Monday, February 28, 2005

It Was A Fun Weekend

This past Saturday the whole clan (minus youngest daughter) plus a couple of friends went kayaking amongst the mangroves to celebrate my husbands birthday. It was a little chilly since it was overcast, but that was actually more to my liking. I hate the heat! Unfortunately, due to the wind and weather the usual interesting sights to see were missing. We saw a few mullet jumping, a few birds, and LOTS of mangroves. Water, mangroves, water, mangroves. Oh, and we also saw some mangroves. I decided to break the monotony by explaining to anyone who wanted to listen that there were three types of mangroves.
At one point my oldest daughter (some of you are familiar with"L") pointed excitedly to our right. My son and I who were in a kayak together quickly looked to see what she was pointing at, hoping to finally see something of interest. When we didn't see what she was pointing to, we turned back to look at her and saw her fiendish grin as she said, "Look, mangroves!" We groaned and then laughed. Since I had explained about the fact that there were red, black, and white mangroves both of them decided to give me a hard time because I was certainly of the colors must be green since that was all they could see. It was definitely time to return to shore.
Saturday night we went to a local hangout and played darts, pool, and foosball. I like darts. I did fairly well once I discovered that one of my darts no longer had a decent point. It's amazing how much easier it is to get a dart to stick to the board when it has a point! I have decided to get a dartboard and darts for the house. However, it seems the kind of dart board I want is not practical. I like those electronic boards that keep score for you automatically. My boys are trying to convince me that a regular dart board is actually much more fun. Well, I guess I should listen to them.
After a few games, we decided to give kayaking another try if we could paddle someplace with a few more things to see. It looks like we may try to take a route that will take us by a power plant where the manatees hang out in the cooler weather. That would be fun. There should also be more birds. And next time I will have a waterproof case for my digital camera so that I can take some pictures! I will also bring water and some snacks... my son was ready to try to catch a jumping mullet and make sushi out of him!
This weekend we all went kayaking
Entertainment just seemed to be lacking
We had hoped to see
Some birds in the trees
But alas they seemed to be lacking
Part of our conversation this weekend revolved around how much I enjoy playing Spades. My oldest son thinks I should learn how to play Texas Hold'em poker. Do you play cards or poker? If you do, what do you like to play?
Also, I would like to know from those of you that have taken cruises before, what your favorite cruise activities were. OK?

Thursday, February 24, 2005

100+ Things About Me That I Can Think Of At This Time In No Special Order

  1. I am married
  2. I have four children
  3. I have two cats
  4. All four of my children are very good looking... no kidding
  5. I am the youngest of two girls
  6. I live in Florida
  7. I was born in Newark, New Jersey
  8. Of my 4 grandparents, only one was born in the United States... 1 grandmother was British, the other grandmother was Danish, and one of my grandfathers was French (actually French Canadian)
  9. I collect mice
  10. I have a bell collection... most of my bells were given to me by my oldest daughter
  11. My favorite cuisine is French
  12. My second favorite cuisine is Japanese... especially Sushi
  13. I work at a church
  14. I love my church
  15. I am a creative person, but I don't get much of a chance to be creative with my job
  16. I am currently Catholic, but also have been Episcopalian, and Unitarian in the past
  17. I used to work in a funeral home
  18. I used to work in an assisted living facility
  19. I hate coconut
  20. I love pottery and used to throw on a wheel... I intend to get back to it when I retire
  21. I used to do basket weaving... I probably won't get back to it when I retire bacause of the arthritis in my hands
  22. I Like to sing in the shower, but never when I can be heard
  23. I don't like to do house work, but I do like a clean house
  24. I love wildflowers
  25. I am a birdwatcher
  26. I don't play golf, but I am married to a family of golf-nuts (my husband's grandfather was a golf pro)
  27. I have never gone on a cruise but will correct that this June
  28. L is the shortest of my children and she is taller than I am. My other daughter is 6 foot and my boys are 6' 5" and 6' 8". L is about 5' 8"
  29. I am 5' 6', my mother is 5' 9" and her mother was 5' 10"...what is happening? I though we were supposed to be taller than the previous generations!
  30. I have an adopted family, so I actually have another daughter and two grandchildren... I'll do a post about them sometime
  31. I can be very stubborn
  32. I don't like sarcasm as a way of insulting someone "under the table" but I tend to like sarcastic humor
  33. The funniest person I know is L
  34. I still have some remaining traits from being a flower child
  35. I don't like judgemental people
  36. When I dated before I was married, personlity was more important to me than looks.
  37. I married a very handsome man
  38. I am more of a couch potato than I should be
  39. My favorite cut of steak is Porterhouse...and I can eat a lot of it...yummy!
  40. My favorite holiday is Christmas
  41. I have traveled outside of the US to the following countries: Canada and the former Yugoslavia
  42. Places I want to visit outside of the United States include: Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Denmark, Mexico, Kenya
  43. Places in the US I still want to see: Grand Canyon, Grand Teton National Park, Maine, Idaho, Hawaii, Alaska
  44. My favorite vacation place is Minnesota
  45. My favorite touristy place to visit is Gatlinburg, Tennessee and the Smokey Mountains National Park
  46. I don't like to fly anymore
  47. I would like to take a cruise in the summer along the Alaskan Inner Passage
  48. I want my next car to be an SUV... after that I hope the hydrogen cell technology is ready for me
  49. I love to go to the movies, but rarely get to go
  50. I have no problem laughing at myself
  51. I tend to be a quiet person
  52. Sorry to all of you who hate it, but I love Christmas music
  53. My favorite color is pink
  54. My favorite color has always been pink
  55. My girls both hate pink
  56. None of my children are married
  57. I am actually okay with the fact that none of my children are married...yet
  58. I used to love to cook, but I don't anymore (love it, that is)
  59. Blogging is currently my favorite pasttime
  60. My favorite time at the beach is at night
  61. I love the rain
  62. I prefer cold weather to hot
  63. Clear starry nights in the country take my breath away
  64. When I was little I wanted to grow up to be Peter Pan so that I could fly, if I couldn't be Peter Pan I wanted to be a Veterinarian
  65. I cannot tolerate liars
  66. I don't like to be alone very much
  67. I rarely read the newpaper because I find it too inaccurate
  68. I am a TV news junky
  69. My two favorite games are Scrabble and Spades
  70. When it comes to games I can be very competetive
  71. I really want to redecorate my house, but can't afford it
  72. One of the things that I miss about not having my children at home is their music... I love that they try to keep me up to date
  73. I get a kick out of the fact that my kids listen to some of the music from "back in the day"
  74. I can still remember the lyrics to many of the songs from when I was in 8th grade
  75. I still love folk music
  76. I prefer hot tea to coffee
  77. I refuse to watch Jerry Springer on TV...can't even stand the commercials
  78. My least favorite responsibility at work is filing
  79. If I were to win one million dollars I would give 25% to charity, save 25%, and spend 50% (including on my kids)...after taxes of course
  80. I prefer hugs to kisses... most of the time, but not always
  81. I think that I am still too naive
  82. I think that my children think I am too naive
  83. If I could do anything over it would be to learn to love myself much earlier in my life
  84. I like to gamble...but not too much...I don't like to lose very much
  85. I tend to be a people pleaser
  86. I am trying to learn to be less of a people pleaser
  87. I was always closer to my father than my mother
  88. I need to lose weight...a lot of weight!
  89. I like to go shopping...even window shopping... I get a lot of ideas that way
  90. My favorite dinner to fix for company is still beef fondue...I am very glad that it's popularity is returning
  91. My best physical features are my eyes
  92. I have no hair on my legs and almost no hair on my arms
  93. I have had braces on my teeth three times in my life
  94. I don't like gossip, but I have to work at not participating in it myself
  95. I wish that I didn't have to work... I have almost always worked and would like to experience staying at home and being a homemaker for a little while....maybe some partime work? Either that or have much more vacation than I do now!
  96. Too many people confide in me and tell me not to repeat what they have told me... the only problem is sometimes I forget that they told me to keep it confidential... sometimes I even forget who has told me what... too many secrets and too many people telling them to me... UGH
  97. Central Florida is known as the lightening capitol of the world and we have spectacular thunderstorms... I love them!
  98. I have few close friends, but they are treasures
  99. I can't imagine what my life would be or would have been like without my four children
  100. I spend a lot of time planning on getting organized but somehow never seem to get there
  101. I like to make up limericks about anything that pops into my head
  102. I like to fish, but it is hard to get me to go fishing. I have a great time once I get there!
  103. Because I had the bad experience of being thrown by a horse when I was 9, I am still a little afraid of horses
  104. I would probably answer any question my children would ask me about myself... they already know I am not perfect... just as flawed as everyone else in the world.
  105. I really don't like tatoos
  106. I think money is the root of all evil, but I don't think I would do well without it
  107. I am a weather nut... one of my favorite events to attend is the Florida Governor's Hurricane Conference
  108. I love antique furniture
  109. My favorite art forms are water colors and photography
  110. My favorite birthday activities are playing darts and pool with my kids
  111. When I was little, I didn't believe in the boogie man or monsters under the bed. I did believe there were snakes under my bed at night so I would not put my feet over the edge of my bed or get out of bed until morning light
  112. Annette was not my favorite Mouseketeer
  113. In addition to bells, I collect teapots
  114. I used to play the clarinet and the piano... neither very well... didn't like to practice
  115. I knew the man who originated the idea of Tupperware parties...he's dead now
  116. I am addicted to Coca Cola... but am in a 12 step program to cure myself
  117. When given the choice of paper or platic at the grocery store, I always choose plastic
  118. Ok I think that's enough for now

Listing, Listing, 123...

Any member of my family will tell you that I love to make lists. My children used to groan or try to hide whenever I would start to make a chore list. I now make lists at work so that I don't forget to do something or some deadline. I have noticed that a lot of bloggers have made lists for one thing or another... like 100 things about themselves. Until now I have not wanted to copy this, but I can't help myself. Tonight I'm starting several lists. I don't know if I will post them all... I'll just see what they look like when I'm done.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

In Honor Of My Daughter "The Felon"

You will have to wait to read Random_Speak (see list of favorite links below)when she does a post about her experiences this week with being pulled over for not having her auto registration up to date. She is quite perturbed about the whole thing. But in the meantime, I want to share some simple poetry with you that I have written as her sympathetic mother.

There was a young lady named "L"
Who was very smart, you could tell
But alas she could not
And oh she forgot
To remember those things she knew well
Driving her car home one day
Little "L" could be heard just to say
My head's in a fog
My brain's in a bog
But I think nothing's due until May!
There once was a girl who forgot
Her auto she registered NOT
The police said she failed
And ought to be jailed
And arrested her right on the spot!
No adjudication
Well that should keep her spirits up, don't you think? ;o)
Earlier tonight I had no idea what I was going to write about tonight. I had some drafts and some other ideas, but nothing was really inspiring me. Then I called "L" on the phone and caught her just on her way out of work. I was so sorry to hear her sad story. I reasured her that if the time came I would bail her out of jail. I had tears in my eyes all the way to the computer to take the opportunity to share with you her sad predicament.


Sunday, February 20, 2005

I Need Some Suggestions

For the first time in my life I am going to go on a cruise. I am really looking forward to it. H has always absolutely refused to venture out on the open water in a big ship. I think he feels it is non-productive... all anyone does on a cruise is sit around, eat, and put on weight. I don't care. I am going. I have a roommate. The cruise is selected. It is in June. Hurricanes better not even think of heading towards the Gulf of Mexico until I return home!

I am going to have a massage. I am going to have a manicure and a pedicure. I will enjoy the food. I might see a show. Maybe I won't get off the ship in Mexico or maybe I will. But the main thing that I want to do is relax on deck in a deck chair and read! No cats sitting on the book I am trying to read. No telephone. I am going to do exactly what I want to do. I am going to read and look at the ocean from a loungechair while someone brings me drinks or whatever I want. And then I am going to stay up late and party with my friends who are also going on the cruise.

Now, this is what I need. I need some suggestions for reading. I don't want heavy reading. I don't want romance novels (hate them). I want fluff, but interesting fluff... something I might not normally pick up to read. Intrigue, humor, fantasy? Please give me some suggestions. I have some gift certificates for Borders and Barnes and Noble. I am ready to load up. Help me! Only 3 1/2 months to go!

Saturday, February 19, 2005


I was very frustrated tonight with my post. I could not get my paragraphs to separate no matter what I did... hence the stars between the paragraphs. Hey, it worked!

An Irish Tribute and Father Bird-In-Hand

I am copying this little tribute from a plaque that was found at work in honor of our Irish Pastor . It has no author on it or I would give the credit where due. No offense is meant to any ethnic or racial group!

An Irish Tribute

God then made man.
The Italian for music and art,
The French for fine food,
The German for intelligence,
The Swedes for their beauty,
The Jew for religion,
And on and on
He looked at what
He has created
And said,
"This is all very fine but
No one is having any fun.
I guess I'll have to make me
It is an old plaque and surely reflects some older attitudes. But I think that in my experience, it is correct about the Irish . Now I know that there are some cranky Irish people out there, but as for the Irish clergy... well, more often than not they are a fun-loving group.
This does not mean that other nationalities are not also fun. I don't think that Mary is entirely Irish, but I am sure that there are some Irish genes in there somewhere! And believe it or not we have had two Polish priests in residence that have been a hoot and a half. I have mentioned Fr. Ed in a previous post. He speaks several languages and oversees our Hispanic ministry. He spent some years in Peru, so he is quite fluent in Spanish. I'll save some of his stories for another time.
A new character I would like to introduce to you is another priest, of Polish descent, which I will refer to on this blog as Fr. Plk, not to be confused with Fr. JP, who is Korean. (we are very culturally diverse!) Fr. Plk came to us to replace Young Father. Young Father was transferred to another parish a couple of months after the horse head incident (see Feb. 16 post), where he stayed for a few months, took a sabbatical (time off) and then left the priesthood. I wonder if we had anything to do with that? I hope not.
I have to admit that Fr. Plk could give any Irishman a run for his money. Fr. Plk's main pranks usually seemed to revolve around leaving something is someone's office. We had numerous brick-a-brack that made the rounds to most offices, but his best was a giant blow-up frog that he left on the toilet in the female staff's bathroom. It is a small bathroom... a one seater... so it was quite startling first thing in the morning. I think Mary was the second one to discover it... I'm not sure who the first one was, but I did hear the scream and then the laughter. I was amazed that no one wet their pants in the process.
Fr. Plk had a thing about birds. He set up a bird feeder just outside his office window so that he could watch them. I think that he had some idea of getting some wonderful birds to watch. What he got were some very dumb Mourning Doves (they are all very dumb) some pidgeons, sparrows, wrens, an occasional South American Parrot (escapees have started large colonies in Florida), and once in a while he would get a Blue Jay or Cardinal. Mostly what he got were Squirrels. That brings us to Father Bird-In-Hand.
One day, after reading some information about birdwatching, Fr. Plk got the idea that he would like to get the birds to a point where they would take birdseed from his hand. Maybe he should have been a Franciscan, or thought he was. Anyway, he procured a lifesize cardboard cut-out of a man, set it up on some sort of post, and proceeded to dress it in some worn-out black cleric shirt and pants... priestly collar included. It even had an extended wooden hand in which to place the bird seed. After a few days, he decided it also needed a hat similar to the one that he would wear sometimes in the cooler weather (in Florida?).
Father Bird-In-Hand was placed in the garden area outside of his window towards the center of the garden so that all the little birdies could get used to it. Every week or so he would move it a little closer to his office window. He was certain that this would work. The squirrels loved the easy feed, the Pidgeons and Mourning Doves pooped on the hat, and the smarter birds basically ignored it. As Father Bird-In-Hand got closer to the office window, the bird poop got deeper on the window sill. Irish Pastor indicated that perhaps the bird poop was becoming a bit unsightly, so Fr. Plk added to his list of things to do--the weekly scrubbing of the building and sill outside of his office window.
If you have read my previous stories about Irish Pastor and Mary, you might have an idea of the teasing that Fr. Plk got from our staff regarding his failed attempts to train the birds in the garden... on a daily basis. Watching him dressed in his clerics scrubbing the building down was a sight to be seen. Someone on staff even gave him a Tweety Bird Chia Pet to place on the window sill. It grew grass-like hair which he hoped would attract the birds. This all went on for months! The latest cantankerous maintenance man, let's call him Carl (Joe retired and died), constanly complained about the mess and the sprouting uneaten seeds, the yard men were not happy about having to mow around it and weed the growing uneaten seeds, the bird poop was building up faster than Fr. Plk could get it cleaned off, the cleaning lady was constanly knocking over and spilling the large bags of bird seed in Fr. Plk's office, and the staff was constanly in Fr. Plk's office to harass him about the whole scenario and point out to him that his bird seed had bugs in it.
This definitely provided much amusement to the staff and was the source of many jokes, but perhaps the happiest was the assistant mainenance man. We will call him Bob. Bob was known for his love of the birds and squirrels in the gardens. Now he didn't try to hand feed the birds as Fr. Plk was attempting, but he did spend a lot of the day talking to the birds and squirrels (when he was not carrying on a conversation with himself). He could even hand feed the squirrels. Bob is a bit slow mentally, and in many ways is quite child-like. He can often be heard carrying on a conversation with himself, which he may or may not have started with an actual person. The birds and squirrels seemed to like him and were used to having him around the garden. The birds usually did not fly away if he came close. Picture this comparison. Bob, simple, happily strolling about the garden instead of doing his work and talking to the creatures there, and Fr Plk., intelligent, well-educated, and totally frustrated at the failure of Father Bird-In-Hand and Bob's success.
Finally one day, Fr. Plk gave up. I am not sure exactly how it happened, but in the end Fr. Bird-In-Hand was a bust. Fr. Bird-In-Hand was seated in various offices for awhile, and on occasion could be sitting in Fr. Plk's office chair on Fr. Plk's day off. And then one day he was gone... Fr. Bird-In-Hand not Fr. Plk. It was sad. But Fr. Plk was still cleaning bird poop off the building because the original bird feeder was back.
As usually happens, Fr. Plk was to be transferred to another parish. This is the way it goes for young priests. They get moved around a lot so they get the experience to become a pastor. On one of the mornings of his last week in our parish, I opened my office and clicked on the light. I then dropped everything I had in my arms and broke into hysterical fits of laughter... I believe that is what they usually call it when you laugh so hard and long that you are sure you are going to wet your pants or stop breathing or both. Anyway, there in the "guest chair" in my office was Fr. Bird-In-Hand, hat on his head, a stuffed animal that was supposed to represent the squirrels attatched to his pants covering the cardboard leg, and a goofy almost life-sized photograph of Fr. Plk's face where Fr. Bird-In-Hand's face would be. I had just caught my breath when Fr. Plk jumped into my office with a yell. Yes, I was startled. He proceeded to explain to me that he was leaving something with the people on staff that he was closest to (almost everyone!), and he had decided that the most appropriate thing to leave me was Fr. Bird-In-Hand. I wasn't quite sure how to take that.
Fr. Bird-In-Hand bounced around for awhile. He even made a stop one morning in the female staff's bathroom. I still have the photograph of Fr. Plk's face. Mary has the stuffed-animal-that-was-supposed-to-be-a-squirrel-but-actually-looks-like-a-beaver in her office. The cardboard figure with hat and clothes was eventually transferred to David's (the Youth Minister) office chair. From there the clothes made it to the box of costumes and the other remnants of Fr. Bird-In-Hand were no longer among us. So sad.
If you were to come by our parish now, and you were to wander into the garden area, you would however be able to see the tribute to Fr. Plk's time amongst us. There in the corner of the garden is Fr. Plk's bird feeder. It is by a different office window now, but on any given day you may see Bob carefully filling it with bird seed as he talks to someone or something... perhaps Fr. Plk , Fr. Bird-In-Hand, or himself. And you just might see one of his squirrels nearby waiting for a snack.
There once was priest who loved birds
The squirrels he attracted in herds
When the birds did arrive
He thought they would thrive
But alas, all he found were their turds.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Sorry, No Story

This will be a short post tonight. I am off for a software training session tomorrow. Since I was home sick again today, I need to go into work early to do a bit of quick catch-up before I am gone for the day. Please let me recommend the sites I have linked on my sidebar. Everyone of them is worth the effort.

I promise to be back soon. I should have some new material after the training session tomorrow! It should be amusing. Maybe I will take my digital camera along! :o)

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

They Just Don't Make Them Like Him Anymore

The female staff at work today were treated to lunch at a wonderful Italian restaurant. If you have been following my blog posts, you know that I work at a church. The pastor took the ten of us as a goodbye luncheon for Lynn who is moving on to work with her son in an educational supply store. The pastor is getting ready to retire in a few months, so we did some reminiscing about some of the past pranks and assorted shenanigans that have taken place over the past few years.

Now if you think working at a church would be dull, you are very mistaken. It helps to have a wonderful Irish pastor with a good sense of humor and a Director of Religious Education who just can't help pulling pranks. I will attempt to give you a couple of examples that you will be able to picture in your minds.
OK, here is the cast of characters...
  • Director of Religious Education... we'll call her "Mary." It's a Catholic church, so any female over the age of 30 has a 50-50 chance of being named Mary or some form of Mary... like Mary Ann, Mary Ellen, Mary Jane, Mary Lou, Marianne, Maria, etc. Mary is in her late thirties and attractive.
  • Young priest in residence... we will call him "Young Father."
  • Youth Minister... we will call him "David."
  • Rectory housekeeper... we will call her "Marlene."
  • Older Irish Pastor... we will call him "Irish Pastor." He will be retiring in June.
  • Older Irish Pastor's good buddy who loves a good joke and is always ready to help with a prank or instigate one himself, and is also Irish... we will call him "Fr. Tommy." He is retired and works part-time in the parish.
  • Cantankerous Maintenance Man... (do they come any other way?) ... we will call him "Joe."
  • Middle-Aged Polish priest... we will call him "Fr. Ed"

Example 1

Mary, who can't help herself, was in the church helping to decorate for an upcoming event. Young Father and David, the Youth Minister, were up in the sanctuary discussing some of the details of the event. Mary had a brilliant idea.

Deciding to take a break from decorating, Mary started to walk up the center aisle of the church towards the Sanctuary. She carried with her a long garland which she had yet to hang in the church. That is when it happened. It just popped into her head without warning. She had a vision of a Dr. Seuss book. Some of you may be familiar with one of his books about someone who wished they had duck feet. The wishes go on to include other body part exchanges including a monkey tail. Are you getting the picture?...Garland and monkey tail?

As Mary proceeded up the aisle towards Young Father and David, she proceeded to lift up the back of her dress and tuck one end of the garland into her underwear. When the garland, now a monkey tail, was secure, she put her dress back into place and continued up the aisle. Her backside was away from the sanctuary so that her exposed underwear could not have been seen from the Sanctuary. As she approached the steps to go up into the sanctuary, Mary tossed her new tail at Young Father and David. She noticed that David was doing his best to stifle his laughter. A glance at Young Father, however, showed a different look. He was almost stone faced, but Mary could tell that Young Father was not happy.

Mary said a few more words and then turned to go back to decorating since Young Father was certainly not appreciating her antics. As she turned around the look on her face turned to one of horror. Near the back of the church in a pew was an elderly man praying. She turned back to David and Young Father, who now had the glimmer of a smile on his face, and asked in a hushed voice if the man had been there the whole time. Affirmation of the elderly man's presence the entire time was given by David, who was now really, really trying to stifle his laughter, as well as by Young Father, who was now almost grinning. Realizing that the elderly man was probably witness to her stuffing the garland into her underwear, Mary did her best, as discreetly as was possile, to remove her monkey tail from her underwear.

Mary knew what she had to do. She walked back down the aisle of the church, being careful not to look at the elderly man, and went out the door of the church. She then walked over to the administration building. Irish Pastor was in his office there. Mary knew that Irish Pastor might get a complaint from the elderly man regarding her exposing herself in church, and it was her responsibility to warn Irish Pastor of that possibility. It would not do to have him taken off guard.

As meekly as she could, Mary stepped into Irish Pastor's office. She did her best to explain her actions and the presence of the elderly man. Irish Pastor sat quietly and listened to what she had to say. Occasionally, he would nod his head. When Mary was done, Irish Pastor sat quietly for a few more moments. He then said, " Well, Mary, maybe now he will come to church more often."

Example 2

Mary, who can't help herself, had another brilliant idea. She had brought to work a child's broken stick horse to see if Joe, the cantankerous maintenance man, could repair it for her. After a few weeks, Mary realized that Joe had no intention of fixing this horse. So now she had a prop. A prop and time on her hands can be a dangerous thing when Mary is involved!

Young Father had been a bit annoying of late. He was going through a stage where he was a little too filled with his own self-importance. This was not to be. We are a fun-loving staff and no one gets away with things like that for long without paying the consequences. Who else to to take on this important mission of instilling priestly humility and bringing back Young Father's sense of humor, but Mary!

Enter the prop... the broken stick horse. Now if you ever saw the Godfather movies, you might remember that a horse's head has some special significance. Mary now had a useless horse head looking for a use. Along came the other chief prankster in the parish Fr. Tommy. Fr. Tommy is known for his visits to Ireland to recharge the Blarney Stone, so he was the perfect co-conspirator for Mary's caper. It took little convincing to get Fr. Tommy to agree to sneak the horse head into Young Father's room and put it under the covers in his bed that evening while Young Father was not there. He couldn't resist this opportunity to harass Young Father who fiercely protected his privacy.

When Mary arrived home later that evening, the message light on her phone was blinking indicating a message. She picked up the phone and listened to the message from her co-conspirator... in serious and hushed tones came... "The deed has been done." Click. Mary went to bed that night thinking she had just scored a great prank and couldn't wait for all of the laughter the next day.

The next morning when Mary arrived at work, she did not find laughter. What she found was a hysterical housekeeper, Marlene, trying to tell one of the priests, Fr. Ed, that she was not responsible for what had happened. The accents were flying. Fr. Ed, being Polish, was trying to make sense out of what Marlene, being Puerto Rican, was saying. Now both of them speak Spanish, but in her excitement, Marlene was trying to do her best in English. Enter Mary.

Now Mary figured out fairly quickly that her prank had backfired, but her first concern was to get Marlene to lower her voice and pronounce her words correctly. Parishioners stopping through the office were wondering what on earth was going on. It seems that Young Father had been accusing first Fr. Ed, and then Marlene of putting the horse head under the covers in his bed. Young Father was angry. Marlene was loudly exclaiming, "I no put de head of de hore in de bed! I no put de hore in de bed!" Fr. Ed was also being adamant about not being responsible. And Mary was trying to explain to Marlene that the word was pronouced "horsssse" and not "hore."

Once again, Mary knew that she would have to hang her head, apologize to Young Father, and when Irish Pastor returned from his trip, meekly step into his office. She, once again, would have to explain what she had done, and warn him that there may be some parishioners indignantly complaining about a whore being in the rectory while he was gone.

When Irish Pastor returned from his trip, Mary attempted her best meek and humble posture, and walked into Irish Pastor's office to explain herself. Fr. Tommy was also there discussing the latest sports news from Ireland appearing on Irish Pastor's computer screen. Fr. Tommy knew what was up and did not say a word. Once again, Irish Pastor sat quietly and on occasion nodded his head. When she was through, Irish Pastor sat quietly for a few moments. "Now Mary, you know, at times you probably should think before you do these things." After a few more calm words, he dismissed her from his office. Seconds after the door was closed, the dam broke and very loud gufaws could be heard coming from the two old Irish chums inside Irish Pastor's office.

They just don't make them like that any more! We are all hopeful that Irish Pastor's replacement will not be too much of a shock to our systems. Mary, especially, hopes that.

Monday, February 14, 2005

When The Cats Are Gone Will I Become A Dog Person?

Today has been a dreary Valentine's Day. I am still feeling yucky, but managed to get to work and put in 8 hours. I am not sure I produced 8 hours worth of work, more like four! After 8 hours, I dragged myself home, and joined my other half in a light supper. In my dazed state, I started thinking about some bizarre things. Bizarre things like "how much longer will my cats live?" and "when the cats are gone, will I become a dog person?"

I actually love dogs. I even like big dogs, but I don't like big dog poop and slobber. So, I guess I like small to medium dogs, and it's okay to like big dogs if they belong to someone else. Part of this train of thought probably stems from the dogs shows I have recently watched on the cable channel "Animal Planet"--one I watched tonight.

Cats are usually more aloof than dogs. Well, actually that is not entirely true. Our Siamese, Koko, wants me to sleep all day and night with him so that he is warm... As I type this he is trying to convince me to go to bed by sitting on my keyboard. He also likes to guard me when I take a shower to make sure that I don't drown. But I don't know that he is the norm, and certainly his personality is mostly the responsibility of my four children. They always treated him like he was another sibling, and (being the smarty cat that he is) he thought that was just fine with him.

Ok. So back to the dog thing. We have neighbors who currently have two adorable Pomeranians. They previously had one that died from eating the fruit of a nasty palm tree that likes to grow here in Florida. The two "replacement dogs" are not nearly as smart, but they are very cute and well loved. Anyone would be thrilled to have such adorable dogs. When they were puppies we called them "hamster dogs" because they were just that size! The man of the house is very good with animals, and I think that any dog he owned would be wonderful. If I were to get a dog I would definitely secure his help in training them. So Pomeranians are definitely on my list... They are very cute with a short cut for our warm weather.

Hmmm. What else? Whippits. I like their shape and sweet faces. They are not too big, and I could actually walk one and not be dragged all over the place. Chinese Crested? Well, they are very unusual looking and cute and would certainly have less of a shedding problem. But I bet they are very expensive. There is always the choice of getting a rescued dog. Sometimes they are the best pets. I do have many choices.

OK, so now we get down to the nitty gritty of the thing. You don't have to walk cats. I am not a great early morning person so being awoken by a dog needing to go out is something to consider. On the other hand, I am looking at living in a condo, and a stinky cat box does not appeal to me either. I don't care what you say, cat boxes stink, and if you don't have a special place for them, you are going to notice the smell. Currently my cats have access to their respective cats boxes by going through a cat door into the utility room. That works for me. Maybe a dog would turn me into a morning person? I will have to think about that some more.

Dogs are more easily trained to stay off the kitchen table and counter tops. Cats are a bit more stubborn about those things. They usually feel... no BELIEVE... that they should be able to be wherever they want to be. If you have ever lived with a cat, you understand this very well.

You can take a dog to the groomer. Can you take a cat to the groomer? Maybe, but have you actually ever seen one that advertises for cat clients? Nope. I bathe my cats. They put up with it... Especially the 15 year old Siamese. He is not happy about it but understands that if he cooperates he is out of there that much sooner. He doesn't even venture one yowl any more. Scud aka "ten-watt" (he is not very bright) is not so sure. He is certain that on occasion I get this psychotic need to torture him. He also takes forever to dry and insists on going from one piece of furniture to the next so that every seat in the house has a wet spot. I have learned to confine him as much as possible, so I can attempt to dry him with half of a linen closets worth of towels. It also helps to have a runner to bring him back each time he escapes. Yes a dog groomer would be a good thing.

I could never live in a place that would not let me have a pet, so I will have to look for a condo that allows for them. To be kind to my neighbors, I would have to make sure that any dog I have would not yap at every person walking down the hall. I would also like to think that I would live near a dog park. I live about a mile from one now and love to go see the dogs and their owners. I think that having a dog and going to a dog park would be fun... and probably fun for the dog as well. Around here it has become a place for the yuppies to show off their purebread dogs who they have in place of children, and for the more typical family and their mutt to interact and have fun. In that atmosphere, dogs don't care about much but having fun.

Well, Koko is 15 and should be around for a few years yet. He is still very spunky and lacks the usual grey hair that goes with his age bracket. Scud is much younger, but I don't think his lifestyle lends itself to the same type of longevity as Koko seems to have. So maybe in ten years I will be seriously considering a dog... or maybe sooner so that the transition is easier.

And then again, I might just get another cat.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Oh, My!

Uh Oh... I hadn't realized that it had been so many days since I actually posted something. I have been down and out and feeling under the weather a bit since last Wednesday. I only started a few drafts (which I have yet to finish), answered and left comments on various blogs, read some new posts on my favorite blogs, and played a few games of Spades online. Does this mean I will be forever banned by Ron from The Rat Squeaks? Oh my! I am doomed!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

I Usually Feel Like a One-armed Paper Hanger at This Time of Year

  • I try to take one day at a time -- but sometimes several days attack me at once.
    -Jennifer Unlimited-

I love this quote. It suits me very well currently. I won't bother you with all of the stupid details, but at this time of year I have more to do than I can reasonably handle and complete within the time frame given to me.

I do accounting and human resources work... lately it seems like there is more human resources work in my job than accounting...which is supposed to be the major focus of my job. The accounting reports are easily handled once I get cooperation from people handling auxiliary accounts that need to be in my reports. It's the darn human resources reports and insurance reports that drive me crazy (pensions reports, health insurance reports, liability insurance reports, workers comp reports, etc)... and let's not get into the filing that goes along with it all. AND at this time of year all of this gets piled on me in addition to my regular work and the good old tax time stuff!

I have been out sick for the last couple of days... except that I went in earlier this evening to do payroll so that the staff would not be in the depths of despair tomorrow. This is another problem. When I am out, nobody else picks up the slack. Nobody knows how. Things just pile up so that there is that much more to do.

It would be better if I could cross train with another staff member, but there just is not anyone appropriate. The problem is that I work at a church. I can't cross train with the wouldn't work for obvious reasons. Maintenance? NO WAY! I have enough of that at home, and I know nothing about fixing air conditioners that break down on a regular basis. Religious Education Director? Well, maybe I could do her filing and ordering. Rectory Cook? I can cook and clean, and it would be fun...the fellas are great! But, no, the grocery shopping would definitely do me in. Monday night dinners when they gather with all the part-time clergy can mean from 12 to 26 hungry men! Parish Manager? Maybe I could do that for awhile. But I would be hairless from the stress in three days. Volunteers Coordinator and Adult Program Director? Neither one of us has the inclination or fortitude for the other's job. Front desk? Well, I could work on the bulletin, but there is no way I want to handle front desk traffic while answering 5 incoming telephone lines... I had a job once where I had to answer three and that was definitely more than enough for me. Music Director? Choir Director? Organist? I can play Chop Sticks and Heart and Soul on the piano, that's about it. Not only that, but our Music Director also maintains our web site.

Don't get me wrong. I do actually like my job... and I especially like the majority of the people I work with. Most of the people I work with are great. Not everyone can say that about their fellow employees or boss. It is just the January/February thing. By March I will be happier and less stressed. Complaining here is very therapeutic. Posting in this blog is the most creative I get to be of late...and when you work with numbers it is best not to be too creative!

I guess I did bother you with some of the details. OK, I'll try to be more amusing with my next post. I just needed to get this out of my system. :o/

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The Second Mouse Gets The Cheese

For most of my life I have been a person that is hesitant to stick my neck out and be first at almost anything. I am usually very cautious. I have always viewed this as a flaw in my personality. Recently, however, I have come to view this "flaw" as a bit of a blessing.

I remember that growing up I watched what my older sister did to get in trouble, and I made sure that I never made the same mistake. She did not date that much in high school (actually, I didn't either), but it always seemed that when she did there was a problem. I watched her get in trouble and grounded for coming in late from a date. I watched her get in really BIG trouble for getting caught necking with her date in his car in front of our house. So, I made sure that I never came home late from a date or participated in necking with my dates in front of our house. I probably did far more forbidden things than she ever did at that age. I just made sure that I didn't make that same mistakes. I was always home on time. Anything that I didn't want my parents to know about I made sure they couldn't find out. I didn't get caught. I'm sure that they had some suspicions about what I was doing... after all they had to go through the teenage years as well... but there was never a confrontation about my behavior. My older sister got the trap. I watched her get caught and then I got the cheese.

Think about it. If I can learn from others mistakes, doesn't that make my life easier? It is a lot easier to build something if you have watched someone else do it first. Maybe they mess up and it falls apart. Then I stand a better chance of getting it right if I can figure out where they went wrong. There is still plenty of room for serendipitous discoveries.

It is always fun to taste a different type of cheese, but it is nice to know that someone else has tried it and liked it first. Then, I can make sure that it does not have too much of a bite. Growing up, I was the second of two girls in my family. My older sister always got to try the cheese before me. That was probably a good thing for me. My life has always been calmer. It shows how placement in the family has an impact on personality development. It shows why being the second mouse suits me. It is familiar. It is comfortable.

Now, once in awhile, more and more often as I get older, I do stick my neck out... verrryyy carefully... and taste some new cheeses on my own. I think that is because I now have a better idea of what mouse traps look like and how to avoid them. I trust my own judgement and have faith that God has better things in mind for me than my neck in a nasty mouse trap. So, sometimes, I buy the wrong stupid grout cleaner. It is not the end of the world. My grout still got clean!

Sometimes I am the first mouse and I still get the cheese! :o)

Monday, February 07, 2005

Grout is Evil

Recently I have been thinking how nice it would be to update the look of our house by putting in some of the newer ceramic tile. The last time we put in carpeting, my husband wanted to tile the family room, and I said no. Why did I say no? Besides the fact that I can be an idiot at times, I thought about the amount of time the family has spent sitting or laying around the family room floor to watch TV or a movie. I have since graduated from that point of view to the realization that carpeting holds all kinds of dirt, dust, and bugs... no matter how great your vacuum is or how often you vacuum or shampoo your carpeting.

This all sounds reasonable doesn't it? Don't be fooled so easily! I decided it was time to do a really thorough job of cleaning the grout in the bathroom tile floor. Now for many people this would not be an unusual decision. However, I am not a great housekeeper... not a bad one, just not a great one. I can keep up with the usual stuff, but the deep cleaning stuff often goes by the wayside...usually until I decide it is time to decorate for Christmas. I like clean, I just don't like to do clean!

So... I bought some grout cleaner. While sitting on the toilet one night, I decided to see how well it worked... just sprayed the grout in a few square feet. I let it sit for awhile. About twenty minutes later, toothbrush in hand, I was scrubbing the grout I had sprayed. Wow. It was dirtier than I had thought. I now had some very clean lines of grout that made it perfectly clear how dirty the rest of it was. So I sprayed some more and used the toothbrush some more. Later that evening my husband got out of bed to inquire what on earth I was doing scrubbing the bathroom floor at midnight.

I am still working on the grout in that same bathroom. I am almost done. It has been a struggle. When I clean in one area and happen to overlap an area already cleaned, the area of overlap turns out brighter than the areas on either side. So then, of course, I have to go back over the areas that are not as bright! On and on and on and on... If grout could have any kind of a wicked smile, I am sure that my grout is fiendishly sneering at me. It will not let me go!

There are still a few stubborn areas. The bathroom is not small, but it is not that big either. I am trying to picture a whole house full of this stuff. I am trying not to picture what it would take for me to keep it clean and bright. Maybe I will look into hardwood flooring... or a really great maid.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Birthdays, Meeting Life Backwards, and a Midlife Crisis or Two

This past weekend I decided to celebrate my daughter's birthday by doing exactly what I wanted to do. I made this decision when I remembered that I put at least half of the work into her birth-- if no one else appreciated my efforts, I would do what I could to make my day well as hers. I think that all children should be taught to recognize their mother's efforts on the day they formally joined the world. It should be a joint's only fair! So, I slept in a bit.

I went with the family to enjoy a delightful brunch in celebration of her big day. After patiently waiting in line for a bit, I got a bit obstinate and decided to just walk up to the buffet table where there was something I wanted to get. None of this line garbage for me! I even went backwards along the table a bit. When it came time for the dessert table I cut in line, selected the very last raspberry tart and sat back down knowing that "no guilt would be felt today!"

I then went with the family to the St. Petersburg Fine Arts Museum and enjoyed the exhibits backwards. I decided that this was entirely the best way to go. Everyone was viewing the exhibits by politely following the person in front of them usually in a counter-clockwise direction, clockwise in some of the rooms. I don't know who decides these things to start. It just seems to happen. Going backwards against the grain so to speak, I would just pop in closer where there was something of interest that required a better look. Those who were pretending to be knowledgable and discussing the finer points of interest of each piece were a bit disturbed, but not too much. I am sure that I found just the right level of annoyance. I am sure that I did not view the exhibit rooms in any kind of order either. It was quite fun. I highly recommend this method.

There was a delightful Pre-Columbian exhibit that greatly amused me. Pre-Columbian artists had no problem with displaying parts of the human anatomy that distinguished males and females... usually in exaggerated proportions. So I found it humorous that the signage for the statues, etc. would state "male figure" or "female figure" at the beginning of the description of each piece when any idiot could figure that part out for themselves.

Monet was supposed to be the highlight of the museum, but I found that the pieces displayed were not what I expected. Evidently some of his better and more striking works were not included in this selection of his work. I did see some wonderful paintings and other artwork though, and with a trip to the gift shop at the end, it was well worth the trip. I got a cute mouse book for the g'kids and a fabulous pair of earrings for myself to celebrate my big day.

The birthday girl has decided to have her first midlife crisis. Somehow though, she got the mistaken impression that she could only have one! She has some good ideas, but her options are a bit overboard. She seems to think she must "do it all" as this is her only chance. I shall have to correct that misconception. After all, there is a reason that "midlife" is such an inocuous word. It allows for a broad range of interpretation. I simply do not know where I went wrong. Somwhere along the way I missed including this important life lesson. She did start correctly by making the decision, so I will just have to bring her up to speed. One must savor every delightful moment of a good midlife crisis. Also, I do need to inquire how long she plans for this one to last.

I am so proud of this eldest child of mine. She is such a unique individual and has decided to embrace her first midlife crisis with gusto! You go girl! Make it your own, make it unique, make it fun, and make it last! Make your Mum proud! And when you are done, we'll have a good game of Scrabble and a nice cup of tea.