Warm Cookies With A Whiskey Chaser

The Perfect Mix of Comfort and Shenanigans

Blogroll Me!
100 Things About Me
Tinmen Don't Dance
Humble Sandwich
A Son from Another Mother; Matt
Auburn Pisces
Splenda In The Grass
the bokey chronicles
Jeffrey Ricker
Rocket Man
The Beauty of All Things
No Milk Please
A Life In The Day
Shadow Footprints
Scott B Blog
Seth Hancock Photography
Famous Author Rob Byrnes
Watersea's Ocean Bloggie
Cheap Blue Guitar
Does This Mean I'm A Grownup?
Upside Down Hippo
Loose Ends

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Building Suspense

About a month ago, Charlie was making preparations to go to North Carolina to attend his nephew's wedding. I admit I wasn't happy. I didn't take it very well. In fact, I was pretty pouty for a few days. It's not that I didn't want Charlie to go and spend time with his family, it's just that we had been planning to go to New York and visit with Marc and Jess. We had planned on doing that last year too, but something else came up. Something is always coming up, and as is always the case, when something comes up, it always has a way of affecting whatever it is that Charlie and I want to do. This time, it wasn't so much the event, but it was that his going would take a chunk out of the money we were trying to save to go to New York. That may not seem like a big deal to some, but it's HUGE to us. Finances are not just tight, they squeak. So I was a bit pissy. I got over it of course, but not until I reminded Charlie that this was "supposed" to be our anniversary gift to each other. I mean, c'mon..30 years of marriage? That's gotta count for something a bit more special than, say, the all-you-can-drink, er..eat, buffet at Caesar's Palace. Right?

Maybe it was sneaky, but after 30 plus years with someone, you learn a thing or two. Besides, it worked. The day before he left for North Carolina, he "informed" me that I shouldn't make plans for the weekend of March 30th. "Oh?", I coyly replied, batting my eyelashes. He puffed up his chest and smiled. I could see he was quite proud of himself. "Yes", he said. "We're going away for the weekend. Just you and me. I'll get this trip behind me, and then, we'll have something to look forward to. Okay?" I smiled, feeling a tad bit naughty, but somehow satisfyingly vindicated. Inside I was thinking; "Heh heh heh." On the outside I threw my big brown eyes wide open, wrapped my arms around his neck, and kissed his cheek. "Yay! I'm so excited! Thanks, Honey! Where are we going?" He squinted his eyes and smiled. "Oh no. It's a surprise. You'll have to wait and see." Damn. That's not quite what I had in mind. Oh well, doesn't matter. Like he said, it's something to look forward to, and heaven knows, we deserve that.

Here it is, the day before our impending departure for the big anniversary weekend, and I'm not quite sure who got the last laugh. From the minute I dropped him off at the airport, right up to kissing him before he left for work this morning, Charlie has been playing a little game called; "Building the Suspense." It's cute, but after a month of being asked; "Are you excited? Can you hardly wait?" I'm kind of over it. Don't get me wrong, I don't mean to sound ungrateful, I'm actually quite thrilled. The minutely cloying part is that for 30 years, I have planned every trip, weekend, vacation, and event we have ever participated in. Some of those things have been so complicated that I still wonder how I pulled it off. I've done it well (if I do say so myself), and I've done it without fanfare. Charlie, on the other hand, cannot let a day go by without telling me some little snippet of what he arranged, and what hard work it was, and what a lot of planning it took. Geez, I've done this for three decades, and you do it what, three times in thirty-three years and you want a medal? Serious? I kind of liken it to tiny pet peeves about your spouse that over time, you just ignore. Like the way they don't even put the toilet paper on the roller, they just stick the whole new roll ON TOP of the empty roller. After a few years, you stop asking, knowing its just not gonna happen. Then one day, out of the blue, they actually take the old empty cardboard roll off and replace it with a brand new roll....and then ceremoniously come tell you what they did. Standing there with that "Look what a good boy I am!" smile on their face. Waiting for their pat on the back.

I'm laughing as I type this. I sound like a bitch, I know. But I honestly don't mean it to sound that way. I adore this man. I cannot even imagine a day without him. The little annoyances, quirks, and idiosyncracies that are part of what make up the man that I married, are so minute as to not matter. He thinks his buildup is for me, but I see how truly, almost manically excited he is the closer our time of departure gets. THAT, is my Charlie. So excited to do something for someone else. For me. He's made me his world. Every single day, he tells me; "If I haven't told you today, I love you." As this weekend has drawn closer, his phone calls from work have become more and more frequent. On Monday, he called once at lunch. On Tuesday, he called twice. Yesterday, he called three times. He teases me because he has a secret and he loves that he knows something I don't know. The thing is, after thirty years, I'm pretty sure I know how Charlie works, but I'm letting him think I haven't a clue. He doesn't realize that that is my gift to him. To let him have his excitement and relish it with gusto. Nobody relishes like my Charlie. Nobody.

Am I excited about this weekend? Hell yeah, I am. But the anticipation hasn't been nearly as much fun as watching Charlie ::ahem:: work "his magic". I'm a lucky lady. Excuse me while I answer the phone...again. I'll tell Charlie you said hello.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Cosmo Friday Lookie-Loos

A call this morning from one of my favorite people in the world...

Nancy: Hi! Whatcha doin?

Pua: Waking up.

Nancy: (laughing) Oh well, come on. Get your coffee. What are you doing tonight? We should have "Cosmo Friday."

Pua: That sounds nice...except....

Nancy: Except what?

Pua: Well, yesterday was Margarita Thursday, and the day before that was Jack Daniels Wednesday. I'm not sure my liver can take Cosmo Friday.

Nancy: (laughing again) Oh, don't be an amateur. I'm coming over tonight, and I'm bringing everything to you.

Pua: That sounds great. But...I know you. What's going on?

Nancy: (laughing HARDER) Okay, okay. The realtor called. She said the people that bought my old house across from you moved out and are leasing it. I never got to see all the changes they made, so she asked if I wanted to come see it.

Pua: Well, how convenient! We can make our Cosmos, sit on my porch, wait for the realtor, then sashay across the street with our pinkies in the air and be Lookie-Loos at your old house. We couldn't POSSIBLY look more "Desperate Housewives" than that, Nance.

Nancy: Oh pshaw! Besides, we won't be alone.

Pua: ?

Nancy: The boys are coming with me! (Nancy's son Branden and her brother-in-law, Joe). I hope you have enough martini glasses!

Pua: Nancy, if I haven't told you lately...I love you.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Please, Sir...I Want Some More

Last week at pub trivia, Charlie won a prize for answering an email bonus question. There was a choice of prizes, and he knew what he wanted as soon as he saw it. For the very first time, my husband was not chivalrous. He made a beeline for the prize table, beating out his competitor, Courtney. You can tell she was thrilled to have the growing alligator thingy.

What was this prize that Charlie was so quick to (as our venerable Quiz Master put it) "yoink"? Let's have a look-see, shall we?

Yep. Charlie wanted that squirrel coffee mug in the worst way. I thought it was kinda funny, the way he BOLTED up on that stage to make sure he got there before Courtney. He was obviously a man with a plan. Only days later, his plan would unfold. Behold, our backyard wall:

Yes, that is a squirrel taking note of the cup on the wall. It took him a good 45 minutes to finally approach it. We got tired of waiting, and of course, the minute we turned our backs, the sneaky little rodent took it. Yes, he TOOK the cup. We laughed. How boring are our lives that our entertainment is watching a squirrel stare at a miniature cup? But wait! The story doesn't end there...

Two days pass. Lo! The cup returneth! The squirrel brought the cup back. No joke. That little cup is now sitting on the back wall again. Not in the same place, but close. I asked Charlie what he put in the cup that the squirrel wants more of. "Just water." He says. "But this time, I think I'll put some rum in it."

Great. Just what we need. Drunken squirrels.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ain't No Party Like A....WHAT?

When Charlie and I retire for the night, we usually watch a little tv before falling asleep. Last night, I was reading while he was watching the news. Of course, it was all about the race of the Republican candidates.

Charlie: They keep saying GOP. What EXACTLY does "GOP" stand for?

Pua: Grand Old Party.

Charlie: (laughing) You have GOT to be kidding me. You ARE joking, right?

Pua: I kid you not. In fact, I'm surprised you didn't know that.

Charlie: (shifting uncomfortably and fluffing up his pillows) Yeah? Well, I know IMPORTANT things.

Pua: (putting down my book and smiling) Oh really? Like what?

At this point, he picks up the remote, points it at the television, and while making eye-contact with me he says...

Charlie: Like what channel Conan is on.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Non-Cheesy Cottage Industry?

I thought about it a lot, actually. Because I've been able to contain my sadness here, and by "here," I mean The Interwebs, it seems I've kinda gotten away with it. And by that, I mean, no one who lives under the same roof with me, other than Charlie, has been aware. After all, they have their own lives. I should say that perhaps Ellie is aware as well, because I haven't been very good about taking her on her walks the past week or so. That being said, I have managed to find those invisible bootstraps, and as my very wise daughter has said; "Always, always, get back on the horse. Unless the horse is heroin." So, I'm gonna saddle up.

I have had some ideas bubbling up in that gelatinous mass of brain matter between my ears. Way back when, when I was a haggard and harried housebound mommy, I thought having a, as it was called back then, cottage industry, was the way to help bring in some income. When I think back on that time, I wonder how the heck I did it. Three kids aged 1, 3, and 5, and I'm going to figure out a way to make money at home? Laughable. Right? Maybe not.

I'm not artistic, but I did have a little flair for embellishing stick figures. Following an idea I got in the form of a gift from a friend, I decided; "Hey, I can do that! And I bet I can do it a little better!" So, what started as me trying to save money on Christmas gift-giving, and teacher gifts, turned into parents from my kids school calling me and asking me to make them what I had made for their teachers. That snowballed into something that literally helped keep us afloat during some pretty tight times. The problem is, after doing nearly 200 of these things, I got burned out. I also had three little ones to take care of. After that particular holiday season, I called it quits.

I know I'm being vague, but the thing is; with this Pinterest thing going so viral, I'm afraid right now to share what this thing is. I have done a bit of research, and I have discovered that the ones that are being sold online are not NEARLY as cute as mine. Now, 20 years later, and without having luck finding a job, I think I'm going to go for it again. The kids are grown, I have time on my hands. Why not?

I mentioned it to Charlie and he very excitedly told me to go for it. We worked out a little budget last week and I was able to order supplies for a minimal amount. In fact, with my coupon clipping and savings of over $140.00 on our grocery bill, I was able to put that savings toward my supplies. This weekend, I pulled out the artbox and brushed away the cobwebs. I made a sample. Yep, after 20 years, I still got it.

We have a little store around the corner from us that carries homemade items from many artists for sale. It's kinda like an Etsy mini mall. I've contacted the owner and she's interested in seeing my items. So, my goal is to create some inventory and bring them to her. From there, people can call me to have their items given the personal touch.

For the first time in a long time, I'm hopeful. Perhaps this cottage industry thing is not so cheesy after all.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Good Day. A Good Night

Three milestones for me this week. I submitted resumes to two more job listings, I got dressed and actually left the house, and Charlie and I went and made a surprise dinner visit to Jeff and his parents. In light of the way I've been feeling lately, this is huge.

Not only did I submit resumes, but I did it for two jobs that I, (how do I put this?), feel unqualified for. Lately though, I reasoned that I feel pretty much unqualified for ANY job, and so I've submitted for positions that my family is telling me I'm WAY overqualified for. I remind them that I couldn't even get a job as a hotel maid, so how overqualified could I be? Besides, I already have that job, though unpaid, right here at home. I don't really expect to hear from these companies, but my husband tells me that should be the next big step in my "rehabilitation"; to EXPECT what I deserve. Yep, I'll work on that next week.

On Thursday, my dear friend of many, many years, CJ, asked me to accompany her on her plant watering route. She drives into Orange County from Bakersfield once a week. We don't get to see her that often now that she no longer lives here, but when we do, it's like getting a very happy Cosmo buzz. No matter how bad things get for her, she puts a smile on her face and moves forward. Spending the day tagging along with CJ was a very happy highlight of the week. It took us all of 2 hours to visit all of her clients, and then we took a drive to the wholesale flower market. She said; "How can one walk amongst all of these gorgeous flowers and not feel happy? It's like a floral smile tonic!" She was right. We laughed a lot, reminisced about our many "Lucy and Ethel" escapades when she lived with us back in the early 90's, ate at In-N-Out (which I haven't done in AGES), and for awhile, all our troubles melted away like the cheese on my burger.

When she dropped me off at home, I felt renewed. I thought; if this woman who is struggling to keep a dying plant business afloat, having to drive all the way from Bakersfield every week, has way more financial troubles than I have, can smile and laugh while she walks through the homes of wealthy Newporters and waters their plants, then I have no right to continue to moan. We hugged. She said; "See ya Huffnagle!", her favorite nickname for Charlie and I from decades ago, and said, "Listen, if you wanna have something good to write in your bloggie-thingie about, tell everybody about that time Charlie and I ran into each other in your hallway in the middle of the night and how we didn't have to turn on the lights because we're both so white, we glow in the dark!" We both crack up. We do have a lot of happy memories. As she calls them; "Depends Moments." I love this woman. As she drives away, I feel a sense of gratitude. Something I should be more aware of every day.

Yesterday, I called Charlie at work during his lunch break. I was thinking that we hadn't seen Jeff and his parents in a week or two. Since Jeff got out of the hospital from his last chemo treatment. His parents don't really like to go out much. They're self-professed Homebodies. It's completely understandable considering in the last year, they've spent more time in the hospital than at their home. We've tried to get them to come out with us, but they stick close to home. So I thought, why not bring Friday Happy Hour to them? I could pick up some wings and beer and we could show up at the doorstep. "Wanna take a chance?" I asked Charlie.
"I'm game!" He's such a trooper. So, I went and picked everything up, packed a cooler with beer, and waited for Charlie to get home.

Bryson was in the house playing his guitar. It was his first day off in 13 straight days. He told me how he'd packed a lot of his favorite things into this one day. He'd gone surfing with Jeff, which was the first time they'd gone in many months. Something amazing and miraculous in and of itself. He'd come home and had lunch with his beautiful girlfriend. He got to spend some time playing his guitar, and in just a short time, he would be leaving again because he and the guys were going down to the beach for a bonfire to celebrate a spectacularly beautiful California day. I mentioned to him our plan to surprise Jeff's parents. He loved it and called Jeff to see if they were home. Jeff said they were at the store picking up some steaks for dinner, but they'd be home in about 30 minutes. Jeff loved the idea too.

Thirty minutes later, Charlie and I were sitting on the tailgate of our car, parked in front of Jeff's house, waiting. Charlie popped the cap off a Blue Moon and laughed. It really was a beautiful afternoon, moving into a gorgeous evening. I mentioned to him what a good day Bry and Jeff had together, how good it was to hear Bryson play the guitar, how happy I was to be sitting there with him at that moment, and how excited I was for the Longs to pull up in their driveway. Seconds later they pulled in, honking the horn, smiles on their faces. The hugs were warm. We told them we thought we'd do a "Dinner Drive-by" and wondered if they'd like to share some pupus and beer. We spent the next few hours talking about everything under the sun and laughing. I could tell it was a nice break for them.

I mentioned to Jeff's mom how I missed hearing Bry play the guitar, and listening to the boys jamming in the garage, and how good it was to hear him play today. She said she missed it too, but that Jeff just didn't have the strength lately. No sooner were the words out of her mouth, the four of us heard some beautiful guitar rifts coming from their garage. We all smiled at each other. After a few minutes, Jeff came back in to say goodbye. Bryson and the guys were outside to pick him up for the bonfire. We toasted that happy thought. In just a very short time, two very distinct miracles on the same day, in both our houses. Music, and our sons going OUT. Later that night, the goodnight hugs were even warmer and tighter than the welcome hugs we received when we first arrived.

If I am not so engrossed in ME, I am better able to see the journey of the amazing people around me. And they ARE, all around me.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Enough. Enough now.

One of my favorite movies of all time is "Love Actually." Don't give me a hard time. I love it. It makes me smile so much. It has actually replaced some of my favorite holiday movies at Christmastime. It gives me that warm, happy feeling that you equate with a sense of well-being. That, and I'm a soppy and complete hopeless romantic. But this isn't about that right now.

Yesterday, I was watching that scene with Mark and Juliet. You know the one. He's loved her from afar, she married his best friend, she thinks he doesn't like her, he shows up at her door with cue cards explaining his unrequited affection for her. After he's delivered his message and is walking away from her door, he utters these three words: "Enough. Enough now."

That pretty much hit me over the head like a ton of bricks. I can't sit in this crappy ME-World anymore. It's time to move on, and believe me, I'm trying. I've decided to make a list every morning; "3 Doable Things". They aren't outrageous, they might seem silly to some, but to me, they have to remain completely within my realm of reality. I need to be gentle with myself right now. I can't push too hard. But I DO need to push. I'm going to be very vulnerable right now and post my list for yesterday and my list for today:

Today, (Monday) I will:
1. Get dressed before noon. (Includes brushing teeth & hair)
2. Take Ellie to vet.
3. Limit FB checks to 3.

Today, (Tuesday) I will:
1. Get dressed before noon. (Includes brushing teeth & hair)
2. Organize mess on desk.
3. Sort laundry mountain.

It might not seem like much. But it is. The fact is, I know that if I can get through these three small things each day, it may just set momentum and keep me going. Perhaps the chaos that I have let grow around me during my funk; my disasterously unkempt house, my laundry mountain, my horribly disorganized office...perhaps I can work through these. Maybe, just maybe, I can move away from Crazytown, one step at a time. I don't know, but I have to try. Mark's words have become my new mantra. Enough. Enough NOW.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Yodeling in the Canyon

Yeah. I've been pretty down, that's obvious. What's not obvious is the effort I've made to get out of the funk. Mostly because I haven't talked about that. I've been out there, hitting the pavement. Literally. I park on a certain street and walk from business to business passing out my resume. I've tried other avenues, to no avail. I was promised a job, but it was far away and I had no transportation. So Charlie and I carefully researched and bought the best used car we could so that I could make that commute safely. Then, what happened to the job? I don't know. I mean, I really don't know. I haven't heard despite follow ups. Now I have a car, a car payment, but no job. Mostly, I don't understand what happened. But I keep going out there. I even applied for a housekeeping position. To speak plainly, a hotel maid. But guess what? I don't speak Spanish. Yesterday, I went and took yet another typing test for a data entry position. I did well, as I usually do with typing tests, but then they asked me if I spoke Portugese. WHAT? Yeah, I need to speak Portugese or Mandarin. I laughed. What else can I do? I told them it would have been nice if they had mentioned that before I wasted two hours with them, but oh well. Typical. That's how I feel about it now. It's just typical. I'm to that point where I don't want to try anymore. I know I have to, and I haven't completely given up, but I'm really getting gun-shy. We've had setback after setback. It gets old, ya know?

Recently, the people that I am closest to in my world have been set upon with hardships. I know I'm not alone. But I have to say, Misery can't love company forever. After awhile, you don't want to be in the same breathing space. There HAS GOT to be some positive to help bouy you and those around you.

Yesterday, someone dear to us called and told us he got his walking papers. This, just after a very long, very scary, undiagnosed for two years illness. He gets the diagnosis, is two months into the treatment and upswing, and BAM! He loses his job. This isn't a job that is in his line of expertise. It was just a job to help out a friend, and get him some medical coverage. Plus, like me, he couldn't find a job, so he took it. He cares for his elderly mother. He needed friends and a drink, so we met with him. He told us about the day and then tells us that his brother-in-law (someone we also know) just got let go from his job of 22 years as well. We were sitting at the table with another longtime friend who is also struggling financially, lost his business, can't find work.

"Look at us! We're pathetic!" We joke, but the reality is we're all in our 50's and we know there is no "retirement" to look forward to. We don't have savings, we scrape by. Our "future" is invested in our kids and we pray to whatever deity might be there, if any, has an ear of compassion that they might see to it that our kids fare better than we have. Our friend has no kids. Just his mom. The Happy Hour drinks taste better and better. But we know tomorrow is coming.

We talk about better times and dream about getaways. But we know that will never happen. We have to make sure we keep a roof over our heads. Before our friends arrived, Charlie said; "You know, I realize that I'm the only one of our group that is employed right now. But I know that any second that could change. I am at the end of the line of what a company desires for the position I hold. If my company doesn't make it, I don't really think I'll be able to find another job after this. I've been lucky so far. But I'm not sure how much longer my luck will hold out." My Charlie doesn't speak like this. He has always been an optimist. He's always been a "glass is half full" kinda guy. I sense a quiver of fear in my belly.

Last week, when I put a desperate cry out to my sister and asked if we could "run away from home", she and I sat on her balcony and talked. I told her that when we had gone out to dinner earlier with our friends Rick and Trent, and the six of us were sitting at the table, I looked across at my husband, and I looked across at her husband. My brother-in-law is 2 or 3 years older than Charlie, but he looks 10 years younger. Charlie's beard is completely gray and he has mostly salt now in his salt and pepper hair. His wrinkles are deep and his brow is very furrowed. He's still so handsome to me, but I see what the years and the worry have done. He doesn't complain, he is always the rock. But lately it seems that worry erosion is taking place. I thought it then, but his words last night verified to me that he has even more on his plate than I had thought. Now, sitting at the table with 3 unemployed friends, reality deals a hard hand.

When does the relief come? What does it feel like to have some grace from worry? I loved Gilda, but I'm really tired of laughing and saying; "If it's not one thing its another!" Because it really IS. And it's not funny anymore. It's scary. Really scary.

Not to sound like a broken record, but honest to Kilwillie, I feel like we have paid our dues again and again and again. We give selflessly, we have sacrificed unwieldingly, we have lived through more pain in our lives, apart, and together, than any two people should have to endure. Honestly, you really have NO idea. In the nearly 9 years I have been writing this blog, I have never talked about some things here that could devastate any other humans. Literally. But we have endured it. More than that, we've come out of it like a sword from a refiner's fire. But honestly, how long? Charlie always says; "As long as it takes."

This group...this sad little ragtag group of us needs relief. I can't smile for others that really need it, if I can't find it within me. I've got no bootstraps left. But I do have a lemon custard cake that needs frosting. I think Jeff likes lemon custard cake.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

My Life is Murphy's Law

That about sums it up.