How Do You Deal?

jeanabig

 

 

 

 

R E S P E C T

How many times have I heard people say, “there are two kinds of people in this world?” Well, actually there are several kinds and I wish I could narrow it down to two, but I cannot. I have been racking my brain trying to narrow it down. In my life the company and friendship of many have blessed me and as I have gotten older, I have learned a lot about character and what components make up a good friend, a colleague, or a partner/spouse. Here are a few things to consider. Obviously, it has been narrowed down. These are just a couple of experiments that are worth noting.
Character is something that takes a lifetime to build. A couple of great ways to size someone up when it comes to character assessment could be these:
1) Accompany a potential friend/colleague/boyfriend or girlfriend to a restaurant. It is easy to meet someone at a party or gathering and think that you may like this person or that you may want to hire them or date them. See how they roll in a lunch or dinner setting in a restaurant. How do they treat the servers and hosts/hostesses? How do they tip? Believe it or not, the way someone behaves in a restaurant says a whole lot about a person. I have experienced this first hand. I have met several people and waited on people back in my service industry days that are a total pain in the rear end. These people are not kind and they would not fall in the category of a good friend or potential hire or suitor. Also, someone who talks down to people is not someone that plays fair. Someone who chronically complains that an order isn’t right or sizes up the ticket and makes a big fuss over a few cents has serious problems. It has nothing to do with the order. They cannot be pleased and they are usually bordering narcissism and probably have control issues. People who are not kind and respectful to the servers need to be kicked to the curb. There are a lot of people like this floating around in the world and once I noticed it a huge red flag went up on my sail. It speaks volumes. You do not want to be around someone who does not respect other people’s jobs, especially when that person probably does not have one. Would you hire someone or date someone who fell into this category? This is all about respect. Plain and simple.
2) This one may be hard but if you get the opportunity to see someone you know in a court of law, check them out in action or better yet, just hang out in a court room for an hour or two. You can tell a lot about a person when they are at trial. I worked for an attorney for several years. Get someone in the courtroom and you can pretty much summarize his or her character. Do they throw mud? Do they play the victim card? Do they argue with the judge and get argumentative? Do they wait their turn to speak and answer courteously?
Additionally, I usually do not trust someone who does not like animals. Period. Dogs in particular are usually great detectors of character flaws. They have a sense of what is right. I trust them. I also find it nice when people look you in the eye when you speak, at least one of your eyes! Lastly, it is totally okay if you forget my name, but just smile and say hi anyway. These are just a few little things that mean big things in this crazy world we live in. Be of good character. Have you hugged your Maytag repairman today?

jjjeanae@gmail.com

 

Remembering Coco…..again

I do not know if there is a limit as to how much you can say about a person or write about a person, but if there is, I am going to bust that limit to bits. Consider this a continuation of sorts.
Today is my grandmother’s birthday. She would have been 112 if she were still here on this earth. Actually, I am inclined to believe that despite the fact that she inhabited this earth, it may be possible that she was from another planet far, far away. She was truly “out of this world”. I called her ‘Coco’. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was because her hair was the same color as a cocoa bean. She and I used to eat Cocoa Krispies together quite often, so I will go along with that. I could not bring myself to call her any of the other ‘granny’-type names so that stuck and everyone else called her that too. As I got older, my mom used to joke around that Coco rhymed with ‘loco’ but she was definitely not loco. She was quite the opposite. She was fun loving, silly, and quite the life of the party. Bless her heart, she could not cook, unlike most grannies. In fact, my mom and I used to cook for her. Hey, some people just do not cook. I don’t understand it, but I see it often enough. It’s not rocket science.
She had these little habits that I noticed as a kid. She kept a white washcloth tucked into her bosom every night. She only used white wash cloths and she knew exactly how many she had. Once, just to mess with her, I threw a green one in the mix. I got in a bit of trouble. Coco was not happy. I never did that again. She also used to talk to herself (but she did not answer) in a low breathy tone. I think I inherited the “eye roll” from her. You could really see when she was disgusted or annoyed.
She often wore a visor. She had several. She sort of resembled a casino dealer at times. She was very sensitive to light and she said that it kept the light out of her eyes. She also wore tinted bifocals. I used to walk in her room and she would be lying in her bed doing a NY Times crossword puzzle. She always finished them too. This from a woman who did not finish high school but she had quite an extensive vocabulary. She claimed it was her “college education”.
She could really light up a room with her smile and her grand entrance. During one of the many parties that my parent’s would throw, she would be sitting on the couch surrounded by the entire party. People hung on her every word, which usually consisted of story after story. She would tell jokes and sip on her “salty dogs”.
She loved baseball. She was an Atlanta Braves fan. She and my mother would shout at the television and jump up and down during the World Series for years on end. She loved my dad (as did I and everyone else) and he loved her right back despite he and my mother’s divorce. One of the last conversations I had with her was right after she turned 89. We spoke on the phone and she thought I was my mother. She asked me, “how is Bud (my dad)?” I said, ‘he’s doing great, and he sends his love’.
Happy Birthday Coco! You are loved and missed dearly. I wish I could retell your jokes but it’s just not the same. Thanks for the warped sense of humor. It gets me where I need to go!

 

…With life?

Taking inventory on this past year, I am quietly reflecting on the goings on that has taken place. Much is the same as other years, some is not; some is better, some is worse. Not to dwell on the negative, but I have seen more violence, political buffoonery, hypocrisy, vanity, overmedication, rudeness, impatience, greed, and overall cruelty. It seems to grow at an exponential pace. Somehow there are so many people who just feel a sense of entitlement and take everyone and everything for granted. Since the holidays have breezed by at such a supersonic pace, I sit and reflect on things that that would make the world a better place, lives better and such. I realize that many of these things are out of our control, but not all. I have created a short list.
1. Be nice
2. Ease up (I’m not saying stop taking what you really need) on the medication. Stop supporting all the pharmaceutical companies. They don’t care about you. Meditate, practice yoga, look into holistic medicine, and eat better.
3. Buy smaller cars. I understand the world keeps procreating at an exponential rate, and more people means larger land yachts, but at least try not to kill the Earth any more with pollution causing tanks.
4. Stop cutting down so many trees. Save a few please.
5. Bring more plants into your home. Suck up some of the CO2 that is killing us.
6. I realize that everyone needs money but why be so damn greedy? Why jack prices up so ridiculously? Capitalism has gotten way out of hand. Throw the economy a bone.
7. Shop local.
8. Unplug once a week. Everything. Phone, Internet, video games.
9. Listen to more scratchy vinyl on a record player. Those snaps and crackles are reminiscent of good times. We all need good times.
10. Try and love the body you have. If you don’t like it, get off your butt and exercise and quit putting so much junk in it. Plastic surgery has gotten way out of hand. I get it that a little bit of help is okay, and helps with body image. Growing old is a bitch but we all do. I’ve seen a lot of really bad surgeries and most of the time, it seems like money wasted because your body blows up again. If you think plastic surgery is going to save your relationship, think again. You are in the wrong relationship.
11. Quit smoking.
12. Adopt a pet or two.
13. Forgive a friend or reach out to someone who may need a friend.
14. Stop judging. Put on their moccasins and see how it feels.
15. Ease up on the OCD; make a mess once in a while and wait a few minutes until you obsess over it.
16. Quit your bitching. No one wants to hear it. Write it down.
17. Use your blinker.
18. Be nice. I know I said that already, but I mean it.
Now, “de-clench” your buttocks, unlock your fists and realize that everyone is guilty. In the words of Steve Martin, be courteous, kind and forgiving. Love Mother Earth and have a great year!

jjjeanae@gmail.com

 “9th planet, once removed…”

One of my favorite childhood memories was doing some sort of project with my dad. He would use toothpicks to explain fractions to me. It was fun all in part because I got to break them up and make a mess and I learned something. Science, one of my favorite subjects, was special because we got to build a solar system using pipe cleaners, glitter, and varying sizes of Styrofoam balls to create the perfect little interstellar universe. I was always fascinated with the fact the one could create an entire universe on a kitchen table. It was the science project that kept on giving. Every time we would begin the project my dad would ask, “Now, Jeana, how many planets make up our solar system?” My reply was always the same, ‘nine’. Much later, thanks to the International Astronomical Union, my world took a devastating blow after our dwarf planet was reduced to ‘planetoid’ status, changing our planetary number from 9 to 8.

As a kid, I had a special fondness for our ninth planet, our dwarf planet, which was Pluto. Part of its charm, in my eyes, was the fact that our little methane- laden ice cube of a planet was also named after one of my favorite Disney characters. I always admired small things. I had a miniature dollhouse, a miniature dog, and had a particular fondness for the tiny potato chips at the bottom of the bag. I still do. I really do not want to have to go back to my old elementary school classroom and see Pluto taken out of our galaxy.

I always thought in order to be a planet, a celestial body had to be a spherical object. Check. It also needs to orbit the Sun (even though Pluto takes a couple of hundred more years than the other planets). Check. So how in the world could the fate of a small planet be dependant upon the votes of a bunch of astronomical nerds just because Pluto has supposedly not “cleared the neighborhood” during its orbit? What does that even mean? I know that despite the millions of hours spent on research pertaining to our little star and I am in no way up to speed on these findings, it was a slap in the face to hear that our faraway friend was demoted to less than what it was thought to be. Is a small person no longer human and considered a “humanoid”? Is the runt of a litter of puppies no longer a dog, but a ‘dogoid’? Well guess what, International Astronomical Union? Shame on you! Thanks to the New Horizons mission for making a flyby around Pluto. Apparently, it has reclaimed its status. I still love you Pluto, you are ‘far out’!

jjjeanae@gmail.com

The Dog Days of Summer

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I am starting to understand why the phrase “dog days of summer” is applicable.  I have heard this over and over for many years and never paid too much attention to what it actually meant, until now.  I did not realize how much excitement went on in my house until I started spending my days here, having some time off after a year of teaching and really enjoy spending my days at home with the hounds from hell (not really!)

As a kid, I have always looked forward to summertime, although it appears that summertime has decreased in duration from when I was a kid.  School used to start in September and be done by early May.     Being a teacher, one of the perks used to be the fact that we have summers off.  Not necessarily true.  There are professional development meetings to go to, planning new lessons for the next year, cleaning out my classroom, paperwork, and finding time to play golf and make new paintings.    I am a firm believer in enjoying one’s summer and taking every opportunity to go to the beach, which I have done twice so far.  Aside from the professional development daylong seminars, I made up my mind that this summer I would do as my dogs do, which is NOTHING!

A friend once told me, “If there is an afterlife, I want to come back as one of Jeana’s dogs”.  I laugh every time he says that but he has a point.   They are rather spoiled but in a good way.  There is no lack of dog treats.  Each dog has a nice bed but prefer to sleep in my daughter’s bed.  All but 2 think that they are lap dogs, so if you are a visitor in my house, there will be 3 in your lap.  Besides my human inhabitants filling up my home (daughter, myself, a revolving door of friends), there are five canines, two of which belong to my daughter, and an outdoor cat with her own porch (her command post from which she never strays).  They range in age from 1 year to 15 years.  During the year, they pretty much had their run of the house and “the littles” (the 2 small dogs under 10 pounds) destroyed nearly every flip-flop that ever made its way into my home.  Additionally, one T.V. remote control was chewed and several odds and ends, including but not limited to votive candles, gummy bears, “poopie bags” (clean ones), a five dollar bill, a bathtub drain stopper and several other items.

Despite the chewings, which have subsided due to the fact that once summer has begun and I am no longer a stranger in my home, the menagerie has calmed down and gotten rather used to having me around.  I decided that I would like to see how the other half lives.  I would lie around most of the day, go for walks as much as possible, and chase squirrels.  Not really the latter, but lying around all day would be nice, sleeping past 5a.m. would be a wonderful thing, but then I woke up and realized that the dogs their feeding schedule should not change just because mine did.  What was I thinking?  So, we compromise.  I now wake up at 6 and they eat a little bit later.  I have yet to pick up a paintbrush and clean out my garage like I really need to do.  I guess I need one of those “round tuits”.  Here’s to the dog days of summer!   It’s nice if you can get them!  Happy 4th!

jjjeanae@gmail.com

 

Post this!

I wish I had invented the Post-it note. Ever since I saw the movie, Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, I thought Post-it notes were the coolest thing since sliced Velcro (another credible invention) but not so much now. I honestly don’t know what the world did before Post-it notes were invented. I guess this became the demise of the Spiral notebook. I liked them at first. I really did…until they started taking over the world.
Before I embark on any type of research or in my case, a monthly column, I usually jot down my anecdotal snippets on a legal pad that I keep by my bed. That always worked well for me. A friend suggested I try writing my ideas on sticky notes (a.k.a. “Post-it “ notes). She said that they have become indispensable and that they stick to absolutely everything. I gave it a whirl. I was a jotting down fool. I stuck those things on anything and everything, including but not limited to: bathroom mirrors, the computer screen, lampshades, and the dashboard of my car. I soon found myself drowning in a sea of Post-it notes. My life has become a veritable breeding ground for little pieces of paper in all sizes. It has really gotten out of hand, not just for me but for the rest of the world too. I even know someone who woke up one morning to find a phone number stuck to his forehead. A phone number on a Post-it note from an overnight guest!
So I’m cleaning my house one day and begin sweeping up various types of debris on my countertops, floors, under the bed, and even in the driveway. A fair amount of the “debris” was in the form of tiny little sticky notes full of numbers, passwords and some foreign type of shorthand that I cannot decipher. Does this sound familiar? I must have found about 20 dusty Post-it notes in the dustpan and then felt compelled to read each one. I tried to “re-stick” a few of them but they eventually lose their ‘shtick’ or get misplaced so I reach for another one and thus the cycle begins again. They tend to fly off of their present location and wind up somewhere other than where I placed it, like the bottom of my shoe or in my dog’s water dish. Once this happens, it becomes a ‘Lose-it’ never to be seen again.
For very organized people, Post-it notes can be lifesavers! I know a ton of people who rely on them for everything and I mean EVERYTHING. We are a busy society and the older we get, the harder it is to remember stuff but I find the Post-it note a major dust collector and well, frankly, a bit of a nuisance, especially when they don’t always stick and I wind up sucking them up in the Shop Vac. Perhaps I am cursed or maybe I have been getting bum packs of Post-its. I’m not giving up on them just yet but I had to take a break from them, at least for a while until the dust settles. So for now, this is my life, “post” Post-it.

The “Eyes” Have It….

Body language is a powerful thing. It is unbelievable how much our own body can give us away. It is a veritable “tattletale” of communication. Its amazing how one little toe tap can send such a powerful message even when we’re doing such a simple act such as scraping gum off the bottom off of our shoe. Sometimes it gets misinterpreted when sometimes we really are simply scraping gum off of our shoe and nothing more. I for one have been in that situation and it has gotten me in a whole heap of trouble.

Actors make a fortune using body language to convey things to his/her audience. By using poses and positions and gestures, he has to tone down or rev up his level of body language in such a way as to hook in the target audience. The same goes with comedians on the stage and especially with Broadway actors. The same principle applies in a job interview where the wrong move can make or break a potential job. One of the many things I have learned when communicating one on one with someone whether I was in an interview or just in a powerful discussion is to keep both feet on the floor. Crossing one’s legs can give off the idea of smugness and can be a real deal breaker. It happens all of the time and I have become more aware of it watching others. Not sitting still and squirming around in one’s seat is not advised either. Here are a few things that I have learned over the years that are big “no no’s” during an interview (so that’s why I didn’t get that job!): leaning back in one’s chair (don’t get too comfortable), leaning in too close (sit up straight and barely lean forward but keep good eye contact), keeping one’s hand in his pocket, cracking one’s knuckles or any other annoying body tic, staring, and folding one’s arms. Got it? That’s a lot to remember I know. It is hard work having to keep a conscious lid on what our body is saying to others. We are all guilty of it from time to time.

Now that we have covered work related body language do’s and don’ts, how about just general body language? Our body is responsible for about 50% of how we communicate. That is scary. How about the dreaded “eye roll”? That is by far a dead give away and one that is very hard to control sometimes. I have been accused of it way too many times. I believe it stems from my early days of child drama from teaching youngsters in the classroom. It later evolved into getting extremely annoyed at bad drivers, and, well, stupid people. Sorry to sound blunt but it is the body’s way of saying, ‘really?’ or ‘come on already’ when someone is being indecisive or just plain annoying. It has gotten me in trouble on several occasions. Once I had my back turned and someone close to me said, ‘I know you are rolling your eyes at me!’ I wondered how in the world did that person know that? Oh, I know. I have been telling people for years that I have eyes in the back of my head. Sound familiar? Careful! That can get you into trouble!

My New Year’s resolution is to work on that “eye roll” thing. Anyone care to join me? Have a safe and happy New Year everyone!

 

 

“Just one more dog!”    December 14

 

HowDecember14p1To say that I am a dog lover is quite the understatement. I know I am not alone but I never thought that I would ever have three at one time, or rather, that they would have me. I did actually have just one dog for many years but in recent years, I have found myself in situations where I would meet a new four-legged friend without a home and, not being able to fathom it being without one, I would adopt. I have loved and lost many dogs in the course of my existence and each time I would say “no more until I met Rockford. He truly found me.
I was innocently shopping one afternoon, footloose and carefree I was amidst the traffic of Saturday shoppers. A nice lady was walking alongside a scruffy, smallish white terrier mix. My heart sank as I leaned down to pet him; he had the most amazing eyes and his soul spoke to me. He also had this crazy little howl/bark that I had never quite heard before. I didn’t quite know what to make of it but I knew he was talking to me. I thought he belonged to the lady but she informed me that she was fostering him and that he needed a home. I was already in. He had me. I sort of tried to talk myself out of it, but I knew that I could not walk away. I wrote a check, signed my name, and the union became official. We took a walk into a local pet store and picked out a steady stream of supplies: treats, dog food, toys, leash, and a nametag. He walked proudly and excitedly alongside of me, waiting for my commands. I had never met an already trained dog. I even let him pick out his own dog bed. I grabbed three and laid them out and as he sniffed each one, he chose the one in the middle. I’m not sure why because he now sleeps in one of Lazy boy rockers with one of my blankets on it.
I named him “Rockford” after my favorite celebrity James Garner, who had passed away the week before. Garner was one of my heroes and I knew that this dog possessed a heroic quality that gave him that special something. I was told from the beginning that Rock tested positively for heartworms but you could not tell that from his behavior at all. This was not an obstacle in my decision to adopt him, but actually more of a reason. This was not his fault and my heart was hurting just knowing that he had these parasites attacking the one thing that brought us together. He has so much to offer and I was determined to help him fight off these nasty creatures.

He is happy and so proud to have a home. From the time he got to his new abode, he seemed to blend right in with my other canine friends. It did not take him to long to learn the “ways” of the world according to his newly acquired doggie siblings. Everyone who has met him has been quite taken with him. He even sports a ‘fauxhawk’ on the top of his wiry little head. He is truly the quintessential ‘Rock’. His favorite pastime is sitting in the middle of the yard squirrel watching. Since he began his first heartworm treatment, he is supposed to remain calm, which means no squirrel chasing. He may watch but NOT CHASE. He spends his days waiting for me anxiously to arrive home so we can hang out and have a chat, something to which he has become quite adept. I think I can actually tell what he is saying. Oh, believe me, my other dogs speak too! Sometimes it can be quite a cacophony of ‘dog speak’ but all in all, it is a welcomed sound (until it becomes a bit annoying).
The other day I was in a local dog boutique where I saw these dog coasters that fit into your car caddy. These are made of ceramic and are made to absorb spills, which I am notorious for having. I chose one that said “There’s always room for one more dog”. I would have to agree. Merry Christmas everyone! Love your family, your friends, and hug your furry friends!

jjjeanae@gmail.com

 

 

Welcome Autumn!   October 2014

It’s that time of year my friends! We are in the early throes of the Autumnal Equinox, the time when night and day are nearly the same length and the Sun crosses the celestial equator moving southward, at least that is what we know to be true. This is a bit of a hard thing to fathom considering the fact that we were all sweltering just about a week ago in above 90-degree heat. Leaves are starting to change color and there is a newfound crispness in the air. Autumn is my favorite time of year and with it brings us many abundant gifts including a change in Mother Earth and all the creatures in it.
Most of us know the meaning of Equinox and the whole concept is fascinating, but I dug a little deeper and will indulge those of us who want to know more. The term equinox comes from the Latin “aequus” for “equal” and “nox” for “night,” since the equinox (both in the spring and the fall) is the point where day and night are equal, BUT, according to Farmer’s Almanac, that while the very center of the sun does set 12 hours after it rises, the day begins when the upper edge of the sun reaches the horizon (which happens a little before the center rises), and it does not actually end until the entire sun has completely set. That being said, it means that the days are still a tiny bit longer. It is a few days after the September equinox when the span of equal day and night occurs. The ‘harvest moon’ is the full moon nearest the autumnal equinox. This had a profound effect on farming. During this time of year the moon rises earlier in the evening and as a result, the farmers can work longer hours. Every so often, the harvest moon will occur in October, and it is called ‘the full corn moon’ because it co-exists with the corn harvest.
Okay, I’m not done quite yet. Beyond the fact that we often have geomagnetic storms (especially down here) and beautiful leaves changing color, there are more things that are affected during this time. Let’s not forget some of our furry creatures. Biological changes affect some of our animals that live in high altitudes with the changing of the seasons. I’m not kidding when I speak of the male Siberian hamster when I say that they experience a swelling of the testes nearly 15 times their normal size when the days begin to shorten. Who knew? If nothing else, it makes for a good story.

I am one of those people that still like to use the word Autumn as opposed to Fall to describe this time of year. Autumn has much more character and there is a reason for that. Autumn was a Latin word that first began in English around the 14th century but later got “Americanized” into Fall in about the 19th century, much to the chagrin of British lexicographers. It has a totally different, almost ‘unpoetic’ feel to it, much like the word Spring.
So, given all of those little facts, whether all are true or not (trying to picture the giant hamster testes) I love Autumn! I love the crispness of the air, the color of the changing leaves, the fact that Halloween is right around the corner and now I don’t feel so bad about having my Halloween decorations out (I actually started a month ago). What I am not looking forward to is the lull that happens after the holidays when things get a bit dismal and gray and the fact that my once beautiful Zen herb garden will probably start looking like it belongs in the back of a haunted house and my tomato plants will soon look like zombies straight out of The Walking Dead. Oh well. Praise Autumn and dance around the harvest moon! It won’t last long

 

jjjeanae@gmail.com

 

Were those the days or are these?     August 2014

I remember being outside in the heat of the summer playing in the creek catching tadpoles, putting them in a Maxwell House coffee can, and bringing them inside as a token of my day’s catch and productivity.  My mom was rather taken aback but that is what kids did back then.  I soon learned that they grew into “warty” creatures and hopped around.  That was what I named them when they grew out of their cans, “wart one and wart two”.  It was a short-lived career but a noble attempt.  I was visiting a friend of a friend the other day when I noticed her children were playing some sort of tadpole/frog game on Nintendo or whatever.  I mentioned how much healthier it would be if kids were outside exploring on their own instead of in front of the telly.  I was shot down immediately as to the dangers of the world and the diseases that amphibians could spread, etc..  It is really sad that we have to be cautious and scared but I get it.  The fun meter just took a nosedive.  I also noticed that there were about a million childproof safety locks and other things lining their home.  I could not even open a cabinet and I’m an adult (at least most of the time)!  Again, the topic of household dangers came up and the fun meter went down yet again.   I noticed she had about a million bottles of hand sanitizer all over the place.
I cannot help but help but roll my eyes at obsessive/compulsive “germophobes”.  Don’t get me wrong, I am all about keeping my hands as clean as possible but now it is being said that hand sanitizers are toxic so I am sticking to the basics like soap and water.  The crazy thing is that kids do not get any sicker now than they did back then.

I jokingly mentioned a time when I was about 2 and I was strolling about the house blowing bubbles after drinking a bit of Joy dishwashing liquid after I got into the sink cabinet.  It was funny later but perhaps not at the time.  My mum talked about that story for years.  Even funnier yet was when I put a peanut up my nose.  My mom simply held me upside down by my ankles and it rolled right out.   I guess tweezers could have been an option too.  Why do kids do that?

I remember the kid down the street got the first BB gun in the neighborhood and was shooting everything in sight.  It was duck and cover for a while if you lived in my neighborhood but we all lived to tell the tale.  Thankfully no animals were harmed.  That we made double sure of!  No eyes were shot out that I am aware of.

I also remember my uncle having polio.  He was the nicest man in the world and he walked with a limp since he was a young boy.  I could never understand why things like that happen.  Does anyone remember iron lungs?  The mere mention of that in this day and age would bring a shudder to any person.  How about oxygen tents?  A family friend lost a child to asthma.  That was one of the saddest days I can remember because we all take breathing for granted.  Believe me, from a very young age, I learned that it was not so easy for some.

I’m definitely not going to whine about how things are better or worse now because things are just different.  Each generation comes with its own set of baggage and gripes.   I will say this.   I blame the media for messing with our minds and instilling fear.  They prey on people who do not know better about what is really happening in the world and it creates fear and paranoia.  It would be great if the world could unplug more and enjoy the good things that life has to offer.  We’re all guilty of it but I for one am trying to do just that and started spending more time in my yard.  I am not going to leave this world in a negative frame of mind.   I plan on smelling the roses and sharing my yard with bees and butterflies!   I just heard a new term for the youngest of the baby boomers, like myself.  I guess I am a “Generation Joneser”.    Live well and love!

jjjeanae@gmail.com

A word to the Mother….  May 2014

I am dedicating this month’s column to mothers everywhere.  Being a mother has definitely been my life’s greatest joy and also the hardest job there is.   It comes with laughter, tears, frustration, heartache, and the capacity to love and forgive unconditionally for life.  Reversing the tables, I look back at my life as an only child and my years spent as a daughter and why my mom got prematurely gray.  It  is now no shock to me but at the time I was just thinking with half a brain (or less).  All the times I used to hear my mom say, “Just wait till you have kids” or “I hope you have two just like yourself!” made me laugh and roll my eyes.  Does that sound familiar to you?  It is a small wonder that my mom didn’t disown me, but of course, that would never happen.  I used to watch my mom give my grandmother ‘the business’ for reasons that I could never understand and the next minute they were hugging and laughing.  I got very confused then but now I get it.  I call it the ‘generational trickle’.  My mom and I grew up in entirely different circumstances and it explains alot.   Each generation comes with it’s own set of complexities.

Mothers are not perfect.  I know we want to be but with every passing year, I realize that I am not and I accept it.    My mom was truly remarkable in every way and I get that she wasn’t perfect.  No one is.  She went through some things that I probably did not understand when I was a kid, but now I have an even deeper, more profound respect for her.  She was the one who taught me not to judge (even though she sometimes did, ironically enough).  She really preached the whole story about not judging someone until you have walked a mile in their moccasins thing.  That is one thing that she taught me that I have grasped to this day and try to follow myself.

I used to get “grossed out” really easily but that all sort of changed when I had my own child.  Her boogers became my boogers since, after all, she was immersed in my ‘inner fluids’ for 40 weeks so I guess the least I could do was let her deposit her boogers on me.  Under no circumstance would I allow anyone else’s child use me as a kleenex!

When I was a teenager, my mother used to tell me to marry a rich man who would buy me a huge house with a guest house in the back so she could live there.   I thought that was rather silly at the time; however I did, as a young adult,  care for my mother for the last three years of her life and it was not easy!  I would do it all again especially considering what she did for me.   I heard a funny story the other day about this elderly woman who was in the latter stages of Alzheimer’s and had in-home care (I am not making fun of the disease at all).  She loved to read the newspaper every morning so her son would go out and fetch her a brand new newspaper every single day.  He later came to the realization that she did not remember what she had read from one day to the next so he started giving her the same newspaper on several occasions.    True story.

Motherhood is a tough job and it’s not for everybody.  I get that.  Personally, it has been the single best thing in my entire life.  The good, the bad, and the ugly.  I’ll take it all.  One of my friends told me to listen what others say, but to trust your own instincts because you know your kid better than anyone.  That is one of the simplest and most valuable pieces of advice I know.   One of the hardest things for me when I knew I was going to become a mother was worrying about what type of world I would be bringing her into.  I never stop worrying about her but I love her enough to let her be her own person and trust that she will make good decisions. The time with your offspring passes so quickly.  I keep pictures of my daughter as a small person all over the house and stare at them several times a day as a reminder of how important my life is.  Happy Mother’s Day!

jjjeanae@gmail.com

TELEVISION FOR DOGS!  Well I’ll be…..  March 2014

I apologize to you my readers because I had no column last month.  Life was passing a little too fast and well, I had nothing noteworthy to contribute and what little neurons were firing were simply duds.  However, after being laid up in the bed sick for a few days during our “snow days” I came upon some new entertainment.

I thought that I have just about seen everything but apparently I have not.  I found a new channel on my cable TV but it’s not for humans.  It’s called DogTV and I came upon it a couple of weeks ago during my “snow in” while I was channel surfing for some new stimuli.  I was always under the impression that dogs could only see in black and white.  Apparently that may be a myth.

I’m sure many of you like myself are gone most of the day and have at least one dog at home who is left to his/her own devices during the day.  I’ve never really thought of the fact that they could get bored or depressed during that time but apparently they do.  I guess napping, chewing furniture and passing gas gets kind of old after awhile.  Perhaps not.  I have gotten into the habit of leaving my television on either the Animal Planet channel or one of the local stations to keep the dogs company.  I did not actually believe that my dogs would be interested enough to watch it, but I thought it would at least give the illusion that someone was actually at home.  Sometimes I wish I could be a fly on the wall just to see exactly what does happen whilst I’m away for the day.  I mean, is it possible that there could be poker games, online orders, tupperware or “fun” parties going on under my roof throughout the course of a week and I am entirely clueless when I get home and see two guilty dogs out of breath from cleaning the house?  That could explain my Amazon account.  Hmmmm…. For years I felt guilty leaving them home alone but since there are two of them, I realize that they keep each other company at least to some extent.

Okay, so I am still a bit leary about dogs watching T.V.   I have never known any of my dogs to get interested in watching television other than the occasional growl or howl when there were barking dogs on the screen or during an occasional flicker and that was fleeting.  I did some digging and found that there may be some merit to this DogTV thing.  Here is what I found out and it is pretty interesting:

Apparently, DogTV uses special colors to enhance picture details, like the color red is quite vivid.  Contrast, brightness, sound effects and frequencies were all enhanced and tailored for a dog’s vision and hearing.  One of the channels that I noticed and I must admit, nearly put me to sleep was the Relaxation channel.  I am still not totally convinced that this is something we need but the other day our new pup was in my lap and he was actually staring at the screen.  He was immersed for about 5 or 10 minutes and amazingly enough, so was I.   There was Zen relaxing music playing and there were large dogs playing in a vividly colored field.  Doggie stimuli, who knew?  Anyway, it is not free but check it out if so inclined!  Let me know how it may or may not work in your home.

jjjeanae@gmail.com

Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust. They serve us in return for scraps. It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made.

Roger Caras

 

 

“Kiss mah grits!”  January 2014

I’m not sure how many of you have ever been in the service industry but if you have, how many of you have had a real jerk for a boss?  I’ll bet that many of you reading this right now have had at least one and I guess it does not have to be limited to the service industry but this particular topic  sparked my interest because I encountered this situation more times than I care to remember.  This time  I was a witness to one particular situation a few months back.

Some friends and I were having lunch at a local eatery (I won’t say where) and the server was really frazzled and I noticed that she had been crying at one point.  It did not take me long to figure out that she probably got chewed out by her less than hospitable manager.  Isn’t that ironic how someone in the “hospitality” industry can be such a wiener?  I wanted to say something to make this young girl feel better but I was going to wait until she got her bearings because I knew she was trying to act like everything was hunky-dory.  Being an alumnus of such a situation more than once, I knew better.  I decided to take a walk to the ladies room and on the way there I was gonna pass the kitchen and give the manager a dose of my ‘evil eye’ (a slightly turned head and mentally doing the two fingers pointing at my eye and then aimed back at the other person to signify that I was watching him).  I’m sure this guy thought I was either wacko or flirting with him.  Oh, good Lord, I hope not the latter.  Ew!  The guy had the disposition of someone not unlike Mel Sharples (remember him from Alice?)

My friends knew exactly what I was doing.  One of them said, “uh oh, someone just got the ol evil eye!”   I just smiled and went back to my magnanimous salad.  The crowd started to subside and I really wanted to talk to this girl and let her know that I have been in her shoes, albeit over 25 years ago but I have not forgotten one rotten incident.  I told her when she got a minute to come talk to me for a second and that I had a story to share with her, maybe two.  We tipped her profusely and went on our merry way.

She never did get a break that particular day but as luck would have it I ran into her in a local bookstore just the other day.   We shared a cup of coffee and we sat down and I got my opportunity to tell her some of my horror stories of the service industry and some of the “rage-aholic” s**tbirds that I used to work for.  Here is one that I have shared over and over again.  It’s my ‘go to’ story whenever I see someone having a hard time.  I was a server in a local establishment many moons ago (did I say many?  I mean many) and it was the lunch rush.  It was a very stressful time of day because tables filled up fast and there was no hostess.  I happened to have the section by the window where it seemed like everyone piled into first.  I knew this was not going to end well.  Food was coming out willy nilly.  The traffic in the kitchen was ear to ear.  Bedlam ensued.  I was called in to pick up an order so I grabbed it and went on my way.  I heard my name yelled again and quite loudly.  I believe the entire restaurant probably heard it.  I went back into the kitchen and the yelling started.  Apparently I grabbed the wrong plate.  It was an easy mistake because it was a veritable ‘grabfest’ in the kitchen with about 10 pairs of arms reaching over and under heads to pick up their hot plates.   It was burger and poboy city!  I really didn’t see the big deal.  It was an honest mistake because the plate was practically handed to me but the way the owner /bossman/slavedriver handled it was off the charts wrong.  Lets just say that called me a name (not a nice one) and being the sensitive person I am, I walked off and locked myself in the bathroom until he finally came in and apologized.  He was coaxed but he knew he was wrong.  Apparently no one had called him on it quite the way I did.  I refused to leave the bathroom until he came in and gave me an apology.  He’s been nice to me ever since (while I worked there and even later when I was a patron).  The young girl enjoyed my story.  I knew she would relate to it.

So next time you find yourself in a situation similar to mine, just say, “KISS MY GRITS!”  Have a happy and safe New Year everyone!

jjjeanae@gmail.com

FULL CIRCLE SANTA  December 2013

It was a dark and stormy night.  Just kidding.  I wanted to grab your attention!  However, my first Christmas that comes to memory was a bit of a stormy night back in the 1960’s.  Like most Christmases, it began like most any other Christmas, not excluding figgy pudding.

The first time I remember seeing “Santa Claus” was at Godchaux’sdowntown here in old Red Stick.  I was scared to death.  Now that I know what I know about creepy Santas, I believe he may have qualified as a ‘sketchy Santa’. Strangely enough, I do not believe that it was eggnog that permeated from his beard that stormy day during the Christmas rush.  My mother insisted that I sit on this old guy’s lap and smile while being assailed by the breath of Christmas cheer.

We did all of the usual Christmas things, complete with overextending ourselves with lights, wreaths, plastic Santas, angels on the mantel and the like.  We rode all around Baton Rouge looking for Santa Claus and his reindeer.   With each house that was adorned even more colorful than the next, I was sure that Santa was somewhere to be found.  So the night before Christmas, I was rushed off to bed only to hear that familiar echo of my dad’s Christmas belch.  This was no ordinary belch.  It had a holiday twang that only my father could produce.  The next day was a toy explosion that was only unsurpassed by the feast that followed and continued until the New Year.  I could not imagine life getting any better.  I swore that my kid(s) would always have the delights that Christmas brought me.

Fast forward to the year 1995 when my due date was fastly approaching in the heat of the summer.  I was already planning for Christmas.  My daughter would be 7 months old and ready to dive into her own massive toy explosion.  Then she was born and boy have things changed (in a great way of course!)

Every year I had the best time picking out toys and watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas over and over and over!  It became less about the toys and buying and more about the seeing the twinkle in her eye (which isn’t unlike the twinkle in Santa’s eye).  One year in particular we spent Christmas apart so she could visit with a relative and I must say that it was the most miserable Christmas I have ever experienced.  We have vowed that from then on we would never spend Christmas apart if we could help it.  My heart swells when I see my daughter smile anticipating Santa coming and the laughter that follows just completely boils me over.  Who ever knew that Christmas had so much meaning and that Santa Claus is so much more than Black Friday gift ideas and the newest and latest technological gadget?  Santa Claus is very real despite what the smart a** children at school  may tell our children.  I remember the day my daughter came home from school one day many years ago and out of the blue asked me if Santa Claus is real.  My answer then is the same is my answer now.  Yes, as long as you believe that he is real.  I believed in him then and I believe in him now.  Santa Claus exists in all of us.  Not just every year, but every day.

Every year since that first Christmas with my daughter , life gets better and better.   I have, indeed, found the spirit of Christmas and have come full circle Santa!  Fa la la la la ya’ll till next year…….

 

Thankful  November 2013

When was the last time you counted your blessings?  Someone asked me that about once over a year ago.  I did not know how to answer at that time.   Although I was thankful for so many things, it took a minute to think past the hustle bustle and demands of our daily lives and take a minute to give thanks.  As human beings many of us take things and people for granted.  We all like having things a certain way.  We are used to our creature comforts.   When things don’t go our way, being thankful isn’t always on the top of our list.    Being thankful does not come easy for some but I believe that there is a real science to the “art” of being thankful and it may start with something simple like meditation and journaling.

We are entering the season of jollyness, the holiday season where, frankly, I am thankful just being alive to celebrate another Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  This is the time of year to put aside grievances, annoyances and unhappiness and try to find something good in our lives to revel in.   Believe me, there are plenty of things wrong with this world to be angry or sad about and having a positive outlook is not always easy for everyone but I firmly believe that it is much easier to meditate and write down a few things that make me smile.  I document my happiness and gratitude whenever I get a chance.  I reflect on the good things and try not to dwell on the not-so-good even though that some good usually comes with the bad.

What does it mean to be really thankful?  It seems sort of cliche that most of us do a toast at Thanksgiving or a tip of the hat when some good fortune heads in our direction but for the most part, that is when most people equate thankfulness.  Some people have to stop and think about what they are thankful for and only reserve being thankful for the really good stuff or a windfall of good tidings.  Another words, being thankful to some is contingent upon receiving something special or new.  That seems sort of shallow when you get down to it.  

When I run into negative people, it makes me think that some people have just lost their appreciation of life and that attitude reflects that.  Some people inventory their lives and begin this mad scavenger hunt for meaning and things that they are entitled to or things that they don’t have.  That is a messed up perspective on what life is all about in my opinion.  It has been proven that being grateful goes a long way towards improving mental and physical health.  

The older I get, the less I worry about things that I cannot control.  There is a total freedom about being that.   I care less about what other people think and find a comfort in knowing that all things are possible.    I have had my share of loss and struggle and I am grateful for my ability to continue living and seeing the not so negative.  I try to focus more on the fact that life is a privilege even though getting through life with all of its hardships is not always easy.  I guess you can say that I am a “half full” kind of person rather than “half-empty”.   I was not always this way.  I think at some fairly recent point in my life I became more thankful.  I think that even though it is sometimes hard to see, there is always something to be thankful for if we can just get past the anger and disappointment.  I recently started writing down things randomly that I am grateful for.  I am not speaking of material things or things that necessarily have to do with me at all.  Its simple things.  Its abstract things that have new meaning.  Its people that we know and love and despite all the crazy things happening in the world today, I am thankful!  

 

 And away we go……..  (October 13)

 I recently took my first flight out of the United States and it was quite an adventure.   Given my several hours of layover time, I had ample opportunity to reflect on the last several years’ worth of airport time and accumulated many bits and pieces that made each trip something special.    I won’t bore you with details of my trip, which was fantastic by the way.  I just want to share some of noteworthy moments spent on land and air.  Some just need to be told.

I am a people watcher.  I derive much pleasure out of watching and observing all of my surroundings and especially all of the folks moving about.  To me, one of the most interesting places to do that is in an airport and on an airplane.  So many people from so many different backgrounds, countries, and walks of life pass right before your very eyes and with a blink of an eye they are gone.  Poof!  Never to be seen again…..except in those rare instances where you run into an old friend which is an extraordinary and rare experience.  

We missed our flight on this particular day because we overslept so we had to wait 4 hours (which turned into 5) for the next flight into the land of the Mounties.   I decided to walk around the airport several times and check out the many different folks, all colors, all shapes and sizes crammed into the Louis Armstrong International Airport.  The first patron among us was a walking advertisement for Hudson News, decked out in his finest Mardi Gras regalia, which consisted of a tee shirt  and with Mardi Gras beads with the little shot glass attached.  I noticed he had several shopping bags and had just purchased a pair of $30 headphones.  That hurt to watch.  I was sporting a pair of Walgreens $5 earbuds and they suited me just fine.

Boarding the plane is always fun.  Thats when the excitement usually begins for me.  Since my group was booked on separate seats, I anticipated with utmost eagerness who my neighbor would be.  Luckily we were able to trade seats with a nice gentlemen and I was able to sit with my boyfriend.  He wore his headphones the whole time while I watched.  There was this loud noise coming from the middle of the plane.  I was rather taken aback.  It was a gentleman snoring louder than I have probably ever heard.  When we landed his head popped forward and he probably got whiplash.  Then there was a guy across from us who was decked out in fashions from Sky Mall.  Seriously, he was wearing one of those massaging neck donuts with a built in radio and high tech Bose headphones.  I also noticed he was wearing those specialty yoga shoes that separated your toes, complete with a bunion regulator.  As I read the Sky Mall catalog I kept seeing items that he was wearing.  Oh, and let us not forget the posture corrector.  I saw it through his polyester shirt.

        

As I spent my time looking out the window, I was reminded of some older travel times.  I recall a very long layover in DFW, quite the hub for people watching.  A large group of very small Asian travellers were wearing very large cowboy hats and each took turns taking pictures of each other.  It was one of the coolest things I have ever seen.  They had a particularly difficult time keeping the hat from sliding down.   Imagine a  five gallon human with a ten gallon hat!  That was quite the highlight of that layover.

Once when flying from Key West to Miami, we were sitting behind a couple who obviously had too many Key Lime Margaritas the night before.  Just as we took off, it was a veritable hurl fest.  Everyone was giving up their barf bags for this couple who were positively green!  The flight attendant turned green as well.  

Yes, indeed, there is much to see in an airport.  The moments are never dull.  Customs is a b**ch on the Canadian border.  It was like being in Walmart on a Saturday morning.  Oh, but if you do travel to Canada, there is nothing like the well dressed cabbies with XM Sirius playing the best in Chill music.  Our cabbie was decked out in an opalescent suit with the cleanest cab I have ever ridden in.  I highly recommend Canada.  Happy Trails!!  Happy Halloween!  Watch out for ghouls…..

jjjeanae@gmail.com

 

Farewell, Mr. Poppa….. (September 13)

 

Whenever someone we love leaves this Earth, he/she leaves a mark that never really goes away, much like a good scar.  It is especially hard when someone goes away suddenly.  Although he was having the time of his life before he suffered a fatal fall, and although he probably accomplished more in his life than most of us ever dream of, it was a sad day when Ned Borie, a.k.a. “Mr. Poppa” by many, departed into the great wine cellar in the sky.

Mr.P

I believe the first time I knocked at the door to the house of the Borie family, I was welcomed by a loud, “ENTER”!  My first impulse was to run, but I walked in reluctantly and was greeted by the patriarch of the family, Ned Borie.  He offered me a libation of some sort, I believe it was a Schaefer beer.  He sported a nice head of white hair and an imperial.  He was a jolly, pleasant fellow, who spoke with high volume and a New Orleans accent.  You see, I was friends with his daughters and son.  We all attended the same elementary school many years before but it wasn’t until I ran his middle child, Adele, in college.  She and I lived in the same dorm at Louisiana Tech and so the friendship blossomed from there.  She told me stories of her dad who was referred to by most people as ‘Poppa’ or ‘Mr. Poppa’ as the case may be.  I sort of fit in from the git go meaning I became a part of the family.  I referred to myself as the ‘surrogate’ Borie member and that was okay by me since I had no siblings.  Being an appendage to an already large family was not without its moments, which were never dull.  That being said, I often witnessed loud shouting matches among the siblings and the most intense of which occurred when the entire family was eating at the dinner table.  Politics was often table fodder during dinner.  There was a strict rule:  telephone was always turned off during dinner.  I know this because I often called and would get a busy signal around the dinner hour.  I would approach the door and hear about 8 voices competing at decibel levels that could deafen the average person.  Reluctantly I would join them while I became a captive audience for the general guffaw that took place.  I felt like the cowardly lion approaching the great and powerful Oz, wondering if I really wanted to enter the snake-pit, but I did.  I miss those days.  Mr. Poppa’s voice would crescendo when he was trying to make a point, thus finally getting the rest of the family to quiet down a bit.  I recall a particular favorite dinner conversation when his middle daughter expressed an interest to go to grad school.  He asked what masters degree she would pursue?  She replied, ‘I don’t know’.  At the top of his lungs he replied, ‘You’ve already got a degree in that!’

Ned Borie was a true New Orleans gentlemen, a haberdasher when it came to his mode of dress, a consummate hoarder (never got rid of anything!) and a loving father and husband to Patsy, a.k.a. “ma’am Borie” by me.  He was the quintessential everyman.  He treated me like one of his own, which was a blessing and a curse.  He busted my chops when he needed to but he never scared me off..  He believed in me and my art. He gave me away at my wedding several years back.  He attended many of my art shows and parties and always brought liters of his favorite libation, which was Schwegmann (remember that store?) bourbon.  He took his large family on the most amazing vacations every year.   I could go on and on with stories and fond memories of Mr. Poppa but mainly, I know how much he loved his family and how much his generosity benefited many, including me.  I always thought he had 9 lives because he has had more freak accidents of any person I know but he was like the Eveready bunny.  He just kept on ticking until he suffered a fatal fall this summer, which resulted in his untimely death.  He was in Italy with his family on vacation at that time doing what he loved most with the people he loved the most.  When I heard the news that he was hospitalized in Italy I felt confident that he would pull through.  Unfortunately he did not.  I raise my glass to you Mr. Poppa!  I am a better person for having had the pleasure of being your ‘surrogate’ kid.

 

Malarkey at its finest……  (July 13)

 

        I’ll never forget the very first time I heard that word.  I think it was my dad’s response to one of my many Paul Bunyan tales.  His response was, “Goodness sakes alive, that sounds like a bunch of ‘bull’ to me.  I was completely dumbfounded.   What was he saying?  As the years flew by I began to hear that expression expanded upon along with the word ‘malarkey’ to follow it, and of course, the suffix that I dare not spell out because this is a family rag.  You know the one.  My interest is clearly on the word ‘malarkey’.  Where did ‘malarkey’ come from?  For those of you hard pressed to find some malarkey, I think I may be able to help.

        According to several of my findings, the origin of this word is relatively a mystery (although I have found a few findings to the contrary)  but it appears to have been first used around 1929 (some accounts vary) or let’s just suffice it to say early 1920’s.  The word malarkey, according to most dictionaries, is a slang word meaning “nonsense”.  The word has been generally recognized as North American English, but some have said that it derives from an Irish surname .  It appears that during the 1960’s and 70’s, it was researched a bit then left alone for lack of reliable information.  Also, many of the stories I have read about were for the most part, second or third hand, so if for no other reason, take this with a grain of salt.  I did some major digging so roll up your pants.   Here is a rather long list of synonyms (from Merriam-Webster) which I find particularly helpful and quite humorous:  

applesauce [slang], balderdash, baloney (also boloney),beans, bilge, blah (also blah-blah), blarney, blather,blatherskite, blither, bosh, bull [slang], bunk, bunkum (orbuncombe), claptrap, codswallop [British], crapola[slang], crock, drivel, drool, fiddle, fiddle-faddle,fiddlesticks, flannel [British], flapdoodle, folderol (alsofalderal), folly, foolishness, fudge, garbage, guff,hogwash, hokeypokey, hokum, hoodoo, hooey,horsefeathers [slang], humbug, humbuggery, jazz,nonsense (also malarky), moonshine, muck, nerts[slang], nuts, piffle, poppycock, punk, rot, rubbish,senselessness, silliness, slush, stupidity, taradiddle, tommyrot, tosh, trash, trumpery, twaddle

Interestingly enough, I have found other words in this list that I have heard used by my mother, grandmother, other people’s grandmothers and grandfathers, and in novels and films.  Horsefeathers is the title of one of my favorite Marx Brothers films.   I’ll bet you can find one that rings an air of familiarity as well.  I don’t think “tomfoolery”, another personal favorite,  was on this particular list, but it should be definitely be noted.   Okay, now you get the gist of the word.  Now back to the origin because I have continued to dig until I found out more about this ‘malarkey’ business and who, if anyone, created it.  Was there a Mr. or Mrs. Malarkey?

Well, according to one account, there was a Donald Malarkey who led quite the colorful life while growing up in Astoria, Oregon and later moved onto to bigger things.  His father Leo, nicknamed “Tick” because he was the campus clock winder at the University of Oregon.  Donald was an athlete, a firefighter, and later attended the University of Oregon but he had a bit of a gimp due to a ‘horseplaying’ injury back in junior high.  He later became a non-commissioned officer in the U.S. army.   Now the interesting part is that he had two uncles, Gerald and Robert S. Malarkey, who came from Ireland,  served in WWI.  Gerald died early on in combat by shrapnel from a German shell.  Robert S., or “Bob” worked on a small cattle farm before going into the army and was known for his tall tales that were shared at the local pub.  Unfortunately, “Bob” died of complications from a mustard gas attack sometime during the war.  Smells like a story to me.  Oh, and who is Sam

Life is Good…..   June 2013

If anybody would have told me that I would be a year older, my daughter would be turning 18,  I would be attending two (2) graduations and finishing a huge painting all within two weeks time,  I would have thought them to be crazy.   They weren’t kidding.  It all happened.  Jonathan Winters was right.  It is a mad, mad, mad, mad, mad (not sure how many but you get the point) world and I am glad to be swimming in the midst of it.
Heck, if anybody would have told me that I would be teaching Pre-K, I also would have thought they were out of their tree.  I am one half a century old and luckily I feel much younger thanks to healthy eating and meditation.  Yes, my daughter, my little bitty “poopy britches” who I used to refer to as ‘Boom Boom’ has turned a major corner.  She just graduated from one of the most academically challenging high schools in our fair city.  It was not without its challenges because, believe me, I suffered along with her by watching her wade through endless amounts of homework, Senior project, mean girls, heartbreak and ulcers.  She persevered when I honestly do not know if I could have done what she did, so I am taking my hat off to her and proclaiming my jubilance!
Pre-K apparently is the “new Kindergarten”.  I heard this a while back and laughed, but now I can see how it is true.  My teaching experience up until now has directed at teaching Art to all levels of academia.  This year I began a new chapter in the education of the “weeist” of ones, the younger children who are priming for their entrance into Kindergarten.  This past week I watched 20 of my young students strut in procession to Pomp and Circumstance and sing a Phil Collins song during their ceremony.  It was priceless.  The gymnasium was filled with several generations of kinfolk amidst a sea of flashing digital craziness.  These were the same tiny little creatures I just met several months ago and was shaking in my boots as I entered my classroom for the first time.  I knew they could smell fear and I did my best to have my b.s. repellent handy for just such an emergency.  I was responsible for these tiny little people moving forward into the next level of their lives.  It was up to me.  You think I was scared?  Not a bit.  Seriously, I was.  As I watched them, one by one, drop their backpacks into the back of the room, sit on the rug and cast their eyes upon me, I started to relax a little.  I had all of these great ideas, plans, and projects in my giant bag of tricks when I realized that all eyes were on me.  That bag of tricks soon got kicked to the curb when my survival mode kicked in and I introduced myself.   From then on it was like educational stand-up.  I made them laugh, they made me laugh and they learned things.  A great trade-off I must say.  My daughter and I both survived a very challenging year.   Last week I watched my students as well as my own child move into the next phase of life and there I was to witness both.  I would say that life is pretty good.  Peace out my friends!  Embrace every moment.

 

…with a “suicidal squirrel”?   May 2013

I truly believe that squirrels have a death wish.  Come on. I know I am not the only one who has come up with this foregone conclusion.  It is a sad one indeed but one that I have come to grips with in recent months.
I remember a time several years ago when my young daughter and I were driving merrily down the street when a squirrel jumps in front of our car crossing the street.  I, swerving carefully to avoid hitting the irresponsible rodent, felt my heart pounding furiously.  My daughter shrieked in horror.  I held in many expletives with regard to my reaction.  She closed her eyes.  I waited for a thump, but to our delight, the little fella made it safely.  We, on the other hand, could have used a fresh pair of shorts.  This has happened to me over and over again and each time I swerve to avoid hitting the poor tree rat.
Now I have dodged several squirrels in my life and I have seen many a flattened squirrel on many a street.  I realize their brains are tiny and obviously they have not thought this through, but WHY would a squirrel go to such great lengths to be such a risk taking daredevil?  My daughter and I had that conversation on many occasions.  I remember her asking me, “Mommy, why would a squirrel want to die?”  I had no answer.  I was determined to get to the bottom of this.  Do all squirrels have a death wish?  Is it only some squirrels?  Perhaps, like people, some are risk takers while others are not.  So, I ask you, are squirrels smart?  It’s a viable question.
I decided to do some research on just that subject and I have utilized the help of a couple of  “squirrel saavy” authoritarians that I feel may have the answers to this question.  This is what I have come up with and it is not much.
I heard about a squirrel who lived in New York City and was a frequent visitor of Central Park.  I know squirrels are quite a commodity there, but I am referring to one particular squirrel.  Apparently, this squirrel was spotted looking both ways before he crossed the street (safely) and went to a candy machine, crawled inside the candy machine and grabbed a chocolate bar.  Then with chocolate bar in mouth, said squirrel looked both ways and ran back into the park and ate it.    I would say that this is a true New York squirrel.  Believe it or not.  It makes for a great story anyway.  My mom used to feed squirrels in our backyard.  Each day she would bring out a handful of nuts and place them on a table by the door.  Several would show up by the door every day waiting…..they were at least smart enough to know where to get nuts!  She did this for years.
About a week ago I was sitting on my porch doing my evening people watch when I spotted a squirrel across the street.  I believe we made eye contact.  I live on a very busy street.  I implored him to stay put until it was clear.  Much to my chagrin, he darted out into the street and within a blink of an eye, he was a memory.  He was instantly turned into “street pizza”, a phrase I learned many years ago to describe the untimely demise and decay of vermin in the street.   I felt sad.  We shared a glance.  I had questions.  I wondered what his life must have been like.  Did he have a family?  Did he achieve his goals?  How hard can a squirrel’s life be?  He buries his nuts then later finds them and eats them, plying through newly shorn grass creating earthly disturbances.  He has come full circle.  Sadly, he became one with the asphalt even more with each passing day.  Adieu, my little friend.  Adieu…..

jjjeanae@gmail.com

Zomboids of the Deep   April 2013

I’ve never really known quite what to make of this whole “Zombie” thing until recently.  After making a dreadful mistake of treading the waters of a large parking lot at the witching hour, it became evident that there may be something to this fangled Zombie phenomena.  Listen up and I will share my take on these highly sensationalized creatures that walk in limbo in search of something although I’m not sure what.
It is close to the stroke of midnight and we were preparing for a possible Hurricane or tropical storm that was to grace us with its presence sometime in the next few days.  The setting is a giant store that was open for 24 hours and needing to pick up a few survival items,  we began our jaunt.  Personally, I prefer the late night shopping due to the low population and ease of parking and lack of small children screaming in the checkout line.  This must’ve been sometime last fall and from the minute we parked,  we noticed that the parking lot was quite sparse with regard to cars, however the moon had a strange appearance.  It was surrounded by some type of haze and the air had an ethereal quality that I could not quite describe.  Suffice it to say that strange things were afoot at the Circle K (not really where we were).  We hesitated to get out of the car and with good reason.  We started to notice that there were some folks “ambling” around in the parking lot who, I dare say, did not look quite right.  The head of one such person was rather tilted and he looked boneless in stature.  Heads rather cocked to one side and walking slowly, these nomadic creatures were headed into the store as well.  We kept to ourselves, unsure if we really wanted to grab our groceries or wait until morning when the sun was out.  We marched onward and felt safer once we were inside.  It sort of seemed like we were the only ones in the store until one of the slow moving ‘amblers’ floated past us with a gaze not unlike someone without a pulse.  The color from his face appeared to be quite gray and throughout our shopping excursion we spotted a few more.  Luckily we made it home unscathed.
It seems that George Romero with his modern cult pop film, “Night of the Living Dead” was partially responsible for greasing the wheels of this phenomena but actually Bela Lugosi played a Haitian Voodoo evil priest some 40 odd years earlier.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “zombie” first appeared in English around 1810 when historian Robert Southey mentioned it in his book “History of Brazil.” But this “Zombi” was not the familiar brain-eating manlike monstrosity but instead a West African deity. The word later came to suggest the vital, human force leaving the shell of a body, and ultimately a creature human in form but lacking the self-awareness, intelligence, and a soul. It was imported to Haiti and elsewhere from Africa through the slave trade.
Live Science (October 12, 2012)

I just find all of this interesting, thats all.  I do not know what to make of any of this.  There have been countless movies, television shows and other zombie related things.  Heck, I even came across a Zombie survival guide online and incidentally, the term ‘zombie’ has come to expand in its meaning to signify a person under a spell without consciousness and self-awareness, a modern day Republican politician.  I am not making this up or trying to offend.  I am just sharing, that’s all.
Okay, so one last short tale and then I’m done.  This morning I was on my way to grab some coffee.  There was a rather lopsided bloke making his way down a major street.  He seemed to have a weird gaze, head cocked to one side (sort of resembled Uncle Fester but even less color in his face), and he appeared to be headed into oncoming traffic.  Then there was another such “person” heading down a nearby street, barefoot with the same crooked walk that we observed last year.  Lastly, it appears that zombies do drive.  He or she appeared to be sitting in this giant white car staring blankly at the light change from red to green.  Perhaps this one was a stretch, but anyway, these two sightings happened within minutes of each other.  Coincidence perhaps.  Not saying I’m a believer, just sharing!

jjjeanae@gmail.com