Father’s Day

Had he lived longer, my Dad would have been 85 years old tomorrow. Happy Birthday, Dad.

He died in 2004.

Before 2004, I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to lose my parents. By December 14, 2005, I’d lost both my Mother and my Father.

Obviously, we all lose our parents, hopefully before they lose their children.

My Dad was very charming; he love to golf with his fellow Government employee retirees – men he had work with for over 35 years. He loved “Jeopardy.” He liked baseball. (My Mom loved baseball.) He liked it when I’d come over on his birthday and carve their pumpkin’s face for Halloween. He like babies, he did not like teenagers. He liked the movies of his generation and he like PBS – Mysteries, “A Fine Romance,” etc. Unfathomably, he liked to watch reruns of the Lawerence Welk show. He had the same job for almost his entire adult life until he retired, a bit early, because President Reagan made it hard for him and his fellows to save the environment. After he retired, he sent money to every environmental group in this country.

I only found that out when he offered me one of 20 calendars he got annually.

He liked to listen to Frank Sinatra sing. He got me interested recordings of old mystery radio shows, he bought me a subscription to Ellery Queen magazine, and he gave me books to read like Woody Allen’s “Without Feathers.”

He called me when there was something on television he thought I’d be interested in. One night he called about 9:45pm to say there was a show about the comedy team of Elaine May and Mike Nichols on PBS. I got to watch the last 15 minutes. He knewed I’d be interested because I had worked for Elaine May when I lived in New York City in 1985.  But, I don’t know why he waited until the show was almost over to call me. He was kind of like that.

There’s another side to him to, but I will limit anything I write about him today to the things that make me missed him everyday since he died. I spent the next year almost calling him on the phone when there was something he’d like on television or just to talk about stuff. When I got laid off from my job last January 2009, I wanted to tell him even though I knew his first response would have been “what did you do?” and his second response would be to ask me if I needed any money.

He didn’t believe in God – he took my Mom to church every Sunday, but when I asked him, he said he didn’t believe.

My Mom, my sister, my niece, and I were by his hospital bed as he passed away from us. I said, “Thank you. We’ll be ok. I love you.”

Wish I could talk to him.

Happy Birthday tomorrow, Dad…you are still loved and thought of often.

Farmer Betsy

I’m the kind of person – fortunately or unfortunately – who gets an idea and then runs with it. For example, I wanted to have a garden to dig in and put flowers in, and definitely, to plant a butterfly bush in. I live in a really small townhouse with a deck off the back and just a small area of ground to work with. So, I worked with it.

I now have a garden with a two-stacked cement-brick border. It has a butterfly bush, some spices, and a few flowers. Last spring I also purchased two tomato plants from Whole Foods. I thought the description was dwarf tomato plants but it wasn’t. Those tomato plants grew tall – well over the deck railing, but none of the fruit was any good. So, I chopped them down and recycled the plants (threw them in some near-by woods).

When I started the garden area, the landscape company that cuts the grass and chops the evergreen into odd block or triangular shapes, came and did their thing. When they left – my garden had a top level of cut grass! Ut-oh! That would mean that I’d be gardening new grass – so, I got most of it out and cut a 3-foot deep path around the garden wall and along the deck pylons (which I added lattice work to).

I shoveled chunks of turf from this 3×16 L-shaped “path” or future walkway. And, tossed the stones and rocks into a pile. I made sure that I shook the turf free of all good-soil packed with earth worms. Worms are my friends. Plus, even though I will smash the hell out of any cockroach that enters my home, I am still loathe to kill outside bugs and worms and spiders. So now I had a dirt L-shape walkway that was deep enough to keep the grass cuttings out of my 6×6 bricked garden. The beginnings of a patio path!

I have learned – by walking around the gardening, etc., area of Lowe’s – that I will need to have some type of holding-border for this walkway. I will want to put paving sand down before I start laying whatever path material I decide on.

So, yesterday evening I went back to work on the pathway – there is no way I would do this work during our typical hot and steamy summers in NC. The fall weather is on it’s way and digging in the dirt now is still hot but not unbearable.

I worked on the edge and made the path a bit deeper – my thinking that I will still need some “throw area” so that grass cuttings don’t end up on the actual path. I thought about how I will have to make sure this path is level. I worried that I would ever have a job that paid enough so that I could actually buy the materials and finish the path.

I did not worry about the fact that I have no idea what I am doing. I did briefly wonder if there’s a book I could get on how to create a stone pathway (they have everything at Lowe’s).

I just use an idea, some tools, what I observed my Dad doing in his garden when I was a teenager, some information I gleaned while my ex-husband built rooms off the house, and what I have learned by listening to carpenters and other builders. Oh, I forgot – and what I learned from Norm and Steve.

But I really don’t know how to build a stone path. I should be intimidated or fearful of screwing this up.

I’m not – I have my great imagination, my ability to learn, and books, and all that stuff at Lowe’s. For a really insecure person, I have this attitude that I can do anything, lots of things I don’t know how to do or never actually did before.

Since I’m not from New England, I don’t consider this a “pioneer attitude.” I know I screw things up – mostly relationships. So, how can I think I can do anything I think I can do? I think it’s because, as I’ve told friends (the ones I still have), in my family you were expected to know how to drive a car even if you never saw one before in your life.

In other words, I have had to improvise all my life – without guidance – and gleen enough information to get the gist of something and then do my job, or project, or (hopefully not too much anymore) spout off at the mouth about it. Sounds like arrogance.

The humbling part is I love digging in that dirt, I love watching a butterfly light on that bush, I love honoring my HP by trying to add something, help something grow. And, I’m sure I will get a book or ask some friends who have some experience, strength, and hope in creating stone paths.

BUT – if you want to recommend a good book or tell me how you created an outdoor pathway – I’d love to hear from you!

Love life…

Do you have a friend who absolutely loves her/his life? They find the positive in every situation and subject? Usually, I find a Pollyanna attitude too annoying to stick around for long.

I do have this one friend who is like this – Mary. Mary loves life no matter what is handed to her and she has had her hands full quite often. It has not been a bed of roses for Mary. But she loves her life. She smiles often. She thinks and reviews her situation often. And, she finds things in herself, her people, places, and things, that she needs to work on. But she doesn’t lose hope. And she finds obstacles to be challenges – exciting challenges.

There are very few people like Mary. When she tells a group of friends she just loves her life – I actually believe her. I don’t think in the back of my mind that she is deluding herself or us. She means it. But she has done the work to earn it as well. I have very rarely doubted Mary’s optimism and joy. If I did, it was a short time before I really got to know her.

Anyway, I’m not sure what my point is today – except that I wanted to honor Mary, my friend. For being honest, generous, open, and keeping optimistic even when it is difficult to do.

Left behind…again

Well, today is Monday – and it’s my office mate, former-office mate now, first day at her new, well-paying job. I miss her. We really worked well together – how many of us get to work with someone who’s creativity and work ethic are similar and on top of that — they don’t annoy the hell out of you.

So, I wish her very well and I know she will be successful.

But here I am, still at this job. And I feel left out.

Over my life, I have had several moments of feeling left out or left behind – not in the Christians-get-hi-jacked-by-God sense of left behind, and not the I’m stuck and can’t move on sense either. Just in the sense of being left out of a person or group’s life or membership. Well, something like that.

I’m the youngest child in a large family. I was always just young enough to be too young to hang out with my older siblings. When our house was too small for all of us because Dad hadn’t reached the top of the Admin ladder yet, I shared a bedroom with my two older sisters. The next house was bigger and my sisters were young teenagers. I had a bedroom all to myself. And, I hated it. I just wanted to be with my sisters. I didn’t need a room to myself. I felt disembodied without my sisters. I just felt left out.

When I went to acting school in NYC, I wasn’t asked to return for the second year of training at the school. I did take the second year privately with my same instructor. When he asked me how I felt about the situation, I said, I felt left out. That they were all getting to do something that I would not be permitted to do. But then, taking private classes was an experience my classmates didn’t get either. Eventually I could acknowledge that as well.

I am not sure where feeling left out comes from but it definitely is a self-centered fear of mine. And, it makes me wonder – who do I leave out? Or who have I left out without realizing it?

Does it really matter all that much that I don’t move on when someone else does, I stay at a job longer than someone else, I get a perk that isn’t a perk to me but it would be to most people? I think the thing that matters is perspective.

When I feel left out, I have lost my perspective of my place in the world, I am attaching my worth or existence to another person, place, group, or thing. And, that always leads to disappointment because no person, place, group, or thing is perfect and able to love me as perhaps my Universal Spirit does. No, as my God really does. No doubt there. And, in that perspective, I believe, that no one is left out. We’re all gathered in God’s care.

I have a friend who loves frogs. I try to find different ceramic figurines for her when I realize it’s close to her birthday. Why does she love frogs? Because she spells it as FROG, an acronym for Frequent Reliance On God. Cool. I’ll use that today to get my head back on straight. To get my perspective on where I am today. And, to remember that I was very lucky to have a co-worker and office mate like the one who has moved on. I miss her. And, I hope that new company realizes the gem they have!