Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Illustration Friday: Cake

A lady from a large grocery store chain with a bakery department called me on the phone from seemingly nowhere and asked if I would like to come in for an interview to be a cake decorator.

A cake decorator! I never had ever thought of being a cake decorator before-- except maybe once when I was using my Easy Bake Oven as a kid. It sort of appealed to me in that moment.

"When do you want me to come in?" I asked.
"Anytime today, " she said. "Just come into the Manager's office and ask for Char."

So I did. She took one look at me and said, "You're hired".

It felt pretty nice to being hired so quickly and easily on the spot. But then my smile and feeling good about myself faded instantly when she said, "You'll be making approximately $8 an hour, just four hours a day, then we take out $40 of union pay out of your paycheck each week so you'll gross $120 and with taxes and benefits taken out, you can probably count on about $78 a week. Sound good? Plus, you get one floating holiday off your first year and then after that you get your birthday and anniversary date off. Come in on Monday, to pick up your uniform"!

On Sunday, I walked into that large grocery store and told the young teenage manager that I could not take the job.

She just jeered at me and blew so hard, the bangs of her hair flowed back and forth by her breath and said, "Well, it's a GOOD THING you didn't quit AFTER we paid the money for you to attend Cake Decorating School!"

Sunday, May 28, 2006

What I know in my Heart

I know in my heart that I am responsible for my own life. It's not how much money I make or what credentials I have earned, but it's about my soul and spirit.

I also know that ...

1. There are always two sides to every story.
2. That sometimes when I'm angry I have the right to be angry, but that never gives me the right to be cruel.
3. True friendships grow, even over the longest distance.
4. When someone says "Stop by anytime" they don't really mean it.
5. Being kind is more important than being right.
6. To accept compliments more graciously. Not to roll my eyes or interrupt them or embarrass them for their poor taste. I will listen. Absorb it. Believe it.
7. Even though my background and circumstances of life may have influenced who I am, I am responsible for who I become.
8. I can never make someone love me. The best I can do is be someone who can be loved.
9. Life is shorter than we expect it be.
10. The more I learn, the more I realize how little I know.
11. To always do my best. On some days, it may seem like I'm just barely getting by, but if it's the best I can do that day, then it's still doing my best.
12. No matter much I care, I need to realize that some people just don't care back. And there's nothing I can do about that.
13. The best way to get my house clean is to invite friends over.
14. That money seems to move away from those who try to hold on to it, and toward those who share it.
15. I feel better about myself when I make others feel better about themselves.
16. That no matter how good a friend someone is, they're going to hurt you every once in awhile and you must forgive them for that.
17. That those who want to share their religious views with me almost never want me to share mine with them.
18. Arrogant people bore me.
19. I shouldn't be so eager to find out a secret, because it could change my life forever.
20. I am responsible for my own happiness and no one else can do that for me.
21. If I do not follow my passion and enjoy my work, then my job becomes a prison.
22. It is never appropriate to say hurtful and mean things to my friends as I will regret it in a huge way.
23. Listening ... truly listening ... is more difficult than talking.
24. It's a lot easier to react than to think.
25. It's not what you have in your life but WHO you have in your life that counts.
26. To love the journey and not the destination.
27. And just because someone doesn't love me the way I want them to love me, doesn't mean they don't love me to the best they are able.
28. The price I pay for a moment of joy when exposing a secret is destroyed by a lifetime of remorse and regret.
29. No matter how hard bad my heart is broken, the world doesn't stop for my grief.
30. Nobody cares if I don't dance well. They're too busy worrying about their own dance steps to notice.
31. To eat what I enjoy and stop when I've had enough.
32. Negative people drain me and I am not obligated to keep them in my life.
33. Not to form a belief about myself based on other's negative comments toward me.
34. Families are about loyalty, love and support and do not need to be biological.
35. To always leave loved ones with loving words. It may be the last time I ever see them.
36. Maturity has more to do with what types of experiences I've had and what I've learned from them and less about how many birthdays I've celebrated.
37. When to draw the line between being nice and not hurting someone's feelings to standing up for what I believe.
38. Sometimes it isn't always enough to be forgiven by others. I also need to learn to forgive myself.
39. Know who my good friends are and continue to work hard on maintaining meaningful friendships.
40. No amount of security is worth the suffering of a life lived chained to a situation that has killed your dreams.
41. A person who quietly sits at home and cares for an ailing parent is as strong as any person who has climbed a mountain.
42. Hardship has made me stronger and self-reliant.
43. I can keep on going long after I think I can't.
44. Not to let fear of making a mistake keep me from going after what I want.
45. Three can sometimes be a crowd.
46. I value my belongings when I have fewer of them.
47. To resist the urge to say "I told you so".
48. Everyone has a story that's worth asking about and listening to.
49. Money is a lousy way to determine someone's worth.
50. I am capable of more than I can ever imagine.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

That's Disgusting!

I didn't draw that picture.

It's scanned from a kid's book that I absolutely love along with "That's Mean and That's Dangerous!"

The book reminds me so much of a conversation I heard recently between two kids.

The girl asked, "What would you rather eat? A Hair Sandwich or a Booger Sandwich?"
The boy thought for a bit and replied, "I guess the Hair Sandwich. I'd wash it first with good smelling shampoo so it would taste delicious."

Then the boy asked the girl, "What would you rather eat? Cat poop over ice cream or Blood over ice cream?"

The girl squealed. "That's gross! I don't want to play anymore!"
"You HAFTA play!" he said.
"No, you can't make me!"
"Yes, I can. What is it? Blood or Poop?!"
She thought for a while and asked, "Is it a cute little kitten's poop?"

To see more funny pictures from this book, click here.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Illustration Friday: Sorry!

It's always funny to watch people monkey around at the beach until someone gets hit in the head by a beach ball. Then it's hilarious!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Laughing Betty and the gas leak

So, Dan smelled a gas leak in my studio-office.
I sniffed and I sniffed.

Yeah. I began to think I smelled it, too. So I called our local gas & electric company.

I waited hours for someone to show up. At 11:30 pm Betty showed up at my door with so many pens in her front pocket and she wore the roundest shape hair I have ever seen. There was a small circle of blue ink that left a ring around her pocket from a leaky pen -or two.

She smelled the gas odor before I open the door. "Yup, that's a gas leak alright!" she says, and explodes into a crazy belly laugh, where she leans backwards, looking up at the stars and then throws herself forward, to bend down toward her shoes.

She states she needs to climb under my house to get to this leak and now it's my turn to do the belly laugh. I was under my house soon after I first moved in and noticed how tight it was down under there. I knew I needed a much slimmer worker to climb under my house with the low lying pipes and Laughing Betty didn't fit the bill. I worried. I wanted her to know how tight and cramped it was down there, without pointing any attention to her weight.

But. She insisted.

I walked her around to the opening under my house and she kneeled down to take a look.

"Hold my flashlight Lil' Lady" she said to me.

As she crawled in, I crouched down behind her and leaned in to shine the flash light over her head so she could see, but she filled up the entire door light of space.

"HeyYyYy!" She shouted. "I can't seeeeee!"

I'm searched frantically for an opening of space to shine the light. Her legs were kicking widly and then... she was in. I handed her the flashlight and she started to crawl and I said, "You okay in there?" She turns around (which took seemingly forever to face me) and says, "I'm hard of hearing! Please do not talk to me while I'm under your house, because I can't read your lips."

"Oh no," I thought, shaking my head. "This is a really lousy idea". I really felt unsettled --even panicky-- with her crawling under my house during a gas leak while I watched from the outside door.

Within a moment, I heard:"I'm STuUCcKk!"

She crawled only about six feet before getting stuck under the large pipe I suspected she would. After several pushes and tugs and pulls, she was able to free herself, but her work trousers remained behind.

She crawled back to the door of my crawl space in her underwear, laughing again like she did on my front porch. Her entire body convulsed. It made me giggle, too.

I leaned in and grabbed her work trousers and handed them to her. She hopped around squeezing herself into them while laughing into convulsions. I started to belly laugh, too. The experience caught me so off-guard. Any moment, I was waiting for Alan Funt to appear to tell me to "smile, I'm on Candid Camera!" But he never showed up. It was just me and her.

Before she left, she apologized she couldn't help and suggested I call a plumber to come out to fix the leak and she left my home still laughing.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

The next day, I got a call from her on my answering machine.

"Hello Shawn? This is Betty. Remember me from last night? I have lost my main gas key. Can you check under your house to see if I left it under there when I lost my pants? (explosion of laughter erupted). I can pick it up during a break between two house calls!"

I went back to look under my house and not only did I find Betty's key, but about $4 dollars worth of change, two credit cards, a handful of catsup packages and a half-dozen pens.

She showed up at my door and before she knocked, I heard her laughing again so hard walking up the walkway.

I opened the front door before she rang the door bell and I handed her the key and her other belongings. She thanked me and laughed at the pile of stuff that seemed so consealed inside her pockets. As she walked out the door, she turned toward me only once more and wanted to give me a quick hug. I returned it to her. She continued on her way down my front walk toward her truck and she laughed again, bending down to her shoes and then back up toward the stars, her little round vibrating hair casting shadows against the moon reflection on her truck.

Today it is quiet. And, I actually miss her.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Warm evenings and feeling nostalgic

The weather is warm and the flowers are in full bloom with such colorful fragrances of my childhood.

It instantly takes me back from when I was a kid riding my stringray bike, talking on walkie talkies and wearing my hooded sweatshirt just by the hood on my head. My mom would warn us, "Watch out for strangers!" (which seemed like an unusual request now that I think back on it). Sometimes, Terry and I would hide out behind bushes and watch for them. Once we found two men scanning the school yard with their metal detectors and we were quite certain they were going to dig a grave and come back to bury us alive.

I remember riding in the back seat of the family ford station wagon, digging my hands into the back seat hoping to find a dime or two, only to pull up a half-forgotten seat belt. We drank water from the garden hose and drank warm Kool-aid in dixie cups that was left out in the backyard sun waaay too long. We would play all day long and never return home before it got dark where the doors were open and inside the TV light flickered. I remember 5-cent scoops of ice cream at Thriftys were in the shape of a square instead of being round. Instead of ordering two scoops for a dime, we'd order two one-scoops because then we'd have an extra cone! We walked everywhere, or rode our sting-ray bikes with the card attached to the spoke to make it sound like an engine. I had a steering wheel on my bike. We ordered it from the Montgomery Ward catalog. I LOVED that steering wheel until one day in the 5th grade, a fireman came to our school to talk to us about bicycle safety and warned my mom it was unsafe for me to have that on my bike and it was taken off immediately.

We hid in anyone's yard in those days and shouted "Ollie-Ollie-Oxen-Free!" as loud we could when someone kicked over the Folgers coffee can, freeing the captives we worked so hard to find in the early shadows of the summer evening. 'Course no one ever knew what those words meant. Or if we said it correctly. We had school clothes and we had play clothes. We poked holes in lids of mayonnaise jars to house our bugs and poked holes in clay to hold our pencils or make ashtrays for our parents. We made go-carts out of cardboard attached to a wagon and tested it down steep hills. I remember watching Romper Room waiting for Miss Nancy to see me in her magic mirror. I pleaded for her to say my name, but it never happened. Troll dolls and Lucky Rabbits feet lived in our pockets. I remember playing army with the boys and we would pour catsup on Kotex pads and wrap them around our heads and under our chins for bandages. We jumped off of high front porches with umbrellas attempting to fly. We would lay out an old kitchen vinyl table cloth in Terry's front yard and run water out of the garden hose on it and it became our own Slip N Slide.

We fell out of trees. We scraped our knees, but none of us had our eyes poked out or lost an arm if we put it out the car window. And no one sued anyone. And, The Three Stooges didn't turn me into a violent person, though at the time, I misunderstood my 4th grade teacher, Mr. Crabb. I believed him when he warned our class that The Three Stooges teaches us violins, so I took up violin that year in school.

Because of my childhood, I have grown into being a creative, risk-taking, imaginative adult with the ability for fun.

Which reminds me. I need to get outside now and enjoy the daylight before the sun goes down.

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Oh, Those Hardwood Floors

I want to thank those who encouraged me in keeping my hardwood floors instead of sewing the carpet scraps back together to tack back onto my floor.

I'm growing accustomed to it now.

I discovered the Swiffer Wetjet tonight. (It took me at least an hour to learn how to use it because it didn't come with a manual and I later realized by going to their website that it needed batteries!) But .. now a few hours later, I am amazed and delighted at my shiny new/old floors.

It is looking wonderful. (I'm saying this to those who will never see it in person, of course). :O)

Back when I was 10 or 11 or so, I remember my friend, Jenny, who's mother was always cleaning their hardwood floors. She would use a mop that looked like Tina Turner (from behind ... and on her head). She worked at it endlessly it seemed. And they sure seemed shiny. I remember thinking I wanted to play roller derby on it.

One afternoon, when she left to call the numbers on a Bingo game, Jenny chalked up a track around the living room and dining room, cued up Jim Croce's "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" and half the neighborhood took off on wheels.

Jenny and I grabbed a few old abaloni shells from their backyard and put it on our heads for helmets. The others followed suit. Soon we were a team. And then we were a game.

I was on the team called the Bay City Bombers. It was an Oakland, California team and I was "Joanie Weston" the Marilyn Monroe athlete in those days, I guess. We played crazy fun. I remember feeling my heart beat not just in my chest but in my head and neck and arms and hands as I madly sailed along on my skates, exhilerated beyond breath, around Jenny's living room pushing down on Paul and Todd and Brett and Jimmy and Cindy and Kim's head or shoulder away and onto the floor beneath me.

It was an unusually, crazy, unbridled fun for me, because inside my own home -- even a single dirty finger print against the back door could prove some sort of punishment.

If just for the four or eight minutes we played, I was insanely happy and knew if I died, I would die a happy child. But guess what? Jenny's mom returned.

She forgot that little bingo machine that resembled a hamster run, where you rolled the spinner and the balls would bounce and spin and eventually pop up after a long endless spin. And when she saw us all skating and pushing each other around, we were all sent home.

I was so nervous. I wiped the sweat off my forehead and pleaded with Mrs. Peterson not to tell my parents that I roller-skated on their floor.. to perhaps inform them that I was actually a crowd participant... and in doing so, I promised I would gather up any money she saw fit to repair the scratches on her floor. She remained silent when she dropped me off the front of my home. I threw a kiss and bowed.

She turned her face, without saying a word, and put her foot on the gas of her woody station wagon and headed on home with little Jenny sitting in the back seat.. her blonde hair blowing back from the open window.

It's now hard not to remember when I'm cleaning up my own floors and listening to Tina Turner..... I wonder whatever happened to little Jenny and her mother's floors... and the rest of our old roller derby team?

I miss you and the ol' team. I've got a new floor and I'm ready to play!!