Cake

I had a meeting at work this afternoon. I was sitting in front of the keyboard and mouse so that I could run the presentation. Bob came and sat on my left. Brian sat on Bob’s left.

As we waited for the rest of the group to arrive, Brian leaned forward, looking past Bob to me. “It’s Bob’s anniversary today,” he informed me.

“Happy Anniversary, Bob,” I said.

Brian continued to speak over Bob to me, asking “What was the first thing you thought of when I said the word ‘anniversary’?”

“Marriage,” I said, wondering if this was a game.

“I was thinking ‘presents’,” Bob said.

“Okay,” I said. “So what would be a good anniversary present?”

“Cake,” Bob stated. He actually looked rather forlorn as he said this as if no one had bothered to recognize his anniversary with the cake he so desired.

Have you ever been party to a conversation and you have no idea why or what the real point is?

Brian continued to talk to me. “I want some cake,” Bob said.

“I brought some cookies in today,” I offered to Bob. “We’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with goodies down on fifth floor. You’re welcome to have some cookies.”

“Thanks,” Bob said. “But I really want some cake.”

I was going to tell Bob that he should talk to our coworker, Denise because whenever we want cake, we tell Denise to tell her husband, and he then makes us a delicious cake and sends it to work with Denise the next day. (It’s true. I requested a carrot cake once and the next day, there it was.)

Anyway, I didn’t get to tell Bob about our own personal cake maker because the last of the meeting participants joined us and that was the end of the conversation because we had to get down to business.

Only after the meeting, did it occur to me to wonder what the heck that was all about. I really have no idea.

Do you think I should bring Bob a cake?

 

Not Giving Up Just Yet

It was a long day at work today, but it was a really productive day.

I’ve been working on something for a while with a small team of people. This project has the potential to help turn things around in the company. Maybe. Until now it has felt like we’ve been imagining and planning and drawing up plans with no real push from above to make it actually happen. We all wondered if it would ever become reality. That all changed over the past few days. The big guys are ready to make it real.

Suddenly, there’s a huge push to bring this project to the forefront. Between yesterday and today, I found myself knee-deep in research and graphs, facts and figures and Power Point presentations. I was so busy that I lost track of time. I love that kind of busyness. It makes me realize that I like to work. I do. If I had to sit at home for any length of time without a job, I’d go a little stir crazy.

Today brought with it a sense of urgency. There was a meeting and a major decision. I spent the rest of the day working with one of our experts to make the Power Point presentation all shiny and pretty and professional. It had to be finished and forwarded to the group by the end of the day, which meant we stayed late, this expert and I. We got it done. It looks great. I got it out to the group and asked for feedback. We’ll update any changes by tomorrow and by Friday, it will be ready to hand off to the Big Kahuna.

Expert and I celebrated with a beer after we left the office. Well deserved, I think.

By early next week, the wheels will be in motion. If we get a customer to buy in, things may not be as dire as they’ve seemed for the last week or so. If not… well, then I just have to decide whether or not I want to stay in the same line of business or make a big change.

The bowling industry could be fun…

Not So Bad

I’m fighting for my job again. It’s a job worth fighting for. But it just might not be possible for me to stay. The reality is that I could be laid off in a month’s time or so. Maybe sooner. No one really knows for sure. Then again, it’s possible I’ll be able to stay, but even if I do get to stay, things probably won’t be the same. I’m slow to accept change, but I would, if I could stay.

I’ve been doing a lot of worrying … about the future, the job market, my own limitations. I have another kid starting college in the fall.

Then something happens. My friend’s dad, goes for a morning walk while on vacation. A drunk driver drives off the road and onto the sidewalk, hitting and killing him. My friend’s dad was a good man. He worked hard all his life. His family was everything to him. I just saw him a few weeks ago. We both watched his grandson play basketball. He smiled at me and made jokes while we sat in the bleachers watching the game. I worry about my friend. She is understandably devastated. I worry about her mom and whether she can manage on her own. I think about the entire family and the enormous pain they are in.

Life is not fair. But mine is not so bad.

Where I Live

Friend James of England (and formerly of the blog Them’s Me Private Thoughts) emailed recently to suggest I take some photos of where I live. Being from England, he was curious as to what my piece of the world looks like. He mentioned wanting to see “downtown” and I did take and post some pictures, but it spurred further conversation which got me to thinking. I do have a few blog friends that live in other countries. When we read each other’s words, we often leave the details of our surroundings to the imagination. I’m sure there are many, many things that are similar in our different corners of the world and I’m just as sure there is much that is different. Even those of us who share the same citizenship, depending on which part of the country we live, are likely to see very different things when we look around us. James’ curiosity spurred an idea. Why don’t we help each other see what it’s like where we live?

This is the house in which I live. It’s not a great picture, but you get the idea.

The houses on either side of us are very similar, as are many others in the neighborhood. There are a variety of other styles of homes as well, but overall, these are considered to be modest homes.

When Mark and I first moved into our house, it seemed enormous. We had both grown up in small homes where the children shared bedrooms and we had to fight for time in the bathroom. When we were first married, we lived in a tiny one-bedroom apartment in a duplex. His parents owned the house and we rented from them. The bathroom was probably the biggest room in the apartment and there was no shower, only an old-fashioned claw-foot bath tub.

So our new house felt roomy to a couple of young newlyweds. But as our family grew, the house began to feel smaller. We dealt with it, just as our parents did, by arranging things and making what improvements we could to accommodate us.

When we first bought the house, it was very basic, with three rather small bedrooms upstairs and an unfinished basement. Over the years, as time and money allowed, we painted and improved the various rooms and turned the basement into a livable space.

If you look at the picture of our house, you can imagine what it’s like inside. The front door leads into a foyer, and as you walk in, you’ll be met by two half-flights of steps, one going up and one going down. When you go upstairs, you’ll see the kitchen straight ahead, which just last year, Mark completely remodeled and I love it! Our family spends a lot of time together there, sometimes tripping over one another as we clean up together after a meal and sometimes making great memories while we cook or bake something together.

The kids in the living room. The Christmas tree is where the television usually sits.

While you look into the kitchen from the top of the stairs, you can find the living room to your left. The living room has a couple of cozy chairs and a love seat, as well as a small television in the outside corner of the room. The kids tend to spend a lot of time here watching t.v., playing video games or hanging out with friends. We always make space for our Christmas tree in there, and there have been many holiday and birthday celebrations there.

My brothers and niece in the dining room during a family celebration

Behind the living room and next to the kitchen is the dining area. It’s not a large area by any means, and we’ve pretty much filled the space with the pub-height table that comfortably seats six. These days, it’s less likely that you’ll find us all seated there together for a meal, but there are still times when we make it happen. It’s also a great place to play cards and board games together or with friends. There’s a patio door in the dining area that leads out to the deck and the back yard.

To the right of the upper stairway is the hallway. Down the hall you’ll find the small main bathroom on the right, and just beyond it, Jake’s bedroom, which is the former master bedroom where Mark and I slept before he finished the basement. Although it’s the biggest of the upstairs bedrooms, it’s not big by any means. Across the hall is Brad’s bedroom at the end of the house, and Kacey’s bedroom between Brad’s room and the kitchen. The boys used to share a bedroom and there were several instances of room-juggling as our family grew and then again once the lower level was finished.

Mark and my brother-in-law sitting at the computer desk in the family room.

Now if you come back to the foyer and go down the stairs this time instead, you’ll find the family room to your left. It spans the depth of the house and Mark made it very cozy and rustic by installing a gas fireplace with a stone face and by covering the walls with knotty pine. This room is filled with comfy furniture and a big television, and the large computer desk that Brad built in his wood shop class in high school. This is where I spend a lot of my down time and where I write on my laptop while sitting in my favorite recliner.

Kacey and friends getting ready for a dance in "my" bathroom

The knotty pine was carried all the way down the hallway and if you head that direction, you’ll find the large lower-level bathroom, also covered in knotty pine. There’s a nice long vanity in there, a linen closet and a whirlpool tub that (sadly) rarely gets used. Across from the bathroom is the laundry/furnace/storage room. That is where most of the holiday decorations are stored and the place where the cat’s food and water dishes are kept. And at the end of the hallway is the “new” larger master bedroom, which Mark designed with a nice big walk-in closet. That room also spans the depth of the house. Its lower level location makes it easier for Mark to sleep when he’s working nights and sleeping days. Since ours is a half-basement, there’s a ground level window there that offers a nice view of the back yard. Drives Mark nuts when he’s working the night shift and I go to sleep with the window open. I love to do that on warm summer nights. He’s sure that I’m putting my safety in danger, but the window is actually somewhat secluded by a huge dogwood bush, so I continue to do it. :D

I guess you would consider our neighborhood to be a middle-class neighborhood, though because we live in a suburb, the immediately surrounding neighborhoods range from low-income to the more prestigious. Just a couple of miles away you could buy a home for anywhere from five hundred thousand on up to a million dollars. I always wonder about the people who live in those expensive homes. Do they really get to enjoy them? Or are they so busy making money to pay for them that they rarely get to spend any actual time there?

I guess that’s what I love about our home. It’s on the small side, but over the years, we’ve made it our own and figured out how to be happy here. It’s affordable enough that we don’t work simply to pay for our house and our neighborhood is filled with hardworking people who we’ve come to know not just as neighbors, but as friends.

So now you’ve “seen” the inside of our house. Maybe another time, I’ll show you around the neighborhood!

Too Fast

This was one of those weekends that went by too fast. Brad, Heather and Dacotah were here and have gone already. I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to the feeling of my son being  a visitor in his own house, but it was wonderful to have him here, if only for a couple of days.

 

No photos were taken this weekend, so this one from last summer will have to do.

 

They arrived Friday afternoon and got settled after the long drive. After a little down time, Brad wanted to go out to dinner, and Applebee’s was his pick of restaurants. Jake was scheduled to work and Kacey had plans with friends. They haven’t yet reached the stage in their relationship with their brother where they feel compelled to take a break from their usual routines when he’s home. Brad doesn’t seem to mind, and though it bothers me some, I know they will all eventually reach the point when they look forward to and make more effort towards spending time together.

The four of us – Heather, Brad, Mark and I – enjoyed a casual meal, catching up and sharing plenty of laughs. Afterwards the three of them wanted to go watch our friends’ son play in the varsity basketball game at the high school. I volunteered to stay home with Dacotah and the two of us bonded for a couple of hours while the others were gone. We played catch on the stairs. She sat at the top while I tossed her ball from down below and she bounced it back to me with her nose. After she got tired of the game, I sat on the living room floor, reading, with a fleece blanket over my legs. Dacotah cozied up, laying on the blanket and sometimes on top of me as well… she never has understood that she is not a lap dog. We all called it an early night after everyone returned from the game.

Saturday morning, while the other half of the household slept in, Brad, Heather and I sat together at the kitchen table and had coffee  and breakfast together. I couldn’t help but notice how well my son is growing into his role as an adult. He and Heather are clearly a good match for each other and I love to watch the way they interact with one another. They really seem to get each other. They’ve each learned to appreciate and take an interest in the other’s interests. They have an easy way of teasing one another and share a healthy sense of humor. It’s no secret these two are serious about one another, so I wasn’t surprised when they suggested it might finally be time for Mark and I to meet Heather’s parents. We’ll probably do that this summer.

Saturday was spent visiting Mark’s parents – at Brad’s request. He hasn’t seen his grandparents since New Year’s day and wanted to spend some time with them. Dacotah came too, since Mark’s parents are real dog lovers and would have been disappointed had she not come along. They spoiled her with dog treats while we all talked and watched a group of deer out the kitchen window eating from the feeder Mark’s dad keeps in the yard.

After our visit we ran a few errands. Mark and Brad went to the Verizon store to get Brad’s birthday present, a new cell phone, while Heather and I passed the time doing some shopping at a nearby J.C. Penney’s.

Later in the day, Mark and I left the kids to themselves for a bit and went off to join some of our bowling friends for dinner and drinks before bowling began. Brad and Heather came to the bowling alley not long after we’d arrived there, and I was proud to introduce them to everyone. Brad later said he had a good time and especially thought our bowling partner, Jim was very funny. (He is!)

The kids went home from the bowling alley as soon as the games ended, not wanting to leave Dacotah alone for too long. Mark and I stayed a while longer with the bowling crew, joining them at a nearby hole-in-the-wall bar before calling an end to our night. We had a good time there. We always have fun with this crowd. Everyone enjoys each other and we always seem to laugh so much my stomach hurts!

Megan thought it would be funny to pose in front of this neon sign and send this on to one of our bowling friends who wasn’t able to join us last night. These are just a few of the fun-loving crowd.

 

A fun-loving group!

 

Sunday morning arrived too soon, and Brad and Heather began preparing for their departure. It seemed like they just got here, and now it was time for them to leave again already. Even Brad thought so. As he was hauling Dacotah’s kennel out to the car, he stated forlornly, “This weekend went too fast.”

It’s always hard to say goodbye, but I’m glad he enjoys his visits home enough that he too feels they seem to pass too quickly. They’ll be back again for Easter for a nice long weekend and before you know it, summer will be here and I’ll have my boy back for a few months. I can’t wait!

Life is Good – March 11, 2011

Sometimes it’s the little things that make you smile. When life gets you down, those little things become really important. It’s been one of those weeks for me, and it was the little things that gave me a nice distraction.

This is Roxy. Roxy is far from a little thing but she made me smile. Actually, she made me laugh! Roxy is my sister’s bulldog – I always forget exactly what kind she is. She’s some sort of hybrid dog and my sister loves her to death. She loves her so much that she decided that my days wouldn’t be complete without a greeting from Roxy. So she began the Roxy-a-Day campaign, whereby I receive a pix message every morning, showcasing Roxy’s adorable-ness.

She is adorable. I’ll give her that. What she is not, is a lap dog. Except Roxy doesn’t seem to know that. When I go to visit, she insists on climbing into my lap if I sit. Sometimes she forgets she’s a dog and displays her more feline tendencies. At such times, she climbs beyond my lap, to the back of the couch or chair upon which I am seated, and stretches out across my shoulders.

No, seriously!

So, although it was a trying week, I had Roxy to look forward to each day.

I’m taking the day off today. I needed a break from the office. But even better, I took the day off because my oldest child is coming home from school today for the weekend. I’m so looking forward to spending some time with Brad … and Heather … and Dacotah. I hope Roxy doesn’t get jealous of my time with Dacotah! I better not tell her.

Life is good!

Songs Like This

Remember when you were a kid and a good song came on the radio? The kind of song that got your heart pounding and your blood pumping? The kind of song that made you drop what you were doing to find the nearest item that could be transformed into a microphone? A hair brush, curling iron, or wooden spoon… Remember how you’d throw caution to the wind and start singing along at the top of your lungs? Or maybe you just lip-synched it, but your feet couldn’t help moving and your hips couldn’t help swaying. Remember how you’d spin around, dance and sing along to every word, forgetting all else, just getting wrapped up in the beat for three or four minutes until the song played out and you couldn’t help but laugh at yourself?

I still do that. Songs Like This made me do that this morning.

What song can still make you drop what you’re doing and sing along?

Dan’s foot, Dave’s nuts

I really needed to laugh today. Really. Thank god for friends who can make that possible.

Preacher Dave emailed today. For those of you who are new here, Preacher Dave is not really a preacher. He is one of my summer bowling team-mates. I won’t get into how he came about his nickname. It’s a long and not entirely interesting story. I’ll re-tell it another day when I’m desperate for something to write about.

The purpose of Preacher Dave’s email was to check in with Dan (our other team-mate) and me to see if we were still planning to bowl summer league with him.

Do I want to bowl some more? Duh! What kind of question is that?

I responded to both Preacher Dave and Dan that I was most definitely in. I also bragged that I very recently bowled six strikes in a row and mentioned that I thought my game might be improving.

Dan chimed in, “Count me in! If Terri is bowling THAT good, we am getting drunk every bowling night!”

Notice anything wrong with Dan’s statement? Dave sure did:

“We am getting drunk. Are you sure you’re not already?”

Now, you need to understand the dynamics of our little bowling team. Dan is like the little brother. He is only 26 years old and we pick on him because it’s easy and we feel we have the right to boss him around because we are older and wiser. Dave is just a little older than me, (so he’s in his mid to late forties, I guess.) Dave is the serious one. He keeps a notebook and writes down what he did right when he bowls a good frame.  (Seriously. I know.) And me? I’m the girl, so everyone is nice to me, probably because they’re afraid I might pout or cry if they’re not nice. But I tend to end up in cahoots with Dan, acting juvenile and driving Dave a little nuts. Dan and I do things like eat up all of Dave’s French Fries when he’s not looking.

Dan is getting married soon, and today, I believe he decided he was no longer willing to be the picked-on little brother. He is not going to be Dave’s whipping boy anymore. When Dave made fun of Dan’s grammatical error, Dan put him in his place:

“My foot. Dave’s nuts.”

Now tell me. How can you resist laughing at that? I couldn’t!

I said to Dan, “Wow, Dan! Your foot is so powerful that not only has it lifted Dave off the ground, it has turned him Japanese!”

Dan replied, “Yep. You can tell it is still Dave though. His glasses stayed on.”

I didn’t remind Dan that Dave doesn’t wear glasses. I thought I’d let him have the last laugh for a change.

Go ahead. Ask me how I bowled.

No really. Ask me!

Okay, okay, I’ll tell you. I broke 200 last night!

For those of you who are not totally geeky about bowling, like me, that might not mean so much. So let me just tell you that for me, that is a really impressive score. My average is 141 and I’m happy if I can score 150 or higher. And believe me, I don’t always achieve even that. I have been bowling for about three years now, and I have never, ever scored 200. And last night I did it! I actually scored a 213!

I was actually not bowling all that well at all most of the night. My scores were just okay in the first two games and game three wasn’t shaping up to be anything spectacular either. Then, in the sixth frame of game three, I bowled a strike. And then I bowled another in the seventh frame. And another in the eighth. And the ninth. And then I bowled two more strikes in the tenth.

For those who are counting, that is six consecutive strikes.

I know. I am a rock star bowler. Sometimes. (I hesitate to get too cocky because just when I do, the bowling gods put me in my place and make me bowl like a beginner again.)

Eh. I don’t care. That was fun, and I’ll brag about it if I want to!