Thursday, May 31, 2007
"Hello, Laura? You have a delivery at the reception desk." I got the voicemail just after I returned from picking up my t-shirt and bib for Saturday's run...I am running for the American Family Team, which was a handy way to have my race packet delivered to me at work, instead of having to go and pick it up myself. I deleted the message, knowing I had just picked up what had been delivered.
The receptionist called again, and I inquired if this was regarding the t-shirt I just picked up, and she replied, "NO! IT'S THE MOST BEAUTIFUL ORCHID!" I think I sprinted all the way downstairs. I knew it wouldn't be from Nick—not that Nick isn't the best sort of man who buys me flowers, because he is...he just likes to give them in person. The plant is really tall, and it was awkward bringing it back up to my desk. I opened the card quickly, knowing it had to be someone who's known me a long, long time because the name scribbled across the envelope was Laura Kittleson Phillips.
And sure enough, the nicest card with the sweetest note was from none other than the Gehrke Family, the family my father knew as neighbors while growing up, and the family that lost one of theirs to liver cancer mere months after my family lost Mom. Geraldine wrote that she's wanted to get me an orchid for a long time and that she hopes it blooms for a long time to come...that she and the entire family love me.
It was such and out-of-the blue gift that I'll admit I teared up instantly and the emotion clogged at the bottom of my throat. The instruction sheet says it is one of the easiest to maintain orchids, and it blooms twice a year, with blossoms lasting 2-4 months. It's beautiful, it truly is. Between the weak light last night and this morning, I haven't been able to get a picture that does it justice...so, I edited one of the poorly tinted shots in Photoshop (above).
I am just so touched, and I've been working on drafts for my thank you note...finding the words that express how truly lovely the gift made me feel. If you, in your daily lives, have a thought of someone cross your mind, perhaps someone you don't talk with all that often, don't see all that often, send a trinket or even a note. It will make their day.
Monday, May 28, 2007
"Why don't you make cookies for me?" he whines as I make a batch for work.
"We don't get through cookies here," I reply. Indeed, they go hard and stale before we reach the bottom of the pile and many are thrown away entirely. It is an old conversation, and one we've been having for at least a year. I say "conversation" figuratively, of course. It's more like he complains and I ignore. See!—I would have been SUCH a good mother!
But it's not just about me preparing goodies, it's about having treats around. I am in charge of groceries, and while I do a poor job of keeping the cupboards from being look-a-likes of Mother Hubbard's, I don't typically stock anything even remotely resembling dessert. "We just don't get through cookies fast enough here!" I defend. Today he hit me with a new one that left me with a wave of righteous indignation so powerful that I felt my nose hairs stiffen and my breath roll forth in incendiary waves—most probably because there was some truth to his nonsense.
"YOU HIDE THEM ON ME!"
I sigh, Oh, not this conversation again, my thoughts groan. I take a deep breath while I choose just the right dismissal and—!
I got nothin'.
A strong believer of the "out of sight of of mind" philosophy, I don't keep temptation in plain view. That, and everything has its place. I'm sorry, but I classify that bag of cookies as snack food and snack food goes in the snack basket on the top of the refrigerator. It bugged me all night, and after the kitchen was clean from dinner and I saw the partially opened bag of cookies in the corner, my pulse throbbed in my eye ticked. They looked untidy sitting just there. They needed a place and I needed to not be caught committing the very crime of which I had been accused.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Full of whimsy and the stuff of smiles, she rolls on her back and twists, pawing at the air and the fancy only she can see. We should all know such content.
For Sheree, and others unfamiliar with a cheese curd:
In the foreground are the garlic dill curds I bought at the Farmer's Market and behind, the jalapeņo. These little guys are not, perhaps, spread the country over because (other than the fact that not everyone has the same steamy love affair going on with cheese as we have) cheese curds loose their freshness very fast, and the initial "cheese curd-ness" goes away—namely, the squeak—within 25 hours of production. Their texture is a little rubbery I'd say, and they're generally mild in flavor (except if you buy jalapeņo altered ones, I suppose).
From my Google queries, it seems to be that Wisconsin and Canada (Quebec) are the main areas of availability for fresh cheese curds...now, deep fried, well, I think they're everywhere. Most people don't care if their little breaded ball of melted cheese squeaks against their teeth—making the unhealthier cousin much more marketable.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Strides long, air crisp, and coffee in hand, we head toward the vibrant awning patchwork and the pleasant sound of gentle morning chatter. The air is fragranced with the sweet perfume of soil and babies gurgle from their strollers as I take in the visual feast.
Hearty voices adorn the scene.
"Hot Spicy Cheesy Bread!"
"Cheese Curds, Get Your Cheese Curds!"
It's so friendly, so wonderful—and, I suppose, a little of my inner Bohemian comes forth.
I love the Farmer's Market.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
I had an appointment with Dermatology today. I sat in the waiting room, looking around, and feeling like a jerk. There I sat with my golden tint and legs crossed (looking ever the bored socialite I'm sure), while I watched others limp in, some with bandages covering the skin that showed, and the rest displaying the ravages of skin cancer. There I sat with a non life threatening problem and I wanted to run away, skipping my appointment and losing the copay I had already signed off on.
At heart, I guess I'm a coward. I blamed it on shame—that desire to bolt—but it was really that I didn't want to come face to face with the sad little girl I walked away from some six years ago. There are a lot of bad habits out there, things that we do to fill some void or distract us from some feeling...but many of them aren't obvious to the world and people aren't walking around proclaiming that they're weak. Unfortunately, putting too much on your dinner plate isn't one of those habits.
It's one of those subjects that, to the right audience (my fitness forum girls can attest!) I will talk your ear off. I'll tell you everything you want to know about fitness, diet and weight loss—and how to rev your metabolism too. I'm a walking encyclopedia. But then, there are those around whom I clam up if the subject should arise and I don't want to be suspect of knowing anything on healthful living at all.
Not like this is any real comparison, but I remember my mother's first surgery, the one that left her with a 20" incision down her torso, and how Mom hated that scar. Barb, her sister, told my brother that she should be proud of the scar, "It's like a battle wound!" I found the comment stupid. What did she know of my mother's battle? Why would she think a daily visible reminder that you're different should be enviable? Hadn't she ever had something happen that she'd rather just forget altogether?
It's easy to see someone's victory but nearly impossible to imagine their struggle.
I was referred to the dermatologist after my physical earlier this month, and she was a very kind doctor. Her gentle nature made a dreaded appointment pass quickly—I didn't even break into tears as I feared I would. I left feeling a lot less like a jerk, and a lot like someone who was taking the first steps to eventually close a sensitive chapter from the destructive glare of retrospect.
(full story here)
So, the entire season, I've grown sick of hearing everyone on God's green earth refer to Jordin's age.
"Jordin is 17 years old, if I had that voice at 17..."
"I just can't believe you're 17!"
"Now, let's hear from the 17 year old..."
To me, it comes off as a qualifier. Wow, you're a really great singer, for a seventeen year old. Bah! It's not like Nick tells me, "Wow, 25 years old and you brewed this pot of coffee? If I could brew coffee like that when I was 25..."
But the season is over now, thankfully, and Jordin, she-whose-age-must-not-be-named, was crowned victor. Hopefully now she'll be able to celebrate her birthday without fear that she'll ruin her public identity. However, I cringe whenever the news loops and the showbiz bits run. "America crowns the youngest Idol yet—SEVENTEEN YEARS OLD!"
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Lord knows I've put in my time abstaining from alcohol. I was once married to an alcoholic's son who considered the substance most evil and rarely did it enter our home. I didn't care, because it wasn't important to me, and while it still isn't, I've spent just shy of 2 years lifting boundaries and I am not now opposed to the occasional drink.
A year ago today, however, I would have taken a sip of beer and spit it all over the place because I thought it tasted nasty. Nick would buy hard ciders for me to drink socially when everyone else hit the ale, and eventually, just like my coffee that I would take with large amounts of flavored creamer, hard cider was way too sweet for me and I wanted the pure stuff.
This isn't the surprising part. I've proclaimed for years that you can train your taste buds—this from the girl who would only take her vegetables peeled, deep fried, and served in red cardboard adorned with a golden arch. Now, if not for Nick, I would be vegetarian. Honestly, I saw the new Charlotte's Web a few weeks ago and I was crying by the end. I haven't been able to eat pork since, and now have the occasional nightmare that a cute barn animal is looking at me and saying in the most adorable voice, "I don't want to be Christmas dinner!" Anyway, that's neither here nor there. I grew up on a farm, and my father was stern on instituting the order of the food chain...so it's a deep struggle for me.
But, back to beer. I can drink a lot without feeling it. More than Nick, for sure. Not more than Brenda, but she's been practicing longer. Thursday nights, Nick is in a golf league and I spend them with my aunts and, more often than not, we end up chilling at the local pub and laughing with the bartender. Last week, a biker guy sat next to Brenda and talked to her for what seemed like hours. I was introduced as the niece and was thereafter referred to as "Little Niece" as opposed to "Laura". I heard bits and pieces of their conversation as he became increasingly inebriated, and he made a comment when I ordered another beer...my third and final of the night, and the third different type (which is a foreign idea to my aunt who is a Miller Lite loyalist). And, while I couldn't hear exactly what he said, I heard Bren's reply, "She can drink a lot more when she's in the mood."
I remembered that last night as we caught a sort-of happy hour with Jim and the bartender asked if we wanted another pitcher. Nick and Jim told him "no" and I stayed out of it. He persisted, looking pointedly on me, "Maybe a little one?" Defensive, Nick replied, "Yeah, she can put it away!"
You know, it's funny. When I first started this blog, I never would have posted this. "Oh, what will people think!? I drink, I don't abuse it, but what if they think i do?" I was very concerned about what I wrote about and how I portrayed myself...but if I've learned nothing else (I've actually learned more than words can ever say) it's that life is short, judgments are stupid, and so are you if you let what someone else thinks bring you down. In the end you have yourself and your maker. Please the both of you and you win.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Sure, we'll call it that :-)
Yesterday, I finally loaded Photoshop on my new laptop. So, with an image editing suite at my fingertips, I reviewed the collection of files saved to my picture card. I came across the picture below and had to share. There is something that gets me every time when I see a strong hand administer a gentle touch.
Nick and Sophie:
Thursday, May 17, 2007
So, after a very childish spitting contest last night under the bed, I told Sophie that there would be no more treats in the morning, no more Fancy Feast in the evening—not until she starts behaving like a proper young lady. Until then, she only gets dry food and water. Nothing special. I don't know how many times I've scolded from the other room, "Sophie, we don't get on kitchen counters here unless you're me!" and it doesn't seem to strike a chord.
She dragged my iPod around yesterday, and carried around my party favor from Saturday's baby shower before turning to Nick's keys—she's buried mine in her litter box in the past—but I suppose that we should be thankful that she is now leaving plants alone...although, I was waxing poetic over the bouquet of lily of the valley my aunts had given me and how much I loved the dainty little flowers (they're my favorite!!!) when Nick pointed out gently that Sophie must love them too as I spotted a helpless little stem strewn across the floor.
This morning, belatedly, she came downstairs and stared at the place on the floor where I usually set treats. It was bare. Slowly, she turned her mournful little eyes up to me and sniffed, walking towards me in a contrived, I'm-weak-with-hunger wobble. "Do you want treats, Sophie?" I asked, immediately upset with myself for letting her get so emaciated and set a sizable handful at her feet.
But, honestly, I think I made my point.
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