Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The party is so over

Good news: I had a birthday!
Good news: I was taken to lunch!
Good news: I was taken to dinner!
Good news: I was sent flowers!
Good news: I ordered a Kindle!
Good news: I had ice cream!
Good news: It was a wonderful day!

Inevitable news: My flowers are drooping.

Bad news: Gah. Now I'm even older.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I'm still messing with it, but I've registered www.cathyblogs.com as the place to bring all the blogs I somehow feel obligated to write.

Monday, October 19, 2009

With lines in my head


Surely I'm awake
Monday's just a state of mind
--A slap in the face.

Morning moon, don't blink--
That bloody, bruised sunrise brings
Dark violence from the west.

Last night's bright stars
Fell to my yard
First frost.

On Fall

That field of winter wheat
Newly green in January
Fall finds fallow.

Trees drop leaves like tears
A quiet sob of regret
First day of fall .

Drove to work this morning
In a seashell turned upside-down
A sky turned blue and opal pink
Yet not a sea in sight.

Windy this morning
And the moon clung to Venus
As if she could be blown away.

Just a Walk

Voices from a dark deck
Fountains splash in stormwater ponds
The heron doesn't care.

Halogen streetlight outlasts the orange sunset
Someone's dryer freshens the air
Evening in the suburbs.

With John Mayer in my head

Monday, August 31, 2009

O September

O go away, September.
I'm tired of you already;
Tired of your last-holiday-of-summer,
The finality of Labor Day;
Tired of your first-day-of-Autumn
September Twenty-second-ness;
Tired of the back-to-school sales flyers
And the ads for sweaters and backpacks.
I'm tired of the cool fall nights
And the "good sleeping weather" rejoinders.
Tired of football, even, bright lights
And jarring tackles and rah-rah Friday nights.
I'm tired of "The leaves are starting to change!"
Observations, and any references to woolly bears
And their predictions.
Tired, too, of all the "last-of" things,
Last Trip to the Lake,
Last picnic, last swim, last boat ride.
Already I'm tired of thinking about
And all the winteriness ahead,
All the dead leaves and brown grass
And ice.
I'm tired of missing sunny days and warm nights
And fresh tomatos on the vine.
Most of all of I'm tired of dreading
The Official Last Day of Summer,
Even as the mornings shine in my window later
And the evening enroaches earlier.
O come back, Summer!
Don't let September chase you away,
Don't leave me, don't go, please please please
Come back, O Summer! Don't -- go -- just -- yet --

Monday, August 24, 2009

About, Time and Grace--Beck's note to Grace (fragment 5)

I think I left my cell
In the pocket of my jeans
On the chair by the door.
Could you grab it?
Put on the kitchen table,
I'll get it later.
Or put it in your purse
And I'll get it
When we meet.
Answer all my calls, or not--
But remember if you call me
You'll have to answer, too.
Really, just turn it off.
And you know,
Even without the phone,
All day, I'll be thinking of you.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

About getting on the road

A road trip--give me a Diet Coke and a stack of books and I can ride forever.

So I've got some new vampire books to try and plenty of Diet in the cooler.

And passing through Chicago on Lake Shore Drive -- exhilarating:

The city draws us in with a deep breath / We tumble through it, awed / Made small, used up, exhaled

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I was going to write something lyrical and breathtaking

But instead I'm making you watch this.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

About the end of the day

I love it when the day winds down. And I can watch it.
There's a satisfaction in being busy, in filling every moment of the day with work or activity, or whatever. Falling into bed and knowing that you couldn't have packed one more thing in.
But there's something about enjoying the remains of the day. Of just stopping, and watching what's left slip by. Letting things that maybe should be done, just wait. Just for tonight.
I've been out here, on the porch, since six or so--still full light then, and the neighborhood full too of busy-ness. Everybody coming home. Doors. Walks being taken, kids on bikes. Traffic in the distance. A dogs bark.
Me, first with the newspaper, then my book. In and out to fix dinner; a glass of pinot; then just some pink lemonade.
By myself 'til Greg gets home from baseball practice; he stays inside to watch the All Star game.
The book finished, I bring my computer outside. Summer and technology don't mix: A bug crawls in the keyboard. And doesn't come out. Even now, I'm wondering, Where is it? And what's it doing to my laptop?
I get my email. I spent too much time on Facebook accepting people's Mafia Wars requests and sending Farm Town gifts.
I talk to Angela, then Matt, on the phone, planning tomorrow--Harry Potter.
Then I Twitter. God forgive me.
But I'm not so plugged in I miss the day winding down. The light fades. There's a point when twilight comes--it was just a few minutes ago--when it's almost like a switch flips. I saw the darkness come. My screen glowed more brightly. Weird mix, isn't it?
A robin sat in the pine tree in the middle of the yard, and sang so beautifully.
I lamented that after a day spent inside, in a cubicle, the sun disappeared behind a flat, grey cloud--although just now, I could see a slash of red behind our neighbor's house. Lingering sunset.
I hear someone walking by. Shoes scuffing the cement. A man's voice. A child's whisper.
Surely I look ghostly, here on the porch, typing in the near-dark.
There's no breeze tonight, and kind of cool for July. And maybe the clouds mean rain on the way.
The fireflies have awoken. Are they drawn to my light?
Neighborhood's mostly dark now. I should go in--it's almost 10. But no mosquitoes have tried me yet, a rarity at this time of year. And I'm loathe to give up on this day--no matter, in a couple of hours, the day will have given up on me.
Firecrackers in the distance. Then it's so still.
Day fades.

Monday, July 6, 2009

About the creepy books I've read lately

I've got quite a list to write about, but I really had to mention this.
I just finished read The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones; City of Ashes; City of Glass series, which is a YA fantasy-type series with a Stephenie Meyers-recommended blurb on the cover. And it was fun, and I enjoyed them. BUT I could have done without the creepy "let's fall in love...oh wait you could be my brother" element in them. Really, with all the convolutions, why have THAT be the reason to keep the protagonists apart? Surely Cassandra Clare could have come up with something a little less icky.

I just started Turning Angel: A Novel by Greg Iles, a John Grisham-type writer, a nice, long paperback with a good recommendation from the NYT. And what do I find is its basis? A creepy love affair between a 40-year-old doctor and a high-school girl. Again...ick.

I won't blame this tendency on reading Twilight too much....

Friday, June 12, 2009

About, Time and Grace--Prelude (A fragment, 4)


I'm glad i never lived next to the water
So I could never get used to the beach
And I'm glad I never grew up on a mountain
To figure out how high the world could reach
I love the miles between me and the city
Where I quietly imagine every street
And I'm glad I'm only picturing the moment
I'm glad she never fell in love with me

For some the world's a treasure to discover
And your scenery should never stay the same
And they're trading in their dreams for Explanations
All in an attempt to entertain
But I love the miles between me and the city
Where I quietly imagine every street
And I'm glad I'm only picturing the moment

I'm glad she never fell in love with me

The trick of love is to never let it find you
It's easy to get over missing out
I know the how's and whens, but now and then,
She's all I think about

I wonder how it feels to be famous
But wonder is as far as I will go
Because I'd probably lose myself in all the Pictures
And end up being someone I don't know.
So it's probably best I stay in Indiana
Just dreaming of the world as it should be
Where every day is a battle to convince myself
I'm glad she never fell in love with me

(by Jon McLaughlin)

They were both from Ohio, and moved to Indiana. Separately. But ultimately, together.

How strange is the Midwest in August. The summer has beat it up and worn it out and hung it out, already dry.

The lush green of June becomes a crinkly golden brown.

If August days hang heavy with heat and humidity, don't be fooled. Somewhere to the north lies a cold front that will swing through in the night, maybe with a thunderstorm. You'll get up the next morning and the air will be cool and the sky will be clear and suddenly you'll remember, just for a minute, how autumn feels.

Starts the harvest, then, in August, the corn and soy beans and the truck vegetables in gardens everywhere. Fields that were tilled brown just a blink ago in May or June, now mature, their growing seasons finished. Their time, completed.

And noisy, August is--the cicadas and locusts in full scream, protesting their too-short lives, protesting their time spent underground, yelling for somebody to love them. Here I am, in this tree, they scream. Come find me.

But oddly, even as summer slows down, a new kind of year starts up--all the school kids who believed in June that summer was forever, find that, indeed, time does fly, and August means school. A new grade, a new year, new teachers, new friends, new books.

Even for people without kids, who are years removed from the school year, August holds that dichotomy: Summer's over. But something new is beginning.

Monday, June 8, 2009

About the Fragments

I'm having fun--and I'm using you.

The fragments are just some conversations and, well, I guess, story pieces that have been knocking around my head for, well, several months.

They're like ear worms of the head--you know those songs that you just can't get out of your head? These fragments are just things I have fun with...and I can't quit thinking about them, but I can't seem to write them out in any coherent way, either in a word processor or even longhand.

So I'm blogging them. You know how that if you've got a song stuck in your head, you're supposed to listen to that song? I'm using the blog--one place I know I can write a little, if badly--to get read of these word worms.

I thought about Tweeting them--I do seem to be a person made to Twitter--but 140 characters are just not quite enough.

So you get them, and I'm sorry, kind of--not sure how interesting they are to read. But it's therapy for me.

And also, I discovered I was kind of tired of writing about real stuff--my observations of life as I know it falling short of blog-worthy.

So here's the made-up stuff, just for fun, just for awhile.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

About, Time and Grace--Doctor's Visit (A fragment, 3)

Just a little conversation between two people who I keep hearing in my head.

She had hands full of coffee and files and lunchbag, plus her purse was slipping off her shoulder. She feared for the coffee, especially--Monday morning would be very bad, indeed, with no coffee.
Grace managed to slip in the back door of the office with coffee still upright; she walked down the hall to the little breakroom where she could stash her stuff and hang her jacket up; and take a minute to sip the cooling caffeine.
Then Ginny walked in.
"Girlfriend! Get your ass out here! Fast! You gotta see this!" Ginny, as usual, was dressed impeccably. She was a tiny, thin 50-something, who, at first glance, seemed the kind of person who might work out every day, eat health food, belong to Junior League and shop at Talbot's.
Looks lie. Ginny was a cigarette-smoking, junk-food addicted, motorcycle-riding, discount-store shopping maniac.
"What? Not the big Amish family with pink eye again!" One day last week, a family of 15 had tied up the waiting room and every exam room for hour. The little kids had hidden Grace's stethoscope and threw Q-tips everywhere.
"No! No. BETTER. He's the cutest thing ever!" Ginny grabbed Grace's wrist and drug her towards the glass-windowed reception area.
"A puppy? Did somebody bring their dog? Is it Mr. Tilton?" Grace's old neighbor, who got his blood sugar tested regularly, had a rescue greyhound that came in with him.
"NO. Oh, Gracie! This may be the guy for you," Ginny whispered, as they got closer to the front office.
"Ah, not again, Ginny! You are NOT fixing me up with a patient. I'm not interested. I'm. Just. Not. And you know it." Grace had made no secret about her disinterest in men since (as they called it in the office) The Blake Incident.
"Gracie, this is the best-looking man we've ever treated. Well, except he's looking a little green right now. And we think he might throw up in the waiting room. But he's so--his hair--his skin, even a little green-- He's not from Grabill, that's for sure, we think might be Italian -- Gracie, just look." Ginny turned her around and finally shut up.
Grace looked through the glass, into the square, chair-ringed space, with its kid's books and toys in one corner, the rack with magazines in another, the big ottoman in the middle, the window to the parking lot right across from her.
He sat below the window, very still, hands on thighs. He must be very tall, Grace thought; the chair looked too small for him--his legs, in faded jeans, stretched out towards the ottoman. He had curly black hair, big, loose curls that hadn't seen a brush anytime today. His skin--greenness aside--was a gorgeous mocha color, somewhere between golden and brown, a contrast to the white golf shirt that may have been slept in. He might have been asleep. Or about to throw up.
And Ginny was right. He was one handsome man.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

About, Time and Grace--The Beach (A fragment 2)

Just a little conversation between two people who I keep hearing in my head.

Beck stood up, still holding Grace's hand.

"Let's walk," he said, heading north, away from the park.

They wandered closer to the water, where the firmer sand made it easier to walk. Beck was barefooted; Grace wore thin flop-flops, and neither cared when the small waves washed over their feet.

Ahead of them was just the slightly rolling lake, the brightening sky, and somewhere, Canada.

"Grace, look!" he said, pointing up and slightly east.

"A seagull? It's awfully big--we don't usually see them that big--" Beck cut her off.

"Not a seagull, it's a bald eagle," he said. "See the curved wings, and the way the tail fans out? And its head is a little lighter color than the body?"

"Oh my God! Are you sure?" Grace twisted around, following the bird's flight as it headed towards the sunrise, following the lake shore. "I've never seen one...in the wild, anyway. Wow. Wish I had my camera--it's beautiful, so graceful."

"They are." Beck pulled Grace along, out towards the very tip of the point, the farthest away from the resorts and the rides and crowd. It was even quieter here, and a stand of trees behind them hid the development from their sight.

"I love it here," he said. The breeze picked up, ruffling his black curls, blowing Grace's brown bob around. She smiled at him.

"Me, too. I love Lake Erie. Better than all the little lakes in northern Indiana. Don't tell anybody at home that."

"Secret's safe," he said, grinning at her.

"Beck, can I ask you about, um, your, ah..." Grace hesitated.

"My what? Family?"

"Oh. No. Not ye--not that. No, about your--eyes. I mean, I love them, but they're just so--different. Beautiful, but--strange. Sorry. I don't mean that in a bad way. I've just never seen anyone with two different color eyes. Only--" Grace stopped, feeling like she was bungling what could have been just a simple question.

"Only what?"

She looked down. "Well, I did see a, a dog once, a Alaskan husky, with two different color eyes."

Beck laughed. "No, I'm not a canine. And I know it's kind of freaky. But not unheard of. Runs in my family, actually. My twin sister has them too, except hers are a bright blue and a darker gray."

"Your twin?"

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

About, Time and Grace--The Beach (A fragment)

Just part of a story about some people who I can't get out of my head.

It was the time of early morning when to the north and west the lake and sky ran together but to the east came morning.

The lake was as calm and quiet as it would be all day. Later the wind would kick up and the little whitecaps would break on the beach in a quick rhythm, but right all he could hear was a single gull crying from the distance.

The sand was cool under his fingers and he leaned back on his elbows, breathing slowly, watching the sun turn the sky in to something new. It was easy to imagine, here on the beach so early, that Cedar Point was still marsh and woods and wild animals. Even if it hadn't been that for a very long time.

He didn't hear her as she walked across the sand; only when she knelt behind him and put her hands on his shoulders, saying, "Hi," softly in his ear, only then did he smile and feel the day really begin.

"Hey," he said, and reached up to take her hand and turned around to look at her.

As she looked into his eyes--one so softly green, the other gray as the lake--she too smiled, even as she looked at him and wondered, once again, just where the hell this beautiful man had come from.

Because he sure wasn't from Ohio.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Coming soon to a post near you...

I'll actually wake up! And THINK about something! And then, even, WRITE about it! Not kidding!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

About fitting in the writing around the living

Sometimes, it's hard to do both, so you document the living, mull it over, and eventually, it ends up as a blog post. In words, not pictures. Just not yet.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

About the wind

Our bedroom window was cracked open last night, and it wasn't the birds or even daylight that woke me this morning--it was the wind. We'll be going to two baseball games today, and the wind is never good for baseball. But there are a few things wind is good for (where's that wind farm when we need it?).

I had another wind experience last Thursday. I wore a skirt, rather full, to work, and on returning to the office after lunch, a gust caught it and gave me a Marilyn Monroe moment, only without the nice legs or sexiness.

From one of my favorite poets:

The Wind
by Robert Louis Stevenson
I saw you toss the kites on high
And blow the birds about the sky;
And all around I heard you pass,
Like ladies' skirts across the grass

Oh wind, a blowing all day long,
Oh wind, that sings so loud a song!

I saw the different things you did,
But always you yourself you hid.
I felt you push, I heard you call,
I could not see yourself at all

Oh wind, a blowing all day long!
Oh wind, that sings so loud a song!

O you that are so strong and cold,
O blower, are you young or old?
Are you a beast of field and tree,
Or just a stronger child than me?

O wind, a blowing all day long,
O wind, that sings so loud a song!

Friday, May 1, 2009

About blind justice

Just another letter in the mail. A questionnaire from Allen County Superior Court. Because I may be needed for jury duty.
And I wonder how often one can get called for jury duty, because it certainly seems I get called often. Somebody must like me at the courthouse.
And I fill out the form, wary of perjury charges as I answer, are there any reasons you could not serve on a jury? The inference being, besides the reason you just don't want to.
And I forget about the questionnaire in the hurly burly of the everyday.
Until another letter comes, this one a summons, commanding me to a time and place I don't really want to be. Because jury duty might mess up my life.
No matter, Wednesday morning finds me sitting forlornly in a stiff chair in a wing of the Courthouse, me and 100 or so other resentful souls, voters and car owners and taxpayers, all.
Waiting for the lady to talk to us, waiting to watch the oh-so-precious DVD about how lucky we Hoosiers are to be called to jury duty, waiting for the bailiff to come get us. My stomach sinking when I hear that this is not the usual one-day trial but rather a two-day affair. Lucky us, huh. My stomach sinking further when they tell us to line up in the order they call our juror numbers, my number being three, and discovering that in my new universe, three is the new one. I'm first in line. It can't be good.
Bailiff Steve leads us up the marble steps, some among us vowing the take the elevator the next time (not me). We wait a moment outside the double wooden doors; when they open, for the first time I hear the words, "All rise," and we file into the courtroom, where I'm told to lead the way into the jury box. At that moment, I become juror number one, and I will remain so for two days.
Then Judge Gull begins instructing us, and we commence two days of being talked at. Two days of the judge telling us what to expect, what was expected of us, what was going to happen. Two days of the attorneys first questioning us, weeding us out, looking at our questionairres, conferring about us, sending some of us home, and retaining others -- me included -- in the hard wooden seats.
Seating the jury takes all morning. Since I'm in the first group, I can spend the rest of the morning observing: the beautifully restored courtroom; the judge, whom I've seen on TV news many times; the young bailiff, who'll be our liaison for the next two days; the prosecuting attorney, a lovely young woman with a quick smile and animated personality; the defendant's attorney, a pleasant-looking man with the most deadpan, monotone voice I've ever had the misfortune to listen to; finally, the defendant, a young, African-American man with wide eyes, cropped hair, and a calm demeanor. Though his foot taps incessantly
Just before lunch, when the extra jurors are dismissed (The lucky dogs! I think--dismissed to get back to work or home or shopping or otherwise on with their lives), we twelve are given even more instructions, then excused for lunch. Just before I leave, I notice the clock high on the back courtroom wall--it seems to be working, but it has the entirely wrong time, hours and minutes. I soon learn, the courtroom has its own time.
I've been without cell phone all morning, since they are not allowed in the Courthouse, fighting the desire to text somebody to let them know what's happened, but I've already warned them: If the phone doesn't ring, it's me. And I'm on the jury.
At lunch break, it cool and rainy outside, downtown busy at midday. The world has continued while we've been shut up inside the courtroom and it's a little jarring to be back in it. I run to the parking garage and get in my car and start calling: I won't be back to work. I won't be home. I won't be going to the Vera Bradley sale with my sisters. Don't call me, I won't have my phone. I don't know when I'll be home. I can't talk about the case. Gotta go.
So here I am downtown by myself for the first time in 15 years. Deli 620 on Calhoun looks promising, me having a soft spot for delis since a New York trip a couple years ago. A great surprise of the day, little Deli 620 -- if it didn't have the crowded-out-the-door frenzy of NYC, it was funky and welcoming and the egg salad, chunky and smooth and delicately tasty. The tomato basil soup with a little peppery kick -- even better.
By 12:45 I'm back in the jury room with my 11 new best friends, enjoying our first awkward silence. But we're a bunch of friendly, open Hoosiers, and the silence doesn't last long. If the weather is a safe subject to start out with, we soon segue to our observations of the judge, the lawyers, the accused, and how lucky we are to doing our civic duty. Or not.
Bailiff Steve soon calls us to enter, and for the second time when we hear the words, "All rise," it's because we twelve are coming in.
Our afternoon begins, with more instructions and opening statements, and we begin to get to know the case we'll be asked to make judgement on -- the judge's calm explainations, the attorney's carefully crafted presentations, the list of witnesses we'll listen to. I've brought my Diet Coke along with me and luckily there's a little nook I can hide it in down by my feet. Sipping it sereptitously makes me feel a little more normal--I'm in such a strange place, a room full of strangers, being asked to concentrate on -- what I'm beginning to realize -- a decision that will affect not just the life of the accused, but also his girlfriend and children and who knows who else.
During a break, when we're told not to leave the jury room, if we leave it has to be all together, our judicial bonding continues. We're allowed to talk about the case among ourselves in this little, stuffy room--not much historic in here--and we do. And even at this early point, it's possible to discern how some among our little group are leaning.
We don't know each other's names--no one asks, no one tells. We could, if we wanted to, exchange names, but we don't. We laughingly refer to each other as our jury numbers.
The jury room has windows. It's still raining, the day goes on without us. In my car, my cell phone rings, I'm sure. Somewhere the stock market is going up, or down. Someone is sick with swine flu. Chrysler is bankrupt, or not. Inside this room, even as we laugh about the Attorney B's monotone, or complain how cold the courtroom is, we know we are responsible for just one thing. Is the young man sitting before us innocent, or guilty?
The afternoon isn't. I mean, I knew it was Wednesday afternoon but it could have been any time, there in that domed, wood-paneled room, full of voices and evidence and "overruled" and "sustained" and questions and answers and our chair creaking. They are not comfortable chairs.
We hear from the victim, we hear from the officers, from the detective, who seems bored and arrogant and distant. We hear from the defensive, alibi-providing girlfriend, the not-very-helpful pal-in-jail, the scared nurse. We hear from everyone except the police dog, who can track but can't talk, and the accused himself.
We hear a story you could read in the paper of any city in any state, not a new crime, not an unusual or creative crime, thankfully, not a violent or deadly crime. Just a small-time break-in, in a old Fort Wayne neighborhood that has seen better days. A crime that scared the bejesus out of the victim, that left him bereft of his laptop and Palm Pilot, a crime that seems to have bored the officers to near death.
At six we're finally through the witnesses, and we're allowed to go. Go, but don't talk about the case. Be back at nine a.m.
The grey day seemed beautiful, real if raw, and I could feel time moving back into its normal path. When I had my cell phone back in my hand I felt almost normal, and immediately reconnected with everyone looking for me. And the evening's freedom stretched before me, a pitcher of margaritas at Bandito's promised, a lively dinner with family and visiting sisters, an evening at Jefferson Pointe with the ladies, lots of laughter making it easy to forgot that tomorrow, my vote would help chose the road a young man would follow. Well--no. He chose his road. Maybe we the jury were red light, green light.
At the end of the day, I was exhausted, and my sleep deep and dreamless. I wondered if the defendant was dreamless, as well.
Thursday and nine a.m. Still raining, but warmer. We're back in the jury room, we 12, more familiar with each other now. Smiles come easier. We're asked to give lunch orders. We've heard the evidence, now, and our conversation is more pointed and specific. And, we know our job is near to complete.
Bailiff Steve calls us in. A witness is recalled and some clarifications made. Then the closing arguments, the lively lady lawyer, the deadpan quiet guy. Both of them tell us what to think and how to vote.
And the judge, again, reading us several pages of instruction, telling us just what we need to know of the law to get our job done. Just barely enough.
Then it's time back to The Room, we 12 stranger-friends. It's us, the law, and a two-sided story in the room. An innocent-til-proven-guilty defendant. A scared victim. And the responsibility.
I volunteer to be foreperson. Mostly what it means is I count the votes. There's plenty of leadership in this group, several confident voices. A few with quiet questions. A couple silent.
The discussion begins, a more pointed continuation of the talking we've done previously. Now it's for keeps. We go over the main points, we list what's circumstance and what's concrete. We make everyone contribute. We take a first vote. We send a question or two out to the judge, and wait for answers. We go over evidence. Voice raise and fall. But always we remember he is first innocent. Always we remember it is the state who much prove the guilt. Always we remember, we are the ones who will be going home when the last vote is taken.
We take another vote. It's closer. We concentrate on the areas that seem the most questionable, and talk about what is reasonable doubt. Can we ever know? I think about moral relativity,something we often talk about at work. Is reasonable doubt somehow related to moral relativity? I don't know.
We go over the judge's instructions, and comment on how helpful they are.
One of us take notes and papers into the attached anteroom, and has a quiet moment.
When she's back, we talk a little more, and vote again. This time, it's unanimous.
As foreperson, I fill out the form, marking the appropriate place, signing my name. My scrawl, now filed away in the depth of some legal file, somewhere.
I knock on the door to the courtroom, our signal we need something, or are ready. And I let Bailiff Steve know.
Takes a little while for the courtroom to be as ready as we are. Judges, lawyers, officers, all scattered, I guess. We the jury are relieved, ready to go home, yet we'll all be happy when this last responsibility is passed. One last job.
Finally we're brought in. Even in this dead-air courtroom, there's a little electricity, and I feel ... a little power. We know, they don't. All rise. Look at us.
Everyone sits.
The judge asks me if we've reached a verdict, and I say, "yes." She asks for the form. I hand it to Bailiff Steve, and he hands it to the judge.
She reads its aloud, in a clear, calm voice.

The newly convicted drops his head in his hands, the most emotion he's shown in two days. The defending attorney puts his arm around him, says something, shakes his head, as if in disbelief. Surely, he's not surprised at this outcome?

If the prosecuting attorney smiles, I don't see her.

I'm watching the other table.

The judge asks if the attorneys want us 12 polled; Mr. Monotone, also coming alive here at the last, says yes.

But our minds have not changed, not even any of us who may have had difficulty with the decision, the "reasonable doubt," the weight of the responsibility.

That's it, mostly; we're thanked, and told to wait a moment in the jury room, as the judge wishes to speak to use. We don't see what happens after we file out; if the newly convicted is escorted out, if the lawyers talk, if the judge speaks to anyone.

For a last time, we wait together in the airless jury room, make a couple jokes. But I think we're all a little shaken by the reaction of the defendant, the hand over the eyes, the droop of the shoulders.

We're ready to go home.

Our civil duty, our "lost" days -- done. We're free.

He's not. Maybe he never was -- although I can only guess. His life before we came together in the historical Allen County Courthouse is as much a mystery to me as the vast machinations of the law itself.

The judge comes in, and thanks us. A few comments about the proceedings, and then, we're free to go. Some bolt out.

Others linger. The prosecuting attorney has asked to speak to us, to clarify a question we had asked. I join the conversation. A few details are cleared up, and I learn a little more about those whose lives we've affected. I feel better about the decision. And worse about these lives of these young people, lives lost, maybe. Probably.

I've lost -- donated! -- two days to the judicial system, because I'm a voter and a taxpayer and a car driver, a "responsible citizen". I can't imagine being anything else. Yea, the great, lucky me.

What have we lost? What has Brandon lost? What did he never have, or ever imagine? And how could I do anything, except find him guilty? Guilt was all I could give him.

Brandon, I'm so sorry. And I'm not sure why.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The lost days

I've spent two days on jury duty. The bad news: no posts. The good news: new material. When I get my act together (who knew one's civic duty could be so exhausting?), you'll be hearing about it.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

About Viva la vida

This song -- Coldplay's Viva la vida -- has been in my head for months: I listen to it over and over, I (try) to sing along, I don't know, I just love it. It's my ringtone, damn it!
And then I found this video on another blog, and I'll never hear it in quite the same way, ever again.

The backstory from YouTube:
"The PS22 Chorus of 2009 has some fun with Coldplay's Grammy nominated song Viva La Vida, the amazing new hit single from the album of the same name." And more about them on PS22 blog>>

Monday, April 20, 2009

About the older man at McDonald's

Time for lunch, let's go to lunch, how about McDonald's?, noIdon'twanttogotoMcDonald's. We're at McDonald's.
The usual lunch crowd.  Long line at the drive-thru, wasting time and gas. Short line inside. The normal hubbub of conversation, fries beeping, orders, registers. Ice rattling near the pop machines.
Young moms with little kids not eating their nuggets. Senior citizen couples with coffees. A few office types like us. Some construction guys. Burgers and fries at noon on a dreary Monday.
Michelle and I sit at a bar-height table and chat about weekends and ballgames and work and Monday things.
The TV is on Fox news and I try to ignore it. Because.
There to my right, a gentleman by himself. A "senior." Cup of coffee. Burger. Fries. On the table in front of him, untouched. He's comfortably dressed, and if I had to guess his line of work, I'd say, retired farmer, but really? Who knows.
Like I said, he's alone.
And as I watch, he takes a breath, and folds his hands, and bows his head.
And suddenly, McDonald's seems silent, the sacred somehow finding its way in and sitting with us, as it so often does, unawares.
I watch him pray. He's perfectly still.
For a long minute he prays. And he looks so intense, yet so peaceful, here in McDonald's, asking for God's blessing on these burgers, these fries, and what else? For a wife who should be here, and is not? For a child, a grandchild, himself? Or perhaps, even, for those sitting alongside him?
Indeed, it's not my business, who or what he prays for, and specious of me to guess. Yet how could I not add just a small thought to his, and His? For whatever, there in the busy-ness of a Monday noon at McDonald's.
As the gentleman moves to begin his lunch, so I finish mine. And the day begins again.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

About what I heard last night

First time the window is open, on a warm spring night. A faint conversation. A car door. Far to the south, a train.
Shut my eyes and remember the day and forget it, all at once. The dark a familiar friend, a door shut between the day's hurly-burly and night's quiet surcease.
Then through the window, softly as smoke, a siren sings and then another and a third, creating a concert of alarm, and I open my eyes but don't see anything.
And the sound gets louder and closer, a crescendo of warning and emergency, until it fills the room and chases away the quiet and the calm, and suddenly I fear the sirens come for me.
Yet still it's dark, and I can't see.
And the siren sings louder, louder--
Then crests and begins to fall, begins fading back into the night, and, I know, has passed me by.
Quiet and calm will come again, here.
Yet the sirens are drawn to somewhere, something: A frantic call, a sudden accident, a flames? Somewhere someone is scared, is hurt, is waiting, is wondering, is dying. In a truck cabin, a radio barks, a heart races, time stops. Headlights and horns rip through the night, a race to whoever, whatever, needs those sirens, that help.
In someone else's bedroom, a phone rings. Tonight, someone else will get up and go out to face that dark, noisome night and whatever it holds.
I turn over and let the superficial silence fill me, sleep closer than it should be, comforted by the easy way the sirens of the night rode on. This night.
Yet before I fall, a song from the afternoon whispers in my ear, a soft reminder:
"She got the call today
"One out of the gray
"And when the smoke cleared
"It took her breath away
"She said she didn't believe
"It could happen to me
"I guess we're all one phone call from our knees." (Mat Kearney,Closer to Love)

Monday, April 13, 2009

UPDATED: About the movies I watched, whatever they were

I love watching movies. But there are so many movies, so little time.
On an Ohio visit, time expands a little, and I might get to watch a couple.
This weekend, it was A League of their Own (again), Kiss Me Kate (first time), Outsourced (also new), Ten Commandments (part of), The Sound of Music (part of) and ... another one. That I'm forgetting.
Oh GOD that I'm forgetting.
We watched one late Friday afternoon, before Outsourcing (our evening movie), and I cannot remember for anything what it was.
What is wrong with my memory that I can't recall such a little thing? Or maybe that's it--it's a little thing, and my brain in its, ah, maturity, let's call it, tends to just dispose of any bit of knowledge not necessary to function.
I have gone to great lengths to find out what it was. I've searched several TV schedules (I can't even remember what CHANNEL it was on), searched through the newspaper TV listings, tried to look on Netflix (had to log in but have cancelled my membership), and tried to clear my mind of all distractions.
Still no memory of that movie.
Oh, I really should tell you this. I'd also forgotten the late-evening movie, the one we watched AFTER Outsourcing. I was racking my brains over that one on the way home, listening to NPR and trying to distract myself. When, between news segments, the music was ... Take Me Out to the Ballgame. Which then reminded me ... of just what I needed.
I am holding on to my ace in the hole.
I can call my dad. I know he'll remember.
But the thought of calling an almost 86-year-old man for something I'VE forgotten is just ... embarrassing.
But if I go crazy enough trying to remember, I'm going to have to make that call. Before HE forgets.
UPDATE: I remembered.
My Cousin Vinny.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

About short takes


Let me watch you sleep,
Sweet surcease comes not to me;
I will rest in you.

Bad day

Last night.
Good plan.


Not expecting.
Sudden rudeness.
Blow up!
Spout off!
Calm down.
Oh well.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

About nuclear holocaust

And why not, with North Korea launching missiles over Japan, carrying who-knows-what who-knows-where?
Being born after World War II, lucky me, and all my cohorts, never have known a world without the threat of nuclear weapons, always the knowledge that life as we know it could be blown to bits at any time.
Oh, I exaggerate. Certainly we would have a few minutes warning of any said bomb. Enough time to climb into our bomb shelter. That no one has anymore.
But in the '60s, people did have bomb shelters. Not us. We had a wellpit--a cement room, underground, with a cement roof, that housed our well; we kept potatoes there all winter, too. How I hated that place! Full of dampness, darkness, bugs, and unseen creepy crawlies just waiting for me. I only entered during 1) tornado warnings and 2) when forced to go retrieve said potatoes. 
But when I'd watch the news and hear about bomb shelters, I'd think about us living in that wellpit. And wondered, how long could we last on those potatoes? And, what would the world look like when we came out?
I grew up about an hour south of Cleveland--maybe not a main target of the bad guys, but back in the day, a hub of shipping and manufacturing. Maybe even bomb-worthy.
What's one of my first memories of school? Being taken into the hallway and taught how to kneel close to the wall, and tuck my head between my knees. Bomb threat drill. Yea, that would buy us a few extra minutes, wouldn't it?
I don't remember the Cuban missile crisis--too young. I don't think the little kids of today will remember this day's news, either--not enough drama, thank God--not enough danger, not today.
But we've lived with missile crisis fallout since 1962. And if I live to be as old as my gramma--101--I guess I'll feel good that we went 100 years with a threat of annihilation ... and not more.
So far, so good.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

About ER

Funny, how some things just put us in a time or place or maybe just a feeling, puts us there so truly that all of a sudden we remember -- or we are -- who we were -- and we realize we are different now. And maybe we miss that ourselves, a little. Or miss a time, or a place.

I haven't watched ER in four or five years, probably, yet, at one time, it was the highlight of my week. I'd get errands done, chores dones, and let everyone know that for the next hour, the TV was MINE.

Then the music would start and I was lost, lost in a stupid TV show for an hour, my once a week mental vacation.

But tonight, watching -- it's 1990-something, and I'm not 50 anymore, and my kids aren't grown up, and I live in a different house. Just for a sec.

Although I'm watching on a DVR ... on a flat-screen TV ...

Wondering, in 10 years, what will trigger my memory of this time, this place?

Friday, March 27, 2009

About spring

I don't believe in spring


Not yet, not when there's frost

On the car I forgot to bring in last night.


I don't believe in spring

When the weekend's forecast shows snow,

And the furnace will again kick on, endlessly.


No, it's hard to believe in spring

When I'm grabbing a winter coat from the closet

And regretting I took my gloves from the pocket.


And where was spring  this morning,

When I woke in the dark, shivering,

Thinking of warm coffee and abandoned blankets?


O spring, cruel phantom,

Meteorological tease,

Vernal equinox who?


You've fooled those birds I heard singing

When I opened the front door this morning,

Before even the sun got up.

Although the sun seems confused --

So warm on my back, and

Forgetting t to set until long into evening.


I've warned the trees in my yard--

Budding rapidly - -that this

Is something they'll regret. To no avail.


You go ahead. Get all excited and open your windows.

Not me. I won't be falling for that errant warm day


Because I don't believe in spring.

Monday, March 23, 2009

About, ode to a cell phone

There was no way to talk.
There was no way to text.
And the little black cell phone
Now has me perplexed.

Where last night all was well
Where last night all was right
Now this morning it seems
You've been hit with some blight!

Why won't you boot up?
Where's your welcoming screen?
Where's the sweet tone that says,
"You have messages--fourteen!"

A sick feeling settles down over my head.
No matter my action, you seem to be dead.
A frantic phone call to Verizon confirms
There may be some substance attached to my dread.

A long, quiet day with no Elvis ringtone
To warn me of text or call or voice mail.
Had I heard of the last of my little cell phone?
That seemed so reliable, friend without fail!

A long wait this evening at the cell store,
All those with lost phones, lost minutes, and more--
Finally, my name called, my cell in my hand,
I approach the counter, so youthfully manned!

Young JJ, he tried so hard it to revive,
But that which is dead, cannot come back alive.
The little black Alias which was so dependable
Now was just so much black plastic, sadly, expendable.

Well bummer. Now what should I do?
The timing's not right for a new-every-two.
But suddenly! An idea ballooned in my head!
I remembered my Razr, so straight home I fled.

My once-favorite phone, now consigned to the closet,
Still working, still trendy, too good to toss it,
All it needs is a charge, and a little activation,
With a few keystokes, a *228, we had affirmation!

The Razr, it works! And a such a low cost!
If texting is clumsy, at least no calls are lost!
We have voice mail, we have cheery rings--
Alas, no contacts, but the call is the thing!

The lesson I've learned all this long cell-less day
How much I depend on that digital display--
And friends, now listen, no matter the cost
Back up those contacts, cos damn! Mine are lost!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

About the detritus of winter

So today I took a box of daffodil bulbs from the shelf in the garage where it had sat all winter. Certainly I'd meant to plant them in the fall, when bulbs should be planted; indeed, after Angela gave them to me, in September, "plant bulbs" had gone on my to-do list each weekend. 

But somehow fall got away from me, maybe because I'm always in denial--if fall has really come, then it will lead, inevitably, to winter. I'm not fond of winter's long chill, and if I pretend it's not fall yet, perhaps winter will not come, either.

So the bulbs don't get planted.

But the garage is cool, and mostly dark, and that's how bulbs are supposed to be stored. So when a day comes in late winter that feels more like early spring, I think about those bulbs and decided to take a leap of faith, being an optimistic sort, that if I plant them, they will grow.

So I haul the necessary accouterments outside: the bulbs, the trowel, my gardening gloves, a trash can for the detritus of winter that must be moved before things can grow.

And there in the afternoon sun, on the south side of the house, winter--long and gray here in Indiana, frigid and snowy, dangerously icy, welcome long since wore out--disappeared.

I took my clippers and trimmed back the dry, dead leaves from daylillies and roses; scooped up crackly bronze pin oak leaves blown from trees that aren't even in my yard, gathered last year's tomato plants and the fall's chrysanthemums. Gathered them up and threw them away.

Dug my trowel deep in the earth, moist and soft from last week's soakings, and wiggled it around, so I could place each daffodil bulb as deep as I could, shoving it down with my fingers, then pressing the dark dirt down gently. 

I've worked on these beds--the horrible plastic-y clay soil is now buried beneath years of black dirt and compost and mulch I've worked in. Every spring, when I plant my marigolds and petunias, tomatoes and peppers, I spread bag after bag of something--anything!--more planting-friendly that that clay. 

I put a dozen in a little front bed, around the crab apple tree, among the daylillies; then another couple dozen in the narrow bed along the south end of the house, where tulips were pushing up and a few brave crocuses already bloomed.

I'd taken off my jacket early in this process; the sun shone strong and warm on my back, and I started to remember what a warmer world felt like.

Not an hour's work, after all--I really did have time to do this last fall. 

It's not guaranteed these bulbs will sprout, given the negligence they've suffered, but I'm feeling optimistic. Some of the bulbs were sprouting a little; I'm thinking they may just keep growing and bloom right when they are supposed to, anyway. 

How tidy the little beds seemed after I was done, all winter's garbage gone. And I felt I'd planted so many mysteries that will make the spring even better than usual: will the bulbs grow? And bloom? And what colors will be where?

So winter left us one March day on Hearthstone Drive; trucked away in a garbage bin. We dug spring up, and resurrected it. Again.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

New Twitter Name: CathyBlogs

Tweet me at CathyBlogs

Monday, March 9, 2009

About Peter Tork

Last week, I was surfing channels and stopped dead at The Smithsonian Channel because I heard the announcer say, "Coming up next: The Monkees."

That was just weird enough to watch.

And worth it--while I knew some of the story--the manufactured first-boy-band-ness of them, the emnity with their producer, the bad break-up--I'd had no idea that Jack Nicholson was in any way involved (with Head, their weird, probably bad, first-and-last movie).

Lots of screaming girls in that documentary. Girls who, in 1966 or '67, where older than I, but none who loved Monkees more. Me, my brother, my sisters--we all loved The Monkees. We played them for my parents--we'd put their albums on and pretend to play. We were the original lip-synchers.

My littlest sister was always Mike (she got the leftovers), my brother was Mickey, my other sister was Davy, and I was Peter. I liked his (relative) quietness, his quirky goofiness. He didn't sing many songs, though--I'd have preferred he had more of a lead role in the band.

I remember writing a fan letter--I really sent it, but I have no idea who I addressed it to--begging that I BE a Monkee. Like they needed a 12-year-old clarinet player.

Sometime in the late '80s, The Monkees came to Fort Wayne and yes, I went. No Mike--I think he's permanently estranged from the troop--but Davy, Peter, Mickey--there they were, on the Coliseum stage, and I was breathing the same air as they. There for an hour or so ... I was 12 again.

Funny how now and then, a Monkee song is used in an ad or is covered by another band--Smashmouth, among others.

On my Facebook status, on the night I watched The Monkee's show, I mentioned my affection for them. And how surprised was I when a friend who'd lived in California in the '80's commented that he had MET Peter Tork--he'd MOVED Peter's stuff. My friend was working for a moving company, and he MOVED PETER TORK. Peter seemed down on his luck, at that time, my friend said--kind of sad. 

I felt badly at that, but still--I know knew someone who HAD MET PETER TORK!

So I'm surfing MSNBC.com just last week, and what headline do I see? That Peter Tork--my Peter--has cancer.

Oh no. I just meet you, and now this.

Prognosis looks okay for Peter, and I have to say, in the Smithsonian show, he seemed good. Maybe my friend moved him at a down moment.

Hang in there, Peter. Remember, I'm a believer.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

About getting Twittered

The other day at work I was talking to someone across the field at the cubicle farm -- I had needed him to call me and I said, without thinking, over the heads of a bunch of technically challenged people (who laughed),

"You could have Twittered me."

Out of context, a rather suggestive statement.

But lately, it's a heck of a good way to get my attention.

Those 140-character updates are both hypnotizing and addicting, whether I'm following my closest family ... or some organization for work ... or, God forgive me, a celebrity.

If I enjoy getting updates from my nephew ("I hate cleaning the grease tubs as work") (He works at a KFC), and if I learn a lot about what our competitors are doing at work ("New blog post about blah blah blah"), it's my new BFF I really can't quit following.


Indeed, I am one of John's 50,000+ Twitter followers. But the beauty of Twitter? I feel like he's Twittering just to me.

Because there's my Twitter screen. And in the list with my sister, my nephew, my friends, my interests, is my new boyfriend, John Mayer. Twittering to ME.

His guitars, his Oscar experience, his jokes, his new web site, he's telling me all about it. 

And sometimes, it's so, so hard not to reply, to tell John just what I think of tux, his music, his poll on People

Twitter gives you ... the illusion of chumminess. The Twitter illusion.

'Cause I know that really? John Mayer does not follow my tweets. He doesn't know I had to choose between McDonald's or Burger King for lunch, or that I love my netbook, or that I needed coffee this morning. John. Just. Doesn't. Care.

Oh, well. His loss, huh, that he won't know he's the star of my latest blog post? 

But if YOU'RE wondering what I'm peeping about, just follow: CathyBlogs

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Play-doh is FOUND!

No time to go into details now, but for those following the Play-doh story, let's just say the mystery involved Taylor and a (formerly) empty Boy Scout popcorn tin.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

About lost things

Last week I filled out one of those 25-things lists on Facebook but instead of 25 things about me it was 25 things I dislike.
And I forgot to put one of the things that I dislike the most: losing things.
I hate losing little things that don't really matter and are easily replaced--like , say, cheap sunglasses. And I hate losing, or perhaps I should say misplacing, things that I really need, say, like a birth certificate or an immunization record. And I really hate losing something that is hard to replace, like a cell phone.
One reason I hate to lose things is because I can't give up looking for them. Because I'm a pretty good finder, I have a lot of motivation to look. And a certain competitiveness with the lost-ness, and a certain tenaciousness about the search. I HATE giving up.
I also hate looking for something I suspect I might have given away--certain purses, for example. In occasional fits of tidiness and clarity, when a housekeeping mood comes on, I get rid of things that I later regret. That must be what happened to that red purse I bought in 2002....
I lost a pedometer last week, I'm missing a sock, I can't find an immunization record for a MMR I think Tony should have gotten in the late '80s (but, kudos to me, I found Angela's).
I'm still missing the lip gloss I lost last February in the Ft. Wayne airport while waiting to catch a flight to NYC. Sephora, cinnamon, tube, if anyone finds it....
Which leads me to what got lost today. 
Four (read, 4!) tubs of it. Mixed together. In a big pile. Shaped into something resembling a pizza. 
A light pink ... a dark pink ... a blue ... and a purple....
Mind: I did not lose the Play-doh. No, indeed, the blame lies on the little girls, who spent most of the afternoon sitting at the kitchen table, playing with the 'doh, rolling it, cutting out circles, rolling it, bringing it in to us and trying to give us pieces of the pie.
And now ... it's gone. Gone!
Well, now, it's not gone. I know it's here ... somewhere. 
But where the HELL where!?
I've looked everywhere. I looked all around the kitchen table and under it. I looked in the toy area. I looked in the TV room. I looked in the bathroom.
I looked downstairs in the playroom. And in the game room. And the storage room.
I looked upstairs, in the extra bedroom (but not in the bedclothes ... mmmmm), in the books, in the bathrooms (two), in the exercise room, in my bedroom. 
No Play-doh.
Somewhere, in this house, a pile of multi-colored Play-doh is slowly hardening. It's been missing long enough I think it's beyond saving, for play purposes. If it's gone long enough, it will harden into what I like to think of pre-adolescent art; I might have to save it forever to preserve the episode.
But until I find it, I will be on the lookout for stepping unawares in it, or for plunging my hand into it. 
Or I may go to bed tonight and find myself getting way too close to it.
But until I find it, I'll be obsessed by it--the thought of that blue-green muddle will hound me.
(And I really hope that it's no where that a GUEST might come across it....)
I hate lost things. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

About the dramas of the day

No, I am not a drama queen, nor even a princess, but sometimes what gets us through the day at work is a little drama.
And where do we find the drama? 
In the parking lot. Lots, actually. Lots of drama in parkings lots. (I think I channeled Dr. Suess there for a sec.)
We have parking lots on both sides of our building. So everyone is assigned to one side or the the other.
The big lot on the east side is general parking.
The several smaller lots on the west side are assigned parking. And therein lies the drama.
For office people, the west-side lots are most desired. So much so there is a WAITING LIST to get a west-side spot.
I've been a west-sider since my first day, when I was given the spot of the person I was replacing (he retired). 
Imagine my surprise when a co-worker with a little more seniority than me discovered that I had a west-side spot and called me out on it. "How'd you get that spot!?" she demanded. "HR gave it to me," I replied. Seems she'd been waiting a couple of years for a west-side spot. And she harbored a little resentment towards me until she eventually moved on to a new job. 
She never did get a west-side spot.
There's a little game that gets played on west-side peoples' days off, too. It's called, "Who Takes Your Spot." In this game, people with lesser spots (east-siders, far-west vs. near-west) vie for the prime spots of people on vacation, sick, traveling, otherwise out-of-the-office. It's a brutal, winner-take-all contest. And your prize is that you get to walk 50 less feet or so into the office! 
You know you've really made it when you get assigned to the managers' lot. Closest to the building, these 30 or so spots are coveted, doled out sparingly to directors and managers by HR, and specially watched for the "Who Takes Your Spot" game. Competition for these prime spots makes the Daytona 500 look like a preschool tricycle race. Friendships have been shattered vying for front lot spots. 
Those front lot spots are also the ones most likely to be stolen by company visitors who have no clue where visitors are supposed to park (side of the building) and just pull up right by the door.
Visitors have been double-parked into spots by disgruntled employees. Threats, including "tow trucks" and "calling HR" have been thrown about.
Who knew a parking lot could be so fraught with drama? 

Sunday, February 15, 2009

About a new haircut

Getting a new haircut is quite a leap of faith.

Faith that the new haircut will make you look better/younger/perkier/younger/refreshed/younger than you did with the old haircut.
Faith that your hair stylist can pull off the new haircut.
Faith that your loved ones will either, well, love it, or at least, like it, or, if they don't, break it to you gently you look newly bad.
Faith that your hair will grow out quickly if that last case transpires.

So yes: I'm going this week for just such a new haircut. And I do have a 'do in mind. 

Okay, the picture above is a year and a half old, but my hair is shorter in that pix than it is now, so it's a good approximation of what I look like with a short haircut.

Having grown my hair out into more of a bob, and that bob getting kind of out of control and hiding behind my ears a lot, and being TOO much for me to handle (since I'm not a hair stylist kind of girl), the time is ripe to whip myself into shape! 

And since you'll never guess who I want to transform myself too, I'll put a picture of her too. I've already told Brenda, who cuts my hair, that I am not expecting to lose 20 years, but hey, five would be good. 

Katie Holmes! The famous "pixie cut"!

The only thing I'm betting on ... your blogger will not receive 1/100th of the criticism this young woman did over a simple haircut. Because when I was searching for pictures, I came across some of the stupidest comments about her hair than I could have ever imagined.

Even if it looks bad on me, no one would ever care that much. No one should care that much.

Updated: A bad picture of a good haircut.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

How to procrastinate by Cathy D.

1. Take one weekend.
2. Fill it up with stuff over which you have no control, like birthday shopping (although not for onesself), basketball games (not one's own), party-dress shopping (again, not for onesself), birthday party (again, not for onesself), and sundry errands (for the public good).
2a. Keep spending time on computer checking email, Facebook, Google Reader, and weather (to make sure no frigid spells are forecast). Make vow to stay off computer.
3. On completion of the above, realize one had actually created a to-do before the weekend
4. Go to kitchen to find purse and dig out to-do list.
5. Remember that "cleaning out purse" was one of the things on the to-do list.
6. The to-do list is written on a very small piece of notepad paper. Realize need for larger paper for additional tasks. 
7. Go to find new legal pads recently purchased on errand. Hunt. For awhile. Find pads in office.
8. Recast to-do list on nice, big legal pad. Admire the organization.
7a. Break computer vow by updating Facebook about how busy I am.
9. Decide to fold laundry first. Go upstairs.
10. Realize I'm a little weak and hungry to work. Go back to kitchen and find chips and dip from Superbowl party last week. Consume.
11. Realize this cannot be crossed off to-do list.
12. Get text from Jayme wanting a copy of picture taken last night at birthday party. Break computer vow by getting camera, taking out SD card, and trying to find picture. Get distrated because laptop SD card slot will not recognize 4gig SD card. Puzzle. Try other SD card in slot.Works fine. Google "SD card not recognized." Find several reasons, perhaps because new SD card is too big. Break down and connect camera to laptop with USB cord. Wait while software driver installs. Copy pictures to laptop and send to Jayme. 
12a. Since I'm on computer anyway, check email, Facebook and news. 
13. Go back and check to-do list since I've lost focus dorking around with SD card.
14. Go fold and put away the laundry. Cross off list!!!!!!
14a. As reward, just check email real quick. Just for a sec. Notice my copy of Twilight lying on end table. Decide to reread meadow scene because I realize Edward could do laundry in 1/10 the time as me. 
15. Give self mental shake. Recheck to-do list. Realize several items on this list are not going to happen today.
16. Realize if I list "check email" and "update Facebook" on my list, I will feel more productive!Also, "reading"!  Go to kitchen to revise list.
17. Get distracted by TV being changed to Sheryl Crow concert (not by onesself). Reminisce about seeing her in concert with John Mayer. Replay concert in head as Sheryl sings "Gonna soak up the sun." Feel guilty I have every song John Mayer ever recorded on my MP3 and not one Sheryl Crow. Force self not to download Sheryl Crow songs right now. Instead put on to-do list.
17a. Notice husband's laptop has a "Thomas the Tank Engine" screensaver. Engage in pointless conversation about WHY, since no children use it? No good reason.
18. Look at RSS feed and realize blog has not been updated lately. Feel guilty for my many six readers. Search brain for possible topics.
19. Come up empty. All I can think about is my to-do list.
20. Damn, I'm good at this procrastination, huh!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

About my friend Mike

You know the term, "sudden death"?

Not like in a sports way--like in an NFL football game, when it ends in a tie, and the overtime is called "sudden death." Because that's not really death--it's just, "this game finally over." And there's always another game.

No, I mean "sudden death" like in "death came suddenly." 

This time, to my friend, Mike.

I'd worked with Mike for almost 10 years when he accepted a new job that took him and his family to Birmingham, Alabama, last April. Ten years is plenty of time to get to know someone, even in an office atmosphere. It's plenty of time to learn about interests and dislikes, about family, about childhood, about personality. Plenty of time to become friends.

Even in a busy office, there's sometimes time to chat for awhile in a cubicle, and talk about the funny things your little boys said, or what your wife is writing about, or the next ballgame you have tickets to.

Or, you might find yourself talking about the inadequacies of the Tampa Bay Rays stadium, and when in the world they might build a new one, or how it felt to be one of, oh, say, two fans for a baseball game. Or, you might find yourself getting razzed about being one of those two, er, few, anyway. 

The conversation might even veer into work territory, and you might dissect a meeting that didn't go quite right, or a project with a recalcitrant author, or why in the world can't we wear jeans every Friday?

Or, you might find yourself rejoicing over a Florida Gators win ... or commiserating over a loss. Or talking about where in the world that dead, dry, taxidermied gator on his desk came from. Or asking, just how may Florida Gators shirts can one have?

On a long weekday afternoon in a quiet cubicle farm, a little lively conversation is much relished.

Mike, of course, loved his family and the Lord above all; he would not deny he also enjoyed a good (hey, any) sporting event and a cold (hey, any) beer.

Mike died while working out at the gym; I imagine him running, and somewhere between strides leaving this earth and running into the arms of His Lord and Savior.

He leaves his parents, his wife; his little boys, whom he loved teaching about his Faith and about his sports; his step-children; his parents; and so many friends, and readers. 

Mike, the ultimate sports fan, exuberant football fan, appreciated the tension of a good overtime period--what the commentators call "sudden death," even as they debate about its fairness.

Mike, the good Catholic, would have been prepared--death was sudden, but not unanticipated; surprising, yet he would have been as ready, spiritually, as he could be.

Mike, husband and father, son and friend, Rays fan -- there's no sudden death in baseball, you know. If he'd had to chose, he'd go for a ballgame that dragged on forever, in the way only a baseball game can; a game that ended in a tie, then went into extra innings; a game that ended up in the record books only because it was so long. The kind of game that when it's over you look at each other and say, "I got old at that game."

He should have gotten old. I'd have loved to tease him about that.

Bye, Mike--Go in peace, you Gator.