Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Last Day of the Year

Goodbye 2009. Hello 2010. A new decade and a new beginning of adventures to share with you. We will be celebrating with a small circle of friends tonight.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Highlights of 2009

I'd like to share the highlights of 2009 (in no particular order): 1.) Visited California twice and learned how to surf. 2.) Opened a renovated branch library and assisted with other libraries. 3.) Spent quality time with family and friends. Love my husband. 4.) Joined a band and am playing music again. Love my bandmates. 5.) Started various writing projects, including a poetry and painting collaboration in April 2010. 6.) Attended my first Gen Con in Indianapolis. 7.) Adopted Moshi the kitten and loving Java and Latte. 8.) Learned to paint on canvas with my hands. 9.) Captured a lot of sunsets. 10.) Attended both of our 20-year high school class reunions. I look forward to a peaceful 2010...

Reflections on Grief and the End of 2009

It's almost the last night of the year. I am sitting here on the couch next to Steve, watching Jay Leno and trying to keep the cats corraled.
Let's just say it's been a hell of a year. That's an understatement. I am a different person today than I was on December 29, 2008. I'd like to think I am a better person. I'm definitely an older person... not just chronologically, but spiritually. There is a certain knowing, a sadness, a wisdom that stares back at my reflection.
I've experienced the entire spectrum and stages of emotions and grief. And I didn't know until experiencing it that Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's five stages of grief are messy. You don't evolve naturally from denial and isolation (stage one), anger (stage two), bargaining (stage three), depression (stage four), to acceptance (stage five). It skips back and forth.
I'd like to think I'm over the big grief hurdles, especially with the hellidays. One more observance (January 13) and our family and friends will have survived one year without Mom on Earth. I miss her. I miss her everyday. I do know that love never dies, she is always with me, and that I will carry her memory and her spirit with me into the new decade.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Weatherwise

Mugging with Moshi- SJS 2009
It's a perfect day to write. So here I am. I'm going through my blogs and journals to come up with 50-100 poems for Field of Blue. At first I was going to stick to poems I wrote this year. Then I decided to include poems from the past. Why not? I have been writing since 1991 and there are some works that are begging to be seen. There are others, however, that will never see the light of day! For a cold winter's night, I am enclosing the poem "Weatherwise". I wrote this in 1994. It is unpublished. Enjoy. :)
Weatherwise Friends fair-weathered are flowers. Springtime socialites wilting in the huff of autumn in flight of winter's storms. Friends foul-weathered are frostbite thriving on negative energy burning,needling,prickly then struck numb. Friends all-weathered are firs. planted firmly in summer's sun leaving for autumn's callings only to stand barren-- weathering winter's wrath. Weatherwise. LCS/1994

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Blog Changes

Hi, I changed the colors on the blog so you can read the text more easily. I hope you enjoy this better. Thank you, Steve for your editorial input! :)

Saturday Morning

Last night Latte crawled on my pillow and curled around my head and purred. Java was on the couch in the bedroom. Steve and Moshi were snuggling downstairs. We're a lively (but cuddly) bunch. I'm also on a reading kick lately (which is good for reader's advisory and for my own enjoyment). I love this book called Do One Nice Thing. I perused the website DoOneNiceThing.com and there is a place to start a club (with certificates). I would like to start a club at my library. I think paying it forward would be good. Today we are going to spend Christmas with Steve's folks. We'll treat them to dinner for taking care of the fur children. I also need to keep writing, especially for the poetry book Field of Blue.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Chicagoland Christmas

Steve and I returned home from Chicago around 5:00 p.m. this evening. We had a nice time despite the heaviness in our hearts. Here are the highlights of the trip... Wednesday We packed and left for Chi-town around 3:00 p.m. Luckily, the weather cleared so we travelled on decent roads. We were grateful and surprised with the light traffic. Steve and I arrived at the entrace to the Sheridan Towers around 5:30 p.m., Steve parked the car, I called Dad (who was already at the hotel) and we all met in the lobby to carry our luggage upstairs. Our room was on the 18th floor with a spectacular view of the cityscape, the Chicago River, and the Lake. After we left our stuff in the hotel room, Dad, Steve, and I ventured downstairs for a light appetizer in a venue called the Java Cafe. The bar/cafe was decorated in a modern style with large, comfortable chairs. After appetizers, Steve and I had to rush upstairs to get dressed for Dad's birthday dinner at Shula's, which is also located in the hotel. We met my sister and brother-in-law in the lobby and then we enjoyed a nice dinner. Shula's is definitely a guy-oriented restaurant: the steak menu is etched on a football. Also, my brother-on-law received a certificate for finishing a 48 oz steak! Amazing. After dinner, we ventured up to the hotel room and Dad opened his birthday gifts. (We gave him a Wii with games). And after chatting, everyone left for the evening. I couldn't sleep, so I finished a book and started another one. It rained all night. I slept in late. Thursday We checked out and met up with Dad at my sister and brother-in-law's place for Christmas brunch. They provided a wonderful spread of cheese, crackers, an egg souffle, pomegrate seeds, and fruit. Before brunch, we opened gifts. After a couple of hours, we left for home. It was a nice time and great hospitality. I think my New Year's resolution will be to turn on the oven and the stove and learn how to cook.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Year of the Grinch

One more day in libraryland and then Steve and I will be heading to Chicagoland for the hellidays. Today was fine until I left for home. It's cold. The parking lot was slick. It was a slippery ride to the pharmacy. I accidentally threw away my script (I thought it expired) and so the pharmacist could not fill the current one. Damn it. I called my doctor and left a message for him. Now I have to go and pick another one up. I drove home and noticed all the Griswald-style lights across the boulevard. I am so sick of Christmas. Sick sick sick of it all. It's a cruel season for people who are grieving. So I yelled in the direction of the lights across the boulevard. "I HATE CHRISTMAS!" So there, Griswald-style helliday lights taunting me day in and day out. I didn't even hang up a Christmas wreath this year. Bite me, helliday season. You totally suck. Grief sucks. It really really does. I never understood the depth of how people hurt around this time of year. Now I understand. I really, really do. After I get survive the year of the Grinch I want to make future Christmases more meaningful. But this year I am opting out of Christmas all together.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Mad Dogs and Irishmen

Tonight I spent the evening setting up a new email, blog and facebook page for our band. Bryan just booked a gig for the Box Factory this spring. I'm going to bring the digital camera tomorrow to take a mug shot of the crew and post it. (At least I gave everyone the heads-up to wear their best outfit and dress how they want to look in the photograph). Not that maintaining my own blog plus setting up the band blog plus posting to the library blog isn't enough. Perhaps I am becoming a blogaholic? Am I delving into the depths of geekdom? And do I really care? Not so much. :) If you are curious, take a peek at the Mad Dogs and Irishmen blog. It's in its infancy! So would that mean we are Mad Puppies and Irishtots? Better turn off the laptop and sleep soon so I don't trip over the bags under my eyes tomorrow.

Java, Latte, Moshi: If Cats Could Speak

(*Sighs*) Wake me up when she's gone!
Take Her Back! Now! No more catz!
I'm cute and I'm here to stay!
Moshi the cat has captured our hearts. She is the most delightful little kitten. Sweet, independent, cuddly, unafraid, well-mannered. She used the scratching post twice instead of the couch. Latte is handling the transition better than Java. There's been some sniffing, a little hissing, and even a little yelling from Java. No bloodshed or flying fur. So far, so good.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Moshi's Story

Last week, I received an email from one of my closest friends. The subject line of the email was in small caps and lower case: "stray kitty needs a home". My first thought is, oh no. Not again. Not after the Mojo the Beast fighting, biting, and peeing-on-Steve's-rare-books fiasco and the one afternoon with Katie the pup mis-adventure this year. I don't know if Java, Latte, Steve, and I can handle another disruption. Having said that, I am honored that we were one of the first families she recommended for a good home. (Yes, we are hopeless saps). So, I hesitantly wrote back. What is this all going to entail? What is the story behind this one?
So here is the story...
Last week, a tiny gray kitten, about 12 weeks old, with orange markings wandered into the yard and brightened the doorstep of a kind family who lives in a house on a country road. The family took her in temporarily. They have too many animals, so they could not possibly keep this one. Kitten is friendly and sweet-natured, so they do not want to place her in a shelter. So they called their son and daughter-in-law and they took the kitten home. The kitten got along famously with the toddler (who names the kitten Fuzzy) but not the other cat. So she asked her colleague, who is one of my best friends, if she knew of anyone who wanted a kitten. Hence the email I received last week.
I spoke with Steve and he said "we'll try". (One of the many reasons I married him. :)) So we arranged for the colleague to bring the kitten to our house to see how the other cats will react.
Well, Kitten emerges from the carrier and my thought is, oh no. She is darling. Then she hops in my lap on the couch. The colleague needed to take her home because she didn't have the kitty necessities with her. We agreed for her to bring Kitten on Friday. This colleague was sweet and did not place ANY pressure on us. She just wanted Kitten to have a nice home. (She also took Kitten to the vet to make sure she did not have Feline AIDS or Leukemia before bringing her over).
Well, Java raced up the stairs and Latte hissed but did not bite or scratch. Kitten did not react. She was just cute and meowed and wanted to cuddle. And she kneaded the air and my arm.
Uh-oh. And Kitten did not want to leave. She meowed as the colleague took her home.
Friday after work, Steve returned home with essentials for Kitten. New bowl for food and water,
a bed, and a kitten-size litter box. We placed some toys in there, too. The colleague brought her family with Kitten and they met Steve (I was still at the library).
Soon after they left, I arrived home. Earlier, I researched names. Even if we end up fostering Kitten temporarily, she needed a good name. And yes, I'm going with the coffee themes, so I conducted a Google search and looked on the Dunkin Donuts website. I wanted a unique name, so I selected a few and emailed them to Steve. I also conferred with my cat colleague, who also liked Moshi. So Moshi it is. And to honor the young lady who named her Fuzzy, this kitten shall be named Moshi F. (F is for Fuzzy). The last name is TBA.
So far, so good. We shall see. When we install the photo application on this laptop, I will post more photographs.

Moshi's Kitten Condominium

One of the band members was sick this morning, so we opted to cancel rehearsal. I was all for that--my energy level was low at best and could not muster the energy to crawl out of bed, let alone hauling percussion equipment to Cassopolis and trekking there and back and playing music. I love playing music. I love my band. I love my bandmates. I don't even mind the travelling. It just requires concentration and energy. And my energy reserves are zapped. Java and Latte acted strangely last night. I think it has to do with the fact that we are fostering a kitten named Moshi. Yes, fostering right now with the hopes for adoption. We are taking it slow after the Mojo the Beast and Katie the dog fiascos. We have a friend who will also adopt her if it doesn't work out. But I am hopeful it will. Moshi is settled comfortably in our downstairs garden bathroom AKA Moshi's Kitten Condominium. She has a new bed, food and water dish, toys, and a kitten litter box. Heat comes up through the vent, so it is warm and comfortable for her. We are letting her out periodically to explore and settle into the new environment. Latte is outside on the porch catching a sunbeam (and not cold--she doesn't wish to venture indoors) and Java is seeking refuge upstairs in the bedroom on our bench (with cushions). Despite her ailments, I am thrilled to see Java travelling more through the house. That is a good sign.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Mad Dogs and Irishmen: Part Three

Finally, the part of my journey you really wanted to know. :) Steve and I met up with Bryan (again) at a private party. He was back in South Bend and was networking to form a band. He asked me to join him in a rehearsal and meet the other bandmates. And one Saturday in Cassopolis, MI, I did. And they asked me to join. And I said yes. And our name is kind of crazy: Mad Dogs and Irishmen. It's catchy. I could be an Irishman or a Mad Dog. I really don't mind. I don't care about the wording. I'm a drummer and percussionist. That says something right there. There are two women (redheads!) and three men. It's awesome to be with this band. Here are the performances so far: Friday, January 22, the Beanery 8:30-10:30 p.m. Saturday, February 6 (evening) Club LaSalle.

Mad Dogs and Irishmen: Part Two

After graduation, I started taking lessons from Mary Lynn Norman again. And we had some paying gigs again, church gigs, a gig playing with a concert band at the former Scottsdale Mall, and the Press Club Players, which was the coolest gig of all-- we roasted local celebrities, had all the free beer and Polish food I wanted, and I was paid nicely!!! I loved that gig and playing with the piano player and would still be doing it today, but the group disbanded in the mid-1990's. I also played briefly with a local group called The Company in the mid-1990's. I filled in at the last minute for my teacher (who was then diagnosed with lung cancer) and was treated (and compensated) fairly. And people commended on my skills as a performer. Then after I inherited the gig, suddenly I was not performing up to their standards. The manager and certain members of the group did not treat me kindly. In fact, I was replaced with a 17-year-old boy. And this kid had the audacity to move my drums. My trapkit is worth a lot of money. And it's my property. So I raised hell with the manager, told her off, moved my drums, and left. I met and started playing with a folk musician named Evie in the 1990's. She is an amazing lyricist, poet, singer, and instrumentalist. We played together in 1998-2002. We hit the coffee shops, IUSB performances, and played in Chicago (Ravenswood). Through Evie I met other musicians (Anne O'Meara, Susan Urban, and Bryan Edington). We stopped playing together when I started graduate school and working full time. I will always be grateful to her for this experience. I was able to use music in the library--bringing percussion instruments for story hours, performing shows for families and bringing in percussion groups such as RhythmWorks! I did perform music in a church for over a year... I won't revisit that experience but am grateful for Dave and Kris for encouraging me to play. One more blog posting to finish this story...

Mad Dogs and Irishmen: Part One

I am stoked (appropriate word to warm up a frosty day) to be performing with my band in January 2010. Now we have a name for our band--Mad Dogs and Irishmen. My friends and family are asking me how I became a member of this unique ensemble. Instead of repeating the same (or similar) response, I thought this would be an easier forum to share this exciting(!) journey with you. So, here goes... Until recently, many people do not know that I am a musician. It's just something I don't talk about a lot until now with new gigs lined up in 2010. I started playing drums and percussion at the age of 10. I took my first lesson at 11, and took private lessons until the age of 17. I was in the youth symphony, competed in band, ensemble, and individual competitions, survived marching band, and played trapset for the Chamber Choir (The wardrobe was tricky, since I couldn't wear a dress). I took a couple of years off to attend Holy Cross College, and after a disastrous audition for the Notre Dame Marching Band (they put me on bells! BELLS! Snare was my forte). After my extreme disappointment, I stopped playing. Put the drums away. And honestly, I thought for good. I turned my focus to my academics and managed to bring my GPA high enough to transfer to a four-year college (now Holy Cross is a four-year college, which is great). When I transferred to Manchester College at the age of 20, the band director (John Beery) discovered me and asked me to try out (between you and me, I didn't want to). But I did. And I'm so glad I did. I was accepted. I ended up playing in concert band and going on tour around and out of state. And then I was part of the first ever all-female jazz rhythm section at Manchester College. And I discovered blues, jazz, and swing music. Louie Armstrong, Count Basie, Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, George and Ira Gershwin, Howlin' Wolf, just to name a few... I discovered drum brushes. And I discovered that I loved jazz. And I was a jazz drummer! More to be continued in the next posting...

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

After Blog, Bed.

It's been a productive day. I had an appointment. After my appointment, I returned home, petted both kittehs, and then ascended upstairs to take an afternoon nap. Latte raced upstairs to join me. After my mid-afternoon snooze with Latte, I woke up and attended a meeting at a branch library. After the meeting, I returned home. Steve and I had the same idea and enjoyed dinner at Hacienda. After Hacienda, Steve worked on his grading and I trolled the blogs, facebook, and checked emails. After my shows, I played DDR for a half hour (it was too cold to walk tonight). Then I'm posting to this blog. After blog, bed.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

I can has Cheezburger!

Here is a photo of Java that I LOLzed for the library blog. Ask my staff at work: I am obsessed with LOLcats right now. The authors published a new book called How Teh Take Over the Wurld: A LOLcat Guide 2 Winning. It's based on the popular I Can Has Cheezburger website. You can even make your own caption and LOLCat (or LOLdog) or anything from the website.

Incivility

Hey. It's the last day of November. With the exception of an amazing cruise in 2015, this November has probably been the fastest mont...