Hello? Hello?

About 5 weeks ago...a ringing started in my ears. More on the right than on the left. It took me about a week to realize that the ringing hadn't stopped in that time.

In  the midst of planning for that nightmare meeting in June...I just pushed thru the annoyance. I didn't have time to deal with a health issue.

Which brings us to this morning's appointment with my ear, nose and throat specialist. A man I've seen more than a few times in the past decade for polyps on my vocal chords to the epic laryngitis of last year.

First up was the Audiologist. Extensive hearing tests were done and thankfully my hearing is just about perfect. Absolutely nothing there to be concerned about.

No structural abnormalities and, thanks be to God, no tumors.

It is Tinnitus and there is no cure and no real treatment. I just have to learn to cope.

Total silence...is now my enemy.  I will always have to have some kind of noise around me to help distract me from the ringing. 

Which never stops, not even for a moment. It's high pitched; some days it is louder than others. Today it's not so bad, yesterday it was horrific.  So long as I'm busy...I don't notice it so much.  But there are days when I think that even dogs must hear it - the pitch is just so sharp and narrow. 

I am grateful that my hearing is just fine.  I am thankful that, at least for now, it's not affecting my ability to play the piano or listen to music or hear the sound of The Oracle's sweet voice or sing at church or all the other things that hearing loss would steal away from my life.   

It could be worse, I know. It's frustrating and annoying...and non-life-threatening. Of all the things it could have been...I'll deal with this.

The Weekly Muse

The muse today isn't musical.  Today it's all about the weekend getaway we are currently in the middle of.  

A very dear friend purchased a second home in northern Vermont last winter.  Her closest friends get to use it anytime - at no charge.  This weekend is the first opportunity we've had to take advantage of their generosity. 

What. A. Place.  It's a small house - about 900 sq. ft. - with a mudroom, breezeway and 2-car garage. The Oracle observed that the main house is about the size of the garage. 

It's cozy, beautiful and the view is worth a million dollars.  The back deck looks down the sloping lawn, out over a dense forest and in the not-too-far distance is Mount Washington. With several smaller hills and mountains in the foreground.  Like so: 

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That is sunrise on Friday morning...that image is straight off the camera, no editing at all. The colors really did look like that; in fact the entire sky looked like it had been painted.

 The air here is cool, crisp and literally tastes delicious when you take a deep breath.  We really are in God's country here - even now, at 11:00am on Saturday - it is so quiet.  I hear the house creak a bit here and there as the sun warms the siding.  Birds chirp in the distance, flitting around the feeders on the deck.

It is a slice of magic here. 

The night sky is a whole nuther experience.  One of the things I wanted to do while up here was try the next frontier in my photography - night skies.  Specifically, the Milky Way.  And we are in a prime position here with wide open skies, a large yard rimmed with trees and absolutely no light pollution from anywhere. 

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Yes - there are shooting stars in that shot.

I have a new addiction - night photography is simply breathtaking.  Even the simplest pictures, like the one of the Big Dipper below, fill my soul with joy and song.

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The sheer number of stars revealed in images like the Milky Way above - thousands more than our naked eyes can ever see.  I've always been mystified and awe-struck by the vastness of space.  The fact that the light in these images is thousands of years old is almost more than my feeble brain can process.

To capture even a small moment in time like this - each time I take the countless pictures I've taken over the past 2 nights - I cry and laugh in equal measure.  I am humbled by this experience; confirmation yet again that we are not in control of anything. 

372 Months. 1,612 Weeks.

It all started in a grotty college dorm room.  Mattress on the floor, questionable hand-drawn “artwork” on the concrete-block walls; certainly nothing that any student would want a parent to see.  Free flowing alcohol of several varieties. Free flowing illicit substances as well.  It was a smorgasbord of ways to get yourself into trouble.

Conversation began over shots of Jack Daniels.  Wide-ranging talk about classes, professors and weekend plans.  Spring break was upon us in a few days so there was general merriment in the air.  For some an end to classes for the next 10 days would cause a little more imbibing that normal.  Bodies were spilling out into the hallway, into other dorm rooms and the party would continue until the wee hours of the morning.

For 2 of us – eventually all the noise around us would be drowned out by our own connection. As if we were suddenly alone in a tropical paradise.  Eventually we would leave the growing crowd in search of a quiet place.

There would be more such encounters over the next 3 months; more parties in the dorm room, more consumption of Jack Daniels and the illicit substances (hey, college is for experimentation and learning – right?).  More...of everything.

15 months and 2 weeks after that first encounter – there would be a wedding with 2 young people completely unsure about everything in their futures except for one thing – their all-consuming love for each other.

That wedding date was today – July 16, 1983.  I would marry my nerdy boyfriend and he would marry his free-spirited girlfriend.  The odds would be against us from the start; too young, too inexperienced, no money, just a wing and a prayer.

It has stood us in good stead for 31 years – we fly by the seat of our pants most of the time and while each of us might yearn for a more settled existence, we also know that we wouldn’t be happy with anything other than what we have.  Which is pretty darned amazing.

We’ve created enough amazing memories to last us 10 lifetimes; and we will continue to do that until the stars go out and the sun stops shining.

 

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372 Months. 1,612 Weeks.

It all started in a grotty college dorm room.  Mattress on the floor, questionable hand-drawn “artwork” on the concrete-block walls; certainly nothing that any student would want a parent to see.  Free flowing alcohol of several varieties. Free flowing illicit substances as well.  It was a smorgasbord of ways to get yourself into trouble.

Conversation began over shots of Jack Daniels.  Wide-ranging talk about classes, professors and weekend plans.  Spring break was upon us in a few days so there was general merriment in the air.  For some an end to classes for the next 10 days would cause a little more imbibing that normal.  Bodies were spilling out into the hallway, into other dorm rooms and the party would continue until the wee hours of the morning.

For 2 of us – eventually all the noise around us would be drowned out by our own connection. As if we were suddenly alone in a tropical paradise.  Eventually we would leave the growing crowd in search of a quiet place.

There would be more such encounters over the next 3 months; more parties in the dorm room, more consumption of Jack Daniels and the illicit substances (hey, college is for experimentation and learning – right?).  More...of everything.

15 months and 2 weeks after that first encounter – there would be a wedding with 2 young people completely unsure about everything in their futures except for one thing – their all-consuming love for each other.

That wedding date was today – July 16, 1983.  I would marry my nerdy boyfriend and he would marry his free-spirited girlfriend.  The odds would be against us from the start; too young, too inexperienced, no money, just a wing and a prayer.

It has stood us in good stead for 31 years – we fly by the seat of our pants most of the time and while each of us might yearn for a more settled existence, we also know that we wouldn’t be happy with anything other than what we have.  Which is pretty darned amazing.

We’ve created enough amazing memories to last us 10 lifetimes; and we will continue to do that until the stars go out and the sun stops shining.

 

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Wide Eyed

The only hours I didn't see last night were between 2:00am and 5:00am.  It left me so knackered that I decided to give myself a great gift.

I have stayed home.  Slept very late too.

And now I'm ensconced in our media room, indulging in a binge-watch of Downton Abbey.  I even changed a haircut from 5:00pm to 1:00pm.

And I may take a nap when I get home from my haircut.

Tomorrow will be back to the grindstone but only for one day.  For we have a lovely mini-break planned as a 4-day weekend.

Brilliant.

The Weekly Muse

Not to self: if you are going to take a muscle relaxer before you go to bed...take half.

Oof!  I had some back spasms last night just before we shut out the lights - uncomfortable enough for me to reach for the Flexeril.  I forget how potent they are at full strength - I just got up about 45 minutes ago.  And I'm still feeling groggy, like I'm moving slightly behind everything else. 

The Oracle was up early and is now ensconced on one of our outdoor love seats - dozing sweetly.  With this playing in the background it guarantees a peaceful environment. 

The incredible Chris Botti.  Never get bored listening to him.

As I reflect on what I wrote last weekend about my current struggles with not having children and the subsequent dose of humble pie I consumed...I know how blessed I am. 

As suggested by a dear friend, I have returned to a daily Gratitude Journal that I started last winter.  As I re-read the previous entries and begin adding to them, I see that my life is filled with small blessings that all add up to a beautiful life that contains hundreds and hundreds of moments of bliss, beauty and God's grace and mercy.

Some of my friends are at that same point in their lives - reflecting on the past, realizing that more than half of our lives have already been lived.  And as they too ponder their futures a few of them, without any intention or malice, hurt me so deeply that I can hardly breathe. What they say and do aren't about me - quite rightly - yet I can't help but see my own life compared to theirs.

They cry and worry about their own futures - and where the sweet days of their childrens' lives have gone.

Children - grown up and are starting to make a new life for themselves.  Finishing college, looking at where they might want to move, settling into relationships that might well become husbands that will lead to grandchildren.

These are smart, gorgeous women inside and out - filled with a glorious passion for living, incredible business successes; talented, well-educated and the epitome of a modern woman.

And they just cry about how their kids don't need them anymore.  Which - is the whole point, isn't it?  You raise your children so that they can grow to be independent, learning from your successes and failures.  And ultimately becoming the people you worked hard to raise them up to be.

While they cry about their kids and the changes that seem to come at them from all sides - I once again see my own future and how different it's going to be.  It's as if this time in my life - when I thought I'd be truly enjoying life's experiences with my friends - I'm left alone.  It's not intentional on anyone's part - of course I understand that; yet...their futures are starting to diverge from mine.

It is a scary time for all of us - uncertain - with all sorts of possibilities in front of us but with some of the biggest changes in our entire lives, yet to come. 

While I would never begrudge my friends the feelings they have I wish there was a way I could help them put them into perspective from my position. But to do that would just hurt them and I have no desire to do that.

And so - we listen like a good friend and bury our own feelings, deep. 

I am currently obsessed with this song; and I hope that the beautiful message sinks deep in my soul, so I can be the ultimate reflection of God's light from within - shining on my frienda and giving them the support they need.

In the meantime...life moves on. 

This weekend will be quiet today, then busy tomorrow.  A nice balance.  Right now I am sitting in our gorgeous outdoor living room, enjoying the things that calm my heart - birds singing, little chipmunks gathering seeds until their pouches threathen to explode.  Shortly I will make myself a second cup of coffee and further enjoy the serenity of our oasis. 

About Face

A few years ago I had an unpleasant encounter with a friend at work; I blogged about it back then but unfortunately the post is from my previous site so I can't link to it here.

To summarize: we had decided to never talk politics because we were on polar opposite sides of the spectrum, with Marilyn calling herself a died in the wool bleeding heart liberal and me being slightly to the left of Genghis Khan. With so many other things to talk about  it was never an issue. Until the day she made it one, flung about some highly charged accusations and questioned my intelligence. We didn't speak for about 3 years then spontaneously...patched things up. 

We see each other occasionally and it's always just a nice relaxed conversation. Until yesterday. 

I'm still trying to process what she said to me. 

She confessed to voting for Obama the first time...she said it like it was a guilty secret she's been keeping all these years.  And went further to say quite emphatically that she did not vote for him the second time. 

Marilyn...has come over to the light.  Now she does hold to some wild conspiracy theories about P.BO and his wife...but she's always been someone who looks at the fringe as a comfy place.

Her views are now, in general, a little right of center.  We spoke about the economy, the current illegal immigrant crisis and a few other current topics. In each case...Marilyn brought it up.  I danced around things each time, being sure I knew what side she would land on before I commented substantively.

And each time...she flabbergasted me with the scope of her political changes of heart. 

It seems...a leopard can indeed change his spots. In this case, I believe the leopard went from shades of brown and black to shocking pink. 

 

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Humility

I got a more than healthy portion of humble pie at church last night...from 2 different people.

One I know very well...our beloved Deacon Tom.   He gave the homily last night and it was about the concept that life...isn't easy. That in fact it will be filled with challenges from birth to death and it is a measure of who we are as to how we handle whatever our own difficulties might be.

And that in the face of our own personal struggles, yoking ourselves to God will be the comfort, solace and easing of our burdens that we seek with desperation. 

And of course he is right. To feel lonely, like I said yesterday, is to turn ones back on God and prayer.  And while it is totally human to do just that...it is good to be reminded, from someone I love, that it's neither healthy nor productive. 

My other dose of humble pie came from someone I don't know and had never seen before. 

A beautiful young family came into church just a few minutes before Mass began.  Mother, father, 3 adorable children and grandparents. Nothing too unusual in that on a Saturday evening. 

It was the dad who stopped me short and caused me to become internally embarrassed at my previous belly-aching and pity party. 

Clearly he'd been in an horrific accident of some kind...and not too long ago.  

The first thing you saw was his head...devoid of hair due to burns. There were patches of dark fuzz but only patches; the majority of the top of his head was red and raw with a few places of healing new skin. 

His face was much the same...no eyebrows, tightened into a grimace of painful healing. 

His right arm was encased in a burn compression bandage; he couldn't straighten the arm and the bandage covered his hand and fingers.  His left arm...was missing above the elbow. What remained also had a compression bandage on.  He walked with difficulty even though he used a cane. 

Yet there he was...at Mass.  He stood for every prayer despite the difficulties and pain it clearly caused him.  I covertly watched him go up to receive Communion; no one asked to have it brought to him, which in his circumstances would have been completely expected.  

No...with determination drawn from someplace deep within, he left his cane at his seat and walked up to receive the Body of Christ.  It must have taken a focus and iron will to make that walk.  A focus on what he was about to receive and the spiritual nourishment it would give him. 

I only watched him for a moment. But it was enough. 

Each of us has our burdens, that's true. They are unique to our own circumstances and we bear them as we can.  And I don't mean to diminish one iota the weight of an individual's struggles. 

But sometimes you experience God's Grace from a different perspective.  It changes the composition of your own picture. It forces you to confront your own self-absorption and navel-gazing...and see it for what it is. 

A pity party that has gone on long past its end time. I'm the last guest at the party and it's time for me to move on.

The Weekly Muse

It's been wild couple of days here - weather-wise.  It started Thursday night with some violent thunderstorms - the kind that knock the power out for 8 hours. It's a funny thing - we live in the middle of the woods and we know it.  Of course we do.

Yet when the power goes out at 9:00pm on a stormy night - with the wind howling, the rain driving a beat against the windows - and the only light is from the nearly ceaseless lightning. You realize just how rurally you live; the black is deep and inky.  And all the usual night sounds have retreated in the face of mother nature's fury.

It is - silent.  The kind of silence that makes the hair on your arms tingle and makes you want to be sure you have a loaded handgun within easy reach.

Yesterday we woke to - rain.  Breezy, chilly rain.  In fact the temps dropped during the day as did the humidity.  We woke to 72 degrees and 80% humidity; by the time 2:00pm rolled around it was 65 and dry with a stiff breeze.

Today - is sunny, brilliantly so.  Not a cloud in the sky, the cool stiff breeze lingers keeping temps in the low 60s.

I'll take today.

For the brilliant sun and breeze are not representative of what is going on inside me.

No.

For I am in that bad place - where my sense of self-worth plummets and I want to retreat into a shell that is - dark and silent.

Ironic.  I literally had that on Thursday night and I didn't want it; now I want it and it's about as far away as it could be.

I'm feeling very - lonely.  The reasons for that are so complex that I can't even begin to sort them out.

I've reached that age, I guess, when not having children has become a point of sadness that won't go away.

I see my friends - and their daughters (especially the daughters) - doing all sorts of things together; lots of mom/daughter bonding events.  And as I look on them - and I see their futures as clearly as they do - I see my own in stark contrast.

And it hurts my heart.

I see weddings being planned.  I see their grandchildren milling around them.  I see the last phase of the lives of my friends unfurling - surrounded by children, children-in-law and the next generation growing up right before their eyes.

And I see my own future - and it has none of that.  Oh - friends will tell me I'm a mom to so many, that their kids love me.  And I love them.  But in the end...they aren't my kids.  I'll never have grandchildren of my own. 

And for the very first time since I first learned that we'd never have children - I'm jealous.  And sad.

Very sad.

So sad that I can hardly move.  Every step, each effort at engaging in life - is so beyond exhausting.  I put on a brave, game face each day and by the end of that day - I'm worn out in excess of my emotional capacity.

I some ways...it feels like I'm in mourning for something I've never had and never will have.  How strange is that.

238 Years!

Happy Birthday America!

We owe a debt we can never repay to a group of men - and their families - who were willing to commit sedition & treason - risking their very lives - to secure the freedoms of generations to come.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

 

The Weekly Muse

The morning is - blissful.  I mean seriously and beautifully blissful.  There is the random noise of a car making its way down the street.  The baby birds are chirping their pleas for more food.  The air is cool and soft on the skin.  It smells like summer but feels like late spring.  Big blue sky - enough to make a Dutchman's britches, as my grammy used to say - and a gentle breeze.

It took nearly all week but by last night I finally felt like myself again.  The past 2 weeks plus this week were some of the most stressful I've experienced in a very long time.  I paid for that mid-week; such a pall of exhaustion fell over me that I could barely move.  Somehow I found a way to make it thru the work-week and ended it by leaving a couple of hours early yesterday.

A retreat to our outdoor oasis and by the time darkness fell - I was me.

The Oracle is off to his shooting league this morning; he was literally running to the Jeep to get out of the house.  He hasn't been going nearly as often as he used to and despite my encouragement, he has been content to stay home on Saturday mornings. But I know he misses it and I was very happy to see him going off to do something for himself this morning.

Otherwise this weekend is free of the complications of responsibilities.  Well, we are serving Communion at Mass this evening; which is just pure joy.  But beyond that, nothing worthy of note.  We'll enjoy being in the oasis, perhaps there will be a nap or 2.  Just - quiet.  We are in desperate need of quiet.

The trespassing incident of last weekend has weighed heavily on both of us this week.  I did a little research and discovered that the neighbors actually committed a Class A Misdemeanor by coming onto our property without permission; the vandalism is covered by a separate statute.  The punishment for just the trespassing part?  Up to a year in jail, up to a $2,000 fine - or both.

So - I purchased a small sign: No Trespassing. Private Property.  And hung it on the Lilac Trees, facing the neighbors property.  I just couldn't get past the idea that they thought it was OK to do what they did.

The sign - had its desired effect.  About 90 minutes after it was hung up yesterday, our doorbell rang. It was the neighbor - presuming that the sign was about last weekend, he came over to apologize.  The Oracle handled the encounter with grace and class.  Accepted the apology and suggested that, regardless of the intentions, that the neighbor never again come into our yard to cut, trim or otherwise prune anything growing on our property.  He agreed.  It all ended amicably with general discussion about bluebirds and wildlife.

The sign - will be taken down this weekend.

And yet, no explanation was given as to why they felt it was OK to do what they did.  We'll never get an answer and I've accepted that; but it is still puzzling.

I know this isn't for everyone but I love the peaceful quality of the music. The lyrics really have no meaning; the composer (Karl Jenkins) says he uses layered sounds that are soothing but the words are just - notes expressed by voices.

And this is the soundtrack for the weekend.  Peace, tranquility, no deeper meaning.

Namaste.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Well...I survived. 

The quarterly meeting yesterday was an amazing illustration of the beauty of superior organizational skills. 

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That...is the registration table. 160 customized packets and individual name tags. This is what the attendees were greeted with, which set the stage for their day. All the work I did came down to what is in that picture...or at least part of it.

The rest of it...logistics for the remote locations, technology needs for 5 sessions, presentation coordination and catering...all went off flawlessly. 

In fact, I'd say this was the most successful quarterly meeting I've done in the past 8 years of doing them.  I left nothing to chance...any and all contingencies were planned for. And it showed...I received immediate feedback from people all day long - and today as well - about how great it all went and how effortless I made it all look.

Huzzah!

But on a separate note... 

I believe that His Nibs has been replaced by a pod person. The changes of the past few weeks...are increasing.

To whit: 

At the end of the meeting yesterday he took time to thank the people who planned the meeting. This included me, which wasn't unusual. But what was strange is the praise he heaped on my head...to everyone. I was thanked publicly and lavishly. And he sought me out privately, twice, before we left the venue to thank me personally. 

Today...he wanted to know my opinion about how the meeting went; how did I think the energy was in the morning session? What did I think of the panel discussions? THAT...has never happened. His Nibs has never sought out my thoughts or opinions about business-related matters.

He continues to keep me just a little off-balance. After over 3 years of the polar opposite behavior from him, this is all just a little too much cognitive dissonance. And as a friend observed, hard to trust. 

Which...I don't. I'm enjoying it while it lasts of course but each day I expect nothing but the same old crap.   

Lately, that leaves me being pleasantly surprised on a daily basis. 

Anyway, the meeting was a roaring success and today I am basking in the positive feedback received yesterday and today.  My moment in the sun has been very - bright.

Violated

So...one of our neighbors took it upon themselves to trim the "dead flowers" off of our lilac trees. Without our permission; because they thought it might look better. 

Now...the trees are about 15 years old, nicely established. Good foliage, strong branches...they have flowered reliably every year, yielding glorious armfuls of fragrant blooms. They are, simply, my favorite spring flower.  

And what these asshats didn't realize is, aside from what they did being illegal, they cut off the new growth underneath the dead flowers - which means our lilac trees (2 purple and one white) likely won't bloom for the next 2 years, since the trees set their flowers on the new growth each year.  In fact when you look out at the trees from inside the house...you can see gaps where they took off branches. 

The Oracle did catch them doing it but by then - the extreme damage was done.  He did try to impress upon them the serious nature of their actions and all they could do was say "we thought it looked better"...absolutely no recognition of the fact that what they thought had no bearing on the situation. That cutting a tree that is over 5 feet inside our property line is trespassing and vandalism.

I want to at least give them a Guide to Caring for Lilac Trees, so they know what they've done. The Oracle...frowned at me. And his frowns are very powerful things. 

In case you are wondering...we don't know these people beyond the polite head-nod when passing by on the street; in fact we don't even know their names.

And we never will.  They broke the unspoken trust that exists in suburbia. You don't wander into your neighbor's yard and change things without permission...indeed without even knowing said neighbor.  We are "good" neighbors...no loud parties, we keep to ourselves. 

I wish I could say the same about these neighbors.  

Am I furious? There just aren't words...

Deep Breath

Well it’s that time of year again…the quarterly all employee/all business partner meeting.  Scheduled for June 23 it has been on the radar since the date was selected back in February.  Thru the amazing micro-management gifts possessed by His Nibs, it has become a beast in a very short period of time.  With constant changes in direction and central messaging the bulk of the meeting content was planned in just 3 weeks.

The real beast is the size of the meeting; which grew exponentially while I was on vacation. When I came back it was to a meeting grown so large that in truth I should have engaged our corporate event management team but with only 2 weeks’ notice – I had to design a logistics plan for this:

🔹 191 invitees with 160 confirmed attending in person

🔹 9 remote locations including video conferencing and conference calls

🔹 5 sessions in total with 3 rotational breakout sessions for all 160 attendees

🔹 complex seating plans including group assignments for the breakout sessions

🔹 meeting packets with 5 personalized inserts

🔹 catering for breakfast, lunch and an afternoon pick-me-up break

🔹 technology and logistics plan both for onsite navigation but all the moving parts for the 9 remote locations

And did I mention…I had to do this all by myself?

Why yes, my precious, I did this plan alone – with only help today as I closed in on assembling the final meeting packets

All the while dealing with some of the most inane, inept and frankly – breathtakingly stupid – questions. Seriously, sometimes I do have to wonder what it’s like to go thru life with such a limited amount of intelligence or even common sense.

So on Monday my wake-up will be at 4:30am so I can get to the venue by 6:30am and get the mainstage room and registration tables set-up, work with the A/V team to confirm connectivity to all 9 remote locations plus onscreen at the main venue.  Then I will have to be “on” – as in answer questions from 160 people who have the answers either in their hands or on their name tags but are just too damn lazy to find it for themselves – until roughly 5:00pm when the meeting is scheduled to adjourn.

At which point, with hopefully a little help, I’ll clear out the mainstage room, pack up the leftover meeting and transport materials and make the 50 minute drive home.  If I get there by 6:30pm I’ll consider myself very lucky.

For those of you keeping track, this is potentially a 14 hour day from wake-up to returning home...with my energy being expended during that time at a rate that will likely exceed capacity.

I’m working very hard not to expect everything to go off without a hitch; I am preparing myself to deal with the unexpected, unforeseen and downright unimaginable.

There is a lot of praying going on right now.

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Cozy

Here we sit in our new outdoor living room. It is, oddly, a chilly evening.  There is a light breeze that is keeping the bugs away.  The 'hood is quiet...the only sounds are the gentle rustle of the capiz shell wind chime over my shoulder, the fountain near me and the gentle laughter of a child next door.

 

We are very pleased with how this turned out and are looking forward to many peaceful days and evenings in the sanctuary we have lovingly created over the past 25 years.

I feel...nurtured, blessed and serene. 

The Weekly Muse

Well...I survived the first week back from vacation. By Thursday things had settled down and while I didn't end the week completely caught up - I'll be done by Monday.

Which is crazy - taking over a week to get caught up from one week away means that the work coming in exceeded the work that was waiting when I got back.  It's a level of insanity in the office that just continues to increase.

Of late we've been enjoying some nostalgia in our TV viewing - watching old favorite movies and letting Amazon suggest what we should watch next.

A variety of James Bond lead to The Sting which lead to Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid which lead to Ben Hur which will likely lead to this classic next.

Ah - the ever wonderful Steve McQueen.  Like the others we have seen this many times.  But some movies just stand up to multiple viewings.  And we have enjoyed the nostalgia of shared childhood memories - Sunday nights watching movies with the family.  Giant bowls of popcorn and big glasses of soda as everyone curled up around the television and shared some good clean happy fun.

Who knows - maybe our next foray into nostalgia will be this amusing gem with one of the most gloriously beautiful theme songs ever written:

I confess I've never seen the entire movie; the themes were quite racy for 1971 and I was only 9 years old. Even when it was eventually broadcast on TV my parents still believed it was more than their 12 year old daughter should see.

I have, on many occasions, attempted to play the theme on the piano.  Michel Legrand - the marvelously gifted and award-winning composer - is a torture artist who surely possesses 4 hands.  I used to be able to make it thru about one page of the 4 pages of sheet music; then I'd have to give up because, well, my abilities would give up.  I've learned over the years that sometimes it's OK to try and acknowledge that the demands of the piece are just beyond my meager talents.

And speaking of happy fun - let me introduce you to the two latest members of the menagerie that is our backyard.  Pictured above we have...Tank.  Tank showed up this past fall and immediately ensconced himself underneath a woodpile for the winter.  Emerging in spring, he quickly fattened up by consuming our pots of Parsley, Cilantro and made inroads on the Basil - all the while eluding our trapping efforts.  Well, as you can see - we succeeded eventually (apples and red cabbage did the trick). Tank was relocated to an open field about 3 miles away.

And 24 hours later we discovered the critter below, dubbed Fiona.  We couldn't believe it and for a day or 2 figured that Tank somehow found his way back to us.  But as you can see, Tank is redder than Fiona.  To say we were flummoxed and frustrated would be a vast understatement. All deck plantings were once again moved to high railings and the trapping efforts began anew.  Two weeks, a few apples and some romaine lettuce and - voila! - success once again just this morning.

Fiona was taken several miles away and released into a field.  And now we begin our monitoring again...with the hopes that this is it.  We've lived here for 25 years and we never had woodchucks until 2012.  And since then - three of them have taken up residence.  We think we may know what attracted them - the above-referenced wood pile. That showed up in the early fall of 2011 after Hurricane Irene and the tree removal nightmare we had.  A friend has been slowly working away at splitting the mess left behind by the dastardly company we hired but that last wood pile - the biggest - remains.

And so we shall let the friend know that he can come back and split & take whatever he wants.  The goal will be to eliminate the wood pile by fall in the hopes that it is the thing that brought the woodchucks around.

With no possible segue that makes sense here I will just say - I'm interviewing again at work.  I had what should be the final interview last Thursday afternoon.  I feel good about this one; loved the hiring manager and could see myself working for her.  High energy, demanding but fair, eager to provide feedback as needed, wicked sense of humor - we'd be a perfect balance for each other.  It's a unique opportunity in a relatively new area with plenty of potential to turn the job into something I can really sink my teeth into and get both re-motivated and re-connected to my work. I likely won't know anything until some time next week.  Please keep me in your prayers and positive thoughts.

The weekend promises to be a mix of busy & relaxing.  I've already had a spa appointment early this morning and feel refreshed, with the stress of the week sloughed off me.  I need to clean the house in anticipation of having friends over next weekend. Nothing too hard core - just a light surface clean is all that will be required.  Church tonite of course. Then off to The Oracle's parents for Father's Day tomorrow.

So - to those readers who are dads in some way I wish you the best of the day tomorrow!  Rest, let others take care of you or just take better care of yourself - indulge in a treat or 2 or 10 and honor yourself.  You deserve it!

Sweet!

What a fun graphic this is! Right up my alley...

For daddy...who knew the precise moment the car chase began in "Bullitt" and would scour the TV listings for any showing, just so he could time it right and start watching at that golden moment.

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Oof!

Getting back to work after a relaxing vacation can be fraught with issues. Just getting caught up in e-mail can take up the better part of that first day.

My return this week has been...brutal. 

It was into the deep end of the pool by 8:00am on Monday and just now I feel Iike I'm barely treading water. 

The quarterly all employee meeting that is the bane of my existence...looms large. Much larger than usual in every respect. This quarter's meeting will have about 160 attendees...with the usual multiple break-out sessions. The actual invite list is nearly 200 people...double the normal size. 

And it wasn't like this when I left for vacation; then it was a modest 120 or so...manageable.  Now? It's a beast with its own heartbeat and pace.  And the pace is likely going to make me sick by the time it's done.

Usually I have several weeks to fully plan the logistics and the attendant demands.  But because His Nibs delayed for THREE WEEKS on making a decision on content and participants, I now have just 2 weeks to get it done.

To say I'm nervous...would be a gross understatement.   

Because in the midst of all this, my regular job continues to press it's nose on the glass. Demanding to be paid the attention it is due.  Because it just won't be denied.

Oh no, my precious, it won't.  

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Finale

Well here it is, the last day of our brilliant stay-cation.  It has been a week filled with beautiful days, lazy nights and relaxation by the bucketful.

Tomorrow...we return to work. Blessings for me, His Nibs will be out of the office all day.  So my first day back will be relatively peaceful with time to truly get caught up in an harmonious way...not the usual stress-induced, stomach churning jump-back-into-the-deep-end routine.

For today, it's been some serious quietude on the back deck, eagerly anticipating the delivery of the remaining outdoor living room furniture.  Until then we enjoy al fresco snacks such as you see here. 

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Ah...life she is good.

The Weekly Muse

Well - our beautiful stay-cation is coming to an end.  Just the rest of today and all of tomorrow - and believe me we will be grateful for it.

This has been a blissful break.  Much-needed and exactly how we had hoped it would be.  Relaxed.  Peaceful.  Restful.

We don't feel like we need a vacation from our vacation...

We've been catching up on watching old favorite movies, like the one above.  No matter how many times we see it - the ending still catches your breath and the enjoyment level is always at a high point.

Which describes our entire week.  We made it to the beach - twice.  Bookending the week with gorgeous, sun-filled days.  While the water temp was, um, chilly at 50 degrees the sun was warm and the breezes were delightful.  The surf was quite spectacular - 7-10 foot waves crashing all day long.  The Oracle did go swimming - crazy man that he is - and even as strong a swimmer as he is, he had to admit that being out there in that was a bit - bruising.

I remained on sand-firma - which is where normal people belong. :-)

I actually finished a book - one that I started nearly a month ago.  I'm usually a voracious reader though I do go thru dry patches.  And I've been in one for 8 months!  I can't stand it - I dislike not having a good book in-process but I haven't been able to focus my mind on more than a magazine article lately.  It's frustrating; I feel like a major part of me is off-kilter and not quite all there.

And while i did finish a book - and a darned good one - I'm having trouble starting another one.  I have a queue of books on my Nook and I can't seem to get interested in any of them.  So - I stick with magazines once again in the hopes that my desire to read an actual book will return soon.

Yet more fun from The Sting.

Side from our beach sojourns, there were 2 days where we never left the house at all.  I don't think I even got down to the end of the driveway. Those days - were heaven.  And somehow we resisted doing several things that need doing around the house. Oh, The Oracle kept himself busy here and there but for the most part, it was snoozing on the deck, enjoying a leisurely lunch or dinner and then more snoozing.

Our back deck is coming along.  The outdoor living room is nearly done; the 2 loveseats we ordered didn't make it here in time but they are scheduled for delivery early next week.  The rest of the space has been defined - rug is down, storage table in the corner, new lighting is up and running.  Once the loveseats are installed I'll be sure to post a picture or 2; it's going to be a gorgeous space.  Cozy, comfortable and very inviting.

We did do a day-trip and it was quite epic.  We went to Portland, ME.  In all the years and visits we've made to Maine - that's one place we'd never been. And we loved it so much we plan to go back for a long weekend, possibly in the fall.

Quaint, beautiful, charming - it was all that and more.  The trip up was not the best - pouring rain and cold.  The Oracle made the long drive just so I could go to a pottery gallery - a new space for our favorite potters, Edgecomb Pottery.

Gorgeous place!  Wonderful people, we got chatting about how long we've been Edgecomb customers - over 30 years. The people in the store were thrilled to talk to "original fans" and we had a blast poking around the back-room of the gallery and chatting with the charming, handsome and very sweet gallery manager.  In fact, we felt like royalty and it was wonderful.

More shopping, poking and then a lovely dinner on a permanently docked old steamer ship.  Despite the rain - it was one of those days we call "a best day".  And by the time we left and hit the NH State Line - the rain had stopped and soon after it was sunny; making our drive home relaxed and easy.

Yet another foray into our old favorite movies. In fact I'd have to include Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in my own personal Top 20 movies.  For oh so many reasons not the least of which is the scene above;  no one will ever be able to convince me that Paul Newman didn't have a blast filming that.

And so we are at today; chores to be done but not before another leisurely breakfast with coffee in our nearly-done outdoor living room. 

Our only company this week has been - each other.  Which has been so - needed.  Some personal renewal-time is just what the doctor ordered and the cancellation of our formal vacation was never second-guessed all week long.  Being in our much-loved "just us" space, with no pressures, no schedules, nothing but our own interests - was sheer perfection.

Oh yes - we did have one other interesting companion - on Wednesday as we sat on the deck enjoying the sunshine and birdsong...a coyote ambled his was thru the backyard, over the stone wall and into the woods behind the house.

Just as sweet as you please.  Gave us nary a glance he just came and went in less than a minute. 

In the past few months we've been noticing some interesting - carnage - on the property.  We presumed it was a coyote or a bobcat - we found a crushed fox skull and confirmed the only predator of foxes are - coyotes and bobcats, and we know we have both.  We've also found random bones, a few unidentifiable body parts and a whole body (mole, kinda gross). 

Curious enough to want to confirm the predator, we purchased an outdoor, infrared, motion-detection camera.  So far it's only yielded the ass of a woodchuck and random movements of animals unseen.  I keep moving the camera different viewpoints of the backyard in the hopes of catching our elusive quarry.

And while I will continue to do that - it's obvious we don't have to doubt anymore who the predator is. 

Never a dull moment here.