Tag Archives: friends

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Companionable

This gallery contains 10 photos.

This weekend we made and saw history at the Gettysburg 150th Anniversary Battle Re-enactment, accompanied by friends from Texas with whom we have our own history. The event was more than shooting, as these few photos can attest. Advertisements

Kendra, my new BFF (or, Comcast, how do I love thee?)

We pay a tidy sum monthly for Comcast to provide  internet access and television at our house. I have a slight addiction to the Weather Channel (shoutout to Stephanie Abrams and Mike Bettes — I heart you!) and am a recovering NCIS addict (who even thought about fixing up Mark Harmon with Jamie Lee Curtis?? Blech!). Music Choice gives me the Blues when I crave them and a Mexicana fix as necessary.

A remote the size of a small cat with about 100 buttons came with our service. I mastered the on/off and volume buttons and tried not to bump any others lest I be forced to press every button to get back to home base, or worse, be forced to call Comcast on my essentially nonexistent cell phone service. About a year into our service my nephew visited and informed us we had HD channels. Duh. Even I of very low threshhold viewing requirements could see the crisp, color-infused superiority of an HD presentation.

Recently, in a bold, devil-may-care moment, I pushed the “On Demand” button. It was as if I had stepped into Dr. Who’s phone booth. As angels sang softly in the background, an entire time-warp’s worth of extra programming appeared, for viewing at my leisure. Though I confess to frequently using television to put me to sleep, no longer did I have to wake up to the credits of my one favorite show rolling along. Easy menu choices allowed me to cue up my selection as well as pause the program for a drink refill/toilet flush/nose blowing break. I had discovered the alternate universe that is Comcast Xfinity.

And, I met Kendra.

Kendra, in the virtual, in my house.

Kendra, my new BFF. Smiling, encouraging, non-threatening Kendra, she who resembles my niece and invites me to come along with her, sometimes bringing her also-smiling friends, on a brisk walk or a booty-busting, sweaty dance session. Never condescending or insipid, always reasonable and patient, Kendra

You go, girl!

accepts me into the fold of her excercise classes without asking me if I have kids or telling me that’s not how we do things here or telling me she can help me get religion. I can see that flash in her eyes and the way she looks at her friends that she rocks, too; she’s trying not to laugh at someone in the background egging her on during the Rhythmic Groove.  She’s always available for me, for the quick 10 minute walk after I drag myself from bed before plodding off to notwork, or in the reviving half hour we spend sliding sideways and marching it out while rain again falls outside my windows. She’s having fun; I’m having fun. Kendra’s helping me get my groove back.

Comcast (literally) hasn’t always been there for me in the past, but Kendra’s changing that. She keeps showing up when I look for her. The value of that tidy sum we pay has increased exponentially. So, hey Comcast — thanks!

To Xfinity & beyond!

Not now, not ever

I will not wait till the last minute to go to the bathroom, especially if a slippery zipper is being anchored in the “up” position by a safety pin.

I will not complain about what’s free — Facebook, cloud servers, Pandora radio,  friends, family, or gifts.

I will not go viral or ballistic, nor will I jump on any bandwagons. The first seems germ-laden, the second downright dangerous, the third just an opportunity to be run over.

I will not pass up a chance to wear a conical hat. Look what it did for Harry Potter. December’s Saturnalia observation is already marked on my new calendar. Being a dunce and wearing the hat has its advantages, not the least of which is a seat near the front of the crowd.

I will not daily blog publicly. If I have nothing to say I will not burden my 25 subscribers with it. Every bit of writing advice promotes “honing the craft” by daily writing. That doesn’t mean I have to bore my long-suffering readers with every if, and, or but I can spell.

I will not hesitate to take the Magic Bus on adventures everywhere I can possibly go, with anyone who wants to come with.

I will not ignore the voices in my head. Shh, just a second. A retrospective of my life shows significant slapdowns could have been avoided if I hadn’t muzzled my own instincts. What were you saying?

I will not pass up an opportunity to toss a coin, accompanied by a wish, into a fountain. No shooting star will complete its arc without my thoughts clinging to its tail. Every dandelion will scatter before my breath and every wishbone will be accommodated.

 

I will never think twice about joining a celebratory parade or doing the happy dance. Not now, not ever.

Guess what, Martha Stewart?

I’ve long had it in my head to decorate and furnish a house like those magazine pictures — everything perfectly in place, matching colors, rich fabrics. I married into Mike’s 100 year old Houston house, which was the sum of more than one remodel, including ours. Mike had an art room where he literally tried paint colors right on the wall, the wallpaper in the dining room was upside down, and the porch was purple with blue rocking chairs, a white railing, a red bench, and a cream-colored front door. That house was my first attempt to decorate, and the results were mixed (to put it kindly). The upside down wall paper was replaced with wall paper of a concrete block pattern, the lines of which angled downward till we realized what was happening, then they meandered up. My multi-purpose room was yellow with a purple accent wall and sheer green print curtains over the windows (rather Mardi Gras, looking back on it). Art work was literally everywhere. The ceiling access to our air conditioner was concealed behind a Van Gogh print. Only a repair tech of slim build could get through the painting to service the unit.

The Goal

When we moved to this much newer ranch style house at the other side of the country, I once again had some decorating ideas. Nice arrangements of artwork, tasteful rugs, coordinating colors, simple but elegant decorating. No more of that “stuff everywhere and on everything” look. I wanted a space that would make a favorable impression on those visitors I anticipated hosting.

What was I thinking? Whose life was I trying to live — Martha Stewart? She can’t even get a haircut that doesn’t look like everybody else’s. Arrangements of artwork? We have so much art that the walls are nearly filled and there’s a goat cart in the living room filled with the surplus. Why paint the walls? I’m just covering them with pictures, tiles, greeting cards and plates. Who needs curtain rods — I’ve got a wooden toy rifle I’m going to use as a hanger. My decorating style could be called Scratch & Dent, with a subheading of Impermanence.

The pinata hangs out with Mom.

And those people have visited, both family and friends. They’ve slept in the spare bedroom packed with Civil War art and a half-moon pinata that held my engagement ring. I had to beat the pinata with a stick to extract the ring and hope it didn’t fly into the nearby cow pasture to be swallowed by Elsie. Thev’e slept on the leather couch in the living room, across from the wall where a Montana trip souvenir switchplate moose is stalking Marilyn Monroe. We’ve had coffee under the gold-framed chicken prints, the first artwork Mike and I bought together after we decided to get married. Napoleon with a Heavy Seas Beer dinner pirate eye patch watches everyone troop down the hall from bedroom to bathroom to dining room.

Stalker moose

I’ve learned a few things over the past year in this house. First, that’s all it is, a house. Walls holding up a roof. It’s the storage unit where I keep what’s important to me — my father’s pheasant statues with the glued-on tails, my old dog’s collar and leash near the door even though he died in Houston,  our Texas flag that everyone, friends and friends of friends, signed before we left. These are what matter, these memory keepers, not the color of these walls or the type of flooring.

Second, I’ve learned that family and friends are everything, and that they are the same thing. Both have lighted here over the past year and we’re all better for having been together. Who knew Alice wore socks with trains on them? I knew Beverley had a Derby party but not that she was horse crazy. Bryan has cool friends. My brother-in-law John can make even me understand politics. My mind’s eye sees each of them here, surrounded by all these things that make up my memories, and the way I think of all those things is widened to include my friends and family as a part of them. That picture in my mind keeps everyone nearby, even if they can’t be.

And I’ve learned that people don’t visit to see the house, the new couch, or the local artist’s painting. They’re here to see us, Mike & I. They come to laugh with us, drink with us, play games with us, and comfort us.  They come because we’re family, and we’re friends. They visit to add to our memories, and to their own. That fact, the most important one, isn’t in any of the decorating magazines.

Somebody tell Martha Stewart.

Aargh, Martha Stewart! What do you know! Nothing, I tell you!

With a little help from my friends

I decided to write a collaborative story on Facebook with anyone who wanted to participate. No rules, just write. I provided the opening paragraph:

“The car hurtled through the dry desert air, like a Patriot missile with wheels. It spun slowly, elegantly, end to end, dipped headlights to sand and ended in shivasana on its roof. Silence, then a desert breeze, followed by a chicken’s cluck. From one shattered window, an appendage — leathery, purple, and snake-long — tapped out like a daddy-long-leg.”

Here’s what followed (verbatim):

The creature slithered the rest of its body out of the damaged window. The leathery skin not even getting a scratch as it passes over the broken glass.  Then..once again the chicken’s cluck..but this time it was only a whisper…as the “thing” looked around with eyes that shined like diamonds…the creature stopped in its tracks. . Then, out of nowhere, Elvis appeared and sang “Jailhouse Rock.” But only the chicken seemed to acknowledge his presence, or so it seemed. The creature’s purple skin bubbled, swelled and split. Dark hands stripped back the torn sheath, and a liquid figure clothed in a 3-pc. suit of ice cream cones stepped onto the sand. “Greetings, loved ones,” said Snoop Dogg. “Let’s take a journey. And you will determine the destination of this journey, and the manner in which it will be accomplished. It must meet all of my criteria or you will be banished to a further hell than any you have experienced thus far”. As the most feared of the Alien Alliance leaders, Snoop Dogg, instructed his companions that clues have been left along the journey that would indicate the secret destination. Out of nowhere there appeared in one hand a magic napkin dispenser which would show pictures of the clue sites along the way. Snoop Dogg, carrying his umbrella and spare poncho, was all too prepared fo’ tha drizzle that could get all up in his nizzle. With magical chicken, magical napkin dispenser, poncho, and umbrella in his very full hands, Snoop started his trek across the desert with elvis to find the clues that would lead them to their destination- The Circle K. They couldn’t wait to get to the Circle K for the much loved princess of ALL the Circles reigned here. She was very beautiful and wise and would be able to create music with Elvis (Costello) and Snoop Dogg along with Freddie Mercury. Music so fantastic that the world would all stop and say ………..Who is that masked Dogg? Is the Evil Cousin of Snoop Dogg…known to his enemies as Hoop Dogg…Yes it was Him…he was here at Circle K to kidnap the most lovely Princess and take her far…far away from the ones who worshiped her charming ways…BUT…the princess was no pushover. She seized the magic chicken & crammed it in Hoop Dogg’s throat. Hoop Dogg staggered. Snoop Dogg donned his poncho & impaled Hoop Dogg with his umbrella. Elvis mopped his brow with a magic napkin, wiping away his features to reveal Donny Osmond. “Get me a fountain drink, Donny,” the princess ordered. As the door to the Circle K opened, the sound of “We Are the Champions” filled the air. THE END

I did threaten mid way to bring Donny Osmond into it if necessary, and I am a woman of my word. But I want to thank all the contributors: Kristie (thanks for naming the blog, too), Andy, Debbie, Nancy, Eric and Lucia.

Washington should have turned over the debt ceiling issue to us. We could have handled it more efficiently.

Let’s try poetry next.

When spaghetti was spaghetti

I’m not a foodie. If someone wants to cook for me, I’m going to like it even if I don’t because they’ve gone to the trouble (unless they’re cannibals; I’d have to draw the line there. Hopefully they would have a dog under the table I could slip it to). Somehow my diet became healthier over the years, more so after I was away from home. My parents ate some pretty damning stuff — Mom dredged bread in bacon drippings and ate it and Dad had burgers & fries daily under the golden arches during his letter-carrier career.  They were simple, wonderful people and did an awesome job parenting three kids, each of whom has at least a dozen separate personalities, but they’re not on terra firma anymore. Their diet was a significant contributing factor in their premature heavenly recall.

The San Francisco treat!

Nuking rice today (that sounds healthy, doesn’t it, — and I’m doing it in cancer-leaching plastic) brought back some food memories. My Dad and I ate Rice-a-Roni brand Spanish rice (“Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco treat!”), made on the stove (that was in pre-nuke days) by my mother, who would say every time, “I don’t know where you learned to like spicy food.” That rice would not pass her lips. We’re Hungarian on my Dad’s side, and I hear we can trace back to Attila the Hun, so maybe that’s it. (You’re not surprised about the Attila thing, are you? Me either. It’s probably better than tracing back to Vlad the Impaler.)

We ate cake for breakfast. My Mom made frosting basically from butter, sugar and evaporated milk. I’ve never been able to duplicate it. I’m guessing there was a secret “mom ingredient” that’s the equivalent of the magical-sounding “grains of paradise” used in beer brewing, that only Mom knew how to add for the perfect, creamy spreading consistency over that two-layer chocolate treasure.

I’ve struggled for years to find a decent meatloaf recipe. Mom pretty much put hamburg in a loaf pan and drizzled ketchup on the top, which nearly sent me to cooking therapy in adulthood. (“Tell me about your earliest meatloaf memories.”) She’d eat chicken fingers, always a safe choice, every time we went to a restaurant. She mailed me a ham bone once so I could make soup with it. I think it took about a week to cross country, unfrozen, in the mail. She meant well.

My Dad sprang from the womb already working. He had no idea how to not work. He’d deliver mail through rain, snow, sleet and dark of Pennsvylvania, then head to job #2, making milk boxes. Go ahead, ask me. In the summer he’d come home from work and mow the lawn in his postal uniform, then throw back a well-earned beer. He’d get a fire going in a hole somewhere in the nether part of the backyard, let it get to coals, and put corn on the cob wrapped in wet burlap in the hole. I’m not sure where he got that idea, but I remember clouds of smoke foaming up the slope and into the neighbors’ windows. The corn would take hours to roast. He could turn a steak into cowhide on the grill. But he was a man who loved to eat, and made no excuses for it. He had some sort of connection with the military reserve, and we’d go on these reconnaisance missions with those guys to a frozen food place where we’d get enough frozen pies to feed 50 people for a year. Each one had at least a can of whipped cream on top. We ended up giving them away to neighbors.

Mary & Alex

But this isn’t about the food. It’s about the folks. It’s always about the folks, and the fam, and the friends. It’s about the memories you’re making as you’re making them. Who cares if the pizza’s smoky? (You know who you are.)  Does it matter if the cheese isn’t made by dwarf nuns in the darkest Bulgarian forests? Does it really matter if the coffee is half-calf or full moo? No. It really doesn’t. It matters who’s across the table from you, and what’s being said between you, and what’s not being said between you. It’s about the stories being told, and the memories being made, how the light looks in their eyes, and how goofy some of us sound laughing. That’s what matters, because when everything else is gone, including those people in your life you can never replace, or get a second chance to tell how much they matter to you, or just spend more time with, you’re not going to be thinking the spaghetti sauce needed more basil.