Fool Me Once ……

…… shame on you.
Fool me twice …… then I’m an idiot.

Nice try, Ms. GPS. Nice try.

I got in my car today to head to Waco. But first I checked Google Maps. I know some people have problems with that site, but in NY …… I live by Google Maps. They haven’t failed me yet.
Unlike a certain evil car GPS.

When ie got into the car I entered my destination into said GPS. She came back with three very similar routes to Waco.
Each one had a similar time frame for the route.
Each one of those would take me 5 1/2 hours.
Over two hours longer than it actually takes to get there.
The Google Maps time frame?
Three hours and fifteen minutes.
Guess which routes I didn’t use?

I’m perplexed and flummoxed over this stupid GPS. OK, I’m not really flummoxed …… I just wanted to use that word. Were you impressed?

This is a new car. All things inside that car should work, and work flawlessly. I don’t think that wanting a GPS that doesn’t hate me is asking for a lot.
But at least I’m not alone. Several of you seem to have the same evil GPS, or her equally evil twin.

And yes, she gives me preferences. Like “use highways”. Or at least she pretends to. I gave her several chances to change her routes to add a major highway (I-45 for all you Texans), but she flat out refused.
What. The. Heck??

So my phone and Google got me to Daughter #2’s house …… safely and quickly. Well, as quickly as 3 hours and 15 minutes can be.

I had a happy/sad moment as I passed the statue of Sam (Houston, for all you non-Texans. Otherwise known as foreigners.) Jim used to lead the whole family in a chorus of “Good-bye, Sam!” as we headed north on trips. We also told him hello on our return trips.
I miss him when I drive by Sam.
But I love the memories.

Speaking of heading north, I’m finally going back to NY in a few weeks! I’ve been going through major withdrawl. I need to see a Broadway show soon or I just might snap.
And no one wants that to happen.
Ask my kids.

Ok, I just noticed that it’s 12:30 a.m.
I thought it was closer to 11.
It’s been a longer day than I thought it was.

Y’all have a good weekend.
And stay on your toes if you use your GPS.
I think they’re trying to take over the world.
Or maybe just Texas.
:)

My GPS ……

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…… is trying to kill me.
Seriously.

Last night I drove downtown to meet up with a fellow widowed friend who’s in town for business (Hi M!).
I made it downtown with no problems, but that was only because I completely ignored the directions I was being given.
The GPS told me to get off of the highway about 10 miles before my destination. Which kind of surprised me. Thankfully, I know enough about this city to know that was NOT the way I wanted to go.

Unfortunately, I don’t know this city well enough when every other street seems to be closed due to construction.

I made it to my destination, picked up my friend and, after driving around cluelessly for a bit, happened upon a good Texas barbecue restaurant. We had a nice dinner (well, as nice as it can be at a barbecue restaurant) and enjoyed catching up. After a few hours I dropped him off at his hotel.
Then I set my GPS to “Go Home” and that’s when the trouble began.

Downtown is pretty messed up with all of the construction so, in spite of it’s earlier spectacular error, I trusted it.
That will not be happening again.

Ms. GPS (because it’s a female voice and I don’t know if she’s married) gave me 3 different routes to choose from, all of which looked pretty much the same.
I clicked on one and began my trek homeward.
I didn’t get onto a freeway for 30 minutes.
That’s because I was driving through the dregs and bowels and gangland streets of Houston.
I kid you not.

I don’t think it’s a good idea to ever drive through that area alone …… at night …… and in a new car that still has the dealer tags on.

I prayed as I approached every stop light, hoping that they would turn green before I had to stop. Thankfully, I only had to stop twice.
At the first stop someone pulled up next to me. Like, right next to and close …… to me.
I averted my eyes and tried to look tough.
Go ahead. Laugh.
I would if I were you.
I even pretended to chew gum.
Because we all know that all criminals and women who kill chew gum.
What the what??!

I finally made it to the freeway, when I happily shut off Ms. GPS, but not until I told her what I thought of her.
I amy have called her a few names.

I don’t know what’s going on, but she definitely has it in for me.

I’m driving to Waco today.
If you never hear from me again, look for my car.
It’ll probably be with Stephen King.

Home Sick ……

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…… and not liking it.

I haven’t even been here for a week yet and I’m feeling sad more than I’m not.

I love my home, truly love it. And it’s nice to spend time with the boys, even if it’s only a few seconds a day.
But that’s part of the problem. They just come and go and rarely stay. They rarely want to just hang out with mom, which I know is normal.
But normal is lonely.

When I’m in NY I’m alone much of the time, but I don’t feel lonely. I think the loneliness comes from living in a place where I used to be very busy, and had a lot of friends to go out with, or call, or hang with.
When Jim when was alive.
When I was married.

Sometimes it feels gut-wrenching to live in the exact same place, but have a very different life.

When Jim was alive, things were always busy. Granted, the kids were all younger and so there was more to do with them, and we were very involved with our church and our community.
Having a night at home …… a night where we didn’t have to go anywhere …… was wonderful.
Now that’s the only kind of night I have.
And while I like having time to myself, having time 24/7 to myself isn’t wonderful.
Not here, anyway.
Not as long as I can remember how it was …… “before”.

“Before” I had plans all of the time.
“Before” I didn’t have to invite myself over to a friend’s house, or be made to feel that I was.
“Before” I never would’ve thought of taking a taxi home from the airport, because I had no one to call. I wouldn’t have worried that if I called someone for a ride they’d feel that I was using them.

Today was a lovely day …… weather-wise. I sat outside and got some work done and read and studied.
Alone.
I’m finding that when you’re always alone, even the loveliest of days can be painful.

I have been blessed beyond belief in my life. Both in my “before” and in my “after”.
But there are still times …… and there will always be times …… when the pain of missing my “before”, brings tears that blind me to the blessings.
For a while.

Down Time ……

…… in more ways than one.

I returned to Texas from Oregon on Tuesday. I had a nice time being up there. It’s interesting when I hang out with my father, because it helps me to understand where my non-talking tendency comes from. He and I can drive in a car for 2+ hours, or just hang out at his house for a few days and few words are spoken. Even when Son $1 came to join us, we were people of few words.
And it was ok.

I hate being around people who are uncomfortable with silence. I’m not that good at making small talk.
Interestingly enough, this was apparent the morning I left to fly to Oregon. I was at the Houston airport at 6:30 in the morning. An ungodly hour to be anywhere, in my opinion.

I walked into a retail store there to kill some time. As soon as I walked in, the woman who worked there said hello and asked me if I was looking for anything in particular. To which I replied, “No thanks, I’m just looking.” She said ok and then stayed back while I wandered. After about 5 minutes she popped up next to me and asked, “Do you have any questions about anything?”. I said, “No. Thank you.” and continued to wander.
After a few more minutes I decided to purchase something so I took it up to the register. This conversation ensued:
Her: “So, you’re not much of a morning talker are you?”
Me: “I’m not much of a morning anything.”
Her: “Oh, I could tell right away that you weren’t a talker so I knew to just leave you alone. I know that people who aren’t morning people hate it when I try to make conversation with them, so I try to just leave them be. Like I did with you. I’m a morning person, all the way. I could just talk all day long!”
Me: “I haven’t had any coffee yet.”
Her: “Oh, I don’t drink coffee. I don’t think I really need it in the mornings. I just pop right out of bed, ready to go and ready to talk to whoever will listen!”
Me: “Yes, you don’t need to drink coffee.”
Her: “That’s exactly what my friends say. They say, “Please don’t ever start drinking coffee or we’ll never be able to shut you up. Can you believe that? I guess I’m just one of those people who won’t ever need coffee in the morning to wake up. I guess I’ve really never had a problem with that. I’m good with mornings. But I know when I meet someone who’s not and I do my best to just give them some space and let them take their time without badgering them with a lot of questions.”
Me: “Thank you.”

And then she offered me two different bags, like one was so much better than the other, and I was done. And out of there.
I think she was a little sad, because I was the only customer in there.
But by the time I left I had a headache starting.

So anyway ….. I had a good time in Oregon. My father took me for a ride on his Harley and the weather and scenery were beautiful. It’s so peaceful where he lives, next to the McKenzie River.
Son #1 arrived on Saturday so we picked him him, stopped at a grocery store to get some picnic food and then drove out to my sister’s house for a family reunion.
She hosted the first one last year and we both went to it. There were a lot more people this year, and several brought their instruments so we had a few singing sessions, which was very nice.

I met a lot of relatives that I’d never met, let alone heard of, before. Everyone was very nice.
It’s strange to be in a setting where the majority of people know who you are, and know many things about you, but you know none of them.
Very strange.
But we had a good time.

My father took me up to the lava beds up that way and to some falls. We did this the day before S1 arrived. Oregon is absolutely beautiful. The falls were breathtaking.

It was a quiet and restful visit. We didn’t talk a lot, but then we never have. It was nice to just be with him.
Hopefully he liked it, too.

I came back to Texas Tuesday night (Son #1 left Monday). Yesterday (Wednesday) was a weirdly depressing day. I don’t know why, other than leaving Oregon. But I’m not usually emotional when leaving. I just really missed Jim a lot yesterday. I miss him every day, but some days I just miss him to my very core.
This was one of those days.

So I decided to go see a couple of movies: “Lucy” and “And So It Goes”.
“Lucy” was interesting enough, though not all that terrific. I felt like I’d seen most of it on all of the commercials.
“And So It Goes” was very disappointing. I became more depressed the longer I sat in there. I didn’t enjoy the movie and I kept thinking about leaving. But I knew that if I left I’d just be going home to a quiet house, so I stayed. It never really got any better.
Afterwards I made a big trip to the grocery store before heading home.
And I missed Jim all the more.

Today I got up early so that I could join some neighborhood people in working out with a personal trainer.
And boy was it work!!! One of my new friends kept asking me if I was having fun. I found that working out with this killer trainer, was about as much fun as being in a barre class. It was work. Very hard, difficult work.
The word “fun” never entered my mind.
But it was a good workout so I’ll go back.
Lord help me.

There were about 7 of us there, so it was very nice to finally meet people from the neighborhood. There all very nice and encouraging. I look forward to meeting more.

After that I was too bone-tired to do anything except flop on my bed. I woke up 3 hours later, and even though I felt I could sleep another five, I made myself get up.
I think the traveling is starting to get to me. The last few times I’ve traveled I’ve felt like I was going into a coma because I was so exhausted.
I’m not a happy camper.
I don’t like being that tired.
I don’t like sleeping a day away.
Or even a morning.

OK, time to stop whining and post some pictures.
I hope you enjoy them.
:)

This was taken as we were approaching San Francisco.  Lovely view!
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This is my father’s dog, Rover.  He’s a great dog.
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These are one of my father’s gifts:  he makes great margaritas!
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When Rover likes you, and wants you to pet him, he lies in front of you with one paw on your foot.  And keeps it there.
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This is the Harley.  So fun to ride on …… behind my father.  Not in front. No way.  And most likely, not behind anyone but him.
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This is me, after the Harley ride.  It was great.  And beautiful!!
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These pics are on the old highway to the lava beds.  The two lanes are very, very, VERY narrow as you go up and up and up.  And the edge of the road?  Straight down.  I’ve never felt car sick.  Until this ride.
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This was one out of about a bazillion signs that warned of the curves.
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These are the lava beds …… or at least the beginning of them:
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I loved this picture:  life among death.
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Speaking of life, these chipmunks were hysterical.  They were at a picture stop there and as soon as I got out of the car, they were running straight up to me …… to my feet.  I thought they might start climbing up my legs, which was a bit unsettling.
I happened to have some pretzels left from the flight in, so I hand fed them.  I’ll try to upload the video.
They were SO cute!
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This was a kind of memorial marker that was really cool.  We walked up to it and inside there are several small windows that encircle it.  Each window has a plaque under it that has the name of a mountain.  When you look through that window, you can see that mountain.  It was so neat!
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Inside view:

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This had the name of a crater:
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And there’s the crater:
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There are three mountains there called “The Sisters” and this one had the name, Middle Sister.
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And there she is:
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Here are the other two sisters:
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This is another view of the outside of that marker:
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And here’s the first of the three falls.  They were so beautiful.  You start at the top, where this one is, and then walk, and walk, and walk, and walk down a path that runs along side of them.  Then you come to a middle falls, and then further down, a third falls.  It was absolutely gorgeous.
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This is my sister’s dog, Pendleton.  He has his own bowling ball for a toy.  Yep, a real bowling ball.  Heavy, with three finger holes.  They’ve named it Alice.
He takes great umbridge if anyone gets close to this ball, let alone touches it.
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He turns it over and over and over, using his paws and hit tongue ……
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…… to find those three holes so that he can get his teeth in there juuuust right ……
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…… and then he carries it around.  It’s freakin’ hilarious!!
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Son #1, chillaxin’ at the reunion.
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Making music:
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My feet, freezing in the McKenzie River.
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Dinner on the deck.
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So there you have it. My trip to Oregon.
And now I have to go outside and film this huge lightening storm that’s going on. It looks like there’s a humongus strobe light up in the sky, rather than just lightening.
Weird.

P.S. Here’s the incredibly cute chipmunks. :)

Doe, a Deer ……

…… a dead, dead deer.
Ray, the sun which made it smell.
Me, someone, who’s stuck with it.
Far, I searched both high and low.
So, a neighbor helped me out.
Law, there was no precedent.
Tea, I don’t like anyway.
And that brings us back to doe.
Doe, ray, me, far, so, law, tea, doe, buried doe.

You can’t get entertainment like that every day.
You’re welcome.

So, yeah. For those of you who aren’t on Face Book with me, I had a dead doe in my yard. Or at least, close to my yard.
I received a boat load of advice from friends on FB, none of which was any help.
Mostly because people found it hilarious.

I called Animal Control.
Well, I tried to call Animal Control.
It seems that the city of Houston doesn’t think that wild life dies on weekends.
When I finally got ahold of someone Monday morning, she told me to drag it to the curb and let the trash collectors pick it up.

This woman has no idea. I’ve received two “formal notices” in the mail because my family has parked in the street sometimes. The third notice comes with a fine.
Welcome to the neighborhood!!!

So yeah, I can just picture the apoplexy that would occur if I managed to drag a dead deer, with two huge, gaping holes in it, to my curb.
Pitchforks and hot tar would be made ready.

Thankfully, a friend who lives in this community (not on my street) happened to stop by on Sunday and I showed her the dead deer.
The next day she brought her gardener over and he agreed to bury it for me. For a small fee.
I would’ve paid a large fee because by that time, the stench was pretty overwhelming.
He buried it …… with a whole bottle of bleach.
Voila! No deer and no more smell.

Of course, we have all kinds of predators (thus, the gaping holes) who might decide to un-bury her, but I hope not.

On the positive side, I’m leaving in the morning for Oregon, so if she is un-buried, I won’t be here to know.
Score!

On the negative side, I have to get up at five-freakin’-o’clock in morning. We all know that I am not a morning person.
By any stretch of the imagination.

I’m flying in to San Francisco, where I wish I had time to roam, but I think it’s a quick turn around.
Oregon is usually a breath of cool air. But this weekend?
This weekend it’s supposed to be in the 90’s.
Of course it is.

Son #1 is joining me there for the weekend so I’m glad I’ll be able to spend some time with him.
And of course I’m glad to be able to spend some time with my family up there.

And in the latest news …… I’ve pretty much decided to toss my hair (no, it’s not long enough to toss, but work with me) at the state of NY and just not worry about the tax situation any longer. I’d been mulling that over and then a friend sent me an email tonight, telling me that her accountant told her what percentage the tax is, and it’s not all that much (she’s also wanting to live there part time).
It’s been such a pain to have to worry about how many days I’ve spent there, and keeping track of that. It’s kind of taken the fun out of it. Her email confirmed that for me, and helped me make the decision to just go with it. If I want to be in NY, I’m going to be in NY.

And yes, I’m quite aware of how very blessed I am to have these petty things to think about.

In real estate news …… I received an offer on my house last night (though I didn’t know it until today).
Before you all start to cheer …… it was insulting.

A few weeks ago I decided to lower the price of the house, so that the price would reflect any needed updating and/or repairs. It’s at a terrific price for its size.

The offer today was $80,0000 freakin’ less than that.
And get this …… they justified that amount because they want to renovate the master bath (you know, that same master bath I renovated completely a few years ago), plus some other things they want to do.
Now truly, it doesn’t bother me that they don’t like the bathroom. I’m pretty much over that house now. But there’s not a need to renovate it. Just as there’s not a need to sand ALL of the floors (wood floors which were also put in, all over the entire house) a few years ago, so that they all match. I’m not sure how that’s possible since the kitchen has tile that looks like wood.
Another thing that’s not necessary.

I think I’ve lowered the price to beyond fair, and I’m not using my money for them to change things up.
Not $80,0000 worth.

So my friend/realtor asked if I had a number I’d be comfortable with to counter. “Yes”, I said. And I gave her the asking price.
I figure if they really want the house, they’ll come back with a less-insulting offer. If not, I don’t give a damn.

So there you go. The good (trip to Oregon), the bad (my Sound of Music rendition) and the ugly (the offer on the house).

And now I must finish watching “America’s Got Talent” (can you believe that 12 year old girl’s voice??!) and finish packing.
Five o’clock comes pretty early around here.

Happy Tuesday/Wednesday, Peeps.
:)

Spice Cake and Tears ……

…… are on tap for today.

But before I get into that I need to tell you that I’m multi-tasking while writing this.
I’m writing …… and I’m completely NOT dealing with the fact that there’s a good-sized, once-beautiful, now-horrifically-smelling, dead deer in my yard.

It’s back there:
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I’ll spare you the details.
You’re welcome.

Back to the title.

Today is Son #2’s twenty second birthday.
Some days it’s impossible to believe that my children are the age they are. Other days I feel like I must be a million years old.
These past six years their birthdays have brought me smiles, as well as tears.
Tears for the same four words, over and over and over.
Jim.
Should.
Be.
Here.

But the smiles …… the smiles come easier now.
Especially this day.
This day contains hilarious memories.
Oh, they weren’t so hilarious when they were actually being made, at least not to me.

You see, Son #2 was due on July 11th. That would’ve been a cool birthday … 7/11.
But he, as well as 4 of his siblings, decided to take his damn sweet time before being born.

I had a doctor’s appointment on Friday, July 17th. My dr. told me that if I didn’t go into labor over the weekend, he’d start an induction on Monday. I asked if Jim should take off work to be there. He assured me that this induction (the application of a prostaglandin gel) would be slow. I’d go home and “hopefully” go into labor after 24 hours. But I’d most likely have to have this procedure done again a couple of days later. No need for a husband or a packed suitcase.

Now I have to take a moment to remind you that we lived in Houston. And July in Houston is about as close to hell as I ever want to get.
But I got out in the sweltering heat. I rode my bike. I walked. I ate shrimp by the pound (we went to a shrimp boil the month before, and a good friend went into labor right afterwards. She encouraged me to eat shrimp). Poor Jim, he brought home every kind of shrimp he could find for a few nights.
Nothing.

So I went into the office on Monday and he sent me over to the hospital to have the gel applied. The woman in the next room was also having this done. For the third time.
Poor her.

So the dr. came in, applied the gel, told me to stay down for thirty minutes and then go home. And he went back to the office.

Within five minutes I knew that I wasn’t going anywhere.
That damn gel didn’t get the notice that it was supposed to be slow-acting.
One of the nurses came in to check on me and I was Lamaze-style breathing. I asked through gritted teeth, “When can I get an epidural?!”, to which she replied, “Well, we have to make sure you’re in real labor before we can talk about that.”
If I hadn’t been breathing so hard I think I would’ve hauled off and smacked her.
She put a belt on me to measure the contractions and keep track of the heart rate. Then she said that she’d be back in 15-20 minutes to see if anything was happening.
I told her that since this was my fifth child, fourth pregnancy, I think I could pretty much give her an official opinion that this was indeed labor.
She just smiled at me like I was a small child and said, “We’ll see.”

After she left I called Jim’s office. His secretary answered. Bless her heart, every time I called him in that month she’d ask, “Is this it?!”. And it never was.
This time she informed me that he was out of the office. He’d gone to lunch with some clients. She asked, “Should I get a hold of him?” I’m pretty sure it was the panting and heavy breathing that caught her attention. Or the pauses in the conversation when I’d breathe out … “just a sec …”, hold the phone away and either breathe or swear.
I finally told her that, yes, she needed to get ahold of him right away.
So she put me on hold and called his cell. When the call transferred over Jim said, “Hello?” I could tell that he was in a restaurant. I could hear gentle laughter and conversations. I could hear the tinkling sound of silverware on plates and glass ware.
It didn’t make me all that happy.

I said, “Hi, you need to come to the hospital, I’m in labor.” There was a small pause. Then the man actually said …… “But they’re getting ready to serve dessert. And it’s spice cake.”

I’ll let you sit with that for a while.

Done laughing?
I didn’t think you were.

Yes, the man loved spice cake. But REALLY?!! I’d been having contractions on top of contractions for about 30 minutes and could hardly talk. But I did manage to tell him what he could do with the spice cake if he didn’t get there soon.

I then hung up and kept requesting an epidural in spite of all the collective birthing knowledge out at the nurses station. The nurse finally came in to check me and said, “Yep, you’re in labor all right. Looks like it’s going fast.”
If looks could kill there would’ve been one less nurse in Labor and Delivery that day.

The contractions came on so fast and were so hard that I just couldn’t get on top of them. No matter what breathing method I used. Or didn’t use. Evidently I wasn’t being all that quiet.
Jim later told me that as he was walking down the hall toward the room, he could hear yelling and crying. He nervously asked a nurse, “Is that Mrs. E?”, to which she replied, “Yep.”
I think he knew at that point that he was in trouble.

I knew that he was in trouble the moment he walked into the room, as they were giving me the epidural. He was carrying my bag (yes, that was sweet) and he was wearing shorts and a baseball cap.
I, or some demon who had take over my body, roared, “You went home and changed clothes??!!!!!”, to which he replied, “I thought I’d have time. These things are usually slow going.”

Forty five minutes later, Son #2 was born.
Yes, I soon forgave Jim for almost missing the birth of our son.
I’m not sure how long it took him to get over missing that spice cake.

We were in Oregon the next year when Son #2 turned one. I spent two days searching surrounding stores for spice cake.
Alas, I was not successful, but he was ok with it.
He got it for his birthday.
Every year.

God, I miss that man.

Jim, snoozing after a rough day of missing out on dessert.
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Son #2 at 5 months:
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Son #1 on his first birthday, out in an Oregon forest.
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Buds:
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Sleeping buds (as Jim was with every baby):
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Swimming, at less than one year.
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Happy Birthday, P. I love you to the moon and back.
And so does Dad.
<3 <3 <3