Friday, September 28, 2007

Three Unexpected Hours

The elementary school called yesterday, to tell me the youngest was sick. After three or four phone calls to re-arrange meetings, I picked her up and home we went. When we walked through the doors, it was around 11:45 am.

She quickly settled in with a ginger ale and new Barbie movie, leaving me to contemplate the many choices that lay before me. I had to stay home, of course, so running errands was out. Pay bills? Organize the fall/winter clothes we've pulled from storage? Actually thaw something and plan dinner? Delve into more revisions on the WIP?

I slept.

I crawled into bed between the sleeping eight year old and the ecstatic squirming puppy, moving two sleeping kittens off the pillows, and crashed for a hour or so. It was decadent, delicious--everyone else was at work, solving problems, keeping the paperwork Gods happy, but I was asleep in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week. Scandalous!


I almost ruined it by waking up and feeling guilty, but I decided to keep (another) running list of things I could do if faced with an unexpected day off in the near future, instead. So next time, I'll be the model of efficiency.

Probably. :)

If the Time Gods handed you three unencumbered hours (no work, no husband, no sick kiddos), do you know what you would do? Has it been so long since you had three unclaimed (and conscious!) hours you would spend them in shock? Or do you make it a point to plan time just for yourself?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Comfort Food

Lasagna, mashed potatoes, homemade mac and cheese. . . I can feel my blood pressure drop already.

Honestly, you can have your bio-feedback, yoga, and group therapy sessions. I'll cure what ales me in the kitchen. Not that I'm a great cook, by any stretch of the imagination. It's just that certain emotions and seasons call for specific types of foods, and I won't be happy until I've eaten every last delicious bite.

During the summer, it's pasta salad--replete with broccoli, olives, cheese cubes, and loads of spices. But it's finally autumn and so even though the weather's still warm, I bring home gorgeous apples and bags of caramels, ready to be unwrapped and melted. Or unwrapped and popped into my mouth with a bit of apple, if time's an issue. And soups--vegetable, ham and bean, hash, chili . . . I could live off soup seven days a week, if the kids wouldn't lecture the food pyramid recommendations at me.

When I was pregnant with daughter number three, everything was difficult, my stomach included. At my most miserable, only S'more pop tarts, lightly toasted until warm and crispy, and real Coke would do. With daughter number two, it was Baskin Robbins daiquiri ice ice cream. With daughter one, it was apples and barbecue potato chips.

Now, when work is especially nightmarish and I see no easy solutions in sight, my fingers start to twitch towards a Midnight Milky Way.

What culinary delight invades your dreams in good times and bad? Do your cravings ebb and flow with the seasons, or are you loyal to your favorite foods?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Service with a smile

When I was in second grade my parents moved from a large town back to my dad's hometown. They bought a full service Phillips 66 station. Remember full service, where attendants in uniforms pumped your gas, washed your windows, checked your oil and the air in your tires? You got out of the car and visited, came inside to pay for your gas because swiping the credit card wasn't an option, and bought a Coke for a quarter from the vending machine.

Our service station was immaculate. My parents made sure of that. We spent a huge amount of time there, as any small business owner does, and so my mom also made sure it was comfortable. In the waiting area there was a sofa and chairs, a refrigerator and a TV. We watched Andy Griffith and Gilligan's Island--no one had cable. At one of the big desks my brother and I could sit and do our homework after school.

Our middle school was catty-corner from the station. Kids were constantly crossing the drive in order to go to the diner next door, to buy hot honey-buns topped with vanilla ice cream (yummy beyond belief). We were on the main road through town, so in the summer folks would line up their lawn chairs on the drive to watch the parade, and my parents would grill burgers and dogs and fill tables with potluck dishes. Strangers would wander by and ask how much a meal was, and my dad would always smile and say, "Just grab a plate."

Our cash register was push button. We learned from an early age how to clean the bathrooms, squeegee a window properly, count change back instead of dropping it into the customer's hand. We learned to smile, to look people in the eye, to thank them for their business.

Between that and the farm chores, it was the best childhood ever.

The musky smell of oil and tires recalls such happy times for me, much like the sweet smell of molasses in feed or fresh haybales. What brings back childhood memories for you?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Best Laid Plans

We should be on a mini-vacation right now.

Everyone has watched MASH at one time or another, yes? Remember when the officer's latrine blew up and Henry stood there with the toilet seat around his neck, a dazed expression on his face, and said, "Boom" ? We have had a "boom" kind of day.

We hit a really nice sized doe broad-side as she was crossing the road with a few of her friends at around 6:30 this morning, and she didn't have a chance. We didn't either.

We are totally fine. My husband, the hero driver who kept the car safely on the road, has some burns on his arms from the air bag. My shoulder hurts a bit from the seat belt, I think, and everyone's throat is sore from the air bag dust smell--that is nasty. But it could have been so, so, so much worse--something I'll be saying to myself for a very long time, I imagine.

Now the occasional collision of deer and car is a way of life here; we live in rural Kansas, and even in our town of 20,000 +/- you will see a deer wandering through the Taco Bell parking lot. But this is a first for me. I've never had a ticket, never bumped a fender (ok, I brushed the side of a cattle trailer once but I was fourteen at the time and in the middle of a field) and never been witness to an accident, either.

The most fitting irony, and one that was most certainly not lost on the magnificent county sheriff's deputy who came to our aid? Today's the opening day of black powder deer season here.

"Yes, officer, we have our deer tag right here." And we did. But after a summer in New England, I can honestly say, thank God it wasn't for a moose.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

On the Other Hand. . .

Giving each side due consideration.
Thinking it over.
Oh, just make up your damn mind, already!

Do you possess a deliberate nature? Do you second guess either your actions, or the actions of others? Do you spend long hours, days, weeks, years trying to make the right decision? Hell, do you spend all that time trying to make any decision?

Any Rush lovers out there? Remember the lyrics "and if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice" ? Maybe so, but those are the choices that tend to keep us up at night. We know that a choice born of procrastination is very much a choice that's being made for us by someone else's actions.

I'm a Libra, but long before I knew what the symbol was for my sign (the lovely scales, for those of you that don't know), I knew decision making wasn't my forte. I'm better at it now, of course. Age has helped. I don't care so much what others think, and I am a great deal more aware of the passage of time. Putting off decisions, big or small, wastes precious time.

But when faced with decisions, I still long to gather as much information as humanly possible, because I still want to be right.

Are you an gut-instinct, instant decision maker? Or do you collect endless data before taking the big leap, be it concerning what movie you will see this weekend or which new job you choose? In the end, do you think one set of decision-makers are more effective than another?