Monday, November 03, 2014

THE CATS WHO LOVED ME

From early childhood to present day I've always been a cat lover.  And over the course of my life, I’ve owned a variety of breeds. Since 1994 Himalayans have most graciously allowed me the privilege of living in the house with them and feeding them. I often told people they ate better than I did because the cat food they consumed is Science Diet @ more than $30 per bag. If you aren't familiar with the breed, Himalayans have Siamese markings called “points” and like Siamese cats, they're highly intelligent, have a melodious voice and beautiful blue eyes, but they unlike a Siamese cat their bodies and fur were of a Persian cat.  A few characteristic I've always found to be fascinating with this breed is their love to pose and their need to act regal in all situations.   

This breed is not overly active, but they do like to play and be involved in whatever activity I'm doing. For example during my computer time, I always had company nestled around me in various spots. Draped on the tower when I owned a desktop computer, positioned on the stool next to my desk, strategically positioned on top of the printer and on the back of the sofa positioned behind where I sat, they all found a spot to best “help” me type.  Not only did they assist me at the computer, but they scrutinized all my activities and followed me from room to room. I had about a two minute window of time to return if I left before they'd seek me out where ever I was. If I went to the bathroom, they'd have to “bond” with me while I was in there. It was senseless for me to attempt having any privacy because they'd thump and cry at the door until I let them in. My bathroom time usually consists of grooming, petting and sweet talking them.  Too much togetherness just wasn't a concept any of them seemed to grasp. 

I first got involved with this breed in a breeder capacity. When my breeding days were over, I kept the mother and father along with two males from two different litters about a year apart from each other. My clan consisted of Dixie, a small tortie-point female, Beavis, a very large blue-point male and their two sons, Chewy, a large seal point male and Whitey (Dwight Cat), a beautiful flame point male who was a stereotypical "blonde" in every sense of the word.

Dixie was the resident schizophrenic who developed a strong dislike for her two sons who loved to aggravate her. When her space was invaded she lunged at the violator. The older she got the wider her personal space got.  It was comical to watch the males walk way out around her to avoid getting snapped at and/or bitten. Her "husband", Beavis was the only one she tolerated and allowed near her and although she appears to have a dislike for all other cats, she was always very affectionate towards humans and loved to talk to everyone and tell them about the horrible males she had to live with.  That sounds like a typical female to me! 

Beavis was a gentle giant with the softest little voice I’ve ever heard, yet his purr sounded like a loud motor boat. Beavis didn't need to be petted to purr. Sometimes merely looking at him or talking to him would trigger it. One of the funniest things Beavis would do is growl like a dog when someone would knock on the door or ring the doorbell.  He was definitely the Alpha male and at the very top of the pecking order in all feline matters.  He had a very gentle, loving demeanor, but about once a month he kicked ass to make sure everyone knew who was the boss!  What usually started out as him giving them a bath turned into a kitty wrestling match.  As soon as they'd tap out and show submission all would go back to normal until next time.  It was hilarious to watch 3 large tom cats give each other baths and no matter how old they got, Whitey remained the baby of the family and was treated as such by his entire family...humans included. 

Chewy (named after Chewbacca from Star Wars) reminded me of an Ewok not a Wookie when he was a kitten.  It didn't take him long to train me to his liking and he deemed himself “my cat”.  That position was his until the day he died from cancer.  He knew exactly how to get his point across and as long as I complied everything was all sunshine and rainbows. His loud voice freakishly resembled Chewbacca's voice. He did tricks like a dog and “flopped” on command.  Flopping consisted of falling over and landing with his head on my foot. The maneuver took skill and grace and was funny to watch.  Chewy never learned to purr until he was around 7 and when he finally did learn it was in an erratic, unnatural pattern.   It was something he never got the hang of doing, but that was okay because he after all was Chewy.

Whitey was the baby of the family and the cat Chewy picked out to keep. When Whitey was just a small kitten Chewy kept separating him from the other kittens as the time grew near to sell them.  He tended to Whitey like a mother cat would and never stopped mothering him even when he became an adult cat. Instead of selling Whitey, I kept him because that's what Chewy wanted and Chewy always got everything he wanted.  Whitey was very vocal from an early age and has a wide range of cries and noises he made. His most memorable sound sounded like he was saying “momma”.  This was cute except at 2 am when he got on a rant and would tear through the house running upstairs and downstairs crying for “momma”. Whitey also loved to be “spanked” and talked while he received a spanking.  His favorite "spank me, baby" tool was the back scratcher I keep on my desk.  I would gently spank him and he would tell me all about it with such fervor.

Last night, Whitey passed away at the age of 18.  His mother, father and brother who had died several years ago had been cremated and their ashes had been stored in my closet until they were all buried together early this morning.  Yes, I'm sad, but feel blessed because they filled my life with such love and joy for so many years.  They are and always shall be the cats who loved me. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

IS IGNORANCE REALLY BLISS?

I was just thinking about how quickly so many people seem to jump on the paranoia bandwagon when it comes to things like the threat of a possible Ebola outbreak in the United States or the dreaded, yet over-hyped Avian influenza (bird flu) from a few years ago. They'll run out and buy hand sanitizer and face masks, yet when the AIDS epidemic hit about 30 years ago it was and still is in many cases next to impossible to get people to practice safe sex. Wear a condom? I don't think so!

So what is it about sex that seems to make a person's judgment fly out the window? Does playing Russian Roulette heighten the sexual experience? Do people's keen sense of denial keep them from believing that something like AIDS happens to other people and not to them? I guess it's the same thing with someone who smokes and then is actually surprised when they're diagnosed with lung cancer or people who eat nothing but junk food and sit on their butts and then wonder why they've developed Type II diabetes or heart disease. So what does it take to make people actually connect the dots and realize that health warnings whatever they are pertain to everyone and not just an unlucky few? Is ignorance really bliss or is ignorance a silent ninja assassin?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A RESILIENT HEART

I'm sure a therapist would have a ball analyzing my poetry.  Some say the eyes are the mirrors to a person's soul, but since you can't see my eyes, I offer up my written words as testament to who I am and what I have lurking in the darkest recesses of my being.  I seem to always be very closely connected to what the heart feels and how truly resilient it is.  A person's healing capacity always amazes me...especially my own.

This week's Words for Wednesday again brought me mental images of love and struggle, but also of somehow being a better more open person because of that pain and struggle.  The words this week in which I wove a poem were: 

Utopian
plagiarism
necktie
automatic
spinster
devout

OR

navigation
tribulation
propagation
explanation
sensation
adulation


A Resilient Heart
 


She had many days of Utopian love
Where her heart’s plagiarism was written proudly
With many empty, unanswered "I love you’s"
A stabbing sensation to be broadcasted loudly.


Love at first sight was the automatic explanation
For adulation on love’s battle field so gory
She was a decorated warrior, a lonely spinster
Upon whose chest she wore tribulation with such glory.

Although navigation along the sensual garden path
Without propagation she was barren and deemed quite empty
But rich without love’s flowery neckties and glittery things
This devout spinster’s heart was resilient, pure and free.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

THE UNSHUTTABLE PIE HOLE

I took my mother to see Gone Girl yesterday. The movie definitely had a different twist to it and Ben Affleck is easy on the eyes so it was enjoyable/entertaining on a several levels.  But what I admire most about Mr. Affleck isn't the ease at which he does with any onscreen nudity or his obvious eye candy appearance, it was that he wouldn't/couldn't be filmed wearing a NY Yankees baseball cap (some things just aren't done under any circumstances especially if you're a Boston Red Sox fan).  I also admire his extensive political knowledge and wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't throw his hat into the political arena someday.  Let's face it, stranger things have happened. 

While my mother and I were at the theatre for our girls' afternoon out, we encountered what probably is a quite common problem for people attending any movie regardless of the time of day. Let me ask everyone a rhetorical question...why do people to go to the movies only to sit there and talk all the way through the movie? Furthermore, if you are going to talk all the way through the movie, why not sit up back in an almost empty theatre so you won't bother those people sitting close by with your constant talking?  Perhaps that makes too much sense for someone who obviously has a problem with playing well with others and coloring within the lines!

We had a couple behind us that drove us crazy because they wouldn't stop talking. I shushed them a few times to no avail. I guess I've gotten soft in my old age, but since you never know when you're pushing anyone too far and you can't second guess anyone's reaction to confrontation, I probably should have gone out and gotten the manager to do my bidding for me, but honestly, I didn't want to miss any of the movie. 

I really think along with the before movie announcement to turn off your cell phone, it should include an announcement about keeping your pie hole shut throughout the movie.  I know, I really need to stop being so idealistic, but hoping and dreaming seems to be part of my basic genetic make up. My idea probably wouldn't be much help because some people are just plain rude and think rules, laws and common courtesies apply to everyone else and not to them.  So where are the Duck Tape Police (DTP) when you really need them and what would Emily Post do in this situation?  Does the Emily Post Movie Etiqutte Manual have a section covering the unshuttable pie holes of the world?  If not, Ms. Post, it's time to update your material.

Friday, October 17, 2014

THE CIRCLE OF LOVE


I've been "away" for awhile and it feels like I really have come home in more ways than one. Jumping back into Words For Wednesday, the words for this week are:

insubordination


inducted
despair
plethora
museum
retribution

0r the phrase, 

coldly clinical...cunningly calculating

In lieu of my recent family drama, I felt it was appropriate to use the words to express the emotions and  journey my heart has travelled recently. 

 
 
















Was it just life’s insubordination
A lack of emotional coordination
An imbalanced heart
Caused by an unbalanced start
Love can be so tilted and twisted
We’re inducted then resisted
A plethora of our heart’s delights
At times range from despair and fright
Walls are built and become a museum
A place to observe, but never just be them
Our heart begs to think, but don’t feel
Because nothing is real
Nothing is real
Nothing is real
And then retribution
Our brain’s contribution
For love gone bad
When we’re sadly mad or madly sad
Whichever we are
Our heart’s gone too far
When that line is crossed
And our feeling are tossed
To the wind
To the wind
To the wind
Then we reset and begin
Again and
Again and
Again.
Endlessly we love
Infinitely above
My heart has endured
And my pain has been cured
Again and
Again and
Again.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME

I don't really know where to start this post.  My thoughts are pretty jumbled right now.  I think it's a combination of not feeling well and being emotionally drained, so please bear with me while I stumble through writing about my latest ordeal which of course involves some rather drama-filled family issues, but aren't all family issues drama-filled? It seems to be the nature of the beast!

About 8 years ago my mother had some sort of break with reality.  It was as if aliens had swooped down and abducted the woman I had always known to be my mother and replaced her with a body double void of a mind.  She was merely an empty pod for the better part of several years.  Naturally, the specialist she had been sent to see quickly diagnosed her with Alzheimer’s and put her on meds to stabilize her condition and to slow down what he claimed would be a steady downward spiral.  I never agreed with that diagnosis for many reasons and eventually I weaned her off the meds she had been prescribed for it.  Several years later the same doctor admitted that he had been wrong and was amazed by her "recovery".  With a lot of hard work and persistence I pulled my mother back from wherever abyss she had fallen into during her breakdown. I have to admit there were times I thought I was ready for a rubber room, but I hung in there and did what I thought was right regardless of what the doctors told me.  Today, I'm glad to say my mother is thriving at the young age of 86.  The moral to this part of my story is that sometimes you have to follow what your heart and instincts say and cast aside what science and logic dictates.

I try very hard to be a good daughter.  Yes, I fall short of perfection on many levels, but there's one thing I can say with absolute certainty...my heart is always in the right place.  Because we have friends and family who live in Maine, I try to take my mother there each year so she can spend time with them.  As a person ages it becomes more important to be with all the people they love and for that reason I try to be accommodating to my mother's needs.  This year our finances didn't allow for our annual trek "home".  I felt bad about it, but if you don't have the money, you don't have the money!  It's as simple as that!

In July while visiting my Aunt Nancy she asked me why my mother and I weren't going to Maine this year.  After explaining to her why I felt we couldn't afford the trip this year, she made an incredibly generous offer by insisting that the three of us make the trip to Maine together and she'd pay all the expenses.  Because I knew how important it is to my mother to go to Maine, I agreed to let my aunt do this for us.  My aunt is like a second mother to me and after her husband died over 6 years ago, I stepped in and started doing things for her that her daughter and only living child was either unable or unwilling to do.  As a result of our increased contact we formed a very close, loving bond and she became even dearer to me than she already was.  She recently made the decision to move to Florida so she'd be closer to family so she wouldn't have to be alone any longer.  Her decision to move was something my entire family and I was looking forward to and it was a decision she knew would make it easier for all concerned when her health problems started to worsen and she'd need help.  Because I love her dearly, I was willing to be that go-to person for her.

Let me now fast forward to our vacation from HELL! The first of two indications that the month we were supposed to spend in Maine would be anything, but paradise was upon arrival I got sick and had to eventually seek medical attention because my own efforts to nurse myself back to health didn't result in me getting better...in fact, I got worse much worse.  And the second key indicator of what would lie ahead was when my aunt informed me that my mother and I would have to start paying our own way the first day after we arrived in Maine.  Yes, you read that last line correctly!  Paying our own way is rather difficult to do when we have very limited resources and was the reason why I had decided against a Maine trip this year.  Paying our own way wasn't what she had initially discussed when she insisted that the three of us take this trip together nor was it ever mentioned until we reached our destination.  She had offered to pay for everything and it was only because of her generous offer that we had agreed to make the trip to Maine.  After being completely blind-sided I took what little cash I had and bought groceries so we could eat while we were there.  I never expected nor wanted to eat out every night so cooking our meals and dining in was no big deal to my mother and I because it's what we do every day anyway.  My aunt on the other hand likes dining out and although she did eat the meals I prepared, she turned her nose up at the thought of having to eat leftovers and wanted me to cook a different meal each night.  Because I was sick the thought of leftovers appealed to me because I simply was worn out and didn't feel like cooking every night.  Obviously, she didn’t realize how sick I had gotten or else she just didn’t care. 

What became glaringly apparent quickly was that my aunt is an extremely difficult person to please at times and she expects everything to be her way right down to what's watched on television and how loud the volume is.  Nothing at all seemed to please her and she had no problem with hatefully telling us that she was not satisfied with anything about the trip and wished she hadn't come. Her obvious unhappiness about the trip made both my mother and I feel bad for agreeing to let her do this for us and we didn't know what to do to help remedy the situation and felt like we were treading on thin ice all the time especially at times when she either wouldn’t speak to us or when she did speak, she’d snap at us harshly.

Our first night in Maine my aunt had a major meltdown (crying, yelling, cussing, etc.) and I expected her to ask to be taken to an airport the next day so she could fly home, but the next morning she perked up and surprised me by continuing on with our journey. Each time she expressed negative feelings it was as if all the things that troubled her from years past had just happened 5 minutes ago. As one day slipped into the next, negative feelings seemed to be all she had and the dark cloud hanging over her seemed to darken even more.  Each time we listened to her tales of woe from her troubled childhood, I reminded her that I too had grown up in the same environment so I understood how she felt.  I encouraged her to let go of those feelings she had been harboring so she could be at peace.  And each time she raved about what a miserable marriage she had for 50 years, she never once felt any relief that she now was free of that misery.  It was as if her husband, my uncle was just in the other room and not dead for over 6 years.  It was like he still had a strong grip on every aspect of her life.  Each time she ranted I told her we'd support any decision she made and that we only wanted her to be happy. Ultimately, she needed to do whatever she thought was the right thing for her.  I guess the right thing for her was to spread as much misery as she possibly could and use my mother and I as a whipping board for all the things that had been troubling her.

All the while as we visited with people we had wanted to see while we were in Maine, she refused to allow us to include her in any of our plans.  Once when we had close family friends come to where we were staying, she went to her room and refused to come out briefly just to say hello and meet the people.  Her actions caused an awkward situation for my mother and me because we were continually put in the position of having to explain why she didn't want to meet and spend time with anyone.  Although she adamantly told me that "those people weren't her relatives and she didn't know them", at least half of them were relatives...she just obviously didn't feel the need to get to know them.  She also didn't see why I had to explain anything to anyone regarding her or her actions.  When I asked her to imagine the roles being reversed, she wasn’t able to see that if my mother and I had done the same thing while visiting her at her house, she'd be embarrassed and probably angry at our actions. 


As the days slipped away I felt as if my aunt viewed my mother and I as being bought and paid for thus we were supposed to keep our mouths shut and take whatever she dished out.  I guess she decided dowsing herself in Opium perfume even after being asked nicely to spray it sparingly because it has such an overpowering scent was a good way to make us suffer.  Try riding in a car or sitting in a room with someone who has bathed in a strong perfume and see how long it is before you feel like you need to vomit. Try having a relaxing vacation with someone who feels the need to clean obsessively or who needs the washing machine and dryer going from morning until evening.  Another punishment for us was when she constantly poured chemicals like straight bleach down the drains in the kitchen and bathroom. The caustic fumes just about ran us outside and she continued to do that even after I explained how a septic system works and how it needs bacteria in order to work properly.  No matter what was said about anything, she seemed to have no regard for my mother and me and was always right about everything all the time whereas most people automatically know strong perfume or bleach fumes in small confining spaces and people don't mix well and that when travelling in groups “compromise” and “flexibility” is the key factors in having a good trip.  For some reason she honestly seemed hell-bent on making our time in Maine as miserable as she possibly could on every level possible and her actions had me utterly bewildered.

At first by her actions had me confused and that confusion quickly developed into disappointment and hurt.  My hurt and disappointment only developed into anger at the very end after she apparently felt no need to cut me any slack because I was sick.  All the while she refused to do anything with us; she continually talked about her other two nieces, Debbie and Peggy, my cousins and constantly critiqued my brothers as being assholes for not spending any quality time with their mother or helping me with her care.  She ranted and raved and called them everything but human, yet when she talked to my cousins on the phone honey would drip from her mouth as she told them she loved them and invited them to come see her.  Instead of telling them how she really felt she opted to go the route of being two-faced and then take her anger and resentment of them out on my mother and I.  The first week we were there my cousins didn't call her and I thought I was going to go crazy from listening to her constantly bitch about them.  I finally went to see Debbie and asked her to please call our aunt because she was sitting there feeling as if no one cared about her and quite frankly she was making us miserable because of it.  My cousin promised to call and for a moment I thought all had been righted in the universe and the planets were back in alignment when Debbie called my aunt and they made lunch plans. She actually smiled and I saw a glimmer of sunshine amongst all her darkness and gloom. 

But then something happened...all hell broke loose and it was a like a boomerang gone wild.  It came swinging back with a vengeance to blindside me with what came next.   She felt that my cousins should come visit her and not the other way around even though Peggy has lung cancer and I'm sure she isn't up to making house calls and lengthy visits.  All I listened to constantly was how neither Debbie nor Peggy ever comes to see her and how they never call her and that the phone and road runs both ways.  She carried on about how none of them even expressed their condolences when her husband died and why should she care anything about them.  Listening to her talk about them got me thinking and reality finally smacked me in the face.  Not once in the last 6 years in all the times I've ran back in forth between Florida and North Carolina to check on her, to visit her and to spend time with her so she wouldn't be so lonely and so she'd know she had people who love and care about her has she ever made a trip to see me in Florida.  The road runs both ways, does it?  It looks to me like the road only runs the way she wants it to run!  As for the telephone working both ways, she rarely called me even though I called her at  least 2 or 3 times a week unless one of my many health problems was acting up and then I'd suffer in silence because it's difficult putting on a happy face when you don't feel good.  I guess the road and phone doesn't run two ways after all and it’s taken me a long time to realize that.  I also have rethought my feelings about how inattentive, selfish, self-absorbed and unfeeling her daughter has been in her life.  It really makes me wonder if all the harsh, hateful things my aunt has said about her daughter, Sharon is really accurate.  It makes me wonder where the truth really lies, but that's something I'll probably never know.  After the meltdown about my cousins she sat in her room for the next 2 days with the door closed and she refused to speak to my mother or me.  After two days of sulking, I guess she got tired of being confined and then the sun seemed to miraculously come out once again and she brightened her disposition once again.  That miracle came as a result of her calling the airline and finding out how expensive it would be for her to fly home.  At that point she expected my mother and I to change gears along with her and go do what she wanted to do like look at fall foliage, visit lighthouses and basically do anything that didn't involve our relatives or friends.  By then my mother and I had already decided that we wanted to go home.  We both had enough abuse and figured there was no salvaging this vacation. 
Most people can expect to be reprimanded for being rude, but what do you do when just the opposite happens? Okay, I never claimed to be perfect and my manners probably could use some polishing, but I have to admit I was utterly astonished for being harshly reprimanded for saying "thank-you" to my aunt at appropriate times when most people would say thank you. She declared “thank you” as a forbidden response to use ever again to her and made us feel awful for being polite.  All I know is that I'm just not cut out to be anyone's whipping board especially when I'm sick.  I know I should have just left it alone when she kept at me.  I shouldn’t have let being sick weaken my resolve. I know I was rude and disrespectful by finally blowing up and telling her "I AM DONE!" I was wrong to tell her that she ruined our vacation and it was unnecessary to tell her that she's a miserable bitch who isn't satisfied with anything.  I can admit when I'm wrong when I am wrong, but I feel justified in standing up for my mother and me after being subjected to two weeks of non-stop agony.  Maybe I could have approached it in a better way and saved the relationship, but I honestly felt at that point my aunt no longer cared about me.

I believe my aunt owes my mother and me a HUGE apology, but I can safely say that apology isn't something we'll ever get and that's okay.  I know how stubborn my aunt is and I truly am okay with how things ended.  I gave it my all, but my all wasn't good enough for her.  I can accept that.  Just like I can accept that in the long run it's entirely her loss and not ours.  Sometimes you have to cut your losses and walk away from people you love because they’re toxic and will do nothing, but bring you misery. Sure, it hurts, but time will heal the wound.  Unfortunately, she decided against taking a plane home and we had a very unpleasant road trip back to North Carolina to drop her off.  As I drove away from her house headed towards Florida it felt like the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders and it didn't matter that I still had 500 more miles to drive until I was home again and in my own bed so I could be sick in peace. 
 

 

Monday, August 18, 2014

THE ONLINE STALKER - STORY #2

The first story I sent him to read got the following response:

YOU WIN!!!!!


My story (stories) aren't nearly as interesting as that one.  It seems physical descriptions don't mean much online. I was on the computer working one night and got an IM. Well, being the nice person I think I am, I responded.  She told me she read my ad and saw me on line and wanted to talk. My thought was "how did she know I was online?" We chatted for a couple of hours. Needless to say I didn't finish what I was doing, but we seem to hit it off real well.

She even sent me a picture. Well, it wasn't a real clear picture and she was in a chair.  I could see a pretty smile and she looked nice. For weeks we chatted online. She even found my phone number and called (several times). After about 2 months of chatting I mentioned I was going to be at FloraBama for the Mullet toss. I told her I was there with one of my buddies from Montgomery and where we were staying. I didn't think anything about it. 

Well, my buddy and I had been at FloraBama most of the day. Needless to say we were pretty tore up. We went back to the room about midnight. At about 1 a.m. the phone rang. My buddy answered it and it was the front desk telling him someone was there to see me and wanted to talk to me. I had no clue who it was, but had no desire to talk to anyone, so I told him to find out who it was. It was her and her friend. I told my buddy to tell them I was drunk and passed out. They wanted to go out. No way I was going, so Jim said he would. He's a real trooper. 

They came up to the room to get him. It was dark and I was pretending to be asleep. My God, when she walked in she could have blocked the sun. I'm a kinda big guy, 6'3" 220#'s and I think she weighted more than me. I still pretended to be asleep and they left to go out. About 5 a.m. they stumbled back in the room. I still acted like I was passed out (wish I was). Well she proceeds to take her clothes off and climb in to bed. I didn't move. I'm not sure I even breathed. I didn't want a muscle to move. All I could feel was this big body next to me in bed.

Usually I am very friendly and a real morning person. I got up at 6:00 and couldn't think of enough excuses to get out of there. My buddy was thinking this was the funniest thing he had ever seen. He knows what type women I like and she wasn't one of them. But he kept dragging and it took forever to leave. I apologized for being "hungover" and left at about 7:30 cussing my friend as he laughed his head off. 

Well, she continued to call and email me wanting to see me again. I finally learned how to screen people. She would go to AOL profiles and see I was on line and IM me. It was like being stalked online. It has been several weeks since I last chatted with her, but she still IM's me and I ignore it. I hate doing that, but you gotta do what you gotta do. I assure you, I had NO broken heart. I was just glad I didn't get any broken bones.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

WHEN MR. PERFECT ISN'T MR. RIGHT - STORY #1

Back when online dating first became the newest craze for gluttons for punishment and eternal optimists, about every 6 months or so I'd put an ad on one of the many dating sites that promised to help a person meet their soul mate.  I used to call it "trolling" because I felt like I was dragging my line slowly through the water waiting to see what bites. Over a period of time I tried all the better known, reputable dating sites, if there really are any and probably a few of the sleazy sites as well. Each time I posted an ad what ensued was like repeatedly banging my head against a brick wall and you know what they say the definition of insanity is...doing the same thing over and over again and each time expecting a different result. Each time I posted an ad I always promised myself I'd never do it again. Ha! Isn't that what a drunk says after tying on a good one and having the hangover from Hell? Okay, so I'm insane, a psycho, a lunatic and mix that with having a very hard head what you get is an expansive list of online dating experiences.   In the process of my online search for Mr. Right many times I felt it was the technological equivalent of Looking For Mr. Goodbar. 

The next five blog posts are stories shared between a man and I as we lamented over how our respective searches never came close to getting a decent hit and if we got on base, it was only as a result of being thrown some horrible pitches or some cosmic fluke.  We chatted with each other laughing out loud on many occasions and we formed a strange bond through the stories we exchanged via email.  We never met each other...I think we wanted to keep each in a perpetual state of perfection by never meeting.  The 1st story I shared with my mystery man wasn't about someone who had responded to one of my ads, but was a man I had contacted as a result of his online ad. 
 
Internet Story #1

Actually, I responded to this gentlemen’s ad online. The words he had written tugged at my heart and I felt almost duty bound to respond. After e-mailing and talking on the phone for several weeks, one Saturday evening about 6:30 p.m. he called me and asked me out to dinner. I explained I had been cleaning house all day, hadn’t even had a shower yet and was worn out. He said it didn’t matter and to just throw a pair of jeans on and we’d have casual dinner. Although it was on the spur of the moment, I love spontaneity, so I accepted with the stipulation he had to give me at least an hour to get ready. His drive to pick me up would be at least that long, so he said that wouldn’t be a problem.

As he drove, he called me on his cell phone a few times with the last time being about 10 minutes from my house. We talked until he arrived at my place. During this last conversation he told me he was allergic to strawberries and had inadvertently consumed some in a drink the day before and had broken out in a rash. This was not a problem and I asked him out of concern about the allergy and how he treated the rash. He also, at this point mentioned that his office staff referred to him as looking like a retired football player. That certainly wasn’t a problem. That just meant he was a rugged man. Well, let me tell you that when he got out of his car I almost fell over. If it had been daylight, he would have blocked out the sun!

When Jimmy Johnson was the coach for the Dallas Cowboys, he had a thing for BIG men on his offensive line.....somewhere in the neighborhood of 350lbs each. This guy made them look tiny!!!!! Okay, I’m not into looks and knew I could handle sitting through dinner with this man so his size was unimportant, but when we went inside the restaurant and I saw his allergic reaction, I lost my appetite. I’m no doctor, but whatever was all over his skin was more than one day old. It was scaly patches covering all visible skin with some of the patches having scabs. Not to sound gross, but some patches had scabs that were open and looked like they were oozing. Now, being the type of person I am I could have handled his skin problem and the fact that anything I had done, he had done better, but as he sat through dinner telling me what I should and shouldn’t do with my poor dismal life, he suddenly transformed from a very sweet, compassionate person I had gotten to know on the phone to an overbearing, egotistical asshole.

I quickly got to the point where I just wanted to get through dinner and go home, but he had other ideas. He prolonged the agony by insisting on dessert which included showing me a portfolio of pictures of his ex-wife he still had in his wallet. He took extreme pride in pointing out how good she looked in a bikini. I sat in amazement wondering how much more I could tolerate when he started telling me he couldn’t stay out late because he had to fly out to DC early that next morning to testify before the Congress or Senate on some subject. At that point I was so tone deaf, I really couldn’t do anything more than try to imagine this HUGE OOZING male sitting in front of nation's leaders speaking about anything. I smiled and told him I'd make sure I turned my TV to CSPAN in the morning so I could watch him testify. Needless to say, he never appeared on TV and I never got asked out for a second date. As broken hearted as I was, I managed to pull myself together and struggle onward to be captivated by the next perfect man.


I waited in breathless anticipation to read his first story secretly hoping that his story would be so horrific that it'd make me forget all about my own escapades as a freak magnet.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

SEASONAL DUES

This week's Words For Wednesday are: boreal, rocky, tempest, lake, rising, breathe or  the phrase, "the summer rain washed her face with bitter tears".


A crisp, tempest wind rustles through the color splattered trees
And on each lake a lonesome loon awaits a warmer summer breeze
The salty, boreal air tiptoes across the once warm, sunlit rocky shores
While the equinox signals summer’s end and opens autumn’s doors. 

Reds and yellows replace the once lush foliage greens
And once again we start our plans for a season that redeems
With each rising sun cooler days have silently begun to emerge
Now the summer’s passing and a frigid transformation will converge.

The seasons come and they will go, each has beauty of its own
The artist who creates it all is more than just well known.
But autumn captures nature’s best with painted landscape hues
Like growing trees that bend and breathe we, too pay our seasonal dues.



Painted by yours truly!

Saturday, August 09, 2014

HOW MUCH IS THAT DOGGIE IN THE WINDOW?

How can I  ever leave the house without feeling guilty when I have these 3 beautiful faces giving me their best "Momma, please don't leave me" look?


B.A., Libby and Fenway

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

WAS IT JUST A DREAM?


This week's Words For Wednesday beckoned me to write a story about a place where the line is a very fine one between what's real and what lags into the realm of mental illness. It's a shame in this day and age that mental illness still carries with it such a social stigma and that so many people feel the need to hide being "different" from everyone especially those closest to them for fear of being chemically restrained. 

This week's prompts are: fragmented, gravel, blistering, mundane, clairvoyant, grasshopper or the phrase, "incidentally yours". From those prompts I wrote the beginning of a fantasy filled story: Each night I awoke at precisely the same time. It had been happening for months and tonight was no exception. As I quickly opened my eyes wanting to catch what seemed just out of reach, I looked at the ornately carved antique clock on my nightstand. It told me what I already knew. Like each night before, it was precisely 3:15am. 3:15? Did that mean something? Could it mean 3/15, the Ides of March? Could it be that simple? Would something happen on March 15th?

My attention drifted from the clock back to the fragmented dream from which I awoke each night. Once again I saw a small girl digging in the gravel that had been used as a pathway throughout a beautifully landscaped English flower garden. Above her the birds were happily chattering away in the giant oak trees that outlined the space used for the garden. The girl kept busily digging and sifting through the gravel as if she was looking for one special stone. She stopped digging when a colorful dragonfly landed on the wicker basket she was filling with carefully selected pebbles.

She curiously gazed at the motionless dragonfly and reached out to touch it to see if it was real. When it spoke, it startled her and she dropped her hand tool. It told her to listen to the grasshopper because he was the wisest of all the garden creatures. She smiled and thanked the dragonfly as he flew away. What she had to do finally became crystal clear.

What her grandmother told her was true. She was different! She not only heard voices, but she saw things as well. Her grandmother had called her a clairvoyant and although she didn’t know what that word meant, she knew it distinguished her from everyone else. Her grandmother was certain she was marked for greatness and would help many people throughout her life. Her grandmother claimed the gift the little girl possessed would lift her above the mundane and the ordinary. It would allow her to not only hear the grasshopper, but to understand his message as well.

Before she could hunt for the elusive grasshopper, her mother came rushing out into the garden hollering at her for not wearing her hat. It was hot and she always removed her hat because she like how the sun felt on her face. But her mother was sure the sun would have a blistering effect on her fair skin without it. She scooped her up and scolded her all the way back into the house. The girl had reached out for her basket, but her mother kicked it aside scattering all the carefully selected pebbles back to where they had originally laid. Her important project would have to wait until tomorrow and hopefully the grasshopper would come find her to give her the message she was supposed to hear.

As they quickly walked past the large mirror in the front hallway on the way to get cleaned up from playing outside, the little girl was startled by what she saw. The reflection in the mirror was of a face she knew very well. It was that refection that had jarred me awake at precisely 3:15 each night. The face of the little girl was my face. I was the clairvoyant and yes, I was awaiting a message from the grasshopper. His was a voice I needed to hear even though my mother didn’t believe in such malarkey and poppycock. She said hearing voices was a sign of mental illness and had threatened to have the family doctor put me on some medication that would make the voices stop.

Monday, August 04, 2014

SKY HIGH!



Daniel, the older of my two sons loved his little red wagon and found so many creative uses for it. One of its riskier uses was discovered by my friend Carol when she came to visit me one day. She had gone out into the backyard to see the boys while my daughter Christina was at school, but only found Matthew quietly playing with his trucks on the ground. Daniel's empty red wagon was next to the back fence under some trees. As she walked out into the back yard to look for Daniel, she heard him yelling, "Sky high!" What she discovered took her breath away. Daniel had positioned his red wagon under the lowest tree limb in the back yard and used that limb to hoist himself up into the tree where he had climbed to the very top. Carol wasn't really worried about him actually jumping out of the tree like he kept threatening to do. What worried her more than his threats was that he might lose his footing and fall out of the tree accidentally. After trying to coax him down from the tree and realizing she was getting nowhere, she came inside to get me so I could handle it. 

After getting him safely down and scolding him for climbing the tree, I got the saw from the shed and sawed off the limb flush with the trunk of the tree. I knew how little boys are and how they rarely followed directions the first time, so instead of having a repeat performance I decided it would save me some of my sanity by just cutting the limb from the tree. I know my boys always hated having a mother who could out think them and stay a few steps ahead of the game. Maybe being the youngest and only girl growing up gave me the head's up on what little boys were all about.

Not long after the SKY HIGH! incident, we moved into a larger house. One day while all the kids were outside playing in the backyard I was sitting inside enjoying a few minutes of solitude. All of a sudden I heard "thump, thump, thump" across the roof. It sounded like a giant squirrel had just run across the roof chasing a buffalo. As I looked up trying to figure out what the noise was, it happened again...thump, thump, thump. That time I got up and went outside to see where the noise was coming from and what was causing it. What I discovered on the roof wasn't a giant squirrel after all. It was a four year old who was in BIG trouble! Daniel had used the tree growing next to the house as a ladder to get up on the roof. In no uncertain terms, I told him to come down NOW! He knew he was in trouble and gave me his best "Oh Mom, I'm sorry" look. That look may have saved him from getting a spanking, but he did get punished and sent to his room so he could think about it. Over the next few weeks he pulled that same stunt a few more times which ended each time by getting a stern lecture about the dangers of falling and hurting himself.

The fourth time I caught him doing it, I was pissed! I snapped off a switch from the bush next to the back door as I steamed outside to get him down from that damn tree. When he saw me he knew he had pushed me too far that time and that his "Oh Mom, I'm sorry" look wasn't going to work. With a couple well placed whacks with the switch, I'm proud to say Daniel finally learned his lesson and never climbed that tree or any tree again. The only problem was that his replacement for tree climbing was even worse. For some reason, he decided to take up chasing snakes! I give up! Raising 2 boys is like raising 50 children! And now I have a legitimate reason for being crazy! Did I say I stayed a few steps ahead of them? Well, folks I lied!

Saturday, August 02, 2014

THE PTA AND THE INCREDIBLE HULK

When my children were in elementary school they attended school in Port St. Joe, a small village along the Redneck Riviera.  I have mixed feelings about my years there largely due to the way in which a single mother was too often viewed and treated.  If I hadn't been a strong woman I believe on many occasions I would have either been destroyed or defined by a particular event, yet I somehow always let those times strengthen me and broaden my horizons.  My children seemed to follow suit and learned at a young age how to use their heads.  I have to admit they always seemed to amaze me every step of the way and never disappointed me in how they always managed to shine even when shining wasn't what they should have done.

My youngest child, Matthew was a quite precocious.  He was always up for a good challenge so when he announced to me one day that he wanted to be in a PTA sponsored talent contest, it didn't surprise me.  My only question was what he was going to do for talent.  You see, although I have always thought my children were the brightest amongst all the stars, the Jackson 5 they were not.  Matthew simply told me he was going to be a comedian and that was the last I heard about it for several weeks.

Then one day Christina, his only sister and the oldest of my three children came rushing into the house as soon as she got off the school bus.  There in the doorway she stopped with her hands firmly planted on her hips.  She looked at me and said, "You aren't going to believe what your son did today!"  Uh oh!  There wasn't any "my brother" or "Matthew" about it...at that moment he was my son and only my son so I knew he had done something pretty outstanding and probably something memorable.  She started telling me about the semi-finals for the talent contest that had been held earlier that afternoon in the school auditorium.  A panel of four teachers were appointed to select the best of the best who would compete in front of the families later that night.  All the fifth graders thought it was great because they were excused from class so they could watch the selection process.

When it came Matthew's turn, he sheepishly meandered up on stage.  Christina's friends all pointed out, "Hey, there's your little brother!"  Matthew took center stage and began his stand up comedy routine with the following joke:  What has a hundred teeth and guards the incredible hulk?  His punch line was "my zipper".  Immediately, the auditorium filled with laughter!  Now, it wasn't that he had told an inappropriate joke that embarrassed his sister.  It was the fact that all four of the teachers laughed at his joke.  With her hands still firmly planted on her hips she said with utter disgust, "And they laughed!"  Needless to say Matthew was not selected to perform in front of the families although I have to admit the night would have been more memorable if he had performed.

About that time Matthew came in the house.  Please tell me how does a mother explain to a 5 year old white version of Eddie Murphy what's appropriate and what's inappropriate?  How does one rip away the joy he must have felt from accomplishing what all comedians live to do?  After all he had accomplished his goal.  He got the audience to laugh!  All I asked him as he came in the house was if he had anything he wanted to tell me.  He stopped momentarily and thought for a second before getting a quizzical look on his face and simply told me,"No."  I left it at that and figured I'd address his choice and source of jokes another time. 

Friday, August 01, 2014

MILDRED'S LAST WISHES


First, before everyone gets all excited, I'm not planning on going anywhere anytime soon, but you never know which day will be your last and because of that I figured there's no time like the present to express my last wishes to my friends and family so everyone will be crystal clear on how I want my send off to be conducted.  

As in life, Mildred has to have her hand in everything so planning her own send off won't come as any surprise to anyone who knows her.  Great parties definitely have to be carefully organized and done to certain specifications.  But most importantly, Mildred wants to take any burden there might be from planning this little soiree from those who are grieving for her.  This way no one will have to try to figure out what to do, what not to do, what she likes and what she doesn't like.  They can just follow her directions and then enjoy being with the people she loves most in the world.  That way Mildred can take the love of her peeps with her as she embarks on her final adventure.

I want to be cremated and my daughter, Princess Mini-me or 'dearie darling' as I've always called her will keep my ashes until she takes me to Maine to scatter me over the designated spot in my old neighborhood.  The following is the strict code of conduct for my send off:

MILDRED'S HOUSE RULES
  1. There will absolutely be no formal funeral when I'm gone!  It's just not my style, so don't you dare make people dress up and feel more uncomfortable than they already are.  And if you have to pray for me, please do it on your time and not on mine.  Also, if you haven't sent me flowers while I was alive and could appreciate and enjoy them, don't waste your money on them now.  Take whatever money you were going to spend on flowers and donate it to a worthy charity of your choice.  If you need a suggestion, ask my family.
  2. No boring, sorrow-filled eulogies are allowed, but laughing and funny stories about me are a must.  I'm sure each of you can come up with a funny "Karen" story to share with each other.  If you can't think of any then get a few from my blog.  My life has been well documented by Mildred Ratched.  Thanks Mildred!
  3. Absolutely no crying is allowed!  No exceptions!
  4. No bitching about the music I selected is allowed!  No exceptions!
  5. If anyone bitches or cries they have to drink a Beam Me Up, Scotty or a shooter of their choice each time they bitch or cry.  No exceptions!
  6. Since my daughter isn't going to follow the no crying rule that means she's going to get extremely drunk and will need a wheel barrow to cart her around for the duration of this party (yes, I said party and it damn well better resemble an all out gala event and not a cry in your beer pity party.)
  7. Please do not let anyone put any *Devil Dust in my ashes or any other foreign substances.  I'm spicy enough without them!
  8. If Wacky Tobacky is legal at the time of my passing then by all means fire up a joint or two.
  9. If Wacky Tobacky is still illegal, I say to hell with it...Fire up a joint or two anyway!
  10. In the coming days after I'm gone, please don't act like so many families do and argue and push each other away.  You all need each other, so do the right thing and be the people I raised you to be.  Please remember me with as much love as I have for each one of you.  In death like it has been in life, it's that love I'm taking with me wherever I go.  I love you all more than mere words can ever express and I will be with you always.  Now, party on and give me a proper send off. 
    *Devil Dust is a nearly lethal combination of finely ground peppers including Ghost peppers, chile peppers and habanero peppers that I helped create for fools and gluttons for punishment.



List of music: (To be revised as the spirit moves me)

Somewhere Over The Rainbow by Eva Cassidy
Stairway To Heaven by Led Zeppelin
Thank You by Led Zeppelin
As Long As I Can See The Light by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd
Another Brick In The Wall by Pink Floyd
On The Turning Away by Pink Floyd
Shine On You Crazy Diamond by Pink Floyd
Moonlight Mile by The Rolling Stones
Gimme Shelter by The Rolling Stones
Sympathy For The Devil by The Rolling Stones
O-Bla-Di, O-Bla-Da by The Beatles
In My Life by The Beatles

With A Little Help From My Friends by The Beatles
Yesterday by The Beatles
Imagine By John Lennon
With or Without You by U2
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For by U2
Dream On by Aerosmith
Nothing Else Matters by Metallica
Turn The Page by Metallica
Knockin' On Heaven's Door by Guns n Roses
Welcome To The Jungle by Guns n Roses
Candle In The Wind by Elton John
Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me by Elton John
Sounds Of Silence by Simon & Garfunkel
Can't Find My Way Home by Blind Faith
All Along The Watchtower by Jimi Hendrix
Dust In The Wind by Kansas
And When I Die by Blood, Sweat & Tears

Into The Mystic by Van Morrison
Truckin' by The Grateful Dead
Amazing Graze (Bagpipe music)

Beam Me Up Scotty recipe (After a few of these you'll truly be ready for the transporter room)

3/4 oz Kahlua® coffee liqueur
3/4 oz banana liqueur
3/4 oz Bailey's® Irish cream
      151 Bacardi Rum floated on top

In a shot glass (preferably a clean one) carefully add ALL the ingredients, in the order listed;
Layer each ingredient on top of the previous ingredient
then slam it down quickly all at once and SMILE...




In keeping with my Irish heritage, 3 days of merriment should be enough togetherness for everyone or until the last man/woman is standing whichever comes first (If Martha is amongst the ones waiting in line at the transporter room, no doubt she'll still be walking and talking and acting lewd and crude.  Nothing pleases me more than having friends I can rely upon!).  The location doesn't matter to me.  I'll let my kids haggle over that.  The food selection for my send off should be a pot luck affair where everyone brings something to share with everyone else.  I like parties like that because it makes it easier on everyone especially those people trying to plan for something like this and you get a wide variety of foods so even the pickiest eaters will be able to find something they like to eat.  I do have a special request...honey mustard chicken wings.  I know my son, Daniel will eat a ton in my honor.   Matthew, maybe you can drink a smoothie in my honor or sing me a song.  I know Kris would be up for some karaoke and would probably help you out by doing a duet with you. 


I hope this goes without saying, but if you have too much to drink, DO NOT DRIVE. Either stay where you are, call a taxi, have someone else drive you home or borrow my daughter's wheelbarrow.  I think I've covered just about everything and if I think of anything else I'll be coming back to edit this blog post often until I get it exactly to my liking....that may take awhile! 


Death
If I should die before the rest of you,
Break not a flower nor inscribe a stone.
Nor, when I’m gone, speak in a Sunday voice,
But be the usual selves that I have known.
Weep if you must,
Parting is hell.
But life goes on,
So…….. sing as well.


~Joyce Grenfell~

Friday, July 25, 2014

WHEN SOMETHING BAD HAPPENS

This photo was taken in Jackman, Maine during the summer of 2007.  I spent two years in the early 1970's in a drug rehab located in Jackman that was more like a concentration camp at times than it was like a drug rehab.  This quote describes exactly how I feel about that whole experience.  Just for the record, my choice was to let it strengthen me.
 
 


Thursday, July 24, 2014

PLEASE GIVE ME CHOCOLATES AND ROSES

Every time I go stumbling around the blogosphere I always come home scratching my head.  I guess that's better than coming home black and blue, toothless or pregnant!  Today, I discovered the 7 Deadly Sins To Ensure People Won't Follow Your Blog.  After leaving a brief comment for Carol Graham, blog author of Battered Hope,  I immediately came rushing home to Mildred Ratched's Deja Moo to see how guilty I am of these 7 deadly sins.  According to Carol, the following are 7 common blogging mistakes many of us make:
 
Sin #7  -- Make sure your blog is very busy.  Put as many 'cool' things on your side bar as you can fit.  Put all your awards and badges there as well.  Lots of ads work too.  The busier it is, the less people will see the 'meat' of your post.
[My meat is always easy to spot and as for cool stuff like badges...everyone must hate me because no one has ever sent me a badge. Maybe I need a booby prize badge for my blog! Personally, I'd rather have chocolates and roses from all my admirers, well wishers and readers.]

Sin #6 -- Don't put your name anywhere on the blog.  Make people search for it.  Sometimes, I will go to Facebook or Twitter or an About Me page and still not find an actual NAME.
[I've been called many names in my life, but the one my mother bestowed upon me is Karen (no middle name really and truly and I actually wrote a blog post about it) Goggins.  Mildred Ratched is the horrible nurse from One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest.  Mildred and the wicked witch from The Wizard of Oz are my all-time favorite villians.] 

Sin #5 -- Use small fonts.  This will help eliminate anyone past the age of accountability to read it without having to squint.
[I'd only use small fonts if I was whispering behind someone's back or writing out a contract to sell someone shares in my blog.  Does anyone want to buy a few?  I can make you a deal you can't refuse!]

Sin #4 -- Center your entire blog post.  This makes it almost impossible
 to read consistently.  Your eyes are always trying to find where the next line begins and the last one ended.
[I never tried this one, but it sounds like a great way to annoy people or to keep them confused.]

Sin #3 -- Use stark white lettering on black (or any very dark) background.  This may look great but very difficult to read without getting a headache.
[I've done this in the past, but it gave me a headache so I switched to a white background. Call me a conformist!]

Sin #2 -- Make your paragraphs as long as possible.  Or write a multitude of paragraphs without any captions or photos to break up a long post.
[Okay, I know I get a little long-winded at times, but I do post cute pictures amongst my ramblings, don't I?]

And the best for last .................

Sin #1 -- Don't respond to comments left.  Ignore the people that actually took the time to read your post and comment on it. 
[oh uh! I guess I need to be more attentive!  No really, I think I do interact with my readers, but I'm guilty of not visiting other people's blogs as much as I'd like.  Time seems to be the culprit that gets in my way.]
 
So after close scrutiny, I think I should get maybe a C+ or a B- for an overall grade based on these 7 deadly sins and I promise to strive to do better in the future.  I'll aim for that elusive "A" and all of you can let me know when I get there, okay?  And I promise to keep my Maine sarcasm from oozing out all over your computer screen in the future!  I know how messy it is and how hard it is to wipe clean.  All joking aside, our blogs are a reflection of who we are.  Yes, we have complete control over their content, but I think most serious bloggers/writers/authors are mindful of the first impression they give their readers and potential readers.  After all, isn't it the goal of any writer to have other people read what they write?  That is, unless your name is Mildred and then your goal is seeking out people to send you chocolates and roses!