Well...

Hello there.  Long time no talk.

My one month break - from many things - has taught me much about myself.  And one thing I've learned is there is only so much energy to go around.  While it will likely be no surprise to anyone who still checks into this space on occasion...

...my blogging mojo has left the building.

And I'm thinking - it's high time I did too.  I've loved my blog - it's nearly 10 years old and I'd like to try to make it to that 10th anniversary.

But it's just not going to happen.

It's time to hang up the blog and call it a day.

I am much better than the last time I wrote in this space; certain things have happened in the past few weeks that have crystallized some thoughts for me and brought me to one conclusion...

...I'm a great person.  In fact, I'm worthy of whatever it is I want out of life.  And I fully intend on going out there and grabbing it - with gusto.

So, there's that.

I'll leave this post up for a week or so...then I'll be shutting down the blog.  I'll likely not renew the domain name either, when the time comes for that.

It's been - a blast. 

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Stepping Back

I am - in a bad place. Long forgotten memories are surfacing and they will not be ignored.  I see them thru a new lens; a shifted perspective that gives them color & texture that I've never observed before.

These memories must be cared for - acknowledged and allowed to float away on a cushion of love.

Love for myself.  Strong in the belief that - I matter.  That I am worthy.  That I am worth fighting for.

I - must be cared for and I must do it myself.  My attention is too scattered these days - always enough time for others, never enough time for me.

And I am the one who needs, well perhaps not "the most work" but certainly more work than I have energy for without changes.

The aforementioned job - has been passed on by me. The money was surely attractive but in the end, the demands of the job - at least viewed on the surface - were more than I wanted to commit to.  And I'm sure a deeper and more truthful revelation wouldn't have been forthcoming until after a hire was secured.  That would not have been something I would have handled very well.

In fact - I'm not handling very much very well right now.  I struggle every day to maintain some semblance of - control of my sanity.

I must - step away.  Not sure how long and I'm sure this comes as no surprise; my efforts in this space have been meager at best for a long time now.  Which is all so clear to me - that my downward spiral began long before I became truly and deeply aware of it.

Awareness.  It's terrifying and I hope ultimately liberating.

The Weekly Muse

The bronchitis of last week - lingers.  I feel good in the mornings, pretty good during the day but by nightfall...I regress by multiple steps.  The cough gets so much worse as darkness comes - by the time I go to bed, the juicy hacking is relentless.

I've had one solid night's sleep in 2 weeks.  And I know that's taking its own toll at this point.  It's a vicious circle and right now I feel - trapped.

I know this too shall pass but for now - can it please pass quicker?!

The music is apropos of - absolutely nothing.  Jim Croce has been coming up quite a bit lately on one of my Pandora stations and that's not a bad thing.  It's a lovely reminder of a talent gone far too soon; love the purity of his voice, so at-odds with his appearance.

And so we struggled through another week.  Thankfully it wasn't that busy - either at work or at home - so the demands I had to place on myself were minimal, at most.  Even made the executive decision to work from home yesterday.

In the process of working from home, I got an e-mail from an old friend who works as a headhunter.  And she's hunting - for my head.

Or at least a head like mine.

She's recruiting for an Executive Administrative Management position for another Fortune 500 company in Hartford.  She sent me the job description and - wow - it's a robust position. More than "just" an administrative position, it's more like a Chief of Staff.  It's a huge job and there is a huge salary that goes along with it.

And when I say huge - I mean H.U.G.E.  The salary would be a roughly 50% increase - and no, that's not a typo. Fifty Percent.

Plus bonus.

What's the catch, you ask?  Well it's this - the company in question is in trouble.  Has been for a few years; they are trying to keep things afloat long enough to get bought out.  So they are paying ungodly amounts of money to get the right talent to help them do that.  It would likely mean the job would only last for 2 years, at most.

The salary and bonus - would be a life-changer for The Oracle and I.  You see - in July 2016 we pay off our mortgage.  We can't quite believe we are staring down the barrel at this momentous event but - we are indeed fast approaching the next phase of our lives.

And this job opportunity - with it's ridiculous salary and bonus - would enable us to enter that phase completely debt-free in every possible way.  In fact, I could bank so much money in the next 2 years that I could probably take the job I really want, much sooner than I thought.

Ultimately I want to be the Parish Admin for my church.  It's a part-time gig, roughly 20 hours per week plus a few hours here and there on the weekends.  The pay won't be much but the work will be 1.5 miles from home and will allow me the honor and blessing of working for and giving back to my parish family in a truly meaningful way.

Of course, I have to interview for - and get - this new opportunity.  And that's not a guarantee nor am I sure I want it.

I have much to consider - our lives, my health and the stability of a company on the ropes.  If I do get an interview I will need to be on my tip-toes, tuned in to every subtlety, be hyper-aware of body language, be adept at reading between the lines to ferret out whether this opportunity is something I'd be willing to commit to at all.  I'll have to read the energy of every hallway, every room, every single place I walk thru during the interview process.

Because, if I do interview with them, they are going to try to sell me - hard.  And I'm going to have to wear my body armor to protect me from that so I can see the truth.

It's not the salary and bonus, it's not the people (in this case anyway)...it's going to be about so much more.  And I need to be ready to see it - clearly and plainly.

Bread and Circuses

I want to be positive, really I do.

I try hard to focus on gratitude these days – I have so much to be truly and deeply thankful for.  I live a simple life with The Oracle; sometimes we get a little overbooked or overwrought – don’t we all.

We work at a great company – stable, making the right decisions for the longevity of its business, which of course benefits the employees in countless ways.

We have a great faith and are part of a loving parish family.

And it is that last that I cling to in these days – days of unrest and violence in a world that seems to be unraveling all over the place.

We have ISIS – torturing people for their faith.  Isolating thousands of people just because they are different than what ISIS says is the only way to be.

James Foley is beheaded by ISIS.  The president gives an address and then goes and plays his umpteenth to the 100th power round of golf.  It’s so bad that now ISIS – is using the president’s feckless, reckless and moronic behavior to taunt us and to recruit new members to its cause.  See, they say – the president of the most powerful country in the world does nothing more than grieve at the loss of a citizen, but can’t grieve enough to be aware of the optics of playing golf afterwards.

Michael Brown – dear lord if there is a story I’m so sick of reading about, it’s that one.  A young black thug robs a convenience store, is high on weed and ends up dead by a white police officer – and everyone loses their minds.  Rumors are rampant, speculation is the order du jour.  Anything to keep the other headlines off the top of the page.  And while the White House sends THREE federal government representatives to the funeral of an 18 year old man killed under circumstances that hardly make him a poster-boy against police brutality … James Foley – murdered while doing his job by enemies of this country - gets his state’s officials but no federal representation.

In the meantime, Ralph Weems IV, a white man, is beaten by a mob of 20 black men; his injuries are so severe that he’s in a medically-induced coma; his friend, another white man, was also seriously injured.  Mr. Weems was told not to go inside a restaurant because the crowd there – all black – were upset over the death of Michael Brown and were looking for some rough justice and retribution.  So Mr. Weems leaves – and is followed by the aforementioned mob. Beaten and likely brain damaged in retaliation for a killing that happened several hundred miles away and of which he had no part. And the local police have already stated – not a hate crime.

I have to laugh now at the term “hate crime” – because those 20 black men followed Mr. Weems and his friend because they liked them and wanted to have a waffle with them.  No, no hatred here folks – move along.  But swap the skin color and watch the world explode about hate crimes.  Seems to me that all violent crimes have their seeds in some kind of hatred – so why is one portion of the population protected when another is not.

So that race-baiting monsters like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have something to do.  So that the media can keep our attentions focused away from the more pressing – and more sinister – matters at home and abroad.

And meanwhile...the heinous deaths in Benghazi of Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty continue to go unanswered.  

Turns out – those IRS e-mails of Lois Lerner weren’t lost; it’s just too cumbersome to retrieve them from the back-up system.  Well sure, instead of actually, you know – DOING YOUR F’ING JOB – just lie and otherwise obfuscate to cover up the truth of the illegality of your actions.

Iraq continues to devolve on a daily basis.  And the president – the one who 2 years ago took out the last troops claiming we were leaving a stable government in that country, today says he wasn’t the one to end it there.  No boots on the ground – but drones in the sky.

Syria continues to devolve on a daily basis.  Again, no boots on the ground but now – drones in the sky.

We are a country with no leadership, no foreign policy that does anything except hold a press conference then retreat to the back nine.

The world is going mad and it’s getting more difficult with each passing day to feel safe in my simple life. 

The Weekly Muse

It's been...a week.

A difficult, trying, exhausting week.

It started on Tuesday with a simple head cold; by yesterday I was in the doctor's office getting drugs for Bronchitis.  In fact - it turned from a cold to bronchitis in a matter of 24 hours.

Swift efficient bacterial bronchus.

Because I'm just that lucky.

As a result of this latest respiratory onslaught I've been out of work since Wednesday.  I did manage to work a few hours from home on Wednesday and Thursday - one hour online, one hour resting.  Helps to limit how many paid time off hours I have to burn through.

Because - I do loathe that with every fiber of my being.

Yesterday was a full day out and no matter; all I did was rest, doze and sleep.  Though sleep is a struggle - the cough is quite, um, juicy - and it wakes me up from a deep sleep like a bomb going off next to my head.

The meds I got include cough syrup with codeine...which at the very least makes me groggy and able to fall back to sleep relatively easily.

Hopefully by this time tomorrow the coughing will be lessening and I'll start perking up. Because it's back to work on Monday.

As it happens The Oracle is off to a shooting law class all weekend; out of the house at 7:15 this morning I don't expect to see him until 8:00 tonite.  And the same again tomorrow.

Given how I'm feeling - he's not missing anything at home that's for sure.

And while I'm keeping my spirits up, doing all the things I need to do to get healthy again I just have to say - asthma...sucks.  It complicates everything; a simple head cold to others becomes Bronchitis (or worse) for me. 

Nothing halfway here; if I wasn't so diligent and attuned to what my respiratory system is telling me - I have no doubt I'd have gone into Pneumonia within another couple of days without the intervention of the doc.

Hyper-vigilance is my every waking moment as soon as I sneeze or sniffle. 

Oh and as if that wasn't enough - the recently-diagnosed Tinnitus adds another layer of interest to a head cold.  The sinus pressure?  Well, it increases the volume and tone of the Tinnitus until I feel like I have thousands of sharp, tiny knives stabbing me in the ears.

Yup.  Good times.

On a much more positive note however, that online photography contest is going quite well.  One of my submitted images is currently appearing in the top 20 for the category.  Not bad for a first time participant!

The Weekly Muse

Wow.  Just wow.

The weather here is simply - breathtakingly beautiful.  Light breeze, bright sun, crisp air.  Temps yesterday never hit 80 and we are in for more of the same today.  This - is my favorite kind of weather.  Bright beautiful days and the nights? Well, they have been crisp and cool, bringing on some of the best sleep of the year.

Isn't the imagery in this video incredible?!

I did something impulsive yesterday (which, frankly isn't all that unusual...) and I joined an online photography contest - GuruShots.  I stumbled across it thru my LinkedIn account and decided - what the heck.

It's free.  There are multiple categories you can submit up to 2 images for each.  I selected a pretty generic one - The Great Outdoors - and submitted one of my Milky Way images and one of the recent sunrises in Vermont.  First prize in this category is $250 - not bad for a free service and the simple act of uploading images.  They will even copyright the images for you.

What makes all this so exciting to me is this: the moderator of the forum is a photographer named Timothy Sutherland.  He's very well-known; published in National Geographic, displays in places like the White House ... you know, not too big of a deal. :-)

Well - Mr. Sutherland commented on BOTH of my photographs and even asked me - ME! - what my settings were on the Milky Way image because he was having trouble getting nothing but a bunch of stars.

In case you didn't chase the link on his name...I'll tell you why this is such a big deal to me.  Mr. Sutherland trained with - Ansel Adams.

Ha!

Only one of the greatest outdoor photographers of all time.  And I was praised for my work...by someone who worked with the great Adams.

I haven't come down from the cloud yet.  I may never.

My boss - continues to be a changed leader for me.  The shift that started 3 months ago appears to be permanent.  He remains engaged, interested - sharing information with me that he's not shared in the past, including me on his observations about meetings, people and projects - even soliciting my opinions.  My regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings have been held as scheduled - no random cancellations, no more blowing me off. And if he's even 5 minutes late - he apologizes to me.  I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop but I can also feel myself settling into my work-harness again - in a good way.  It is amazing what being treated like you have value can do for your commitment to the tasks at hand. 

In fact, it's so good and has been for long enough that I have suspended my search for another position within the company.  Oh I'll keep my ears to the ground for opportunities - I'm not a fool - however I do love the people I work with and while there remain aspects of my position that don't light a fire underneath me, there is something to be said at this stage of my life for consistency and fewer surprises.

We believe we have, finally, halted the invasion of woodchucks.  Yesterday, The Oracle and 2 of his closest buddies spent the majority of the day hacking, sawing and splitting the last wood pile left over from The Hurricane Irene Great Tree Debacle.  This was by far the largest and most difficult pile to dig into.  Much of this wood was from the base of the biggest tree that fell in the hurricane - a giant Oak with a 5 foot diameter base.  Giant logs - some of them 3 feet long.

The Boys worked well together; I worked from home yesterday and had the privilege of hearing them joking and laughing as they worked themselves into some pretty righteous sweats.  I also fed them well with scrumptious sandwiches from a local cafe.  Happy boys mean good work.

In the end, as they rolled away one of the smaller base pieces, the woodchuck burrow entrance was revealed.  Now - these critters have nowhere to hide.  Oh there is still a good portion of the woodpile that remains, needing further attention. But with the bulk of the wood either removed or rolled aside and the burrow entrance fully exposed, we can now stuff netting into the hole and anchor it in place with a large rock.  That's what has been recommended and we plan to do that by the end of the weekend.

And so - we've been busy, we've had some relaxation time too.  This weekend will be the last one with both days free of commitments until the end of September. And that's OK - there is much coming up that will be good for our souls.

In the end - you can't ask for much more than that.

Be Gentle

In the wake of the death of Robin Williams and some things that I’ve read and heard from others, I wanted to say this:

No matter how certain you are, you never really know what another person is going through. You never really know what it is like to walk a mile in another person’s shoes. You never really know what is going on in another person’s life. And no matter how well you think you know someone, you can never understand their perspective as clearly as you understand your own.

No matter what another person’s life appears to be to you, we never really know what is going on. “Money, fame, and talent don’t buy happiness,” the cliche goes. But it is true. Just because someone’s life looks perfect to you doesn’t mean it feels perfect to them.

Depression is a scary thing. I’ve been there. Many people have, and deal with it every day. When you are clinically depressed, no matter how good your life might seem to others, it just doesn’t feel good to you. You can’t get there. You can’t sleep. You can’t stop thinking or worrying about this or that. You just can’t shake it, no matter what. And worst of all, most of the time you decide you can’t talk about it or share it with others, because they will never understand, or you assume that the more you talk about it, the worse you will feel.

Depression is a lonely and scary place to be. So lonely and so scary that sometimes the only thing you can see that will stop all this is the permanent solution. I’ve been there too.

Far too many of us spend time criticizing and judging other people.  I hope that the sad lesson we learned yesterday from Robin Williams’ suicide was that we never, ever know what is really going on inside a person. So don’t assume. Don’t judge. Don’t criticize. 

Do … be gentle with everyone you encounter because they could be waging an inner-battle that you can’t begin to understand.  Accept that you might not always agree on every single thing. Allow for people's imperfections - because we all have them.

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Church of Baseball

For the first time in my life...I went to a live baseball game this past Friday night. 

I. Know. 

 

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A minor league club, the CT Tigers play at the intimate Dodd Stadium...where you need to keep your wits about you as all seats are in foul ball territory.  Our tickets were $6.00 each and included a monster fireworks show at the end of the game.

This was a church outing...organized by The Oracle. It was his dogged determination that this gathering take place and the 50 people who went to the game couldn't thank him enough for organizing it, getting the tickets, marketing it and coordinating distribution of the tickets.

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He looks like the proud and happy man he should be. Everyone had a great time.

We were able to get caught up with friends, see people we don't get to see too often and enjoy a rollicking game. 

The home team won, 5-3.  A talented bunch of children...really some of them looked like they were 12!  In truth this ball club recruits players from high schools and colleges...and we are pretty sure that we saw at least one talent scout sizing up the players. 

Which would be good news to the 2 pitchers we saw from the Tigers.  The first pitched 6 innings and his average pitching speed was 90mph.  The relief pitcher gave a whopping 93mph average with a couple of pitches scoring at 97mph. 

Teach them some control and they could be in the majors on a year or 2. 

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Of course our beloved Fr. Michael was there...visiting with everyone and just being his usual fun self.  He sat with us and that's always...interesting. He's like the little brother I never had...lots of good-natured teasing, lots of laughs and he shared his roasted peanuts with me.  

Yes...I ate all the expected foods at a baseball game...hot dogs (which were really good), peanuts, ice cream. No crackerjack.  

 The highlight of the evening wasn't about the game, the food or the fireworks.

It was the incredible privilege of seeing a surprise military dad homecoming. Three kids were brought on the field, presented as winners of a "contest".  Eventually the kids were prompted to look at the scoreboard where a picture of their dad was shown.  The littlest one - a boy of about 5 - insisted that his daddy was in Virginia.  The MC said "Are you sure?" And then pointed to the dugout...and out pops daddy.  The three kids were beside themselves but the little boy...he couldn't stop jumping up and down.  It was exactly what you'd expect it to be...like every one of these events you've seen on YouTube...and nothing prepares you for the impact in-person.  

Standing ovation from the crowd, people wiping their eyes (ourselves included) and as the dad made his way up thru the stands with his family...people on the aisles shaking his hand, thanking him for his service, 

It was just beautiful, poignant and awe-inspiring. 

The perfect compliment to a wonderful evening spent in the company of dear friends...worshipping at the church of baseball. 

My first live baseball experience was, obviously, a roaring success. In truth, I really didn't want to go. I only went because The Oracle worked so hard on the event.  And I am so very glad that I roused myself to join in the merriment.  

Fenway...look out cuz were coming next year!  

The Weekly Muse

We are a day late, we know.

The muse isn't with us this weekend.  The beginnings of a summer cold have been trying to sink its fangs into me.  At first I thought it was a lack-of-sleep-hangover yesterday - felt down and out all day.  Slept late, then took a 2+ hour nap midday.  Managed to rally for church and a function after church but this morning - same thing.

No energy.  Feel hungover, like everything is moving slightly behind - blurry around the edges with no ability to focus.

I'm taking the necessary precautions - drinking plenty of fluids, using my trusty Neti Pot and allowing myself to just rest, sleep and rest some more.

It's made for a rather quiet and boring weekend...The Oracle has been his usual sweet-self, taking care of me and being willing to just relax alongside my listlessness.

I don't like getting sick at any time of year - but a summer cold?

Sucks.

Seven for #4

Another gathering - the fourth in New England - of Lexicans was planned and executed flawlessly – and much fun was had.

This past Sunday a small group of us gathered at what is now being called the “Shakespeare’s of the East Coast” – the small, dark and always terrific Harp & Hound in Mystic.  Our group included The Oracle and myself, AFSarge and his ever-lovely wife, Padre Harvey in for training from TX and, new this time, Marcus Erroneous and his terrific wife.  Daryle in NY tried to be there but couldn't break away; he was missed.  We carried many more in spirit around our cozy corner table.

We spent a delightful 4-ish hours just relaxing, drinking (Guinness…was well represented) and eating. Standard pub fare (though AFSarge insists the bangers & mash are the best in New England; and I can’t argue with the superb-ness of their black & tan onion rings…) kept us well sated.

The occasion was…well, Padre Harvey’s presence in CT (from TX) was the excuse but in reality – we are finding we need no other excuse then it’s time to get together again.  For it is old friends renewing ties and new acquaintances becoming old friends.

United in our love of the great man himself, Lex, we continue his tradition of making connections.

And I once again find myself flummoxed at how I am in this company.  Sarge = Air Force. Padre = Marines & Army. Marcus = Army Special Forces HALO Jumper. Me = Exec Assistant in corporate America.  As the childhood song goes – which one of these is not like the others.

And yet, my joy at listening to their stories – their shared experiences overseas and throughout their varied and disparate military careers – never diminishes.  Each time I plan one of our gatherings, I look forward to the day with childlike glee.

My heart sings out - we shall be with “the boys”! 

That’s how I refer collectively to all the male Lexicans – “my boys” to be precise. 

It is so fascinating to me that this group – who never really knew each other in-person and for so many years existed together in the ether of the Internet – can connect in meat-space so quickly and establish ties that are so deep.  All those years of “talking” to each other at The Mothership created real relationships that defy logic; indeed they stand in opposition to the very fabric of your life, don’t they.  The deepest and most meaningful relationships in your life are supposed to be the “real” ones (meaning the in-the-flesh encounters) aren’t they.

And yet here we are – a merry band of people whose only thing in common for a decade was the daily reading of a blog written by a most extraordinary man.

That – is Lex’s most powerful legacy.  It’s not just his fighter pilot prowess, his achievements in Naval Aviation, nor even the vast importance of his family and the children who will continue living their lives in his honor.  His legacy can be seen – physically observed by anyone with eyes – in the interactions at these gatherings.

People who gathered on a humble blog to debate & discuss politics, current events, all things military, plane pr0n, and all manner of other things that Lex was interested in – have now become friends in the very real sense.  My life became better for knowing these people in the randomness of the Internet.

My life has been enriched tenfold by continuing our interactions in real-time; they add texture and color to my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

My Boys, and their wives.  And the Lex Babes of course – we few but strong and mighty Lex Babes.

From left to right:

The Oracle, Me, AFSarge, his wife, Padre Harvey (in front), Marcus Erroneous, his wife

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The Weekly Muse

Relaxation is the word of the weekend.

Started gloriously by a day off yesterday with a sojourn at our favorite place - the beach.  Not a hot day, a little humidity but a gorgeous breeze off the ocean.  Contrary to expectations the beach was not crowded for a lovely summer's day, so we had quite a bit of real estate to ourselves.

We ate a sumptuous picnic of cheese, crackers, spreads, fresh veggies and fruit - topped off by delectable bakery cookies.

It was a day fit for a king.  Or a pair of kings as the case may be.

Today - is rainy.  It's been a soft rain all morning - soft like the notes from this gorgeous trumpet.  The air is crisp - a slight chill for summertime, not much humidity and the silken sounds of the day.  Muffled, muted birdsong.  Seems like most people are staying inside as there hasn't been much automobile noises from the neighborhood.

A new woodchuck has taken up residence where the last one lived;  The Oracle attempted to permanently dispatch him this past Thursday by way of a 9mm pistol whilst working from home.  Physical evidence was lacking as the target was able to run away and hide; The Oracle was unsure of a direct hit.

The woodchuck was seen this morning.  It seems we will never be rid of these pests!

I am - struggling.  Some long-dormant memories are bubbling to the surface. Things I'm seeing in a new light, from a new perspective.

And it's - disturbing.  I'm trying to come to grips with them on my own thru meditation and prayer.  It's working, sort of.  I'm considering possibly going to a new therapist (dislike) or seeking out some alternative therapies (like a little bit more).

The commitment of time for the therapist is daunting.  In a life already pretty filled with activities, adding one more into the mix just fills me with dread. 

The idea that I need to go back into therapy fills me with - disappointment.  Just when you think you are out, something pops up to tell you that maybe, just possibly, you aren't finished yet.

Calgon - take me away.

In Defense of House and Home

So…friends of ours (let’s call them Sue and Don) have been raising chickens and quail on their property in a quiet, rural area of CT.  They’ve been doing this for about 5 years for the fresh eggs and the fresh poultry.  We aren’t talking about a full barnyard here; about 20 chickens and 100 quail.  Don lets the chickens roam the property and it’s interesting – they aren’t very smart but they follow him like faithful little children and as soon as it starts to get to twilight time, they all just head to the coop.  No prompting, no calling.

It’s a quiet property – large enough and heavily wooded enough that they don’t see their neighbors. As you’d expect with that kind of area there are predators - fox, coyotes, bobcat, possibly mountain lion. Other large-scale animals like moose and black bear as well.

Sue and Don tried raising pigs once.  A bobcat took one of the 2 pigs they had before they could fully enclose the pen.  They successfully raised the other one but the effort to keep the predators at-bay was too much so they won’t do that again.

The overall effort to keep the chickens safe took its toll this past weekend.

Don had been noticing that something was trying to get into the chicken coop - evidence of scratching and clawing at the door to the coop, scattered feathers, lots of chicken noises at odd times of day - that sort of thing.  So whenever he’s been outside with them – he’s carried a sidearm as a precaution (he is licensed to carry and owns his firearms legally).  This past Saturday it came to a head with disastrous consequences.

Don saw what he believed to be a coyote in the chicken coop; the chickens were roaming but there were a few inside the coop and he lost track of them.  As soon as Don noticed he called out and the “coyote” took off, chicken in its mouth. So he did what he feared he’d have to do – shot the predator.

Except it wasn’t a coyote; it was a neighbor’s pet Husky.  Which in the heat of the moment, thru the rage of losing his livestock, Don saw as a coyote.

Don thought nothing of it; he killed the coyote, lost one chicken and got all the others safely back into the coop.  It wasn’t until the next day that he learned it was a dog.

The police were called because the neighbors said they heard shots coming from next door the day before and then, finding their own dog dead in the woods with gunshots, made the obvious assumption.  The police thoroughly investigated and found that Don was within his rights to shoot the dog; the state statute indicates a homeowner can legally shoot any animal it deems a threat to their property or livestock.  The fact that it was, in this case, a family pet – doesn’t matter to the law.

So – no charges will be brought on our friends.  The police said there was ample evidence on the property that the dog took the chicken – evidence that lead into the woods where the dog was, eventually, found.

The dog owner is, as you can imagine, upset.  Enough so that he called the press…interviews took place and newspaper articles were written; there was a report on the local news last night. These reports aren’t entirely unsympathetic to Don but they aren’t exactly singing his praises either. The dog owner is quoted liberally, multiple times, about their beautiful, sweet pet and the horror at how he died.  The police continue to stand by their investigation and the laws despite the fact that the owner insists vociferously that charges should be filed. 

In fact the dog owner is in violation of the law – the dog was not leashed and was roaming freely.

But then again – Sue and Don are in violation of a different law, one they didn’t know about.  You can’t have livestock on property less than 3 acres in size; they live on one acre.

It’s a sticking point that could become problematic.  Don is getting rid of the birds; by the end of this week they will be placed with someone else in another town.  In the meantime, Sue and Don have their heads in the sand about what will likely happen to them.

They believe that because Don acted within the law in the shooting…the dog owner has no legal rights to sue them.

And I believe they are very wrong.

A lawyer will take the case for sure; pain and suffering=dollar signs.  With the atmosphere in CT about guns still on high-alert in the wake of the Sandy Hook School nightmare this is a story ripe for plucking and making an example of an innocent gun owner trying to defend his property against – a dog.

Not a dog off a leash, roaming free and attacking livestock. 

But a sweet, family pet. Accompanied by the requisite pictures of fun family time with the cuddly 2 year old Husky taking center stage.

I worry for our friends. At best it will be a nuisance lawsuit, designed to make their lives miserable and cost them money on their own lawyers that they can ill-afford to waste. At worst - they get just the wrong judge and things could derail swiftly and cost them far more than lawyers’ fees.

It’s a scary and sad situation. They feel awful about the dog, about losing the chickens. They are actually contemplating moving out of the area (something they have only casually discussed in the past few years but are now seriously considering; they are going to a few open houses this weekend) to get away from what will likely be the world’s most hostile neighbors.

I pray for them – for the dog owner to settle down, accept his own culpability in not keeping his beloved pet leashed and just move on.  For Sue and Don, that they are able to return to the quiet life they used to have, with no reporters hounding them, with no one passing swift judgment on them.  For their physical safety as well – for their home address was published in the newspaper articles.

They want it all to just go away.  And I pray for that above all else.

The Weekly Muse

Beautiful.

That is the day today - brilliant blue sky, a few passing puffy clouds.  The air is dry and there is the gentlest of breezes.  It's a good day to do what we plan to do - nothing worthy of note.

We'll relax in our Oasis of outdoor living, reading and watching the birds.

You know - the usual stuff that nurtures us and feeds our souls.

And music such as this will be the day's soundtrack.  Nothing too intrusive, just sweet soft notes that will cause us to pause - and just...be.

I've said it many times and I'll say it again - a quote from a friend - we are human BE-ings, not human DO-ings.  Sometimes we lose sight of that simple fact.

Lately The Oracle and I have been hyper-aware of just...BE-ing.  Our personal calendars have been remarkably quiet of late and looking ahead it seems they will be for at least 2-3 more weeks.

This is rare and we are embracing every quiet moment that we can - coming straight home from work and sitting outside with a cocktail.

It feels so - decadent.  It feels so - delicious.

Followed by a simple meal and perhaps an evening with a good movie or watch a couple of episodes of the latest program we are streaming.

In all cases - it's been marvelously relaxing.  Which we desperately need these days.

Don't we all?

Shaky

I've had a few days now to digest news I got last week...time enough that I can finally share it without my blood pressure rising.

The 2 jobs I was up for...fell through.   

To say that I am disappointed would be an understatement.  To say that I am angry about one of them...would also be a vast understatement. 

One of them I didn't get because another executive retired and her admin would have lost her job.  While I wouldn't want to see that happen, and while it does take the sting out a bit, it still sucks.  But hey...at least it's a clear reason that makes total sense and even illustrates some humanity in the decisions made in the Fortune 100. 

 It is the other one that leaves me breathless with anger.  I was put forward for that one; never actually applied for it - I was recommended by 6 people I had met with for the other position.

An extremely senior level executive - and I gave the interviews of my life. Met with him twice in one day, at his request. By the time we were nearing the end of the second meeting, he was saying things like "when you" and "we will"...indicators of a favorable outcome for me (and him, he'd have gotten the executive assistant of his life).  

I met with 2 other people that same day...and they both told him I should be his number one choice.  In fact, by my count based on firsthand information, a total of 9 people suggested that I would be the very best possible choice. That it would be a no-brainer for him.  Hire me, plug me in and let me run. 

Instead...he hired someone from outside the company who supposedly has more experience than me.

Bullshit.

Not only do I have 8 YEARS of internal company experience...I have over 30 years of executive assistant, office management, project management and human resource generalist experience.  

What does this person he hired have? Wings??? 

I am quietly digging around to see if I can find out the truth...because the above is what I called it. Pure, utter bullshit.  

My theory is that it is a "courtesy hire".  Some other executive has a daughter or niece or cousin or friend of a friend...because quite frankly, what else could it be?! Even the executive himself gave me every indication that the job would be mine. 

The mature part of me understands that this wasn't the right position for me, that there is something better out there that I will connect with at the appropriate time. 

The part of me that needs a change, that needs to do something else...is getting there, very slowly. 

The control freak in me is rebelling with all her might against what I know intellectually to be the truth - that God has this - that it is His will I must acknowledge.

There is a saying that I have had posted at my desk for a couple of years now; it has stood me in good stead during some pretty rough moments:

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I am grateful for so many things.  I just pray for continued strength.

Because in truth - my confidence is getting shaken. This is the 5th time I haven't gotten an internal job for one reason or another.  It's hard at this point not to think that there might be something fundamentally wrong with me...that I'm not seeing.  I continue to request specific feedback each time and only once was it really not about me.  If there is something I'm doing wrong or unintentionally misrepresenting...I need to know.  Else I will continue to go thru this soul-crushing experience. 

Which, to that last, I have no intention of continuing this cruel joke for much longer. Earlier this week I posted for my 6th opportunity since January.  If nothing comes of it I plan to suspend my search for a bit.  Give myself a chance to take a breather, get some perspective, gain distance between me and these disappointments.

I am grateful. I have a good job at a stable company. I am well-respected and valued by my peers. And even His Nibs continues to show signs that after over 3 years he finally sees the power he has in his admin. 

For now I have to hang my hat on that. Which isn't awful...just confusing. 

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.