What Was I Thinking ???

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It’s Friday…. And Friday is my day off work. I still work, but often at home and at a more relaxed pace. Because the day was gorgeous, a walk on the beach with The Little Black Dog seemed the Perfect way to … Continue reading

My Virgin Experience with Tree Trimmers (and an insect)

Usually, I have my landscaping trimmed back in early spring. This spring was no different. Got the beds weeded. Patio Furniture out.

Nothing worse than cleaning up the yard when it is 95 degrees…

But for the first time, I busted out a tree topper. The thing with the long pole where you pull the string to clip branches. A virgin experience. Never used one before.

Our backyard has three HUGE trees that block the sun. I’m not opposed to shade, but a drop of sunlight back there would be nice…

The dogs agreed. They were annoyed by all the shade. Either that or because I was taking their picture??

I finished up and felt a sense of accomplishment as I looked around the yard. It looked so much better. Except for one little section. I held the giant pole up to that section, looked up and removed a few stray branches.

That’s when the bug flew into my nose. (Virgin experience number two.)

Eeeewwww.

Done. Game over. I set the tree topper down.

Then gagged. Blew my nose hard enough to lose brain cells. Brain cells that I’m not sure I can spare…

But there was STILL this tickle–or itchy feeling deep inside my nose. I coughed and gagged a few more times. Hopped up and down. The thought of a creepy crawler up there was too much for me.

I tried some nasal spray, thinking it couldn’t hurt.

Then threw up. (Twice)

Drank a little water.

Finally (probably because of the nasal spray) the offending insect exited down into my mouth in a pool of snot, which I spit out.

I managed NOT to barf a third time. (barely…)

And I’m not sure why I felt so violated. It was just one small bug.

I’ve had insects fly into my mouth while hiking in the woods. Not many options when that happens and they hit the back of the throat. Can’t spit them out.

Several times, I’ve swallowed bugs hardly missing a stride.

My nose was a whole different story.

I STILL haven’t trimmed up the front shrubs weeks later. But it needs to happen this weekend. Thinking about it–even typing this–has me nauseous.

My daughter wants to go to the beach. Son has ‘gone fishing.’ I think I have plans for later. (And if not, I can find some plans…)  And I know I have plans tomorrow and tomorrow night…

Anyways, it is going to be a scorcher. Maybe too hot for yardwork?

I just realized why I HATE shopping…

If I can go to the store and buy it new, I generally don’t WANT it.

With a few exceptions.

I do frequent grocery stores, bookstores and the pharmacy. And I am a hot, sweaty mess without my Premarin. I’m rarely cranky–so if I am, the kids ask if I took my pill. Referring to the HRT.

My family is tight-knit, funny, and sentimental.

When we are together, we share experiences. We have fun.

My memories?

The whole family going to see the movie Elf when it came out, because it was a big deal to my kids. Family dinners, game nights, baseball games at Three Rivers Stadium when my aunt lived in Cincinnati. Bowling outings. Meeting up at a golf course for a round of golf. Family vacations in Hilton Head, trips to Cedar Point and of course Washington, D.C.

What we have never done for fun? Gone shopping.

Not to say we don’t gift each other on occasion. My aunt bought me a lovely Tiffany Drop Heart Pendant for my birthday the year I was preparing to move from my home, with divorce imminent. She felt I needed something special.

Not too long ago, my father and his wife had a lovely old family clock restored for me.

Shopping absolutely bores me. If I need something, I get it. But I’m in and out. I have never shopped as a form of entertainment.

Just today, I needed a new pair of shorts. I went into Eddie Bauer and bought a pair. Took me about 15 minutes. Sure, there was an outlet full of stores. And I could have spent the day trying on shorts. But I got what I needed.

Then my aunt and I took the dogs to a lake nearby, where they spent an hour jumping off a dock and swimming for tennis balls. Far more entertaining to me than the outlet mall.

I also enjoy walking in the woods, or on the beach. Reading. Throwing a Frisbee to the incredibly athletic Little Black neurotic Dog. Going for a long bike ride. Rollerblading.Yard work, planting flowers. Auctions. Painting and refinishing the retro furniture that I find.

Spending time with family and friends.

Or what we call ‘Field Trips’ in my family. And Road Trips.

Road Trips are long trips. Vacations to Hilton Head, New York City, skiing at Peek ‘n Peek or going to my aunts in Leesburg, Virginia. As I did this week.

Field Trips are short adventures. Like the year the kids and I hopped in the car on a whim on Christmas morning, then showed up at a family brunch in Pennsylvania. Or heading to the West Side to see friends there. Or to Geneva-on-the-Lake.

What made me think of this? And my aversion to shopping?

Being in Virginia this week. Walking around my aunts home.

Let me explain with photos…

The pretty, antique mirror on the wall belonged to a relative. For my whole life, it hung above our living room fireplace. My mother inherited it. When she passed and my father sold that home, it went to her sister–my aunt. The black table is new from an upscale Virginia furniture store. The grandfather clock was purchased at Pierces in Mentor, Ohio. Maybe 25 years ago? It has been on a few moving trucks over the years.

The sectional and club chair are modern. But the library table in front of the bay window is late 1800s. It was inherited from relatives in my uncles family. It is in near Perfect condition.

Here’s a closer look at the table…

The series of pictures on the wall are Warren Kimble and depict the seasons; spring, summer, winter, fall. I have the same set in my house. A 30th birthday gift from my family–including Dad, brother, cousins, aunts, uncles. My set will probably be in one of my children’s homes some day. (Notice the dog? We all have dogs…)

The little pottery jug with lid to the left must have been bought by my aunt ages ago. I can remember her having it when I was a young child. And I am 41 now. It sits on her Corian countertop and holds dog treats. It has actually held dog treats for many years.

Which brings me to function. We USE everything. If there are books lying around, they’ve likely been read. Jars hold things. We use our dining tables and put our feet on the coffee table.

A prime example of this…

The Nordictrack. It is there because my aunt uses it when the weather is bad and she can’t get outside for a walk. And it is placed so that she can see the TV when she does so. She has had the machine for years. It isn’t the newest, latest or greatest. But it works great. (Function, again.) And it actually looks fine.

I’ve always known how my family decorated. We don’t so much ‘design’ rooms, we fill them with our favorite things. Or things we use. We make ourselves comfortable.

We don’t go store to store with paint and material swatches to match furniture, wall art and accessories. Nor do we stress over color and everything being perfectly matched. Or what is ‘in style’ at the moment. When we do buy furniture or big items, we buy what strikes us–what we love. Then work with it. Often for 25+ years. (Or more…)

Rooms come together as an extension of surrounding ourselves with what we love. Things that have meaning to us.

And in looking at my aunts examples of this in the photos, it works for her. Her home is a reflection of the people who live there. Always has been.

I guess I’m a product of my environment.

So it is the elder generation’s fault that I hate shopping. Because it feels like a waste of time. I already have everything I need. No need to go out looking for more things, when I could be doing something fun!

Tomorrow, I’ll be going to an event here in Leesburg. The 2012 Annual Luckett’s Spring Antique Market. People fly in from all over the country to attend. I cannot wait…

But not because I plan to spend the day buying things. Or wishing I could buy things. I’ll spend it meeting vendors, talking to people, snacking on festival foods, looking at artwork and being inspired by others creativity.

In other words, I’ll soak up the experience of being there.

And if I find a little trinket to remember the event by, I might just buy it.

But only because I happened upon it. Not because I was shopping for it.

Here’s a link for those wanting information on Luckett’s: http://luckettstore.com/events/50-spring-market

I (accidentally) Went Sled Riding Yesterday…Without the Sled

With my usual grace and style, I made my way down the hill leading to the beach yesterday afternoon. In a split second, I was on my as#. And I kept going…about fifteen feet down the lumpy, bumpy, slope before I came to a stop.

Probably because the old “a body in motion stays in motion” law applied?

My latest ‘acrobatic’ feat seemed a metaphor for my life. I often land on my posterior–literally and figuratively. Thankfully, I’m not overly bothered by my falls and failures…

When I stood at the top of the hill in the wet, slushy grass, the bottom didn’t look treacherous. It just looked covered with a dusting of snow. Yet I ended up on quite the unexpected ride.

Even though I am known for my agility and catlike reflexes (hah!), I didn’t try to stop myself.  Seemed worse to fight it. I hadn’t realized the terrain was so rough until fifteen feet of it jabbed my behind as I bounced my way downhill.

For sure my rear end will be riddled with bruises.

Not that I will look. I try NEVER to look at the state of things back there.

Undeterred, I quickly dusted off my (very) wet jeans and set forth on my walk. The trail my butt blazed in the hillside made me giggle. And I had a wonderful walk, despite its rocky start…

Though it is winter in Northeast Ohio, I walk the Little Black Dog at the beach most days. Unless there is a blizzard. Then I go to the woods, or to the nearby park with the asphalt path.

I need ‘outside time’ each day. I cannot do without it.

The only downside?  I must brave the elements…

There’s mud.

Last week, I happened across a slippery slope. It rained earlier in the day.

It was sort of like skateboarding–except on mud instead of a sidewalk. And with no skateboard. I instinctively threw my arms out for balance. And all was well. I only slid a few feet. And I somehow managed NOT to become a human mud pie. Then I kept walking. Hardly missed a stride.

And water.

I am often hit by waves. Which means my shoes, socks and jeans get wet.  I tend to lose focus and end up too close to the water when I look for beach glass. Or when I throw sticks and tennis balls to The Little Black Dog. Or I get sidetracked taking in my surroundings…

No matter the season, there’s always something to appreciate. In the spring, bulbs sprout into tulips and nature begins to turn green again.

Summer brings spectacular sunsets over the lake. And the fall is stunning when leaves on trees turn all shades of golden-yellow, orange and red.

In the winter, the beach is desolate and barren. But the ice coating the empty tree branches is lovely. And there is something magical and serene about the beach during the cold, winter months.

The best thing? It isn’t crowded. In fact, I never see ANYBODY down there in the winter. I love the solitude.

Which either makes me brilliant or not so bright…or maybe a bit of both?

Nature is invigorating. So much so that I don’t mind getting disheveled to have ‘outside time.’

Could care less that I head home with snarly, windblown hair.  Wet and/or muddy sneakers. Smeared mascara and a sniffly nose from the cold air. With my jeans droopy from the weight of the rocks and beach glass in my pockets.

Nor does it matter that The Little Black Dog is a muddy, smelly, wet mess.

On the outside, I might seem mussed–save for the wide smile on my face. On the inside, I always return home lighter, happier…and with my spirit Perfectly in tact.

Yesterday’s adventure reminded me of a favorite quote:

Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. What if they are a little coarse and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice? Up again; you shall never be so afraid of a tumble. 

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Emerson was onto something. And he could have spoken directly to me.

The more banged up I get, the less afraid I am. In fact, I’ve been knocked around and bruised with such frequency, that I am nearly fearless these days…

A Day at the Beach…

My Dad whipped open the blinds to let the sunshine in first thing this morning, as we all tried to ready ourselves for the beach.

Dad: He’s eyeballing us…

The four of us:Huh?

Our New Friend...

Dad: The alligator out there.

We all crowded around the sliding door.

Jannie: Want me to take a picture.

Me: I’m not going out there. How fast can those things move?

Our new friend...a little closer thanks to Jannie.

Dad: He’s eyeballing us.

Jannie: He’s 20 feet from our door. I’ll get a picture.

Dad: She does things like that.

Me: I’m not going out there.

Jannie heads outside…

Dad: Good Luck Hon…I’ll be in here if you need me.

After getting ready, we hopped into the Trusty Honda and headed for the beach. I’m just grateful our old hunk of junk made it down to Hilton Head Island, with 200,000+ thousand miles on it.

Matter of fact, my son has been harassing me over it. Because the car has manual locks, I am a broken record of  ‘lock the doors.’

Son: Yeah. We’re parked between all these nice cars, and somebody’s going to want to take the Accord?

Me (thinking in my head): Okay. Good point.

Peanuts??

We are surrounded by very nice vehicles–this is Hilton Head, after all. And I’m fairly sure my car is the only one with peanut shells littering the floor.

Remember the graduation party peanuts? And my recent blog about them? I was given a whole bag last week after that posting. I brought them on our road trip—and my Dad drove my car for hours…eating peanuts the whole time. (The kids along with him.) Already a heap, it now looks like The Ground Round on Wheels…

At least the Trusty Honda is dry now. The night before we left, somebody left the windows open. And there were torrential downpours all night.

We traveled yesterday with towels on our seats. It was like sitting in a damp bathing suit…for twelve hours!

Anyways, they have a guard stationed at gated checkpoints in all of the private condo complexes—called ‘Plantations.’ We passed through one such place on the way to the ocean.

The Guard Shack at Palmetto Dunes…

Son: Doesn’t he look like a he could be a stripper?

Me: He looks like he could be in The Village People.

Mirrored aviator sunglasses. A navy ‘police’ look-a-like uniform. Dark skin. Muscular. My son has a point…he looks like he could rip off his pants from the front exposing a g-string, while gyrating about. He could be that guy in a heartbeat.

Past the checkpoint, we arrive at the ocean and the crew starts to assemble down on the beach. I have just gotten situated in my beach chair, book in hand.

Along comes my cousin, already making fun of his lovely wife. At it is only 10am.

Cousin: Carissa thought somebody from the store opened her jelly.

Charming Carissa: All I said when I went to make my toast was, “Somebody probably had some, right?”

Uncle Joe (who had in fact had some): I left it out. With the butter knife. And spoon. So she would know…

Cousin: That wasn’t what she was thinking…she was wondering if there was a Jelly Robber around somewhere.

And it went on from there…for a while. They had a field day with their Jelly Robber theory. Not that I minded. The focus was on somebody else. I read my book, while they had at her.

You can imagine what a beating I take in this family. I give them continuous material ALL DAY LONG.

In fact, I took a pounding the evening before for commenting that I should put the bologna in the fridge. It was in the cooler during the trip from Ohio to South Carolina.

Bologna fiasco…

Aunt K: But it was in the cooler.

Me: Yes.

Aunt K: I don’t want any. Don’t bring it over to my place for lunch.

Cousin: Do you know what’s in bologna?

Son: There’s…

Daughter: DON’T. I already TOLD you that today!!!!

I’m just there…listening to things go down.

Aunt K: I’m not eating it anyway. It’s been in that cooler for what…12 hours? Is there even any ice in there?

Daughter: It was just about melted.

Aunt K: It’s GOT to be floating in water by now.

Daughter: Yep. It was last time I looked.

Cousin: And anyways, we’re not eating that over here. Bologna is like, mystery meat.

Son: Yeah, they put…

Daughter (who was in fact planning to eat it): STOP!!!

Aunt K: I’m going to have to have a look at that stuff. It can’t even be cold anymore…

Me: ENOUGH about the bologna. I’ll throw it away. I wish I never even bought the bologna.

There is good reason my brother has only been on the family vacation to Hilton Head once. Back many years ago when he was married and his wife (now ex-wife) put him in charge of sunscreen—which he purchased, special for the trip.

Sunscreen is important for my brother because he is one of those pasty white people who burn easily. He didn’t like the sun…even when we were kids.

On Day 1, they were like boiled lobsters. And they just couldn’t understand it. You have never seen anything like the way they slathered on that sunscreen—and with such frequency. None of us were burnt.  Puzzled, we asked to see their sunscreen several days later, when they finally made their second trip to the beach. Let’s just say my brother bought tanning lotion, with zero—yes zero sun block in it. This did not make his very, very red wife happy. He has never lived it down.

Then there was the time he went a#@ over teakettle after dropping down into a beach chair. It was a mess—he was all tangled up in the chair, legs in the air, head in the sand…and we did help him…eventually—when we caught our breath and could contain the laughter.

The best thing about my family?

We laugh at ourselves. And we do it a lot. We find humor in most anything.

As I sit typing this my daughter is flinging pillows about looking for bedbugs. Tossing the blankets back. Her face inches from the sheets…This is quite the investigation.

The sunset from our condo...

I can tell you one thing. It isn’t going to be pretty for her come morning, when the crew gets a hold of that one.

Again, I need to do all I can to keep the focus on others…

It’s all I’ve got.