Sunday, June 28, 2009

What's in a Name?

I was out and about in the blogosphere recently visiting old friends and exploring new territories. I zipped around reading, admiring photos and leaving comments. I came to my sixteenth stop of the day, preparing to leave an intellectual comment so the host would know I really had taken the time to read their post when I stopped dead in mid-typing. Quite a few people had already left comments and as I read through I noticed that another person named 'Deb' had already left a comment. And then another ... and believe it or not, a third 'Deb' had commented. And this is only one more reason why I hate my name. Once again I felt unoriginal and just another girl born in the 1950's who gets lost in the masses and who happens to think she has the most boring name EVER.

I decided to do a little research on the name ' Debbie'. There are currently 240,816 people in the U.S. with the first name Debbie. 99 % are females. It is a form of the name 'Deborah' or in my case 'Debra'. It means bee but I always tell people it means queen bee which helps in my quest to have a special name. I found a survey page which says the name is only mispronounced 11% of the time. No comment. Survey says people only misspell the name 9% of the time ~ this would include my darling husband of thirty years who wrote my name on a score sheet for a card game we were playing. I looked at what he had written - twelve times. I went to get my glasses. I cleaned my glasses. He had written 'Debby'. I thought he was having a medical emergency since HOW IN THE WORLD COULD HE NOT KNOW HOW TO SPELL MY NAME AFTER THIRTY YEARS OF MARRIAGE?! A fight ensued but long story short ~ the explanation was that he never writes 'Debbie' ~ he always writes 'Deb' - which is true but still. I bet if my name was Angelina or Halle or Goldie he would be able to write my name correctly. But I am over all that and ready to move on. Honey, you spell that D-e-b-b-i-e and I have a long memory.

Now at this point I need to tell you what my maiden name was so that you have a clear understanding of my name issue. My maiden name was Smith. Yep, Debbie Smith. Zzzzzzzz !!

Now I have a few Debbie Smith stories and if I had a dime for every time I heard 'That can't be your real name," I would be a rich girl. But I will share the story with you which made me truly dislike my name.

I was a freshman in college and lived in an all girl dorm. This was back in the prehistoric days when if a girl had a male visitor he had to stop at the desk in the lobby and the girl would be called down to meet her male visitor. She could walk him back to her room but the door to the room had to remain open.

It was a Saturday night and I was just hanging out in my room. The buzzer goes off and I hear, "Debbie Smith, please come to the lobby. You have a male guest." I looked at my roommate and asked her if I had heard correctly. I, Debbie Smith, had a male visitor? I never had male visitors. "Yes," she screamed. And soon the hallway was full of my friends all curious to see who was here to visit Debbie Smith. Well, I can assure you no one was more curious than I. I ran my fingers through my hair, thought about putting on a bra but no real need plus I had recently burnt them all. My friends shoved me to the metal door at the end of the hall which separated me from my male guest. There was this little window in the door so we could peek out to see who was standing at the lobby desk. Twelve of us were on tippy toe trying to check out mystery man. At that point we tumbled into the door and the whole pile landed, ungracefully, in the lobby. Nice. By the time I gained my composure my friends had vanished, leaving me standing there with the mystery male guest and the front desk clerk.

"Hi," I said meekly, wondering who the heck this guy was and vowed right then and there to stop drinking so much at fraternity parties.

"Hi. Who are you?" he asked.

"I am Debbie Smith."

"No, you aren't." He started to look for the closest exit.

"Yes, I am. " Now I am positive that I am having an out of body experience ~ and I am not sure why.

" I met a Debbie Smith last night at a frat party and she told me she lived in Monadnock Hall."

"Well. I am Debbie Smith. I was at a frat party last night and I do live here in Monadnock Hall." What the heck. Is this some one's idea of a joke? Not funny.

" You don't look like the Debbie Smith I met last night." Well, you don't look like the male mystery guest I have been fantasizing about for the whole semester either! What exactly are you saying buster? So you had a few too many the previous night and I looked better when you were under the influence? Slime ball. I could feel my neck veins starting to pulse and I was biting the inside of my cheek - bad sign.

I couldn't resist. "What did the Debbie Smith look like that you met last night?" Ah, Debbie, Debbie, Debbie - will you never learn?

"She had brown long hair. " I just pointed at my brown long hair. I decided to not make this easy for this male mystery slime guest.

"Um, she wore blue jeans." Hey, Einstein, that's all any of us wore in 1975. No help from me. I decided to let him squiggle a bit more since he could barely contain his disappointment that I was Debbie Smith.

" I guess, well, she wasn't as skinny as you." Ah-ha. His fantasy Debbie Smith had meat on her bones in all the right places and didn't go by the nickname 'Skinny Minny'.

At this point the front desk clerk pipes in. "You must be talking about the other Debbie Smith who lives on the third floor."

"What?" We both turned and stared at her.

"Yeah, there is a new transfer student who just moved in on the third floor. I bet that is who he is looking for."

I could see the relief on his face. I hoped he could see anything but the hurt that was threatening to squirt out of the corners of my eyes.

"Well, there you go. Mystery solved. Hope you have a good time with the real Debbie Smith," and I turned to walk back to my room, not wanting to hear anymore or to see the real Debbie Smith.

So...I once asked my mom why she had to pick such an ordinary name for her daughter. She defended her choice but then went on to tell me that it had been a toss-up between Debbie and Zilla. Right. I can totally understand why that must have been a hard call since those names have so much in common ~ NOT!

I have now been watching my children go through the name game as they prepare for the arrival of their children. No one has asked me for my advice but if they ever asked me 'What's in a name?' I would say 'Everything.' And now I am going to practice writing the new name I might consider for myself ~ Debzilla. It has a certain flair to it, don't you think?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wordless Wednesday ~ I Spy...

At first glance what do you see in the first picture ? Dried leaves and daffodils...

And then he opened his wings...and I saw him.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Life at its Best !

For the past few days I have been consumed with thoughts of my parents and especially my father which I wrote about in my previous post. This past weekend though was filled to the brim with happy occasions ~ graduations, babies, weddings and cherished time with family. It was exactly what I needed to flush some of the feelings of sadness and worry from my mind - even if it was only temporary, it was necessary. I had fun photographing some of the events of the past 48 hours so buckle up - it was a whirlwind of activity!

On Saturday we attended our nephew's high school graduation. Hard to believe that he is eighteen years old- time flies when you are having the time of your life.
The speeches began. I love all that is going on in the background ~ unfocused attention...
My ADD or ADHD or Boredom kicked in and my camera and I started to look around for interesting shots. The kids in the picture below started to get antsy and the beach balls came out causing some distractions...

And then...I found the hats. I zoomed in on the caps of the some of the students and was impressed with the artwork. I was able to sit still for the entire two hours as I focused on the hats. I did listen politely and quietly and clapped loudly and proudly when my nephew received his diploma but his last name starts with a "B" so he was one of the first ones to receive his diploma - and there were a LOT of kids after him. Here are a few of my favorite caps...

Our youngest son arrived early on Sunday, Father's Day, with treats for his dad. I did have my eye on this pink sugary morsel. I resisted, sort of. I thoroughly enjoyed every bite of a honey glazed donut. Great way to start the day!

In the middle of this wild weekend my oldest son and his wife moved back into our home ~ with all of their belongings. They are getting ready to start a new adventure with a new job and a precious baby arriving at the end of July. A crowded, chaotic but happy home full of love !

And on Sunday we headed for a wedding. Our niece was getting married. Here's my man - dodging raindrops.
This is the first time I have ever seen a cat at a wedding. A naked cat at that !

Working the camera !

No groomsmen here - only groomswomen ! Girl Power !

Sharing the Love !

The wedding was held near the town in which I grew up. We drove by my childhood home. My parents moved out of this house twentyish years ago - and my dad would be very upset if he saw how run down it looks. He always had beautiful flowers, manicured can't go back home. I wish I hadn't.

While in my old hometown we stopped to visit a dear friend of mine. We hadn't seen each other in years and I am so glad that we took the time to stop and say hi. Of course I had to show her my grammie brag book. Notice I am wearing a corsage that my niece gave me at the wedding - just because !

And then finally we arrived home and found these little pumpkins there, waiting to wish their Grampie a Happy Father's Day !

And now my soul is nourished and I am ready for the week ahead !

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Injustice to Broccoli

Well. Just when I thought it was safe to come back to the blogging world, my life gets turned upside down, topsy turvey in fast forward. I had to rush to Florida last Friday to help my mom and dad. This was not written in my planner, not in my datebook. This was an emergency. I will not bore you with the mundane details but my dad had been in the hospital for eight days and we had to move him to a rehab facility. There are many unanswered questions, many details to attend to and a multitude of decisions to be made. I went down to try and offer my support to my parents. It was an experience I will not soon forget and it might be a bit before I recover. If nothing else I did receive an education.

The first thing I learned is that people should be prepared. Important documents such as living wills and power of attorneys should be filled out when people are healthy and calm. I realize it makes people uncomfortable to discuss issues involving death but to not be prepared puts an incredible burden on people when they are under extreme stress. To fill out 'Do Not Resuscitate' forms when one can't even focus is not advisable.

The second thing I learned is that we need to keep on moving. My dad is in his current situation because he has refused for the past nine weeks to get out of his bed. Now there are other circumstances involved here BUT the worse thing he could have done is to become bedridden. His muscles are so atrophied he faces weeks of tough therapy. Even his throat muscles have stopped working properly. Now the atrophied throat muscles have caused me great stress for the past six days. The speech pathologist ordered my dad to be on a diet of pureed foods until they can strengthen his throat muscles.

The third thing I learned is that my father hates pureed foods. I was met by the nurse on Saturday. "Your father is quite indignant about the pureed peas. Do you think you could talk to him? He is refusing to eat."
Lord, help me. I went into his room and used my calm voice. I reminded him about the atrophied throat muscles, the dangers of choking and how if he works really hard during his therapy that he could move up to mechanical soft foods. I prayed he wouldn't ask me what a mechanical soft food was. "Pureed peas taste like dog shit," he yelled at me in a loud enough voice that I am sure the dietary staff could hear him. "Dad, you have got to eat. We are worried about you." His response to me was, "I want chocolate and cookies." I went and bought the man a dish of ice cream. He ate the whole thing. Life was good.

I went in the next day and was met by the same nurse. " We are worried about your father. He is on a hunger strike and won't eat. Could you try talking to him again?" Oh, yeah, I'd love to ~ I was hoping you'd ask me.
" Dad, what seems to be the problem with your food? " Stupid question but I thought I should hear it from him. "They served me pureed broccoli last night. It was an injustice to broccoli . I won't eat that mush." I walked down to the ice cream shoppe and bought him a triple scoop of raspberry sherbet. He ate the whole thing.

On Monday, the speech pathologist agreed to change the food order to mechanical soft. I still don't know exactly what that means but all I know is that he is eating and not causing a scene. I still bought him a dish of ice cream every day.

My dad responds well when I use my 'teacher' voice. I had to resort to it on occasion when he was extremely rude and unruly with some of the staff. "Dad, do you want me to use my teacher voice?" "NO, I don't!" And then he would listen to the therapists or the CNA's while I stood watching in the corner. His roommate, Richard, motioned me over one day.
"So you are a teacher?" he asked me. I replied that I had been in a past life.
"Well, this is what I think about teachers," he replied and proceeded to give me the finger.
I wish I could write about some wise comeback or zinger that I had thrown his way but I just walked out of the room, found a quiet corner and started to cry. The tears were for my dad and for the frustration and stress we had all been under.

I could probably write many more paragraphs. Lord knows there is enough material for an entire book such as when the CNA took my father's temperature by putting the instrument into his ear. He asked her what she was doing and she told him. His reply ~ "Oh, I thought that was a sex toy." My face turned red. That's my dad. And now I am back home safe and sound. Conflicting emotions and ugly memories that I thought I had dealt with are alive once more in my belly. The past is present.

Friday, June 12, 2009

No New Piercings, No Tattoos ~ yet.

So I am back from my Spring Break. I did not get any new body piercings or a tattoo as many do when off on their trips to Cancun or Ft. Lauderdale. I am not tanned, rested and rejuvenated. To some degree I feel as if I have been partying all night long and I do look like something the cat dragged in. That would be due to the fact that I, the best sleeper in past US history, now can not fall asleep when I lie my head down on my pillow. I count sheep. When that doesn't work I imagine I am on a quiet beach and the surf is gently lapping the sand. Next I try to count the sheep in color. Then I imagine I am on a quiet beach with the colored sheep jumping the waves. I imagine myself chasing the annoying rainbow colored sheep through the crashing tidal waves screaming at them that I can't sleep and they had better get out of my way. At this point I am usually exhausted from chasing the sheep through the turbulent waves and I fall asleep until I am forced awake at 3:03 AM with a night sweat/hot flash that really makes my blood boil. I throw the sheets and blankets off. I sit on the edge of my bed confused. For a moment I think I am in a sauna and then come to my senses. I wake my husband up and ask him to feel my forehead because I think I have a fever and it could be the swine flu. He assures me as he has every night for the past six months that I do not have a fever. I growl. I then tell him that I am quite sure that I am going to burst into flames at any second and he better be prepared to throw water from the glass on his nightstand onto me. I also recite the fire safety rules about dropping and rolling. I explain how we won't have to drop since we are already in a prone position in the bed so when the flames shoot out from my sweating, boiling cells all we have to do is roll. At this point my husband gets out of bed and decides to go make the coffee. I explain that it is only 3:29AM, He mutters something to me as he shuts the bedroom door and I lay back down exhausted from the experience and sleep for another few hours. So that explains the dark circles under my eyes.

A few posts ago I mentioned all that I was going to accomplish on my Spring Break. As I go through that list now I am satisfied with all that I did complete. I ran the 5K in good time - 35 minutes, 3 seconds - my goal was to run it under 36 minutes without having a bladder malfunction so I was happy. There were 2000 runners and I was the 1,588th runner across the line. I was hoping to get a medal or a trophy but only the superfast speedy runners who have no body fat and who run like gazelles received those.

My vegetable garden is planted. That is all I can say about that for now. The weather has been fickle - no rain then no sun then a frost so... the jury is out on the garden success for now. I do think my obsessive/compulsive gene kicked in a bit when I planted the 24 tomato plants. How many tomatoes will each plant produce? Tomato sauce, salsa, spaghetti sauce, tomato sandwiches, tomato and mozzarella salads. tomato on our cereal - just joking.

I have been taking care of my twin grandbabies on Mondays. I call it Funday Mondays. If they could talk they would probably call it 'Get this fake nipple out of our face, we want the real thing NOW Day!' So far there has been a real learning curve involved for all of us. I now understand why women my age go through menopause because having babies at this age would be physically exhausting . I know women do it and hats off to those that give birth later in life. My back is so tired after juggling two babies for the day and my arm muscles ache in places I had never felt before. I raised four children so I do consider myself an expert but two at once is a juggling act. But I wouldn't trade my Funday Mondays for anything. I love the coos, the smiles, the expressions they make as I read about the pink car and the red ladybug. Last Monday I took the mirror off the wall and the three of us had so much fun looking at each other's reflections. The twins thought I had invited two more babies over and they were mesmerized by the mirror for a long time. I am thankful for the moments I get to spend with these precious little boys and I know that each Funday Monday will be that much easier.

And so now I am back. Lots of other 'stuff' happened during my break and some will make its way into a post or two. Other stuff isn't worthy of a post. I do know that writing helps me process what is happening to me. I enjoy writing and when I grow up I hope to be a writer. I also enjoy the community of bloggers that I have made connections with in the blogosphere. That would be you that I am talking about.

So no body piercings this time around but do I have a story about a girl I met at Home Depot. She had the most beautifully colored tattoos on her arms. I commented on the pink bird and she then proceeded to...but that is a post for another day.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Just Ask

A few months ago I posted a book review for ‘Life is a Verb’ which was written by Patti Digh. Patti writes a blog from which the book got its beginnings. I became a daily follower of the blog and am ‘reading’ the book for the third time. I am attempting to live this book and follow its six principles.

I noticed on Patti’s blog that she was going on book tours around the country. She also stated that if you wanted her to come to your town just ask. So I asked. Repeatedly. Now I understand that Patti is a busy lady so I wasn’t surprised when she didn’t respond to my first fifteen requests. After all, I write to Ellen Degeneres all the time, inviting her to our town’s Agricultural Fair or to Old Home Days but she never answers. I have written to Michael Buble asking him to sit outside my bedroom window and serenade me. Haven’t heard a peep from him.

Then one day I saw on Patti’s blog that she had added a city to her tour. She was going to be in Sturbridge, Mass. on June 3rd. Hmmm…Sturbridge, Mass is only two hours from here. I fired out an email or two or three. I told her I would pick her up at the airport. I told her I would drive her wherever she needed to be driven. I told her I would take care of all publicity. I told her I would sell her books. I told her that she said all I had to do was just ask. So I asked.

She said yes.

Of course, immediately after Patti said ‘yes’ I panicked. Patti Digh was coming to talk to us about her book, ‘Life is a Verb’. Us? Who was going to listen to her besides me? I don’t think anyone else in our community of 4,000 people had even heard of her book – unless they had talked to me. I had a few sleepless nights as I tossed and turned, wondering what I had got myself into this time. I decided I had a choice – call Patti and explain that I couldn’t host an Author Meet & Greet or dig my heels in and get to work. Not being a quitter I dug my heels in and set to work organizing an Author Meet & Greet. The kind owners of our local café agreed to let me have the Meet & Greet there, I hung posters wherever there was a bare wall, and sent out mass emails to anyone I had ever said ‘hi’ too. I talked to anyone who had a pulse. I recruited my husband, children and friends. I called in any IOU’s that were hanging around out there. Blackmail and bribery also guaranteed a few more people would attend.

The morning of the big event I ran around doing last minute odds and ends. I had to pick Patti up at the airport in early afternoon and was faced with a dilemma – what to wear to meet an author? I also was baking some goodies to serve Patti. In the middle of everything I checked my emails. There was one from Patti and the subject line took my breath away – ‘Delay’. I truly didn’t want to open it up – I knew it wasn’t going to be happy news. Sure enough. Patti’s flight was delayed by four hours. She would miss her connecting flight. She was going to fly into Logan Airport in Boston, landing at 4:30 PM instead of landing at our local airport. Boston is one hour away from our town when you don’t hit traffic. She was landing in the middle of rush hour. My stomach started doing flips and I had to remember to breath. How was I going to get her here by 7:00 PM ? I paced. I panted. I sweat. I had a crowd coming to meet Patti Digh and now I might not have a Patti Digh. Oh Lord.

Patti got a driver and a car to bring her to NH. I was at the café waiting for her arrival. People started to file in. Chairs were filling up. I looked out the window every few seconds to check for her arrival. More people arrived. It appeared that the word of Patti Digh’s arrival had spread. People arrived from as far away as Boston. An old college friend of mine arrived whom I had not seen in almost thirty years. We had recently reconnected on Facebook. I did get teary when I saw her walk through the door. Many community members from all walks of life arrived to hear what Patti had to say – it was clear that this could be a standing room only event. I decided that maybe I should work on my Patti Digh imitation in case she didn't arrive on time.

And then she arrived. I saw the car pull into the driveway and Patti was sitting in the backseat. I had only seen her picture on her blog and I had only emailed her so I wasn’t quite prepared for the sound of her voice. She was more soft-spoken than I expected with a pleasant, slight drawl. She came into the cafe and was met by 60 people eager to hear her message. She read essays from her book, discussed the birth of her blog, and answered questions. After the talk Patti signed books and chatted for hours with the wonderful people of my community.

The evening far exceeded my expectations. I believe that ‘Life is a Verb’ has truly guided me in my quest to live a life full of intention and being more mindful of moments. I truly wanted to share this book and this talented author with my community – and I did. I was also reminded that evening of why we have lived in this town for twenty five years - because of the incredible people. They welcomed Patti Digh with an energy and spirit which was contagious. It was one of those evenings which I will long remember. And all I had to do was ask.

This was our gathering place.
Patti signs a book.

Patti reads from her book, 'Life is a Verb'.

It truly was a magical evening.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Can I come back and play with you guys?

She quietly walked into her space in the blogosphere and took her place behind the keyboard. She has been on a two month break and wasn't sure what to say to her blogging friends. She tentatively typed...

Dear Blogging Friends,

Hi. I'm back. I've missed you. How have you all been ? Is there still room for me in the sandbox? Hope so. Got lots of potential posts dying to be written. I'll be stopping by to visit you all real soon. Time to catch up with all that has been happening at your space in the blogosphere. Take care.

~ Debbie
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