Thursday, October 24, 2013

9 Lives

It's a little known fact that cats have nine lives. Today was a sad day.  Montana, my eldest cat at 17 years had to be euthanized.  He was old and did his best to hang on. I shed many tears and brought him to the vet by myself feeling guilty for not having put him out of his pain sooner.

Montana may have not lived a rough nine lives outside as he enjoyed the comfy indoor pampered feline life.  However, Montana lived his nine lives in a different manner.  Montana was older than my children. He was a trooper. He survived through five dogs, two cats and two kids. Montana lived a different kind of nine lives.

He was always the smallest pet in size but took no shit.  It's like the others knew he was the oldest and regardless of his small size and lack of front claws, they would give him the respect he deserved. If he was at the food dish, the other cats would wait until he was finished.  If he was on the bed, the dogs needed to sleep elsewhere on the bed because he was not moving. He did not play with cat toys except for the elusive 'cat dancer' and he was a victim of cat nip.

Montana did not desire a great deal of attention, unlike his fur kid siblings, but when he requested your attention, one had to step up and stroke his ego.  He would test his toughness by sneaking outside on a rare occasion only to hunker down next to the house for a few days realizing his life indoors wasn't so bad after all. I may have found Montana in the mountains but he certainly wasn't one to retreat back to his roots permanently.

In general, I have found people are either a 'cat person' or not.  There doesn't seem to be any middle ground. I've had cats my entire life.  They are fierce independent creatures who demand what they want,  when they want it and on the terms they dictate. Yet, they snuggle and seek you out when they know you are not at your best.  They are the rulers of the house.  Montana actually taught one of my dogs to clean himself like a cat. So whenever I see Gus licking his paw and swiping it over his ear, I will think of Montana.

Domestic cats are sneaky contortionists with amazing balance and a sixth sense.  They are the fiercest hunters in the animal kingdom hunting about 1000 different types of prey. Montana never let me down as he caught his fair share of mice in my home even in his older years. You can take the cat out of the wild, but you can't take the wild out of the cat.

Montana was loved and he will be missed. Rest in Peace my friend.

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Imaginarium

Where can you find a race-track, a haunted house with ghosts, a circus, flying carpets, a candy store and Queen’s throne all in one place?  To Grandmother’s house we go…

Race Car Drivers

My best memories are at your house in St. Paul on Nebraska Ave.  The two-story white house with green shutters.  The orange newspaper box tucked up against the house behind the bush. The metal handrail ran up the steps to the big front door with the curtains behind the window. The tall chain-link fence that surrounded the back yard covered with the grape vines. The grapes that were a waste to a little kid because they were sour but they were for wine anyways. Tricky and poisonous like the apple in Snow White.

The house sat on a corner of Nebraska and Victoria, a very busy street.  There was a large oak tree in the front yard.  Your neighbor accused me of picking the bark off it and said I was killing the tree.  She lied.  I did not like her. She was crabby all the time.

The garage was detached and sat up against the busy street- Victoria.  You had a covered car stall next to it with huge wooden fence like doors which closed with a long metal latching arm on the inside.  Sometimes Grandpa would open it so we could ride our big wheels in a huge circle around the entire yard and house.  

We began at the front of the house by the front stoop. We peddled as fast as our little stick legs could take us down the front walk, then throw on the hand brake against the plastic wheel and skid sideways with a few little hops while we made the sharp turn on the corner.  We raced down the sidewalk that ran along the busy street.  This was the longest straight stretch of good clean fast sidewalk so we had to take advantage and gain momentum.  Rags, the Schnauzer or Riches, the Golden Retriever, were like race horses galloping down the inside fence line to pace us waiting for us to reappear on the ‘other side’.

As we approached the open car-port, we slammed on the brakes again and skidded into the car port cave and thru to the back sidewalk trying not to tip over.  The plastic black wheels were worn and even had holes in them for so much speed.  This lead us up the tunnel like sidewalk alongside the grapevine covered fence to the back stoop.  Rags or Riches would pick up with us and race us down the fence again until we hit the brakes again at the back stoop.  This was a tricky corner because the large wooden barrel, which caught the water run-off was partially blocking our path just off the porch.  The four-season porch created a few more sharp curves alongside the house, next to the crabby ladies house.  I did not like her. 

We whizzed along the windy narrow sidewalk back towards the front.  And Boom! - lap one done.  We use to time ourselves to see how fast we could go without tipping over.   We wore holes in those heavy-duty plastic wheels!

Little Squares of Joy

The caramel jar was one of my favorites.  The glass jar next to Grandpa Ray’s big green leather chair.  Always filled with those soft chewy squares of pure happiness.  Being from a family of nine did not permit many sweets to last long or even be purchased at home.  So the mile walk to grandma’s house was worth it.  Even if you had to pass the scary Cujo dog and the crumbling white wall to get there.   I must have walked past your house thousands of times during my youth. We passed it going to school on the city bus, riding my bike to work at House of Wong, going to the DQ for Rags or Riches’ birthday and a million other times.  It was at the slight bend in the road.

The Rugs

The thick red and gold striped wool rugs were like a sea of magic carpets.  They covered the entire living room floor and flowed into the dining room along a path that allowed small children from falling into the hot lava that lurked below.  Stay on the rugs and stay safe  - from Grandma and the lava.


The wooden high chair. It was the throne of the kingdom.  The lava lurked below but Rags or Riches was always there to catch your food before it got incinerated below.  Sometimes they just felt the need to save me from the poisons trapped in spinach or beets so they sacrificed themselves and took the bullet right from my hand. Man’s best friend.

The Swing and Trapeze

The circus lurked below the main stage.  Tromping down the wooden steps to the basement beheld to greatest secret ever.  Our very own mini-circus! We had our own real wooden swing hanging from the ceiling but the trapeze was a thing of wonder and amazement.  Coolest Grandparents ever to have real flying trapeze which allowed me to fly threw the air like a true circus performer.  There was even a toilet and shower right there out in the open to cool off after such a strenuous performance. No walls, curtains or doors!

The Ghosts

Going upstairs was another adventure all together.  The ceilings seemed to cave in on me as I crawled further up towards the second floor. Grandpa’s room had a huge bed (which we weren’t allowed to jump on) with four wooden posts that almost touched the sky.  The white bed -spread was always neat and tidy but had those little tiny bumps all over it.  My skin was all polka-dot like after taking ‘forced naps’ on it. A form of torture.  The basement circus was so much better.

However, looming around the corner was the ‘other bedroom’.  This is where the ghosts lived.  It used to be my mom and aunt’s room.  I would lie in bed at night and watch as the ghosts raced across the ceiling, some fast, some slow.  The sounds of the busy street below as the cars and buses hurried to their next destination.  I only knew their headlights seeped thru the blinds and flashed against the angled ceilings keeping me deep under my covers hoping the monsters under the bed would get them before they got me unless of course, the burning lava melted the monsters.  This was a scary room and I only had to sleep in it before our road trips to Montana to see my cousins over the summer. It was well worth the one night of sheer panic.

Grandma’s house was a playground like no other – An Imaginarium.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

There are no Mulligan's in the game of LIFE.

Life.  A simple four letter word. A four letter word that carries a great deal of weight. Without life, we are nothing. We simply do not exist - right? Death is a part of life but we should have the opportunity to live it.

Death happens every day.  Death takes lives in many ways.  Natural causes, accidents, illness, suicide, murder and old age. I feel as I get older, death creeps up around me more and more.  Or I am just more aware of it. Either way, I find myself thinking about death more frequently.  I'm not certain whether this is a good thing or a bad thing but feel both serve a purpose.

My maternal grandfather's death was my first real experience with death that impacted me.  He died of cancer. My father's death was my second unforgettable experience with death.  His death impacted my life in numerous ways which I have discussed in previous blog posts. In both instances, I learned something about myself and life.  Some of the lessons truly sucked and I am thankful to have learned from them regardless.

Most recently, I attended a friend's memorial/funeral.  A young woman not even 30 years old yet and her life stolen from her in a violent manner.  It makes me sad.  It makes me angry. It makes me doubt the good in people.  It makes me wonder when did our society take a dive off the deep end?  When did it become common place for one to take another's life? Why have we accepted the violence, abuse and cruelty which has become a part of everyday life?  Why do we glamorize it through the media?   We are always left with more questions than answers.

I don't have a solution. I don't have an answer.  I struggle with what is important in my life? What isn't important?  What should I worry about? Should I be doing something different? Am I wasting my life?  Am I happy with my life? How will I know what is the right way to live my life? Will I know? Should I know?

I do know I am tired of seeing women murdered by their significant others.  There have been at least half dozen women murdered by their spouses, boyfriends or significant others in Minnesota in the last 6-8 months. What has gone so terribly wrong that one cannot just walk away and allow each to live their life as they see fit? Why do we feel we have the right to inflict pain and suffering on others?

Somewhere along the way, society has failed. Society as a whole is responsible.  We have all looked the other way.  It's not 'our' problem. We do 'our' part. Some people just can't be helped or can they? Yes, we are all accountable for our own actions.  But maybe, just maybe, if we all took a stand when the opportunity presents itself and do the right thing - the outcome would be different -  a chain reaction of sorts.  Pay it forward in a sense.  Quit thinking it's someone else's problem to solve. Take the initiative and try to be part of the solution instead part of the problem.  Put a stranger's needs before your own and see what happens. Think about a time when you wish someone would have stepped up to the plate for you.

There are no mulligan's in Life.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Water under the Bridge

You are in charge of your dreams.  You have control over your destiny.  You make the future.  It's all about the choices that you make on any given day.  There are many factors which play a role in your choices but ultimately, the decision is made by you for you.

You decide what to eat, what to wear, where to work, who to marry or date, your level of education, whether to bear children, exercise or not, where to vacation and so many more choices.  Sometimes we feel these choices are made for us which are beyond our control. But in reality it is our own actions or lack of action which may have caused the chain reaction which ended in either favorable or unfavorable results. It's easier to cast blame upon someone or something else rather than be responsible for our own actions.  Yet, we are quick to accept the glory when everything falls into place nice and neat.

It is approaching the anniversary of my father's death and it often forces me to reflect on the choices I have made in my own life. I have made some very good choices, some not so good choices and some bad choices.  I didn't always like the results but ultimately knew that it had been my decision.  I think about this and my own  mortality because I feel my dad's life was cut short and he was unable to fully experience the fruits of his labor.  He died of lung cancer. He did not smoke.  Life is unfair. Life is not guaranteed.

So how is it possible that his choices affected his health and an untimely death?  I have no idea.  Was it karma for something else he did along the way?  Genetics? Environment?  I will never know as sometimes there isn't an answer, just more questions. 

So what's the point to living a good meaningful life if at the end of the day, the rug is ripped out from underneath you? Because... You fill in the blank. If you can't complete the sentence, then you need to take a step back and evaluate where you are at and how you got there.  More importantly, what are you going to do about it?

We know our life will end one day.  We don't know when or how but it will end.  People dislike talking of death because it forces them to face their own mortality.  We don't want to think about the 'what if's' and 'if only'.  This is why you must live the life you choose to live and want to live. It will end one day without your permission.  You may be old and ready to go or too young to be gone.  What will you leave behind? Memories, money, honor, pride, disappointment or a legacy?

Life is about choices. It's too short to be serious all the time, too short to screw off all of time, too short to blame, too short to feel sorry for yourself, too short to drink or smoke it away, too short to be lonely, and too short to be angry.  You are a mortal and not a super hero so live a life that makes you happy. Begin today because the rest is water under the bridge.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A BUMP in the Road

The road less traveled. The road to nowhere.  Take the high road. A fork in the road. One road leads to another. The road not taken. 

I tend to do a great deal of thinking while I am driving.  I will even turn off the radio for less distraction even though I can't understand the lyrics of the songs. My thoughts scatter like bugs on the windshield upon impact. I problem solve, reminisce, set goals, dream, cry, laugh, but never sing. I'm a horrible singer and it's even worse since I don't know the correct words to any song. The road becomes my own mental journal.  

As my truck was thumping along the other day, I began to realize, life is very similar to a road.  Sometimes, the road is straight and freshly paved and things move along smoothly.  Sometimes, there are a few curves thrown in there to test our response to change.  Other times, it seems to be riddled with  potholes, some big, some small and some that seem to swallow us up.  The road gets rough when dumped off of the pavement onto a dirt road kicking up dust and gravel into our face.  We fight our way through it knowing there is an end in sight. 

Freeways and highways allow us to speed along quickly.  We miss and overlook important landmarks because we are so preoccupied with the destination rather than the journey. If we are lucky, a few stop signs or stop lights force us to slow down and take in the life which is chugging alongside us.  But if we are so caught up in our devices, then more extreme measures are needed and our friendly maroon goon (Minnesota State Patrol)  will pull us over and force us to pay attention.

We come across bridges and tunnels but are able to just sail through on cruise control.  Sometimes we have lights to guide our route and others we are left to flail around in the dark.  The obstacles has been lifted by another just like friends and family help get us through the rough times.  We roll up and down hills with ease but the climb usually requires a bit more gas and effort to reach the peak.  We can't always be heading downhill because eventually you end up at the bottom.  We are forced to choose when we reach a fork in the road.  We may not know what lies ahead but we take a risk and choose. Sometimes it is a dead end but we learn to trust our instincts and make a better choice next time. Or we cheat and use GPS!

There are roads less traveled and sometimes this is a sacred little gem because it's a mini sanctuary.  We recover and recuperate.  The road to nowhere doesn't generally have a happy ending. We find ourselves drowning in a sea of uncertainty of how to get back to where we once were.  We begin searching for the high road. It's there, but the climb is often not without some exertion. 

We may tire easily, but we know there is so much more road to travel that we cannot put it in park.  We don't want to give up. We want to see more.  We want to achieve more.  We are curious.  So many miles to cover.  So we plow ahead, trudging through construction zones and barricades thrown our way because we know if we stop, someone else will map our road.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

LOVE is a Ponzi Scheme

I must give credit where credit is due.  My boyfriend and I were chatting the other day about love and relationships and the like.  We also happened to be chatting about work and various cases we were working on as we are in similar fields of investigation.  He came up with the concept that love is like a ponzi scheme.  The more we thought about it the more we decided he was right to a certain degree.

Love is a ponzi scheme.  Everyone is 'all in' up front, investing a lot of time, energy, emotions and giving their 'everything' with the expectation and hope that it will all yield a big return. But as time goes by the investment becomes less and less, the energy put forth drops off as we get comfortable and the excitement of the relationship begins to dull and the daily grind takes over.  The investment is no longer yielding a big return and begins to collapse.

So many relationships end up in this manner even if it was unintentional.  Sometimes, we scramble and make minimal deposits in an effort to salvage the investment.  We may do this with jewelry, a romantic getaway, date night or sexy lingerie.  Once again, these are feeble attempts to recoup the bigger investment.  There is so much more to a good solid loving relationship. There are no quick fixes.  It has already begun to slip away.  Just like a ponzi scheme, once the investors stop investing or keep making withdrawals, it begins to collapse. Minimal contributions keep it alive for short bursts, but cannot sustain it long enough without good solid backing.

What is the remedy? How does one sustain a long lasting, loving, committed relationship without it collapsing?  Seems especially challenging these days with social media, technology, demanding careers and family obligations. I am no expert and have already failed multiple times.  I am learning from my mistakes but I still have work to do.

Each partner is an investor.  Each partner must contribute to the investment.  The investment may not always be equal as each partner brings different values. But each partner's contribution helps balance out the investment.   New deposits must be made frequently into the investment by both investors or it ends up lopsided and eventually collapses because one partner cannot shoulder all of the risk.  However, this is not an investment where new partners are brought in, it is not a public investment.  There are only two shareholders.  The shareholders stand to reap all of the benefits if the investment is monitored and tended to closely.

Sounds simple enough, right? However, just like any other investment, investment in a relationship can be the greatest feeling in the world or crash in one felled swoop.  So tend to your investment.  Make the deposits.  Monitor it's progress.  Learn from past investor mistakes. Check the balance once in awhile and make sure you're on the right track.  Keep your love from becoming a Ponzi Scheme.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Hoarding Secrets

Me and my addictions. I'd like to think I am above addiction of any kind but unfortunately I am not.  I am not addicted to drugs, alcohol or tobacco.  These are what come to mind when I think of addictions.  I'm not sure if my additions are better or worse. Mine still cost me money but are not bad for my health. Or are they?  They cost money and spending money can cause stress.  Collecting 'stuff' could turn me into a hoarder! When is enough stuff enough?

As a child, I was an avid sticker collector.  Yes, stickers. I didn't just collect ordinary stickers, I was selective about which ones I would spend my hard earned money on.  I never dared actually use them on anything. I put them in a photo album to preserve them - you know the old fashioned sticky page album with the 'clingy' pages. I enjoyed looking at them - so full of color and each a unique design.

As an adult, my collections have grown, not stickers but other things.  I don't like knick-knacks.  Too much dusting!  I have a tendency to collect craft items (which I use when I have time). Have you ever heard the saying, "The one who dies with the most yarn (or fabric) wins." Well, let's just say, I'm in the running for both categories.  Then there is the knitting needles, crochet hooks, pattern books, etc.

I also have a large selection of rubber stamps, stain glass, sewing and cross stitch supplies. My rubber stamp collection fills a six tiered shelf alone. They are categorized by holiday, season and design. This does not include the speciality paper, markers, or other stamping tools, etc. I sometimes wonder if I have an illness. I haven't purchase anything new for my collection in quite some time. Not needed.

Aside from my crafty side, there is my workout gear collection.  I love bright crazy workout clothes. I am not into matching outfits, the brighter and more mismatched it is, the better.  This goes for my footwear as well. Working out should be fun and my wardrobe certainly shows it.  And let's not forget my irreplaceable baseball hat collection.  No workout ensemble is complete without a baseball hat.  My hats are as crucial to my workout as the weights are to my muscles! I dislike wisps of hair falling into my face.  It's distracting.

Lastly, I guess I am a pet hoarder.  I have three cats, three dogs and fish.  The puppies spend a lot of time up north with my boyfriend, but still visit to torment the cats. In addition to the city pets, we have country pets which include a parrot, two lizards, another fish tank, another outdoor dog and several outdoor cats. So yes, I guess I am that crazy lady! Kinda, sorta.

So, I am officially a hoarder and have a few addictions.  Although, I do not live in a garbage house. I just have a lot of shit!  I like my stuff. I use my stuff. I wear my stuff.  I love my pets. I enjoy my hobbies.  I don't go out to eat, rarely go to movies and live simply.  This is how I chose to spend my money.  I like to create things whether it is a card for a friend, a knit blanket for a friend's new baby, sew window treatments for my boyfriend or create a lean body in the gym!  These all take time, money and patience but all bring me joy in a variety of ways.

So my secret is out.  I enjoy a wide variety of hobbies and could very easily be a shut in, but I'm not! I am more than what you see. I am simple gal and a home body who can be complex at times but overall, just a city kid who learned a lot from her mom and I can be domestic when I want to be! I embrace my addictions because they just aren't all that bad.