"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." Eleanor Roosevelt

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Chipmunks, Snakes, and Orangutans. . . OH MY!

My work has kept me busy the last two days, with hardly a moment to catch my breath, and so I haven't blogged. For one thing, it seems that every time I get the stone path cleared so that clients can walk safely to my waiting room, within the hour more snow and ice comes calving off the tin roof, and I have to go back out, and shovel it clear, and put out more salt. 30" of snow lasts a long time. Here is a picture taken today from my little mountain top, looking out at the Alleghanies toward West Virginia. Elliot's Knob is the highest point.

It is notable how the holidays stir up so much for people. Almost every client is bringing the struggles of their time spent, with or without family, and what that means for them, into the consulting room. And my holidays are there, too. I am sad that mine and my daughters' head colds and the horrendous weather kept us from going to visit with my mother (who is recovering from serious pneumonia) and brothers this year. My sister, RWH was away, too, with her boyfriend's family in Texas. So Christmas night was rather lonesome. A friend and I took the kids to see "Alvin and the Chipmunks, the Squeakquel" and then had Chinese food.

(Here I am in my therapist's chair, yesterday with my canine co-therapists supporting me on either side. Hey, if my feet had to keep getting cold and wet going out to shovel snow, at least I had these wonderful socks to bring warmth and good cheer!)

In my 12/25 post, I wrote about my fourth grade gift-giving. That same year, before the Christmas break, students had been asked to sell raffle tickets for a school fundraiser. There was to be a P.T.A. spaghetti dinner and raffling of prizes one night just before the holiday. My sister, RWH, and I called on all of the neighbors in our trailer park and sold as many tickets as we could, doing our duty to support our school.

But RWH refused to go with me to the landlord’s big house. He was old and mean, in my memory, always threatening to kick us out because the rent was late. I went alone and sold him a ticket. The day of the spaghetti dinner arrived and early that morning I counted out all the one dollar bills and the red raffle ticket stubs I was supposed to submit at the event. I was somehow short a stub. The last number was missing. Horrified I confessed to Mom, knowing that she would spank me. But she did not spank me because of the lost ticket. What she did was much worse. She gave me one of her own dollars that she had “sweated for” and had me return it to the landlord, explaining that I had lost his ticket stub and had no more with which to replace it. Then, she made me clean the entire trailer. Alone. Top to bottom. And at some point during the day, I found the ticket stub. I don’t believe that was what she intended. At the spaghetti dinner, I turned in all of the stubs and all of the money. The food was good and they drew for several prizes. Then at the end of the evening, they drew for the grand prize, a 12 inch color television set. When they called out the numbers, I sat in shock then rose and carried the little red stub forward, claiming my miraculous prize. We had not had a TV for at least three years. That night my mom and my sisters and I watched Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas Special.

Now days, I have two very nice, flatscreen TVs on which the girls and I watch movies, but I choose to not have cable television - which for my kids amounts to no TV. Don't worry, I'm not stunting them in the socio-cultural realm - they watch more than their fair share at their father's. I like how the lack of television inspires their imaginations and their love of reading, and playing outdoors (when it is not 23 degrees farenheit, that is. I just checked, right at this very moment it is 9 degrees outside.) The lack of TV is good for me, too. I blog. I read. I occasionally practice the bassoon which I play in a big band, I crochet quite poorly, I make photo albums with 4301 pictures, per month, of my kids. OH MY GOD, I'm a NERD - this is what lack of TV has done to me ---

Here is a recent crochet project - a scarf made for MG based on her favorite bedtime story, CRICTOR, by Tomi Ungerer.

In the story, Crictor's owner knits him sweaters, so I crocheted MG's scarf a scarf.

EG has a scarf in the works. It is almost finished. I will post a picture of it when it is complete. Scarves and blankets are the ONLY thing I can crochet. My mother, however, can make anything out of yarn. Here is a photograph of MG in the Christening gown my mom crocheted. And here, a very recent project, two orangutans, hand crocheted for two very loved granddaughters. IF this is not FOLK ART at its best, I do not know what is. My Mother is a wonderfully loving and talented woman who became pregnant at the age of 14 with my older sister and has raised 5 kids alone (and she didn't see my daddy once after the first one was born, jk.) I might write some stories of my childhood, that make her seem harsh or neglectful, and sometimes that was how I experienced life, but I don't think for a minute anyone could do much better in the same circumstances. She is truly amazing.

Hey Mom, when my younger brothers don't get to come home from college for the holidays, you send them a care package, right? Well, I know I'm post-post-doc and all, but I still have to do continuing ed. . .shouldn't that count? I'd like some of your chicken pecan quiche, a deluxe apple pie, I need a fuzzy hat that matches my black coat and keeps my ears warm . . . looking forward to seeing you soon, Mom & to bringing the cool gifts the girls and I made YOU. I LOVE YOU!

Pictures with family from holidays past: me with mom & three of her granddaughters, EG and mom, EG, EG blowing bubblegum with cousin HH, EG & MG with HH, EG and my brother MO, another of mom's crochet creations, EG dancing x4, the REAL Santa x2, MG sleeping in Grandma's bed, and me.

Good night, blog world. I'm off to DC for work in the morning. . .

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Marvelous Minis and the Myth that Size Doesn't Matter

My MG asked me today if anything I did while I was pregnant might have stunted her growth. I answered that it could have been the hyperemesis which lasted for 9 months, but I really just think it is how she is meant to be. She weighed 4'12" at birth, 16 pounds at a year, and here she is, standing with her classmates, on the first day of fourth grade.

Meanwhile, MG is the biggest detractor from my enjoyment of my beloved automobile; she actually complains that she does not have enough leg room. I approximate that I spend at least 8 hours a week in my vehicle, thus my goals were that my car should be fun, comfortable, environmentally friendly, and good on my budget. So I have a 2008 Mini Cooper. When I was ready to replace the mini-van with my dreamed of Mini Cooper, I went to the Mini web site, http://miniusa.com/# and designed my own Mini - determining exactly what I wanted. But since I have issues with delayed gratification, I looked around my region and found something that was almost perfect, that I could have NOW. The desired car was only 5 1/2 hours away in Winston-Salem, NC. So my car is named Winston, a tribute to the British origins of the car, the location in which I found him, and the fact that he looks like a pack of Winston cigarettes.
Seriously, I hate cigarettes, and did not intentionally name the car after tobacco, but you have to admit, the resemblance had to come from somewhere deep within my unconscious mind. In my real job, I do a lot of work with people to help them quit smoking and other unwanted habits through the use of hypnosis. . .

I love my Mini. I love how it rides. How it handles. I love how I can fit it in between two parking spaces in the District, that is if someone else is parallel parking for me. I love it's ergonomics. Take a look at this dashboard: I love Minis so much that when I went for a solo/recharge-my-batteries road trip to California, driving US 1 from LA to San Francisco (Yes, a future post), I had to rent a Mini. A convertible Mini Cooper S - through Malibu, Big Sur, Monterey, Mill Valley, Berkeley, & Yosemite - was heaven on earth.

Now for everyday, all season use in the mountains of Virginia and in Washington, DC, I definitely prefer the panoramic sun-roof to the convertible. Inside my Mini it feels surprisingly spacious and open, all of the time, because of the terrific roof. I love riding with the roof open, letting the sun stream in, particularly in the autumn. And it is not so much wind that my hair gets all tangled and in my eyes and mouth. The convertible with the top up felt a little claustrophobic, well not quite claustrophobic, because I loved feeling close in with a Mini, more like cuddly, it felt cuddly. Yes it was thrilling with the top down, racing along canyon highways and coastal cliffs, I will admit. I've thought about finding a boyfriend with a convertible Mini. Best of both worlds kind of thing. Yin and Yang. If you haven't yet seen the newer version of the movie the ITALIAN JOB, you should. I've been watching it in slow-motion to try to figure out this parallel parking thing.

Must drive a Standard with a Mini. You have to feel like you're driving. And color matters. Mini's should be bright and cheerful, with racing stripes.

I especially love playing music on my iPod while driving in my Mini. I love belting out songs at the top of my lungs. Sometimes, I'll play the same song over like 15 times, just to make my commute seem shorter. I have pretty diverse tastes in music. My recent re-play favorite has been George Jones, THE RACE IS ON http://www.last.fm/music/George+Jones/_/The+Race+Is+On?autostart
Here are the lyrics (Am I violating copyright if I copy & paste them from somewhere else on the net?)

I feel tears wellin' up cold and deep inside
Like my heart's sprung a big break
And the stab of loneliness, sharp and painful
That I may never shake
You might say that I was taking it hard
SINCE YOU wrote me off with a call
But don't you wager that I'll hide in sorrow
When I may break right down and bawl

Now, the race is on and here comes pride up the backstretch
Heartaches are a-going to the inside
My tears are holding back
They're tryin' not to fall
My heart's out of the runnin'
True love's scratched for another stake
The race is on and it looks like heartaches
And the winner loses all!

One day I ventured in love,
Never once suspectin' what the final results would be.
How I lived in fear of waking up each mornin'
And findin' that you're gone from me
There's achin' and pain in my heart
for today was the one that I hated to face
Somebody new came up to win her and I came out in 2nd Place!

(Repeat chorus)

So, I seemed to have changed the subject. Hmmm.

Spent most of the day with my friend SP.

SP is one of those women who deserve the label SUPERMOM. She seems to manage it all with such style and grace that I end up feeling like I'm, well, not as capable. She too is a single mom, runs her own business, and manages a home that is too much for one adult to keep up with. We have a lot in common and are different in many ways too. This makes for a good friendship. Heck, her lawn mower, the Dixie Chopper, is bigger than my car.

Mine & SP's little girls are wonderful friends. And EG wants to marry SP's little boy. Today at lunch, EG announced her intentions. Her girlfriend, L, was quite jealous and said she wanted to marry EG. When met with rejection from my heartless kid, she said, "Fine I'm going to marry your mommy." (Ultimate come-back.) She asked me was I married. I replied, "Nope, I actually got unmarried, so I'm available." But then L thought for a few minutes and said to EG, "Wait, once I'm grown up your mom will be dead."

Here are the girls dancing for us at my house this afternoon:

And here are our kids around SP's 12 foot real tree. Which would never get home on the top of a MINI. Which no one in my lineage would ever be tall enough to decorate. And which is bound to make a collosal mess in SP's immaculately clean house. HA!

A Public Service Announcement. SP, fosters orphaned kittens and helps them find homes. Here is MG trying to convince me that we NEED another one. Any cat lovers out there reading this blog (o.k., the one person following this blog, so far) may I appeal to your generous spirit to adopt a sweet baby from SP? One more photo, not cats, but kids, eating the dinner prepared by SP:

And a last, random musing. SP inspired an idea. (This is what I get for hanging out with Republicans and the like.) It's a game called Western Shoot-Out or something, and is available at Target (go figure.) My therapeutic? idea is that you put pictures of ex-spouses, or ex-lovers perhaps on the cans, and well, you get out your aggression in vitro, with no real violence. So, there you have it. Next Christmas, SP is hoping Santa brings her a gun rack for the little toy pistol for the back window of her SUV, and an NRA membership.

Here are some more lyrics, to demonstrate my musical diversity. From Sean Kingston's REPLAY:

". . .She like a song played again and again

That girl like somethin' off a poster
That girl is a dime they say
That girl is a gun to my holster
She's runnin' through my mind all day; hey

Shawty's like a melody in my head
That I can't keep out, got me singin' like
Na, na, na, na everyday
Its like my iPod's stuck on replay, replay . . ."

Alright - I must sleep, and heal, and get up early before Monday's clients arrive. My sore body is begging me to resume my much kinder, gentler running routine versus the newly instituted and hopefully temporary snow-shoveling exercises. Next blizzard, I dare someone to tell me, "Size Doesn't Matter."

Picture of Winston, last February - remember he spent the nights in a garage in Georgetown during this most recent snowfall.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Canine Co-Therapy, the Dragon Slayer and More

Someone is bound to think that the things I write that my four year old says and does must be exaggerated, but I assure you they are not. As a matter of fact, I can’t keep up with her. Right now, for instance, EG is constructing something out off Styrofoam and duct-tape. Let me back up, she got a new baby doll, with diapers, for Christmas. She has been changing them constantly, and recently started complaining about how many diapers, and how disgusting, with long sighs for emphasis. So, she decided to potty train. And this is what she has made, a toilet for her baby doll.

My older daughter, MG, is just as clever, but in different ways. She writes poetry, and songs (with music) for me, and she is concerned about her privacy on the internet. She must approve what I put out there. I like that – good boundaries. So I’ll just keep writing about EG until she gets annoyed and tells me to stop.

That said, this evening's sunset over the Alleghanies was gorgeous.

Then the girls and I enjoyed some of the neighborhood light displays before a dense fog set in.

We gathered up two neighbor kids for dinner at a local pizza shop.

This is not an amber ale or an IPA, it is ginger-ale mixed with diet coke and pink lemonaide. I promise.

While out, I happened upon and identified the anonymous snow-shoveler I wrote about in Gifts post. It is one of these dudes. Can you guess which one? He said I deserved some Single-Mom Karma back at me. Man, if I’d known I’d get somebody else to do the shoveling, I would have gotten divorced much sooner than I did! (Just kidding, that was rude, but irresistible.)

Speaking of my ex-husband, the wonderful father of our incredible daughters, here he is at my house on Christmas morning.

And here is my ex-boyfriend, BB, sitting across from ex-husband. The kids adore them both, and both are good friends to me. And watching little ones tear open gifts on Christmas morning is something that should definitely be shared.

Oh my, the toilet now has a flusher. Yes, that is a piece of candy corn. O.K., so this is supposed to be a post about pets. Canine C0-Therapy and such. For many years, my girlfriend/colleague, DAS, has used her Beagle, Sadie in therapy. DAS is someone I want to emulate. About four years ago, I started bringing my Italian Greyhound, Guido, into the consulting room, and we found the benefits to be numerous. It was devastating when ten-year-old Guido died suddenly, from liver cancer, this year. A few months after Guido’s death, I adopted seven-year old Skippy, whose owner had recently died. Skippy joined Matilda, a black Pug, two recently rescued kittens, Mulberry & Muffin, pet rats, Fluer and Poppy, and a beta fish. Our most recent beta fish was named Dragon, but when my furnace went out recently (for two weeks – subject of a future post,) I forgot about the beta in the unheated kitchen. I felt so guilty as I shoved its little body down the garbage disposal. I am officially a Dragon slayer. Why, why do I have so many animals . . .? Partly because I’m a sucker. Partly it is that my daughters have me wrapped around their every pet craving. Mostly, I guess, I like it.
And almost all of my clients who see me at my home office report numerous beneficial effects of the pet therapy. . . I’m going to ask my accountant if I can write off the food, litter, and vet bills as a business expense . . .

Well, EG is fast asleep with Skippy beside her, MG is enthralled in the pages of The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, and my yucky cold is telling me to sleep, some more, or at least take enough cold medicine to kill a small . . .ooh, bad metaphor, nevermind.