Wishing my Phone would Ring

I never thought I’d be this way.

Irritable. Scatter-brained.

I could blame it on lack of sleep, and that would be true.

I could blame it on this seemingly unending heat. True, also.

But digging deeper, I find the real source of my mood.

It’s Domer.

My darling son. He who is the apple of my eye.

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Sneaking Peas

As another back-to-school season begins, I’m reminded of one day during my elementary school years — a day when my pickiness nearly got the best of me.

I attended Catholic school. Nuns in full habit were our teachers, for the most part, and Mass was required a couple of times a week.

Lunch hour consisted of a hot meal. No brown bags.

The hair-netted lunch ladies would ladle out our food on trays, with separated portions for the veggies, fruit, main meat, etc.

Sometimes it was good. Other times, it was awful.

This one day was of the latter.

Peas were on the menu.

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New stage in life — Empty Nest

My Favorite Domer called the other night and pointed out that his younger friends were gradually migrating back to Notre Dame for Band Camp and another school term.

And despite his beginning to enjoy life in the Working World, he’s verklempt over not being on campus. After all, this is his first year on the other side of college, and he’s discovering just how much he’s going to miss it.

I know exactly what he’s feeling. I’ve been having some of the same emotions.

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Stop the Madness!

I just read that a group of teenagers — bored and looking for something “fun” to do — shot and killed a senior college student as he was jogging through an Oklahoma neighborhood.

He was a baseball player, and he and his girlfriend had returned to the States a week earlier from a trip to Australia, where his home was.

The trio involved in the killing, police say, are between 15 and 17 years old and shot the jogger in the back.

If that doesn’t make your blood boil, nothing will.

When are we going to stop the senseless violence — targeted too often against the young and innocent — in this country?

Now before I hop on my soapbox, I have to admit I firmly believe in the Bill of Rights, including the Second Amendment (the right to keep and bear arms). But that right was never intended, I’m pretty sure, to justify the killing of an innocent human being “just because.”

No, that Amendment was designed as a way for citizens to protect themselves and their communities from unlawful takeover by the government.

Every night we’re exposed to more stories on TV news about shootings and killings in our cities, and it distresses me.

Living just a few hours from Chicago (where more than 250 people have been gunned down this year alone), I listen in shock.

Just last night, another round of killings took place. This time, five men were shot along a route Chicago Public Schools had designated as a Safe Passage for kids.

Gang violence, they supposed.

How ridiculous!

Can’t we see what’s happening? We’re killing off our young people, our future. The promise of tomorrow.

And the ones we don’t kill we’re exposing to a level of violence and meanness their little spirits should never have to face.

Especially not at such tender ages.

I don’t know what the solution is, but somebody had better come up with one. And fast.

We can ill afford this lifestyle.


A Sunday Treat

Dallas here.

Sunday was the Best. Day. Ever.

Mama went to the freezer and busted out one of the Big Bones she gets from the lady who bred me.

I couldn’t believe it!

It’s been a while since I had a Big Bone, but I haven’t forgotten how yummy one is.

Or what to do with it!

Om nom nom!

Om nom nom!

I know you people probably think it looks gross. But it was the best!

Show this picture to your doggie pals and see if they don’t agree:

What a lovely surprise!

What a lovely surprise!

I tell you, there’s nothing better than lying in the cool grass beneath a big old shade tree on a sunny day, chomping on a Big Bone!

Do you see my bone getting smaller?

Do you see my bone getting smaller?

Mama says a Big Bone is the best toothbrush a doggin can get. She knows these things.

Don't look at my feeties -- yes, they're a mess!

Don’t look at my feeties — yes, they’re a mess!

The only thing wrong with a Big Bone, in Mama’s opinion, is what it leaves on my furs. Take a look:

Looks like I got into a street brawl!

Looks like I got into a street brawl!

I’m a sight to behold, aren’t I? And if that’s not bad enough, you ought to smell me!

But Mama dunked my feeties into some warm water in the sink, washed me down good, dried me off, applied some baby powder to mask the “scent,” and gave me a good brushing. It wasn’t a full bath, but it did the trick.

Now I’m all beautiful once more!

Let's do that again soon, Mama!

Let’s do that again soon, Mama!

We all need a day off

Why is it that I wait until I:

  • Just. Can’t. Go. On. Before I take a break?
  • Am. Totally. Exhausted. Before I stop and rest?
  • Feel. Completely. Broken. Before I schedule time away?
Tired. So tired.

Tired. So tired.

Dry. Parched.

Dry. Parched.

Wilting. Wilted.

Wilting. Wilted.

Do you do that, too?

Is it human nature, do you think?

Or are some of us just wired to go until we’re forced to collapse?

Perhaps it comes with being a mom. Doing for your family no matter how tired you might be.

Perhaps it comes with working for (and by) yourself. Knowing that you don’t have employees to pawn work off on, yet realizing the work must be done.

By Thursday night, I felt so spent that I knew my only recourse was to take Friday off.

To renew my psyche.

So I went to the country to visit a friend.

Something about fields of corn and soybeans in full growth mode soothes my soul.

Soybean field.

Soybean field.

We sat outside. And swung. And watched her puppies.

The air smelled clean. The trees swayed in a gentle cool breeze. The sun warmed our arms and faces.

Maple shade tree.

Maple shade tree.

Then we did a bit of shopping.

I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, so I felt no urge to buy. Just to look. And, as my sister says, To touch and roll the pretty things.

To soak in the colors and materials. To anticipate the changing of the seasons based on the items displayed.

And that night I slept the sleep of an old dog — deep, refreshing, rejuvenating. Like flowers after a soaking rain.

Colorful vinca.

Colorful vinca.

Purple petunias.

Purple petunias.

Since it feels so good to take a vacation day now and then, I wonder why it takes so long for me to take one?

What’s stopping you from enjoying the present?

Just a little change??

The other day, Mom and I took her Fancy Pants car in for service and after they finished, we decided to do a bit of shopping.

Now the morning had been beautiful, but by afternoon, storm clouds were gathering. And we were eager to get home before the skies opened.

As we were making our way across a parking lot to the car, I noticed a woman standing around. I didn’t pay her much attention, but she zeroed in on us and came right over.

“I hate to ask this, but I was supposed to donate plasma and that fell through. Now I need gas money to get home. Would you happen to have a few extra dollars to give me?”

WHAT?? A panhandler in the parking lot of a major department store?

“I’m sorry,” I told her. “I can’t do that.”

And I raced for Fancy Pants, leaving Mom — who hadn’t heard this exchange — with her mouth agape.

“What did she want?” Mom asked, as I threw the car into reverse and flew out of there.

I told her the story and glanced back to see the woman pull a new-model cell phone from her pocket and start using it.

Hmm, what’s wrong with this picture?!

Here’s a woman who claims she doesn’t have money for gas, but somehow manages to get to the mall toting a new phone??

It smelled like a scam to me.

I know times are tough, people are hurting, the economy is struggling, etc. But my late dad used to tell me stories of the Great Depression years.

When people were really hurting.

And he pointed out that NOBODY would beg for money without offering to exchange a good or service for it.

Like, if you had a laying hen and needed fresh milk for the kids, you’d barter and exchange with your neighbor who had a cow.

Everybody got what they needed; everybody saved face.

So when did it become okay to simply beg from strangers?

And why do we permit able-bodied folks to panhandle rather than working at legitimate jobs?

Perhaps because we’ve made it so lucrative. If you can get past the pride thing, you know.

But I find that rather sad, don’t you?

Casting off a burden

Hindsight is always twenty-twenty, or so they say.

But even a crystal ball wouldn’t have kept me from shooting myself in the foot last week.

You see, I’ve had a certain client for five or six years. I not only designed his Website but also have maintained it with additions, updates, etc.

I thought we had a good working relationship.

But back in the Spring, a new fellow came on board. And started talking about “making some changes.”

Since the client is located far away from me, I figured he’d want to hire somebody local. Somebody who could be at his beck and call whenever he needed them.

I redoubled my efforts to keep him happy, doing updates the minute I got them, writing off time to keep my fees low.

Mistake No. 1. People never appreciate largesse.

And too often, the giver ends up feeling resentment.

Anyway, while I was out of town over the weekend helping Domer, this client emailed me something, noting it had to be published to the Website by a certain time on Saturday. But I’d left my laptop at home and didn’t get his message until Tuesday.

I shot him an apology email, to which he curtly responded that it was “okay this time,” but I shouldn’t let it happen again.


The Fighting Irish and the Short-fused Italian in me exploded!

No way do I envision being chained to my computer 24/7/365. Yet that’s what it would mean, if I had to be on call for this one client.

Not to mention, how can I justify shoving my other clients aside, in favor of one who claims his work should take precedence?

So I fired him.

Mistake No. 2? You decide.

I wrote a scathing email, rewrote it (toning it down) two times, then, with a quick prayer, hit the Send button.

And worried.

Had I been too hasty? He was a paying client, after all, even if he was a slow payer.

Should I have tried to hammer out our differences over the phone? Right, and risk screaming like a Banshee at him!

What if I’d just reminded him I’m not his full time flunky? That I, too, have a life outside work? I doubt he’d have cared.

But I at least should have acknowledged my part in this and not let the resentment build to the boiling point.

Oh, well, what’s done is done. Part of me regrets my decision; the other part is jubilant over the freed-up time and emotion I’m left with.

I read something in this morning’s paper that resonated with me. “Sometimes you have to take a few things off your plate to make room for new opportunities that may arise.”

Lucille Ball said it another way. “I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done.”

So, without this albatross hanging from my neck, maybe I can finally find time to finish my novel!

What do you think?

Bye Bye Birdie

Some of you have been kind enough to wonder where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to for the past few days.

A few have even admitted to worrying about me.

Cool! Thanks for the concern. Things have been crazy here, with little slowdown expected in the foreseeable future, but perhaps if I let you in on the craziness, you won’t worry as much.

I think I mentioned My Favorite Domer has a JOB in the Land of the North, and I’m helping him get settled there.

I’ve made three trips up and back in the last two months, no easy feat as it’s a full day’s travel one way!

This last trip, my mom wanted to tag along.

Traveling with Mom is a nightmare an experience.

At first she thought we might stay at Domer’s new apartment, but I nixed that fast.

She has a bladder the size of a grape; no way would he or I ever see the inside of the bathroom!

So we opted for a hotel.

Now Mom wants her hotel room lit up like an airport runway, hot as a greenhouse, and noisy with her snoring. I need darkness, coolness, and quiet.

It’s useless to complain, so I travel with my MP3 and a stuffed bunny (so I can use his floppy ears to shield my eyes from the light).

Don’t judge — you’d find my routine very relaxing.

Anyway, once we got to Domer’s place, I noticed a bird’s nest right outside his door, just as it had been for my previous trip.

‘Didn’t the babies hatch yet?’ I asked.

‘I think so, but I can’t be sure,’ he said.

These birds (some mysterious species prevalent in the Land of the North) have a proclivity toward SWOOPING at Domer every time he uses the door.

They almost landed in my hair last time, and Domer was horrified.

So he avoids them whenever possible, even to pinpointing their typical swooping hours!

Sorry, Mama Bird, but my son is paying good money to live here, whereas you’re camping out for free. That, in itself, seems wrong, but what’s even more aggravating is for you to be teaching your kids to attack my kid.

And that will never do!

‘I’m going to knock that nest down,’ I told Domer. ‘Those babies should have flown off a long time ago. Perhaps if the nest is gone, they’ll all just go away.’

‘I’m not so sure,’ he told me, reaching into his golf bag and handing me a Seven Iron. ‘But have at it.’

And he opened the door to let me out.

‘You’re not going to help?’ I asked, feeling a momentary panic.

‘Nope,’ was all he said.

From behind the closed door.

‘Just let me know when it’s done,’ he added.

My heart was pounding as I reached up with the club, pushed the nest off the downspout, and, finding it empty, chipped it into some tall grasses.

‘Take that, you beasts,’ I thought.

Moral: Don’t ever mess with this Mama Tiger protecting her cub!