My sister reminded me yesterday to look at all kinds of things that are happening around me and to me and to express my gratitude for them.  Gratitude has a lot of power, she says.

Where to begin?  It's Easter Sunday and I'm sitting on my bed looking out at the vines growing up over my window screens as they blow in the hot Spring wind.  The KVET Sunday Gospel show is playing on the digital clock radio that I've had since I was fourteen years old.  I have a huge goblet of ice water and my favorite tea cup full of coffee with half and half sitting on my night stand next to a sage scented candle softly burning. For these things, I am grateful.

On any given weekday morning, I give thanks for individually wrapped packages of  Chips Ahoy, a big bag of apples and a full container of Goldfish crackers.  The lifetime supply of foil that I bought at Sam's is nothing short of Heaven-sent.  I tell Daniel I only have 300 or so more school lunches to make for him.  I am thankful for PB & J, turkey and sliced cheddar and foot long hoagy bread.

I am ever so thankful for the vibrate feature on my cell phone.  Sandra the cat lays next to me on my bed, draped lazily over my charging phone, until a text comes through and sends her leaping up in terror, her crazy green eyes bulging in confusion.  She looks at me like I did it! This cat drives me nuts most of the time, but at this particular moment, I am thankful that she is here with me.

Over the past few years I have enjoyed a myriad of changes in my life.  Over the past several weeks, I have experienced some fairly dramatic alterations in my everyday existence.  A sudden change in employment, which at first induced confusion and fear, rapidly became a refreshing, entertaining and down right comforting adventure.  Severance pay from my former employer, the sale of my old RAV4 and my new pay rate has suddenly given me some breathing room in my paycheck to paycheck world.  My word of mouth grapevine led to a call from a friend of friend that is interested in buying my place. With gratitude I recall the words "Wealth is not about having money, it's about having options."

I have a fearless spirit for which I am grateful.  My fearlessness, while not always a good thing, has allowed me to move foward often not knowing what will come next or how.  I live by saying to myself these days, "Go for it.  What's the worst that can happen?" I am grateful for courage and for options.


Yep, Still Funny!

Why is it that the grossest things can make you laugh the hardest?  Marie came to the office one afternoon with one of her young grandsons in tow. He had been sick for a couple of days with a stomach bug. She took the morning off to stay with him, but seeing that he was feeling better she brought him to work with her so she didn't use up any more sick leave.  Mid-afternoon he was feeling puny again so they took off.

Gary came down to the reception area and I told him that story as I answered the phone.  He said "He didn't barf here did he?" (meaning barf in the reception area). I assured him it didn't get to that point and even if it had, Marie would have done what every mom does and would have held out her two cupped hands and caught it before it hit the carpet.  Of course, if this happens at home, you call your big family dog over to help clean up. We are by this time laughing with red faces, but Gary kicks it up a notch.

"Ya know, I used to have two big dogs and a cat and I never once had to clean out a litter box." He describes beautifully the way his dogs' ears would perk up at the sound of kitty litter being rearranged and raked and tossed around. The dogs would wait ever so patiently until the kitty emerged from her throne, then race to get the homemade delicacies.

I ask him if they then raced back to him to lick his face and thank him for providing them with their own special little chef. Gary's eyes start to glaze over and I think maybe I'm going to have to hold out my two cupped hands for him at this point.  He's laughing, but he's backing away from me out the door into the lobby.  Was it something I said? He shakes a finger at me, squints his eyes and groans with a smile and he's gone.

Why is it that everybody has a funny vomit story?  Why is it that vomit stories usually come up at the dinner table? The kids and I once heard someone refer to vomit as "lumpy gravy" that phrase is pretty much all it takes to set us off at dinner somewhere. One year during the office Thanksgiving pot luck, someone told a vomit story and before it was all said and done we made it a requirement that you had to tell a vomit story before you could sit in our area for lunch.  Guess what?  Nobody even hesitated...and nobody stopped eating throughout probably fifteen horrifically graphic, sound effect-laden narratives of wet, smelly, projectile hell.
"Let's just say, there were lime jello shots involved!"
        "OH gross!!"
        "Really delicious spinach casserole. Y'all should try some."
"And so my buddy made this strange noise then just blew beets down the back of the front seat and down the back of my head! We had to hose out the car before we took him home."
        "Ugh ha ha ha ha"
        "Did y'all try the creamed corn?  Who made that?  It's really good"
"We were fishing and he was just chumming the water and lost it.  He puked the rest of the trip."
        "Ewwww...that's disgusting."
        "Can somebody pass me the gravy?"
But on a serious note, let me just say really really sucks to be the only person in your household with an iron stomach.  This trait just means  you are the one that gets to clean up every single disgusting pile or puddle that happens. This is reason enough to limit the number of pets and kids you decide to have.  It is reason enough to look forward to living alone!

There have been times in my life that I wished I had hazardous waste protective clothing and a wet vac -- goggles, gloves, jumpsuit and a respirator -- now you're talking! With two kids, a weak stomached spouse, two to five cats and a shit-eatin' dog, I sometimes wanted to upchuck myself just to see if anyone would notice.  I knew, however, I would have to clean up after myself or get a whole cycle of throw up started again.  Here are some facts that I've become aware of over the years:
  • Kids only barf in the middle of the night, and they can always make it to your bedside before they do.
  • Cats only barf at night as well so always feed your cat dry food and throw them outside before you go to bed.
  • Dogs can have digestive problems at any time given the fact that they eat, well, cat crap, used kleenex, long grass and their own bedding, so always get up quick if your dog is panting or whining, or if he stands up and starts making that hollow, heaving, obviously-about-to-blow sound.
All of the above means something very ugly is about to happen to your carpet!


Wake Up!

My friend made his early morning call to me on Monday and told me about a store he went to on Sunday afternoon.  It's a place called Ax Man Surplus.  He said it had a strange assortment of things for sale and so I'm picturing something like "Big Lots" because he said they were selling things that he described as close out  items. He talks of how there were tiny motors, pulleys, steel ball bearings, boxes and containers of every kind, spy cameras and microphones, and a torpedo dressed as a shark hanging from the ceiling. The buddy he was shopping with was picking up a hodge podge of gear that his students could use on their Rube Goldberg projects at the high school.

I'm giggling sleepily at his descriptions of colorful springs and itty bitty bottles and boxes of cup hooks; of rolls of wire and synthetic pillow stuffing and sugar dispensers; and of light switches, saw blades and bags labelled "build your own baby". I sit up in bed.  "Um...What? Did you just say build your own baby?" I think he's just making stuff up to see if I'm still awake (he does that sometimes, but usually he'll start talking about linoleum or the patina on the hinges of his bathroom door until I start laughing).  But he continues, "Yea. It was really weird!"  Ok, I still don't get it, so I just have to ask "What was in the bag?"  "Arms and legs and a body and a head and little shoes. It was so weird, Nancy. One of the bags had a motor of some sort in it too" he says.

I'm not sure whether to laugh or give into the shivers that are running up my spine. I pull the covers up around me and sit in the dark on my bed listening to the coyotes howling, my cat crying and the rooster crowing outside my open window.  He says, "Well, I better go start my day Sweetie.  I'll call you again later. Go back to sleep for a little while longer." Amazingly, I do -- and I dream of trying on bizarre ski clothes with Anna; I dream of cleaning out a rabbit cage; and I dream of potatoes levitating in a yoga studio.

At this point, I'm not entirely certain that this crazy story wasn't just one long, very strange dream...