The Head Table

Head Table Place Settings

Head Table Place Settings (Photo credit: VancityAllie)

Remember when you were a kid, and you couldn’t wait to sit at the grown up table on holidays?  No more mismatched chairs, paper plates and plastic cups at the rickety old card table. No sirree bub – you got the formal dining room and the good china at the adults table.  You were where it was happening. Definitely a mini rite-of-passage, at least for this chick.  As the oldest child and oldest grandchild I got to go first. Woo Hoo! Welcome to the Party, Pal!

But I want to talk about a different table.  The Head Table.  I don’t mean where Bride and Groom sit during their reception, or where the Silver and Gold Anniversary Couples get to sit. Those are cool places to be.   The happy place – center of attention and hub of the party wheel.  I want to talk about the table you get move up to – and sit at – when your parents pass away.  Its not an actual table, but its a real thing nonetheless.  And its emotional, and scary.  If all goes as hoped, you’re bound for the cemetery next. Not that anyone hopes to die, but if The Fates are kind, they take you before your children.

When you step up to take your seat at the table (if those Fates have once again smiled upon you) you’re usually middle aged – and usually with children and grandchildren by that point.  Sitting down, you get to take stock of your life to date.  You evaluate your goals, reevaluate them and maybe even change career direction. Or divorce. Or remarry. Have a full blown nuclear mid life crisis. Make a menopausally fueled Hit List. Or none of those things. But –  underlying whatever is going on is the stark reality that there’s no human buffer zone between you and the Great Beyond anymore. No safety net below you as you stand on the platform at the ceiling of the Center Ring.  Tag. You’re it.

I was chatting with my Aunt Jean the other day.  She lives near Chicago, but we try to connect with one another as much as possible. She was 17 when I was born, and she’s my Godmother.  We were discussing careers and work. She mentioned that at my age- I’m at the apex career wise.  If I’ve reached for the brass ring already – great. If not, I’d better do it soon. She didn’t say so, but I thought –  I’m approaching the Head Table, dammit.   I haven’t sat down yet because my Mom is still with us; but  I’m halfway up there as of 2007 when my Dad left us terribly, suddenly. Two of my best friends in the world – Cheryl and Martha – have a seat saved for me. Cheryl’s been sitting up there since 1999.  Martha, since last year.

I’ll be in great company, but I’m really not ready to move up to the Head Table yet. Those Fates though, they don’t deign to ask whether or not you’re ready to sit up there. And if I had to guess, I would say that NO ONE is ever ready for a seat at this particular table.  The view is probably lovely up there – friends, family etc. The love, palpable. But it seems a lonely place, regardless of the company you’re in. And, taking your seat up there acknowledges that you are, in point of fact, now an orphan.

So, as I meander towards my new assigned seating (which I FERVENTLY hope I will not have to sit in for a few years yet) I find myself asking the questions:  Am I happy? What makes me happy? Do I matter? Selfish questions, but at my age I’ve paid enough dues in life to ask such selfish questions. I also ask unselfish ones:  Have I made a difference to someone, helped someone, been a good parent?  (Don’t ask my girls that until I’ve had a chance to bribe them) Hahaha! ;). And finally: What do I want to do with the next 30+ years of my life?  I’ve certainly discovered a passion for writing and photography in the last year or so. I would like to build on that if I can.

What questions will you be asking yourself as you approach The Head Table? Or, what are you thinking about as you sit there?  Inquiring Minds…. etc.

Everest and The Kentucky Derby: Running for The Roses – and Out of Oxygen.

Ok so I’m now a bit cranky. I had a firmly tongue in cheek post ready to rock and roll, and somehow deleted the damn thing. Sigh…. So. Starting Over. As my daughter’s cat lingers in the porch window and hisses at me while I type…. its an auspicious restart?

Its Everest Season. That slim window of time wherein certifiably crazy people attempt to climb to the world’s highest point and perhaps kill themselves in the process. I find it morbidly fascinating. Oh, I neither need nor want to see corpses. I just can’t understand why anyone would want to do such a thing. If you want to die, there’s much easier and less painful ways to do so, friend. “Certainty of Death, Small chance of success? What are we waiting for?” ~ Gimli LOTR.  Of course,  this is coming from me, safely ensconced at my keyboard. Me, who can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. Me, who has a full blown asthma attack when I laugh too hard. I doubt I could walk  to Base Camp without incident. Speaking of Incidents: apparently there was a doozy of an EPIC ice ax fight between Climbers and Sherpas last week.  YIKES!  And perhaps long, long overdue?  I’ve been rereading my copies of Into Thin Air and Dark Summit and I guess I’m totally #TeamSherpa. Not that I agree with violence – BUT They do most – if not all, of the heavy lifting on the mountain – including schlepping incapacitated climbers to the summit and back (Sandy Hill Pittman, anyone?) for very little international recognition or financial compensation. All guts, no glory – as the climbers end up with the cred. Bound to be frustrating – hence the boilover.  But yeah – alas, you won’t see me up there this year. Unless transporter technology suddenly leapfrogs and I can get there without having to “get there.” I kind of like this breathing thing – which is apparently quite difficult to do 29,035 feet above sea level. And which I just realized is the height at which airplanes fly and now I’m woozy….

Mount Everest (topgold)

Mount Everest (topgold) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Woozy or not I am, however, attending a Kentucky Derby Party this afternoon. Complete with frock, fascinator, and mint julep in hand. Much more up my alley, as it were.  No fatal missteps into a crevasse or off a ledge at 27,000 feet.  Fatal conversational missteps may occur  if I over-imbibe on those mint juleps though. (wink wink – woozy indeed) But breathing should not be a problem unless the pollen count suddenly skyrockets on me.  I further confess I know nothing about “slop”, “exotics” “exacta wheels” or what “boxing” things does.  Here’s how Derby Day works for me:  I pick a horse. It has to have a nice name and be a pretty horse.  I scream and yell for it from the starting gate to the finish line.  I haven’t picked a winner since Seattle Slew and Secretariat – who ran the fastest Kentucky Derby EVER in 1973 – under two minutes!   So, if there’s an “S” name in the bunch this year that’s what I’m going with. Hahaha! Pictures will be posted on Facebook and Twitter later.

English: Kentucky Derby, unknown date Permissi...

Courtesy: Kentuckytourism.com. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What’s in a Name? And, A Drive By Vomit

I woke this morning to the sound of giggles and murmuring in my living room.  Mayhem (the youngest) has been sleeping on the couch because of a spider-fright in her room. Chaos (the oldest) had to get up early to register online for next semester’s college courses.  So of course Chaos had to make sure that Mayhem was awake – because in her world if she ain’t sleepin, ain’t nobody sleepin. They didn’t bother me (today 😉 ) and so I snuggled back into my cocoon of warmth for a few extra ZZZZ’s. When I finally emerged into the living room – Chaos was registering for her classes and Mayhem was doing her usual morning zombie shuffle. At some point, Chaos decided to help herself to some post-Easter Jelly Beans.

Didja ever start eating something that you thought you knew what it was; but it turned out to be something different? Well…  (Gagging, goat-like noise) “Mom? Black jelly beans, what flavor are they?” Me:  “Liquorice.” Chaos: “What’s anise, then?”   Me: “It tastes like liquorice…. Its a plant.” She had been expecting grape flavor -mistaking black for purple in the dim light. Well, since things usually taste pretty crappy when you were expecting one taste and get another  – much merriment ensued when the word “anise” was phonetically compared to the word for the body orifice that produces said crap.  Which I was unaware of, quite apparently –  since I continued to blather on about the anise plant.  The girls were still chortling over “anus” and thought I was commenting about anuses….how you can boil and reduce them to make the liquorice flavor. Yes, I have lost my mind – but not quite on that grand a scale – yet….Mayhem  was holding her sides. To paraphrase JRR Tolkein: Its a dangerous business – getting out of bed in the morning.

Fast Forward to this afternoon:  The Tale of the Drive-by Puking.  To set the stage: the usual state of affairs is that Chaos brings Mayhem home after work, since the younger one is a member and the older one works there.  They arrived home at abut 6:20 pm today – par for the course.  Chaos had to relate what happened on the way home –  literally just up the street. They had turned down our street and were approaching the neighbor’s house.  Both girls noticed a girl sitting on the curb. The car in front of them slowed, stopped and picked the girl up.  Mayhem: “Whats going on?” Chaos: “Getting a ride, or getting kidnapped.”  Door of car opens, girl leans out – Kidnapping Escape Attempt? Nope.  She proceeds to hurl on the street.  The driver waves Chaos around and gives her a wide-eyed  “IDKWTF is going on” look as they pass the car.  Said car then proceeds to speed off down the street in some haste – leaving the lovely deposit behind…..

I am not surprised. In this town literally anything is possible.  But I think I have had enough strange hilarity for one day.

I Waste So Much Time – but Maybe Not

I waste so much time.  Not really, but yeah… Tonight is one of those nights. My patience has been tried this evening.   Oh, nothing horrendous mind you. Just feeling intruded upon a tad bit.  So, my remedy this evening has been to sit out here on the computer, update my iPad, mess around with iTunes, blog, and drink – tonight my adult beverage of choice is Sailor Jerry – 92 proof rum,  and coke – in case anyone is interested.  I’ve had 2 so far – in a ball mason jar. 😉

My evening playlist whilst I imbibe has included but is not limited to: Billy Joel: A Matter of Trust;  Alan Jackson: Remember When, 1910 Fruitgum Co: 123 Red Light, The Archies: Sugar, Sugar,  Bay City Rollers: SATURDAY Night;  Apocalyptica: The Unforgiven, Dolly Parton and Vince Gill: I Will Always Love You. The Penguins: Earth Angel, Richie Valens: Donna 😉 , Rammstein: Du Hast,  The Ramones: I Wanna Be Sedated, Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick : Dammit Janet , Rihanna: Disturbia, The Partridge Family: I Think I Love You, The Everly Brothers: Devoted to You, The Bee Gees: You Should Be Dancing, How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?; KC &The Sunshine Band: Boogie Shoes;  Santo and Johnny: Sleepwalk; Sinatra: Summer Wind and Something Stupid,  Aerosmith: Crazy, Carl Orff: O Fortuna, Red Hot Chili Peppers: Snow (Hey Oh), Lesley Gore: You Don’t Own Me, Fleetwood Mac: Landslide (thinking of you Kathi!), King Pee Wee and his Golden West Cowboys: Slowpoke; Simon & Garfunkel: Homeward Bound, Old Friends (Love You C!), Feelin Groovy, and Hazy Shade of Winter. Betcha didn’t know The Bangles actually covered that one and its an S&G original.  And, I forgot to mention that I’m singingAs loudly as possible – with the porch door closed in deference to those that are sleeping. Its been a very long time since I have wasted time in this fashion and it feels GREAT!

Oh yeah – the soundtrack for “Mamma Mia” is on now – and I’m getting verklempt singing along to “Slipping Through My Fingers”    but I’m not changing the music.

” I try to capture every minute.”… “Sometimes I wish that I could freeze the picture, and save it from the funny tricks of time.”   ‘Slipping Through My Fingers

I get in these moods occasionally.  I have to admit its been quite awhile since I’ve sat out here and belted out a few tunes and had a few drinks to go along with my solo jam session.  My oldest is out with her friends, my baby (see above)  – gone to bed,  and the Viking went night night several hours back because he has to work early tomorrow (going in for 5 am).  I’ve got iTunes on Shuffle and just letting it do its thing while I write. Having some fun now my friends!

And just to paint a picture for you – I’m also dancing in my seat where appropriate. And, when is it appropriate not to? Its my party and I’ll dance if I want to…. LOL. John Lennon once said  “Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted.”  I’m  having a blast so I guess my time isn’t being wasted.  I choose to look at it as recharging ye olde batteries. My musical taste is quite eclectic as you can tell from the playlist I mentioned.  But what is it about music that is so emotional?  Songs take me right back to the place in time -which leaves me melancholy, yes – but also quite happy in a strange way. If cotton is the fabric of our lives, Music is the thread, connecting it all.  How many times has your day been made by hearing a song you haven’t heard in AGES and remembering the lyrics instantly?

Hearing Sinatra singing Summer Wind brings me to the last dance I ever had with my Dad.  It was literally almost 2 years after he passed away before I could listen to anything by Sinatra at all. The Bee Gees, KC and The Sunshine Band take me straight back to high school, The Partridge Family, The Archies, Simon and Garfunkel bounce me into my tweens. Slowpoke brings me to my childhood with my Gramma Emma singing it to me while I sat in her lap.  And anything by The Everly Brothers or Paul Anka brings me right to my kitchen in Blandford – singing harmony with my Mom.

This has been good for my soul – although I will likely pay for it with a big headache in the morning (I’m on drink #4 now)  But yeah, I’m having one helluva time – wasting time… I highly recommend it.

Johann Pachelbel – Variations on the Kanon

Aaron Lewis – Massachusetts

Green Day – Good Riddance [Time Of Your Life]

James Blunt – Goodbye My Lover

Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo‘ole – Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World

The Case of the Overflowing Toilet (The Cascade Effect): Or, Why I’m Always Flat Broke….

English: toilet wc

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Things happen in sets around here for some reason.  Streaks of bad and sometimes good luck – but lately mostly of the negative variety.  Here’s the latest:  We’ve had a runner of a toilet for quite some time now. Every once in awhile the doo-hickey inside hangs up and the stopper doesn’t seat properly so the water just keeps on running.  Everyone who lives here is aware of the need to jiggle the handle and listen for not only the thud of the stopper but the change in the pitch of noise as the tank refills.  So far, so good.  Unless you have a fateful combination of events that seem to have conspired to send us straight to the poorhouse, or debtors prison (Do they still have these things?)

Fact:   Logan, we have a runner. Fact: We had one hell of a storm the other night with a  tremendous amount of rain.  Fact:  These two things conspired to create a severe toilet overflow in the middle of the storm. The sewer system was already at capacity and it backed up when the toilet kept running. Fact: Our oldest daughter alerted us to this problem whilst The Viking and I were enjoying a lovely meal of roast chicken – by screaming for her father at top volume. Which of course made us think Shelob had crawled out of the shower drain or something.  Not the case – killing spidey would have been easy, and cheap. Fact: We had to use all the towels in the house to mop up the mess.  Fact: The girls and I spent the next 2-3 hours disinfecting said towels in the laundry and disinfecting the entire bathroom. Fact: I never did get to finish my roast chicken dinner. Fact: I completely missed S5/E2 of Sons of Anarchy – which I think pissed me off even more than all the previous facts combined.  Further Fact: It cost a couple hundred+ for an emergency repair.

Two days later – even more further facts: 1. A constant drip had started from the side of the tank. 2. It turned out the tank was cracked.  3. To sum up:  a new toilet was needed along with a new flange and piping because the original plastic flange fell apart when the toilet was taken out – all to the tune of another couple hundred bucks.   We decided to completely replace the toilet and get a metal flange because of what I call the “cascade effect”  also known as (Brigid) Murphy’s Law.  She’s also known by the considerably less elegant moniker of The Shit Fairy around here.

Its been our experience with any plumbing job that once we start to work on the presenting problem it then creates more problems which of course cost more money. Hence: cascade effect – a subsidiary of Murphy’s Law. This debacle proved no exception, and rather than get these issues fixed in stages and create more expense, we figured to cut to the chase, as it were.  Still, this expense was not planned for in the least, and put quite a dent in the finances – just as we were thinking we were starting to get ahead again.  (I feel like Michael Corleone in The Godfather 3).

The Godfather Part III

“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in…”

It would appear we are destined never to be operating in the black for long….. Sigh*   Brigid Murphy, aka the Shit Fairy, is once again hovering over Hacienda del Chaos.

It would help if the Viking was a DIY plumber – but alas – no.  The one time I let him put in a new kitchen sink he busted the pipes underneath by tightening them one turn too much and I ended up using my bathroom sink and shower faucets for cooking water for a week.  NEVER AGAIN.  The Viking is good for woodworking, basic carpentry, replacing oil filters and doing oil changes on the car, and simple electrical stuff (ie replacing light fixtures and ceiling fans). He’s also great for replacing decks, roofing, and putting in patios and firepits.  In fact, he is awesome at doing all these things.  The rest we leave to the professionals –  Cha-ching!

Ms Murphy, Brigid Darling –  Please go hover over someone ELSE’S house for awhile, Or I will have to dig out my slingshot and crossbow…..jussayin…..

Reflecting the Light

I’ve been doing a lot of reading and thinking lately.  There’s certainly much (too much) going on in the world  and on a smaller scale, within my circle. My struggle, my goal, is to take control back, empower myself, and become a better reflection of the light.

The Cyrkle – Red Rubber Ball

Authenticity and Truth go hand in hand.  If I had to guess, I’d say Authenticity is a daughter of Truth.  One facet of it, at any rate.  I want, I NEED – to live a more authentic life. To be a reflection not only of the good things and people that surround me (I’m discovering more of them every day) but also to be a reflection of what’s inside of me.  And since I’m trying to be more authentic I’ll say that it might not always be pretty, or positive.  And that’s OK.  That’s real.

Truth is what it is. Sometimes it involves fear.   If there is a giant funnel web spider under my bed I don’t do myself or anyone else any good until I admit that Shelob is, in fact, under my bed – makin “friends” with the dust bunnies.  If I allow my fear to paralyze me I cannot admit there is a spider. Once I acknowledge the spider, then I can take steps to deal with it. If I don’t, then  I’m going to be living with that stupid nasty spider under my bed for eternity.  And those of you who know me know that I really, really, REALLY don’t want to have Shelob taking up residence in my house – never mind in my bedroom!

When we acknowledge truth – whether that be our fears or our anger; our achievements or our missteps; whatever  – we are then freed to respond.  When we respond, we are in control – and that brings balance back to us.  I can take karate, become the Fist of Goodness and run across rooftops! (I’m just not into that whole crashing the dinner party thing though…. obscure TV commercial reference: finished., thank you.) Truth is uniquely personalized.  My truths are not yours – although they may be similar.  I have an obligation to present my truths respectfully, to present myself respectfully and with consideration towards others. Being genuine does not mean I have a license to be hurtful.   I also recognize that I can help no one if I am not refreshing my spirit when it needs to be.  That’s a hard thing for a parent, a wife, a sibling, a friend, a daughter. But I will make time for me, because if I don’t I won’t have anything to give myself or anyone else.    Multiple roles create multiple stressors, demands – and opportunities. I have unique opportunities all the time. I get to decide how I respond to all of them.  Pretty cool, if you ask me.

I’m pretty proud of myself today.  I had a situation that I could have let completely ruin my day at work and much of my evening.  I made some mistakes.  (Alert the Media! cuz that NEVER happens, right?  HA!)  Now they weren’t earth shattering ones – and others played their parts. But it was my responsibility to catch that stuff. And I didn’t.  So, I had to have the dreaded talk  with the boss.  Guess what?  I owned the responsibility and freely acknowledged that.  Which allowed my boss and I to have a very constructive dialogue; and for me to come up with a plan of corrective action that not only makes sense but will benefit us immensely in the future.  By CHOOSING not to point fingers at others, CHOOSING not to get upset, CHOOSING to think creatively – and in fact asking some others for ideas when I got stuck – I became the Fist of Goodness and ran across that rooftop!!  GO ME!!!  It’s all about the attitude, baby!

In other news on the more personal front:  I’ve decided I can assist my loved one(s) best at the moment by providing some humor. I have made it my mission to find and pass along funny memes and jokes every day  to a precious someone who truly needs the healing power of laughter right now. I want to hear and make a Joyful Noise  – and Laughter is the most joyful of all – along with song.  So please, feel free to send along stuff. Just in case I’m not as connected to the internet “vibe’ as I seem to think I am…   😉

I continue my journey towards being a better reflection of who I want to be, living a more authentic life and loving the minutes – and the people – in it. I’ve really met the nicest people on my road to ruin. Seriously. So to that end,  “Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.” (name that movie!)

Acknowledge What Is – be it fear, anger, failure or triumph.  But do it in a respectful context.

Take a Deep Breath – before you respond.  You’ve given yourself the gift of time, to think.

Think–  Actions have a ripple effect. Tread carefully.  That stone, the one you chucked into the pond.  That displaced water splashes back….

Be Kind – It costs nothing and hurts no one.

Pay it Forward -. That also costs you nothing, and creates positivity in the universe.

Be Good to Yourself –  In our everyday busy-ness we (women in particular) can easily lose sight of the fact that we can’t take care of others when we’re sick or needy ourselves.  Its OK to give ourselves permission to be selfish – and then (GASP!) actually do something for us alone.  The feminist movement of the 70’s helped us roar.  But its alright to admit we have laryngitis sometimes.

Cowboy Up – it’s OK to be fallible.  We’re human after all.  Admitting when we make mistakes really is liberating if we let it be.

Choose –  Are you going to promote peace or create chaos, help harmonize, or enable entropy?  Its up to each of us.

There’s so much darkness in the world.  We can choose to be a light in that darkness – a “shining beacon in space ,all alone in the night”  Oh wait, that’s Babylon 5…..But you get the idea.  I just want to really try to reflect that light – inside me and around me.  I’m creating a Light Reflections category on the blog.  I hope it’ll be visited and commented on often. Lets be a “light in dark places”, together, “when all other lights go out”  (LOTR moment) Join me on the journey. I’ll put on the coffee….. See ya!

All photographs are my own, even if not watermarked as such – please ask me if you want to use them. Thanks!

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