Dream Jobs …

via Daily Prompt: Insist

Is there a job that you would absolutely love to have but that doesn’t even truly exist?  I can think of several that are really a bit “out there” but would be total ‘nirvana’, nonetheless.

Perhaps an independent “taste tester”, whose razor sharp taste buds are so sought after that she can choose EXACTLY which products she will and will not put in her million-dollar-a-year-mouth.  “Hello, Ms. Miller, this is Ben Cohen.  My buddy Jerry and I got to talking after we saw you on the cover of TIME last week and we were wondering if you would ever be interested in signing on to test our new line of specialty ice creams?  As part of our organization, we would INSIST upon providing you with the sports car of your choosing, a vacation chalet in the Swiss alps, and a $500,000.00 sign-on bonus in addition to your 7 figure salary. So … what do you say….wanna come eat ice cream everyday?   Does a bear poop in the woods?  Do chickens lay eggs?

Only slightly more realistic yet definitely more “worthy” would be the position of “National Hiring Czar”.  I could see it unfolding something like this … “Hello…Ms. Miller, this is Don.  For some reason, “my people” haven’t been able to get past “your people” and I couldn’t find a Twitter account for you, so I decided to give you a call myself. I hear you’re the ultimate expert on making sure we don’t have any cold, unfriendly sourpusses in jobs that involve interacting with the public.  Can you tell me a little bit of your background and how you came to be the most sought-after consultant in this field?”  “Why, yes, Don, I’d be happy to. You see, I’ve been in “front-line” positions with the public from the very start of my 35 year career in the medical field.  During the training for said career, I had the great fortune of some psychology courses that helped me to further understand the workings of the human mind.  I was also blessed with an extra bit of sensitivity and intuitiveness when it comes to looking at my ‘fellow man’ and trying to see what might really be in his heart and what he’s really needing or seeking down deep.  However, probably more important than any of that, Don, is the fact that I myself have been a patient in the medical world for even longer.  My abrupt and involuntary ‘patient life’ began in late high school and continues to this very day.  I learned early on how to be a “good patient” despite fear and/or pain and how to most effectively deal with medical personnel.  More importantly, I learned what qualities are essential in the ‘front-line’ folks, from a patient viewpoint … and likewise what qualities are abhorrent.  These critical qualities may seem so simplistic and common sense … and they are, to those of us who were raised to appreciate the value of kindness and compassion, even in the face of someone else being nasty.  Here’s a prime example of what I’m talking about, Don.

I spent most of yesterday at my first visit in the offices of a prominent specialist in a large city.  Unbeknownst to anyone in this office, I have a long and rather traumatic medical history.  I have been through many, many procedures and some surgeries, some extremely painful, some which made me miserably sick and even almost killed me at one point.  Throughout all of this I have always put on a “brave face” and a smile no matter how many times someone couldn’t get their needle in the right place or didn’t really listen to my symptoms and then further delayed proper treatment.  Even though I am a nurse and very familiar with both sides of the medical world, I have acquired such a case of “white coat syndrome” as a result of all this history, that my level of anxiety at times like yesterday reaches a fever pitch.  Oh you would probably never notice this because I still smile and crack jokes. But inside I’m a fragile mess and basically just need those folks taking care of me to smile and be nice and to help me feel like everything’s going to be OK. My level of tolerance for anything less is becoming lower and lower and I find myself less willing to put up with shoddy or mediocre treatment.  My pen has become my “sword” and I find myself much more willing to wield it the older I get.

So, here I am at the specialist’s office. The front desk receptionist was very friendly. The next gal — the insurance/registration/co-pay lady was nice — the impersonal, “fake” kind of nice but still pleasant.  It was the third gal — the one who did the bulk of the work-up in preparation for the doctor — the one who was gathering and measuring the most important information and therefore the one who needs to be the most friendly, charismatic and welcoming in order to put the patient at ease to help insure the accuracy of said data, etc.  This is the kind of employee whose hiring I would veto if, in fact, I were your National Hiring Czar, Don.  This gal was so cold, unfriendly and mechanical that I wouldn’t have been surprised to see an On/Off switch on the back of her neck. As I tried time and again to lighten the mood and smile at her, I was met with absolutely nothing but disdain. This only increased my anxiety and made me feel very insignificant.  Insignificant is not the word I would use to describe the importance of “customer service” in today’s very competitive field of medicine. Hospitals and doctors are competing worldwide for the ever-shrinking dollar and therefore it is critically important for all staff to be trained in the art of hospitality and common courtesy.

In my dream job as National Hiring Czar, I would never allow such people to interact directly with the public, because it certainly appears that they have no desire to nor skills for such.  No, these folks would be kept behind the scenes shuffling papers..or paperclips..or other inanimate objects.  I would INSIST, had I the position, that all those working with the public would, first of all, open that hole beneath their nose and SMILE, would be kind, sensitive and very welcoming. It may sound piddly to you Don, but this is serious business….and I know business is your ‘gig’.  As National Hiring Czar, I would also like to travel the country giving inservices to all kinds of corporations, big and small, educating their HR departments on who to hire and who to NOT for any of their front-line positions. So, that’s what I’m all about Don and pretty much how it all came to be. ”

I doubt very much that this position will ever find its’ way into existence any more than the fantastically unrealistic ice cream job, but ….. a girl can dream, can’t she!

 

This post was done in response to the “Daily Prompt” requiring the use of the word “insist”.

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Derailments…..

It’s not difficult to find posts and humorous articles about the increase in aging-related trips down the ever-increasing “bunny trails” as we skip through the forest of life. In other words, some of us seem to become more easily distracted by the “side trips”…….the pretty flowers a few feet off the path …. and less interested or less able to maintain, at the forefront of our brains, the “original focus or destination” of our “trip” through the “forest”.

Although it may endanger my reputation as a card-carrying member of the “sane” community, I will attempt to share a personal example with you…..to give you a “window” into the utter incredulity of this “phenomenon “. I typically get up very early every weekday morning to set about accomplishing a well-honed list of tasks before I leave for work. The main GOALS:

1) Take your Synthroid, Woman…..as it is a non-negotiable, life-sustaining med, especially for “lucky” folks like you who no longer have a thyroid gland. But remember old girl……take it on an empty stomach and NOTHING else….not even your tea for at least 30 – 60 minutes!

2) Make your 2 jugs of fresh lemon juice and stevia water and put them in the freezer to get cold before you take them with you to drink on all day. Pack your lunch too, to avoid the fast food temptations.

3) Feed those 2 furry creatures with the long tails who call you ‘mama’.

4) Get your big old caboose downstairs onto that treadmill and get it going for at least 30 minutes

5) Breakfast….which is now actually supper, after reading that if you don’t eat anything after 2pm, the weight will just drop off. Yeah right…….we’ll see how that works. In the meantime, going to bed hungry….albeit it voluntarily….. and with a true hurting belly makes me feel much more empathy for the plight of the homeless.

6) Prayer & Devotions

7) Emails, Online newspapers, Facebook, WordPress

8) Shower

9) Hair, Makeup, Dressing

10) 35 – 40 minute commute to work

Seems pretty straightforward. Add to the above mix that my daughter often calls for an early morning chat —-which I love and would never NOT want —-somewhere between #6 – #8.  Perhaps you can see why I often feel like I need a nap by the time I get to work.

As I’m taking my Synthroid, I happen to notice that for some crazy reason, I must have brought my “bathroom glasses”…you know, those one-of-a-million-pair-of-readers I have laying all over my house…out into the kitchen. Well, knowing me as I do, I know that if I DO NOT take them back to the bathroom RIGHT NOW, I will forget and then the next time I’m doing my all-important bathroom “reading”, I won’t be able to see diddly squat when I NEED to. So, instead of grabbing a lemon out of the fridge to make my daily ration of lemon water, I head back to the bathroom with said glasses. As I’m leaving the bathroom I notice that there is an empty shampoo bottle in the trash can….odd.  Oh yes…..that is my signal to put a replacement into the shower. So, I delay my trip back to the kitchen to go to the linen closet to fetch a new bottle of shampoo and put it in the shower so that the next time I’m in there sudsing up, I don’t have to run back out in my old, dripping wet birthday suit, creating puddles on my hard wood floor, to get a new bottle. Mission accomplished! As I’m FINALLY heading back to the kitchen through the living room, I happen to notice that yet again, I have inadvertently left my phone charger plugged in…..against the advice of my nephew who told me it is a common fire hazard. So, I bend down to unplug that to make sure my house doesn’t burn down while I’m at work. While down there close to the floor, I see a pen that I haven’t seen for awhile. This immediately brings to mind the pair of “living room glasses” that I have been doggedly searching for for weeks, after they vanished into thin air overnight. Apparently vision-impaired aliens liked the pretty blue color and decided to abscond with them…because I have turned my house upside down looking everywhere to no avail!!  Not because I don’t have 15 other pairs I can wear, but because I like THOSE for when I sit in my recliner and read. So, I decide to move the recliner forwards and backwards while looking underneath……..no blue glasses…….but there has sure been a lot of apparent “humping” going on under there because the “dust bunnies” have multiplied like crazy! Boy….gotta remember to get under there with the dust mop….but not now, as I MUST get back to the kitchen to make my lemon water! A few minutes later that mission is finally accomplished. Onward to the cats and the treadmill!  While feeding the two fur balls, I notice that my washer lid across the room is closed instead of open. Poo. That must mean I forgot to put that load of clothes into the dryer. So, I stop to do that while the cats are happily crunching away on their kibble.

Finally, I’m on the treadmill. My “treadmill playlist” is vibrating the basement walls as I’m treading away…..but I’m thinking of a million other things instead of the tunes……”what am I going to wear today?…….Is this an office-all-day kind of day or am I out doing home visits today?……Who do I need to see?……Did I return all 10 of those voicemails yesterday?……Why is Winston sitting across the room in the sink staring at me like that?……wonder what he’s thinking…..wish he could talk…….hey buddy, are there anymore bats in this basement anywhere?…….I sure hope there aren’t any of those hideous wolf spiders above my head right now…….I could die on this thing and no one would know for days……..speaking of which, those furry turds must have taken the little bottle of chewable baby aspirin I put on the shelf by the treadmill just in case I start to have chest pain while slogging away on this stupid thing…….of course, if you would start to have a heart attack while you’re walking on here, do you honestly think you’d be able to get the damn child-proof lid off the aspirin in time anyway……silly woman……kids are probably the only ones who CAN get those stupid lids off……oh well……you need to remember to get some new duds to wear for this morning drudgery , just in case those young squad guys would ever have to break in and find your sorry butt draped awkwardly over this still-churning belt……in these ratty old spandex shorts and this more-holey-than-not T-shirt………bra-less…and with “bed hair”, no less…….

I will spare you the rest of this “stream of consciousness” but I think you probably get the gist of it all.  It actually makes me tired just reliving and writing it!  It’s a wonder I get to work on time!  This, however, is why I sometimes never get a lot accomplished on the weekends…..one thing leads to another…..and another…….ad infinitum.

As you can see, I did NOT write about the train that derailed just up the road from my house this morning. No, this is an entirely different kind of “derailment”. One that seems to affect our “train trips” more and more the older we get. Here’s wishing your “derailments” today become pleasant little side trips that bring you humor along your daily journey.

 

This post is part of SoCS: Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Derailments…..

Would You?

A fellow WordPress blogger wrote a hysterically funny piece on the French “Nutella War” recently in the news and it got me to thinking.  For those of you who might not have heard this most ridiculous report, apparently some grocery store over in France put their Nutella (that high-calorie chocolatey hazelnut spread) on sale at 70% off and the shoppers were quite literally beating each other up to get to it before the supply ran out.  This fellow blogger asked the question, “So, what item(s) would you start a “Nutella War” for?

Well, I put my thinking cap on and pondered that thought for awhile.  What I WOULD HAVE fought for and what I’d fight for now are vastly different things, seeing as how I’m now trying so hard to eat healthier.  I WOULD HAVE maybe fought for peanut M&M’s or those soft and ever-so-moist Archway strawberry-filled cookies.  What would I fight for now …. Hojicha green tea.  WHAT?!!  I don’t even LIKE green tea!  At the first sip, my taste buds, normally very pacifistic from years of enduring nothing but pleasurable food and drink, stand up and “present arms”.  What is this green ‘swill’ that tastes like an unhappy marriage of seaweed and spinach?!  Oh, but the reported “health benefits” of this vile drink.  Yeah .. so they say.  In marches Hojicha green tea.  Still technically a ‘green tea’ but the leaves were “roasted” first which apparently scared the spinach/seaweed flavor molecules right outa ‘dodge’ and replaced them with pleasant nutty-tasting counterparts.  This, with a healthy shot of stevia has become the first sip to pass my lips every morning and I’ve grown to love it.  Would I ‘fight’ for it?  Perhaps, if I could do it with “the pen” — which is often mightier than “the sword”.

In reality, I can’t see myself PHYSICALLY fighting for anything other than my kids, my family or my faith … definitely not any kind of food item … and definitely not for Nutella.

Business Review: The Mansfield Art Center

I tend to be pretty stingy with my free time, seeing as how it’s very limited.  I’m especially ‘tightfisted’ with my lunch hours and choose to spend most of them reading while eating during the first half and sleeping the second half.  This past Thursday, however, I decided to change it up a bit and make the short drive from my office to check out the current watercolor exhibit at The Mansfield Art Center at 700 Marion Ave. in Mansfield, Ohio.  As a huge lover of art and “artsy pursuits”, I am embarrassed to admit this was only my third time in the building.  I was there many years ago for something specific in the gift shop and then again last spring when I took a class on silver ring making, which I absolutely loved.

I subscribe to the Center’s email notifications and when the recent one announcing the watercolor exhibit came thru I was especially interested. I dabble in watercolors now and then and am always eager to see other peoples’ techniques.  I was not disappointed.  When I arrived, there were no other patrons, making it all very peaceful and relaxing; a welcome break from phones ringing non-stop and computer screens glaring.

Knowing first-hand what a difficult medium it is to work with, I was so in awe of the wide range of techniques, subjects and the ways in which the many different artists expressed themselves.  I generally lean towards realism rather than abstract or impressionistic styles and am happy to report there was a very nice representation of all.  When I look at watercolor paintings, I first like to get real up close and personal …did they sketch it out first or not?…did they use pencil or ink?….how do the lines contribute to the painting as a whole? ….how did they use light?….etc. Then I like to back up several feet and look at it from more of a distance.  The very roomy gallery at the Art Center made this very easy.  There are many large windows throughout the uniquely designed building which make for an abundance of natural light and a very sunny and pleasing atmosphere.  I also couldn’t help but notice the cool mobile hanging from the ceiling, which reminds one that the Center is home to many types of art besides paintings.

After my leisurely stroll around the upstairs gallery, I came down and explored all the handmade treasures in the gift shop.  What a beautiful variety ranging from hand carved wooden bowls, ceramics, handmade soap and paintings to stunning jewelry of all kinds and materials.  Of course I felt it my duty to support such a worthy cause by bringing home yet another pair of beautiful sterling silver earrings and some handmade soap with some mighty clever packaging that reminded me of my own such products years ago. The gentleman manning the gift shop could not have been any nicer or more helpful.  He was also very appreciative and thanked me several times for stopping by.

I left better than when I arrived … more relaxed and a bit more culturally enhanced. As Martha Stewart would say, “It’s a good thing”.  And that, my friends is my overwhelming consensus of the Mansfield Art Center …it’s a very good thing.  I look forward to visiting again and I regularly scan their offerings of classes that appeal to me and fit into my schedule.

A wonderful community resource for the artistically inclined as well as those who just appreciate art and all it encompasses. I encourage you to check it out.

Index To A Life

As I’ve mentioned many times throughout this blog, I have always had a deep and abiding love for music.   So much so that it serves as an “index” of sorts for my almost 57 years of living.  Specific songs produce immediate memories and visual images in my mind’s eye of a particular time and place.  A ‘rolodex’ of my memories, if you will.

My earliest memories were of ‘church songs’; songs we sang in Sunday School at our Lutheran church in the mid to late 60’s.  “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.” Fast forward from elementary grade Sunday school to “Luther League”.  Just as my physical body was growing and changing, so too were my musical tastes, as they met with the songs of that era. To this day, as soon as I hear the first few stanzas of “Magic” by Pilot, there is an image that pops up on my “screen” that seems as real as if it were yesterday and yet light years ago….simultaneously, somehow.  I’m sitting on a log on a fall day with my good friend Jayne and several others. We’re at a remote location up the road from what is now the Pleasant Hill Outdoor Camp.  It’s the Luther League “initiation” event and we are excitedly chatting about that and other things. The “other things” including the fact that one of the “older” Luther Leaguers who was to be initiating us is someone I happen to have had a huge crush on over the span of several of my teen years.  Of course, being the total socially inept wallflower that I was, Mr. L.F. never even had a clue that I scanned the congregation for his blonde locks every Sunday from my perch in the choir and watched with my heart doing flip flops as he came down the center aisle on his Sundays to help usher. I think someone had a transistor radio there that day and this song played during that time there on the log, hence the permanent ‘DVD’ it created in my brain.

In that same general time frame of my early teens, I discovered the one and only Elton John, John Denver, and The Carpenters…and so it is that songs like “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”, Take Me Home Country Roads”, “Rainy Days & Mondays” and “If” by Bread bring on images of me lolling around in my bedroom, staring off into space. A bedroom filled with posters of John Denver and my then sexy ballet dancer idol – Mikhail Baryshnikov, where I listened to music for hours while wrestling with teenage hormone-driven melancholia and introspection. Janis Ian’s “At Seventeen” was also a regular on my turntable at that time.

Late junior high/early high school I happened to be the piano accompanist to the church junior choir.  Our church back then housed “interns” … young college-aged men studying to become Lutheran ministers, each for a year or so.  The one during this particular time period caught my silly teen eye … a totally one-sided situation (mine) I assure you, as I barely even spoke to him for the entire duration of his internship.  However, as the choir practiced immediately after school and I was not driving quite yet, he nicely offered to come pick me up at the high school in order to get me to practice in a timely manner.  Oh be still my heart! For a shy teen who was so totally inexperienced with even talking to guys, let alone never even dating any, this was the pinnacle of my existence at that moment in time!  For the first time in my life, I felt like “hot stuff”, walking out amongst my high school peers to get in the car of an “older man” after school once a week.  Just writing that sentence makes me laugh, even after all these years!!  I was so clueless.  I remember these car rides vividly along with some of the songs playing on the radio at the time.  Minnie Riperton’s “Loving You” and “Three Times A Lady” by The Commodores are the standouts in my mind.

As high school progressed, I stopped playing piano for the choir but I never stopped loving the music of the day.  “Dust In The Wind” by Kansas and “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin were among many of note back then.

From high school it was on to college where not only did I blossom and expand my world in so many ways but, so too my musical tastes.  Heretofore, I was mostly into folk, ballads, and soft rock.  My new world found instant pleasure as well with pop tunes like “The Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats, a song that to this very day just makes me feel good whenever I hear it’s fast lively beat.  It transports me immediately back to those college days that were some of the best in my life.  “Sweet Dreams” by the Eurythmics and “Centerfold” by the J.Geils Band evoke similar feelings of positivity and rejuvenation.

My sophomore year was a pivotal one for many reasons.  For starters, this was when my friends and I discovered a place out on the far west side of Columbus called The Dixie Electric Company … and I discovered how much I loved to dance.  We went at least once a week. As soon as I hear the first few bars of “Turn Me Loose” by Loverboy, the song they opened with every night, I can see the dance floor in the darkened room, strobe lights flitting around like lightning bugs in the summer.  This was also the time and place I met my first and only long-term boyfriend.  He asked me to dance. I used to remember the song that we first danced to…and if I heard it again I probably still would but right now the name eludes me. I was in awe of his 6’4″, Tom Selleck-like good looks, dark mustache and all.  He was a smooth operator … too smooth for this inexperienced small-town girl.  He told me he drove a “German sports car”…..which turned out to be a yellow and black VW Karmann Ghia, a bit of a trick for his tall self.  He was full of self confidence and charm … enough to sell sand to the Arabs if he wanted to. Well I fell … hook, line, and sinker…. for this older looking smooth dude who made me feel like a million bucks.  Imagine my surprise a few weeks later when he revealed that not only was the ID he used to buy us wine a fake, but he was actually 2 years YOUNGER than me!! I was in shock but ended up going to his high school graduation at the end of that year and many other events throughout the three years we dated.

Many many songs mark this time period for me.  Abba was and still is one of my all-time favorites bands, as was and is ELO. In fact, “Take A Chance On Me” was the song that sparked the idea for this very post, when my iMusic “mixer” included it in a recent playlist for me. It instantly evoked such a feeling of happiness and pleasure that I felt I needed to further explore this whole idea of “music-ignited memories”.

After college, life started to get real serious real quick. My first job was on a very stressful, fast-paced pediatric unit where my roommate and fellow OSU classmate also worked.  She and my boyfriend were both chain smokers and soon I began the nasty habit as well.  We worked long and hard hours on the floor and then stayed way past our shift smoking and charting in the nurse’s lounge. Can you imagine!?  Stupid fools we were!  I had even given a speech in high school about the health-related ‘evils’ of smoking! This became my James Taylor phase, as his smooth and silky “You’ve Got A Friend , Sweet Baby James” and so many others were what I listened to in an effort to balance the hectic work life.  Even though I thankfully have not had a cigarette in my mouth for over 30 years now, as soon as I hear his voice, I STILL think about lighting up.  The brain is a strange and powerful thing indeed.

In June of 1987, four years out of college, I met my future husband and we married 7 months later.  From here life got REALLY serious REALLY fast … a move from the city back to small town life, the birth of our daughter, life threatening illnesses for both of us – in the same year no less, job losses, financial struggles and much much more.  During these 24 years there was not a lot of extra thought given to music per se’.  There wasn’t time.  Then in 2011, a month before our daughter was to graduate from college, things fell apart .  The bottom fell out of my life completely.  Back came the music … in a VERY big way.  I was totally heartsick and broken.  The songs of Selah — “Rescue Me”,Press On”, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”, “His Eye Is On The Sparrow” and many many more spoke to my wounded heart and helped to pull me through the trauma of that first year after he left.  As much as I love those songs, I have a hard time listening to them now, without choking up and tears, as they transport me back in time to those very, very dark days.

Almost 7 years later and my music is front and center again and I enjoy so many different artists and genre’s.  Music touches me so deeply, more so than just about anything else.  It has the power to make me deliriously happy or very ‘gray’ and melancholy.  But no matter the mood evoked, it brings images to my mind …. truly an “index” to my life.

How about you? What makes your memories come alive? What place does music have in your life?

You Did What?

Why … thank you for asking!  I’ll be happy to tell you what I did today on this rare workday off.  I must warn you, though … it’s quite RIVOTING and fast-paced, as I crammed every minute full of as many different activities as my old brain could possibly handle! Hold onto your seats!

“They” … whoever “they” are, say that as we get older our ability to multitask decreases.  I would agree with that somewhat, for those things that require more critical thinking skills, but for someone who will very soon be yet another year past the ‘speed limit’, I think I did pretty darn good today.

My day started off with a heavenly little bit of ‘sleeping in’, as I slept till 5 rather than my usual 4am. I gave my poor treadmill a break this morning … figuring if someone was walking on MY back 4 – 5 days a week, I would need a break from all that pounding and raucous music too!  I’m real conscientious that way.

I had to be at a doctor’s appointment in Wooster at 9:30 so, since I didn’t know what the roads would be like, I left at 8:30.  As luck would have it …or, more accurately the LACK of luck … I got stuck behind a salt truck going 35 miles an hour, ALL. THE. WAY. TO. WOOSTER.  Go figure.

I was already rather steamed about having to spend my day off going to the dermatologist for what I thought was nothing more than an opportunity to help fund some new chairs for the doctor’s waiting room or maybe a yacht for their summer weekends. I was there two months ago for something very minor and unrelated. I vividly remember sitting there shivering and trying, without much success, to keep my “girls” covered in the paper version of what I’m sure all the Paris runways are featuring…the airport runways that is … where they most likely use them to clean bird poop off the plane windshields……because they sure aren’t good for covering the human body. Anyways, I remember the very young PA looking at me and saying something like “why don’t I just take a look while you’re here and make sure there’s nothing else to be concerned about”.  She glanced at my back and said there was a little something or other that she didn’t quite like the looks of.  She then proceeded to poke me with some lidocaine and sliced it right off.  About two weeks later I got a voicemail followed by a letter saying it was “abnormal” and they wanted me to come back for follow-up in 2 months.  Two MONTHS?!  The nurse in me was a bit baffled.  My inner skeptic decided it must not be serious or they’d want me back sooner and I settled on the assumption they just want my $40 co-pay.  Fast forward to today.

Once again I was asked to don the divine one-size-does-NOT-fit-all paper ‘vest’.  The medical assistant said to put it on with the opening to the back.  I always have to stifle an overwhelming urge to laugh when they say that.  Really?!!  Helloooo…….it’s PAPER for crying out loud! Why does it matter if the ‘opening’ is in the front or back.  Those darn things already have more open areas than ‘covered’ areas and on the off-chance that what they want to see is not already exposed, it’s just PAPER … rip it if you need to!!  Anyways, after sitting there freezing for 15 minutes, the PA came in and asked me how my back was and if that area had all healed up OK.  I had to immediately put the kibosh on my ‘inner smartass’ who almost piped up and said, “how should I know … I live alone with 2 cats and if they start talking, I highly doubt they’ll be telling me about a spot on my back. Heck no … they’ll be griping about having to sleep in the basement every night or never getting to go outside to terrorize the birds and squirrels they can’t take their eyes off of.  So, Ms. Young-Thing with the perfect skin, I don’t have a clue what my back looks like.  For all I know I could have an ancient treasure map back there.  Instead, however, I merely smiled and said I really don’t know but it doesn’t hurt so I assume it’s all OK.  Much to my surprise, she went on to tell me that the little mole in question had been at the beginning of the path to melanoma.  WoW! I did not expect to hear that.  It was not melanoma … yet, but if the other girl hadn’t noticed it, it probably would have become that at some point, she reported.  I was afraid of this.  All my years of baking in the sun … that beautiful golden orb that makes me feel so much better whenever I’m surrounded by its’ rays … are coming back to haunt me.  It seems so unfair.  Whatever.  I’m very thankful they caught it.

My second stop of the day was at one of my most favorite grocery stores of all time – Buehler’s – Milltown, also in Wooster.  Oh how I love the rare occasions when I get to shop there.  If my life weren’t centered in Loudonville, Mansfield and now Mount Vernon, I probably would all the time.  They have beautiful produce, a vast selection of interesting ‘homemade’ deli-type items, high quality meats, the largest selection of wine and beer in the area and many interesting and unique brands and types of products you can’t find anywhere else.  Yes…it’s also pricier than what I would like but as infrequently as I go, I’ll deal with it. Then, of course the “piece de resistance” is the fact that they will transport your purchases via conveyor belt out to your car and load them all in for you.

This being the middle of January, I’m still trying to make good on my resolution to eat healthier.  So, with a car full of fresh veggies and fruit, I made my way home, arriving about noon.  Of course, as most of us know, the healthiest foods are not already processed or prepared, so, this is where my multitasking skills got a workout.  From noon to about 5, I made a big batch of fresh broccoli salad, an equally large fresh fruit salad, 2 jars of pickled onions to use in various ways, and a pan full of fresh roasted beets; all of which required a tremendous amount of washing, peeling, slicing and dicing, not to mention making the 2 kinds of salad dressings from scratch as well. I won’t have to cook all week.

Whew, what a day it’s been, indeed. Aren’t you glad you asked!

 

As somewhat of a P.S. —— I wanted to make mention of the fact that I finally figured out how to insert a list of “Categories” for my blog posts on all the pages of this site except the Home page.  For some reason it will not appear there, but, this listing should be somewhat helpful if you’re looking for a post in a specific topic area. If you click on a topic it should take you to all the posts under that.  Me figuring out how to work this website is a work-in-progress.

A Good Day

Initially, I rather dreaded today, anticipating the lengthy trek in this cold and ‘messy’ weather. Messy in regards to trying to maneuver the icy driveways, sidewalks, steps and porches of the homes that I tramp in and out of all day, without falling on my keister.  Not a simple task this time of year.

I needn’t have worried.  My favorite daily devotional talks about “watching for the treasures that He has carefully ‘planted’ throughout our day… specifically for us”.  I don’t always remember to do that, but when I do, I am blessed and in awe of what I see.  Today was one of those days.  I left the radio silent and instead used the entire day of driving to ponder and take notice of my surroundings.

It is a fact — I do NOT like winter …..its’ short and sunless days depress me. I don’t like walking on slippery surfaces and having to dress like the Michelin Man every time I go out. Having said all that though, I do always look for the beauty and art in things, especially in nature around me wherever my travels lead.

My first “treasure” today popped up so quickly I had no time to react, as I would have loved to have taken a picture. Imagine a pristine snow-covered hillside FILLED with turkeys … probably 75 – 100, just north of Amity in Knox county.  I was flabbergasted and so wished that I could stop and go back  …. but, alas, I had a scheduled visit to get to. What a site to behold!  If you were a fly on my dashboard, you would have chuckled at my childlike glee upon seeing such an unusual site.

There were other treasures of note as well. Various “critter sightings” that He knows I love to see in particular. As I drive, very carefully I should note, I am also constantly “scanning” the snowy fields, the tree branches and the tops of utility and fence posts for anything from the animal kingdom…but especially owls.  I take notice of the minutia that many probably don’t … the squirrel and bird’s nests in the trees, the cows and what they’re doing in the fields, old barns from another era that have been lovingly preserved, the ‘special’ trees that draw my eye — the ones that are extra large or old or shaped so beautifully or uniquely. The stately sycamore being a favorite among many.  All of this caught my eye today as I traveled many small and winding backroads through both “English” and Amish farmland. To say I have always felt so blessed to live in such a place of great beauty is quite the understatement indeed.

An even bigger treasure today, though, was of the human variety.  If you watch the daily news too much, like many of us do, it’s very easy to feel jaded, stressed, anxious, insecure and less than thrilled with humankind in general. All of the evil and wickedness and people who are just flat out mean and inconsiderate. Today, however, His treasures for me restored my faith in mankind once again.  I had the great pleasure of visiting with some really nice people.  Common, hard-working folk, some in really rough situations.  I was raised with the concept – “if you are nice to people, they will be nice to you”. Well, I’m happy to report that that has been true for me 99% of the time throughout my life. Today was no different. What a simple but beautiful pleasure … having a pleasant and meaningful conversation with someone who is polite and kind towards you. A lost art on both the giving and receiving ends. It sounds ridiculously simplistic, but, as our society has become so tech-focused and less and less face-to-face focused, I personally consider this a “treasure” indeed … sprinkled throughout my day.

So, friends, as you can see, my intended couple of short paragraphs about the ‘beauties’ found in my day turned into yet another long expose’. It seems I always end up having more to say than I ever realize.

I hope you will make a conscious effort now and then to look for the small “treasures” hidden along your daily path. It makes for a very good day.

 

Picture This …

Well, as we begin a new year, I’ve decided to begin yet another new category for my blog…….because I CAN……seeing as it’s MY blog and I can do whatever I want to with it…..said with all the snarky bit of attitude I seem to have acquired somehow this morning.  Probably has something to do with this being the first day of my new diet……#5,632….whereby I have deemed it a day of “fasting” on nothing but hot tea and homemade bone broth. Yippee!!!! The choice being “skinny and snarky” or “fluffy and funny”……..skinny being a relative term, of course,…since I haven’t really been skinny, per se’, since college. Of course the word “fluffy”….coined by a famous comedian who prefers that word as opposed to “fat” is rather relative as well…..MY relative…..a very CLOSE relative that I can’t seem to get outa my house for love nor money! You know, the ones who stay and stay till they make a nuisance of themselves and you have to just about come right out and be RUDE to get them to leave!!  Well…..I guess it’s SHOWTIME and my next great attempt is mighty rude indeed!!!  I’m gonna just shut down that revolving kitchen door and starve the crap right out of that freeloader!!  A couple days of tea and bone broth outa be more than enough to get ANYONE to start looking for a new place to hang out! But that’s not the topic of this post now is it. Geez Louise……put on your blinders and ignore all the tempting “bunny trails” Woman!!

This new category is going to be all about photos…..ones that I have taken, whether it be with my cell phone or my “fancy pants” Canon that I am still trying to figure out how to use. I’m not sharing them because I think they are even remotely good or great or award-winning in their topic or quality. I’m sharing them because they have meaning to me…for one reason or another. They help to illustrate and document my life’s journey.  If for absolutely no other reason, these photos and this blog, for that matter, will serve as something a little more tangible to help my future grandchild know their grandma a little better. That may or may not be a good thing.

This first “installment” happens to be of some watercolor paintings I’ve been monkeying around with lately. I hadn’t done any painting whatsoever for YEARS, as evidenced by the fact that when I went to use my watercolors last week, they had completely turned to some sort of strange ‘mutant’ liquid that was actually starting to eat thru the metal tubes! Needless to say I gifted myself with a new set. A couple of these were done with watercolor pencils and a couple with the new paints. I definitely don’t claim to be an artist but I had forgotten how much I really enjoy painting. I hope to do more of it in the coming year. Welcome to the inaugural post of my Photo category.

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Full Circle

It goes without saying that parenting has its’ ups and downs. Children, after all, don’t come with a “user manual” or a snappy little video that gives us a step-by-step tutorial ……like the plethora of offerings you can find on YouTube.  For one thing, they’re all so very different…and unpredictable.  Many years ago I went thru a phase where I was majorly into sculpting miniature fairies and other ethereal little beings out of polymer clay. I would work long and tediously on each little body…each little face…trying to get it just perfect before baking it to make it rock hard. Sometimes, however, no matter how diligently I prepared, no matter how much I wanted it to end up looking a certain way, when I put it in the oven, something in the “curing” process caused it to change and it came out much differently.  Parenting can be very similar.

When I was in college back when the 70’s ended and the 80’s began, I became very interested in the whole “natural” movement and the DIY (do it yourself) way of thinking. I was also, by nature, a pretty “domestically oriented” type of gal. Thus, when I got married and had my daughter, I was extremely vigilant about cooking everything from scratch, baking homemade bread, sewing all kinds of things, quilting, making my own cleaning products, and several years later I started my own business whereby I created a line of over 30 products…….made from scratch, after doing TONS of research into natural soaps, lotions, salves, ointments, etc. etc.  I would estimate that I’ve probably made a few thousand bars of cold process (the kind your great grandma used to make…except better) soap over the coarse of about 5 years. I now have the arthritis in my hands to prove it!  Anyway……I digress…..

I think, as parents, we kind of hope……somewhere way down deep in our hearts, that our children, who we know are watching us, will, at some point, find pleasure in some of the same things we do. Or that they will at least see the value and importance in them as they are maturing. I’m no exception. I enjoyed all of these “domestic” pursuits very much and naturally hoped that my young daughter would as well.  I had dreams of the two of us cooking together…sewing together…..and basically just enjoying what I thought of then as important “motherly” and “wifely” pursuits……things that I felt were important contributions to a good family life. Things a mother teaches her daughter how to do…..and then she teaches her daughter..and so on and so on.

Imagine my surprise, then, when my daughter……….MY daughter…….the only daughter of a “dyed-in-the-wool” “Suzy Homemaker”,  chose 3rd grade basketball and soccer over baking cookies with Mommy.  The one who chose high school volleyball and athletic pursuits instead of “Home Ec” and learning how to cook or sew.  She had zero interest in learning anything taking place in the kitchen other than when I rang the “dinner bell”.  When it came to my business and possibly learning the skill of soap making or how to create other products or the artistic end of creating packaging or giving the products names and such, she REALLY voiced her displeasure and disinterest in following suit.  She declared loudly and openly on several occasions that she NEVER wanted any part of the soap making nor any other type of HOME BUSINESS……..like it was something hideously disgusting and worthless. The wind gradually leaked out of my sails for years.

Now don’t get me wrong. I was and still am my daughter’s biggest cheerleader and supporter……no matter where her interests lie. Truly. We have actually laughed about this over the years and I always roll my eyes and say that I…….the one who always HATED gym class or any other athletic -type pursuits…….find it so INCREDIBLE that I would have a “jock” for a daughter.  She was never aware of the depth of my fear that she would enter adulthood not knowing how to sew on a button or prepare a meal or hem a pair of pants. I managed to keep that on the ‘down-low’, for the most part.

Fast forward to present day…….today, as a matter of fact.  A magnificent white steed named Patience thundered into my “corral” and on his mighty back he carried Validation and Affirmation……my heart didn’t quite know how to handle these unexpected but  welcome arrivals.  Yesterday after all the gift exchanging typical of Christmas Day, my daughter informed me that she would, after all, like to take me up on my offer of gifting her with my old but still very good sewing machine. So, we brought it down out of storage and she actually sat and asked me to teach her step-by-step how to thread it and perform some basic functions with it. Oh how my heart thrilled. Today, she called me several times on her way to, during, and after a big visit to JoAnn Fabrics to share with me how extremely EXCITED she is to start sewing!!  She even FaceTimed me to show me something she had made after she got home with all her fun fabric choices. She was more excited than I’ve heard her in a long time. She and her husband are well into the adoption process and are actively waiting to be matched with a baby and she is so thrilled to be learning how to sew some things for her own baby. As a mother, I can surely relate, as we do many things for our children that we may have never done before.  As a mother, my very old dreams for her are slowly coming to fruition. While in college, she learned to crochet and started to make the most lovely dishcloths that she started giving as gifts.  Since she got married, she has started taking a very serious interest in cooking and plans her supper menus a week in advance. She tries new recipes frequently……just like her old mom used to love to do back in the day. And now……she’s excited to learn how to sew.!!……my heart is full…..my cup runneth over.  Maybe all that hard work wasn’t in vain after all.  Life is funny. Sometimes when you least expect it….or, when it happens little by little so slowly that you don’t really notice it, dreams and things hoped for come ‘full circle’ and your “role model ticket” gets punched…….validated……at last.