What do you hope someone knows? Tell them.

templife

This beautiful moon presented itself to me from my driveway last week.

MacGyver lost his dad a week ago very suddenly.  He was only 66 years old.  We are still processing the shock of it all and our hearts are swollen with sorrow.

One of my best friends lost her dad the very same week.  And I heard two stories just yesterday of people who lost their young fathers suddenly.

I lost my sister when she was 36, my mentor when he was only 57 and one of my best friends when she was only 32.

I’m always saying that life is short but even I often  lose sight of just how fleeting and temporary it can be. We’re so lucky to be here right now and to have those in our lives right now.

One of the blogs I follow had a post recently that stressed the importance of focusing on the wonderful in those in our lives and not missing chances to tell people about the things in them that we appreciate.

I think MacGyver knows how much I appreciate, adore and respect him because I tell him constantly.  But I hope he knows I mean it with every ounce of my heart.

I hope my kids know the unmeasurable amount of love I have for them and how very proud I am of the young men that they are, even though we frustrate each other so often.  And how my heart breaks for them when they struggle,

I hope my Dad knows how wicked smart I think he is and how much his drive and determination inspire me. And I hope he knows how much I appreciate all he has done for me and taught me and that I wish I still lived down the street. I hope my Stepmom knows how much I appreciate that she is in my life and how much she has taught me through her grace and loving heart.

I hope my Stepdad knows how much I love and appreciate him and the way he has stood by my Mom.  And I hope that my Mom knows, or knew when she could, how much I appreciate all the sacrifices she made for me, all the love that she gave me and all the things that she taught me which helped make me who I am.

I hope my friends know how much I appreciate them and their thoughtfulness, support and patience with me despite my myriad of idiosyncrasies.  How much I love to hear their voices or read texts or notes from them, and to learn from them and laugh with them until my face hurts.

I hope my oldest niece knows how much I treasure our relationship and that she realizes how wonderful I think she is.  I hope my nephews know how impressed I am with the young men they have become and how proud of them that I am.  And that my young nieces know how much I love them and look forward to watching them become young women.

I hope my cousins know how much I appreciate their efforts to stay connected and how happy I am to be part of their family tree.

I hope my Mother-in-law knows how much I appreciate how she raised such a wonderful man.  And that I appreciate her and love her.  And that my sister-in-law knows how much I love and care about her and wish we lived closer.

I know that my sister knows how much I miss her and keep her in my heart every day because I can feel her with me.  For that I am truly grateful.

And I hope that my father-in-law, who I called Big D, knew how much I loved and admired him.  How much I learned from him … not only about how to hang sheet rock or tile a bathroom at record speeds, but more importantly about keeping a positive mental attitude and always being willing to roll up his sleeves and give a helping hand to anyone who needed it.  I wish I had told him all that and more.  And I hope that he knew it in his heart.  I think he did.

What do you hope someone knows?  Tell them.

Something to help that ‘not so fresh’ feeling

FreshThere I was, sitting in the waiting room for my annual gynecological exam a few days ago.  (My puns are out of control here so don’t  worry – this isn’t going to be gross.)

At any rate, this visit is not my favorite of visits to make each year but something that feels good to check off the list.

But this visit seemed different than other visits before.  This time after I checked in with the perky but tired receptionist, I had to scan the very large waiting room for several minutes before finding the one, single empty chair surrounded by giddy and emotional pregnant 20- and 30-somethings staring at their ultrasound pics giggling.  I was literally surrounded.  And I was the only one taking advantage of the freshly brewed strong black coffee most likely because my days of having babies are a distant memory punctuated by the fact that next year I will have two kiddos in high school.

I sighed and texted a couple of friends to express how suddenly I felt like a yogurt in the fridge that had gone just past its expiration date.

When the nurse who I call Wonder Woman because she looks like Linda Carter (even though the waiting room full of preggos are too young to even know who that is) took my blood pressure, I asked her if I was the only non-pregnant person there.  She replied, “Yep, except for those of us who work here.”  I sighed and we giggled together as she assured me us ‘regular patients’ were still welcome.

So I was happily surprised to learn of something very fresh today. My last post,  “Recipe For: Life on Wry” has been Freshly Pressed!

To put this in perspective,  I tried to research a bit on Google about the odds of being Freshly Pressed, and VERY coincidentally found a conversation where someone was comparing the odds of being Freshly Pressed (the Holy Grail of Blogging, so to speak) to being the one sperm out of 200-600 million sperm that makes it to the egg.  Which I thought very appropriate given my not-so-fresh analogy.

To help me further grasp the odds, I discovered that there are currently 68,600,151 WordPress blog sites in the world. There are 37 million new blog posts each month. And WordPress editors select 8 of them each day to be Freshly Pressed. Being Freshly Pressed sends your blog visits and views through the roof and exposes your blog to oodles and oodles of other bloggers out there.

The odds of being Freshly Pressed are said to be about 12 per million on any given day.  And to have it happen for a second time in less than a year (my last one was “If you aren’t registered to vote, quit reading my blog and register”  last September – only published because I deleted the all caps DAMN IT at the end of the headline most likely – just kidding) … well that’s just math I don’t even know how to compute (I’m a Journalism major, after all).

So thank you WordPress,  and thank you patient and kind readers.

Remember, it’s all wry.  Otherwise life would be way too boring.

Can you spot a truly confident person?

This is a cactus-like weed I walked by in the park with my hot dogs. Unassuming and beautiful.

This is a cactus-like weed that I walked by in the park with my hot dogs. Beautifully unassuming.

I’ve always found that the easiest way to spot insecure people who lack confidence is to look for the ones in the room who are bragging the most and talking so much that others can’t get a word in edge-wise.

They feel the need to make sure that everyone knows how smart they are because I think they need reminding.  They want to be sure you know that they were really the ones who came up with just about every idea first.

And often when they ask you a question they start reminding you of  their expertise again before you can finish answering their question.  This can be exhausting or humorous (laughing on the inside kind of funny).  It depends on my mood.

Most of it comes down to listening which is a skill that I try to be mindful of and catch myself when I am talking more than listening.

I just read a great article on LinkedIn about the Nine Qualities of Truly Confident People.

These were my favorite points from the article:

-Truly confident people listen ten times more than they speak.

– Truly confident people don’t brag, instead usually they appear quiet and unassuming.  … ” They already know what they think; they want to know what you think.  They ask open-ended questions that give other people the freedom to be thoughtful and introspective: They ask what you do, how you do it, what you like about it, what you learned from it… and what they should do if they find themselves in a similar situation.” (best line of the article.)

-Truly confident people realize they know a lot, but they wish they knew more… and they know the only way to learn more is to listen more.

-Truly confident people can feel when the spotlight is starting to shine on them and they are able to adjust the spotlight so it shines on others, even if they did a lot of the work. They don’t need the glory because true validation comes from within.  And letting others feel the spotlight helps others build their own confidence. Which is a good thing if you’re already confident.

-Truly confident people own their mistakes and can admit when they are wrong.

-Truly confident people only seek approval from people who matter.  Another great line from the article: “You say you have 10k Twitter followers? Swell. 20k Facebook friends? Cool. A professional and social network of hundreds or even thousands? That’s great. But that also pales in comparison to earning the trust and respect of the few people in your life that truly matter.”

I remember insecure bullies at school when I was growing up.  They bragged, jumped up and down to get the spotlight, didn’t let others talk and were fine with making others feel less than.  They also weren’t my friends.  Unfortunately school age bullies often grow up to be adult bullies, but I try to avoid the breed as much as possible.

Truly confident people are beautiful people.

How confident are you?

Something to think about.

experienceI saw this sign while shopping with a friend yesterday. We went to a shabby chic haven of small stores selling a plethora of clever items that we could have made ourselves if we only had thought of the ideas first.

At any rate, this sign caught my eye and its message gave me pause.

My first thought after reading it was actually ‘Oh geez, what has the last year been preparing me for? Seemed like a frightening thought after a pretty exhausting year of events.’

But on the flip side, it makes sense that each experience prepares us for the next.  And that’s a good thing.

Because life gets easier the more we do it.  Just like we get better at playing catch the more we practice.

We learn how to relax and get into a rhythm with the ball.  How to position ourselves for successful catches by reading the ball and predicting where it might end up.

We also learn to recognize and dodge those fast balls that could really hurt if they nailed us. And how to catch the next hardball differently so it doesn’t sting so much.

And most importantly we learn how to be open — and unafraid —  to catch certain curve balls that can change our life forever.

What about you?  How do you think each experience prepares us for the next?

Oh, tell me what you want, what you really, really want …

dandy3In my 200th post – I’m shaking things up a bit and making this post all about you.

This blog is about a lot of things.  The common thread is usually some kind of either wry or raw perspective that I have gained from my journey through this thing called life.

I have almost 600 followers now and this blog has been viewed by people in 91 countries — all of which blows my mind.  And makes me very grateful.

dandy4Which is why I want to know…

What do you like to read most here?  What about this blog do you most feel a connection with?

Do you like my posts that are about gratitude (like my first 100 when this blog started)?

Or ones that are sarcastic or self deprecating? Or about parenting or being part of the sandwich generation?

Or ones that are filled with what is sometimes pretty raw emotion?

Short posts or long ones?  Posts where I participate in a Worpress challenge or writing prompt exercise?

Or simply posts with nice pictures or paintings (no judgement here…)?

You tell me.

And thank you for being part of this blog!

dandy

Message in a Drip Beef Sandwich

diamond jack'sI knew I needed to cook that big hunk of meat in my fridge before more time had passed.  I had a crockpot recipe for drip beef sandwiches at the ready, but it suddenly looked too complicated.  Or I hadn’t had enough coffee yet.  Or it was simply because I am a lazy cook.

I also knew my sister’s birthday was coming up, but I hadn’t realized today was June 11th yet as I quickly googled “easy quick drip beef crockpot recipe.”

Very first result out of twelve million, four hundred thousand possibilities was  Diamond Jack’s Drip Roast Beef Sandwich recipe.  My eyes filled with bittersweet tears.  And I realized what day it was.

Diamond Jack’s was a restaurant that was in Tulsa, OK for 47 years and just closed a couple of years ago.

This restaurant, which began in the 1960s, was a special place that my sister absolutely loved to take me to for their Drip Roast Beef Sandwiches, which were awesome.

I remember how proud she was to take her little sister out to lunch and to introduce me to people who we ran into.  She was so glad that I was living back in town and she loved treating me to lunch now that I was officially an adult with a job and all.  It didn’t happen often, but when these lunches took place, they were certainly special.

I haven’t even thought about that restaurant or those specific sandwiches in more than ten years.

But today, the day my sister would have turned 50 years old,  the day my sister would have hosted one hell of a fun party …  my sister reminded me that she was here with me …through a Drip Beef Sandwich recipe.  I know it to be true.  And so does my heart.

Ingredients for Diamond Jack’s Crock-Pot Drip Beef:

  • 4-5 lbs boneless beef rump roast
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 (1 1/4 ounce) envelope dry onion soup mix
  • 1/2 teaspoon italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon beef bouillon, granules
  • 2 dashes worcestershire sauce
  • garlic salt
  • pepper

Preparation of Diamond Jack’s Crock-Pot Drip Beef:

  1. Cut the visible fat from the rump roast. Place the roast in a large crock pot.
  2. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a 2-cup measure and bring to boil a microwave.
  3. Pour over the roast in the crock pot. Add garlic salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Cook on low for 8 hours.
  5. Cool before slicing.
  6. Chill au jus to remove the fat.
  7. Combine the sliced meat and au jus and reheat before serving.
  8. May also be cooked in oven: combine as above in Dutch oven. Cook 4-5 hours at 275-300 degrees.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fleeting

awesome

This week’s photo challenge is about capturing a fleeting moment.  I had the perfect photo in mind.

I took this photo on a walk with a friend recently just as a group of dense, rain-filled clouds was quickly rolling in and seemed to almost circle our spot in the path and the pond before us. As if nature had been painting a picture for us and waiting for us to get there to see it.

If I hadn’t stopped right at that very second to capture this fleeting moment as these full and heavy clouds were preparing to open for us and as the simply awesome smell of the coming rain was saturating the air …  the moment would have been gone.

The photo challenge prompt mentioned an article, Photography 101: Introduction & Philosophy which kicks off a blogging photography series and interviews Danielle Hark who founded a collaborative photography site called the Broken Light Collective.  She talks about how photography helps her stay in the present and is her own form of meditation.

This spoke to me, since photography is one of the best ways to make myself slow down enough to be present in the moment. And most likely the closest I get to meditating as well.

Does photography help you stay in the moment?  What visual comes to mind when you think of the word Fleeting?  Such a simple word that floods my mind with so many visuals.  This was just one.

STOP. It’s all relative, my friends.

susieWhatever you’ve been griping about this morning (if you’ve griped about anything this morning or were getting ready to), stop and rethink.

Susie, a hilarious, inspiring and supportive  fellow blogger and author of Susie Lindau’s Wild Ride is undergoing a double mastectomy today, right now in fact.

You can follow The Boob Report here where she talks about “offing” her breasts, which she decided never really matched anyway.

Go Susie.  You are a badass in my book.

Ode to My Grandfathers

gdadBoth of my late grandfathers had May birthdays, and I am particularly fond of May birthdays, as some might know.

With one of these birthdays upon us today. I decided  to honor them both.

They were both kind, patient and good men, and parts of them make me who I am today.

And for that I am truly grateful.

 A Southern Gent

An inventive sort, this Southern gent.

Able to fix anything thrown his way.

An understated man, only said what he meant.

Quietly observing  the day.

Happy to let the spotlight shine,

On his wife, for a fuss he thought quite the bore.

Calming the waters throughout their life,

A loving man, with patience galore.

And a Northern Gent Wally

The grandfather I never knew,

Walked softly, kind and tall.

To his girls,  forever true,

His heartfelt words touched them all.

His love letters made his true love blush,

Funny, sentimental and smart,

He lives on in us,

His wit, all a part.

 

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the word Grandfather?

A Fairy Tale of Vintage Charm and Vintage Plumbing.

When the pipes on the other side had to be replaced.

Spring in Colorado may take a bit longer to arrive, but its perfection makes every extra day worth its weight in gold.  And working in the yard delightfully distracts me from all the other things I need to be doing.

Yesterday as I was clearing leftover leaves from my garden,  I came across a torn piece of paper towel in the mulch, which brought back vivid memories of a little old house with vintage charm that I once knew …fairytale

Once upon a time, long, long ago, when life was carefree and butterflies danced in the air to fairy tale music, MacGyver and Wry bought their very first little house.  They had a very little budget with MacGyver continuing his education and only Wry working, so they wanted a very little house that needed a very, very big  amount of work to be done so that they could get a very, very good buy.  After all, they were quite handy, and they had quite kind and generous, able-bodied and skilled parents to help with the fixing up.

house

This little old 1927 Tudor Revival style house was in a little old neighborhood called White City, named after a dairy farm with white buildings long ago.  It had been on the market  for months as its condition looked so rough that most sane buyers kept on driving once they saw it.

A little old widow had lived in the house who clearly wasn’t able to handle the upkeep.

But Wry asked MacGyver to turn the car around and take another look.  She saw past the overgrown yard, the leaning white picket fence (for after all, it had a picket fence), the old blinds falling apart in the windows (after all, the windows were perfectly shaped and had wooden panes).  She saw past the swamp cooler falling off the side of a rotted window (for the window was surround by beautiful ivy) and she even overlooked the leaning detached garage (since after all, it was a garage).

house sign

Wry knew this little old house could be something grand. And that “a good deal” could quite assuredly be had. It was destined to shine like the gem it once was.

Its bones were beautiful, with arches in almost every room and golden oak floors begging to be set free from the weight of their fifty-year old sweater of carpet.  But this little gem also had very old electrical wiring, very old fixtures and a funky old swamp cooler that Wry and MacGyer didn’t dare try to revive.

Its green, flat wool carpet with swirl designs also had holes that had been burnt in a circle in a spot in the living room where clearly the little old widow or her late husband had smoked carelessly in what was probably a little old chair.  But most importantly for this little tale, this little old house had very old plumbing.

flower

Naked Lady flower.

What the little old widow lacked in home maintenance skills, she made up for tenfold with her love and care of her flowers. The long and cracked driveway was flanked by a thick wall of pink Crepe Myrtles on one side and a flower bed the length of the whole little house on the other side.  The flower bed was brimming with peonies, luscious lilies, cheery patches of daisies, mounds and mounds of pink Sweet William, even some flowers called Naked Ladies and gorgeous roses of all variety.

Wry knew little of flowers and was thrilled that this garden that brought a smile to her face each time she drove up the long cracked driveway seemed to flourish all on its own.

She never thought about why the flowers did so well or just how fertile that ground must have been.  Until, that is, she began finding a little old scrap or two of paper near the beautiful rose bushes day after day.  And it seemed peculiar to her that they kept appearing right outside the window of the quaint little bathroom with little bitty, checkerboard black and white tiles that made her heart sing.

Fearing the worst, MacGyver asked Wry to go inside and flush the toilet (which was surrounded by the little black and white tiles that she loved to see).  He crawled under the little old house in the dingy, damp crawlspace and waited anxiously for the flush. Then a scream was heard and their fears were realized. MacGyver escaped the dark crawlspace unharmed, but quite wet and sad.

pipe fix

A proud MacGyver moment.

MacGyver and Wry learned that the little old sewer pipes of this little old house were made of a fibrous material which a grand inventor thought a good idea at the time of their invention.  These pipes, called Orangeburg, were later found to completely disintegrate over time and their use was discontinued long before this fairy tale began.

So, the mystery of how all those little flowers grew so very well along the side of the little old house with the picket fence and wooden pane windows had been solved.  The soil was the richest in the land, indeed.

After much toil and trouble, the little old sewer line that ran from that cute little bathroom with the little bitty black and white tiles all the way under the long cracked driveway and past the pink Crepe Mrytles was anew.  Wry and MacGyver lived there happily ever after until years later when they outgrew their little old house.  By then the garage and picket fence stood proudly upright, the golden oak floors gleamed, and the little black and white tiles, even with a crack or two, remained perfectly in tact.

And the moral to the story?  Never underestimate the unpolished and the unrefined. It’s often worth a second look.  With a little love, a lot of labor, and a square or two of toilet paper, it just might bring you years of joy and little old memories.

The End.

Seven bad things from my Madrid trip.

IMG_3983Here we go.  The only seven ‘bad’ things about my trip to Madrid:IMG_4025

1. One pound gained from wine.  At least. Because I didn’t want to be rude and therefore was forced to participate in the Spanish tradition of five o’clock all the time.IMG_4013IMG_3980

2. One pound gained from ham, ham and more ham.  Same rationale.  Jambone everywhere –  legs of it hanging in bars and on racks everywhere.  See photo where gal is slicing it off of the leg on the rack connected to the counter.  I know my vegetarian friends are passing out right now, sorry.  It was damn good ham.

3. One pound gained from the dessert cart on my upgraded business class flights. Embarrassingly excessive amount of food and drink offered.  No excuse readily available.

IMG_4039

4. One pound or so gained from official tapas including stuffed mushrooms, squid in its own ink sauce, you name it.  Again, I did not want to be rude. (Probably lost a few of you on that squid in ink thing too, but it was actually tasty.)

IMG_4082

5. One pound gained from the yummy, soft white bread that was served with everything.  Couldn’t hurt any bread baker’s feelings.

6. One pound gained  from olives and peppers galore that usually came with beer which I’m sure had no calories at all. Sometimes the skewers were topped with big furry looking anchovies to boot.  (Sorry, now I’m just messing with my squeamish friends.)

7. I’m telling myself at least one pound gained in water weight from being in a plane for so many hours.

I must say, those were the best seven pounds I’ve ever gained and I would gain them all over again.  Life is altogether too short, as I am reminded often.

What were the best pounds you’ve ever gained?

ps: Check out the awesome clouds that rolled in and changed the sky background in the last photo, taken from the same spot as the first.IMG_3986

Musings from Madrid.

IMG_0034After my last accidental photo post (mobile WordPress and I don’t get along so well), I thought I would report some observations from Madrid as I make my way back to the states.

Some highlights from an Americano after a full week in Madrid:

Sounds of motorcycles, mopeds, horns and sirens can actually be soothing if you give it a minute.

IMG_0035

7 out of 10 people on the streets seem to smoke, anywhere.

Scarves can make any outfit fashionable. Especially in Madrid. But then Madrilènes could make trash bag dresses look cool.

The architecture is magnificent, with myriad towering steeples, daunting domes and intricate corbels – everywhere..

The eating schedule is a challenge to get the hang of. However if you say ‘tapa,’ you can be fed any time.

Don’t even think about ordering a martini in Madrid, unless you’re at an Americanized hotel bar. And what’s the fun in that anyway.

Remixes of pop American music from the seventies and eighties streamed throughout retail stores and one taxi ride treated me with Staying Alive by the Bee Gees. I wondered if they had an American flag button on the dashboard and tapped it when they saw us coming.

Politely attempting to speak the native tongue often is rewarded with a gracious welcome. Calm politeness can get you far in any city.

Drinking, of beer and wine especially, takes place all day. Seems to be five o’clock all the time. In most places beer choices were ‘large or small’ rather than our overkill assortment of brewery concoctions.

Servers never walk away from your restaurant table with your credit card, instead bringing a device to the table, which makes much more sense when it comes to security.

20130518-182722.jpg

If you can figure out the metro (subway) on your own as I did, high-five yourself. It’s a maze down there that makes Manhattan subways look like a walk to your mailbox.

Beautiful iron balconies, balconies and more balconies everywhere you look.

Old Madrid is my favorite area, overflowing with rich history at every turn.

Every door I pass on the street in Old Madrid is a masterpiece in and of itself.

Everyone on the streets looks like they put some thought into what they are wearing — even the joggers.

Flamenco dancing. Now I totally get it. Sexy, emotional and heart pounding.  Parts made me cry.  Wow.

Bull fights. Couldn’t do it. I know its tradition, but the thought of watching eight bulls die brutally and some horses die as collateral damage for human entertainment weakened my knees and hurt my heart.

20130518-182658.jpgThe city is beautifully clean and lush.

Dog breeds of popular choice on the streets are Bulldogs and Yorkies.

20130518-175247.jpg

Ham (jambon) is to Madrid what pizza is to New York and hot dogs are to Chicago.

And there you have it, for now.

Ps: I’m announcing a caption writing contest for that last random photo post I did of a Ferrari in traffic in Madrid (contest jokingly suggested by one of my readers). Submit yours as a comment on that last post and the caption that makes me laugh the most wins an exciting prize, or at least gets a public pat on the back. Honorable mentions will be listed as well.

Many cooler pics to come. Madrid was a wonderful experience and opportunity.

Gracias.