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I’m not an alcoholic, but earlier this week, this part of “The Serenity Prayer” helped calm me down a little bit:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

I will admit I have been rather concerned about The Lovely and her grandkids, who also happen to be my godkids. Part of me knows that, to quote Shawn Mullins, “everything’s gonna be all right,” but there are no certainties in this life, really, and so, when upheaval strikes, sometimes I find myself trying to tune out everything in hopes of finding the answer somewhere within.

Doesn’t always work, and sometimes I, like most people, find that being inside my head can be a dangerous place.

And sometimes not!

Anyway, a few minutes ago I crawled into bed, covered up, and almost immediately had a memory of Kameron from the first time we took him to Key West. He was walking then, but he wasn’t quite a year old, and every night around 8 o’clock or so, he would hit what we called The Delirium Stage — basically, he started acting kinda nutty, mostly because he was trying to keep himself awake.

On New Year’s Eve, his parents went out, and Diane and I stayed at the condo with Kameron, watching movies. On that night, he didn’t get too “delirious”; in fact, he climbed up on the couch and fell asleep in just a few minutes.

Or so we thought.

Diane asked me if I could carry him into the bedroom without waking him up. I said I’d try, and as I knelt down next to the couch to lift him, he opened his eyes.

And he just started LAUGHING! (I was afraid he’d start crying.)

It was one of my favorite moments ever.

Why does it seem so long ago? Kameron’s not even 5 yet.

Today is the 42nd anniversary of the best day of my life.

I don’t remember the day, exactly, but sometime on May 30, 1966 (gotta check with Mom to get the exact time), my sister was born.

My life would not have been nearly as good as it has been if not for Debra. In fact, when I find myself getting all nostalgic for “days gone by,” I realize that one of the people I miss most, on a daily basis, is my sister. Granted, we’re only two hours away from each other, but she travels every other weekend and I do just about anything I can to avoid traveling on weekends — at least over the past year and a half or so, maybe longer — so we don’t see each other often enough.

Certainly not like we did during our growing-up years, sharing a bedroom for 17 years, walking to school together, playing tennis and anything else that seemed like fun, ending up at the same college.

Happy birthday, Debra!

Kiddle & Pictures

So, I had grand intentions this holiday weekend of getting my “spring cleaning” done started, but as we all know, I am a complete slacker, so the majority of housework that I had planned to do went basically undone.

Shortly after lunch today, though, I decided to get my photos organized, and I started making various piles of different subjects (for example, Hummingbirds, Poppies and Arizona 2006). And shortly into the project, Kiddle made her way onto the coffee table and decided to lie down right in the midst of some pictures … and the remote … and the salt shaker … and an empty Coke can.

I think she’s enjoyed having me around the past three days.

I hope everyone had an enjoyable weekend and a happy-as-possible Memorial Day.

My sister was born on Memorial Day, so I’ve always viewed the holiday as A Good Thing rather than A Day to Be Sad. The past 12 months have been rather difficult, deaths-wise, so, of course, I did find myself thinking about people I and/or others know and care about, and the losses I/we have had.

What or when was your very first memory of someone (or something) dying?

I have three, actually.

My first, probably, was when Mom took Debra and me to the Kay Drive-In to see The Jungle Book. I don’t remember much about the movie, but I do know that I cried when Baloo took a nap — because I thought he had died.

Another recollection of death that stays with me is when Grandpa Dido died. What I remember is Bob picking Debra and me up from school and driving over to the Route 16 (bar) in Pana. It was about a 20-minute drive, and the entire time, Bob was talking to us about how sometimes, a person’s body becomes too sick or tired to go on, and how, at that point, God comes to take the person’s soul to heaven. And I’m pretty sure I wasn’t paying too close attention, but right as we pulled up to the Route 16, he told us that our grandpa had died.

Probably my most vivid memory of someone dying occurred sometime when I was a kid, and my mom told me that this little boy, Ryan Mingus, a toddler who couldn’t have been more 12 to 16 months old, had fallen into a well and died. And I didn’t know the boy — I was a fairly young girl myself — but I had seen him at least a couple of times (his mom was my step-uncle’s brother’s girlfriend), and all I could do was visualize his bald head and his baby face and his ears, and wonder how scared he must have been.

Anyhoo, Memorial Day means summer is here, even if the calendar doesn’t necessarily agree. Let’s hope it’s a good one!

From the More Bad Poetry File (Dec. 21, 2001):

Pure Vanilla Sky Moment

shortest day
of the year

dusk

blue sky
pink/yellow cirrus clouds
intersected
by 3 white jet vapor trails

off to my left
the moon is half full

(I am an optimist.)

— DLW

All the leaves are brown
And the sky is gray …

That song has been going through my head for part of the afternoon, along with certain other songs, but mostly “California Dreamin'” because that’s the kind of day it is. And I (briefly) considered driving out to the lake and seeing what kinds of leaves I could find out there, what colors, but then I remembered I had something I needed to do — something I needed to get rid of — before I did anything else.

See, I’m in the process of Kiddle-proofing my house. Not saying I’m gonna bring her home with me or that I’m even anywhere close to “committing” to another pet, but … there is something about her, and I really do adore her. Plus, the colder it gets outside, the more I’m thinking, Maybe I really should bring her inside.

She’s wild, though. Not so wild that she won’t spend several minutes (hours, if I’d let her) lying on my lap, purring and kneading and burrowing, but wild enough that I know she will probably knock off or rip up or bat around anything in my house that’s not secured prior to her arrival.

(I’m using this, too, as the perfect opportunity to finish — and by “finish,” I pretty much mean “start” — my, uhm, Spring Cleaning for the year!)

I’ve also decided to sort through my mostly worthless possessions and see if I have anything that might fetch a few dollars on eBay.

I mainly dread this process because, let’s be honest, I’m a slacker and I really don’t want to be organized, and also because every time I even think about sorting and cleaning and rearranging and organizing, I almost immediately think of something else I’d rather be doing.

Like right now. I could be doing any of those activities, yet here I sit, writing about what I could or should or would be doing, if I weren’t, instead, writing about it. (Such a conundrum!)

And even with all that in mind, I’m compelled to mention that the 2007-08 Indoor Tennis Season began — albeit unofficially — last night at the (almost) brand-spankin’ new RLC indoor tennis court. And how glad I am that, instead of having to drive (at least) 45 minutes to play at the Carbondale sports center (along with paying an outrageous annual fee for what amounts to only five months of indoor tennis, plus court fees), I can now play on a court that’s 15 minutes from my house and requires no yearly fee. And I’m playing tennis again tonight!

In the meantime, though: While I was cleaning/organizing — or, rather, thinking about cleaning/organizing — I realized there was something I was going to run across that I needed to get rid of. It could have been a picture or a piece of jewelry or maybe even a journal entry; it actually wasn’t any of those things, and what it is isn’t important, anyway — it’s the fact that I still had it, and occasionally (but not very often, at all), I would think about it and know, if I ever wanted or needed to, I could look at it and remember.

And it wasn’t as if I’ve ever wanted OR needed to, really, for quite some time now, but it was the knowing that I could. And like anything that reminds us of the past, in any way, this could pretty much immerse me … if I allowed it to.

For quite a while, I allowed it to. And then I stopped allowing it to, but even then, I knew it still could, if I let myself spend any time at all looking at it.

So, earlier this afternoon, I got rid of it. Right before I did, though, I allowed myself to take a long, last hard look at it, and remember … and smile … and shake my head and ask myself (for the 1,000th time, prolly), “What on earth were you thinking?” … and wonder.

And suddenly, I have these lyrics from “The End of the Innocence” running through my head:

I need to remember this
So, baby, give me just one kiss
And let me take a long last look
Before we say good-bye …

I admit I’ve been inspired, writing-wise, over the past few days by bloggie posts by Danny and Jane. Danny wrote a killer entry here about letting go; Jane wrote one that you can’t read unless you’re one of her MySpace friends, but it’s about how, basically, we remain pretty much the same.

I agree with Jane, essentially, but when I think about myself over the last — oh, let’s say 7 years, I feel as if I have undergone some pretty big changes. What’s funny, though — funny-strange as opposed to funny-haha (or, truthfully, maybe it’s not funny at all) — is that the changes have mostly been all on the inside. Certainly, there have been some obvious changes in my life during that time — most notably, in my job(s) — but the ones that seem/feel the most important to me have been the changes in me.

So, ultimately and once again, it’s all about me!

(I need to remember this.)

On Saturday, whilst driving the tennis team to Principia College — a school that is located in The Actual Middle of Nowhere (part of it does overlook the Mississippi River, however) — I happened upon this tiny village called Elsah.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to wander all the way up and down Elsah’s few streets, but I did snap a few shots of a shed that caught my attention.

Shed in Elsah

Gourds in Elsah

Something about Elsah — the houses and other buildings, the flowers, even the weather (chilly and overcast, but not unpleasant) — reminded me of walking from Vernon to Giverny on the way to Monet’s house back in 2001.

Station Wagon & Porch

Ran across this photo the other day. Naturally, I was looking for something else (past tax returns), and I found this crammed inside an Ansel Adams calendar from 2003, along with various other items and photos. All of which, obviously, I had put away for safekeeping. (No tax returns to be found, however. Go figure.)

This photograph is from my mom’s stash, some of which I have “borrowed” under the pretext/pretense of scanning all the pictures, Photoshopping them (if necessary), printing them out and putting them in a photo album. (I believe I got as far as slapping some baby pictures and kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school photos of my sister and me into one of those magnetic albums and then lost interest in the project.)

DEC 68: This is the view of our house and the front of my mom’s 1967 Ford Fairlane station wagon. You can’t tell from the black & white photo, but the car was Candy Apple Red. (I would love to have a good color picture of the car, and there probably are some amongst my mom’s aforementioned stash, but I do appreciate the way B&W photos hold up over the years.) I was 3 years, 8 months old at the time this picture was taken, probably by my mom using her Kodak Brownie camera. Christmas was coming up — in fact, if you look closely, you can see a plastic Santa Claus inside the front door, which is framed in tinsel. Judging from the light and the shadows against the house, which faces west, I figure this picture was taken in the late afternoon or early evening.

The car has long since been sold or traded, and the house looks nothing today like it did in 1968. My parents redid the porch and enclosed it with windows about the time I was in junior high (1977 or so); later, during The Great Empty Nest Remodeling Project of 1984 & Beyond, they actually turned the north end of the porch — where I had previously spent hours leaned back in a rocking chair, reading and writing — into a small bathroom (!) off the front bedroom.

Still: I remember this house. I grew up in this house.

I am a tad cranky today. Partly because I believe the next-door cat is, indeed, gone (that mainly makes me sad, but it contributes to my overall crankiness), and also because I truly detest unsolicited (negative) comments, as well as people in authority — who really should know better — who call you the day of an event they fully expect you to cover (in this case, “you” being “me”) instead of giving you (again: “me”) the courtesy of advance notice (for example, a couple of days or more rather than a few short hours). Especially considering said event consists of spending an excruciatingly boring evening in a hot gymnasium. Blech.

Also, I am cranky because a year ago, I was en route to the Grand Canyon, in the midst of a most excellent trip to Arizona, and I cannot help wishing I were there, again, right now.

Earlier in the week, I had set out for the Saguaro National Park with my trusty atlas in hand … resulting in a photo that captures My True Drokdom just about as perfectly as possible:

Traveling Drok

This particular trip was especially good for thinking because I spent a good portion of it alone. Driving. And listening to music. And seeing stuff I had never seen before.

And I do not wish to rewrite the trip because what I wrote here and somewhere in here (the MySpace bloggie is not nearly as easy to navigate — another reason I ditched it, I suppose) is better than anything I could write today because it was fresh, then … and here it is, a whole year later.

My, how time flies.

I do remember, though, a site I saw and a thought I had, at one point in my journey. I had just (reluctantly) left Sedona, and as I drove toward a town called Jerome near the top of Mingus Mountain (7,815 ft., according to my atlas), on a couple of nearby mountains, I saw the letters “J” and “C.” And me being me, at the time, I immediately saw that as a reminder of an acquaintance of mine whose initials are J.C. — an acquaintance of mine who was, I finally realized, becoming an ex-acquaintance.

Just over a month later, though, I made a new friend whose initials are J.C.

How cool is that?

Just found out that one of my old neighbors, Wendell Anderson, died yesterday. I hadn’t seen him since my grandpa’s visitation a couple of years ago, and before that, I can’t even guess how long it had been since we’d talked. His wife, Lenore, had died a few years back, and recently my mom told me that Wendell — “Wendy,” as his wife called him — wasn’t doing well, health-wise.

The Andersons lived catty-corner from us, and every evening, all summer long, they’d sit out in their yard in lawn chairs, talking, watching the cars go by and the kids playing in the neighborhood. Sometimes, Mom and Debra and I would go over and talk to them for a while, or we’d stop by when we’d get back from a bike ride.

They had an amazing yard, perfectly landscaped, like something out of a magazine. I didn’t appreciate it back then, of course, but now, as someone who can barely grow dandelions — and, let’s be honest, those have absolutely nothing to do with me! — I am somewhat in awe of how great their place always looked.

Lots of people have left the old neighborhood. Left or died, or both.

Anyhoo, I wrote about the Andersons (sorta) in a bloggie post a couple of years ago. I mean, as usual, it’s mostly about me, but there’s stuff about the old neighborhood, too. Matter of fact, I’m including a link to the whole month of November from that year ’cause, all things considered, it’s one of my better months of writing/shooting/etc.

I discovered this a few weeks ago when I made some penne pasta but had it confirmed tonight when I whipped up some sketti. Mitty sat staring at me the whole time I ate, so when I was finished, I set my plate on the floor and she ate some of the spaghetti that was left. Naturally, by the time I thought to try to get a picture of her, nibbling away, she decided she was done, and no amount of coaxing could get her to take another bite. (Animals are smarter than humans sometimes are when it comes to food: They always seem to stop eating when they are no longer hungry. Except for dogs … or at least that dear, departed Chico. Diane says it’s “because of the coyotes” — something about instinct and having to eat ALL the food before the coyotes get it.)

I make pretty good spaghetti. I suppose it would qualify as semi-homemade because, yes, I actually do toss in various ingredients — as opposed to opening a jar of Ragu, which I have been known to do, on occasion — but it’s not as if I have my own specific blend of spices and what-not.

My spaghetti involves:

  • 1 to 2 pounds of ground chuck, browned and drained
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced (it helps if you have an ultra-cool garlic press like the one Patti gave me!)
  • a packet of McCormick spaghetti seasoning (mushroom-flavored variety)
  • 1 regular-sized can of Hunt’s tomato sauce
  • 1 smaller can of Hunt’s roasted garlic tomato sauce
  • 1 can of tomato paste (I didn’t use any tonight because I was about to run out of room in my skillet)
  • as much water as you need to add to make the sauce the consistency you want
  • a handful of spaghetti noodles (sometimes I like the regular size, sometimes I like angel hair; depends on my mood)

I like my spaghetti kind of salty (as opposed to sweetish). I would list spaghetti as one of my favorite foods, but believe it or not, for a period of at least 3 or 4 years, I wouldn’t eat it because I’d gotten sick one time after having it and couldn’t bear the thought or sight of it. I gradually began eating spaghetti noodles with butter on them and, eventually, I started liking spaghetti again.

When I was a kid, before any of the aforementioned non-spaghetti-eating took place, we would occasionally order spaghetti takeout from a place called Vincent’s. The pasta had the most wonderful garlicky smell when we brought it home in round white cardboard cartons; every time I make sketti, I try to get it to smell — and taste! — just like Vincent’s.

It never does, but … hey, I like it. And so does my cat.

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