Dec 31, 2008

The Meme Follow Up From Months Ago

Ok, as discussed at the bottom of the last meme I posted, I've answered all the memes but, honestly, no one (except me) really cares whether I eat blue cheese (I do - I love it) or whether I prefer pink or red, diamonds or pearls, winter or summer. If we really want to know our friends better, shouldn't we be asking different questions? So I wrote some. Then I answered them and I'm hoping you'll do the same. I'll warn you, these are harder to answer but, honestly, I think they're more important.

1. What is your ultimate goal in life? Are you working toward it? If so, how is your progress? If not, why not?
To be the best person I can be. It's pretty broad, I know. I started to put "to be happy with myself" but, honestly, I want more than that from myself. I want to make the most of what God has given me (music, creativity, writing) and constantly push to be better in the things I'm not so skilled at (patience, self-care, parenting (i.e., patience). I am constantly working on these. I've made some progress. Like many things in my life, I wish it was more but I am seeing improvement and, for now, I'm learning to be happy with a slow, steady climb.

2. What would you die for? Why (or why not)?
I would die for my kids. I've had a chance at life, whatever the length may be at that particular point; they haven't. I'd like to think I'd die for 'truth, justice, and the American way' but I pretty sure that'd be a game time decision and based on a lot more factors. If I did, it would probably be because I have more balls than brains sometimes ("Son, your ego's writing checks your body can't cash!").

3. Is it more important to you to be right or to be liked? Why?
It used to be far more important for me to be liked, primarily because I was distinctly unpopular through elementary/middle/most of high school. As I get older, I'm realizing being liked isn't as important as it once was - for example, it is more important to me to DO what is right than to be liked. I'd still rather be liked than win an argument at all costs though.

4. Who do you look up to most and what has he/she taught you? (This person does not need to be still living.)
My grandma Pundt. She was probably the world's most patient and loving person. As Mom used to say, "she wouldn't say boo if she had a mouthful". To the extreme, that can be a bad thing. But what I am still learning from her, though she's been gone for several years, is that nobody likes a whiner and, just because things suck, I don't have to bitch about it. (This is why sometimes I don't post for several weeks, being rather prone to depression.)

5. What is the worst thing that ever happened to you in your life and how does it affect you today?
Two things. One a specific event, one a more generalized thing that had an even more broadreaching impact. First, the obvious one: as many of you know, I lost a baby. As anyone who has can tell you, it affects you in ways you can't even imagine. Still, I think my pariah status in grammar school affected me even more... it certainly shaped who I am as an adult. I don't like people much and I trust almost no one. If there's a way for me to interpret something as being 'against' me, I will. If someone is nice to me, my first thought is "what do they want from me" and my second is "when is the shoe going to drop". Something about having people be nice to you just so they can later kick you in the crotch/flush your purse in the toilet (yes, both happened - in elementary school) and humiliate you in front of large groups of people does that, you know?

6. Ditto for the best thing.
My husband. We've known each other nearly 16 years and been married 11 1/2. He's seen me at my best and at my worst. We have our issues - everyone does - but he is an unending booster for all my efforts. It's taken a while but I've learned I can trust that he loves me and isn't looking to humiliate me or tear me down somehow. And there is something really wonderful about that.

7. What is your favorite book and why?
I don't think I can narrow it down to one but here are a few. A Little Princess, Frances Hodgson Burnett - who wouldn't love to wake up from the drudgery of their daily life and find out they were really a diamond heiress? And the writing is so evocative; her descriptions are wonderful. Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen - a heroine I'd like to be. Again, the language is delightful. The Lord of the Rings / The Silmarillion, J. R. R. Tolkien - between the languages, the epic stories, the mythic nature, and the elves, it's a world I happily lose myself in at least annually.

8. What would be your ideal day? What would you do? What would you eat? Would you be with people or by yourself?
My ideal day varies but since I have to pick one... I'd sleep late, then get up and laze on the couch with a giant plate of cookies and a stack of books. When I got bored with reading, I'd go down to my jewelry bench and beat some metal for a while, then back up and order delivery boneless chicken wings (garlic parmesan), maybe play the piano some, then read and/or write until late into the night when I'd take a hot bubble bath, drink a martini, and snuggle down to bed and finish with a little conversation and good sex. I would be alone until bed. The only time I get alone is the drive to/from rehearsal and church. That's it. I'm an Introvert (and the capital was intentional) and I need my cave and I don't get it.

9. Do you need to do anything so badly that it makes you a bit crazy if you can't for some reason? What is it?
I need to create. These day it's jewelry or writing but it's been any number of things. I need to bring something from nothing by working with my hands. Unfortunately, I get very little time to do it (creativity requires focus which is impossible when interrupted every 5 minutes).

10. Is there any part (physical, mental, spiritual, etc.) of you that, if you lost it, it might not be worth going on?
I was having real troubles with my voice at one point and they thought I might need to have my thyroid out. This is a tricky surgery for singers as, if the surgeon is even a little off, it can have disastrous effects on your voice (witness Julie Andrews). Who I am is so inextricably linked with music and singing, I'm not sure how I would continue without being able to sing. Now, this was before I had my kids so I doubt now that it would have that effect but it sure would take the joy out of life.

11. What do you believe in - the sort of belief that goes to your very soul?
I believe in God - not a little old man with a big beard on a throne ready to can my sorry ass but what Susan Sowerby in The Secret Garden called the "Great Good Thing", the source of love, blessings, and, if we ask, guidance. I believe in being kind, giving people second chances. I also believe in whupping a little ass if it needs it. I believe in being honest, within reason (white lies are ok). I believe that, if you can love yourself, you've accomplished more than 90% of the people out there (I'm one of the 90%, mind you). I believe that most of my friends undervalue themselves immensely. I believe that some things are worth fighting for, that justice is important but that forgiveness is too. I believe that one's own house should be in order before one tackles other people's houses.

12. Do you have a creed/code/quote that you live by (or try to live by)? What is it?
There's a quote from Anne Shirley (the Anne of Anne of Green Gables) where she says she'd just like to leave the world a more beautiful place for having been in it. Me too.

Let's make this a baker's dozen and add one final one...
13. If you had to sum yourself up for someone in 10 words or less, what would you say?
"My life flows on in endless song above Earth's lamentations."
or, if you'd prefer descriptive words... creative, determined, loving, fierce, kind, multi-faceted, thoughtful, curious, eccentric, introvert

Happy New Year, everyone - Tag, you're it! (And if you missed the Christmas pics - see below!)

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Dec 30, 2008

A Christmas Season Pictorial

Ok, it was a crazy December and I wasn't here much because I was singing with 3 choirs, getting ready for/hosting a massive party, and doing all the typical "mom" stuff that has to get done. So, I'm going to make up for it with one gynormous post...

Christmas Season started the day after Thanksgiving with getting the tree. Katie was in a pissy mood. Really, really wretchedly pissy. Fortunately, it was a nice day and we found a nice tree. It wasn't nearly as scraggly as it looks in the picture.

Getting the Tree

That night, we (sans the baby) went with my sister, her husband, and her younger son to the Constitution Plaza lighting. It's not often you find someone taller than my 6'6" BIL but 2 such people were standing directly ahead of us.

Constitution Plaza Lighting

Next came the clean up of the house. This included cleaning up the grotesque remnants of the Great Pumpkin Massacre. Fortunately, the culprit was discovered if not apprehended...

Squirrel Butt

The Great Pumpkin Massacre

It took a couple of days but I got that tree decorated to within an inch of its life. Wait a minute, maybe that's an inch over its life? Poor thing. It will go to the town to be mulched (our town will pick up your tree for free - saves on the town mulch bill!)

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Tree 1

I posited that, if I were to find a little tree for my 3 year old that she would leave my tree alone. Coupled with a stringent "you touch Mommy's tree, you get an automatic time out", it actually worked. Fortunately, the tree was virtually free.

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And, of course, the poor kid came down with her first ear infection a couple days later. (I consider us very lucky, though, to have gotten to 3 without having an ear infection!)

Ear Infection

Visiting Santa didn't go so well though. Poor Daddy.

No!  Not Santa!!

I never get a good picture of the party set up with all the food in place and the guests not there. Sigh. Of course, I guess if I were a little more on the ball it would help!

Party

Once the party was over, I embarked on a mission. My mother, you see, has a habit of leaving unwanted objects in other people's homes. In this instance, she left a picture painted by my grandfather at my brother's. Ok, most of my grandfather's paintings are quite good but this one? Well, still life wasn't his genre. So, I was given the mission, which I gladly accepted with a distinctly evil chortle, to sneak this painting back into my parents' house. It took me nearly a year but it now hangs in the back of my mother's closet where, presumably, she will one day discover it. Heh heh heh...

Returning the Picture

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Ok, this next one has no bearing on my December except that I took the picture in December and it captures rather how I feel about life at the moment.

Encaged

Then, on the 19th, it started snowing and didn't stop until the evening of the 21st. Our snowblower, of course, is still in the shop missing a part they can't get. Now, granted, the guy came and plowed a couple of times since it was his fault the snowblower wasn't repaired (he's had it since April) but we still got stuck at the end of the driveway at least 5 times (John once - me four times - my car sits lower). All told, in our yard, we measured 16". There were about 8" when these photos were taken.

Snow 1

Snow 2

So, finally, the party's out of the way, two different Lessons & Carols services have been sung and are out of the way, it's time to wrap. Katie notices a teeny tiny present and inquires. I tell her it's for Maddie (her babydoll). She wants to show it to Maddie. Ok, I say. A few minutes later, she says "Maddie's going to stay here and look at it, ok?" "Ok, Katie." When I saw the doll later, I thought I was going to pee my pants. That package wasn't going anywhere for the watch that doll had on it!

Maddie's Wait

And, on Christmas Eve, Maddie's (and Katie's) wait was rewarded. (If you or your child (or your doll) want one of these crowns - check out Marsbarn's Etsy shop! They're adjustable in size and reversible!)

\A Crowning Moment (or Maddie's Wait Rewarded)

And, yes, didn't you all want to see what I look like after a long Advent of song? This is Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve

And Christmas Day (after singing three more services that morning with rehearsal starting at 7:20 a.m.) (Greta, that's Idol Eyes and Prankster on the lid with Non-Conformist and Frostlite liner - LOL!).

Christmas Afternoon

I hope you all had a lovely holiday and I wish you and yours all the best for 2009!

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Dec 22, 2008

Motion Denied, Counsel

Said by a 3 year old desirous of moving her stepstool from the side of the island near the racks of cooling cookies to the front of the island where her mother is working (a move previously denied by her mother)...

"If vis [the stepstool] gets near the cookies, vey may fall down and break vemselves. That would be a sad fing!"

Part 3 year old, part lawyer.

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Dec 15, 2008

She Is...

Written for a friend about her mother. Her mom, by the way, sounds like the mom I wish I had and the mom I want to be.

She Is

She is
indomitable,
intrepid,
undeniable.

She is
a force to be
reckoned
with.

She is
the adult I want
to be.

She is
enduring,
engaging,
stalwart.

She is
nowhere to be
found;
she is with
me
minutes after
I call.

She is
the mother I want
to be.

She is
spirited,
spunky,
amazing.

She has
my
heart.
She is
my
all.

She is
everything I want
to be.

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Dec 11, 2008

Steal Away, Steal Away

Steal away to Jesus...

My friend, Ann, has battled breast cancer for years on and off. I sang with Ann for years in the Springfield Symphony Chorus - we both being part of the cadre of BRAs (back row altos), known mostly for a rather insouciant attitude (though dedicated musicians) and our irreverent parodies at the SSC banquet at the end of each season - until I moved to Connecticut and she moved to Virginia. Ann sang also for years at the Berkshire Choral Festival each summer. She even made it up there this summer and, by all accounts, had a great time though she was exhausted at the end.

I got a call from her husband this afternoon. A week and a half ago, she decided that the chemo was just too much and it was time to let go. They moved her up to the 4th floor (hospice) and made her comfortable as possible. Tuesday afternoon, she lost her battle. She was in her early 60s and leaves a husband, grown children, and an adorable set of grandchildren.

She was a woman who loved her family, loved her music, and loved her God. I know that she, truly, has stolen away to Jesus and I rejoice for her in that. It is for us, we left here, I mourn.

Rest in peace, my friend. Know you are loved and missed and ever will be.

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