Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Escape from Cabin Fever

Last night, Chad I and curled up on the couch to decompress before bedtime and watched an episode of The Planet Green/National Parks.  The broadcast featured the Hawaiian volcanoes, Utah’s Arches National Park, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, and Zion National Park, to name a few.  As we watched, I felt an exquisite, almost indescribable feeling of pleasure that occurs only when I see  the breathtaking views of clean water, trees, mountains, lava flows, canyons, animals, birds, flowers, and nature unblemished by man. Seeing the newest forms of land created by Pacific Rim volcanoes juxtaposed against canyons carved over millions of years and geysers atop a tentative landscape is almost too much to comprehend.  I have visited a few of those parks, and as I shared with Chad, “I have been there and I have seen that”, he inquired, “did it look like that?”  I responded, “yes”, as his little mind  has yet to comprehend that it has taken hundreds of thousands perhaps even millions of years to create the architectural design of those landscapes and will take many, many more to evolve into something unfamiliar (albeit volcanic eruptions which can change things overnight, and fallen rock arches and God forbid, a catastrophe caused by humans.)   I became immediately pre-occupied and impatient with thoughts of the outdoors—a place I want to be, watching and feeling nature unfold and these images served as the best sedative I’ve ever taken. 

Monday, February 6, 2012


For years, I have referred to my car as my “Think Tank”.  It is a location where I can process my thoughts with little interruption.  I can roll down the windows, feel the wind, open up the sunroof and be touched by the sun, turn up the radio and sing out loud or turn it off and sit in the quiet, navigating through the pathways of my mind and the roadways all at the same time (and yes, I will admit…at times I’m not sure I remember how I get to where I’m headed; It just happens.)    It is often where I have done my best “work” (solving problems, creating strategies, conversing, reflecting, processing information) and it is, by far, the place where life changing  experiences and epiphanies have occurred.  (No, I did not lose my virginity in a car nor did I give birth in a car. I’m claustrophobic, remember?)   Example: most of us know where we were the day of 9/11.  I do. I was in my Think Tank, crossing the Kennedy Bridge.  The image is seared in my mind, like a photograph. 
But let’s get back to the Kennedy.   
With 23 days and counting, “Shermageddon will hopefully come to an end--not that I’m holding my breath or anything, although perhaps I should be (and plugging my nose, rolling down my electric windows, and inflating a life-jacket) considering the damage, wear, and tear I have observed over the past 151 days driving across the only other arterial bridge stretching across the Ohio River, i.e., the I-65, Kennedy Bridge.  Wow! That was a long sentence! (Note to self:  I hope I can hold my breath that long when the Kennedy Bridge collapses and I find myself fighting the currents of the muddy Ohio reminding myself, “no you are not in a James Bond movie.  This car will not float, nor will it transform into a submarine”.   
OMG, I said (in my last blog) I wasn’t going to dwell on the “what if’s”.  Oh, how I digress… 
I’m prepared for the announcement that the JFK Bridge itself will be closed soon, in order to mend its sores, wounds and fractures caused  from—what is it?—some additional 80,000 vehicles crossing  it each day?  Maybe I am exaggerating, but it sure seems like 80,000 cars and trucks trying to cross at the same time during the morning and afternoon commutes.   At the point of the Kennedy shut down we will all be forced to test the skill and work of engineers, metallurgists, and welders on the Sherman Minton.  After briefly debating in my mind (at which point the” half-empty” cup-sized, Jungian portion of my brain that fears drowning will certainly win),   my choice  will be to snake down the back roads of New Albany and Clarksville to the 2nd Street Bridge, built during the era of what my father refers to as “when things were built to last”.  God forbid it blows up during the next “Thunder over Louisville”, then I will really be SOL, and no, I don’t mean “sunshine”.  If that happens I hope the Lord Jesus himself sweeps me up onto his beautiful white Arabian stead and miraculously walks that horse across the river without getting my hair wet. 
I mean, after all, anything ending in “geddon” has something to do with Jesus, right?   

Monday, January 23, 2012

Spring Teaser

The old adage, “time flies” should be taken more seriously. I know there are a lot of possible ways in which that saying can be better qualified (as in, “….when you are having fun” or “….the older you get”) but it is still hard to believe that January, 2012 is coming to a close. For someone who resolved in this new year to “live in the moment as much as possible” (*as opposed to dwelling on the past or stressing out about future, “what if” scenarios), I want to be sure I don’t miss a thing.    At the same time, because things seem to be moving so quickly, I also want to avoid motion sickness.  With that said, I need to back away from the time machine.  Truth is, I hate winter and the months of January and February with the exception of today, and some others like it—those winter days that serve as Spring Teasers.      
I am still putting away holiday decorations; strings of blue lights are still entangled in the Japanese maple in the flower garden outside my bedroom window, the “Seasons Greetings” decorative garden flag flutters in the wind, and I am still in search of a new box in which to store the artificial tree that is dismantled and lying in a corner in the office. I have convinced myself that the red, holly berry wreaths on the windows somehow speak “Valentine’s Day”.  Breakable Santa Clauses await their protective packaging.   As we roll into February, un-decking the halls grows more ominous, compounded by day to day chores and larger, more time consuming tasks like life, breathing, you know, fun things.   I feel relieved when I look down the street at night (while walking the dog) to see other houses replete with decorative holiday lights, window decorations, and (is it true, could it be?) a lighted Christmas tree, peeking through someone else’s drawn drapes.  Thought:   If only I had put red lights on my Maple, I could celebrate Christmas, the bloody St. Valentine massacre and my true love by the flip of a switch and keep the lights in place until St. Patrick’s Day (at which point I could only hope for colorblind by passers, unable to distinguish red lights from green, thus banking in on a fourth “hit” i.e. St. Patty’s.)   Still others might confuse the red lights during St. Patrick’s Day signaling the boudoir of an Irish whore.   As I rethink the red light idea I envision the glow of red streaming through my bedroom window; suddenly, Ludacris comes to mind, shouting, “WE IN THE RED LIGHT DISTRICT!”  Ok, definitely the lights come down as soon as I get home from work. 
It is hard to believe that it has been almost five months since I wrote my last blog entry, an entry inspired by the Labor Day holiday and memories of that divine chocolate cake my grandmother used to make from scratch.   With that I have to say that blogging is overrated—forget it! Instead, bring me a spot of tea and a piece of that artery- blocking dessert now!
Ok, where was I?  Oh yeah, decorations….food.  Maybe that is a better place to start.  Wait, this feels more and more like an HGTV blog; bear with me. I am not always like this.  Cabin Fever is to blame.   Fall and winter seem to bring out my hibernation-like habits.  As for me, I have dived into cooking.  Here is how it works.  I eat something I like, study the flavors and ingredients—then attempt to duplicate the dish at home.  This habit began in August, after Ashley and Sean’s wedding reception. The chicken was delicious.  Recipes not required; rather, I like to regard it as a culinary experiment.   So far, so good, but there have been some drawbacks:  Explosions.  Not the fiery, noisy type that occur as a result of combustion but exploding waistlines. (More on that later beginning with substitutions for real butter, as in I can’t believe it’s not butter, as in wow, is my ass really that fat now? butter).  Recent succulent successes include Hot & Sour Cabbage/Sausage Soup; Triple Ginger Pork Loin/ Pad Thai; Carmel Cake with Carmel Icing (with crunchy toffee topping); and, Chicken Florentine to name a few. I attack the challenge as if I have my own show on the Food Network, ensuring that even the presentation of the meal is not overlooked. (No, I don’t include secret ingredients like tree bark or shoelaces; I’m talking REAL food that can be eaten without first figuring out if the ingredient is even edible).   What I love most is that I get to test these scrumptious dishes on several Guineas—my boyfriend, my kids, their girlfriends, and occasionally, the dog. So far, no hospitalizations, allergic reactions, or complaints have followed.  The Sunday Family Dinner is now a weekly tradition occurring with regularity and I am thankful to have my family seated together for at least one meal a week. Compared to the economy, the 1:21 family meal ratio is yielding better returns than my retirement!
Ah, retirement. Since my last blog I have reached the Golden Years!  (Notice I didn’t preface that by saying, “Finally!”)  The definitive, low-key birthday was preceded by a literal avalanche of AARP mailings addressed to my maiden name and to every married name I have assumed. If I was an “extreme couponer” (which I am not), I would have to criticize the AARP—cleaning up their data base could have saved them $ 1.26 in postage!!    Ok, you do the math.  .42 x 3.  Life lesson:  The “forever stamp” does not equate to the forever marriage. 
50 years old with a 9 year old son! I love it!   I remember when the benefit specialist met with me when I was pregnant with Chad to help me forecast my retirement and withholdings so as to be financially prepared for “old age”.  Her first question was, “so, at what age do you want to retire?”  I laughed, nervously, as I calculated that Chad will turn 18 when I am 59, and 22 when I am 63.  I also remember crying in Mike’s arms, stating I would be the only 50- year old mother with a child in the fourth grade, which then led to an utter, tearful, slobbering breakdown as I said, “and we’re going to have to get a van”.  Yes, I am the only 50 year old mom in Chad’s fourth grade class, but God spared me the van.  I think He read the Consumer Report.