Sunday, June 22, 2008

Snake Charmer

So when your neighbor rings your doorbell at noon on a Sunday afternoon, what are they looking for?

-- a cup of sugar?
-- someone to keep an eye on their house while they go on a weekend trip?
-- borrow some gas for the lawnmower?

'Round here, it's "hi, sorry about my attire (a blue mumu), but could you come catch the snake in my yard?"

Now, a reasonable woman would say, "um, no, but thanks for letting me know, I'll bring the dogs in."

Since there are no reasonable women here, I just spent the last 20 minutes or so with a couple of recycle bins cornering a snake behind her air conditioning unit, and eventually, shoo-ing him into a bin.

Once in the bin, with the lid securely on, I walked him around the corner and down the street to the woods at the end of my neighborhood. He slithered quickly and (I imagined) happily off into the woods once I pulled the lid off the recycle bin.

The good news is that catching him enabled me to get a good look at him - and he wasn't a copperhead. Those things scare me, not so much for me, but for my dogs, who love nothing more than to chase a slithery critter... and the veterinary expenses for treatment of a snakebite are wicked-high.

So at least I can let that worry go. However, it does occur to me that I should maybe have checked to see if he was of the venomous variety BEFORE chasing him around my neighbors yard.

Next time your neighbor stops by, and all they want is a garden-variety favor. Say Thank you.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A little race, a lot of heart.

Race day.
I got up and went to meet my friend, the one I started on the Couch to 5k running program. Three months ago, she selected this day, this race, as her target for running and completing her first ever 5k. She wasn't completely finished with the program, hadn't yet run 30 minutes straight, but she was determined, and in running sometimes, that's all it takes.

She selected the Race for the Cure here in Raleigh. A race this year that registered 25,000 runners/walkers/run/walkers. The environment is wonderful at these races, lots of crowd support, runner support, and the survivors. Wow. If you can't get inspired here, you are a soul-less pit.

We watched the road fill with other runners behind us, for a full quarter mile, women lined up. B lost her mom five years ago to breast cancer. I knew she was battling more than nerves before a race, saw her eyes linger on mom-daughter pairs and couldn't think of one thing to say. I watched as women lined up all around us with names written on them, the names of women lost, women still fighting, women they hope will never have to fight.

Her plan was to run intervals, 10 minute runs, 2 minute walks. She wanted more, but she didn't want to disappoint herself so she set her goals low, and I knew, hoped she'd be able to run every step.

At 7:50, we started, dealt with the massive crowd and then broke out and ran. I knew we were running much faster than she had ever trained 2 minutes into it. I told her to set the pace, and I'd stay with her. She did. At 8 minutes I could feel her losing speed, her breathing getting labored. We walked at 10, about halfway up the first hill. She was winded and as I looked over to check on her, disappointed. We topped the hill, and saw our first mile marker, and our time. I didn't say anything, but mentally noted that were almost a full two minutes ahead of her 'average' pace. We ran again. More hills, and in 5 minutes and at the bottom of another hill, she needed a break. We walked up the hill, ran down it and more. We didn't make the full 10 minutes and I saw her disappointment in herself grow. She said "I didn't want to walk this much". I don't know what got her up again, words of encouragement, the kids with supersoakers shooting at us, the B52's blaring from someones porch, the wonderful volunteers at the water stops, or if she just found something down deep where those things live. Whatever it was, she picked up her head, and got to stepping again.

More hills, more struggle, not enough water, but she kept stepping.

At the last half mile mark, I wanted to cry, she had worked so hard, and I could see the emotion rise in her when she realized we were almost back to the start.

At the quarter mile mark, her tears came but she ran faster, and harder, finishing strong and a full 7 minutes faster than the girl had ever completed 3.1 before.

Here's to you, B, to a run you can be proud of, and for being the kind of woman that sets a goal, fights for it, even when it's hot and hard, and doesn't quite come out the way you had hoped.

Youur mom isn't the only person who's proud of you.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Enlisting help for a friend...


Tap. Tap.

This thing on?

Okay, so here it is. My friend over there (pointing to sidebar at right) Canesmojo wants to quit smoking. This is big. Huge. GINORMOUS.

Please would go there and support him in his quest to not die a horrible terrible disgusting death, encourage him to stick around to see his kids have kids and see those kids do cool stuff, like play soccer or football, or ride horses, or pottery, or whatever.

If you all have done this you know putting down the first cigarette is hard, but the next hour, 3 days, 3 months, is even harder, so please stop by regularly.

You have my thanks, and his too once he makes it to the end of this fight.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Summer, Summer, Summer

The other day after I cut my grass, in the scorching, all-of-a-sudden-north-carolina heat, I spent a minute or two standing by my mailbox, looking at my yard and was overwhelmed by the smell of summer. The just-cut grass, the melty smell of asphalt, sweat, a grill somewhere nearby, sunscreen.

I remembered the summer they repaved the main road by my house, the way the new asphalt stuck to/melted into the bottom of my flip flops, making me carry around pieces of Hayfield Road all summer.

Later that night I made a grilled cheese sandwich for dinner. Although not the wonder bread slathered in butter, Kraft singles laden sandwich of my youth (soy cheese and sprouted grain bread, thank you very much) I sat on the couch eating it, pulling it into pieces and stretching the cheese out, wrapping it around my fingers, just like Maureen Mulroy and I used to do on the curb in front of my house when were BFFs in grade school.

The pringles I had with my sandwich reminded me of a campground in Ladysmith, Virginia, my brother and I making duckbills out of pringles and seeing how many verses of "John Jacob Jingle-Heimer-Schmidt" we could get through before they broke. He always won.

My mom pulled a leech off my calf that summer. I caught my first fish at that campground. A bluegill.

Tonight I went shopping for essentials (ice cream) and as I walked through the aisles, I saw marshmallow fluff. Another curbside sandwich shared with grade school friends. (We also "ate" powdered Kool-Aid, and no I don't know why).

I made my ice cream tonight and used caramel topping and that made me think of my dad., who used to eat Brach's caramels like they were going to stop making them (did they stop making them?) I remember the bags that had umpteen "regular" caramels and a smattering of "dark" caramels. He loved those the best. I remember I thought those were like black jellybeans, and I avoided them like the plague - something my father probably adored.

I remembered catching fireflies at night in the Brubakers front yard. The color of Chips t-shirt the night he tripped and broke his wrist - goldenrod yellow.

I can't figure out why these things stand out so clearly. I don't recall my dad ever grilling - not once - Maureen and I had a huge falling out later in life and aren't friends anymore, the jar of marshmallow fluff turns my stomach just looking at it, and why is it important to remember that my dad loved caramels that may or may not exist anymore. Chip Brubaker was the neighborhood kid that caught me smoking my first cigarette and told my parents - I was not a fan of his for a very long time after that.

I've had some incredible summers since I was 11. Really I have. I just don't remember them with the clarity I have of my childhood summers that bothers me.
What happens, exactly? Did I just stop paying attention to these little things as I got older? Is my brain so cluttered with gas prices, and bill paying, and stupid work projects, and did I unplug the flat iron, and am I going to be able to get my dog ready for the trial in the fall and, and and.... that I can't hold onto the memories that are happening right now?

I don't know the answer, but I do not like it. I want to remember the way my friends laugh, and the color of their t-shirts, and what we were eating when someone told that really bad joke. I want to remember the way the horse smells after a ride, and the way the top of his neck feels, the part just under his mane, the way a cold beer tastes sitting on a beach with my girlfriends and their dogs, and the bskillion little, insignificant things I haven't thought of yet -- things I won't be able to think of because I won't know what they are until they are happening.

These are the people and times I've created, they should be remembered with the reverence and wonder of an 11 year old with asphalt stuck in her flip flops catching fire flies in a yard on Bing court.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

No right-thinking person likes brussel sprouts, SHUT UP. I MEAN IT.

So, I am trying very hard this week to work on a project where they want me to discuss in detail that the complete blood count values were normal and within the standard reference ranges and (my favorite part) they want me to "be excited about it"... are you kidding me?
First the fact that they were normal pretty much means there aren't any details to discuss, and that IS pretty much the exciting part.
Yeah, I know, my stomach drops like I'm on a roller coaster too. I've been giving serious consideration to just changing all the periods in this section to exclamation points and returning it.
(Bet the results of that would be pretty exciting.)
So I hate that part of my life right now. It makes my brain hurty and honestly it makes me wish spitballs were an acceptable form of responding to these types of comments

Summer it has arrived in North Carolina as of this week. It is marvelous.

My Dad turned 77 a couple weeks ago, and father's day is just around the corner. Last year when I called him for one of those occasions (I can't remember which one) he responded with "aren't we done with that shit?", this year, I'm just sending cards.

As a kid, I hatedthe brussel sprouts, and spent many a night sitting at the kitchen table refusing to eat them. As an adult my dislike for them is often met with shock, apparently they are wonderful and delicious and good for you and cure acne and hangnails and maybe even mongolian body rot, such things of wonder they are. Soooo.. I tried again. I bought a little net bag full of fresh brussel sprouts and plopped them into a Ziploc steamer bag (if you haven't tried these - you are missing out) with some spices and 4 ish minutes later... blech. they still suck. Now all of you that have been nagging me? Shut up and Get off my back. Someone owes me 5 bucks and something else to eat for lunch.

Awhile ago, a co-worker/friend and I joined weight watchers at work, and I've been teaching her to run, using the Couch to 5k program I started with 4 years ago. Her target race is in two weeks, and I'm so hapy and proud of her, I cried the day she called me and told me she ran 15 minutes straight for the first time. We're doing the Komen Race for the Cure here in Raleigh and since her mom passed away 5 years ago from breast cancer it's especially important to her. Running with her has been great for me, as it's reminded me of all the lessons I learned, and all the mini-victories that I didn't celebrate enough. It's allowed me to recommit to my running and I've picked a target race for my next marathon and I am as excited about it as I was the first one. Although I'm not sure I knew it.. that is what I have been waiting for.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


The flowers pictured here were planted on March 3 – what should have been my brother’s 52nd birthday. Mark was the person in my life who in both word and deed never allowed me to doubt his love. Losing that was indescribably painful and even though I thought it was special, I’m sure now, four years later, that I didn’t fully realize how rare that quality is.

I wonder what exactly it takes to be that kind of person. More specifically, I wonder whether I have what it takes to be that kind of person. It seems in my relationships, I get to a point where I’m straddling an imaginary line. On one side, is expressing my sincere affection and on the other, the knowledge of that affection being used to take advantage. I do remember one conversation with Mark about someone he felt was crossing the line, someone he’d known for some time. He summed up how he felt about letting them know he had reached his tolerance by saying “Shit J. If this is how they are going to be - I’ve got enough friends” – and maybe that’s all there is, when I get “that” feeling, remember that I do indeed have “enough friends.” It makes me sad, though…and it makes me wonder if it ever gets easier, and it brings clarity to the term jaded. I thought I didn’t want to be that.

Shit. at least Jade is pretty.