“The wind lashes the surface of the sea and makes it rough and turbulent, but in the deep there is calm.” ~ Cardinal Basil Hume

   

Weeping Willow   

 

“Although our intellect always longs for clarity and certainty, our nature often finds uncertainty fascinating.” ~ Karl Von Clausewitz
Japanese Red Maple

It is April 30. That’s incredible to me. One quarter of the year has passed, and I have nothing to show for it. Do you have any idea how depressing that is? I have no reliable method of tracking time any more—no scheduled meetings, no deadlines, no appointments with students. I am loathe to admit that I measure time by evening television shows: If CSI is on, then it’s Tuesday.   

I have calendars everywhere: on my desktop, on the wall next to the desk, in the kitchen, in my purse, but I never have any idea as to the date, which is why I was so surprised to see that today is April 30.   

Perhaps one of these days the fog will lift, and I will see things clearly again. Until then, I will continue to measure out my life “in coffee spoons,” as Eliot put it.   

Corey worked last night and got home at 8 this morning.   

ARGHH. I went to save, and WordPress kicked me back to the sign in page, which means that I just lost THREE PARAGRAPHS. NOOOOOOOOOO………..   

“Life is not an easy matter . . . You cannot live through it without falling into frustration and cynicism unless you have before you a great idea which raises you above personal misery, above weakness, above all kinds of perfidy and baseness.” ~ Leon Trotsky

Let’s try this again, shall we?   

Corey worked last night and got home at 8 this morning. Then the guy who makes the schedule called him at 11 and asked if he could come in until 3. Apparently, they have several people out today. It’s now 4:45 and he isn’t home yet; he’s running on about three hours of sleep, and he was tired before he went in last night. I just hope that he doesn’t have to work too long.   

Eastern Redbud Tree

Of course, the more hours that he works, the bigger the paycheck. I just wish that the schedule could be more even, not 30 hours in three days, and then nothing for five days in a row. Of course, who am I to complain?   

Speaking of jobs, Alexis began her new job with a manufacturing company in Virginia Beach. When I asked her what they build, she said that she didn’t know; all she knows is that she adds wires to some kind of component. It’s a job. She is working with a large group of Filipino women, so I told her that at least she’ll eat well. Filipino people love their food, at home or at work.   

Of course, my mother is beside herself over Alexis losing her job. When Alexis told her about it, my mother proceeded to rant about how I had lost a few jobs—almost a decade ago. Mom told Alexis that she didn’t want her to turn out like me. Lovely, just lovely. Then, without fail, my mother called me to complain about Alexis. When she asked me how much money Mike makes, I told her that truthfully I didn’t know because it wasn’t any of my business, and it’s not any of my business. My mother is of the belief that anything and everything in my life and the lives of my children is her business. It’s more of that privacy issue that I was talking about before, as in, there is none with my mother.    

Today she called and started to talk about the same things all over again. I reminded her that we had already had this conversation, so she turned it around to be a commentary on the relationship between Alexis and Mike. She just doesn’t understand it. Has he ever asked her to marry him? I don’t know, not my business. And so it goes once again. I know that if Mike had proposed, Alexis would tell me, but by the same token, should I be asking her constantly when/if they are going to get married? As I told my mother, they’ve been together for seven years, and it seems to be working for them.   

“Be gentle with yourself. You are the truth unfolding.” ~  Joseph Goldstein

I just made a shocking discovery: We are out of Pepsi. How do I go on?   

Eastern Hemlock Tree

Truths for Friday:   

  • Oprah is on a toot to eliminate texting while driving. I absolutely agree. Is anything that important? Just remember the train engineer who caused that fatal crash because he was texting—25 people died, including the texting engineer
  • Is it weird that I still miss Izzie the Trooper? I loved that vehicle, and even though SUV sales are declining, I would own another Trooper.
  • Have you heard about “Marysville, OH, 43040”? It’s a Facebook group that is praying for the death of President Obama. Call me crazy, and I probably am, but I was never taught to pray for someone else’s misfortune, let alone death. The group has over one million members.
  • Am I the only one who thinks that the legislators in Arizona are on crack? I mean, that is the only logical explanation for their recent blatant racist, xenophobic legislation. An article in the Huffington Post reveals that the Arizona Department of Education has told schools that “teachers with ‘heavy’ or ‘ungrammatical’ accents are no longer allowed to teach English classes, this after the state spent 10 years recruiting teachers for whom English was a second language.
  • As the pictures continue to pour in revealing the devastation caused by the recent oil spill in the Gulf, Rush Limbaugh lets loose with his latest conspiracy theory: “Environmentalist whackos” may have blown up oil rig to “head off more oil drilling.” Really Rush? Gave that one a lot of thought, didn’t you?
  • And finally, on Gawker.com I found one of the best blogs ever about the Real Housewives of New York. Richard Lawson’s post, “Everyone Kills the Messenger,” is so much more entertaining than the show. To wit: “Meanwhile over in Bitchington Acres, everyone couldn’t believe what had just happened. Naturally when one is confused about a situation one turns to the very sage Kelly Bensimon, who is always good at unpacking an issue and making it understandable to the common laypeople below her.” To paraphrase the article would not do it justice, so I will leave you the link. Anyone who is interested in excruciatingly funny sarcasm and incisive wit, especially when it comes to the vacuous Housewives, should take a few minutes to peruse this post. Truly. The only bad thing I have to say is that I cannot believe that I didn’t find Lawson sooner.


Looking Skyward by Janson Jones   

Happy Arbor day, the annual celebration of trees. In honor of this holiday, I am featuring pictures of some of my favorite trees: Eastern Hemlock, Eastern Red Bud, Weeping Willow, Japanese Red Maple, Flowering Crabapple. I also love Yoshino Cherry and Weeping Cherry trees, but I just featured pictures of those in a recent post.   

More later. Peace.  

Mazzy Star, “Into Dust”  

“Gloom, despair, and agony on me, deep dark depression, excessive misery . . . if it weren’t for bad luck, we’d have no luck at all . . .” ~ Hee Haw

walking-on-broken-glass

Walking on Broken Glass, by L. Liwag

 

What happens if you break a mirror while walking under a ladder on Friday the 13th while throwing salt over the wrong shoulder?

Bad luck happens in direct proportion to the amount of money you do not have ~ L. Liwag

Well, kiddies, this is how the fun began: We thought that we ran out of gas in Hagerstown, Maryland. Pushed the car through an intersection, Corey did, that is. Then we had to push the it down and around to get into the Exxon station, Corey and I and a man who looked as if he might have a heart attack.

Now, several things are wrong with this picture: Me, helping to push the Trooper. The car stopping when the gas gauge did not ready fully empty.

We should have known that it was but a prelude . . .

Half an hour out of Hagerstown, on I68 going west, chugging (literally) up a mountain, cresting it, and then coming down, Izzie the Trooper died. Just died. Stopped. Dead. On a mountain.

99isuzutrooperNow mind you, we just got Izzie back from the mechanics a week ago.

We are kind of midway between Norfolk and Lima, Ohio. On the side of the road. On a mountain.

It is literally, hot as Hades. I am perspiring like a sweat hog. The hood of the Trooper is up to indicate to passersby: “Hey, look at us. We haven’t just stopped here to rest. Something is wrong.”

Passersby ignore us. We debate. Make telephone calls. Devise a plan of action: Corey’s brothers are going to come and get us, using Steve’s Suburban, towing the ginormous landscaping trailer.

We call roadside assistance and get towed to just outside a place called Flintstone, I kid you not.

It’s 7:20 p.m. on a Friday. Our insurance has arranged to tow us to a small repair shop called J&J’s Repair Shop. Dubious name as I do not even see a bay. Or there might be a bay, can’t really tell. Lots of broken down cars and a purple bus like The Partridge Family.

A man with no shirt on asks Corey to turn the key. Corey does. The man with no shirt pronounces that the engine is gone.

questionsGone? As in gone gone? Dead? Why did we just go into hock to spend money we didn’t have to get something major done to the engine when it was going to die? Why didn’t the mechanics in Norfolk notice this other problem.

Gone? Are you serious?

For $1600 they’ll fix the car and take us to a motel. Sure. We’ll write you a check. I don’t think so. Man with no shirt leaves. We are stranded in the dirt. Literally.

It will take Corey’s brothers about six hours to get to us. I told you, we were midway. Somewhere in Maryland, 96 miles from Morgantown, West Virginia (that’s what the sign says). It’s a twelve-hour trip from our house to Corey’s parent’s house.

Canceled the hotel room in Sidney and were actually able to get a refund. Hallelujah.  

We decide to go to sleep for the duration: Corey in the driver’s seat. Brett in the passenger seat. Tillie in the backseat. And I decide to sleep all the way in the back on top of the luggage. I figure this is the part of the Trooper with the most room in it.

I am wrong.

I take as many muscle relaxers and pain pills as is safely allowable and fall dead asleep. At least the temperature outside is cool.

Around 5 in the morning Corey’s brothers arrive. Izzie is ceremoniously put onto the trailer.

Steve’s Suburban has leather seats. The better part of valor: We decide not to put Tillie’s dog nails on the leather seats. Corey rides in the Suburban with his brothers. Brett, Tillie, and I stay in Izzie.

We pass out from exhaustion. Depression. Tension.

Brett comments that so far, this has not been a great trip. Understatement.

It is hard to be charming when you smell like a wildebeest. ~ L. Liwag

I’m not really sure at what time we arrive in Lima. At least Corey’s dad is surprised. Surprise!

We came all the way from Norfolk to surprise you on your birthday! He’s happy. At least that part of the plan worked . . .

Mad, smelly wildebeest

It’s raining. Indian Lake plans have been canceled. Regroup. I don’t want to hug anyone because I stink. Truly. I am covered in sweat, grime, and dog hair. I feel as if my eyeballs are covered with fine hair. I am trying not to act as horrible as I feel.

I’m not sure that it is working.

A shower and a toothbrush. This is all that I can concentrate on. I just ended my sentence in a preposition. I don’t care. That’s how bad it is.

The migraine sets in around 5 p.m. I’m clean now, but I cannot move. Everything hurts. Please, someone just bring an elephant to stomp on my back so that it will feel better.

Corey’s sister is in a play, Grease. She is playing Marty.

I was in Grease a million years ago. Corey and his mom go to the play. I wish that I could go to the play. I love Grease.

I stay home and whimper to myself.

Tillie has a new friend: Alana’s Yorkshire Terrier Jake. I’m glad that someone is happy.

Corey gets home from the play around 11 p.m. I know that he is running on pure adrenaline at this point. They have pizza. I cannot climb the stairs from the basement to join the family for pizza. I feel like a boor, a rude boor. I’m praying that everyone understands and doesn’t think that I’m a boor.

Why does the word grease look funny? Is that how it’s spelled? How about boor? That looks funny too.

Tenacity is a great motto—for other people. ~ L. Liwag

So the good news is that Corey’s family is awesome: They will come and get you when you are broken down two states away.

Other good things: We have one of our dogs. I have most of my medicines with me. We have clothes for four days. The coffee is good. Brett has his PSP and several games. There are Twizzlers. No Pepsi, but Coke. And three computers.

One problem, though. I only brought one book with me, and I finished it last night.

Like Miss Scarlett, I will think about everything tomorrow. Today is Sunday, and we can’t take care of anything today anyway. Actually, I may never think about any of this. My brain might explode.

I’m seriously thinking of hiring a witch doctor or an exorcist when we finally make it back to Norfolk. No one’s luck can be this bad.

And so ends part one of the continuing saga: Why we should fly to Ohio the next time that we come . . .

And now, a song. More later. Peace.

 

“All growth is a leap in the dark, a spontaneous unpremeditated act without benefit of experience.” ~ Henry Miller

Earth, Air, Fire, and Water

“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Life is like a game of cards. The hand that is dealt you represents determinism; the way you play it is free will.” ~ Jawaharlal Nehru

Massive thunderstorms this afternoon. Loud thunder booms, but no major downpours in our area. The flower garden could use a good dousing. Corey was out doing errands and said that it was raining hard in other parts of the city, but nothing here.

Eamonn is disgustedly happy to have the Trooper back in his possession, even though I told him that we still need to do a few things to it. I’m hoping that the smoke coming out of it is leftover from the problems that we just had fixed and that once it gets a good drive on the Interstate, she’ll start to run like her old self again. Corey said something about the rings, which sounds expensive. I’m ignoring that pronouncement in favor of bad gas (for the Trooper, not me).

I’ve been pricing tires, and of course, what we need won’t be cheap. Nothing ever is. Moving right along . . .

“Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” ~ Joseph Addison  

CharacterDumbledore Half-Blood Prince
Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Tomorrow night Corey, Brett, and I are going to eat sushi and then go see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. This is part of Brett’s birthday present. He is the only one of the kids who actually likes sushi, so that gives us something to look forward to this weekend.

On other fronts, I happen to know that Janson and his wife are currently in the hospital awaiting the birth of their daughter Aurelia. He has been Twittering about the progress most of the afternoon. I love the name Aurelia. It lilts on the tongue and sounds like a fairy.

My friend Maureen who lives in Australia is awaiting news from her doctor, so I’m keeping a good thought for her as well. And David Bridger’s wife Janette is scheduled for surgery at the end of July. Finally.

Even though the medical system in this country needs fixing, I have found from hearing from people in other places that national healthcare does have some major drawbacks—like waiting for operations that are necessary or having some doctors refuse to do procedures that must be performed by other doctors. However, I still believe that this country needs a healthcare system that is available to all, and not just to those who can afford to pay the premiums.

As usual, the blogging community is awash with action. My best to everyone. I’m keeping all of you in my thoughts.

“It is what we make of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.” ~ Nelson Mandela 

Okay, this topic is from David Bridger as well: You are stranded on a desert island, and you can only take ten things. You are one of the ten things. Who or what would you take with you? I’m assuming that food will be on the island so we don’t have to worry about that.

I’m thinking that I need a few different versions of this because, as you know, I have such a hard time making up my mind.

List One: This one is compiled with the understanding that I am not alone in the world, that I have family and pets.

  1. Corey, Alexis (and her significant other), Eamonn, and Brett plus myself. That’s six right there. Must have family with me on this desert island.
  2. Tillie, Alfie and Shakes. Another three. Must have the dogs, even though they take up three spots.
  3. My Lord of the Rings (three books but one story so it only counts as one. I know. I cheat). Must have reading material. But I would give up the books, I suppose, if my sons had companions.

List Two: This one is compiled with the understanding that I am alone in the world, no pets or familydeserted island 1

  1. Myself (1)
  2. My Lord of the Rings (1)
  3. A copy of The Odyssey (because I’ve never made it all of the way through) (1)
  4. Lots of writing paper and something with which to write (2)
  5. A fully-loaded MP3 player and back-up solar batteries (3) (Do solar batteries exist?)
  6. A huge bottle of 4711 cologne to remind me of civilization (odd choice, I know) (1)
  7. A dog for companionship (1)

List Three: This one is compiled with the understanding that I must take that which I need to survive and gather food

  1. Myself (1)
  2. A machete (1)
  3. Two dogs, male and female (2)
  4. Lots of writing paper and something with which to write (2)
  5. A spade (1)
  6. Something reflective (1)
  7. A bottle of 5,000 Ibuprofen (since I cannot have all of my meds) (1)
  8. A bucket
cast-away-tom-hanks-2
Tom Hanks and Fed Ex boxes in Castaway

Now the reality is that if I were to be stranded on a desert island a la Castaway, I would hope that some things washed up on shore with me, one of which should be my carryall bag. I could survive months with just the contents of my carryall bag as it contains meds, scissors, a mirror, candy, a pocket knife, my inhaler, a notebook and lots of pens, a mini screwdriver, and sunglasses.

In Lola’s system of counting, the carryall bag counts as one thing just as the Lord of the Rings counts as one thing.

And if I had my purse as well as my carryall bag, I would be in fine shape. Also, if I washed up on a desert island wearing the things that I usually leave the house with, I would have a watch, my glasses, my cross, some earrings (okay, those I can do without), and probably a book and/or notebook.

Look, I’ve always been a pack rat, ever since grade school when I decided that I needed to take a satchel to school filled with things that I might need. Alexis inherited this tendency, so if she were with me and we got stranded, you can bet that we’d have a lot of things one might need just in case.

I’m not sure about the whole ice skate as dental tools as in Castaway, but the blades would be handy as would the laces. Don’t know if I have it in me to use an ice skate as a dental tool. But unlike Tom Hanks’s character in the movie, I wouldn’t be waiting to open all of the Fed Ex boxes. He was being honorable.

I say that if you are stranded, sealed Fed Ex boxes are fair game. Although given that attitude, the boxes that would wash up on shore with me would probably be things like government proposals, mortgage payments, and car parts. I’m not sure that side steps for a truck would come in that handy on an island  . . .

 “What is important in life is life, and not the result of life.” ~ Johann Wolfgang Goethe

deserted island 3I wish that my lists were more creative, but I think that they actually reflect more about me than at first glance. For example, I could survive without another person with me as long as I had a dog to keep me company. Implements with which to write and record things are very important to me. My choice of a machete instead of just a plain knife show that I am my father’s daughter.

Granted, wanting to take along a bottle of cologne might seem crazy, but if I had nothing else on this island to remind me of home, a smell would suffice. Smells are very important to humans: they conjure happy thoughts, trigger memories, even help with digesting food. The German cologne 4711 would do that for me. It would allow me to remember that piece of me that once belonged to society.

And if possible, having an MP3 player that is full of my personal music choices would serve as a connection to the world. I would have Chopin and Beethoven, the Beatles and Bruce Springsteen, Sarah McLachlan and Annie Lennox, Pavoratti and Broadway musicals. Music, in its varied forms, is communication, and it is something that is universal.

Having music with me would help to alleviate the loneliness, even if there were no chocolate to be found anywhere.

I wonder what other members of my family would choose to take: How Brett would survive without electronics . . . How Eamonn would survive without his cell phone . . . What Alexis would choose of her multitude of things that she must have . . . What Corey would want with him for the rest of his life . . .

Each list would be very different. Of that, I am certain. What and who we value as people is as varied as the sunrises. Not surprisingly. After all, it is that which makes us individuals, unique and the same, as unpredictable as the tides.

More later. Peace.