Tuesday, October 12, 2021

There's something randomly creepy in the air

It's Tuesday again, isn't it? Hm, come to think of it, last week probably had a Tuesday in it as well. No need to get concerned about the details of how calendars work. We can just pick up right where the random left off. Were we just hopping around?

...or did I just buzz off?
Can you tell which photo is the real bee...
...and which is an angry imposter? Sometimes you have to sit and wonder...
...how someone can discard such treasures, or...
...DEAR LORD! HAVE THE CREEPY MONKEYS* FINALLY RETURNED?!?!?! It is October, so 'tis the season! I can't look away, despite knowing they are trying to steal my soul. Those eyes, those creepy-ass eyes! Hide!!
(Yeah, I'm just gonna leave her there with no explanation.) Let's all just calm down, maybe have a drink or two...
...in no particular order. Let's see what other photos I have here to share - would you like some cake?
Or some cookies my daughter made? (Favorite half moon quest is over as far as I am concerned!)
Or some cookies I made?
They were disappointing, yet still ended up on my phone. Seriously with the baked goods?!?!
Is there anything else to eat? How about a lychee?
Perfect if you like the idea of an eyeball, with a pit, and not much in the way of flavor!
Tasted a little bit like disappointment. What else seems important enough for me to add to the over 3,000 photos on my phone?
Craft ideas I think I will actually attempt...
...to never make! Pretty sure I would quit after about ten of those quilled circles, and I see, now that I look closer, that there appear to be a few more than that making up the tree.

We have reached the part of the random that is too random for me to segue into. Here's an instacart order I did not jump at the chance to do today...
...trying to cram six large pumpkins AND 113 other items into some carts, AND bags (because it was Aldi), no thank you! And also a "no thank you"...
...as well as a "what the hell are you?" to this guy my husband saw while out bike riding. Are you a rodent wearing a Halloween costume? The specs provided are that he/she was about three inches long, and was just taking a stroll across the road near the lake.

Now that I've gotten some more photos off my phone, maybe next I can tackle some of the drafts in my post pile! (Of course two of them involve finding specific, as opposed to random, photos.)

*Just in case you don't remember the creepy monkeys, or more likey simply long to see them again, there are some here, here, here, here, here, here and here

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Random mysteries

Whatever happened to Tuesdays? I mean I know they've still been happening, but it's not like there's been a shortage of random to bring here, but these lines weren't just going to vacuum themselves!

I might do that to give the illusion that the house is clean. I am not exactly sure if it works since not many people come over, but I seem to be falling for it. I mean, I also have been kind of busy making fruit fly traps...

...sorry, I didn't mean to be all braggy and showy about my success. Make no mistake, there are still some lurking around here. That's one of the many mysteries of the drosophila melanogaster (thanks google). The short life span, but the rapid reproduction rate sure do enable these pests to linger far longer than it seems necessary. My apparent fascination with this topic is only thirty-three years too late! There was a bio major on our floor freshman year and she was obsessed with her fruit flies, so much so that her Halloween costume celebrated her love of her lab friends.

See her down there on the right? I do not recall why most of us were flipping the bird, but I suspect it had something to do with just figuring we were all that. Do you see me? (Look for the highest bird.)

Okay, here is another mystery I am guessing you've been faced with as well.

Why is the roll replacement task too much for my kids? Was that an actual skill I was supposed to demonstrate for them? I walked from that bathroom to the next one where I saw this.

This was my husband putting the towels away? Wait, that is the wrong description for the job he did. He brought the towels upstairs. The stack on the right goes under the towel under the basket. (And those are HIS towels, so I like to think he knows where he takes them from.) The stack on the left goes in the empty roll bathroom. Basically, zero towels go where he put them. At least I get more steps in walking things back where they belong, and speaking of exercise...

...can you figure out the options for exercise level on this questionnaire my daughter had to complete as a new patient? The choices are "no exercise" or triathlete?! That box for "other" is a little daunting, don't you think? Plenty of room to try to explain or justify the fitness regime! Jazzercise? Rollerskating? Speaking of...
...I was at a complete loss for what these were, and then once I scrolled down far enough, I was baffled as to WHYYYYYYYYY. I didn't even know people were back to wearing roller skates (as opposed to roller blades). As long as we are asking ourselves the question...
WHY?! Why do I need more sugar with my cereal or cereal crumbs messing with what I supposed to chocolatey delight!?
WHY? Why are potato chips trying to taste like other chips? You are enough potato chips, don't try to be somebody else. And WHY did I buy them? Why do we always have to know? Ummmm, maybe we dn't always have to know...
WHY? Nope.
WHY? Why did the powers that be think this was an appetizing look for a burrito? It looks to me like somebody put Cinnamon Toast Crunch in it. I can not unsee it and therefore do not want to eat it! We need something more appetizing to look at now...
...sometimes you wanna feel fancy, so you make fondue, and other times...
...you just want to amuse yourself by making a white trash sampler platter. 

Well that seems like enough for us to ponder for now, so I'll leave you with these parting words in the letter from my retiring gynecologist...

Monday, September 20, 2021

Grey/Gray Days Ahead

Whoah! This entire revival was almost derailed because I wasn't sure how to spell a color? For a split second I entertained the thought of running to grab a box of Crayolas (do not even try to wave an inferior brand of colored wax at me) to see which spelling they use. In addition to getting lightheaded from the intoxicating scent of the non-toxic rainbow, I am fairly certain that would have turned into hours of coloring, but perhaps not exactly artwork to blog about. 

What have you all been up to for the past few months? What do you think I've been up to? Come on, delight me with possibilities! I am willing to bet you'll come up with something more glamorous than the reality. If I had written even half as much as I THOUGHT about writing, you'd have been inundated with my minutiae! This morning, I pondered what I would think about to replace thinking about, or feeling badly for not, writing. Nine hours of driving around in my Instacarting frenzy left me slightly less enthusiastic, but not without a single spark. Then came the lighter fluid...

The house phone rang, and just a first name showed up on the caller ID. I immediately thought of only one person by that name, who I haven't talked to other than online since high school graduation days, so I figured it was just an update on my car's warranty. When the landline stopped ringing, my cellphone sprang to life with the same name, and I figured it was some sort of urgent matter (yes, possibly still warranty related). Holy cannoli! It was the one person I thought of. Ever the optimist, I immediately wondered if there was some bad news she wanted to deliver directly about a classmate. That wasn't it. Her voice sounded the same as I remembered from all those years ago, and she said she'd been thinking of me, noticed my online absence, and wanted to check in to see if I was doing okay. Being seen, and being heard are amazing, but having someone notice your void can give you the feels too. It is time to come back.

There really isn't a solid explanation for where I wandered off to. I think sometimes I was afraid that this would become a sort of Eeyore blog. I mean, I have always loved Eeyore, tacked on tail and all, but I think he usually projects as far more sad than he truly feels. His color doesn't exactly give off a radiant vibe either...just sort of gray...oh bother!

Which leads me to a point, the point rather, to which I had arrived. I sort of decided to let my hair go on to become whatever color it wanted to be. The "sort of" is not terribly surprising because I only dabbled in the wash out hair color to begin with because I couldn't take the pressure of regularly scheduled maintenance. The decision itself is also not very surprising if you've been hanging around here long enough to stumble on some of my other beauty regimes (here, here, and over here, and several others I am sure, but if I try to find them I might run out of steam). For me, this was not a stand I was taking, nor an indication that I was giving up. Well, that is not completely accurate, as I was ready to give up trying to be anything other than who I am. You see, somewhere along this crazy line over the past year, I became comfortable with this person I am. All of the heartbreak, anxiety, love and laughter just kept swirling together, bubbling up and over, and I just kept stirring. We can be complicated recipes and a little bit messy - well this sounds like a cookie metaphor baking, so now I'm hungry and slightly distracted.

For as long as I can remember, I tried, and usually fell short of masterpiece coiffures. One fine day in eighth grade art class, my less frizzy than usual hair was acknowledged by a peer. Thank you Finesse for your conditioner whose smell I can still conjure if I try hard enough. In ninth grade algebra class, Mike Hughes remarked that I had three hairstyles-frizz, part up with frizz and regular. I do not recall what my response was, but I can assure you that I have a better one now over three decades later. Don't you just hate it when the perfect comeback comes to you after the fact? Anywhoodles, my grandmother always wanted me to do something more with my hair and makeup, but wasn't offering up any after school tutorials (I assume because she was too busy dusting, but we'll save that for a book chapter). Aside from the dark eyeliner and frosted shadows of middle school that were pretty hard to mess up, I never really got the hang of what came next. I dabbled in bits and pieces of makeup that were comfortable to me, and that somehow sufficed. 

Hair though? That was a never ending battle. (This seems lengthy. Are you still there? Maybe go get some candy.) Even on good hair days, something as crazy as a walk down the stairs could throw everything off. Humidity be damned! Or dry air? Where's the body? Do other people have magical hair dryers? Product? Even the word stresses me out. The defeat I used to feel on days when I put in the most effort? (Sigh.) I was not destined to be someone's hot wife, or hot mom (ew). I just wanted to be me. Coming back around to the other side of the mask wearing and not really going many places, I gently eased into becoming myself, minus the pressure of looking like someone else. This does not mean I have given up. It is something so much better. It is walking by a mirror in my house and thinking "hey, that's me!" It's being satisfied with some waves with a mascara wand and whatever hair wrangling makes sense for the day. Was that pretty during all of the heat waves this past summer? No, no my friends, it was not. When the darker days of winter come back, I will introduce some light foundation to bare more resemblance to the living. I will wear sweatpants when my day calls for such, but will not wear pajama pants in public. Like I said, I have not given up.

So we're good, right? It seemed so until a couple of weeks ago. I was out with a friend who I really hadn't gotten to see in person since the before times. After chatting for awhile, she turned the conversation turned to my hair. She was not in agreement with my decision and approached it from a place of love I'm sure, and as if it was up for debate. I understood that on some level she thought my "being" would be better if the outside was pulled together a little, or yes, a lot, better. I didn't have the fight in me. I tried to dig my heels in, but she dug in equally as hard. I felt myself getting rattled and shifting, as I guess my new foundation hadn't quite solidified yet. There is so much more I could elaborate on here, but I am not looking to paint a villain or find sympathy. It's just a story about two friends and how the best of intentions can get tangled.

I am a work in progress like the rest of us - always something that can be tweaked, finessed, figured out. Letting the grays grow out for me is sort of embracing the life I've led up to this point...storms that have been weathered, flaws I am less consumed or embarrassed by. What's to come? Well that is absolutely terrifying in its great unknown-ness. I do know that the simple act of being here makes me feel even more grounded, and I hope it sets some other writing projects back in motion. Thanks to the "end of the alphabetter" for the phone call, and for not once asking about my car's extended warranty.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Random on a weekend

You're here?! I'm here?! My mind is sifting through a few possible comments I can make regarding how long this particular space has been dormant, but I feel like I've used them before...dusting the cobwebs and the like. Let's just see where the thoughts take us...

I've had plenty of thoughts I wanted to share, but I let myself get wrapped up in basically the general minutiae of it all. So many things were best descried as bittersweet, but all that was lingering was the bitter. You know that sense when you've just brushed your teeth, and even though that minty freshness has some appeal, it still makes your orange juice taste lousy! Looking around and trying stuff with a level of anticipation for an expected outcome, and just falling short, feeling bitter. Not exactly the place I thought my writing should come from, or at least not if I wanted anybody to read it.

Let's not try to make this a big thing, maybe just some random bits and pieces of some things I've been up to in order to get things rolling? These two were not even silently judging me...

...and had no regard for personal space. (Their plans were promptly foiled-literally.)
I know duct tape holds the universe together, but that doesn't mean it is always impressive to see first hand.
At some point the sneakers just get thrown away, not spruced up to be relegated for lawn shoes.

Let's add a little flavor to the mix here...
...with the annual tasting of the Lay's diabolical summer contest. This year was more about deciding on the least gross as opposed to the most tasty. Just grab yourself some barbecue chips if you're feeling too fancy for plain, or maybe just some rippled ones will suffice. 

I consider myself very well versed in the candy realm, with a special focus on the gummy varieties. I beg to differ with the notion of these being the "most popular"...
...not even top ten! Gummi (I thought it was gummy) pizza slices? What's the actual flavor, and which part of it is natural? It's all just wrong! It should come as no surprise that these offerings were shelved right next to circus peanuts. Circus peanuts! In the checkout lane? Because so many people were forgetting to get them with the rest of their shopping? Because gathering groceries sucks so much of our souls, that a tub of packing circus peanuts will seem like a flotation device to carry us home? I wish I could say that was the most baffling thing I saw at the supermarket, but I was in awe of how much of this situation was upright...
...the gravity defying hair on top of a body sized like a barbie doll! It still fascinates me to look at. I need to tear myself away...PIE, that'll do it!
...the lesson here was that if you put too much pudding in the crust, you wont be able to spread the meringue, no matter how much effort you put into elevating your meringue game. (Perhaps you'd like to check out the second post I ever wrote here that featured a lemon meringue pie!? Seriously, my meringue stylings have gotten much better even with this messy offering.)

I've also been busy with crossword puzzles. I find them sort of relaxing, until things like this happen...
Excuse me, but even if a Wookie is an alien in some intergalactic dictionary, that is not the go to clue. However, I was not as upset on Chewbacca's behalf as I was for a very near and dear...
YOU TAKE THAT BACK!!!!! Like he needs some high falootin' crossword creator misunderstanding him.

Other times I've just been waiting to see how things play out...
...sometimes with more hope than others...
...and sometimes waiting feels like the worst. This was the view from the holding pen at my mammogram...
...it was already a hot day outside, and I had already been waiting a bit, so I did not need another reminder of hell.

I don't want to make any promises, but can we agree to come back? I do miss you when we aren't here. (At least you know I've done the phone photo dump, so we have that out of the way.)

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Sometimes it is About the Things

There are so many things I have been wanting to tell you all/both of you about, but I just keep running. Chasing shiny things or slipping away from some other varieties of nonsense, but either way, not conducive to sitting down for a few minutes to sort through my snow globe of thoughts. Before I prattle on about myself though, how are you? Loaded question I am guessing? Maybe a little tired? Are you anxious to put this pandemic behind you? As this blog's name implies, maybe it's just me, but are you anxious about putting this pandemic behind you? With every step we appear to be taking forward, I feel myself trying to let some of the weight lift, while pushing down the panic of just how to move beyond. A lot of what I miss from the "before times" simply does not exist anymore, or has been so drastically altered that I am not positive what actually remains, let alone how I feel about it. The moments when I recognize growth within myself are so fleeting as I start to shrink back into who I was, or think others expect me to be. 

What to do? 

Celebrate the small victories. I painted a bathroom that has needed a second coat for over five years. New color, different things on the walls. Touched up the paint in another room that was also in need of repair for years. Painted a piece of furniture because I had been wanting to. Have I told you how much I dislike painting? Apparently not as much as standing still! (And I was running the risk of getting Instacart burnout.) The holiday was approaching, and with so many of us fortunate enough to be vaccinated, we were going to be able to open our doors and sit around the dining room table again. The least I could do was give these people change to gaze upon, in the event that looking at four walls that were not in their own houses wasn't enough pizzazz.

Find the comfort wherever we can, which for me is often in tradition, especially in navigating these times that look so very different. There was this lazy Susan (sorry to any Susans, but at least you aren't Karens...and sorry to the Karens who aren't actually Karens) at my grandparents' house that had ceramic dishes that fit, just so, on it. It made its majestic appearance at the holidays, and I thought it was one of the most magnificent things. Five receptacles for some combination of black olives, sweet gherkin pickles, cubes of cheddar cheese, pineapple chunks cottage cheese and applesauce. I did not like olives or pickles, nor do I understand how these items fit in with our meals, but that is irrelevant, and one should not underestimate how many pineapple chunks in heavy syrup a young girl could eat. That piece was a symbol for family gathering together. This is Easter 1973, with my grandmother on the left.
You can see all of the toothpicks sticking up out of the cheddar cheese cubes opposite those pickles. I am not sure why only the cheese was deemed worthy of being stabbed. Oh, that is me in the lower right corner, looking like perhaps someone tried to feed me one of said pickles. Here is a better look from a seventies Thanksgiving...
...with my grandmother in her usual seat again, and my mom next to her. This photo amuses me because I am trying to make sense out of the spread on that table and what void those cheese cubes could possibly be filling. The candied sweet potatoes no doubt did a lot of the heavy lifting, despite how gross I thought they looked back then. (It goes without saying how eager I would be to try them now.) 

My love for that blue ceramic was no secret, and my grandmother let me take it home just over fifteen years ago. I promptly took it to our basement to be stored, because seriously, where was I putting that thing? This was no chip and dip holder, although such fillers might make more sense in some ways. Every time a holiday rolled around, I would consider bringing the spinner out, but logic won each time. This year though?
I gave her the whole kitchen table to herself. I tried one of those totally unappetizing miniature pickles and my son ate nearly the entire can of pineapple. I told my mom that the next time the family all gathered I would modernize the offerings, but this year it needed to be the way it was.

Got time for another? When I wasn't busy longing for the day I could escape with some mysterious and impractical whirling ceramic ensemble, I spent a lot of time pining away after this table.
I can only assume I chose to pose with the table as if it was a dear chum because it meant that much to me even back in 1974. I also feel compelled to mention that my thighs still stick together like that ,but back to the table. I used to take such care when dusting the table, all of those spindles and whatever tsotchkes were having their five minutes of fame. Of course I kept that finish shiny and clean with plenty of Pledge, dreaming of the day when it would be mine. And then in 2018, as my grandparents' house was being emptied to be sold, the table was mine. Oh. My. Gosh. And I don't mean that in a good way. I brought the table home and had no idea what to do with it, where to put it, or what trinkets to put in those spaces. I had spent forty-five years hoping that table could be mine someday and was having a classic "be careful what you wish for" moment. I was too stubborn and attached to the memories to let it go though. 

One day, as we were looking up some of my grandparents' other furniture online, we saw the table...and it was called a "book table". Of all the things that were never on that table! Suddenly the odd cubbies of sorts made sense.
It is filled primarily with books I will never read, but whose spines I recognize from being on my grandparents' bookcase. I will admit that I was a much better duster back when I was under ten years old, but looking at this table soothes me.


Sunday, March 21, 2021

Time to Meet Marlene

It seems lately I have been waiting for signs, or more like unmistakable kicks in the backside, to write about some of the stories swirling about in my head. Today is no different, as this introduction is long overdue. Grab yourself a snack as this one could take a few minutes. 

I was sifting through the mail on the counter, and while I have grown accustomed to seeing several items for "Marlene Venuti", this one caught me off guard...

She has not commandeered the entire household, and we've lived here twenty years! The "who" of Marlene has a simple answer in that she is Jeff's mother, but her reality, like most people's, is much more complex than that. The "why" of Marlene, and her place in my home on a figurative level, has the same sort of layers. The most basic explanation is that I inherited Marlene when Jeff passed away in 2018. I met her roughly three weeks before Jeff died. I rarely say the words "Jeff died" in part probably because I don't want to fully accept it, but also because someone that vibrant and so much larger than life never really does. Anyhow, a couple of us went to see her to share the news that her son's condition was worsening and would not be getting better. She was then promptly brought to the hospital to visit him.

I did not see Marlene much over the next few weeks, as we were typically on different visitation shifts. The day after Jeff's passing, I found myself across from Marlene at the funeral home planning his services. I had spent so much of the prior year planning, or at least hoping, for his recovery. Our trips to Dana Farber had brought us so incredibly close together, but it felt like I was a complete stranger to pretty much the rest of Jeff's life. People from various parts of Jeff's circle were incredibly kind to me and expressed such gratitude for all I had done. I felt uncomfortable, like some kind of fraud, because no matter what I had done, Jeff was gone. At the services, Marlene addressed my husband and children with lovely words about me, echoing them again when I introduced her to my mother. I figured those closest to me would recognize her grief talking and pay no mind. 

Jeff's "Boston Boys" doted on her at the luncheon following the services...

...and as kind and welcoming as they had all been to me, I felt I owed it to them as well to look after her. I knew Marlene could be needy and had a tendency to lean towards dramatic, but I also recognized that she was a grieving mother, who had lost her husband earlier that year, and found herself living in a nursing home (medically compromised enough by Parkinson's Disease to be there, but with a mind not ready to have so many liberties taken away). As far as "inheriting" Marlene? I found myself in her room with three other people who had various motives, some of them slightly more nefarious ones I was too much of a sucker to recognize. When we dispersed, I was on my way to becoming Marlene's power of attorney, health care proxy and overall primary contact person...for someone I had known for a month, who rarely if ever had my name correct. In case you are pondering whether there were more likely candidates, yes, she has three other sons - two of which live locally. They are not who she chose, even when suggested. It was all said to be so simple, these new responsibilities I literally signed up for.

Some days it made me laugh how this situation played out as it was just so incredulous. Some days I kicked  myself for letting my grief and need to feel like I saved something, did something, fixed something get me involved. In the moments of nonsense and madness though, I fear I find myself thriving most of the time, even when it feels like things are falling apart. I visited with her, and tried to be patient as we rehashed Jeff's illness, what she thought he didn't tell her and what she simply did not recall. I went to care planning meetings, brought my paperwork to the banks, signed the checks, wrote out the birthday and holiday cards sprinkled with some heavy sighs, eyerolls and facepalms. I took the phonecalls for every slip, fall and confiscation of wine coolers and cleaning products she bought when a friend took her to the store. I went with the funeral director to bury her mother's ashes that had been boxed up for over thirty years,

(I felt compelled to dress the part on her behalf.)

messed around with her wig collection,

went out to dinner with some of Jeff's oldest friends who were now my dear friends,

and basically just tried to love on her as if she was my own...because basically she was.

When the pandemic hit, state mandates kept me away from both my grandmother and Marlene. In their own ways, and for their own reasons, neither of them understood the gravity and implications of the situation. One of the first phonecalls I got in the spring was Marlene "needing" some snacks to supplement the terrible food at her facility. Then there were complaints about the phone in her room and the answering machine that she was having trouble mastering before the lockdown. I had to keep in mind that she had no true idea of what those of us on the "outside" were having to do to cope with trying to keep ourselves and our families safe.

I was finally able to visit Marlene in early August, and admit that I turned my head and cried upon spotting her waiting at the table.

Her eyes looked so happy, and she was healthy! The hairstyle and color were incredible! (The new wig, a hand me down from one of the aides who didn't like it for herself.) We talked about the usual things, and she handed me an empty foundation bottle and lipstick tube that she needed replaced-because a pandemic is apparently no excuse to not put your face on! We got a couple more visits in before everything closed down again. 

Once again, Marlene had her own agenda and priorities and I received phonecalls expressing concern over getting holiday gifts for her loved ones, as well as lottery tickets for her to hand out to staff. I tried to explain that people's expectations were a bit different in these crazy times, but she was not to be dissuaded. The nursing home would not accept any dropoffs, so she wanted the lottery tickets mailed to her. As I put forty lottery tickets in the mail addressed to her at the nursing home, I said a little prayer that they would not be forwarded back to me -  where all of her other mail goes! The next crisis was making sure I took care of ordering her son some Hickory Farms for his birthday. All I can do is shake my head. I know that she has far too much time to sit with far too many thoughts all day, every day. I know that I brought this storm on myself, but weathering it has taught me much about myself, Jeff, love and expectations.

I struggle with my thoughts and beliefs about how those who have passed on may communicate with us. I got a piece of mail addressed to Jeff at my address last week that stopped me in my tracks, despite knowing it was just an autorenewal of sorts. Do I just look for signs? Today we are the Venuti Household?! Yes, I changed her address probably two years ago, and yes maybe filing her Medicaid application somehow made it more official somehow. But also? Jeff's birthday is next weekend and maybe he wants me to have pizza and cookies to celebrate...