Thursday, December 04, 2008

the effect of IJ

One of the difficulties of growing older is the lengthening of your list of important people who have died. Last week my dear friend IJ was added to my list.

IJ was present when The Child was born. Had she not been there, I am sure that things would have gone very differently, seeing as how the midwife attempting to deliver the baby had a surgeon standing by, knives sharpened. IJ functioned as my cheerleader. IJ didn't give a hoot what others thought- she did what she thought best at all times- and being very smart and very intiutive, she was usually right.

"Come ON, Betty, COME ON!!! You can DO it!!!! PUSH!!!!!!! PUSH!!!!!!" It was hard to push, since I had toxemia. I was seriously ill, hadn't eaten for 48 hours, yet I was being asked to perform the physical feat of my lifetime, with no medication, not even a pain killer, because I had signed a statement 9 months earlier stating that I wanted no medication during the birth process, lest I harm my baby.

But thanks to IJ, who somehow infused every last bit of her own inimitable energy into me, the midwife delivered the baby. IJ was victorious.
Her contribution to my blossoming motherhood did not end there. Although IJ had no children of her own, she somehow understood my experience. She understood that new mothers (especially ones who have lost their own mothers) often feel abandoned by the rest of the world.

So IJ and I had a standing date once a week. She drove the considerable distance to my house, tearing up the long winding driveway in her old Toyota with its "Question Authority" bumper sticker. She'd just hang out with me for as many hours as I wanted, providing me with much-needed adult conversation. She was always full of ideas and inspiration. She belonged to the group Simply Living and she loved the idea of living in a self-sustained planned community. She loved people, she loved the earth, and she loved the concept of living in harmony. Looking back, I don't know how I would have made it through that year without her.

I had met IJ in a spiritual group that met at a very open-minded church. I couldn't help noticing the very attractive older lady, IJ, whose insightful comments exposed her extreme intelligence. She always had a huge smile, intended for everyone equally. We started doing lunch together after the meetings.

IJ graduated Summa Cum Laude from college at age 19, having skipped two grades of school, then earned her masters from Northwestern. She had many different jobs, teaching, being an assistant dean at a college, directing YMCA programs and advocating for the oppressed. She was a woman who cared.

While working at a home for the handicapped, she met a young man who had lived an extrememly difficult life, with no loving family. She unofficially (because he was a ward of the state) adopted him as her adult son, and took care of him for the rest of his life, giving him the loving family that she believed every human deserved.

She risked her life to uphold her beliefs. During her young life she lived with a black family in Mississippi, a very bold and dangerous move in those days. She was determined to make a difference, and during her tenure in Mississippi she brought about a change. She was horrified that blacks had been addressed only by their names on postal envelopes, without the title Mr., Mrs. or Miss. (The title was not allowed!) By the time IJ left the state, everyone, regardless of skin color, was addressed by Mr., Mrs. or Miss, thanks to her heroic efforts.

A few years ago, just before her Alzheimer's took over, she boarded a bus at age 80 and rode to Washington, D.C. to protest the war in Iraq. She never complained about the aches and pains associated with endless hours on a bus- only her much younger bus mates did that. IJ was on a mission; therefore she was happy.

I saw the irony of IJ's move into the senior care facility when her Alzheimer's made it impossible for this fiercely independent free-spirit to live on her own any longer. She was finally moving into that group living situation she had always yearned for, although what she had envisioned, of course, was more like a hippy commune.

It was in the Alzheimer's unit that IJ found the romance which had hitherto eluded her. (My theory is that the free spirit had to be tamed a bit before she could"settle down.") She and her beau spent hours happily singing Broadway show tunes. They were ecstatically inseparable, that is until Alzheimer's eventually separated them.

Now IJ's spirit is truly free.

Friday, November 28, 2008

black friday

Shopping is never my thing. Black Friday is about as appealing as poison ivy to me. I would happily stay out of the stores on a day like Black Friday- or on any other day, for that matter. I'm even reluctant to shop online, but shopping in brick and mortar establishments often brings on something like a panic attack.

But somehow I ended up with The Child, a.k.a. Material Man, in my life. He loves shopping and he didn't learn it from me. This budding shopaholic somehow assumed that I'd be willing to arise early enough this morning to enter the nearest Wal-Mart by 4am.

Fortunately, his alarm must not have gone off this morning, and we didn't leave for the nearest mall until 9am. He griped about having surely missed the best bargains, and I assured him that considering the economy, there'd be plenty left.

He found the laptop of his dreams priced at a $300 discount. I said it would have to be his one and only gift for Christmas and his birthday (I'm talking about for the year 2008 and every subsequent year until the end of time), for his high school and college graduations, and for his wedding. (It's expensive.) He agreed. I said we'll put it in writing when we get home. Then I plopped down an extra $100 for the Geek Squad to show up at my house tomorrow to set up said laptop.

Upon arriving home, I wondered what kind of power The Child has over me to get me to do things so against my nature. Well, maybe Black Friday isn't so bad.....plenty of people seem to throw themselves into it with gusto.....

Then I read on the internet that a young man employed by a Wal-Mart on Long Island was trampled by an unruly crowd this very morning, in a Black Friday frenzy, and he died. I no longer take it lightly. Never again will I contribute to or participate in this sort of madness.

Monday, November 17, 2008


OK- it seems that I have not yet learned to effectively photograph snow falling. But that's what this is: snow falling- a far cry from this:

which I photographed a mere couple of weeks ago. Many of the roses were still in bloom! Wow- what a colorful autumn it was.

Last week I had to buy a new furnace. I learned a thing or two: furnaces are really, really expensive; they're complicated to install; they smell ghastly when turned on for the first time (no pun intended, but it works); if you want one right away, you'd better have connections. (My "connection" was my realtor, who has bailed me out of several situations.)

A major change has occurred in the setting of my house. The house is on a public park, and there was a city-owned building, used until a few months ago as a recreation center for seniors, which was situated kind of right next to my house:
This is what the building looked like through a window from inside of my house:
This happened:
And this is the result:

The view from my house is now this:

So the view is better. What is not better is the quality of life of all the local senior citizens who fought mightily against the demolition of their building. The city moved their activities to a room in the middle of a large rec center serving all ages. It's not the same, the seniors bemoan, and it sure doesn't have as good a view as their old center which was perched at the end of the huge public rose garden.

Then there's The Child.
He's owned a high quality laptop from a very early age. He has always loved technology and has been fascinated by the latest electronics. That's been clear for a long time.

Like many boys, he can't stand school. I have bent over backwards trying to figure out what to do about that. Being convinced that he despises reading, writing and arithmetic, I sought to discover his REAL interests so that at least I could offer him extra opportunities which would be meaningful to him.

Computers were always a major interest, so last summer I signed him up for computer camp in another city. He enjoyed it, but came home saying what he REALLY wanted to do was learn to program using C++.

Long story short: I FINALLY found a grad student computer geek willing to take on The Child. Finally victorious, I ran to tell The Child that I had set up his first computer lesson for later this week- all he had to bring was his Macbook, and this was his response:

"I'm NOT going!!!!"

"WHAT???? This is all you've talked about for months! Yopu knew I was moving heaven and earth to find a programming tutor for you!"

"NO!!!!!! I WON'T GO!!!!"

Hours later, after extensive prodding, pleading and manipulation, I finally asked the right question (I don't even remember what it was) and the response was:

"I want to program on a PC! C++ is for PC!!! I don't WANT to take my Mac! I've already taught myself Apple Script and I'm over it!"

Dumbfounded, I remembered the Apple Script book I had bought him after camp. Apparently he used it. But a PC? The Child had always been one of those arrogant Mac loyalists, constantly looking down upon PCs, constantly making fun of mine:I never thought I'd see the day, but it appears that another Mac user has converted! I guess the only thing we can count on is change....

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Mentor Ted

Just before The Child came into my life, I had a mentor named Ted. He was the Father I Never Had. He was introduced to me by my friend K who said his advice had changed- no, actually saved- her life. I could see that she had placed him on a pedestal. I was fascinated.

I wondered if I too could win over Ted. Would he even bid me the time of day? He was a "rock star," so to speak. My friend K was the type of woman who easily attracted men. She was born to attract men. Ted was not a romantic interest for either of us, though- he was a mentor, a Father. He was a motivational speaker- that's how K discovered him.

When I first called him and introduced myself, he reacted exactly the way I wanted him to. He took me under his wing. I became an instant daughter. He invited me to call him daily. He lived in LA. I ran up huge phone bills talking to him, but it was worth it. He told me how to live my life. He gave me a solution to every problem. He began a process which should have occurred during my childhood: the growth of my self-esteem.

Clearly, Ted liked me. He was very impressed with what I do for a living and with the fact that I was extremely independent and good at handling my finances and other affairs. I thrived on Ted's approval and appreciation. My own father had never voiced the approval that I was now receiving from Ted. My own father had never spoken to me with the affection that I now heard in Ted's voice.

On a daily basis, he helped me examine the way I was living my life. He gave me logical solutions to whatever problems cropped up at work or in personal relationships. He taught me about boundaries- a hitherto unknown concept for me. He taught me how to serve others while still being true to myself. He taught me to be reasonable. He always said that he tried to teach people to "live comfortably with unresolved problems." In other words, he taught people how to live in peace, despite whatever issues presented themselves.

Probably the most valuable gift he gave me was a kind, loving, yet honest reality check on my biological family, my place in it, and the limitation on what I could expect from it. He taught me how to "clean up my side of the street" and leave it at that. He taught me how to make meaningful amends without selling out. He taught me an unbelievably powerful method of making amends to a person who has died, and I have passed this technique on to many other people who have also used it successfully. Ted was the wisest person I have ever met. His advice was sound; in some cases, I didn't find out until years later how sound it was. He never charged a dime for his advice- I only paid the long distance phone charges, which I totally controlled because I was the one calling him.

K and I nearly fainted when we found out that Ted was coming to our city to speak!!! We fought over which one of us would pick him up at the airport. She won because of my work schedule. She was so nervous about meeting Ted face-to-face that she wrecked her car on the way to the airport!

I understood, because I too was a nervous wreck about meeting Ted (although fortunately it didn't show in my driving!). What if he was disappointed by the way I looked?! Surely he had conjured up an image of me in his mind. Would I disappoint him? I donned my best outfit, topped by the leather coat which I rarely wore and spent lots of extra time trying to look my best. My friend K always looked fantastic, like a model- I had to attempt to compete with that standard.

Then, when I was finished with work, I went to the hotel to meet Ted. It was an earth-shaking event. Really, it was like meeting my father for the first time! Ted showed far more enthusiasm for me than my father ever had. And I heaved a silent sigh of relief when Ted whispered, "I just knew you were gorgeous- I could tell over the phone!" Was I ever glad I had spent all that time fussing with my hair.....

You might be thinking that this story is going to take a slimy turn for the worst, but it didn't. Ted remained My Father. In fact, he wanted to meet the guy I had been going out with. When we failed to co-ordinate their schedules, Ted insisted on talking to him on the phone! I listened in on the conversation during which Ted had the guy jump through hoop after hoop, like any caring father would. I was touched that Ted warned him to proceed slowly with me, thinking of me as a deer in the headlights....(My own father never would have done this.)

It never works well to place a human being on a pedestal, as we all know. Humans are fallible. Shortly after his visit to my city, I faced a life-changing decision- the decision of my lifetime. Ted had a very strong opinion about which choice I should make. Although I understood his concerns all too well, I disagreed with him. I stopped calling Ted. He was worried, and started calling me when I stopped calling him. I didn't return his calls.

Nine months later The Child was born.

Friday, November 07, 2008

what's missing

Every one of us experiences that nagging feeling of something being missing in our lives. Sometimes we "know" what it is: a spouse, a house, a certain job, a baby, a week with Super Nanny, more money.......

Actually, it's possible that what's missing is an awareness of the present moment and an appreciation for what is.

But sometimes there are nagging, persistent feelings of discontent. During my younger years I suspected that certain things had occurred during my upbringing which had left me ill-equipped to deal with life in a mature way. Something was wrong with me, I thought, but it was not obvious. It was easily concealed, especially before The Child came into my life- I appeared to have my act together in a big way, with an unusual sense of independence, an admirable career, and even a mortgage from an early age. Who knew that my father had never performed his proper role toward his daughter or that my mother had "abandoned" me by working the night shift?

I have tried therapy and self-help books. What I have learned is this: my childhood, parents, upbringing, traumas both real and imagined actually don't amount to a hill of beans. Certainly things happened which led to my insecurity and floundering sense of self. However, the present is all that matters, and the cure is available in the present. Psychoanalysis and childhood excavation are unnecessary! All we need is the belief in our worthiness. That belief does not require examination of the past. It requires acknowledgement of the present truth.

We each know, deep down, that it's true that we're worthy- it's just that we don't choose to focus on that ultra important fact. Irrationally, we think we'll get a better payoff from throwing thousands of dollars and hours into counselling, anti-depressants, life coaching, seminars or, worse yet, some form of escape.

Why not just accept the truth? Each of us is worthy. Period. Now, believe that, on a deep level, and act accordingly. Treat yourself as worthy with your life choices. Eat as if you're worthy, excercise as if you're worthy, work as if you're worthy, speak as if you're worthy. Magically, you'll find yourself threating others as if they are worthy.

Am I doing this? Hah! The plan is that I'll be starting today (stop snickering), after realizing during my past couple of conversations with friends that I am once again whirling out of control, confused about the direction my life seems to be taking. Rather than attempting to seize control of my life, I have decided to float through my life like a cork on the ocean, fully aware of the present truth (I am worthy) and continually performing the action in front of me.

Right now, for example, living by my new creed, I'll first check to be sure that my bottom line is established: I am worthy, all is well, and while accepting the circumstances of my life as I float like a cork on the ocean, I look to see what's in front of me for my next action. I will publish this post, then spend an hour preparing something for work, then take the Chihuahua out for a walk, then get the house ready for The Child's party tomorrow. I have postponed jogging due to rain, but it appears that things won't dry up anytime soon, so I'll dig out my rain gear and jog in the rain, after drinking the soy milk I have chosen instead of raiding The Child's Trick or Treat candy. It all sounds rather dreary, I know, and may not be sustainable, but I will reward myself tonight by watching my favorite TV show, Wife Swap. I wonder if any wife would want to swap with whirlingbetty?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Indian Summer Election Day

I voted two weeks ago, having been forewarned of the possibility of waiting 4+ hours to vote on election day, so I missed the excitement of being at the polls today. (And seriously, I did miss it!) My phone was sadly silent today too- I guess all the campaign volunteers figured their time had run out. (Or maybe the word got out that I had already voted!)

The weather here is unreal. We're experiencing a true Indian Summer. Two weeks ago we had freezing temperatures, and even hold-outs like me had no choice but to turn on their furnaces, yet today everyone is wearing T-shirts and shorts outdoors- in November! I hope this is a good omen. At least nobody in this part of the country can use bad weather as an excuse not to vote. I hope each and every sound-minded individual votes in this election- it's so much healthier for our country's citizens to be involved- informed and involved.

This multi-colored tree stands but a few feet from my house. These days I really am trying to stay in the present, with appreciation as my goal. That way it's impossible to overlook sights such as this one. And it IS possible to overlook things that I choose to NOT focus on. Some would call that conscious living. I call it a big improvement.
I have come to realize the degree to which my "problems" are of my own making. As an example, I just called my bank in a panic after checking my account online and seeing no evidence of a deposit I made on Monday. The woman from the bank explained that it's bank procedure- nothing has gone wrong- the deposit just won't show until 7 am tomorrow. My panic was pointless- I didn't need that money for any particular reason. I've just fallen into the trap of worrying about money along with the rest of the world! Yet I'm not starving, not in danger of foreclosure- I have a job and everything I need. Why on earth would I choose to panic over money? "Because everyone else is paniced" is not a legitimate answer. The truth is that all is well, here and now.
Happy Election Day!!!! May the best man for our country win (and may Wall Street reflect that!).

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Extreme Gene

Having the Extreme Gene isn't all bad. After all, it was my Extreme Gene that led me to buy a house on the park. The above scene is in my front yard, and I don't have to peform any landscape maintenance.

Last fall I was taking out my trash, and a passer-by commented that on how lucky I was to live here. Well, anyone could have bought my house- its price was average for this city, not expensive. It's just that whirlingbetty possesses the Extreme Gene which caused her to drive by the 20 houses on the park every day until finally one of them went up for sale.

The Extreme Gene isn't all good, either. The interior of the house is either pristine or chaotic at any given time- nothing in the middle. When it's in its pristine state, you can be sure that whirlingbetty has just pulled an all-nighter getting it that way.

The Extreme Gene even marks my expenditures. The Child lives like royalty and owns several state-of-the-art electronic items plus their attendent games. I rarely spend money on myself, and never at full price- second hand, if possible!

Our late Chihuahua was given the run of the house, and it showed. I am still finding "treasures" (like moldy pizza crusts) which he buried 3 years ago. Our current Chihuahua is kept under strict supervision in the house and park. When he is set free in the house, he bounces off the walls like a kid at Christmas.

Dressed in new outfits from Land's End, The Child is driven around in a 17-year-old Honda Civic. The car may be old, but it too has also been treated like royalty. Last spring I sprung for a high-dollar rust removal job.
Now really, does this look like a 17-year-old car? The Extreme Gene explains its presence in my driveway as well as its excellent condition. Last summer when I took The Child to an antique car show, he asked me why I hadn't entered the whirlingbettymobile in the show, as he watched the proud Model-T owners buffing their vehicles.

The Extreme Gene can be exhausting to live with. I'm going to have to take a nap now.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Betty's Big Brother

Yesterday I was presented with an unusual opportunity which I wasn't sure I wanted to accept. My BB (Big Brother) called to say he was in a nearby city, visiting from the west coast.

Mind you, I come from an odd family, a truly dysfunctional one which unraveled completely upon the death of my mother many years ago. My brother and sister were teens while I was a toddler, and they both moved out before I was 7. I hardly knew them, since, even before they left home, they were always "out galavanting" as my parents would say.

To this day, I hardly know my brother and sister. I hadn't seen either of them in years, until last night, that is. After The Child finished school we hit the road to meet up with BB. It was dusk by the time we arrived, and observing the dark silouette of BB, I recalled the time when, at around age 3, I fell backwards down the wooden stairs in my parents' house for fear that BB, who was 6'3" even when I was 3, would chase me down the stairs. I still have the scar on my head.

BB had never met The Child, so the focus was mercifully off of me. The mysterious BB is still scary and unknown. I remembered my mother saying he could never hurt a fly. He does seem almost shy, afraid of offending, yet people have always liked him. Opposite of whirlingbetty, he has always been popular. I had told The Child in the car that he'd probably like his newfound uncle, because everyone else did.

BB seemed oddly youthful. He's very good-looking, and seriously, he appears younger than when I saw him last. His yoga instructor girlfriend could have something to do with that, or it could be because of the pact he made with my sister: when she was diagnosed with tongue cancer, he said he'd swear off drinking alcohol until she recovered and he could share a drink with her. This was probably the first time I've ever seen him sober.

The visit was necessarily short: The Child had school the next morning, and I'm going back to work this week. BB doesn't talk much when he's sober, but in the restaurant he did express concern that the corn chowder I ordered wasn't enough to sustain me. (I wonder how he thinks I get by when he's not around.)

I observed BB whenever I could steal a furtive glance. His big blue eyes and wavy hair look much like The Child's. He looks peaceful, content and settled. His latest girlfriend suits him well. He looked as if he had his act together for the first time ever. I wish my mother and grandmother who had so adored him could have seen him last night.

When we first arrived to meet BB I had been nervously babbling about needing a flashlight in my car. I was just trying to create distraction, and I quickly forgot all about it. But after we left the restaurant, BB walked into the nextdoor Rite Aid and bought me 4 flashlights and a package of batteries.

With tears clouding my eyes on the long drive home, The Child asleep in the back seat, I wondered what BB had thought of me.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

scenes from an October day

I'm always looking for parallels. There must be a way in which this time of year reflects the phase my life is in. But October as I witness it today does not resemble the concept of October in my mind. That's OK- I don't seem to have a grasp on what phase my life is in anyway.

Until I bought a house on the rose garden, I never thought of October as being a month during which to view roses. October used to conjure up notions of falling leaves, bonfires, skeletons dancing in the cemeteries and witches gathered around their cauldrons. Of course, I did grow up in part of the country where temperatures dipped earlier in autumn.

These roses don't look to me as if they're on their last legs.

Nope, this isn't what I think of as October. I admit, though, that I am enjoying the nippier nighttime temperaures. Some here have actually used their furnaces already. Not I. I'll hold off until I can see my breath.

Friday, September 26, 2008


The weekend started out like any other, except that The Child had started a new project: flute playing. He shows much promise.

After a lengthy flute session we headed to the downtown neighborhood I want to live in, where a street festival called Via Colori was underway. Local artists (or wannabes) create chalk pictures in the street, in the style of an old Italian custom (or Mary Poppins).

I liked these colors.

No comment!

Then, all of a sudden, the wind started blowing like never before. It was Hurricane Ike showing us how powerful it was even though this is not hurricane territory. The city went black. This photo was taken inside my house that night- the first night of MANY without power.

Outside in the park the next morning, sights like this explained the power outage.

Thankfully, the weather was spectacular, and The Child and The Chihuahua tried to make the most of the daylight hours. No school for many days- Hurrah!

FINALLY, more than a week later, the saviors arrive en masse.

Here are a few of the heroes who restored our long-lost power.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Second Guessing

It's something I'm good at, I'm told. Quite frankly, I never really understood what it meant. I mean, everything is a guess, right? Each decision or choice is a guess- hopefully a best guess. So the second guess is the act of changing one's mind, right? Big deal. I always considered that to be a sign of open-mindedness, which is a good thing, right?

Now I'm not so sure.

The above sentence was a prime example of second guessing. Now I know this. While I was typing the sentence, I was not aware that it was "second guessing." I do it constantly, as habit.

Second guessing indicates lack of self-confidence rather than open-mindedness. As I attempt to strengthen my sense of self, it is necessary for me to break the habit of second guessing.

I am beginning to realize that second guessing is a precious waste of time and energy, and it creates negativity. Furthermore, in my case it is an act of selling out, of disregarding the self and its boundaries.

As a recent example, I have been busy preparing for a trip to the Pacific Northwest to apply for a job. I have a lot to do to prepare. My phone rings, I waffle about answering, I decide it might be The Child's school calling with a dire emergency, so I answer. It's no emergency- when was the last time a phone call was an emergency?- it was a Pest wanting me to go to dinner, and I said no, I am very busy, I can't make any frivolous plans over the next 3 weeks, and the Pest went on to say that a good steak dinner was probably exactly what I need to get the job, and I said, hmmm, maybe you're right, even though I don't eat meat, I'll have to see how The Child feels about me going out on a pseudo date- I'll get back to you after consulting with The Child......

See how easy it is for me to be talked out of my original decision, or boundary in this case? The Pest exerted very little effort to inspire my turnabout.

In retrospect, I see that it would have behooved me to stick to my guns. The Child is already feeling abandoned because I've been so intense about my job search. The truth is, I want The World to leave me alone for the next 3 weeks. Now I'm stuck with the burden of talking my way out of the steak dinner.

I am second guessing the travel plans I've made. There were many factors to consider, and I did the best I could. I have reserved the flight and hotel, and now I am busying myself with second guessing. Why did I choose such a late flight? What are my odds of being mugged when arriving at a strange city at midnight? How will I get to the hotel from the airport at that hour? The mass transit only runs until midnight...... What if the hotel sucks? Should I have shelled out $150 extra for the hotel I know to be acceptable?

OK, I'll stop. Now that I have some awareness of the omnipresence of second guessing in my life, I can watch for it and stop it.

Although, come to think of it, doesn't that mean I'll become arrogant and closed-minded?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

summer's end

The Child has been disgruntled. Apparently Every Other Child On Earth has gone on a magnificent luxury vacation this summer. (The Child's Best Friend has gone on four such vacations, I hear.) We went to a local Shopping Mecca's "game room" where The Child could shoot at his frustrations.

I'm not much of a shopper, especially as an unemployed single mother with no child support payments, but this sign made my day at the Shopping Mecca. Ever since childhood, I have been panda-crazy. This ad outside of a Chinese restaurant thrilled me.

In all fairness, Shopping Mecca does go out of its way to placate even the hardest-to-please like me. This frog actually went out of his way to wave at me.

Then he went back to work.

But I can't resist inserting my opinion on Shopping Mecca, nonetheless. This is a "town square" in the center of Shopping Mecca. You see, Shopping Mecca was built to look like a town, a neighborhood. This causes my blood to boil. Why in tarnation couldn't they have built an ACTUAL neighborhood, where PEOPLE actually LIVE????????

Correct me if I'm wrong, and I hope beyond all hope that I am wrong, but is this Pottery Barn supposed to resemble an Art Deco movie theater? I'm sorry, but this turns my stomach. Heaven forbid that there should be a real movie theater in a real neighborhood anywhere in this God-forsaken city that I live in!!! Across the main street where we live, there is an old movie theater which has not shown a movie in decades. Why? Because the huge mega plexes have taken over. Get in your car and drive to the multi mega to see any movie at any time. This Shopping Mecca has, of course, one of these mega movies complexes, located inside an enormous enclosed mall, well-protected from the "neighborhood".

The Child does not understand why I am upset about this. Why? He has never lived in a real neighborhood!!!!!!!!

Doesn't it almost look as if this Cheesecake Factory restaurant is located in a neighborhood? Well, it's not. It's just off the "town square" in Shopping Mecca.

Still, we ate there after reading Loving Annie's tantalizing review. I had to try the Chipotle chicken pasta after reading her description of it. The only problem was, I was too full to try any cheesecake, after eating only half of my pasta. (Annie did warn her readers that the portions were generous.)

It seems that in my life lately a lot of chapters have been closed. These friends of mine moved to New York City this week. I will miss T's bubbly personality, ever-ready wit and extreme intelligence. I wish them well in the most exciting city I can imagine. They have found a REAL NEIGHBORHOOD there to live in!!!! HALLELUIA!!!!!!!!

This isn't exactly what The Child had in mind when he said he wanted to go on a vacation, but hey, it was a 20-minute drive and offered sights we just don't see every day.

This is a "Where's Waldo" Zoo Edition. It's not just a pile of rocks. There's a grizzly hiding in there somewhere.

But this is always my favorite part of any trip to the zoo- the soothing boat ride through the Indonesian exhibit. I would love to stay on the boat for an endless journey, but it costs $1 for each time around. It ended way too soon.

Every boat ride has its hazzards, though. Just when you start to let go of life's burdens, a snake appears out of the grass.

Back at home, the rose garden offers its sights any time we're interested, right outside our front door, with summer still going strong, probably well into October. Who needs that luxury vacation that all the other kids had?!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Water Cycle

As you see, the view from my patio chair has been marred. It all started with a leaky faucet. In retrospect, I wish I had just shut up and let it go. So it leaked. Big deal. I try to be earth-conscious, but really. The water recycles itself no matter what we do, no? It leaks out of my bathtub faucet, it pools in the tub, it evaporates, it rains back down onto the earth. It's the water cycle. I could have just shut up and let that happen. But noooooooo........

This is the aftermath of my fateful decision to call a plumber. Good heavens, I'm unemployed. You'd think I could find better ways to use my time than calling plumbers. Most unemployed folks would surely have the good sense to ignore a leaky bathtub faucet. But there's a part of Whirlingbetty which calls itself Missgoodytwoshoes, wanting to do the right thing all the time. A good homeowner dutifully calls the plumber when the faucet leaks, even if she's unemployed.

This is what it looked like after the plumber left. How did I not realize that demolition was part of the deal? I mean, would you expect your tub to end up like this due to a leaky faucet?

Note the holes in the wall way above the faucet- the plumber cut those holes after I said that as long as things were torn up, I'd like to have a shower installed. (It used to be just a bathtub, and I was thinking of resale. How long can I hold onto this house without a job? And wouldn't prospective buyers want a shower?)

Silly me- I thought the plumber was actually going to complete the job! The plumber left it as you see above. Stunned, I called my realtor, who put me in touch with a contractor who is now reconstructing my bathroom.

I was called upon to make a major decision about the tiles. The original yellow tiles are irreplaceable, it turns out. So the contractor had to integrate some other tile color into the yellow theme. I chose the above tan/gray which matched the wallpaper and sort of went with the yellow. Hopefully the finished product will look OK, and the bill won't send me into cardiac arrest.

This guy, whom I encountered in the park outside of my house early this morning, personifies my mood right about now.

Actually, he's just eating, not snarling as the front view implied. Or maybe he's smoking a turtle-sized cigar....

This photo was also taken this morning just outside of my house. It's a senior recreation center owned by the city, built in the late 50's, I'm guessing. It's rather unsightly, isn't it? Well, it's soon to be demolished. That brown and white sign is front of the building was removed minutes after I took the photo. Hopefully the absence of this eyesore will raise the value of my house, which faces this property.

This photo shows my house (on the right, hidden in the trees) in relationship to the soon-to-be-eliminated senior center. The city, ever creative, will turn the site into a parking lot.

This is the view out of one of the floor-to-ceiling windows in the senior center. Soon it will be the view from the city's new parking lot. Sometimes I wish I'd been a city planner....but where would I begin?
And this photo takes the prize, so far anyway, in this summer's whirlingbetty hummerpic competition. Too bad the hummer is a female. This was taken by The Child, who snatched my camera unbeknownst to me and got lucky.