Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Books by my bed

"O Day of days when we can read!  The reader and the book, either with out the other is naught." Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have stacks of books, just ready to be read. If only I had a month's vacation by the sea in Scotland,  or I'd settle for Santa Monica or Cape Cod!

Some on my list are classics, some I have read before, long ago, some are things I have picked up that looked interesting  and some are gifts from friends.  

So here is my list:
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Lady Chatterly's Lover by D. H. Lawrence  (i never got around to reading this one)
The Claddagh Ring by Malachy  McCourt
The Real James Herriott by Jim Wight ( read all of the series and really want to read the biography)
History of Ireland  by Malachy McCourt
The Covenant  by Beverly Lewis
The Betrayal  by Beverly Lewis (gifts)
Highlanders A Histroy of the Highland Clans by Fitzroy MacClean
Vol. 2 of The Civil War by Shelby Foote  (i was in the middle when I put it down for something else I needed to read)
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman 
Artemis Foul The Eternity Code by Eoin Colfer
Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott
The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
Legendary Ireland by Peter Somerville
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Love in the time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez  (this is a reread)
The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper FForde

Now this is only by my bed!  I have a large stack on the bookshelves in the family room,  but that is another post.

Currently I am reading  Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl  that a friend gave me to read.  It is really worth the read.  I am more than half way finished and I am looking forward to finishing it this weekend.  The friend said to pass it on,  so I will give it to R, so she can read it, then pass it along.

What was your favorite book this summer?

Surprise and Relief

"Life's a voyage that's homeward bound."  Herman Melville

I was twittering away time until I could drive to the airport at 10:50 pm.   The doorbell rang at 8:30pm.  I was confounded,  the doorbell rarely rings!
I was in my nightgown relaxing until time to leave for the airport.

To my great surprise and relief the smiling face of my traveling daughter appeared through the door in the window!   She had changed her ticket for a direct flight from Dallas to Champaign  instead of going through Chicago has had originally been planned.   I was dumb struck.  I could hardly think  I was so happy.

She had to go back to the airport at 11:00pm to retrieve her luggage as the transfer of the luggage to the new flight just didn't happen.

Needless to say I stayed up way to late, looking at her video of bungee jumping in China and viewing all of her fabulous purchase and just generally enjoying being with her.

I thought about things that make me happy so I could find an image to go with this post.  I thought of sunrise and of autumn trees.  With the beautiful cool weather this morning  and more darkness indicating the glorious arrival of autumn,  I chose and autumn tree to show my happiness.

Peace and Happiness to all

Monday, August 25, 2008

Waiting to Exhale

One need not be a chamber to be haunted;
One need not be a house;
The brain has corridors surpassing
Material place.  

Emily Dickinson

There is a film called Waiting to Exhale.  I have never seen it, but I now have an idea of what a title like this can mean.

It seems that I have been holding my breath for about 3 weeks now.  When my lovely daughter got on the plane to go to China,  I began holding my breath.  I am waiting to exhale.

I have had insomnia and interrupted sleep.  I will be happy when she is home in her bed around midnight tonight.  As long as the planes are on time.   I cannot wait to see her smiling face. Okay, it will be a very tired and jet lagged face at first,  but I can hardly wait.  I know I will not sleep until she comes through that front door.   

I thought I would be picking her up at the airport, but it seems her friend's father is going to do that.  Maybe I will drive out there and pick her up anyway!   I love the airport and anxiously awaiting the arrival of a loved one.

I am quite sure I am very neurotic, and I was happy for her to have this adventure, but I will be even happier for her to be home  and begin her search for her new job and her next adventure.

I am sure that other factors have been at work making the crazy person I have been for a couple of weeks;  a daughter moving back to the dorm,  menopause,  and pause of men.  Having a male friend get the delusional idea that I wanted to marry him and then just disappearing has left me feeling rather odd.  I am glad to see him go, no longer count him as a friend, and would not wish him back again, yet it made me feel disquieted for him to act as he did.

So like the photo,  I am trying to let my worries go.  I doubt it is possible!  I am ultimately a worrier.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


"Adopt the peace of nature: her secret is patience." Ralph Waldo Emerson

The transition of living with someone else in the house and then being all alone, still has me rather disoriented and a little sad.  

I spent a lovely evening with a couple of friends, eating, drinking, talking,  playing games, and well just making merry.  I still had difficulty falling asleep, even though I had a nice evening. I have been exercising at the gym (yes I found a new one I like since my old gym fell to ruin) and then going for a swim, which usually wears me out for a good nights sleep.  

I am not feeling peaceful, I think.  I am feeling fidgety and unsatisfied.   A gentle rain has begun to fall, and while I was hoping to go to the pool to swim today, as there are not many days left to swim,  the rain seems to be bringing with it a sense of peace for me. I actually like a nice rainy day every now and then.  The flowers in the garden have been so thirsty.  Maybe I have been thirsty for a nice rain too. 

So I will finish up at work, then enjoy the rain, while reading a good book and having a cup of tea.  Maybe tonight the sleep will come easier.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


"The Universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it." Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

Change.   Adjusting to changes has never been my strong suit,  and I have seen my fair share of change.  I have lost a parent, lived in 4 different states following a man who eventually just left, and had many different jobs.  I really just don't like change and the adjustments that have to be made in my life.

But here again I am facing change.  J moved back into the dorms yesterday.  It was fun moving her and fun to feel the excitement,  but as I went back home it seemed so empty.  Now that is something when there are two dogs, three cats, 4 fish and a visiting cat waiting to greet me.

Going to bed and not hearing her moving around across the hall, not seeing the light from the hallway coming through the bottom of my door, hearing nothing but silence made me feel so lonely. 

I watched some Olympics, with a cat laying peacefully beside me while I did Sudoku puzzles and mended a bag for J.  I drank a gin and tonic and just felt the stillness around me.

It takes some time for me to adjust to being alone again after having her home for the summer. She is just a few blocks away and I will see her frequently,  but the feeling in the home is different.

Just about the time that I start to adjust, R will be home from China.  I will be so happy to see her and the loneliness of the house will be no more.

Change is constant they say and I believe it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Blondes have more fun

"Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense."  Gertrude Stein

I ran across this article on Blondes yesterday afternoon.  I was quite amazed to be reading such a thing.  How could anyone reasonably study whether blondes have more fun.  I mean you can get that color out of a bottle!  

I happen to really like Marilyn Monroe and this is one of my favorite photos.  Marilyn Monroe of course was not a true blonde.  The other issue for me is what is blonde?-There are so many shades of blonde.  I happen to be a blonde, with red tones in the blonde.  There are tons of blonde jokes circulating the internet  and many blondes (usually bottle blondes) that have caused the joking to be so popular. 

So I just had to laugh at the idea of someone trying to prove that blondes have more fun. The article actually had me laughing!   Yep I thin we do sometimes, but if you know how to have fun, it doesn't matter what color hair you were born with !

Monday, August 11, 2008

Swab those decks mateys!

"Few things are impossible to diligence and skill. Great works are performed not by strength, but perseverance. " Samuel Johnson

Well there was no rest for the weary around our house this weekend.  J decided we needed to make a concerted push to finish the alteration of the back room at our house, loving known as the "junk room" and to use stain the deck with water repellent deck stain which is was in dire need of.

Now that was two major projects  in one weekend!   First we moved all the bins and boxes and junk out of the "junk room."   We made a shopping trip to Menards to pick up the deck stain and to Bed Bath and Beyond to get a couple of large area rugs.  We also stopped in to pick up a sandwich at Subway!

We cleaned off the deck and cut back the wisteria bush, which grew back even after I sawed it in half this spring.  It leafed out profusely and even bloomed!  Who says wisteria doesn't grow well in central Illinois?  After washing the grime off the deck, we headed in to begin ripping up the carpet.

Now I don't know who invented wall to wall carpet,  but I just can't stand them, the carpets I mean, not the person.   They hold every bit of cat dander and dust and yukky stuff.  I so much more prefer  hardwood floors with some lovely area rugs!  It was a nasty job ripping up that carpet.  J used the utility knife to cut manageable amounts of carpet to rip up.  Now my geriatric cats had decided to use that carpet as a toilet, so you can imagine how disgusting this job was.  After hauling the pieces out to the garage, we tackled the strips of wood with nails that holds down the carpet.  We did break for lunch and watch a few Olympics.

It was a lot of work for a day!  We swept up the debris and vaccumed the floor and laid down some delightful area rugs ( you see I can't afford the wood right now to properly finish the floor).  We then carried all the bins back in and set up the twin bed.  We know have a usable guest room ( well for one guest at a time)  and storage center in our old junk room.   

This is how a single woman in her fifties spends the weekend!  

 More thanks than I can say to J who so diligently persevered to get the jobs finished, when I was ready to stop and rest and finish later.    I am so happy today!

Friday, August 8, 2008

"Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year." Ralph Waldo Emerson

I  awoke this morning to the radio, as I do every morning.  I listen to the local weather forecast and then I get my self out of bed.  Well the forecast for today was most pleasant.  I fed the herd then let the dogs out for their morning constitutional.  When I opened the door, I just felt a rush of pleasure.  The coolness of the air, the sunshine and the birds singing just made me smile.  My three sunflowers around my veggie garden are about to bloom and everything looked so inviting.

As I was driving west bound to work, the sun shining through the trees was truly beautiful.  As I approached the  Assembly Hall the white dome glistening in the sun shine seemed to be saying see how beautiful I am.  the Assembly Hall here in Champaign is an icon.  I truly hope the University  realizes what a treasure this odd building is sitting on the prairie looking like a scene from a 50's sci-fi movie.  

Anyway I felt great comfort on this beautiful morning.   Then when I got to work and read my e-mail, I was reading a newsletter from Real Age that gives healthful tips for the day. It was about beating the blues and staying happy to decrease the risk of diabetes and other disease.  It seems that stress and depression can take a toll on you physically as well as mentally.   

So I plan on taking RWEmerson's advice and believe that every day is the best of the year.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

High School Reunion

"All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better."  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Recently I attended my 35th high school reunion.  Now this was the first reunion that I have gone to since graduating in 1973!

When I got the invitation that had our mascot,  the terrific Piasa Bird, printed on it, I could not resist the temptation to go.  I was a little afraid to have to attend all by myself, with not spouse hanging on my arm,  but send in the check for the food, I did!

As luck would have it my sister and her family live close to the restaurant where the reunion was being held.  I had a great place to stay and people I love to hang out with before I walked into that room of total strangers!   Yes, although I went to school with those people they all seemed strange to me!

I had a momentary attack of nerves before I had to get ready to go.  Really I thought of backing out.   I am a bit heavier than I was in high school and I didn't have that many friends anyway.
I braved it out, walked up to the registration table and felt more comfortable when someone recognized right away.  

I sat with an old friend and his wife(well really he was a boyfriend before he was a friend)  and had a couple of Vodka Martinis. I couldn't really eat much because I was too nervous.  

Then just when I was getting ready to leave ( my sister called to tell me she was on the way,  you see I never drink and drive,  you learn these lessons as you get older!) another old boyfriend, who I didn't even see arrive called out my name.  

It was fun to see people that I haven't seen for 35 years. Most of the women look a lot like they did in high school, some slightly heavier  but, most of the guys I would not even have know if I had seen them on the street!  

So will I go back in 5 years and see what everyone looks like then,  I think I might.

One thing that took my by total surprise, was the memorial board.  It had not occurred to me that people from my class had died.   Of course, one died in  a car accident when we were in high school, but several have died in 2003 and 2005.   I don't know why I was surprised, but my own mortality  was suddenly right up there in the front of my mind. 

All in all I had a fun experience, with this little experiment of doing something all by myself that I have never done before and have been afraid of doing!

What other experiments can I try?   How about you, any life experiments you are thinking of tyring?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Leaving on a Jet Plane

"All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go..."  John Denver  

This morning I got up before the sun to take my girl R and her two friends to the airport.  They are embarking on an exciting adventure to China.  They are going to be meeting a friend of a friend of R's,  he will be holding up a sign at the airport with R's name on it.  It's just like a movie!

I am so excited for her to have the opportunity to go to the Olympics.  It is a long trip to China. First they fly to Dallas Texas, then on to Tokyo Japan where that catch the flight to Beijing.  She will actually be living the same day twice due to the time change.  Isn't that an odd thing!

I like driving early in the morning just as the sun is beginning to rise.  It is a peaceful time of the day, before the hectic rush to work begins for the people of Urbana.  The quiet that surrounds is so tranquil.  It may be my favorite time of the day. Maybe I should start getting up that early regularly.

There was a misty fox hanging in the air around the airport, I am hoping that clears before her flight takes off.

I am going to miss my girl.  She is gone for 18 days  and I will have little contact with her. I know that they will have a grand time, but I will be glad when she is home.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

How many frogs?

Kiss a frog to get a prince?

Miss Minchin: Don't tell me you still fancy yourself a princess? Child, look around you! Or better yet, look in the mirror.

Sara Crewe: I am a princess. All girls are. Even if they live in tiny old attics. Even if they dress in rags, even if they aren't pretty, or smart, or young. They're still princesses. All of us. Didn't your father ever tell you that? Didn't he?    

When Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote A Little Princess,  it never occurred to me that I would be thinking about this conversation between Miss Minchin and Sara Crewe, when I was single and alone in my 50's!   How I got here is a long and strange story, but my question for the day is also related to another children's story, The Frog Prince.

So here is the question:  How many frogs does a princess have to kiss before she gets a prince?

Dating is very strange when you are 53 years old.  Men are so odd.  The ones I have met want all the amenities of marriage,  they want to cuddle on the sofa, discuss troubles, have dinner cooked for them etc,  but when it comes down to discussing a longer lasting relationship that might eventually led to marriage,  they are gone in flash, with no warning! You can invest much precious time in building a relationship and then it is just gone in a flash!

I wonder if it is worth it in the end, investing oneself in a relationship with a man, when they all seem to be so selfish.   I am tired of kissing frogs! If my prince doesn't show up soon, I am throwing the golden ball in the well for keeps!