Monday, September 29, 2008

Charles the Great

Grandpa, Granny Karen and a whole new batch of FEMA deployment tales have arrived.

He's got a van named Jeremiah, a GPS named Maggie and the last surviving collection of patriotic marches on cassette. If you're really lucky, you'll get blow-by-blow accounts of the very best Pensacola dining experiences and which store in town has the best price per pound on ground beef.

You know, for those times when you're there and need to know that stuff.

It's all part of his charm. Really.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Words and paper

I love paper. Always have. I love words even more.

At 16, I covered a massive cork board (6' x 8') in my bedroom with colorful wrapping paper. I separated it into different areas with paper frames, journaling and embellishments to highlight the important stuff in my life at the time -- high school band, golf team, my car, my friends, prom -- and it became a scrapbook of sorts.

When Mr. O and I got married, I composed the wording and made our wedding invitations. There were 110 of them, and each one was created using 14 individual pieces of paper and ribbon. Yeah, I know. A bit much.

I also made birth announcements when MiniMe was born. Getting them actually sent was a whole separate challenge.

My biggest downfall? Patterned tissue paper and gift bags. Mr. O can snarlingly confirm that there are hundreds of packages of tissue paper and hundreds of gift bags in my storage room.

And now I make my living by writing about paper crafting.

Did you just hear angels trumpeting halleluja from the heavens? No? Maybe it was just me.

There's even a day set aside each year just to promote card making (World Card Making Day! Really!). Occasionally, I'll get to do something fun -- maybe give away a special issue.

Like this one:

I have one, right here. Okay, that one is mine. But I do have a nice clean copy to give away. To anyone, anyone at all.

All you have to do is leave a comment. I'll choose between the two of you by drawing straws.

I crack myself up sometimes.

Friday, September 26, 2008

She TOTALLY gets it

Remember, she's six. Six years old.

My office. My chair. My iphone. Texting her friend Jazmine. Feet up on desk.

I am SO in trouble with this one.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Mom! There's a duck in the backyard!

Me: [hollering from the office while typing] Where?

MiniMe: By the pool!

Me: [with angst over what the duck may have left floating for us in the pool] I'm coming!

Sure enough, there was a duck.

As we approached her, she hissed at us -- which I knew meant that Mama Duck had a nest nearby. She ran, then flew, away. An attempt to lead us away from where her eggs may have been, I'm sure.

As I walked back to the house with MiniMe, we talked about the possibilities of ducklings hatching from the eggs in the as yet unlocated nest. To her desperate pleas, I promised her that I would keep an eye out for Mama Duck so we could maybe get a glimpse of the nest or -- gasp! -- even the ducklings when (or if) they arrived on scene.



That sound. I stopped in my tracks. Suddenly I was 10 years old again, and my sister and I were spending March and April as we always did -- with my maternal grandparents in their "winter home."

Being a retirement community, neighborhood kids were few and far between and we were pretty creative in the ways we found to entertain ourselves. Our best friends? The ducks. These tame and very curious creatures hung around for the old bread we would feed them, and in general were always way too close to the house for my grandfather's liking. His main gripe? When food goes in one end of a duck, it invariably comes out the other end...which was likely on the front or back porch where he had to scrub it away with the hose and a stiff brush.

Although the big ducks were fun to feed and chase, our end game was always the ducklings. Much to my grandparents' dismay, there were many meals interrupted as we jumped up from the dining room table because we saw a Mama Duck and her string of babies swimming by in the canal outside the window. Our delight in dashing out with bread to feed the babies was matched by Mama Duck's eagerness to bring them over for a tasty little snack.


It's a sound that brings me back to those days of my childhood.

I had to investigate.

peep!peep! the pool...


Closer to the fence...hmmm...on the other side of the fence...?


Wha...? Coming from the ground...?

Oh, my.

Now what?

Did she hide them there? Or was her nest in there and they are recent hatchlings? Did they fall in and now can't get out?

We ultimately decided to give Mama Duck time to come back so we could see how she behaved and if she joined them in the hole.

She did come back, settled herself next to the hole, and was stressed. Seriously stressed.

We determined that she needed her babies out of the hole pronto, so Mr. O. donned a glove and retrieved all 8 of her little ones from their safe but unintentional temporary home.

After a glorious reunion, the ducklings formed their line behind Mama Duck and meandered their way out of our yard and over to our neighbor's garden (a veritable Disney for ducklings, if I were one).

Mr. O reported the next morning that he saw the happy family down the block at the neighborhood park under the huge cottonwood trees.

We haven't seen them since.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Full Circle

Right place, right time.

Sometimes? It's not such a good thing.

For fifteen years the right place, right time thread that became the fabric of my career has taken me down a marketing path and away from where my heart wanted to go all those years back.

But back then, the economics of being a journalist never sat well with me. I guess my passion wasn't authentic enough to overcome what I thought was a need to support a few material habits. Instead, I climbed straight to the summit of my own professional hell in golden handcuffs.

I escaped, but it wasn't without consequence.

The last few years I've found that when I can't save my own self, there are powers elsewhere that help me find my way. This time, I couldn't ignore opportunity when it came -- not knocking, but pounding -- on my door. I threw that door open with a great. big. happy. smile.

I have come back to where I could have been, should have been, wanted to be all those years ago. With a team who is unbelievably passionate, incredibly talented, and just a whole lot of fun to be around.

And? They love my hobby.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sunflowers to the Max

September 5th. September 11th. Sunflowers. Max, Sr.

So much remembering to do on this day.
It was 8 years ago today that we had a birthday dinner. A dinner for a man who had missed his 68th birthday by 6 days. A birthday that would, the next year, become forever associated with an act of terrorism that was beyond comprehension.

Yesterday I reminded Mr. Outdoors that he should send his mother a note today.

"Why?" he asked.

"It's your dad's birthday," I reminded him.

He was silent.

Both of us went back to the spring and summer of 2000 in our own way. Him, through a maze of memories over his 42 years, both pleasant and uncomfortable. Me, with a very short history and an intense 5 months of absorbing every bit of a lifetime that was to end way too soon.

I used to spend my lunch hour with my father in law. We sat, on the small wood deck off the sliding doors, looking at the mountains. I brought KFC chicken wings for him -- it was all his chemotherapy-ravaged system craved. There was a standing appointment, one that nothing in my professional life could trump.

He told me stories -- about his life in the shipping and oil rig business, about the son he raised and who I would eventually marry, about all the time he spent shooting -- and I listened. Occasionally there would be a trinket brought forth to punctuate the tale. One afternoon I was very late getting back to the office because I sat, cross-legged on the floor, with all of his shooting medals spread around me as he explained where he was and who he was with when he won each of them.

The call came around dinner time. He had not awakened from an afternoon nap. We knew. Deep down, we knew what would be waiting for us when we got to their house. We hoped not, but we understood that his time had come.

It was September 5th. Earlier in the day we had discussed what we could do for his upcoming birthday, but most of my ideas were feeble -- he could not stand for long, and the indignity of being propped heavily as he walked from the car to a destination was more than he was willing to accept.

He helped us out of a jam. He allowed us to have a cheese fondue with cucumber salad at home 6 days later, quietly toasting him with tears and stories for his 68th birthday.

We had a vase with wild sunflowers on the table. Sunflowers just like the ones he picked for me two years prior, when he gruffly but genuinely accepted me as the one his son had chosen. He had stopped by the side of the road and, with his ever-present Swiss Army knife, sliced off in matching lengths a bouquet of the flowers I had mentioned in passing a few days earlier.
The gesture was lost on me at the time, but the memory is more powerful than that moment. Every September these wild, strong and handsome flowers remind me of an adventurous, resilient and rugged man. I'm married to his son, and am mother to his grandson.

My son, his namesake.

He is missed.