the same town with them and showered them with love and attention, making his passing even more significant and painful. I was reminded of this passage from The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran.

Then a woman said, Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow
And he answered:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was often times filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?
And is not the lute that soothes you spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous,
look deep into your heart and you shall find
it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful
look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth,
you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, "Joy is greater than sorrow," and others say, "Nay sorrow is the greater."
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at you board, remember that the other is asleep upon you bed.
Verily you are suspended like scales between you sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weight his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Tennis Saves Me

Just out of college I took up the game of tennis and have been playing it for close to twenty years. I began playing in the United States Tennis Association leagues about 12 years ago. I am a middle of the road player, with a 3.5 rating, who enjoys the competition, exercise as well as the social aspect of the game.

Tennis is responsible for many of my friendships, especially here in Asheville. The game brings together people from different walks of life who I otherwise would have never met. Granted, you do have to have a little dough to afford the game, but compared to other sports it can be a fairly inexpensive sport if you chose to use public courts.

My tennis buddies aren't in the same station in life as me, and I really dig that. Some have children who are in college, some have grandchildren and some have no children. Some are single, some are widowed, some are retired. They all have rich stories, experiences and perspectives I genuinely enjoy hearing over a pitcher of beer at Jack of the Wood's - after a couple hours on the Aston Park courts. Even though I cherish friendships I have with parents who have kids the same age as mine, this is different. Our friendships aren't about our kids - although the conversation sometimes goes there. But in my tennis world, I'm not defined by my offspring. I'm me first, not someone's mom. There is something intensely satisfying about that I just can't put into words. We have rich conversations about books, politics (we are mostly on the same page here so we can 'go there'), social issues (one of my buds is a sociology professor), relationships and of course, tennis.

Our gatherings are NEVER without unabashed laughter. We gathered last weekend at my house to bid farewell to one of our home girls, who is moving to NH to be closer to her grandchildren while they are still young enough to dig her. We had a crowd for a while, but as the night wore on,, we dwindled to the usual suspects. My friend Kelly, pulled up, Dick In a Box on YouTube, a SNL video spoof on Justin Timberlake. We died laughing, but what was even more hilarious was that Kelly had apparently watched it enough to sing along with it.

My tennis game is nothing to write home about. I'm far from the best on my team, but I do make my presence known on the court, mostly by singing at the end of the point that I just blew. Something I say to myself to remind me of what I should have done differently like, "Get down", continues with "on it" and I'm singing "Get down on it. You got a feel it. Get dow ow on it".

My home girls just laugh and move along. My friend, Susan, keeps hoping that Gladys Knight, part time resident and tennis player in Asheville, will show up across the court from me and we can have a singing duel. Hmm, wonder who would win that battle - grammy winner with amazing voice or part time tennis player and wannabe Jennifer Nettles (Sugarland)? I don't think I'd win the face off in that category with Ms. Knight, but I'd be willing to give it a try.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Asheville Freecycle

I can't believe the crap I have gotten rid of through OMG, when I was trying to move close to two years ago, I posted all kinds of stuff and got rid of it ALL! I didn't throw any of it away. I got rid of:

REALLY ugly couch with ripped cushions
REALLY dirty overstuffed chair and ottoman
broken VCR
OLD stair master
bunch o old tennis balls
open box of pre-finished wood flooring
Box o crap - half used bottles of perfume, candles, cologne
oak TV cabinet that had seen better days
OLD Mac computer

Then after i moved it got rid off.

Cheap metal blinds
chunks of concrete exhumed from my yard
old metal porch railing exhumed from my yard
Old single pane windows removed for more efficient ones.
empty shoe boxes
old magazines

If ABCCM or Habitat Home Store won't take it, I post it to freecycle and someone will save it from the landfill. Total win-win.

Now you do have to deal with the occasional no-show but usually there is someone waiting in line behind them. Only once have I been unable to unload something.


Virtual March On Washington

I wish I had made the the trip to DC last weekend to march for Peace but I'm lame. I am, however, participating in a much easier avenue to voice my opinion about escalating this ridiculously tragic war. I called my senators today to let them know how I feel. The curt folks on the other end didn't give me the impression they were taking notes. They are not instilling confidence that my voice was heard. But i did it.

You can participate also. (Sorry but i am also lame at making this links look nice like all my other blogging buddies. Damn it, i need a tutor.)

Here We Snow Again?

School was called for snow today or for what might be snow. At 6:30 this morning the ground was perfectly clear, the skies yielding not a drop of precipitation. Hmmm, maybe they (who are they, anyway?) just know that we will be hammered in a couple of hours. It's 9:15 and still nothing. My boys are content, each playing independently, so how can I complain? I can't really. I'm not missing anything important.