Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Decking Them Halls, Y'Alls!

My holiday spirit, which heretofore has been AWOL, showed up in full force last weekend, thus proving that each and every last, little piece of me is a just a wee bit slow on the uptake.  But when it kicked in.  Woo Doggies!!!! Better late than never I guess.

I kicked off the season by putting up the Skeletree and lighting the outdoor lights. I put candles in all of my windows except for one.  There was one candle that I impaled my hand on and broke the bulb so I need to replace it. Lemme tell ya, that temporarily puts a twist in your tinsel! Those flickery-flame candle bulbs are made of the very, thinnest glass on the planet as it turns out.  It's very sharp. And makes you say very bad, and very un-Christmasy words. But I digress...

I finished making presents, and made Christmas treats. I wrapped gifts and packed boxes to mail to friends and family far away. I stuck a bow to the dog's head and the cat's tail and then sat back and giggled while they struggled to free themselves. Ah. Tradition!

Work has been holiday central too. There are team dinners, gift and cookie exchanges scheduled. This afternoon (this will post on Tuesday) I am hosting a party and ping pong tournament for 100+ employees to celebrate our new office. And yet I am determined to remain on keel.  I think I've finally figured out some ways to de-stress the holidays a bit! Stop the presses!

*My holiday shopping was done before Halloween. That is imperative for someone only 5'2" tall as far as I'm concerned. No crowds. No fuss. No muss. No risk of being folded, spindled and mutilated to death in a Target. No lines, no pushing no shoving. No nervous breakdowns.

*Me time. I'm finally figuring out that it's true what they say.  If you don't put on your own air mask, you can't help your seatmates put on theirs in the event of a plane crash. Although how air will help you as you are splattered over a half mile radius on the side of a mountain, I don't know, but that's a post for another day.

I'm a helper by nature. Oh, I know..a sarcastic, snarky...drag-me-kicking-and-screaming one, but a helper none-the-less. But I'm no good to anyone if I'm running on fumes, so this year I have picked my projects and planned my days so that I always have at least 30 minutes for myself at some point. Usually this takes the form of drawing before bedtime or at 5 AM before I get ready for work. It's my meditation time to just calm. to. heck. down. It's a bonus if  it can be constructive as well.  I made the ornaments for the garland (pic at top of post) for my office that way. Did it get done in one sitting? Nope. Took quite a few nights actually... but it got done...and that's the third thing.

*It doesn't all have to be done all at once or right this second. It will get done. It always gets done. Maybe if it CAN'T be done....it doesn't need doing. I'm finally learning to pace myself. 

* And perhaps the most important thing is that I am making a conscious effort not to care so much what people think. This is a big thing with me. I have always wanted everyone to be happy and play nice all the time. I've only kicked that football  over and over for 52 years...but I'm slowly but surely catching on. Actually, I really DON'T  need to care what people think...because they aren't thinking anything. They're looking at their phones!

So, I'm feeling a little smug this year as I watch my friends scurry and stress. I'm enjoying the decorations, music and friendship of the season without the hassle. I'm singing and swinging and getting all merry like Christmas up in here, Y'All!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Legend of the Skeletree

In 2008, I had just moved out of an 18 year marriage. I was holed up in a one-bedroom apartment licking my wounds and feeling abandoned, abused, rejected, deceived, betrayed, lied to, cheated on and depressed.  I had only been in the apartment for about 4 months and had absolutely no interest in decorating for the holidays. It would be the first Christmas in 43 years that I wouldn't be celebrating with family; my first one all alone.

Friends told me that I should at least decorate ...that it would cheer me up... that I should make new holiday traditions.  The absolute last thing I wanted was to buy a tree and haul it home. That was not going to happen, but for some unknown reason, while I sold the rest of my life in a yard sale, I did bring an outdoor Christmas tree decoration with me when I moved. Half as a joke to appease my friends and half seriously, I dug it out of my storage bin and installed it in my living room.

The tree comes in three parts that hook together and all of the 'branches' are on hinges that come down from the metal 'trunk'. The poor thing looks like a white metal, Christmas tree skeleton. But it was prelit-so no need to buy lights. Bonus. And it was definitely the no fuss/no muss kind of  thing that I could handle that first year. But after I first put it up, I thought, "This isn't going to work. It's too pathetic even for me." But the alternative was to brush my hair, get out of my jammies and go out into the big cold world in search of the real deal and that was just a whole lot of NOPE. Skeletree was there to stay.

I dug out my ornaments. I had had the fore site to go through the box when I left the house and had only my own ornaments. I started hanging them on the 'tree'. There were ornaments that I had made, my mother and grandmother made, friends made, and some store-bought ones that were picked out especially for me. The wee elf that had been on every tree since my first one was there. The chipmunk on a chocolate chip cookie that my Aunt Marion gave me was there.  The birds-nest with the red cardinal in it that my Mum made, because having a birds nest on your tree is good luck, was there. I had worried that seeing them all would make me feel sadder, but they didn't. I could feel the warmth and love from each one; cherished the memories each one held.

And you know what? All of a sudden, the Skeletree didn't look so bad. It was covered with love from my family and friends and without the needles I could see every, single. one. I fell in love with Skeletree and it has been a part of our Christmas celebration ever since. Friends laugh at it; call it the Charlie Brown Tree but that's OK. Being able to see all of the love that has surrounded me down through the years in one place, unobstructed, means more to me than the most beautiful greenery in the world. So here's to you, Skeletree...to your white enameled branches your obvious wires and hinges. You are the most beautiful tree of all!

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Donut Delivery Day

Every year, our company has a record retention initiative in December and early January. On the first Monday in December, it kicks off with donuts for all of the employees first thing in the morning. It made sense when we first started it years ago. We only had a couple of buildings and a couple hundred employees.  Now we have 11 buildings and a gazillion employees and it's a bit more of a challenge. I've been 'in charge' of ordering and the distribution of the tasty treats for the last three years.

This is my last year on duty as the process is shifting to another department in the company and I was anxious to go out in style.  We ordered 85 dozen donuts and prepared to meet at 7:30 on Monday morning to get boots on the ground and donuts out the door to the almost 1000 employees in the wider campus area.

Oh the best laid plans. I was horribly sick Sunday night and considered calling my partner and telling her that I just couldn't make it, but I've done the deliveries alone before and it's. no. fun. So I thought, I'll just go in, grab my deliveries and get 'em done and then back to bed. Easy peasy.

I showed up at work 15 minutes early and the  the caterer was 10 minutes late of course. I occupied myself running back and forth to the ladies' room during that time. I was never so glad to  see the delivery van in my life. There were so many donuts, that there were two vans. The first van held coffee urns and fruit baskets and the second van had the donuts. The driver of the second van got out, closed the door and we all heard a click. The van had taken 1,020 sugar laden, fat soaked treats (and that's if they were only dozens and not baker's dozens) hostage and wouldn't let the guy back in. Neither driver had a spare key. The store was called and the manager dispatched, but that took another 30 minutes. All the while the driver of the first van was trying to figure out a way to shimmy through a partially opened vent window in the back, the driver of the donut van paced back and forth until he wore a rut in the driveway deep enough to hang up posters, and I made a similar rut back and forth to the ladies room.  On top of it all, we had 60 degree temps, 40 mph winds and rain. Monsoon Monday!

Finally the van was opened, the donuts were liberated and I loaded up my car with my deliveries. Whew! Not long now. I'll be in my jammies with my bucket beside me before you know it. Wrong-oh Keebler!  At my first stop, I realize that my security badge is missing. I look in the car and every other place I could think of. It was on a clip with a yoyo-like string on it which extends so you don't have to unclip the badge from the bottom  of your shirt when you want to badge into a building. Finally some smokers coming back in from their break took pity on me and let me in. I delivered the donuts and went to leave when I realized there was one more box in my car for that building. Carp.

The smokers were gone and it would be another 3.5 minutes or so until they came out for another break (just seems that way doesn't it?). There was a guy I didn't know in a glassed in conference room right by the door watching the entire thing. Finally I crooked my finger and asked him to let me in. He came to the security door and asked me where my badge was. I told him that I had it at the pick up point but I must of lost it there. At this point, I'm sick, exhausted, cold, wet and pretty grumpy,quite frankly.  He may have been joking, maybe not. Either way he was being a real 'male appendage'. He said that he really shouldn't let me in without a badge. Good Dog Man! I'm here holding free donuts...for YOU... let me in!

At that moment, I felt something skitter down my left leg and out my pant leg. My badge. Apparently on one of my thousands of trips to the loo, my badge had gotten tucked on the inside of my waist band and unhooked from the bottom of my shirt. It chose that very second to make a break for it,down the side of my leg, and to freedom.

The jerk stood with his mouth open staring at it. I just said calmly, "I told you I had my badge'. It's clear he was wondering where exactly I kept it if that's where it ended up. In his awed stupor, he opened the door and let me in without a word.

I finally got home and back to bed about 2 hours past when I had hoped but I did get to experience barfing in new and exciting places so that was fun. As usual, instead of going out in style on my last year, I went out in the moronic, why-does-this-stuff-only-happen-to-me way I always do.  Guess that's an OK thing or I wouldn't have anything to write about, eh?

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Carolin' In the Cave

Friday night I maintained my Christmas tradition of going to Mt. Horeb to hear A Capella groups sing in the large cavern in the Cave of the Mounds. I almost didn't go. I'd been dealing with a headache all day and I hadn't been able to get tickets for the Saturday show that I usually go to when the Green Tones sing. I decided at the last minute to suck it up and go because I'd already bought the ticket and because I didn't want to ruin my 8-year streak. I'm so glad I did.

The drive out kind of sucked because it was 7:30 and dark.  The heavy traffic and glare reignited the headache I'd worked so hard to stomp down, but once I got into the cave, which was lit only by candles, it was better. Two  groups performed; the main group was Deliberate Vibrations (8 men) and then there was another group, Mad Fusion (several men and 1 woman) which had some members in common with Deliberate Vibrations group.

The first group did quite a few songs including a very funny rendition or 'Blue Christmas' and another of  'The Star Wars Song'.  Mad Fusion did a couple of  more traditional songs as well and then they all sang the last song together from either end of the cave. Ava Maria filled the cavern so that it sounded like you were inside the song. I teared up. If you get a chance to see either of these groups, GO! They are amazing!

On the way home, in addition to the glare, I had to deal with the fact that my car was suddenly full of mosquitoes.  The parking lot for the cave is in a little glen near a stream but c'mon...it's December. We've had the weirdest warm weather. The days are high 40s to low 60s but the nights are cold enough to freeze the little buggers. Maybe they were in the cave which is the same temp  all year round and hitched a ride back on my jacket. It was just strange, having an infestation to deal with during the ride home from a Christmas concert.

All week long, I have been picking up box-elder bugs and carrying them out to the potted plant in the lobby at work. (There seem to be a lot but maybe it's just the same one.) This is a problem we normally have in Sept. and Oct. but it's the gift that keeps on giving this year. I noticed that someone had scooped one up and put it in the with department's pet beetles. That's right, The Big Bang Gang (careful how you say that) has commandeered four Blue Death Feigning Beetles from the desert southwest.  They are all tricked out in a swanky little bungalow and they are fed small bits of fruit and vegetables.

These particular bugs' claim to fame is that if it is alarmed, it rolls over and plays dead; much like a possum, hog-nosed snake, or fainting goat. Now in my book, about the only thing a pet beetle can do for you is move around.  These guys go belly up when you hold them. When they eventually do die, I don't know how we'll tell. Even when they aren't scared, they're  big fans of hiding beneath a little piece of bark in their home....completely out of site. At least the box-elder bug roams around in there.

That said, I'm glad we have them because I think this is just a gateway pet really. If nothing goes awry (I know that's a BIG if) I think the proper progression is then gerbil, then guinea pig, then bunny, then cat, then dog and then we finally get that monkey I've had my eye on. We can call it a therapy monkey to get it past HR if we need to. We can train him to make copies. His name will be Roger. But as you can see, I haven't given it that much thought.

Hope you all are enjoying the holiday season! Drop me a line if you get a chance!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Yesterday Was a Bad Ol' Day

Yesterday was a bad day. A really bad day. Not the amusing kind of bad day that I seem to have...well...every.single.day...but a really, really, bad ol' day. As luck would have it, I planned to leave work early to go to a dental appt. at 1:00 PM and a haircut appt. at 3:30 PM. My dentist appt. which always take over an hour, got wrapped up in 35 minutes! Miracle of miracles! I had several errands I wanted to run before my haircut, but as I pointed my car west, I drew nearer and nearer to Heartland Farm. Before I knew what was happening, I had turned down the farm road and was on my way to healing. The heart knows what it needs.

I love to visit all of my feather and fur family, but the farm has recently rescued 7 female emus and I wanted to spend a little time with them. They had been roughed up a bit recently and were still nursing their superficial wounds, but despite being moved to a new home, and the hardships they had endured, they were calm, curious, and friendly. They were milling around in their enclosure, gently thrumming deep in their chests. I didn't know that that was the way they communicate; soft drumming between each other..

In the middle of their enclosure, their food bowl sat on a wooden box-much like an apple crate. I went over and sat on the edge of the crate, settled in and just relaxed. I concentrated on being silent (which for me takes immense concentration) and sending out calming energy to let them know that they were in a safe place and I was no threat to them. I didn't try to chase or touch the birds in any way. I just sat. And sat. And sat..

They were wandering all around, investigating their new home, and as the silence went on, they came closer and closer to where I sat. I could feel them starting to trust me and knew that they were wondering  whether or not this purple, fleece-clad lump was a permanent fixture in their new enclosure. I noticed one of the birds perk up and listen when a songbird trilled outside, so by and by I started humming very softly...Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star....

All of the birds stopped what they were doing, stood up to their full heights, necks elongated and stared at me. It should have been scary. Seven, 6-foot plus birds with massive beaks and dinosaur talons focusing all of their energy on little old me;  a mere 3 feet tall as I sat on the crate and only a little over 5' should I decide to stand up and challenge them.  But it wasn't scary at all, It was really magical.  They came off the 'alert' stance fairly quickly but continued to look at me. The thrumming between them increased.  You could tell that they were discussing how  was the weirdest little, purple, fleecy songbird they had ever seen perched on a box in their 'living room'.

I hummed a bit more and they wandered all around close to me. I sat so long that I had to do my errands after my haircut instead of before.  It was totally worth it. I left feeling like a healing balm had soothed my soul. I had more perspective and I just knew that things were going to be OK, no matter what. Heartland's motto is 'People Healing Animals Healing People', and it couldn't be more apt. There's just something about spending time with those critters that is absolutely healing in a way that I can't comprehend or explain. I'm just so extremely grateful that it's there...especially on a day when I really needed it.

So thank you Seven Sister emus for trusting me, soothing and singing to my soul.  And thank you Heartland, for doing what you do !

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Really REALLY Big Bang Theory

My life is weird. I encounter a lot of strange situations. I kinda bring that on myself by not being able to keep my thoughts to myself-especially around people I don't know. I'll strike up a conversation with anyone, anywhere over anything. I've met lots of interesting people that way and had a lot of fun, even though it occasionally does bite me in the bum. But usually even that amuses me so it's OK.

My job is weird. I tell people it's kind of like working with the characters from The Big Bang Theory more days than not. Even after 24 years here, each day usually holds  some kind of special challenge to the point where, it becomes commonplace. The weird becomes the norm.

But yesterday was one of those outstandingly weird days that pop up from time to time where the bizarre and surreal just keeps getting more so and you start to wonder if you're still in bed dreaming this or if it's really happening.

[A little back story...] I took my car over to my car husband, Jeff, at Zimbrick's on Friday to put new tires on. I asked him how much he loved me and if he would do me a favor. I told him that I had learned a very important lesson on Thursday when I set a potted plant in the trunk of the car and then drove off, taking corners on two wheels apparently. What a mess.  I told him I now knew not to do this and sweet-talked him into vacuuming out the trunk with the industrial vacuum for me.

Scene jump to Monday, when I put a huge philodendron in the backseat, carefully secured it and cautiously drove to work.  Apparently the word 'secure' doesn't mean what I think it does. More potting soil all over the back seat. Since I told Jeff that I learned my lesson, me thinks I will have to clean up this mess myself!

So my Monday was was already off to a blazing start, when I decided to set up a new desktop fountain. I assembled it, filled it and crawled under my desk on my hands and knees to plug it in.  I heard its delicate tinkling start, so I crab walked out from under my desk. As I was backing out, the sound of the surf was so real that I imagined that I could actually feel the ocean spray on my back! Turns out, the tide was in and surf was up! My beautiful seahorse fountain was trickling a small stream of water into it's base and jettisoning torrents of water all of my office. I was so shocked, I stood there with my mouth open a lot of extra seconds longer than someone who is actively turning her office like a swimming pool probably should. I finally got the thing unplugged and spent another 20 minutes mopping up.

Finally I decided to work on the corporate holiday cards that had been delivered on Friday. I took 80 pre-printed cards and put them under the back flap of the pre-addressed envelopes so that I could set them out on a desk and people could sign them. It was a pretty mechanical, monotonous job and before long, I found myself drifting and caught myself as I  tried to put one card in the envelope instead of under the flap. Yep, that was the exact moment when I was the first one in the company to discover that the hundreds of cards that had been purchased were just a skosh too big to actually fit in the envelopes. I emailed the admin that was in charge or the project and asked her if anyone else has noticed. Hey I'm just the messenger. (Why oh why do I always have to be the messenger?!) She then went into emergency mode and went all over the company to collect the cards back and get them to the printer to re-size. (Although my day was 'off', I graciously concede that she is the one person that was having a worse day than I!)

As that crisis was dying down, I heard a ruckus back in the office area where the kids are. What fresh mayhem could this be? Turns out there was mouse under one of the girl's desk! The clock started ticking.  I wandered all around, using my all purpose animal call* , and poking into every available hidey-hole, to try to find the critter, scoop him up in a coffee cup to take him outside to freedom as the rest of the office immediately started baiting traps with peanut butter. (The rest of the office won. At around 2 PM he was enjoying a sticky, nutty snack when he was transferred to that big corporate office building in the sky.)

Soon, I was off to a meeting in the building  down the street where we used to reside. Some of the kids had forgotten to bring their desk trays...you know, the ones that hold paperclips and pens etc... so I swung by our old office space and picked up three of them. Did you know that even though they are identical, they won't stack or nest like you'd think they would? You have to put them one on top of another, on top of the laptop you're also caring in a kind of loose and wobbly tower. This is important to note because WHEN you stumble in the parking lot heading back to your car (and if you're me... you will), the top tray... specifically the sharp corner of the very top tray, is right at eye level. I couldn't believe I was going to have to write out a safety incident report because I poked my own eye out with a drawer organizer! I may have said a bad word because gosh it hurt and today I have a bit of a black eye but I covered it with makeup so I didn't have to explain THAT debacle. Now...exactly how did you poke your eye out with a desk organizer again, Molly Bee?!

I didn't even go straight back to the office. I stopped at the cafe half way in between, ordered a grilled cheese and attempted my crap together to face the afternoon. I talked to a toddler about the merits of PB&J versus grilled cheese and our mutual dislike of pickles.  I calmed down and my eye stopped watering so I went back to the office. I am  thrilled to report that  I survived the afternoon with only the 'normal' incidents and accidents occurring and arrived home exhausted but further unscathed! Thank goodness days like this don't happen very often! I don't think I'd survive if they did. They do make you appreciate the 'normally weird' days thought!

(C'mere baby! Who's the bestest insert animal here? I think it's YOU! Yes it is! You're the bestest one!)

Friday, November 10, 2017

How Do You Eat An Elephant?

The more things change the more they stay the same in many regards...new job, new office, yadda, yadda, yadda. Kinda feeling like I'm movin' ahead and like I might just be getting a handle on this adulting thing after all and then...I get my reality check.  Every. single. time. For instance,  I discovered this morning, when I dug out my winter jacket (that I bought a year ago October) that I had managed to wear it for the entire winter last year with the price tag still attached in the underarm. Now I know it's a heavy jacket and we had a kind of warm winter, but c'mon. I wore that jacket a lot. Couldn't one of y'all let me know that I was Minnie Pearling it??? I feel like one of you had to have noticed it...but then again why would you...I didn't. Sheesh. I'll always be the dorky misfit. I should just get used to it!

Speaking of winter coats, Moose and Cooper are all geared up for the cold weather (fancy segue, no?). They are both in fine fettle but this recent cold snap  has brought out the 'snuggle' in Moo and the 'I'm going to kick your tail feathers' in Cooper. Old Coop has a healthy dose of this year round, but I thing this particular 'endearing trait' gets ramped up to a full-fledged superpower when the humidity goes down and he has more energy. It may well be a payback for the newfound, but short-lived, trick Moose discovered this summer.

He was munching on his toy elephant* in the living room when Coop came wandering through. Moose stood up with the toy and shook it vigorously back and forth. At just the perfect moment, he lost control of it and off it flew, arcing through the air, nailing Cooper perfectly.. You could almost see Moose's little, ping pong ball brain exploding. For the rest of that day and much of the next two, every time Coop was in the vicinity, Moose would head for the elephant. He has an amazing amount of aim and accuracy for a little fella who often times pees on his own foot . Cooper would jump and run.  Then it got to the point where Coop would run if he saw Moose move toward the elephant.  Then it got to the point where he would run when he saw Moose.

I knew something had to give and it did.  Cooper finally decided that he would put an end to this bullying with a little bullying of his own. The next time the elephant flew his way, he batted it, ran at and tackled Moose and proceeded to kick the living snot out of him. Moose got away at one point and came running to me for protection, but I held tough. He made his bed, he should sleep on the lumps.

When Coop decided that Moose had gotten, and thoroughly understood, the message he was trying to impart, he  stopped the whuppin' and promptly took a bath. Stinky dog germs, doncha know.  Moose came to me for comfort and it was given. The elephant hasn't taken flight since. In fact, if Moose is chewing on him when the cat walks through, he will cease and desist and move away from it. Cooper's message was received! And all is well at Chez Bee again.

* Moose's elephant was given to him by Dale Harriet. He has chewed on it every day since and now it's just a suggestion of an elephant really. You can kind of tell, but you really have to use your make-believe! The trunk is gone, ears are in shreds, but he still tastes as delicious as he did that very first day. How does a little Chihuahua eat an elephant? One bite at a time!