Rainin’ on Saturday

It’s been a dreary week for sure. Monday was a beautiful day, and I spent the late afternoon enjoying my daughter’s softball game. And if I thought that day was a sign of things to come, I was wrong. The remaining days this week brought with them a chill, wind, rain or all three. Yesterday though, the sun came with the morning and stayed for most of the day… just until I got home from work, anyway. Then the clouds rolled in and there was more rain.

Mark and I had dinner last night on Grand Avenue in St. Paul at a place called Tavern on Grand. The restaurant is famous for their walleye. We had never been there before. We each ordered something called Walleye Oscar, a walleye filet topped with crab meat and béarnaise sauce with wild rice and steamed asparagus on the side. Mmmm! Phenomenal. When we left the restaurant, it was clear that it had rained while we were eating, but the skies were kind enough to hold off while we walked back to the truck a few blocks away. (Yes, parking is at a premium on Grand Avenue!)

I found a house I want to buy as we walked back to the truck. What do you think? It’s only $429,000! ;-)

I woke up this morning to the sound of a steady rain pattering against the windows. Kacey’s going to be disappointed as there’s a softball tournament that is not likely to happen today. But I don’t mind. When I look out the window, I no longer see snow. I see green grass and a few brave daffodils and hyacinths beginning to bloom in the back yard.

Besides, I’ve got chores to get done inside the house, and a steady rain is the best way to keep me on track!

Hats and Weddings

I used to have an alarm clock that gave me nine minutes between snoozes. The one I have now only gives me five. It’s hardly worth it. Just when I get all cozy and sleepy again, the alarm drags me from my slumber again. Why can’t they make one that gives 20 minutes between snoozes? I wonder if then I’d set my alarm to go off two hours ahead of the actual time I need to get up? Why do we play these psychological morning games with ourselves?

I did eventually and reluctantly drag myself from the bed. As I was getting ready for work, I remembered the Royal Wedding was being broadcast. I hadn’t planned to watch, but I got caught up in it for a few minutes. It was nice to just forget all the crap in the world for a few minutes and watch the wedding, pretending a real-life fairy tale is actually possible. What a beautiful couple.

Speaking of the royal wedding, what is with the hats?

Royal Wedding Crazy Hats

I think those grapes on top of Beatrice’s hat are about to go bad! Beatrice, do NOT eat them! Eugenie, I think the hat is actually supposed to sit on TOP of your head. Just sayin’.

I shouldn’t poke fun. It’s just that we don’t wear hats here, unless you’re talking baseball hats. I don’t wear hats at all. Not even when it’s eleventy hundred below zero degrees outside. Might ruin my hair.

Now who’s the crazy one?

I did actually wear a hat on my wedding day which was 23 years ago tomorrow. That was a pretty good hat, if I do say so myself. Haven’t had much need to wear it since. Not too many occasions call for a white hat and veil.

Anyway, we’re going out to eat tonight to celebrate. And I got him a gift. A good one. Not as good as the Nook he got me on Valentine’s Day, but he’ll like it.

That’s all. Randomness. Happy Friday!

More Bowling Fun

Last Saturday marked the end of the bowling season for our mixed league and we celebrated by having Fun Night, planned by a very creative, fun and not-to-mention,  good-looking and modest person.

I had an entire year to plan this thing, and believe me, I contemplated the potential festivities many times over the past twelve months. Fellow bowler and friend, Steve was more than willing to help with the planning and would periodically send me text messages with his Fun Night ideas. His ideas were not very helpful as I was pretty sure some of the older folks in the league would be opposed to bowling in togas, in their underwear or naked.

The months passed quickly and soon it was time to make a final decision as to the evening’s festivities. The actual decision-making process took place one hour before I had to leave for work, two days before the big night. It had to be decided that particular day because that day was the deadline Mark gave me for emailing him any items that I needed him to photocopy at work. So of course, I waited until he had gone to work that day and sent the stuff off to him before I had to leave for work. Because I am nothing if I’m not a procrastinator! Also, I do my best work when working under pressure.

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t my best work. I recycled a couple of games from previous fun nights with my women’s league (Bowling Bingo and Opposite-Hand Bowling) and threw in a funny shirt contest for good measure. (I gave advance notice on the shirt contest, knowing I’d figure the rest out before the big night.)

I really thought a phenomenal idea would find its way into my head in the entire year prior to the event, but it did not happen. Go figure, as soon as Fun Night began, Mark dreamed up an idea in which people would bowl a couple of normal games, competing to do their best. For each strike, you could win two tickets and for each spare, you could win one ticket. After the second game, there would be a drawing from those tickets for prizes. I told him he was brilliant, and where was he with his grand ideas in all of the last twelve months??? Oh well. There’s always next year. But people had fun, in spite of my lame efforts.

Megan and Paul with their funny shirts! Paul heard the words, "I wouldn't" many times that night!

Mark and Megan. She bought this shirt for him at the thrift store.

Mark is now known as "Don."

Cutest couple ever, Dan and Bonnie, wearing their loudest Hawaiian shirts

I awarded Tom a prize for his Popeye shirt.

A good time was had by all. Or at least by those nearest me. I have no idea whether the others had fun, but I got no complaints, so we’ll chalk this up as a successful event!

Seeking Some Direction

I hate to keep talking about work, especially since I made an agreement with myself about a year ago not to talk about work. But since it is the heaviest thing on my mind these days, work it is.

I have such mixed feelings since the layoff and reorganization. When I stop to think about it, I know this is because change has never come easy for me. I’ve had the good fortune for the past six years to be doing work I truly enjoy, with people I truly enjoy. I was all set to stay put for the rest of my working days. Now I sometimes have to keep reminding myself that I still have a job! Too many others no longer have that luxury. I’m still earning a paycheck. And I’ve been offered the chance to rise to new challenges and continue being employed. So what exactly is the problem?

I think the problem is that we are all in limbo right now. There’s a new plan of action. It’s just that not all of the logistics have been figured out yet. So I sit and wait. I keep doing what I do and wait to hear that I should start doing things differently.

I like knowing what to expect and I relish the feeling of knowing most of the answers.  Now I have to start all over again, learning what to expect from this point forward and figuring out new answers to new problems. When I think too much about it, I start to feel as if the rug has been pulled out from under my feet.

Note to self: The old rug was becoming obsolete anyway. There was no future on the old rug.

Patience has never been one of my strengths. I need to learn some patience. All of the pieces will fall into place in their own time, and no amount of worrying on my part is going to make anything happen any sooner.

And there may be a small miracle coming of this whole mess of a situation. The person who was previously making me crazy seems to realize she is in need of an ally in her new role. I am that person. She needs me. Maybe both of us can give a little and move forward as a team instead of as competitors. That’s all I really wanted in the first place anyway.

I think I’ll feel a lot better as soon as I have a sense of direction.

Easter Sunday

It was a beautiful day here. We finally got some sun and warmth. I had all my kids with me and that’s what made it the best day.

We spent time with both sides of the family and had fun with one favorite nephew/cousin in particular. I’m sure you’ll be able to pick him out in the pictures!

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Celebrating the Bowling Season

So, even though yesterday was a very sad day at work, the week hasn’t been all bad.

The end-of-season banquet for my women’s league was held Monday evening. My team planned and hosted the event and I’m proud to say it was a great success! The food was good and everyone had fun.

I managed to get the girls together for a team picture. Most of the team is pictured below. We’re missing a couple of girls who couldn’t make it for various reasons. Yes, I know this seems like a lot of people for one team, but only three of us bowl every week. The rest of them alternate to fill in the other two positions each week.

My team - The Ball Busters!

The tables were decorated with red, white and black balloons and these miniature bowling sets served as center pieces.

Someone got naughty with the table decor… (It wasn’t me! I swear!)

There were awards! These are just a couple of mine.

We had a drawing for prizes. Each team donated two gifts worth ten dollars each for the prize drawing. One of our team mates, Jodi had her husband make some novelty street signs as our donation to the party. He made two reasonably sized signs and one giant one and they were a huge hit. Everyone wanted one of these! I got lucky and my name was drawn before they were gone, so I chose one as my prize. Pretty cool, huh? I’m not sure where I’ll be hanging this, just yet.

One of the signs was enormous, and we decided it would be the grand prize. One of the girls on the first place team won it and the whole team posed with her.

Oh, and we can’t forget about Who’s Up? now, can we? Don’t they look like a fun bunch of ladies? Yes, these are the ladies with the candy thong and aphrodisiac cook book! Carol (my favorite) is sitting second from the right.

At the end of the evening, everyone hugged goodbye for the summer, with promises to return for more fun next September. Personally, I won’t be waiting that long for more bowling fun. Summer league begins in one week. WOOT – WOOT!

Loss

I didn’t have to be in the office until 9:00 today. My coworker and friend who started at 7:00 today called me from work just before 8:00. She suggested I check my company email. I didn’t see anything unusual, but had a sudden sense of dread.

I knew something was up when I pulled up to the company parking garage at 8:30. As I was scanning my key card to gain admittance, I could see one of our managers standing outside on the sidewalk, crying.

As I wove my way into the garage, past the first parking spots on level one, where only those who arrive before 7:00 a.m. get to park, I saw that the very first spot was vacant. A coworker, one of my lunch mates usually parks there. The first parking spots are never vacant at 8:30 in the morning.

I walked slowly through the skyway to my building and rode the elevator to my floor. When the doors opened, there stood the manager I had seen outside the parking garage. Beside her was a coworker who was holding all of her personal belongings. She approached me and hugged me and told me she had been let go. I started crying as I hugged her back and told her I was sorry.

There were thirteen in all let go today. We were more than coworkers. We are friends. We like each other. We always thought of ourselves as a little family. The worst thing was that one of them was my good friend; the one who recommended me for the job just over six years ago. She’d been with the company for over twenty years.  It doesn’t make any sense.

We’ve all been preparing ourselves for such a day. This came as no surprise to anyone, really. But all the preparation in the world doesn’t ease the sense of shock. There’s no avoiding the sadness. The relief of knowing I still have a job battles with the sense of survivor’s guilt.

I cried a lot today. I feel like I’ve been slammed against a wall a few times. This is what comes of deciding to stick it out and hope to help turn things around. It’s not like I didn’t know to expect how painful it was going to be.

There’s been a reorganization. I’ll have a new boss and a new group of coworkers. Only one person from my old department is going to join me in the move to this new team. Guess who? Yes. Her. That’s karma for ya. That’s what I get for writing a bitchy rant about someone. But the others are people I know and respect, and once I could see past the shock of the whole situation, I could actually feel a bit of excitement and gratitude at the chance to work with this group.

The new teams were announced and described in a company meeting. And there are high expectations of the group of which I am now a member. I love a good challenge and I love to be busy and productive. Over the past couple of years, there seemed to be a shortage of such opportunities. It seems I’ll be getting my wish now. It comes at a price.

Carrying on.

Good Weekend

It was a full weekend. Saturday started with a refreshing morning walk and the rest of the day was spent getting the house back in order for the week. My goal was to get all the chores done by the time my best girlfriend, Gina pulled into town for the week! (YAY! She and her family are spending the week here at “home” so they can celebrate Easter with their extended families.) While I worked around the house, I chatted on the phone with Gina. The conversation helped the miles pass more quickly for her and helped lighten the work load for me. And we never run out of things to talk about, so we weren’t concerned at all that there’d be nothing left to say when we got together later in the day.

We hung up when I had done all my chores but the vacuuming. She promised to call as soon as she was back in the state and had a chance to get settled and have a shower.

And she did. We didn’t do anything exciting. I helped her do her grocery shopping for the week and then we spent the rest of the evening sipping on beers and catching up. It’s good to have her home again. I’ve missed her!

Sunday arrived and too much of the morning had already passed before I opened my eyes for the day.  The extra sleep was nice, but I awoke with one of my typical sleep-in headaches. (Gettin’ old!) I wasn’t about to let it slow me down though. I went about my day and tried to ignore it as best I could. My sister joined me for a walk in the afternoon and having her along made it fun. It also helped to ease my headache.

Back at home again, it was time to start thinking about dinner already. I had promised my mom that I’d bring dinner for her and my dad.

Kacey and Connor came back from a walk of their own and finding themselves bored, I suggested they make some desert. I handed them a recipe I’d been wanting to try – Jeni’s pistachio cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. The two of them had a great time baking together and they made a decent mess, for which they apologized. I told them there was no need for apologies. Kitchens were made for making messes and ours could afford to get messy more often! (By the way, Jeni, the cupcakes were a big hit! Thanks for sharing the recipe!)

I had pork chops marinating in an herb and garlic marinade all afternoon and put them on the grill. (It may have snowed this weekend, but I wasn’t going to let that keep me from getting the grill out!) I cooked the pork chops slowly while inside on the stove, I had red potatoes boiling for Kacey’s favorite garlic mashed potatoes.

Dinner was excellent. I know this not only because my mom told me so, but because Connor ate two whole pork chops and two mountains of mashed potatoes!

Another great weekend, gone to fast and we’re off and running into another week again.

Saturday Morning Walk

Someone forgot to tell winter that it isn’t welcome here anymore. When I woke up yesterday morning, there was snow on the ground. Decided to go for a morning walk and got about two blocks from home when I wished, as I often do on my walks, that I had my camera with me. So I turned around and went back home to get it. I knew the snow wasn’t going to last long and it was too pretty not to take pictures.

I walked a loop of about five miles, and just as I was coming back towards home again, I was wishing for just one more interesting thing to photograph. Almost as soon as I made that wish, I noticed something in the sky. I looked up and saw it coming closer and realized it was a duck. I was standing in front of a little pond, staring up into the sky as the duck landed almost at my feet in that little pond. It was as if God had answered my wish and said, “Here. Here’s something for you.”

The view as I head home. My house is behind the pine trees on the near right side.

The Girls of Summer

Softball season is here!

 

Katie, Haley, Heather and Kacey

That’s Katie on the far left. She and Kacey have known each other since they were in grade school and they’ve played basketball, soccer and softball together throughout the years. Sometimes I look at her and see the little girl she used to be, rather than the young woman she’s become. Next is Haley. She is Kacey’s pitcher and Kacey is her catcher. She and Kacey met on the ball field in their middle school years and now are nearly inseparable. Haley was so quiet and shy when we first knew her. Now she comes to our house and makes herself right at home. Haley gave Mark his new nickname, “Helen,” as in Helen Keller, because “he can’t see or hear anything.” Mark wasn’t too fond of the nickname at first, but he lets Haley get away with it because… well, because she’s Haley. Next to Haley is Heather, who also appeared in our lives in her middle school years. Heather is also a very regular visitor at our house. She’s a vegetarian, so I keep my freezer stocked with boxes of her favorite cheese stuffed bread sticks so that there’s something for her to eat when everyone else is chowing on pizza. And on the far right is of course… my girl!

The weather is finally warming up and these girls are happy to be throwing balls, swinging bats, running the bases and sliding in the dirt again. They’re playing on the school team these days, and before the school year ends, they’ll start playing on the summer team again.

 

I’m going to soak up every bit of the season that I can since this will be the last year Kacey plays softball on a competitive level. It makes me a little sad to know that our days of cheering on our kids from the sidelines are soon coming to a close.

Just as our boys did, Kacey has realized so many benefits through her involvement in sports. She has learned how to work hard to earn her place on a team. She’s learned how to overcome obstacles and how to be a team player. She’s had so much fun and maybe most importantly, she’s found true friendships that were born of a common love of the sport.

 

And don't forget the SPIRIT-wear!

I’m so glad it’s ball season again. If you’re looking for me this summer, you know where I’ll be!