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So This is My Second Life

Nov. 14th, 2009 08:02 pm TGIF

I partied in the city last night with my co-worker Meghan. She wanted to introduce all of us at work to her guy when he came to town. Of course, it sounded like fun to me. I really like Meghan. She is feisty and full of life. Her sense of humor is pretty keen, too.

We went for drinks after work and then to dinner. Since both of us commute to the city from the suburbs at opposite ends of the map, we asked Jeff where we should go. He recommended Hub 51. So that is where we headed off to and once we went in, we loved it immediately. After a couple of liquid refreshments, I ordered some sushi for an appetizer. Meghan had never had sushi. So I asked the waitress what was her favorite and she pointed out a tuna roll that sounded wonderful. She had a couple of pieces and I think she liked it. I thought it was very good. The roll I ordered reminded me of the "Perfect Seven" that I used to order from Yoshi on Grand Cayman. Jake seemed to love everything.

We had dinner, told many stories, laughed alot and decided to go over to the House of Blues for an after dinner apertif. We walked over and found that the club area was closed for a private party. I asked the guy at the door where he would go from there if he were in our shoes. He said they always end up at Andy's, a jazz bar around the corner. Of course, that was where we headed. We got in for the last set of a small combo and had to wait just a bit for the next group to set up. But it turned out to be worth the wait. Sitting at the bar, we were close to the music.

It was a great evening, but all good things must come to an end. Like Cinderella, I had to be at the train station to catch my train. We parted company and I hailed a cab. I did make my train and the ride home was pretty quiet. A perfect ending to a good evening.

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Nov. 8th, 2009 09:44 am Big People Toys

I guess I have a lot of toys. You know the kind. No, not THAT kind -- the electronic gadget kind. I have my laptop (such as it is), two iPods, a Kindle, a cellular phone. I carry around all kinds of cables -- just in case -- to recharge them all. I am sure there is a product out there (I'm thinking iPhone) that will do pretty much everything my toys do, but I won't be going out and buying one any time soon. With the exception of my computer, most of my toys are fairly new and in good working order. The laptop, however, is another story.

I am not good at remembering exact ages of people, much less things, but I am pretty sure my laptop is almost ten years old. Techie people have been telling me for years that it is time to get a new one. I have laughed at them and said, "Nooooooooo way! Put that sucker back together and let's keep chuggin'!" You see, I am accustomed to this computer, with its loose keys and hinky power switch. But, alas, all good things must come to an end. Much to my horror, the screen has begun to flicker at me. Even I, in my strongest sense of denial, know that it is just a matter of time before it goes out altogether. With this inevitability in mind, I have begun to take steps to ready myself for that event. I bought a couple of large jump drives and have downloaded my music and photos and cookbooks and bits and bobs of general flotsam that we all collect over the years. Now, it is a waiting game...

Oh, I am not just sitting back on my laurels -- I have earnestly begun thinking about its replacement and one of the things that I am considering is one of those new netbooks. I am sure you have seen them advertised. Most of the cellular phone companies offer a version. I tell myself that it would be a good fit -- I could use it on the train! Think of the quality computer time I could have! I see people using them and it seems so convenient. The keyboard does look tiny, though. And I am not really sure quite how the pricing works. I went online and looked it over and was totally confused. I realize that I am going to have to bite the bullet and actually go in and speak to a real, live person. But, in the true sense of procrastination, I put it off. After all, this computer is still working. For the most part.

The other thing that has kept me from getting a new computer is that I am a PC person and I just didn't want to have to change to Vista. Bill Gates must have known that about me, because he has graciously gone back to Windows. It is a new version of Windows and I will probably have to learn new tricks anyway, but - hopefully - it is similar enough to the old version that I won't be totally out of my element.

So, what, you may be asking, is the problem? I tell myself that the problem is money - I simply don't want to have to put out the money to get a new one. This one, such as it is, is paid for. That means that I have extra money to spend on iTunes, iMovies, and Kindle books. If I buy a new computer, that expendable cash will dry up for a while. But it may be more than that. I also remind myself that I know this keyboard like the back of my hand. I know without thinking about it where the backspace is and where the delete key is. I can type on this keyboard without any qualms. I know it through and through.

So, I type away on my old, decrepit computer. I keep an eye on that "m" key to make sure it doesn't give me more "m"s than I want. And I avoid having to shut off my computer. So you see, in my own little way, I am putting off that day when I shut down my trusty little computer for the last time. After all, we have been through a lot together.

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Nov. 1st, 2009 09:11 am California Dreamin'

All the leaves are brown.

Those lovely fall colors have come and just about gone. The few remaining leaves are now a golden brown and hanging on by a prayer.

The sun, tenuous at best, is hanging lower in the sky these days. But, today, it is shining. In spite of the sunny rays, there is a chill in the air and the breeze is quite cool. I am sitting in my chair with a throw across my legs, the fireplace is going. I am snug on this quiet Sunday morning. Soon I will rise to go shower and then it is off to church.

I have spent the morning reaching out on my computer, sending notes to friends, both old and new, contemplating life and love.

Last night, we only had two trick or treaters. Only two. We are, apparently, too far from the action. When I asked the young goblin and fairy princess who knocked on my door at 8:30 p.m. where the other goblins and ghouls were, they quickly said on Shore Drive. I ponder this as I give them handfuls of candy and I think to myself that it is just not worth the walk up and down those sandy dunes for a few measly morsels of chocolate. Alas, does that mean I have gotten old? Apparently, I am not alone in my thoughts -- no other trick or treaters came by. At 10:00 p.m., I turned off the lights outside and closed the door.

While we waited for the non-existent trick or treaters, we watched Bram Stoker's Dracula, complete with bad accents and bad acting from fairly well-respected actors, and played on our computers.

I entertained myself by reading the polling results regarding the deer population. It seems that about half of the denizens are unhappy about the deer that freely roam our lands. They complain of deer droppings and half-eaten vegetation and ticks. A few appeared to be afraid of rut-crazed deer and others sounded off about having to wait for the deer to cross the road. I sadly shake my head. I love to watch the deer. They fascinate me. It does not bother me that they ate my tulips before they had a chance to bloom. I will probably plant tulips again, just to feed the deer.

I find myself searching for the deer in the mornings when I leave for work and in the evening when I return. They have been in hiding for a while now and have only recently started to show up really early in the morning or very late at night. How do they know that it is bow season? The fawns I saw in the summer are losing their spots now. Their long skinny legs are no longer wobbly. In another month, when the snows come, I will again put out corn. To hell with what my complaining neighbors think. I would rather have the deer as my companions anyway.

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Oct. 3rd, 2009 09:19 am Hiatus

It has been a hard summer.

After I came back from vacation, my office was in turmoil. The two assistants that I worked with were let go and a newbie was hired. The newbie had years and years of legal experience, but did not know litigation. It was way too busy for me to train her from scratch, so after a month, she was let go too. A couple of people were switched around and a few more were let go. It got crazier. In the midst of this, my elderly mother got very ill, very quickly. My world spun out of control, then stopped altogether.

I flew back home to sit vigil with my sisters and my son and nieces and the hundreds of friends she had accumulated throughout her life. To no avail. She died.

Looking back on it now, it was as if she took a big part of me with her.

I eventually came back home and back to work. I went through my days in a sort of fog and tried very hard to understand how someone so full of life could just let it all go. The illness that killed my mother could have been resolved if she had only gone to the doctor when her symptoms first appeared. By not going to see a doctor, she chose to die instead. This information only deepened my heartbreak.

Throughout our life together, my relationship with my mother swung back and forth like a pendulum. At times, we were the best of friends and, at times, we were strangers. Sometimes I understood what made her tick and sometimes I felt I never understood anything about her. The feeling was mutual, I am sure.

I have many happy memories with my mother. Like the time the two of us were on a quest to find the perfect grape leaves for her pickle recipe. The weather was gorgeous and we drove all around the countryside with the car windows down, laughing at old family stories and singing show tunes. One of the things we shared was a love of old classic movies and a love of the music of forties and fifties. Neither of us could be considered a chanteuse, but sing we did and oro rotundo!

My mom and I played cut-throat Scrabble. My son was always delighted when we got out the board. He loved to listen to us snipe at each other and talk our own brand of smack. When we first began to play, I often held back. I didn't enjoy beating her by a large margin. Of course, over the years she began to hold her own and at the end when we played, I couldn't beat her at all -- not even when I tried.

Both of us were crossword puzzle enthusiasts and would often call the other one to work crosswords over the phone when we were stumped by a particular clue. When I was at her house, I would try to get to her newspaper before she could, just to get her puzzle. Of course, that rarely ever happened.

And we spoke on the phone every Sunday, no matter where I was or what I was doing. It was our time. Of course, I called her at other times, but Sunday was a given. Although, I had to make sure to time my calls around the Cowboys' football games, because that was her time to "play" football with my cousin Leslie. She was sitting in her chair at her home and Cousin Les, about a five/six hour drive away, would be sitting in her home. The telephone was the connection. Once when I called during "that time" she informed me that it had better be a "drive-by" call. She was very proud of that one. After that initial use, it became one of those phrases that popped up on a regular basis.

To fully appreciate that "drive-by" comment, one would have to understand my family's wit. I don't know if I can describe that kind of wit and I haven't seen it in too many other families (Debbie O's family is the only one that could hold a candle to us -- and though I hate to admit it, they are probably even better at it than we are!). We loved those snarky comments that we came up with on the fly and we understood that they weren't meant to hurt each other. Zingers were prized in my family. Along that same vein, we bought the sharpest of birthday cards for each other and by "sharp" I mean the one that had the best zinger. No sappy messages for us. We would scour the market for a card that would out-do the one we sent last and the one we last received.

Sunday phone calls. Abruptly stopped. Every Sunday, I get up thinking that I will call. It is just a thought, really. It flashes through my mind. And just as quickly, I realize that I cannot call. She is not there.

I float back and forth between despair and resolve. For seven weeks, I had no good humor. I worked. I came home. I tended to the chores that I had to do. I existed. I was raw. I was numb. I went through the motions.

Work got harder. Another co-worker left and the office hired two new people. I spent August and September training them. And working for eight attorneys. It was my salvation, I guess. It took all my focus and energy. When I came home, I was too exhausted to really care. But the new co-workers are coming around. Work has gotten more normal. I have been allowing myself to grieve. And, once in a while, I look around and realize that life is good and I am very, very blessed. I am back.

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May. 6th, 2009 08:02 am Viva La Mexico!

I am home from my fabulous vacation along the Caribbean. Seven amazing days of dazzlingly white beaches and gloriously blue waters, with the sun sparkling in the sky (well, most of the time).

Yes, amid all the hoopla about swine flu, we traveled to Mexico. It was a working vacation for Joe, but pure pleasure for me. Unsure of what we would ultimately encounter, we embarked on our trip with excitement and just a wee bit of trepidation. After all, the media was working overtime to make it sound like the pits of hell -- contagion at every turn. Friends and family voiced their concern at our decision to continue on with our trip as planned. They were not merely concerned with our well-being, but were concerned with their own upon our return. Would we be returning home merely to infect them with the newest plague?

At the various airports and shopping meccas we visited, we noticed a scant few people wearing face masks. At many of the restaurants away from the resorts, we found the servers wearing face masks in addition to their hairnets and rubber gloves. But none of the people we encountered exhibited symptoms of illness -- no sneezing, no watery eyes, no phlegmy coughing. Just healthy adults and children. And lots of empty space.

During our trip, we stayed in three separate hotels along the coast, from Cancun to the Mayan Riviera. All of them five star and none of them filled to capacity. We found ourselves in one of the most prized vacation destinations and we were basically alone.

The service we received was exceptional. And the people, always pleasant and smiling, were nervous. Their economy is based upon tourist dollars and thanks to the media the tourists were staying away. We talked to everyone we encountered, seeking information about the flu and its effect on the already taxed economy.

Which brings me to a thought I keep having -- when is the news not really news? When does it cross that line? I notice that now that I am home, the reporters appear to have pulled back on their reporting of the "pandemic" and have now moved on to other news. (The one fact that keeps running through my mind is the one that 38,000 people die from the flu every year -- in AMERICA. The normal everyday flu that we all tend to get. 38,000.) The flu is still out there and more people are having to deal with it, but now less time is being spent reporting on it. However, the damage is already done. Shame on them.

I believe that the Mexican people will pull through this crisis, just as they have done in the past. They are a resilient people, warm-hearted and hard working. I can't wait to return to their country to enjoy their hospitality.

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Apr. 5th, 2009 07:39 am It's all relative

When I woke up yesterday, the sun was shining and the day was absolutely glorious. Joe was working and I had errands to run. I started the day out in a sweater and jeans with a light jacket, but before I got through my first errand, the jacket was left in the car. It was 47 degrees outside but, with the sunshine, I was warm. I stopped in one store and noticed that everyone there seemed to be bundled up like it was freezing. In all honesty, the wind was a bit chilly, but it wasn't blowing that much.

After I finished my errands, I met up with Joe and we went to church and then to Merrillville to have dinner. It was such a beautiful day, we wanted to be out in it. The drive to Merrillville was pleasant. We passed along field after open field -- all of which would soon be sprouting gloriously green crops of corn or soy.

After dinner, we headed to the mall to pick up a few things. After a bit, I was out of steam, but Joe was still going. I sat to wait for him in Macy's close to the formal wear. I watched mothers and daughters and groups of girls and girls with their boyfriends going through the gowns. After all, it is springtime and prom is coming up. I noticed there was one recurring theme for them all, it was the way they were dressed. Almost every teenaged girl was in shorts with flips on her feet. Now, don't get me wrong, I thought it was a warm day. But to me, that just meant I could go without my jacket. Yet, here were these girls, dressed like it was a hot summer day. Wishful thinking? Maybe...

Eventually, we started our drive home. By the time we came over the last hill toward home, the sun was setting and what a spectacular sunset it was. Instead of coming straight to the house, we went to the beach to watch the sun set. It was breathtaking.

From the beaches here, on a clear day, we have a full view of Chicago's skyline. And today was clear and crisp. To our left, the sunset was amazingly orange with hues of pinks and yellows against a blue, blue sky with white capped waves cresting along the beach. The warm colors bathed Chicago's tall buildings with a lovely glow. To our right was unending water. The beauty left us quiet.

We stayed in the car silently watching the sun sink below the horizon. Why did we watch from in the car, you might be wondering. Why didn't we go walk along the shore or out on the promenade? Why, indeed. Because it was cold out. As the sun leaves the sky, it takes its warmth with it. And the change is immediate. The breeze coming off of Lake Michigan is cold. Even in the middle of summer, the warmest of days, this water is cool. But it is beautiful and it draws us to it like a magnet.

This beautiful day has come to a quiet end. Tomorrow, is a new day. Tomorrow, we might have snow and I am sure the girls in the mall will still be wearing their flips.

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Mar. 29th, 2009 09:23 am Boxes - my nemesis

"I just don't want it to be April and we are still dealing with boxes."

"Give me some credit! Come April, there won't still be boxes!"

Here I stand staring April in the face and yet there are still boxes. My words to Joe, come flying back to me on little winged feet and make me feel defeated.

I am sick to death of boxes. In my own defense, when I spoke those words, I really meant them. I had fully intended to go through the rest of that stuff and sort out the keepers from the tossers (I know, the Brits use that word to mean something vulgar!). And, I did work hard on them in the beginning, but as time passed, I spent less and less time sorting through them.

So, one may ask, why do I drag my feet? Most of the boxes that are left, contain items that would not be considered necessities. They aren't items that will improve the quality of my life. But they are items that remind me of people and places in my life that have impacted me greatly -- the photographs of childhood friends and teen-age loves; old letters and notes; small gifts and trinkets from once close friends; books of poetry that inspired -- most of which only have value to me. To open a box is to endure a flood of feelings and emotions, sometimes too great to endure. Silly, sentimental thing that I am, I cannot let these things go.

So here I sit, time on my hands, my own words echoing in my mind, boxes beckoning me to come finish what I have started -- yet, I procrastinate still. Tomorrow is another day.

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Mar. 25th, 2009 08:05 pm Bambi and friends

They are taking a survey about the deer. They want to know how many are in the herd and how they impact the landscape. They asked us if we encourage the deer to come onto our property. All of the questions in the beginning of the survey were fairly innocuous. But later the questions turned a bit sinister. There were questions about allowing bow hunters and men with rifles onto our properties to take out the deer if it is determined that there are too many. Too many? The most we have seen in the area are 14 and they were in my yard and scattered throughout the woods that are across the road from my house. I should think that an area of this size could maintain a heard of 14 to 20. Yeah, yeah. If we can see 14 does that mean that there are more out there that we don't see? Of course. But this is a lush green area filled with trees and foliage of all sorts. We have so much of the food that they seek.

I know deer stay within a couple of miles of the area where they are born, but I also know that nature has a way of dealing with overcrowding. And the deer in this area have something else to deal with -- freeways. We don't see many deer on the road, but when they do venture across the freeways and meet with the trucks that also share this roadway, it can be devastating.

But do I want the hunters to come and hunt them? No. And that is an emphatic no. I don't want the hunters in my yard or in my neighborhood. I would rather be overwhelmed by the deer than have someone here picking them off like so many flies.

Don't get me wrong. I have cooked many a deer roast. My ex used to hunt and I made sure he ate whatever he brought home. There were years that I bought no meat at the grocery store because of the deer that stocked my freezer. And if people are hunting to put food on their tables, that is fine in my book. But to "cull" the herd because people don't want them eating their flowers and shrubs is crossing a line to me.

Yes, I think nature will take care of the population. They will either run out of food or they will meet up with the coyotes we hear at night or the wolves we don't see. I would rather let nature do what she does so well than have them shot in my vicinity.

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Mar. 15th, 2009 09:26 am Can you say "Roundball"?

We went to the Bulls game last night. I was very excited. I hadn't been to a professional basketball game since I was in college and saw the Lakers play in LA. Of course, the seats were much improved last night. And the Bulls won it! Go Bulls!

It amuses me how much my life has changed over the years. But, I am sure most people could make that statement. While I have always enjoyed traveling to new places and live performances, such as theatre, opera, music, I never really had anyone in my life that I could share that with except for my girlfriends. However, that has changed. Now, I do. It makes a world of difference.

In just the last month, we have been to the opera, seen professional sports games, have tickets to the theatre, and have a trip planned to a part of Mexico where I have never been. I feel a bit like Cinderella after she stepped into the glass slipper!

Life is so good.

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Mar. 7th, 2009 06:58 am Is it spring?

I am sitting, drinking one of my favorite teas, Twining's English Breakfast tea, and listening to the rain on the windows and sounds from the kitchen as Joe prepares breakfast for us. It is early morning and I have been watching the deer eat from my feeders, the corn we put out for them and the seeds we put out for the birds. There are four females and they look healthy in spite of the hard winter we have had. Maybe Joe's and my efforts have had a hand in that. The deer have crossed the road now and are grazing in the soccer field across from my house.

It has warmed up here now. The temperatures are in the 50s and 60s. But rhe trees are still bare and the grass has not yet turned green. Today, raindrops are glistening on the tree limbs, stark against the dark, wet wood.

I have enjoyed winter. I know that sounds crazy. It has been very cold here. The coldest January in ages according to the weather reports. And it has certainly been the coldest weather that I have ever experienced, southern girl that I am. But I can appreciate the extreme temperatures and I guess it helps to know that they won't last forever. Spring is coming and I am excited about that, too. I can't wait to see the tulips and narcisis burst from the ground. Even though, I know they will probably be food for the deer.

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