Mom Does Not Equal Martyr

martyr (from dictionary.com) — a person who seeks sympathy or attention by feigning or exaggerating pain, deprivation, etc.

 

Why are moms such experts in the art of playing the martyr?

I ask this because I’m just as guilty as the next woman!

Take a recent example: I spent the bulk of one day doing My Favorite Domer’s laundry — washing clothes, drying them, ironing them. It was a weekend, so he was around to “watch the show,” but did he even once ask to help out?

Not on your life. It was more important for him to chillax with video games, etc. He’d worked all week, you know!

And I’m sure I told him once or twice that later on, I needed to rearrange the furniture in my bedroom. Did he volunteer to help with that?

Again, no.

So once the laundry was done, there I was, sweating like a pig, grunting and shoving furniture from one wall to another, while he managed to make himself scarce.

It was only when my mom insisted he come help me that he finally did. And what did I do? Snarled and hissed at him, swearing his services weren’t needed, and I’d rather do it myself than inconvenience him!

He insisted. I resisted. At last, I let him win and grudgingly accepted his help. And it’s true what they say, Many hands make light work.

So why didn’t I just ask for help in the first place?

I suppose I’m like most women. We learn martyrdom from our moms, who learned it from their moms, and so on. It’s served us well, allowing us to pout, hold grudges, cry, complain, and exact revenge when the others in our family least expect it.

But it’s no way to achieve a peaceful family life.

And really, isn’t that everyone‘s goal?

Father God, Forgive me for stubbornly clinging to my martyrdom, for being too proud to ask for help when I need it. Never let me be that way with You!

Look What They Did to our Trees!

I call it the annual “Raping of the Trees.” Here’s what it looks like:

What happens is some tree service — probably under contract with a utility company — arrives at your neighborhood early in the morning and starts “trimming” the branches from trees located beneath or near power lines. The service stays all day, hacking off branches and grinding them up, then moves to the next site.

I understand the reasoning behind this — eliminate anything that could possibly interfere with the operation of utilities, thereby saving crews the headache (and danger) of having to make repairs during stormy weather.

But the tree service obviously doesn’t have a designer on staff. I mean, look at the mess they made of these once-lovely trees:

And this one:

Limbs have been chopped off at random, without regard for the tree’s former symmetry. Gaping holes remain where thick, leafy branches used to shade yards. Skeletal sticks poke their spindly fingers up to the sky.

If the tree was in the way, why didn’t they just chop it down, rather than gouging its branches out?

Trees are living, breathing creations, many of which were lovingly planted and tended by someone from a past generation. Their arms cradle birds’ nests, provide shelter for squirrels, and offer a spectacular show in spring and fall. They shade pedestrians and parked cars while increasing property values.  Trees absorb carbon dioxide and pollutants while giving off oxygen.

We need trees. Our communities are kinder, friendlier when we have trees around. And I suspect many of these trees were there before the utility lines were even put up.

So while it’s bad enough this “Raping of the Trees” takes place during good weather, I find it reprehensible for it to happen this year.

When the trees are already stressed out by the heat. And the drought.

I don’t look for fall to be its customary colorful self, nor can I see these spindly specters withstanding the ravages of winter.

They can blame that on the weather all they like. But I think the “Raping of the Trees” will be a contributing factor.

Do they do this in your neck of the woods?

Where are the Fashion Designers??

Men have it so easy.

A shirt, slacks, maybe a jacket, and they’re dressed. No matter if they’re young, old, or somewhere in between.

Haven’t you seen “little men” wearing the same style suits as their grandpas?

Not so for women.

What works on a young child doesn’t work for a teenager. What works for a teen doesn’t work for a forty-something. What works for a forty-something doesn’t work for a blue-haired lady on a walker.

Now before you get all huffy about this, think for a minute. How many forty-year-old women can wear short-shorts? Or skinny jeans? Or stilettos and a sleeveless, form-fitting dress?

Doesn’t it look rather silly? Honestly?

Once upon a time, I’m told, women had the basics of dressing much easier. There were limited options — dresses, skirts and blouses, pantsuits. The ladies in Mom’s circle wore mostly dresses when I was little (dressy pants as I got older). They looked, well, like moms.

The older generation, like my grandmas, wore dresses and sensible shoes, necklaces, and “old lady cologne.” Sort of like the Queen, only not so classy and minus the Corgis.

Little girls were allowed to wear shorts or slacks and T-shirts for play, dresses for dress-up occasions. Their big sisters, teenagers, dressed similarly.

No more.

I’ve seen women old enough to know better trying to one-up their daughters by shimmying into too-tight jeans. Women long past their prime exposing flabby arms and back fat in racerback tops. Women risking hip fractures with mile-high wedge sandals. Women dressed like “bag ladies” in sweats and holey T-shirts.

Perhaps they’re simply confused. Or their “style” is all over the board. Or they’ve outgrown what used to fit and can’t find replacements.

My question is: Why aren’t fashion designers flocking to clothe these maturing women, many of whom are members of the Baby Boom Generation (those born between 1946 and 1964)?

Statistics indicate one person of this age group turns 65 every 8 seconds — and will continue to do so for the next 18 years!

These women prefer individuality. They gravitate to things that make them feel young. They embraced the likes of bell bottom blue jeans, graphic T-shirts, fringed vests, big hair. They practically pioneered bikinis, polyester shirts, knee-high boots, and big shoulders.

They set the world afire with innovation and hold the bulk of financial assets and marketing power, not to mention sheer numbers.

But they have no style. Think Jackie Kennedy style.

Shouldn’t fashion designers be tapping into that?

Me and My Shadow

The Band of the Fighting Irish is going to Dublin, Ireland, for Notre Dame’s first football game this fall!

That’s the good news. Those, like My Favorite Domer, who early on expressed interest in going, have already acquired their passports and paid their fees.

The bad news is, not everybody can go. With close to 400 members, it’s no wonder. The logistics of transporting them, not to mention the costs, are practically unthinkable, and the incoming freshmen won’t even have learned the marching style or participated in one game.

So how will the directors pick and choose?

Auditions, naturally.

Domer has taken to heart their advice to keep his chops in good working order by practicing. Daily.

After work he gets the ole trumpet out and holes up downstairs, where he runs up and down scales, refreshes his memory on various school songs, and starts learning the new music designed to impress the overseas Irish (and any alumni lucky enough to snag a ticket!).

Practice isn’t a lonely time, though. Far from it.

My trusty Sheltie, it seems, has a phenomenal ear when it comes to music.

Who would have thought??

So when Domer brings out the trumpet, no matter where in the house the Sheltie is, he makes a beeline toward the practice room. And while Domer plays, Sheltie sings.

First, he checks out the instrument:

Gotta make sure everything’s okay, Kid

Then, he throws back his head and attempts a few notes:

I am Sheltie — hear me sing!

Then he pauses to think about it for a few minutes:

 

Just warming up for the high notes, Mom

And finally, he leans way back and howls away:

 

Matching your tone, Kid — let’s go higher!

Shetland Sheepdogs originated in Scotland — who knows, perhaps this one hears the wail of the pipes in my son’s horn??

Doesn’t matter. He’s at least doing what he’s supposed to, comforting and encouraging “his kid” in something that could be fraught with nerves and fear — another audition.

At least Domer has already made the first cut on the Going-to-Ireland list. But it’s up to him to keep his spot!

Obviously, the Sheltie can’t go with Domer to his audition several weeks down the road, but I suspect he’ll be there in spirit. And Domer will have a hard time playing a note without hearing his trusty sidekick singing along!

Tell me, Does your dog sing?

Do These Shoes Make My Feet Look Big?

Last year, Domer’s roommate was a shoe-a-holic.

A male shoe-a-holic.

This guy must have had several dozen pairs of shoes, from casual to fashionable. Some he kept around simply because he didn’t mind if they got muddy; others had the kind of sole that made Band practice (and that special hike-step) a breeze; still more were for show, to prove he was a “hip” kind of fella.

And that’s just fine. To each, his own.

Up to now Domer hasn’t been what you’d call a “shoe kind of guy.”

Oh, he wears them (just not around the house), and he’s fussy about the brand name (NO New Balance, thank you very much!). But his needs are pretty basic — “every day” shoes, shoes for tennis, sandals, and dress shoes — nothing close to what his shoe-a-holic roommate needed.

When he was little, Domer liked character shoes — featuring Pokemon, or whatever was popular at late summer when we’d buy shoes for the coming school year.

As he got into middle and high school, he bought what his friends were buying — usually Nikes in traditional colors of royal blue, black, silver, and white. That didn’t change much when he went off to college, although the brand-of-choice became Asics.

Then I was able to pick out and buy his shoes when he needed them. I knew his taste (and my price range!), so we were good to go.

No more.

During Spring Semester, he texted me that his Asics were showing signs of wear and tear. ‘I need some shoes,’ he told me.

So I went shopping. Took photo after photo on my camera phone and sent them to him.

Nothing clicked.

‘Maybe you’d better let me pick them out,’ he suggested.

‘Just tell me what you want, and I’ll get it,’ I offered.

No dice.

So the other evening we went shopping, and these were what he had to have:

Adidas Climacool Seduction in “Electricity”

At least you can see him coming, right?!

Some Like it Hot

Those who forecast the weather are gloating over a recent break in our Midwestern heat (like they had something to do with it!)

Temps that were hanging in the high 90s and low 100s have dropped — finally! — to a more reasonable low 90s.

So far, so good. What they fail to mention is how dry it is.

I’m not a farmer, and I can’t find any data to corroborate this, but I’m calling it a drought. If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck!

While parts of Illinois benefited from the passage of a cold front (and its accompanying storms), we did not. No rain for weeks on end.

Oddly enough, our plants seem to recognize the difference between Mother Nature’s drenching and the stream from a garden hose.

Since a picture is better than my rambling and complaining about it, take a look and see for yourself:

Wonder if our Kentucky Bluegrass will turn green again?

Big ole cracks where grass is supposed to be

This redbud, I’m afraid, has seen its last days

Weeds seem to love this dry heat!

Now, lest you think all is lost, let me contrast this dire picture with some that show what happens when plants do get water (even if it’s from a hose!):

Aren’t these beautiful and happy-looking?

Snapdragons in full bloom love the sun

Vinca, another sun-loving flower

My crepe myrtle — yes, it should be pruned, but that’s a chore for late winter. Isn’t it magnificent, though?

Back From Vacation

I just got back from a ten-day “vacation” along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and I’m eager to share some of the sights that caught my attention.

Before I do, I’ll bet you’re wondering why I put vacation in quotation marks, aren’t you?

The simple answer is that I don’t really consider it a vacation. To me, vacations involve going some place you haven’t been before, seeing scenery and people you haven’t seen before, perhaps sitting on a beach or poolside with a tall, cold drink decorated by a paper umbrella.

And resting. Lots of lazing around, resting.

This trip wasn’t like that.

First off, it was Mom’s trip. She wanted to go south to visit relatives and check on her other home.

Problem is, Mon doesn’t drive. She needed a chauffeur, and I drew the short straw.

Actually, I drew the only straw — Domer had to stay here and work at his internship; the Sheltie elected to stay with Domer.

Now driving Mom on long trips is an exercise in patience:

  • she has a bladder the size of a Lima bean, necessitating frequent potty breaks
  • she’s reached the age where she can’t lift heavy things like suitcases
  • she insists the trip be broken into two days with a motel overnight stay
  • motel room must be lit and warm for her comfort
  • she snores!

There was LOTS to do once we arrived — clean the house, visit kith and kin, buy groceries and supplies, make sure everything is working the way it’s supposed to (call repairmen as necessary), etc. I did manage to post a few blogs and work on my novel, as well as address my company Christmas cards (really!), so it wasn’t a complete waste of time.

Anyway, you wanted to see pictures, so here you go:

Turtle

1) I found this turtle hanging around the front yard one morning. He stuck his head out long enough to peek at me, then promptly retreated to his shell. When I returned from my walk, he was gone!

Heron

2) This is a heron of some sort. I couldn’t get close enough to determine whether he was a blue heron or another variety. Nevertheless, he spent a lot of time perched on this dock, probably looking for food. Wonder what the Sheltie would do with long-legged birds to chase?!

Dock

3) Beautiful, isn’t it? Living in a land-locked area the way I do, I find being next to the water restful (just not during Hurricane Season!)

Tell me, have you gone on vacation yet this summer? What interesting things did you see and do?

Beaded Jewelry, Part Two

I figured it was time for another beaded jewelry blog so here goes (for those who don’t appreciate beads and jewelry, come back another day, okay?):

Aventurine and silver bracelet

1) This bracelet is silver with a toggle clasp and pale green beads of Aventurine. Also known as Adventurine, this gemstone is said to bring good luck, particularly in financial matters. Who doesn’t need good luck there?? Aventurine stimulates creativity and intelligence, too, so perhaps I should glue it to my wrist!

“Y” necklace

2) Next is a silver chain Y-necklace, approximately 12 inches in length. Named for the way it forms a letter Y around the face, this style of necklace gained popularity two decades(!) ago with TV shows like Melrose Place and Friends. I’ve been seeing quite a few of them in jewelry stores lately, so it must be making a comeback (if it ever left!) Anyway, mine features 6mm peach and forest green beads, interspersed with faux pearl and peach beads. Its matching earrings dangle about two inches in length and have a fishhook ear wire.

Lapis chandelier earrings

3) Chandeliers, again! This pair, frankly, was a horror to make, thanks to the teeny-tiny space for inserting the beads. Nine dark blue (well, in reality, they’re darker than the picture!) lapis lazuli beads decorate this delicate silver-shaped piece, bringing the total earring length to about three inches. A leverback ear wire provides safety from accidental loss. Surprisingly, this pair is lighter than it looks and, because of all the lapis beads, it makes a delightful tinkling sound when your head moves. By the way, lapis lazuli is a perfect gemstone for emotional healing and stability. Also, it’s said to cleanse the spirit, bringing out inner truth and peace.

Anklet

4) This is an anklet in natural shell stones and various colorful beads. The clasp is interesting in that you unscrew one silver piece from the other to open it, then screw them back together to close. I imagine that would make for a very secure piece of jewelry. I photographed it on a beach towel because to me, these khaki-colored shells scream for a suntan (yes, even a “bottle tan” will suffice!); besides, anklet bracelets are made for sandals, not snow boots!

That’s all for now. I’ll post some more pieces at a later date, if anyone shows interest in seeing them!

Here Comes The Clown

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not an art critic.

But even somebody who does good to draw stick people is able to recognize what she likes.

Or doesn’t like.

Take a look at the following picture, for example:

Clown figurine

This little statuette depicts a clown (or mime) kneeling on a stand of some sort, holding a parasol in one hand and a bird in the other. If you turn the circular base, it plays a somewhat scratchy version of Stephen Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns” from the Broadway musical A Little Night Music.

Lovely song. Sad. A song of regret and the disappointments of life.

But as people who know me realize by now — Clowns. Creep. Me. Out.

Mimes, too.

I don’t have a true phobia (panic attacks, heart racing, etc.), but I don’t like them. And if I have to bypass attending the circus when it comes to town, well, that’s okay.

Fear of clowns, called “Coulrophobia,” is actually more common than one might think. Some say it’s because clowns — with their made-up facial expressions — are able to mask what they’re really feeling.

That works for me.

Others blame it on scary novels about killer clowns like Stephen King’s “It,” or on real killers like John Wayne Gacy.

That makes sense, too.

There’s a ginormous word for fear of mimes — Metamfiezomaiophobia. That, too, is supposed to be related to their blank expressions, monochromatic wardrobe choices, and pantomiming expressions.

Whatever.

Psychologists can theorize all they want as to the reasons people fear clowns or mimes. And they can try every trick in the book to eradicate it in those who find such fear paralyzing.

Doesn’t matter. Clowns and mimes are still creepy.

I found this statuette lurking in one of my mom’s closets during a trip to her Gulfport, MS, house. By the looks of it (and the dust clinging to it), it’s been in there for a while.

Don’t say I told you so, but my guess is Domer put it in there when he was a child (or had me stash it there for him).

He, too, doesn’t like clowns. Or mimes.

Somebody well-versed in objects like this (Antiques Roadshow, perhaps) might consider it a gold mine, but I don’t want it.

I don’t want anything to do with it!

So, Sis, if you’re reading, start looking for a place to exhibit Mr. Clown one of these days when you inherit him, okay? Because as far as I’m concerned, he’s got your name written all over him!