Monday, July 15, 2013

Gone Fishin'

After having already decided not to take a family vacation this summer, due to lack of time and funds, I changed my tune.  The tornado, plus a week with four children in my care - my niece (7) and nephew (1) came to stay - I decided a get-away was, in fact, possible. 

Of course, it was 4th of July week, so there was nothing available within a 500-mile radius.  It took a few days of pulling my hair out to finally find just the spot - a private home in a gated community at a beach that I had never heard of.

We made the 5+ hour trek and rolled up on our oasis.  It was a lovely house, and we quickly settled in. The kids picked their rooms, we unpacked the food, and I got dinner started.  My husband poured himself a cold one and headed out to the screened porch to breathe in the fresh air.  The kids soon joined him, and once I had the bread in the oven, I walked out the door to sit with my family and enjoy some quiet time. 

As I closed the door behind me, I heard a click click.

Now, if you have been reading this blog for any length of time, or if you know me personally, there are several things you can assume from this sound.

1.  It was not the sound of pennies raining down from heaven.
2.  It was the sound of us getting locked out of the house.

We realized immediately that there was no hope of re-entry.  All doors and windows were locked, and we were on the 2nd floor of the house.  Further, I had on neither shoes nor bra, having shed them both in the glory of freedom.

Being in a private neighborhood, we had few options.  We could start yelling for help, my husband could jump, or we could break down a door or window.  Before I pushed my husband over, fate intervened.

The Security golf cart came puttering by, and I waved the lady down.  After visiting a few of the neighbors, looking either for a screwdriver or a key, she found John, our guardian angel.  John had a key to the house.  John also kept the lawn for the owner, had some connections to our home town, and ran a business putting faces on tiles and lazy susans in case we were interested.  And as we would find out the next day, John also knew how to fix air conditioners.

All of that, and I didn't even burn the bread.

Several things struck me about our little Utopia:

The shopping. Must have been closed for the holidays.
The wildlife.  Here we have a two-headed alligator walking on a fluorescent water-type substance.
The security.  It is so safe, you can't even jump in front of the sensor to exit the neighborhood.  Going on a run requires fitting through that triangular space.

The tides.  They appear to be out during the day.  This gave our fellow sunbathers a healthy walk to squat and pee in the sea.  It was a sight to behold, all day, like a continuous stream of birds floating on the ocean.

The sands.  They sink under your feet like butter and dry like pound cake on your shoes.
Yes, it was a fool's paradise, full of sights and sounds that we had never experienced before.  On our last day, we ventured beyond the gates and found a little miracle - a Swiss Family Robinson State Park that offered white sands and rolling waves for a small fee.  It was like being on a deserted island for a week and then realizing a resort was a mile down the road.

Ahhh ... much better!
I can just make out Pocahontas .....
Regardless of the hiccups, it was away, and that was all we needed.  Sometimes you just need to get out of your habitat and spread your wings to tame the inner wildlife within.  I have already started planning my next vacation - because, let's face it, I could use one.
Until next time, keep crowin'!

Monday, July 1, 2013

How to Deal

With summer in mid stroke, I think about when I was a kid, and these months off of school were a wide open field of carefree possibilities - the pool, friends, sleeping in, movies, ice cream, vacation, and lots of good old fashioned "down" time.  As an adult, summer isn't about hitting the pause button anymore.  Your employer doesn't skip June, July, and August so you can rest, and there is no school bus to take your kids to their activities. 

But still, we look forward to it because it symbolizes a slowing down, an opportunity to refresh your screen and get a new perspective.

I have definitely had a summer for the books so far.  Granted, there are books with more tragic and difficult stories, but since this is my blog, I will talk about mine. 

In the past, I have written about my backyard, and my love of the trees and the shade and privacy they provide.  That's my little oasis, my quiet place where I can breathe in the sun and lounge in arms of Mother Nature.

Until the tornado. 


Now that clean up is done, my yard looks like a shaved armpit with a bit of stubble.  And I suddenly have the ability to report on what the neighbors are cooking for breakfast and whether it is bath day in the big tub.

Am I lucky that no one was hurt?  Beyond belief.  Am I fortunate that my house and husband's car were not destroyed?  You bet.  And in light of those blessings, did I handle the dealings with neighbors and insurance and tree men and my do-it-yourself husband, in the most professional and positive manner?

Absolutely not.  I actually lost my mind, quite vocally, and then tried to commandeer a bobcat.

This photo has become known as The Determinator.

From that time on, anyone that came along, anything I was asked to do, any way the wind blew, I treated like a hostile witness.  The world was Tom Cruise and I was Jack Nicholson. 

Me: "You want answers?"
World: "I think I'm entitled."
Me: "You want answers?"
World: "I want the truth!"
Me: "You can't HANDLE the truth! ... My existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall - you NEED me on that wall ...  I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a d*mn what you think you are entitled to!"
World: "Did you order the Code Red?"

It got a little ugly.

And then it got better.

Because what goes down, must eventually come up.  Sooner or later, you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and realize you look like Norma Desmond and are scaring the neighborhood cats. So, the sun fought against the clouds and won, helping me to snap out of it and make a refreshing cocktail with the lemons of life. 

I also I remembered something I already had in my arsenal that had been locked away --- that when used properly, a sense of humor can be your most powerful weapon against evil.

Some excellent examples that I have bookmarked are two letters from disgruntled airline passengers.  They express their nightmares in a way that not only gets the point across quite effectively, but also leaves the recipients of their complaints actually ... smiling.   Click here for the first place letter, and click here for second place.

And that, my friends, is how to deal. 

Until next time, keep crowin' - and let a smile be your umbrella.