Saturday, March 15, 2014

Treasure Hunting

While it's no secret that I've always wanted to be a pirate, it's no wonder that treasure hunting comes naturally to me.  Unfortunately, I've discovered that I'm not very good at it.  We've been through several metal detectors and they all broke long before I ever got the chance to dig for buried treasure.  My $400 investment turned up a bottle cap and a snake that was sleeping under a pile of leaves.  When my youngest child reached down to pick up the silvery object, screams ensued and the detector was thrown to the ground.  That was the beginning and the end of looking for hidden treasure in the back yard.

With the introduction of the digital age, I turned to Internet auction sites to mine for goods. There's no fear of reaching down and grabbing a snake, although I have discovered that snakes do exist online, offering their counterfeit wares and freshly printed certificates of authenticity.  My parents' words ring in my head, "If it's too good to be true, it probably is."  I use this as a guide as I sit on the couch surfing for treasure.

It took only $10 to realize that close-up photos don't actually reflect the true size of an item.  In pirate fashion, I bought three silver bars that looked to be quite large.  When my package of silver arrived, my concern was raised by the size of the tiny envelope.  I had to shake the package to get the contents and discovered three tiny pieces of precious metal almost too small to see.  My silver dreams went up in smoke and I hid my new found treasure at the back of the "End of Days" Cabinet.  I'm sure that one day they will be confused as dust and will be swept away along with some dried up seeds and a guide to canning.

I turned my sights to jewelry, as what female pirate doesn't love gold and jewels.  There are obviously many other treasure hunters out there as anything with any value is terribly expensive and caught up in bidding wars. Tiny words like "design" or "replica" are tucked in the fine print separating the junk jewelry from the real treasures.  I enjoy looking at the vintage pieces with messages of love inscribed on them and wonder what happened to the people who once treasured the item in their possession.   There are hundreds of platinum wedding rings and engagement rings from the 1800s and it's sad to me that they weren't passed on to children who wanted them.

I had to wonder what treasure I would pass on to my children and I realized that I have no message of love inscribed in my jewelry and my silver drawer is basically empty.   And then I realized, they will have my stories of their childhood.  They can't be bought or sold on an Internet auction and no sleeping snake will hide them from reach.  They are here for the taking and I hope that one day my future pirate children will be mining for good things and find their treasure here.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Finish What You Start

  I've never really been a collector as I find there is enough clutter to be found with lone socks, paperwork piles and laundry that waits to be folded.  The last thing I need is a collection of small bears or steins that will never hold a beverage.  I do have a failed attempt at a collection of "Grow Up" porcelain dolls I purchased for my daughter so that she would receive one each birthday.  Currently, according to these tiny dolls, she stopped aging at her twelfth year and, apparently, was nine, twice.  Not really knowing what to do with an extra nine year old doll, I can't seem to toss it out.

  Last year, while remodeling my daughter's room for the umpteenth time, everything was moved from her room to mine.  Three days later, everything was moved back to her room except for the apparently unwanted and unfinished collection of "Grow Up" dolls.  They remained, staring at me, to remind me that not only did I fail to finish what I started, but I was obviously overzealous about the collection around the ninth year.  I moved them to a shelf in my bathroom where they now sit with a small collection of seashells and other treasures from the seashore.  An unwanted collection of birthdays took refuge in the corner of my bathroom.

  I, too, have been known to take refuge here and have found that when the world is overwhelming, there is no better place than the depths of a hot tub of bubbles.  One day while relaxing there, I looked up to see the nine year old twins staring down at me from behind a Starfish.  I sunk back under the bubbles to avoid thinking about my failed good intentions.  

  I realized that I've never done well with dolls.  I wanted my child to love dolls, but she loved purses and shoes and belts. She had no use for dolls.  I thought back to the shrinking doll of my own youth, a tall 1970's doll with long hair that magically shrunk while left unattended in a toybox for a year.  While no one believed me, for obvious reasons, I know to this day that the doll was once very tall and then was suddenly very small  - a tiny body left with the original head and mysterious tattoo leaching up from the plastic bi-products my doll was made of. Much like the twins, I can't seem to throw her out either. She continues to shrink in the back of a drawer somewhere, holding the mystery of her transfiguration and my childhood belief in her former self.

  Collecting should come naturally to me as my grandmother was a collector of fine things. Oddly, amongst her groupings of treasures, she had a rather large collection of small spoons from the various tourist spots she visited as she traveled the fifty states.  The last thing I ever wanted was a bunch of spoons hanging on my wall, but as luck would have it, I inherited the collection.  Much to my surprise, I discovered the spoons were silver and they were placed in my "End of Days" cabinet, along with dried beans, ammunition, and junk silver that may one day be needed to barter for food.  Such a cabinet does exist and it is no surprise, when you are married to a man who spends his days watching conspiracy theory shows and Sasquatch hunting on the Discovery Channel.  Little does he know, a real unexplained phenomenon exists at the back of drawer in his own house.   My spoon collection could prove its use in days to come, as it had no place on my walls.

  While I have no desire to collect dolls, steins, spoons or other items of interest to so many, I will continue to place items in the "Prepper" cabinet in the interest of emergency preparedness. This mystery cabinet holds the only collection I plan to maintain.  While I doubt I ever have to trade the Pike's Peak spoon for a sack of flour or bag of beans, I like knowing I can.  I should toss the dolls in the cabinet, too.  You never know when you might need the magical powers of a shrinking doll or a good reminder to finish what you started.  Should my children's children one day find that they, too, lack a collector's spirit, there will be a host of items ready at their disposal to aid them in any time of need.  From a bag of silver to porcelain beauties, the items will wait for a time they are truly treasured once again. And then they can say, "Wow - She was a great collector!"

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Color Me Happy

  Standing between racks of clothes in the Juniors section of a clothing store, my child pulled out a fabulous sweater and announced with great excitement that this was her third favorite ugly color.  I was immediately struck with curiosity about how this color rating scale worked as I don't even know my own third favorite color, let alone favorite ugly color. I had to ask why one would have such a list of obviously unwanted hues.  Allie explained that yellow is ugly, but it was still a good color and it deserved to be at the top of her list, even if it was the ugly list. While I thought I had a good understanding of basic, secondary and even tertiary color wheels, my mind began to spin.

  My child explained that pink is the all time best color, but sometimes you need an ugly color as everything can't be pink.  Seizing any opportunity to have yet another bedroom make-over, she cautioned me that should I ask what color her bedroom should be, she would have to say pink, even though she thought it might look good in an ugly color like yellow.  I looked down at my red shirt and began to worry that I might be wearing a second favorite ugly color.  

  The mechanics of this rating scale were interesting to me and I wondered if it might have practical application across life.  I thought about the many third favorites I never really knew I had.  For example, my third favorite meal I would never eat would have to be pork chops as I find them disgusting, but they would fall behind anything full of bones or a raw fish.   Of course, if the raw fish was a bony fish like trout, then the scale falls apart because the trout would be equally disgusting as pork chops and be full of bones, so all I've really gained from this list is that one should never serve me raw pork chops, especially those with bone in! 

  While still in the ugly sweater section, I discovered that the rating scale truly falls apart when rating banks.  My favorite bank I've never used is the Fifth Third Bank, which actually exists and is not an Internet scam as I suspected when they emailed me out of the blue, ironically, my recently discovered third favorite color.  Because of this rating scale, it is the first bank on my list, thus making the first bank the Fifth Third.   At that point, all other banks simply fall of the list because who can keep up with the order. 

  By the time I had processed all of these thoughts, my child had picked out two more shirts in black and brown.  I had to wonder why these weren't her favorite colors, ugly or not, as she had not selected anything in yellow or pink.  The sweater did have a bit or orange in it and while I should have seen it coming, I learned that orange is the first favorite ugly color. Who knew!    

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Are You Kidding Me!?!?

My friends have emailed and asked for new posts and while I can't even blame it on writer's block, I've simply not found a free moment to write.  Today, as my "To Do" list grew ridiculously large and I realized there was no way to accomplish everything that needed to be done, I turned to my old friend.... food.  I wandered down the hall for a clandestine meeting with the vending machine.   I knew this was shaky ground and that nothing good could come of this, but as I eyed the dangling product promising happiness and short lived satisfaction,  I connected with E5, the extra large honeybun.

I dropped in four quarters and nothing happened.  At second glance, I realized I needed an extra quarter.  I fed more money to the machine and after a few seconds, the prized pastry fell to the drawer below.  I fished out my treat only to discover that it was already open and had expired two weeks earlier.  Now, after a week of disappointment in myself and others, I was in need of something good.  A simply vending product was all I wanted.  I paid the fee.  I waited patiently and yet, once again, the end result was a broken promise and empty pockets.  

Perhaps this was the moment that I slipped quietly into madness because a few moments later I could be found standing on a chair binding the stale pastry to the vending machine with packing tape, securing the wrong for all to see.  The large sign I attached that read "You owe me $1.25, Room 100" made it clear to all that not only did I fail to enjoy my vending snack, but I was also in need of a vacation or perhaps a therapist. 

So, tonight I will relax so that tomorrow I may clear my mind and write.  I will try to avoid looking for answers in vending machines and will return to finding the joy in the small and ordinary things that make a life complete.


Friday, December 20, 2013

Smooth Journeys Into the Past


  You never really know how bumpy a road is until you travel it with a pot of chili in your trunk. Suddenly, every bump and turn becomes an obstacle certain to sling deep red sauce across the interior of your car. While most of my adult life has been spent driving sport utility vehicles, a truly gentle ride has been out of the question, until now.  

  My dream car, you see, had always been a deep red Cadillac because I remember the smooth ride of my childhood when perched in the backseat of my grandparents Cadi'.  We would sail down Highway 31 with my grandmother behind the wheel.  She was dressed impeccably and wore her leather gloves that matched the leather interior of the Cadillac.  All of five feet tall, she handled that car like a race car driver who owned the road. We flew through traffic like a laser beam splitting atoms, with everyone moving out of the way of the tiny woman in the big car.  With my feet sticking straight out in front of me, I sat in the large backseat watching the woman behind the wheel, knowing that someday that would be me.

  As luck would have it, at 49, a deep red Cadillac was placed in my name.  While the ride is smooth and the leather is soft, I've discovered that the joy is more for the driver than the passengers.  I love my car, but have found that most who sit in the back seat experience some kind of motion sickness.   It's a common complaint from the back seat passengers and I'm starting to realize that they aren't having the same joyous experience as my 1969 backseat ride with my grandmother.   

 For those who won't verbalize their discomfort, the beads of sweat on their brow and the greenish hue to their skin, tells the tale.  Even if I drive like there is a pot of chili in the trunk, the backseat riders feel every bump of the road.  

  My husband, who drives an old pick-up truck that is full of hunting gear and fishing tackle, has been quietly aware, over the years, that his vehicle is the best riding vehicle around.  It is smooth and there is room to stretch out in the oversized cab if you're willing to move the outdoor gear around.   When my family began choosing a ride sitting on top of a tackle box over a ride in my luxury car, I realized that my car is designed for me, only.  My daughter, who is tiny like her grandmother, enjoys the backseat ride of the Cadillac, so she and I fly down the road in the car of my dreams, oblivious to the obstacles in our way.  

 Even though I'm keenly aware of those bothered by the tight suspension of the deep red Cadillac, the same color as the chili in the trunk, it is still my dream car.  A fifty year old dream cannot be discounted simply because of a bumpy backseat ride.   My car, a gift from my father, takes me down roads that are not defined by bumps in the asphalt, but are gentle paths back to my past and a time when our family was whole.  Thank you Dad. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Homey Cat


A smooth talking cat who says nothing at all
Yet tells the whole tale with a swat of a claw.
A testy old thing with a patch on his side
Where an ill-tempered fox took a bite of his hide.

A Siamese kitten, now aged in years
Rules the roost like a king whom everyone fears.
Homey, the cat, with blue eyes so deep
Picks the most inconvenient places to sleep.

His favorite one being the top of my head
Once I snuggle down deep in my comfortable bed.
I wake in the night to a soft, rhythmic purr
Of my sweet, sleeping cat who's missing some fur.

With the swoosh of a tail and a paw on my chin
His tail bats my face each time he breaths in.
In a half conscious manner, I hold down that tail
But it just keeps on swooshing ‘til I finally yell

And disrupt his dreaming of mice and great things
And up from my head, Homey cat springs.
With one eye half open and an indignant shrug
He gives me a look that is hateful and smug.

Tossed from his napping and removed from my bed
He’ll decide it is time to be watered and fed.
There’ll be no sleeping for anyone now
As he turns up the volume on his cat’s meow.

Louder and louder he’ll sing his song
Calling for tuna until I come along
In a half conscious fog from a sleep that was deep
Serving up cat food when I should be asleep.

Homey the cat gets whatever he likes
Because everyone knows that Homey cat bites.
He’s king of the castle but I wonder, yet…
Who’s really the owner and who’s the pet?

Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday

  The Black Friday madness is on and I have to admit that I love every minute of it.  From mapping out quick exit strategies to determining who has the best electronics, it is a treasure hunt that I simply can't resist.  While I have no need for a 50 inch tv or a waffle maker, I find joy knowing they could be mine if I'm willing to wake in the pre-dawn hours and stand in long lines.  I've met some of my closest friends while sitting on the floor at Wal-Mart waiting for the iPads to be distributed from the pharmacy like some kind of controlled substance.

  Social Media has added a new element to this game as we upload and compare "selfies" of each other holding oversized electronics or laying across the last Dyson vacuum cleaner in the store.  My friends and I can instantly message one another about inventory updates and alternate travel routes that will get us where we need to be long before we need to be there.

  While my husband sits in a deer stand in the quiet of the woods, my friends and I are the true hunters the day after Thanksgiving.  We need no scopes to lock a pair of leather boots in our crosshairs from 100 yards away. Proudly, I can spot a discount panini maker from the opposite end of the store.

  Just as there are various hunting seasons for deer, duck and grouse, some retailers have divided Black Friday into different "events", each with their own set of discount goods.  It has added a new element of confusion as one never wants to make the mistake of trying to purchase an out of event Blu Ray Player.  Your timing must be spot on for the true discounted price.

  Much like my husband who pre-hunts and teases the deer with corn and promises of happiness, I've been known to walk the aisles of Wal-Mart hours before the sale to accurately determine the pre-positioning of Price Buster goods intentionally placed where least expected. Imagine the joy of finding a 40 inch tv in the frozen goods section.  It's better than a ten point kill.

  The best purchase I've ever made was a 32 inch television for $99.  With the $75 gift card received from purchasing the iPad, the cost went down to $24.  Because I waited too long to pick up my pre-purchased item, there were none to be had and the only thing left was a 42 inch tv valued at $499.  With an "in stock" promise and an additional $5 coupon applied, my cost for unexpected happiness was $19. The personal satisfaction was similar to the joy realized the year I squeezed an eight foot Christmas tree into a six foot car and nobody lost an eye.   When you happen onto a musical tree that can play Canon in D major, you're certainly not going home without it, even if someone must ride on the top of the car to get there.

  Black Friday madness causes me to cast physics to the wind and I'm known for procuring items that are much too heavy for a five foot tall woman to pick up.  Sadly, against his will, I've drug my husband into the crowds for much needed logistical support  One would think they would build a shopping cart large enough to carry two trampolines at once.  The biggest purchase ever made was the air hockey table that was larger than the room it was to go in.   Black Friday just makes everything bigger and brighter and one naturally assumes there is room in their world for such bargains.

  As my children have grown and I've discovered life is actually simpler without electronic juicers and hot irons that can shape a piece of French toast to look like Mickey Mouse, I have nothing I really need to buy.  My daughter, however, has her own list of needs and spied and ad for ball gowns for $100 each.  So, this year, instead of battling for kitchen ware, we will be mining for evening wear.  Somehow, I don't expect the lines to be quite as long, but the fun will be just the same.

  I salute my fellow hunters and huntresses and look forward to the day after Christmas when we can do it all again!