Monday, October 31, 2011

What's going on...

After reading the post title were you suddenly humming that Marvin Gaye song?

My youngest boy made 3 CDs for me last Sunday: Dr. Dog, Wolf People, and Citizen Cope. I know! Strange names, huh? Turns out I really, really like Citizen Cope. My boy knows me well. Very bluesy, soulful, and relaxing. Just what I needed. Michael is so very thoughtful and I love his sweet spirit.

It's been almost 3 weeks since boy-wonder took off for California. The frequency of phone calls, texts, and emails have increased exponentially, with the communication being mostly positive; however, he does have a cold. Despite his illness and no place to really call home he sounds happier than ever.

Last Thursday Double D and I celebrated 21 years of marriage. It was nice to receive texts and emails from most of our kids as well as my daughter's two friends. I can honestly say I love Double D more than ever and I'm so glad that God put us together.

My daughter texted this photo of severed fingers that she baked for a Halloween party on Saturday. My girl is so talented with such a fun spirit! Her visit in December can't get here fast enough. I will not even think about how fleeting those 3 days will be...

Yesterday Jay, texted me these photos. I had been begging the kids to go to the Japanese Gardens in Portland to get me a photo of this Japanese Maple ever since I saw a photo of it on 500px. My mouth dropped open in amazement. It takes my breath away. Don't you agree?

Although I can't compete with Jay's photos, here are the pics I took on Saturday. The rose garden was beckoning me again. It's so relaxing out there with the delicate scent of roses wafting over me and birds happily chirping. It's my non-medicated approach to dealing with stress. I highly recommend communing with nature on some level.

I am leaving for Baton Rouge tomorrow morning. My mother wants us to have quality "girl time" together, getting our nails done and shopping. No doctor visits or unpleasant appointments. Yay! Oh, and my parents--who have had a frosty relationship since their divorce over 40 years ago--are now on friendly terms. It's a long story, but suffice it to say that although my worlds collided a la George Costanza, it also has its advantages. One of them will be eating lunch together on Thursday like a real family. And BOTH of my parents are looking forward to it. I'm standing in the middle of it all going, "What the heck just happened?!"  LOL  I'm joking. But it is a little weird. Good-weird, I guess. :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fair Time!

All week long we looked forward to the State Fair of Texas. As we boarded the train I was all set to read the new book I had downloaded on my Kindle when hubby uncharacteristically morphed into Chatty Charles. Not wanting to ruin the happy mood, I politely responded to the first 12 interruptions. After that I became engrossed in the book so he pulled out his iPhone and began obsessively checking the score of the LSU/Tennessee game. Technology to the rescue!

1986 was the last time I went to the fair, and now I remember why. Crowded places leave me feeling claustrophobic and nervous. And grumpy. Every single time I stood in line to eat some god-awful fried thing, someone got right in front of me as if I was invisible. Hubby encouraged me to be bold and stand my ground. He wanted me to muscle my way in. I angrily complained that I was taught to stand in line and wait my turn - all said loud enough for the offender to hear, I hoped. I'm a rule-follower, what can I say? 

In retrospect, maybe God was telling me to stay away from the food. Everything was fried--even the drinks! I kid you not. There was a fried frozen margarita! What the what? Not my beloved margarita! We're a pretty conventional couple so we stuck with the tried and true: corny dogs, frito pie, funnel cake, praline fried sweet potato poppers, and corn on the cob. 

Burp! Oh, excuse me, I think my tummy is still rebelling. 

Double D drooling over the Camaro. He was wearing his LSU tee shirt and Texas Ranger ball cap. During the parade a clown pointed out that he was mismatched, laughing at him. A clown with abnormally large feet, a flower protruding from his cap, and a red bulb nose thought Double D looked funny. Ha!
Somehow, horrible food and rides like this seem like risky business.
Am I the only one who worries about being vomited on at the fair?
My neuroses know no bounds.
The line was unbelievably long for the ferris wheel.
I was too tired and grumpy to wait.
Pumpkin art by Farmer Mike Valladao - also known as the
The Picasso of Pumpkin Carvers

Birds of the World Exhibit
Hyacinth Macaw

Does anyone know what kind of owl this is? 
Trainer: Did you fart?
Owl: Yes. I'm sorry. I guess I shouldn't have had the fried birdseed.
Golden Eagle

Small Postman
Owl Butterfly 
Look at all the people! I think their main objective was to aggravate me.
Iconic Big Tex

Overall it was a fun experience despite some of the annoyances. However, if the length of time between visits remains consistent, I will be 75 years old by the time I'm ready to go back. I can't even imagine myself at that age.

Do you enjoy going to the State Fair? I'm very curious to know what you all think about it.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

All Aglow

The weather has been absolutely glorious lately! There were some days--as recently as last month--when I didn't think I'd survive the heat. The equation breaks down like this: intense temperatures + lack of rain = pretty miserable summer. Yep, this one hit the record books. But it's all over and we lived to tell about it. I've almost forgiven Texas for what it put us through this year. Almost...

On Oct. 1 I visited the rose garden at Gussie Field Watterworth Park with a friend for photography. Upon entering the garden we were quite disappointed to find row upon row of scorched blooms. But it was understandable considering our drought situation. So I made the best of the afternoon by focusing on the assortment of butterflies and other winged creatures.

Last week we received a little rain. I really didn't think that much of it, knowing how low we are for the year. I figured we were so far behind that the couple days of rain wouldn't make a difference. Well, it's actually quite miraculous what happens to a parched rose garden when even just a little water falls from the heavens, caressing the plants, and soaking into the ground. Imagine my surprise last Sunday when I decided to pay the same rose garden another visit.

Won't you come into the garden? I would like my roses to see you. ~Richard Brinsley Sheridan

This lantana reminded me of Rocky fist-pumping, "Yeah! Take THAT you brutal summer heat! You didn't kill us! You only made us stronger!"
I only wish the "fist pumps" were in focus. You see it, don't you?
A zinnia with pink freckles. :) 
The scent was intoxicating. 
A Northern Mockingbird surveying his kingdom. He was quite vocal. I like to think that he was expressing how happy he is with the revival of the garden.

I caught the sun just as it was setting. I love the light at this time of day. 

This is pretty much straight out of camera except for a little sharpening in PS. 
I've always liked stripes. Such personality. And that orange glow? It's a street sign way off in the distance. Weird, huh?

The sun is giving off the last of its glow for the day.

Wishing everyone a beautiful weekend! We are going to the State Fair of Texas on Saturday, and on Sunday I hope to see my youngest son; the only one of my three children still living nearby. Hope everyone has a good one!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Farewell, Fearless One!

In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.

On Oct 11, 2011, 6:00 AM, I bade my eldest child farewell as I dropped him off at the Southwest Airlines terminal. He was armed with a one-way ticket to Los Angeles that he had purchased only one week prior.

My fearless boy-man. Who always will be, now and forever.

In his fast way of talking he spilled out how he felt God calling him to start a new life in California. Instantly, my heart became gripped with fear. Although I have known for some time that his greatest desire has been to move to Cali, I couldn't help feeling...helpless, for the ticket was purchased and his mind was made up.

As the words rolled off his tongue, hovered in the air, then settled onto me like a cold, soggy blanket, haunting passages from The Grapes of Wrath came to mind. Words that Pa Joad might have uttered about making a fortune...endless opportunity...fresh fruit...fresh air.

Gonna get me a whole big bunch of grapes off a bush, or whatever, an' I'm gonna squash 'em on my face an' let 'em run offen my chin.

Leaving most of his possessions behind, my boy has plans to take California by storm, to make a fortune in a fragile real estate market...all on a shoestring budget. I worry that he will end up like the Joads, living in a tent, or worse.

To California or any place—every one a drum major leading a parade of hurts, marching with our bitterness. And some day—the armies of bitterness will all be going the same way. And they'll all walk together, and there'll be a dead terror from it.

JB, as he likes to be called now, has been a challenge from the moment he was conceived. Three months of morning sickness alone nearly did me in. Despite all we've been through with him, I love him with all my heart. He exasperates me to no end, but I see the potential in him; the sharp intellect, the relentless drive that sometimes causes him to make poor, impulsive decisions. Times too numerous to count I have stayed silent when I wanted to shout STOP THE MADNESS. Sharing this life with JB (at times) feels like a nightmarish roller coaster ride that has left the rails and is now careening wildly through the galaxies.

They knew that a man so hurt and so perplexed may turn in anger, even on the people he loves. They left the men alone to figure and to wonder in the dust.

I want off the ride sometimes. I want to say how foolish he is being. But I do not want to constantly be the wet blanket, the party of No, a Negative Nellie.

Helplessly, I stand by and watch as he free falls. Which he actually did 11 years ago from a 6-story parking garage. And if the parking garage had not been located just outside the county hospital's doors, we would have lost him forever on 4/11/00.

Maybe we can start again, in the new rich land—in California, where the fruit grows. We'll start over. 

Today he deals with the pain of being put back together like Humpty Dumpty, with screws and nuts and bolts in just about every part of his body. Arthritis has set in. It threatens to crush his spirit. But somehow he manages to put on his big boy boots and keep going.

Honestly, I don't know how he functions at all. I would have given up long ago. I am astonished at his determination, his tenacity to keep going. These traits cry out to be admired. So I do.

And here we are.

More than once this year I asked God to take me from this earth if that would settle him down and straighten out his life. And I meant it. The price would have been well worth it. Crawling to God on my hands and knees is a frequent exercise these days. Some days I beg for an ounce of peace; most days it's for protection for my son. Occasionally, I am granted some tender mercies for which I am thankful.

This is the photo that comes up on my phone whenever he calls. I wish I could freeze him at this age. So full of life and innocence, blue eyes shining, such a silly boy, always trying to make us laugh. If I had that power, I think I might just use it. And who could blame me?

I like to think how nice it's gonna be, maybe, in California. Never cold. An' fruit ever'place, an' people just bein' in the nicest places, little white houses in among the orange trees.

(bolded, italicized words are passages from The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Memory Lane

When Steve Jobs passed away last week I began thinking about my introduction to computers Way Back When. My first office job was in 1979 working for a small, family-owned plastics plant. My aunt worked in the Accounts Payable department and recommended me for a data entry position. 

The behemoth below is similar to what I entered data into. Back in those days computers had to be housed in a cold room; so cold that I needed a sweater in the middle of summer. I loved that! And instead of an ENTER key there was an OCK key. To this very day whenever I press ENTER on a keyboard, I oftentimes think OCK instead.
If I ever develop Alzheimer's and ask where the OCK key is, you'll know why.

I was fresh out of high school and still very immature. Several times my aunt was forced to leave her work space to come lecture me on office etiquette and using a quiet "office" voice. In those days I was a free spirit with my whole life ahead of me and not a care in the world. My objectives back then were having a good time and resist conforming to "the establishment". In my defense, this inappropriate eye chart which hung on the main wall of my department doesn't exactly scream puritan values. Actually, it encouraged a pro-sexual harassment environment which is a big no-no today.
I can't believe I was able to find the same exact chart on Google images!
So dedicated was I to this job, that I worked a few hours the day I got married.Not really. My boss offered to take photos of me in my wedding dress (actually my aunt's dress) for the local paper one Saturday afternoon. Afterwards, we decided to take some photos of me "working". He wanted to trick everyone into thinking that he was such a slave-driver that I was forced to work on my wedding day. No one, except a couple of clueless souls, believed him. Two years later he was fired. His replacement kept me late one evening, and as he helped me into my car, bent down to kiss me through the driver's window. Terrified, I fled as fast as I could in my pea green Pinto. Soon thereafter, he was fired for something else, and I was relieved.

My next job was working for a credit card processing firm. In 1987 I was promoted to Purchasing Clerk. My job was to come up with the artwork that banks embossed on their credit cards. It was mostly straight line type, but sometimes a logo was involved. For this I used a Macintosh like this one:

In 1988 I went to work for a promotional products company and I am still here. My boss sat me in front of this Radio Shack contraption where I tallied up Texas Sales Tax totals each month. All other paperwork was typed in triplicate form. Mistakes were corrected with colored white-out that matched the form color. Most times I was too impatient for the white-out to dry properly so I'd end up with gooey typewriter keys. For this reason and for my perfectionist tendencies, I tried my best to minimize mistakes.  

These 7-1/2" floppy disks only had 256kb of memory.
Disk 1 had Texas cities A-G; disk 2 had cities H-M; disk 3 had cities N-Z.
Well, that's a brief history of how my love of technology began. The only thing I miss are the frigid rooms. Currently, my eye is on the Kindle Fire, but my logical side knows it would be best to wait for the 2nd generation. Oh, it's so exciting to think of all the cool gadgets down the pike that have yet to be born! Riding the technology train is thrilling, isn't it? So much for my anti-establishment views, huh? Ha!

(images from Wikipedia or Google Images)