Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Sad, Startling News

Heard today that an old college friend died.  He kept a blog, and it is painful to read his demise from throat cancer that spread like wildfire over his body.

I haven't talked to Chris, oh, in probably 10 years since our last reunion.  We were pretty good friends our freshman and sophomore years, then kind of went our separate ways after that.  We were always friendly, and it was great to see him and catch up at reunions.

And now?  He is gone.

That shouldn't be such an emotionally rocking event, but it is.

He was one of my first friends in college.  He was one of my first dates.  He was one of my first college kisses.  We never really dated - just that one time.  And just that one (delicious) kiss.  We discovered we were much better friends.  Actually, he looked like a Greek God and I didn't measure up.  No joke, our nickname for him was Zeus.  But he was much too kind to put it to me like that...

He was the quiet, peaceful kind of friend with the best sense of quiet humor.  I still have a hilarious poem that he and his best friend/roommate (also a good friend of mine for a time) wrote to me one year at Halloween.  (A Halloween poem?  Sure why not.  They were just funny like that). 

In reading his blog I see that he found a wonderful woman who loved him very much.  And they had a sweet little girl who now will grow up without a father.

I don't know if it hurts so badly because we lost touch and now I feel quilty that I didn't even know he was sick?  Or because he was such an important memory of my college days?  Or because I know he has left behind a family and group of friends who love him very much?  Or because the photos of him ravaged by cancer in his last days can't possibly be the vibrant man I knew?  Or because he was so young.  or maybe it's a little bit of everything.

He had just turned 48 last week.  48. 

Rest in Peace my friend. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Creative Cooking - without a Kitchen

A few months ago I posted about how we bought a house and that it might need a little work....

A month ago (plus...) we got these delivered...




But we weren't really ready for them, with permitting and contracting and all, plus a little prep work to do...so my living room became a kitchen full of boxed cabinets.

After getting the sticker shock of our lives with what a contractor wanted just to install the cabinets and pull an electrical line or two, we regrouped.

Poured a glass of wine or three...

Then a friend (professional cabinet installer) said, "Hey why are you hiring someone?  If you'll do the prep, I will help you put those cabinets in."

DEAL.

So we started knocking down walls and stuff so the electrician could fix the wiring mess...
If he would just show up, which he didn't do for three weeks.  (insert exploding head here).

After about three months of planning and 6 weeks of "prepping," our kitchen looked something like this.

 


 Um remember us joking in August about how we "better have a kitchen by Thanksgiving?"  Turns out the joke is on me.  Now I'm PRAYING (and yelling and freaking and drinking gallons of wine stressing about) having a kitchen by mid-December when the hordes begin to arrive for the holidays.

Meanwhile, you can't eat out all the time, so the Captain and I have gotten creative.

Here's where we prep the food - who says you can't have a kitchbathroom?




What do you mean you don't have a refrigerator in your family room?  Works great - if we had TV we wouldn't have to walk far for a drink.  But alas we don't have TV (what?!)

And here's the Captain grilling in a rain storm with his headlamp.  Yum Grouper and veggies.



And after dinner where to wash the dishes?  Why the bathtub of course!

 
Yes, someday we will have these gorgeous countertops on which to prep and serve food:
 
 
Until then?  We will continue to step over boxes on our way to the kitchbathroom, fruitlessly dusting the drywall dust off of EVERYTHING, enjoying the new "Killz" colored highlights in my hair, and explaining to my colleagues that no I can't bring one of the Captain's awesome key lime pies to the party I have no kitchen.
 
Please pass the wine.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The NO SHOP Thanksgiving Challenge

I'm back so I must be really emotional about something.  This time?  THE GREED OF AMERICA AND SHOPPING ON THANKSGIVING!

Well, now you know how I feel about that.

Our country needs family time, thanksgiving time, time to share and be together.  We don't need small shops in malls forced to open for 26 hours straight whether or not they want to or have the manpower just because Macy's and Bob's and JCPenny said, "You Must Open."  If they don't?  $150/hour fine.  We don't need parents away from kids because they can't risk the job they need so desperately and the overtime they can't say NO to.

It would be different (MAYBE) if the stores like Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, Sears, KMart, Macy's, Bob's, JCPenny, Kohl's said "work if you want on Thanksgiving - no penalty if you don't!"  But they are not saying that.  I've heard from too many people who are forced to work and will be missing time with their families.

So what am I doing about it?
  • Posting on this blog
  • NOT SHOPPING on Thanksgiving at Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, Sears, KMart, Macy's, Bob's, JCPenny, Kohl's OR ANY OTHER STORE PERIOD.
  • NOT SHOPPING AT ALL until maybe 2014 (or beyond?!) in those stores that are open on Thanksgiving.
  • Posting lists on social media of those stores that are open.
  • Posting lists on social media of those stores that are NOT open and encouraging people to shop there instead.  (Love you Costco and Bed Bath and Beyond!)
  • Writing letters (emails where I can find them) to executives at stores that are open and letting them know they just lost all my business AND I am encouraging others to follow suit.
  • Pleding to help those small stores pay their fines and STAY CLOSED on Thanksgiving and encouraging them to get out and get fundraising if needed to STAY CLOSED.

America, we need to take a stand.  And no this isn't akin to hospitals and such that are open.  I understand some things must be open - the Captain has worked MANY holidays including Thanksgiving and Christmas (he's on a medical team).  No, this is greed for greed's sake. 

And this Blog post "If you shop on thanksgiving you are part of the problem?  Says it all beautifully.

If this keeps just ONE person from shopping on Thanksgiving and helps boycott just ONE of the nasty stores listed above, then it was worth it.

 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Oh Thundershirt Come QUICKLY!

Our "new" baby - Goofusmarufus (aka Calypso) - has her share of quirks.  I've heard that happens with rescue dogs.

Calypso came to us rather unexpectedly, shortly after Queen Bee died and when we weren't really sure we wanted, needed or could deal with a new dog.  But sometimes Dogs choose us.  And she did.

Having only ever raised pure bred pups, I had a lot of learning to do dealing with a shy, feral, 9 month old unknown mixed-breed mutt.  She understands life as:
  •  Yelling means you are mean and I won't come near you for days, even if you're not yelling at me. 
  •  If you come at me too quickly I will assume you are going to do something evil and I will bolt and avoid you for hours. 
  • Food is a trick to get me to do something I don't want to do. 
  • Puddles, not dog dishes, are for drinking. 
  • If you ever do make me do anything I don't want to (like go in the water despite having "water dog" breeds heavily in my blood), I will remember it forever and if you even say the word "pool" or "swimming" I will disappear faster than jelly beans on Easter.
After two years I have learned how to live with her, how to give her love and training, but sometimes, I still can't give her comfort.

Lately, Goofus has decided she's terrified of thunderstorms.  Living in South Florida, this is kind of a problem.  I've heard about the Thundershirts and decided to give it a try.  Their website offered free shipping and a moneyback guarantee, so how can I lose?  Yesterday I finally ordered one.

Apparently I waited a bit too long.  It will be here in 7-10 days.

Meanwhile, last night we had lightening strikes all night long.  Guess who was running around the house crying all night long.  Guess who wanted to cry this morning when she had to get up for work?

We do have a large bathroom with no windows where Goofy Callie likes to hide during most storms.  Apparently that wasn't good enough last night.  Apparently she wanted to run around the house crying until I woke up.

Hurry Thundershirt and get here quickly.  And please let it WORK.
 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Being Loved. It CAN Happen!!

Sometimes when I'm procrastinating, when I'm learning from my past life, I like to go through my old posts and remember how far I've come.

Today I read this.; an old post from a day I recall so vividly after re-reading that post.  And I remember how unlovable I felt.  Not just unloved, but truly unlovable.  That was the lesson I took away from that disastrous thing I called marriage, "I am unlovable."

Fast forward a few years.

Enter the Captain.

Enter BLISS.

Enter unconditional LOVE.

Yes folks, it does exist, and not just from your dog.

Every day I awaken next to a man I fell asleep giggling next to (or something else maybe...)  Every morning I look at him and thank God for the indescribable joy that has come into my life.  Throughout the day we sent text messages, emails or even pick up the phone and chat.  Just because we miss each other.  When we sit on the couch in the evening and read, I put my legs in his lap just to be near him.

OK OK some of you will say, "Yeah you've only lived together 2+ years." 

But really?  I know THIS IS IT.  Because he knows I get crabby, he knows sometimes I leave my shoes all over the house, he knows sometimes I rush dinner and burn stuff.  He knows that when I drink too much I get a little mischievous.  He knows I like to get up on stage and sing karaoke badly.  He knows I have a big, loud, game-playing family.  And he loves all that about me and more.

He also knows that I love deeply.  I laugh often.  I care about the hurting and injustice in the world, both near and far.  He knows I am the absolute mama bear to my cubs.  He knows my family is my most important world.  He knows my religion and my beliefs are important to me but that I will not push them on you. 

He gets me.  And it Loves me, as is.

It is so wonderfully, joyfully satisfying to look back on my life and look at today and see how satisfying the journey continues to be.

Thanks truly be to God.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

More Committed than Marriage - WE BOUGHT A HOUSE

I realize I'm writing this for myself as I'm pretty sure no one remembers me anymore, but we've hit a major milestone and I'm so excited that I want to post for posterity if nothing else.

WE BOUGHT A HOUSE TOGETHER!!  (UGLY but front remodeling on hold until next year when major repairs inside are done)

Hells yeah.  For 2 years we lived on a little island in South Florida - found quite by accident when I suddenly had to rent instead of buy in Florida back in 2011 when I chucked my former life and moved south.

After about 9 months on the island we realized we'd really like to live here permanently.  But we wanted a house 1) on the water 2) with beach rights.  Yes I said beach rights.  See that header on my blog?  that's the private beach that came with the rental.  Only the first 3 streets on the island have access, most of them being land locked.

So we waited.

And prayed.

And another year passed.

Then one day I noticed through my job that a house on the water with beach rights was going to foreclosure sale.  I briefly tried to jump in that crazy auction pool and said, "Nope, I'll hope the bank buys it back and deal with their REO department." 

Then it didn't go to foreclosure, something happened and it was pulled.

Damn, it was April and I really wanted to buy something.  My house in MD had an offer on it, closing in May.  Time to buy something here.

So then I found the owner's info (it's an investment property, sitting empty) and called him.  Turns out he's "in the business" sort of and was agreeable to a short sale if I could convince the bank to do it.

Game on.

LOOOOOOOOONNNNNNGGGGG very difficult story now behind us, after thousands of phone calls, emails, hundreds of documents uploaded, tears, nightmares, frustration, eviction (oh yeah, in the midst of this my landlord decided NOT to let us renew on a month to month and said "YOU, OUT by July 31), we bought it!  (during this time my former mother-in-law passed after a long illness and the Captain's mom passed after only 6 weeks of her cancer diagnosis - yeah it was a tough time.....)

Yes it "needs work."  So far in a month we have replaced 2 air conditioners (it has a dual system),





fixed the pool (it was black, no filter, covered in chicken wire),

ordered a new kitchen to be installed prior to Thanksgiving (she said hopefully),

measured for new hurricane sliders all across the back, power washed the roof and all patios and driveways, painted two rooms (the rest are being overhauled),





 bought 12 samples of paint because we have trouble deciding on colors for the tiny cabana bathroom, bought appliances, um...yeah and other stuff. 


Tired?  yes.  Estatic?  Definitely.





By the way, Captain is incredibly handy.  HE designed the chemical-free pool filter system and installed it.

Reason number 357 why I love him so much.

THIS is the true beginning of the rest of my life.  And I couldn't be happier.

 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Thank you Random Kind Sir

Gearing up for trial - my first in Florida, my first in many years (we settle everything or so it seems).  Working very late last night - a rare event in my new life I am happy to say.  But honestly and selfishly totally consumed by my own challenges and letting this trial take over my life.

I finally starting thinking about packing up my briefcase for home when I get a text from the Captain.  Something about running out of gas and cash and being stranded at the side of the road. without his AAA card.

So I flew out of the office, grateful he wasn't far and was actually on my way home.

Then I realized I misread his text.

He had gone out to GET cash and gas (both accomplished) when the car made noises and quit.

OK the car breaking down part I got right anyway.

So we called AAA on my card, I sent him home for his warranty stuff while I waited.  We were in a bank parking lot, well lit, no problem. I walked next door to grab a diet coke.  The young man behind the counter offered me samples of various liquors (it was a liquor store) but I said no thanks, just waiting for AAA to rescue the dead car, just a diet coke.  We chatted a bit.  The young man said, "Wow you're in a good mood for such an event!"  I said, "Well life happens.  It could have been much worse.  The dealer is up the road.  It will all work out."  And I left.

I walked next door to the car and sat a moment - the wind was blowing so naturally I was cold at 75 degrees and got in the car.

Then I realize there's a man in a gorgeous BMW motioning to me and holding out a business card.

Seems he overheard my conversation at the liquor store.  He works at the BMW place where we are taking the car.  He gave me the name of the head service guy, asked if there was anything he could do to help, had me start up the car (which he had to help me do because it has a push button and not a normal key and no I never ever drive the Captain's new BMW I am afraid of it), and with the noise it was making he agreed towing was the good choice.

Then he went on his way. 

And I thought, "WOW - he totally didn't have to do that!"  It was late - I'm sure he was tired after a long day.  But he took the 10 minutes to stop and offer to help.

That was awesome.

This morning at the dealer, the Captain found the head service guy, dropped a name, got well taken care of.

I hope "Peter" has a wonderful, awesome day and that the good karma he created when he stopped last night continues to follow him.

A reminder to Pay It Forward, to practice random acts of kindness, and to be thankful that when challenges come we can keep them in perspective.