Monday, October 31, 2011

#65 - Is This Meeting Important?

I am required to do my work calendar for the entire year in June, so that my dates can be put on the parish calendar first, as Religious Education takes priority over other meetings and events. I have on average 2 meetings a week throughout the year, one evening and sometimes a Saturday or Sunday.  I advertise important dates ahead of time, so parents can mark their calendars and adjust their schedules accordingly. So, in my opinion, you get dates, you mark your calendars and you attend meeting.  You do not call the RE office with the following question: is this meeting important? 
Because this is a list of the responses you may get from me:
1. Oh no, no, not at all. I like scheduling meetings in the evening or on the weekend to accomodate your schedules, even though it would be much more convenient for me to do the meeting during the usual workday hours of 9-5, especially when it really is not an important meeting. 
2. I like being away from my home and my husband to do unimportant things. 
3. There is nothing important that you need to know as a parent about the sacrament of Penance & Eucharist.
4. I just like to hear myself talk.
I wish people would think before they open their mouth.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

#64 - More weather schizophrenia

Yes, I know I said I like the 4 seasons. I know I said I still like winter and the cold and the snow. But I like the 4 seasons separate and distinct and 3 months apart. Not 3 out of 4 in a 2 week period! We have had heat and humidity, then brisk fall-like days and today SNOW. On October 29th in northern VA! Really????



#63 - Forecast of Snow = Run on Stores

When I think back to my youth and growing up in NY, I remember winter fondly.  Now that may be because I was a child and the only things associated with snow and winter weather were:
1) Day off from school (very infrequently though in NYC; unlike Northern VA, where school is closed at the mere mention of 1-2" of snow acculumation!)
2) Building snow forts around fire hydrants, as that was the only place on a city block where it was clear of parked cars and afforded you the ability to fire snow balls across the street at your opponents.
3) Going into apartment building lobbies and taking off your hats, gloves and scarves and putting them on the steaming hot hallway radiators to dry before venturing back out into the winter wonderland.
4) Ice skating down an ice covered 35th Street at 11pm at night, helping my brother deliver his newspapers on a sled.
So, the mention of the 1st snow of the season still brings an excitement with it, even though I have to clean snow off my car and drive to work in it.  However, in this area, the hint of snow by meteorologists results in a run on the stores.  Similar in nature to a run on the banks during the depression, a run on stores creates pandemonium, and the media does not always help the situation by showing consumers at the local grocery store staring at empty bread & milk shelves.  Jeez, you would think we live in the middle of nowhere, hundreds of miles away from the nearest town and supplies, like in Little House on the Prairie days and the long winter! 


Thursday, October 27, 2011

#62 - Out of Your Control

I have already touched upon Chico Negativo in my peeves, but now I am broadening the negative spectrum to include people in general - polar opposite reactions to occurences. I am talking about the kind of people that seem to go out of their way to either disagree with you or discount something you said, just because YOU said it.  But this does not just include verbal negativity.  It also includes physical negativity.  You know what I mean.
1. You close a door into a room because a person is getting ready to start a presentation and they come over and reopen it. Why? Because they want the entire hallway to listen to the pearls of wisdom that will flow from their mouth? No. Because you closed the door.
2. You move things around in the office that have not been touched in a year.  And suddenly the things you moved (for what you thought was the most efficient placement) are moved back. Why? Because someone liked the original placement better? Or because it was more efficient in the original placement? No, because you moved it.
3. You choose a date for a workshop or a class that requires someone else's presence (i.e. priest for a sacramental celebration or a presenter), and that date is no good.  Why? Because the presenter really has something else scheduled that day. Maybe, but not likely.  The presenter feels an illness coming on that will probably be in full bloom a month from now?  No, because you were assertive and took the initiative and chose the date.
4. You comment how the earthquake shook the whole building and the response is it wasn't that big a deal. Because it really wasn't a big deal in the greater scheme of earthquakes throughout recorded history? No, because you said so.
So, the only conclusion I can come to, is that when you are on the receiving end of this treatment, you must be very intimidating to those who have the polar opposite reaction to you, your words or your actions and they need to take control of the situation!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

#61 - Weathering Vacation

You work hard. In the corporate world there is no such thing as a 40 hour work week.  Hasn't been for years now.  Gone are the days of  Leave-It-To-Beaver and his dad coming home (sometimes walking!)when it is still daylight outside and sitting down in his suit and tie with the fam for a nice dinner.  So, because you work hard all year long, you also want to vacation well.  Vacation.  That period of time (usually a stinkin' 1-2 weeks) that you wait for all year.  You save for it.  You spend hours looking for the best deals in plane tickets for it.  You watch for sales on suntan lotion and sunblock with an spf of 500 for the kids.  You start packing suitcases weeks ahead of time because you can only do a little at a time, as you are still putting in those non leave-it-to-beaver hours at your job. All you can find for plane tickets is a stopover flight. Well, that's not so bad, after all, who really cares, you will be on vacation, and vacation time seems to be different than work time.  Doesn't matter if people are rude when you are on vacation, you just smile (what you are thinking is another story).  Doesn't matter if your flight is delayed (you just have a few more drinks while waiting).  Nothing carries the same weight when you are on vacation.  Life is good.  You get to your destination: the warm, sunny beaches of Mexico; the never-ending flow of Miami Vices (if you've never had one, you are in for a treat); the friendly smiling resort workers at your beck and call.  Enter into this idyllic scene: a hurricane!  And suddenly, you're thinking of those throw away ponchos they were selling at Target for $3.99! Doesn't seem fair, does it? But then again, who said this life would be?!?!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

#60 - Super Intelligent Field Mice

Growing up in the city meant you had water bugs or roaches in your apartment, but not crickets or grasshoppers or field mice.  Living in the burbs is an entirely different world to the once-upon-a-time city dweller. I have learned the names of some plants (notice I said some).  I have learned the names of some flowers and trees (some again).  And I have learned I do not like field mice.  Oh, they are very cute when they are on Cinderella singing their little Gus Gus hearts out.  But in the house - I don't think so.  I do not like anything that crawls that I cannot squash with my foot.  I can squash spiders and crickets and ants and roly poly bugs and then just pick them up with a tissue and throw them in the garbage (sorry all you pro-lifers who may be appalled at this image).  I cannot squash a mouse or a snake with my shoe (well, I probably could, but the thought of squashing something that big with my shoe is revolting to me).  So, the problem of some field mice in the laundry room is really getting to me.  We have no idea how they are getting in, but they are.  And these are not just normal field mice.  Oh, no! They are super smart ass field mice.  They get the food out of the trap and do not spring the trap!  And Bob the Mouse Killer really jams the food into the trap, so how they are getting it out without either getting their necks snapped or even springing the trap is beyond me.  An image of a tag team approach comes to my mind - ok, you hold onto my tail and I will sneak up on the food from the side; if you see any movement of that wooden thing whatsoever, pull me back quickly! So, Bob the Mouse Killer went back to our local home improvement store and bought the good old fashioned wood and metal spring traps (the Houdini ones have this plastic cheese looking thing on the wooden base that is supposed to resemble cheese, I guess).  Snap! Snap! Snap! Three dead mice!!!! Hopefully that was it, but the Mouse Killer is getting a few more traps to make sure, so I can once again enter my laundry room in a normal fashion and not have to bang my feet and cough loudly as I put all the lights on to scare off those Mighty Mouse wannabes!



Monday, October 24, 2011

#59 - False Advertising

So, you are in charge of the main dish at tailgating.  You decide to have shrimp.  You go to the local fish place whose shrimp is 13.99 a lb.  Then you see the weekly sale paper for the local supermarket that has the same jumbo shrimp for 6.99 a lb.  No brainer, right?! Wrong! You wait until 6pm on Friday (hey, it was  a beautiful dog-and-man-in-the-park day) to go to the store and buy the sale shrimp.  You wait and wait at the seafood counter (only one person working and someone buying a seafood platter - the nerve!).  You go to the front of the store to pick up the sale paper that has the ad for the shrimp on sale. You go back to the counter. Platter man is finally done. Finally, you hear, "may I help you?" Yes, I would like 6 lbs of the jumbo peel-and-eat-shrimp you have on sale.  We don't have any jumbo shrimp on sale.  Yes, yes, you do, and you point out the ad. Oh, THAT shrimp. Well, I am defrosting it.  Can I see it, you ask, ever so kindly.  Yes, of course.  Whoa, that's not JUMBO shrimp.  Well, this is the sale shrimp, is the answer.  Now for someone who didn't know there was even a sale on shrimp 4 minutes before, to suddenly know those were the sale shrimp was a bit disconcerting to the frugal shrimp buyer. Disconcerting is probably not a good word.  PISSED OFF was more like it.  So, the shrimp was bought, but not at the above grocery store, but at another store, and in the end cost MORE than the shrimp from the original seafood place (in both per lb price and gas driving around town!).  The moral of this story - don't believe every thing you see in the paper or go with your gut and don't waste time looking for something better!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

#58 - Gas Prices

When we were in the army and lived in Germany from 1975-1978,  we felt for the Europeans, who paid an exhorbitant amount of money for gas for their cars.  Germans paid about $4.00 a gallon. Yes, you read that right - $4.00 a gallon in 1975, when gas for Americans was about $.75 a gallon.  Yes, you read that right, too - under $1.00 a gallon.  When I started driving in 1972, it was about $.36 a gallon.  Then we had the oil crisis in 1973, where members of OPEC proclaimed an oil embargo. This was "in response to the U.S. decision to re-supply the Israeli military" during the Yom Kippur war. It lasted until March 1974. That was when we had gas rationing and you filled your car on odd or even days and endured really long lines at the gas stations.  So, personally, the fact that we are now having to pay $3.35 a gallon, is not an issue for me.  My husband and son are on a project with London, where gas is $7.00 a gallon.  So, in my humble opinion, it is not unreasonable that we Americans should be paying higher prices.  What does drive me crazy, though, is the up and down nature of those prices, and the equally roller coaster reasons given by so-called experts.  One week prices are expected to go up because Greece is going broke.  The next week prices are going down because other countries are helping Greece not be broke.  Next it will be that those were all rumors and Greece is just fine, but the weather hasn't been that great there, so gas prices will go up a bit.  Or wait a minute, the souvlaki stands in NY sent their profits to Greece, so there no longer is any financial issue, so gas prices should level off until the next crisis comes along!

Friday, October 21, 2011

#57 - Warranty Phenomena

There is a strange phenomena out there that seems to happen more often than not: warranty phenomena.  You know what that is.  You buy a car.  It has a 3 year warranty.  Nothing happens to the car in those 3 years.  But the day after the warranty is up, BAM! Your head gasket blows and you need a new one or you cannot drive your car. Cost: $1,000. You buy a computer with a 1 year warranty.  Works fine for a year.  The week after your warranty expires, so, too, does your computer. You buy a kitchen appliance like a stove or refrigerator.  You pay for the extended warranty.  This covers you for another 2 years, for a total of 3 years.  Your drinks are cold for 3 years.  The month after the extended warranty runs out, so does the refrigerant from your fridge- all over your floor.  So, now you not only have to get a new fridge, but also a new floor!  Personally, I think it's a conspiracy between manufacturers and insurance companies to bilk the public out of money, as if they weren't getting enough of our money already.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

#56 - Good Ol' Boys

If you were to ask me if I am a feminist, I would say no.  Having said that however, I do believe we have all been created equal by God.  I do believe that women can do most jobs that men can, and they should be paid a fair and just wage for that job.  I do believe there are women who are more intelligent than men.  I do believe there are women who could take a car engine apart and put it back together better than some men.  I consider myself a fairly intelligent, well-read woman, who can understand something if it is explained clearly.  So, it really irks me to be around what I would call "good ol' boys".  Chauvinistic, macho men, who look at women as unintelligent, dainty objects.  No, I do not work on cars, but when I bring my car in to a mechanic, I expect him (or her) to tell me what is wrong with my car in a non-condescending manner.  No, I am not a computer engineer, but when I call a help desk about a problem I am having with my computer, I expect that help desk person to walk me through the problem and the solution, not talk to me as if I only know how to plug the power cable in to the wall and nothing more.  I have a husband who does hardware/network engineering work and when he comes home and tells me about his day, he talks to me as an equal and as if (as if!!) I really understand the complexity of the problems he is relating to me! He does not talk down to me and has always encouraged me in whatever new project may be on my to do list.  The good ol' boy network is out there though.  I have seen it in many different places - the grocery store: excuse me, ma'am, do you need help with your bags (just because I have a cart filled with bags does not mean I can't get them to my car; well, OK, maybe I do want the help there!); the car dealer: here is the work that needs to be done, do you need to call your husband;  the home improvement store: do you need help loading those 20 bags of mulch into your car, ma'am (do I look like my arms are broken; well, maybe, I do want your help there, too!); my office: oh, I have a priest emergency and cannot do the beginning of your parent meeting, so let me get another clergy to do it, because we have special powers of talking to parents that you do not have.  My point is that in any of the above scenarios, if it had been my husband, he would not have gotten the same treatment (well, maybe, the priest thing would have been the same).  So, getting back to my opening line - maybe I am a feminist, after all! I am woman, hear me roar!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

#55 - House Disasters When Away

I have already discussed the house-disasters-when-alone syndrome, but didn't really touch upon the "away" syndrome.  Here's the situation: you wait all year to go away on a relaxing, fun vacation.  You need someone to watch the dog while you are away.  You hire a college student, whom you have known for years. College student comes and watches dog & house.  You come home to a note saying your family room flooded a bit and the cause of the flood has not been determined. Plumber is called.  $450.00 and a camera view of pipes that is both gross and fascinating at the same time, you discover the college student flushed something she shouldn't have down the toilet and it snagged on a plant root that had found it's way into the underground sewer pipe. Sewer authority is now called to come out and camera view said pipe and snake it out, as the problem area is located VERY CLOSE to the main line that ruins down the street and no longer is YOUR problem. Phew!  Needless to say the next vacation trip we took, our house was closed up with no sitter! Dog went on vacation to her original mother's house!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

#54 - Not Enough Hours in the Day

Who decided there would be 24 hours in the day? God? If so, I would like to ask why 24, because I really would like about 30 in order to get what I need done and enjoy all those things I would really like to spend my time doing. There are things in my house and things in my office that are always on my lists of things to be done. Normal, everyday things.  Then there are additional projects that I would like to tackle but need to set aside a block of time (days, not hours) to accomplish.  And then there are the fun things like spending time with family (not just the grandchildren, but the adult children, too). The fall is especially busy for me as everything begins with a new year of religious education at work.  Add to that, UVA football games (we are at every home game in Charlottesville), yard work (by the beginning of November, our deck looks like it snowed 12" of leaves) and simply playing with 5 grandchildren (at least 2 are at UVA games, so we kill 2 birds with 1 stone there!).  So, in order to do all these things and not lose my sanity (some may say that happened years ago), I will need another 6 hours a day please! I don't think that's too much to ask.

Monday, October 17, 2011

#53 - Fall Schizophrenia-The Weather Kind

I marvel at God's creation.  I like all four seasons (even the Frankie Vallie ones). Still. Even at 57 years old, I like the cold and snow of winter. I live where I live because I like the four seasons.  I look forward to the first snow of the season.  But then by the end of February, I am tired of it and look forward to the first signs of spring in March. And after a few months of pollen coated cars  and those helicopter things that fall all over our deck (can you tell I'm from the city and know the names of arbor related things very well?!?!), I look forward to the hazy, lazy days of summer.  By the end of August, I am ready for the cool, brisk, color-filled days of autumn and football.  Going to UVA football games when it is hot, is absolutely disgusting. All you feel like doing is dumping bottles of water all over your body and drinking anything ice cold!  So, come September, I so look forward to my most favorite season - autumn.  And what irks me the most about the fall is the previous season's inability to let go.  It tries, mind you, but with little success in our area.  We may get a few teasing days of cooler, crisp air that makes one want to hike in the Blue Ridge Mtns, and not be sitting in their stuffy, closed in, windowless office (who, me?).  Then the heat and humidity comes back for a week. There is something intrinsically wrong with finally being able to open your windows after months of being shut due to the need for AC, and then closing them to put the heat on at night, and then keeping them closed and switching to AC again!  Too bad there are not Weather Psychologists to help the needy summer stop inserting itself where it is no longer wanted!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

#52- Party Crashing

We have a neighbor we hardly ever see. He is like a vampire who only surfaces after dark in the summer, and whose lights are on late into the night (late into the night for me is actually 4am when I get up).  But here is an interesting phenomena that occurs with not only this neighbor, but others as well.  If you want to see them, just decide to have a few friends over for an outside BBQ and abracadra - your neighbor magically will appear, cutting his grass right in the backyard next to yours, making any conversations you may be having with your friends a near impossibility.  Over the years I have pondered this amazing phenomena and here are a few conclusions I have arrived at:
1. The neighbor is jealous that you have friends.
2. He wants to show your friends that he really does know how to cut grass, even though up until that moment his grass was 24" tall.
3. He is not a very happy person and needs to drown out the sound of laughter and joviality with his lawn mower.
4. He is so excited because he just got a new lawn mower and he needs to try it out immediately.
5. Those cirrus clouds could form into cumulonimbus clouds at any moment and cause a downpour.
Normally, I would consider inviting a neighbor over for a gathering of our friends but that would require a sighting of the neighbor and we do not have too many of those.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

#51- Rude & Ill Mannered Small People

What has happened to manners?  And being respectful of your elders?  For some children, it is non-existent.  Take for instance the day I drove my granddaughters home.  They live in a townhouse community, which is teaming with kids.  I mean kids are all over the place - on the sidewalks, on the playground, in the street, on Doggy Do Island (no explanation needed).  Hundreds of kids! So, when you drive into their development, you really need to go slowly, so you don't run over one of the street urchins.  I drive up on the aforementioned day, pull into a parking space near their house, rather than park in the "Visitor's Parking" area, because we had to unload a few things as they had spent the weekend. I open my door, start to walk around the car to get the 2 year old out of her car seat, and this boy around 10 years old comes right up to me and says, " hey, you're in OUR parking spot." Not- excuse me, ma'am, but do you know you're in our parking spot? And not in a smiley face, helpful way, but rather a bit menacing and intimidating way.  Well, those of you who know me, know that I am not usually intimidated by big people, let alone a 10 year old!  So, I turn to the darling child and lower my voice and say, "do I look like I live here and that I am permanently staying in your spot?  I don't think so, so back away from me."  The kid thinks about saying something else and then must have thought better of it after looking at my face, so he walks away, mumbling under his breath.  I don't know about you, but I would have kicked my kids' asses, if they ever talked to an adult like that when they were 10!

Friday, October 14, 2011

#50 - Know-It-All People

I realize there are some really intelligent people in this world, whose knowledge covers a wide expanse of topics. I have watched people like that on Jeopardy.  The Ken Jennings of this world are truly amazing.  The gift that God has blessed them with is truly awe-inspiring.  And people who have been blessed with a sharp mind that can absorb huge amounts of information and then retain that information to be shared at a later date, fall into one of  two categories: the humble or the obnoxious.  The humble person realizes that what he/she has is truly a gift from God, and they use that gift to better the world around them in some way, shape or form. True humility is recognizing what your gifts are and using them wisely (in my humble opinion).  The obnoxious smart person is also known as the know-it-all.  You know the type.  They know everything about anything and everything that ever comes up in a conversation. There is nothing that you can bring up that they don't know about.  There is no place in the world that you can say you have visited, that they haven't been to.  There is no restaurant that they haven't tried.  There is no book that they haven't read.  There is no store that they haven't shopped at.  I marvel at people like that.  No, I don't.  They aggravate the hell out of me.  It's like they have to one up something you may be telling them.  I.E. You say: When we lived in Germany, we went to this neat little gasthaus in Bavaria and had the best schnitzel I've ever tasted.    K-I-A says: Oh, you mean the little gasthaus owned by Herr & Frau Schmidt? They are such wonderful people.  Now, some may find this cute, as in, oh, it's such a small world & how amazing you knew not only the name of the smallest gasthaus in the Alps, but also the owners.  I just find it annoying.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

#47 - House Disasters When All Alone or Away

Why is it that most times we have had major things happen in our house, it is when my husband has been on business travel or we have been away?  Large problems seemed to pop up before his plane was even on the runway. Our washer leaked (with a full load of laundry). Our dryer started squealing like a pig and stopped drying (with a full load of laundry). Our AC stopped cooling (on the hottest week of the summer).  Trees or huge branches have fallen in the back and front yards (luckily never landing on our roof). Obscene phone calls would be made to our house (at first I thought it was my husband trying to be sexy; it wasn't).  Our pool leaked (16,000 gallon pool leaking, not fun).  Water pipes have leaked (walls and ceilings cut open, not fun).  Water backed up into the house from a block in the sewer line (paying a plumber to put a camera down the outside sewer line, not fun).  We could have made a little money if we would have taken bets on what would happen whenever he was leaving. And this is not a strange phenomena restricted to our family.  I have heard these same irksome encounters from others.  So, I guess the only solution to this problem is no one can ever leave their house again!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

#45 - Ruts: Not the Road Kind

"I'm bored. I have nothing to do."  How often those of us with kids have heard that comment! Kids are kids, and they need to be taught how to occupy their time with fun and exciting things, so that the "bored" statement does not come out of their mouth too often.  With my kids, it was usually just a matter of helping them choose something (by the time I got to #3, my patience was usually gone and they were told to just pick one!) out of the many resources in their rooms, i.e. read your book (my kids were avid readers and almost always had a book they were in the middle of reading).  Kids grow up and what once was boredom evolves into being-in-a-rut.  How does this happen?  We live in a generation of gadgets & electronics.  Fios, cable, dish TV offers us a smorgasbord of shows to watch at any time of day or night.  When I was a kid, we had 6 channels in NY that I can recall - 2, 4, 5, 7, 9 & 11. High speed internet keeps us connected to people thousands of miles away from us.  I phones, i pads, i pods - i, i, i !!!! So, how the heck do we get in a rut?  We go to work for 8-12 hours a day (depending on traffic, 12 hours is not unheard of in our area). We come home.  We make dinner.  We eat dinner. We watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. We clean up from dinner. We take the dog out and talk for 30 minutes about our day.  We go to bed by 9:30, as we get up at 4am.  The alarm goes off @ 4am and it starts all over again. Those with kids still at home may have a bit different scenario: wake up at 5:30am. Get breakfast & lunches ready. Get the kids up, dressed. Give them breakfast. Get them off to school. Go to work. Come home.  Run the kids to soccer or baseball or football or swim practice. Cook dinner.  Do homework with kids. Run kids to Religious Education class. Get home from RE.  Get kids ready for bed.  Watch a show on TV.  Kids wake you up in your recliner to tell you they are going to bed.  You look at your spouse sleeping on the couch and realize you haven't asked how his/her day was. You go to bed. The alarm goes off at 5:30am and it starts all over again.  Any wonder why we get in a rut!  We need to take time for ourselves - mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually - and not just go through the motions of life.  Life is a wonderful gift.  To just exist and not truly live is not being a gracious accepter of the gift!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

#44 - Change: Not the Pocket Kind

It seems to me that we are such creatures of habit, that when there is a change in our daily routine, it can throw off our whole day. Take for instance the newspaper.  My husband's day begins at 4am (just so he can be out the door by 5:30 and avoid traffic - the DC area is the WORST in the nation according to some transportation forum report; we beat out LA for the title!). The first thing he does when he gets up is to make sure the coffee pot's auto feature was set the night before and is dripping, because if it is not, then he has to push the button to the "on" position before he goes into the shower. He takes a shower.  Puts on sweats.  Fixes a cup of coffee. Fixes his breakfast - usually a bowl of cereal and fruit or hot oatmeal. Reads the newspaper - but he has to read the previous day's paper, as our paper does not get delivered until 5:30-6:00am, and he is already gone.  Now in the event a day passes without a newspaper being delivered, and he has to scrounge around for something else to read while eating his cereal (I have witnessed him reading our electric company's newsletter which contains exciting articles about the oldest resident in our neighborhood and how when they were a child, electricity was just being invented), his whole demeanor can change. He grumbles about the delivery guy not doing his job (who, by the way, probably was lying in a ditch somewhere, cut off by a crazy driver, on his way to deliver our paper), the coffee is too weak, the grapes are too soft.  It effects his morning routine. Then there are the Saturday jaunts to Charlottesville for UVA football and tailgating.  I drive because Chico Negativo does not like my baby SUV - apparently, it's a boat or a tank (well to the man who drives little egg cars, a Mariner would be a tank).  My driving to C'ville affords Chico the pleasure of his latest addiction - SUDOKU.  He read an article about keeping your mind sharp and this is one way he does it.  Nothing wrong with that, except when the lack of a sudoku puzzle effects your ability to sit still in a car for 2 hours.  So the Saturday that we left at 7am to be down in C'ville by 9am for tailgating and the paper was not in the driveway upon our departure, Chico searched the car for something to read - maps, old receipts, no they weren't going to cut it; so, he read the entire football program from a game 2 weeks before and dutifully passed on to me all the stats for each player on UVA's 2011 team (and some extremely interesting tidbits of info about the new coach's previous 20 coaching jobs before coming to UVA two years ago!). So you see, a small thing like a newspaper can make all the difference in the world when your well-ordered world has to deal with change.

Monday, October 10, 2011

#43 - Preconceived Notions

Remember when you were in school (for some that may be a hard task), and there were certain teachers who had "reputations" (no, not that kind of reputation) for being really strict or tough or mean.  And then when the dreaded first day of school arrived (dreaded only in the sense that you didn't know who your teacher was going to be, because some of us actually liked school), you waited with baited breath as the principal announced the teacher and began calling the names of the kids in the class.  Well, this was how it was done in my Catholic grammar school in NY.  And I, like all the other kids, didn't want to be in a certain teacher's class, based on the rumors passed down from the previous year's class. Some times those rumors were the truth, as in Sr. Grace Agnes' class -"Miss Buckley, wipe that smirk off your face or I will do it for you", and some times they were not even close, as in Mrs. Keuling's 3rd grade class (she turned out to be my favorite teacher).  Anyhow, those types of preconceived notions seemed to follow some people into adulthood.  From things like the neighborhood where a person lives - oh, you live in the armpit of the world then you must be a person of low class; to hearing a certain priest is being assigned to your parish (oh no, he is the spawn of Satan & was awful at his previous parish); to assuming stereotypical things about a person based on their ethnic background - oh, he's Jewish, he's cheap.  The definition of the word "preconceived" is: an idea or opinion that is formed before having the evidence for its truth, so before we "decide" something about a person, place or thing, perhaps it would be wiser to wait and see the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

#42- Gossip

I know it is probably a physical impossiblity for the average human to not gossip in some way.  There are various definitions of the word gossip, and one of the less damaging ones would be "a chatty talk", so in that sense of the word, we all have gossiped.  The gossip that bothers me is when it reveals something of a personal or intimate nature about another person.  Whether it is true or false is almost irrelevent; the fact that it can be damaging and hurtful to another human being is what makes gossip unconscionable to me.  And what the perpetrator of the rumor hopes to accomplish is varied.  Sometimes it is just vindictive.  Othertimes, it may be envy or jealousy. Whatever the reason, gossip is not something I stomach well.  Telling stories at another's expense is just wrong.  I personally do not have the time or the energy to expend on hateful behavior and perhaps the world would be a much more peaceful place if everyone just kept their thoughts to themselves.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

#41 - Status Symbols

I've always had somewhat of a hippy mentality when it comes to material things, much to my parent's chagrin.  Notice I said somewhat, not totally.  I like living in a nice house.  I like driving a nice car.  I like going on vacation.  Having said that, it doesn't mean I have to have a 5,000 square foot house. My 2,000 square foot split foyer has always been fine and is home.  I do not drive a Mercedes or a Cadillac.  My baby Mariner SUV meets my shopping and tailgating needs.  I have never looked at what someone else has and wanted it.  I can appreciate the beauty of something, but it is not something I have to acquire myself.  So, observing someone wanting something just because it is bigger or better or a step up has always turned me off.  We seem to have become a society of instant gratification.  I want it and I want it now and I deserve it.  It seems to me we could be a bit more content with what we have and not be looking for something we don't have, just because someone else has it or just because we want it.

Friday, October 7, 2011

#40 - Words: Saying What You Mean

I have a good friend who has taught me that to say words like NEVER and ALWAYS can be a foolish thing for obvious reasons- what is happening at any given moment does not mean it could never happen again or just because you usually do something or think a certain way, doesn't mean you will always do it that exact same way.  My husband has a similar thought process in using words like LOVE and HATE.  His philosophy is we love people and perhaps our pets, but LOVING inanimate objects or activities is not normal, and that the word LOVE is bandied about way too freely and without meaning. I.E. I love pizza and beer (do you kiss it before eating and drinking it?).  He also feels that the word HATE is used haphazardly and without much thought as to what one is really saying.  Based on the Merriam Webster definition of hate ~ intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury ~ I would have to agree that we say things that we really do not mean.  I.E. I got a speeding ticket the other day, therefore, I HATE all policeman. First of all, that would imply you knew ALL policeman in the world.  Secondly, you may be pissed at getting a ticket, but really? It was your fault for speeding in the first place, so perhaps you should hate the fact that you were speeding!!!!  And then, one of the things that really irks me is to hear people make a comment about a TV or Movie personality or someone well known in the news.  Oh, how sad, Patrick Swaze died.  He was such a nice guy.  Really?  How would we know he was a nice guy unless we personally knew him? He may have been a nice guy in real life, but what we see on the big screen is not his real world, thus the term ACTING.  So, next time when we open our mouths, perhaps it would be a good idea if we really said what we mean and mean what we say!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

#39 - Chico Negativo

I love my husband.  I just want to get that statement on the books before I start to bash him.  He is a kind-hearted, generous, man of integrity and has always gone to his own drummer, which is what first drew me to him in high school.  However, I should have known there would be some deviant genetic marker that would rear its ugly head some day, showing his imperfections! One of them being what I call "Chico Negativo" or  "SOI" (Son Of Irene) because his mother is the queen of negativity.  It doesn't matter how happy or wonderful an occasion may be, Irene will ALWAYS find something negative and feels obligated to make everyone involved know exactly what it is.  For example, how wonderful I have a grandson, my first-born grandchild, who was born healthy BUT you know it is downhill from here, I am a Babci (Polish for grandmother) now and I am getting old (she was a ripe 48 years old when my son was born!) and will die soon (she is still alive and well, 34 years later). Or how wonderful that my first-born grandson is graduating from UVA and did it in 4 years, BUT do I really have to walk in the Charlottesville heat and humidity? Keep in mind the woman lives in the sunshine state, where heat and humidity is a given on a daily basis.  Or thank you for getting me a plane ticket (which I could not afford to do on my own) to come and spend a week or two at your house, where you will treat me to things I normally don't get to do, like dinner theaters and shopping and spending time with family, BUT do I really have to fly into Atlanta and change planes.  Well, yes, yes you do, when you want to fly out of rinky dink Melbourne airport on a puddle jumper that cannot make a direct flight to DC.  So, this is what my husband was exposed to in his youth.  Now I am not saying he is even remotely as bad as the queen, however, he has his moments.  And his plays out a bit differently.  I can spend four hours ironing clothes (one chore I absolutely deplore!), fill his closet with the 35 freshly ironed shirts and jeans, and he will say, oh did you happen to see my blue shirt, I wanted to wear that today.  Mind you, he hadn't worn the said blue shirt in MONTHS, but that was the ONE shirt he needed that day. Or I will be working on a painting project (I actually really like to paint and have done all of the painting, stenciling and wallpapering in our house) and he will walk into the room and say it looks really good BUT, what happened over in this corner near the base board behind the couch that no one else could even see? Whenever the defective genetic marker surfaces in him, it is pounced on by yours truly with the simple moniker, Chico Negativo or SOI, and it snaps him back to a healthy reality!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

#38 - Not My Favorite Thing

Growing up in a fairly good sized family (there were four of us in my immediate fam and numerous cousins, aunts and uncles scattered about in my extended fam), I have been witness to the "fave syndrome".  You know what I mean - you are the oldest, so you are the fave; you are the only girl/boy, so you are the fave; you have a talent, like singing or playing an instrument that can be put on display when company comes, so you are the fave; you are pretty, so you are the fave. You get the picture.  Sometimes I have been the recipient of the doting, affirmers, as in being the first grandchild on my mother's side and NEVER doing any wrong in my grandmother's eyes! More often than not, however, I was just the eye witness. My brother, being the only boy, was waited on hand and foot.  Granted he was born in 1959, and my parent's generation looked at household tasks in a very gender specific way, i.e. boys did not wash dishes or go to the laundromat with our dirty clothes or vacuum; come to think of it, I'm not sure what my brother ever did in the way of chores! Then there was one sister, who was considered the "miracle child" because she was born with an open valve in her heart and needed a complete blood transfusion at birth, thereby rendering her incapable of pulling the shopping cart filled with laundry to the laundromat on the corner of our block. Mind you, she was perfectly capable of running like a loon through the streets playing tag and hide and go seek, but those activities must have sapped her of all strength, resulting in her not having to do any chores either. So, I witnessed quite a bit of the "fave syndrome" in my family, which left me with a sour taste in my mouth.  I will say I was on the receiving end of this syndrome with one person - my grandmother.  I could DO NO WRONG when it came to my grandmother.  It didn't matter what it was or how bad it was, she always came to my defense (especially to my mother).  "Oh so she had a few beers and she's 15.  That's only 3 years away from the legal age, and after all, she's not on drugs, is she?" Even if my grandmother really knew how bad I was, she would never have admitted it to anyone else. But I still do not like the "fave syndrome", regardless of how I was treated by my grandmother. So, when it came to us having our own children, I always had the "fave syndrome" in the back of my mind, and I would like to think we treated both of our kids fairly, never favoring one over the other, but recognizing their gifts and talents and affirming them.  And I want all my grandchildren to know they are all equal in my eyes - they all will NEVER DO ANY WRONG in my eyes! I am an EOG, after all - and Equal Opportunity Grammy!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

#37- Memory- Not the Computer Kind

I don't think it's fair that just when you seem to be at an age when God graces you with wisdom, you start forgetting things.  Not things from 35 years ago, but things from 35 minutes ago.  Let my husband ask me at dinnertime what I had for lunch today, and my mind is a blank slate.  Not one iota of info in it concerning the said topic! Ask me what my grandmother used to make me for Sunday breakfast (my brother & I would stop at her house on our way home from 8:45am mass), and I can tell you down to the name brand syrup she had for our french toast!  Let me run into someone I have known from church for many years, and I can only remember their first OR their last name, not both. What the heck is that all about????  As I'm telling a story, I draw a complete blank on a word that I know I have used a gazillion times.  I'm not talking about complex vocabulary words that only a PhD candidate would use.  I'm talking about regular, everyday words, that somehow just seem to get pushed to the rear of my brain when I need them.  Oh, that must be it!  At 57, I have accumulated so much knowledge in my brain, that when I need to store more info, something needs to get deleted.  It's like cleaning out my inbox to make room for more emails!

Monday, October 3, 2011

#36 - New Millenium=New Vocabulary

It is truly amazing to me how things have changed in our world since I was growing up.  Now granted, to a kid today, to say you were born in 1954, is like saying you were born during the Civil War.  One of the many changes is the amount of newly named diseases or what we call old ones.  Virus was not something you heard when I was young.  You either had a cold or the flu.  It didn't matter how sick you were or how high a fever you had, it was still the flu. Not an African horse sickness virus or  Andean potato mottle virus. Imagine coming home from the doctor as a kid and telling your mother the doctor said you had bean pod mottle virus. My mother would have smacked me in the head for lying!  
Then there is a condition called night terrors.  We had nightmares; now some people apparently have night terrors, which according to the experts, is quite different than a nightmare, because your symptoms may be sudden awakening from sleep, persistent fear or terror that occurs at night, screaming, sweating, confusion, rapid heart rate, inability to explain what happened, usually no recall of "bad dreams" or nightmares, and you may have a vague sense of frightening images. Many people see spiders, snakes, animals or people in the room, are unable to fully awake, difficult to comfort, with no memory of the event on awakening the next day. Well, I don't know about you but I have had all of these things in a nightmare, so I guess I had night terrors as a kid and thought they were nightmares.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

#35 - Charlie Brown's Friend, Pig Pen

You know that friend of Charlie Brown, who always has a cloud of dust following him?  His name is Pig Pen.  He is covered with smudges of dirt and grime and whenever he walks, he stirs up dust bunnies around his feet.  Well, we live next door to his brother, Dirty Ernie, whose address is 101 Disgusting Drive.  This person must spend a lot of time in meditation and prayer, thus earning the name, Hermit, as we hardly ever see him.  He must spend all his time cleaning the inside of his house rendering it spotless, as he does not do ANYTHING on the outside.  His grass gets cut 2x over the summer.  He must be an introvert and needs his privacy because his hedges around the front of his property are now about 12 feet tall and are trimmed once a season.  We (actually my yard boy husband) trim the hedges that border our driveway, so that they remain a reasonable height of 6' tall.  His backyard looks like something out of Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book (not quite as nice) with 20' weeds-turned-trees growing at breakneck speeds. There is a base to what once was a shed that was crushed in the heavy snow two years ago (at least he carted away the crushed shed!) among the wild flora and fauna, that adds to the ambiance of the rain forest.  And lastly, he must be going for the rustic antique look on his house, because his siding has not been power washed EVER and has turned from a light gray to an indistinguisable color due to the MOLD growing on it.  If the man was elderly, we would go over and lend him a hand like any good neighbor would do, but he is about 10 years younger than us, single with no children!!!!  So, eventually, I think the property will just get condemned by the county.  Nice for property values, isn't it???!!!!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

#34 - Delivery Window=Ginormous Panoramic Picture Window

Don't you just love when you buy something that will require delivery (i.e. washing machines, refrigerators, stoves, copy machines for your office), and the salesperson who sells you the appliance tells you anything he/she thinks you want to hear -  oh yes, we can do that; not a problem at all; we do that all the time for customers.  And then you get a call from the scheduling person, who could really give a flying f**k what the salesperson may have told you, and gives you the dreaded "window of time".  What time of day would you prefer delivery, ma'am?  Morning? Well, we don't have a morning slot available for 3 months, but we do have an afternoon slot. That means between 12-4.  That's what the scheduler says, but what they really mean is, we won't be there before 3:57pm.  So, I think the next time I am shopping for something and talking to a salesperson, I think I will stop their sales pitch 2minutes into it, and say, oh I'm sorry, you'll have to continue this between 12-4, as that is the only window of time I have available for bs absorption into my brain!!!!