OPNP

So… for several years, I’ve been threatening to start anew, come up with a blog name that isn’t tied to a specific hobby, that doesn’t have my nickname in it the title, etc.

I did it.  I fought WordPress, the web host and my own techno-ignorance, and I won.  I cordially invite you to change your bookmarks and find me – and the furgirls – at Of Pups and Pearls or http://ofpupsnpearls.com.  If the Knight leaves me unsupervised for a little longer, I might even set up a new email account, a facebook page, rename my Twitter thingee…

Hope to see you there!

I’m a little tea bag…

I__m_A_Little_Teapot_by_mashiI remember singing the Teapot song as a little girl, but tonight, Mrs. Roosevelt’s quote is speaking to me.

A woman is like a tea bag- you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.   Eleanor Roosevelt

That’s one of the take-aways from my time as President of the Junior League of Charlottesville.  At the stroke of midnight tonight, my tenure as President is complete.

May has been more about hot water than cakes and champagne.  I’ve gone through a lot of peppermint tea; it’s good for headaches AND upset stomachs, in case you were wondering.  However, we’re finishing on an upswing, thanks to a good eye exam for Sissy today.

I had this vision that on June 1, my inbox would echo with its emptiness and I’d suddenly have free time to spare.  That isn’t going to be the case, so I don’t know that there will be a return to regular blogging.  I’m having a pre-midlife crisis, I guess; I am really questioning a lot about my life and where I want to go from here.  I’ve spent the past three-plus years focusing on the Junior League to the point of exclusion of other parts of my life, and as fate would have it – not that I believe in fate, mind you – there has been so much upheaval in my life in 2014 (because even though my mother died on December 26, 2013, her memorial service was January 2 of this year) that I can’t simply start marching down the post-JLC Presidency bucket list.

UntitledSure, I’d still like to get Gretchen in a class or working with a trainer who can help both of us deal with her anxiety better, but frankly, until I can drive to and from Sissy’s eye appointment (a whopping 100+ mile, one-way trek that takes me past my recently departed friend’s home, within a few miles of the home of my youth, and the graves of my father, grandparents, etc.) without weeping, I think maybe I need to drop back and focus on a concept two very wise women – one of my college sisters (we were assigned “sisters” in each class above us when we were freshman) and the barely-blogging gMarie – have reminded me of more than once…  You can’t give from empty.

It goes against my nature to admit my well is dry, but there you go.  I’m still trying to put on my happy face and I’m definitely putting one foot in front of the other, but I did actually ask the Knight a couple of weeks ago how one becomes the fragile flower who opts out of life because it’s just too much.  I think I could get into about a month-long “breakdown” where I could just blog, walk the dogs for miles on end, and sip a lot of tea while reading.  (And no, that’s not an option, not even for a day.)

Cue Chaplin’s Smileor Annie’s Tomorrow.  Heck, play them both.  They’re a little melancholy, but one of my theme songs remains Melissa Manchester’s “Don’t Cry Out Loud.”  Just so you know, it’s impossible to sing with a wee JRT licking your face.

See… the problem is that EVERYONE is struggling through something, and if not, they will be soon enough.  I had this crazy idea as a teen that I was getting all of my trials and suffering out of the way early, and the rest of my life would be smooth sailing.  Actually, my early years just prepared me to deal with all the mess that is life.  We all have highs and lows, and I just learned early how to roll with the punches and keep on keeping on.  I’m humming Tanya Tucker’s “Strong Enough to Bend” now.  It’s about love, but the concept of bending instead of breaking really speaks to me.  (Maybe that’s why I like yoga so much too?)

The good thing about hot tea is that even a properly tempered teapot with a great cozy can’t hold the heat in but for so long.  Now that it’s not my job to steer the JLC ship, I feel a cool breeze, and the tree is bending in the wind.

 

 

 

Chewy Cheese

50100,1394425665$SS172$Finally, we’re getting around to blogging about the May Chewy Blogger Outreach goodies that came to our door.  Fromm is a trusted source – as is Chewy – so we new it would be something the girls could safely enjoy.  I’m more concerned about the product meeting Sissy’s rather restrictive dietary needs, while all the furgirls care about is the enjoyment part.  Chewy and Fromm make both possible with their Cheese treats.

The furgirls don’t need low fat, but when I can find a treat with only four ingredients from a brand I trust, it’s a win.  And who doesn’t love Wisconsin Cheddar?  The Knight always brings some home for us when he travels to WI, and while HE has told the dogs it’s too good to share with them, the folks at Fromm disagree and put the good stuff in their treats.

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Worth waiting for

The DIVA feels the treats are tiny, not even bite-sized, but because we are a small and large dog household (yes, bassets are considered medium-large… don’t let the short legs fool you!), I’m happy to have wee treats that I don’t have to break into pieces to serve the wee one.   They’re great training treat size for Sis and other not-tiny dogs, and did I mention the girls love them?

Oh – and don’t let the title fool you.  I like alliteration, but the treats are crunchy, not chewy.

Thanks, Chewy!  We love your prompt service, your great selection and your commitment to quality.   Well…  *I* love those things; the girls just like the boxes that smell like doggy yum-yums are inside.

That’s all I’ve got right now.  There was a quick business trip to Sarasota last week (honest – I’m blessed to work for a company that sends me to such miserable destinations for training), but unless you want to see photos of the Bradenton plant, I have nothing for you, other than a piece of advice…  if you’re in the area, visit Siesta Key and grab a meal at Siesta Key Oyster Bar.   I had the fish tacos and they were the best I’ve ever had – seriously.

Have you encountered any best-evers recently?

 

 

Sunday Sundries

Thanks for your kind words.  I’m especially thankful for my local friends who have been wonderful about “leaning in.”  Unlike Ms. Sandberg, I believe we should lean into EACH OTHER, rather than career opportunities, but I share her notion that when we lean in, we’re all stronger and society – and each of us as individuals – is better for it.

Courtesy of Will Kerner; JLC future, present and past presidents

Courtesy of Will Kerner; JLC future, present and past presidents

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; I have the best friends this world can offer.  I’m particularly fortunate to have been president between two of the most loyal, dependable, supportive, collaborative women I’ve ever known.   They’re class acts, and I couldn’t have done this without them – not the past week, not the past two, three years.   If I’ve had any success as president, it’s been because the woman on the right and those before her set me up for success, and I sincerely hope we’ve done just that for the beauty on the left as well.

It’s odd to realize I’m at the end of my tenure as president, but it’s exciting too.  The new leaders are dynamic, energetic, and I look forward to working with them and seeing where the JLC goes in the next year.  I am certain it will be stronger, better and more efficient!

It’s also probably a good thing that I don’t have time to be wistful and wax poetic but so much.  Work is busy, and life is going on, whether it seems appropriate or not.  As Reba put it, “I guess the world didn’t stop for my broken heart.”  For nearly as long as there has been life on this earth, there has been death, and “carrying on” is what I do.  Maybe there is an element of denial in there too, but I don’t think so.  I am just wired to process things differently so that I can be the helper and fixer that I am by nature.

Not one to believe in coincidences, it still somehow took me a few days to realize my friend died on the 13th.  She was so superstitious that she all but stayed in bed and didn’t open the blinds on Fridays when they collided with the 13th, so is it ironic, destiny, or a self-fulfilling prophecy that Death came for her on the 13th?

UntitledI found this bit of luck near the back door.  I’m not sure how  I suddenly became quite the four-leaf clover spotter, but this is the third I’ve found this month without even trying.   Isn’t the lighter green in the center interesting?

Are you superstitious?  Does plucking four leaf clovers make me superstitious?

There are a few songs running ear-worming their way around my head:

  • John Cougar Mellencamp’s Jack ‘n Diane (Oh yeah, life goes on…)
  • Miranda Lambert’s How Dare You
  • Sinatra’s My Way (my friend’s funeral request)
  • Rascal Flatts My Wish

WF51673_2_700x700I might have fallen down the Kate Spade rabbit hole.  I’ve always like her designs, and I’ve been intentionally avoiding the store that finally found podunk in the past year or so, but I accidentally – no,  seriously!! – wandered in today.  To my surprise, I left her Keds there (this time), but I couldn’t resist a belt (not shown online yet), and I’m supremely grateful that I managed not to even touch the PANK frock that kept calling out to me.  (Not linking to the image online because it looked SO MUCH BETTER in person – trust me.)  Unlike the other boutique designer I like, Ms. Spade favors a silhouette that makes the most of a woman’s curves.  I don’t need any more party dresses, not now, not ever…  but I do love her parfum too.  Beauty was my favorite, and it’s been discontinued.

I’ll be missing in action for a few days.  Life isn’t getting the best of me, but I’m not going to have time to post, and don’t have time to compose more posts and set them to publish later.

What’s happening in your world?

 

Remember to take a photo

Sorry to be debbie downer.  Hopefully, I’m making a turn.  I had a great time tonight with the incoming leadership team for the League, and I’m grateful that our incoming historian made us pose for a dozen photos.  (No, none were taken with my camera.)  I was having a bad hair day, but given the turns life has made this week already, I smiled and cooperated anyway.

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Friend is on the far right

It’s really sad to realize I don’t have photos with my recently departed friend.   This is the closest I can get, and only then, because my darling ‘Nita insisted upon a group-ish photo.   My friend was a photographer, and like most of us, she didn’t want a photo taken when her hair wasn’t perfect, or because she wasn’t appropriately attired, etc.  Heck, I’m cringing at this version of me, but I’m glad Anita was persistent and the photo exists.

So to all of you who, like the Knight and sometimes myself, try to hide from the camera, remember that a day will come when someone will wish they had a photo of you – maybe plural – and try to cooperate for just a moment.

And yeah, I’m going to try to remember to TAKE photos too.  Because life is short and you just never know when there will be no more chances for a photo.

I’m also very thankful for sweet ladies who care, who aren’t being polite when they ask how I am and what they can do to help.  I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fabulous dessert table we were all enjoying…  I am blessed to be surrounded by kind, supportive people.  It makes it much easier for me to keep on giving and being supportive too.  A wise woman often reminds me that I can’t give from empty, but thanks to you and my local network of friends, there’s no chance I’ll even see a low fuel light.

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Miss Ellie

And it hurts none at all when Miss Ellie recognizes my car when I turn in her parents’ driveway and begins excusing herself from her other guests to come greet me personally and assure I remember the way to the champagne punch.    I wish I’d gotten a black-footed photo this evening, proving that the lovely hostess does her own gardening, even when she has company.   The wonderful thing about doggy therapists is there’s no appointment or co-pay required.

Dogs, chocolate, salted caramel, champagne and friends.  These are a few of my favorite things.

Popcorn Supper

0007574104830_300X300Sometimes you just need popcorn for supper.  Today was one such evening.    I’d like to think it’s a little healthier (air popped, after all) than mac n’ cheese, which is my REAL comfort food.   Sissy would prefer the pasta though, because some of you might recall the DIVA is allergic to corn in all forms except corn syrup.

Oh, I’m not melancholy or tired.  I’m feeling about 6… which as I recall was my “… but why?!” phase.   So maybe we’ll call it whiny with a dose of frustration.

I did have a not-great day.  My eye exam was fine; I remain ridiculously near-sighted but now am toting a prescription that my dear doc wrote so I can have just distance (as I have since 6th grade) glasses, bi-focals, TRI-focals or progressive lenses.  Isn’t she nice?  (She really is; as is the way of the world in podunk, I’ve known her since she was in grade school.)

So, do feel free to tell me which of the varieties of glasses you own, have owned, and won’t ever own again.  Given that Dr. J laughed and said she knew I was most likely to continue to just remove my glasses to see up close and gave me her blessing to do just that “until it annoys [you] enough to do something” I’m in no hurry and can wallow in yet another good ol’ round of analysis paralysis on the lens type discussion.

I also own adjusts to light lenses and not, and a pair of old-fashioned prescription sunglasses, which definitely need to be refreshed, as they’re roughly 10 years old now.  My prescription hasn’t changed much, but sun protection has.

Before I made it out of the doctor’s office to head for work, a friend stopped me.  Seems none of our mutual friends alerted me to his cancer battle a year ago, but he’s victorious for now, and has a new outlook on life that is allowing him to almost roll with the latest punch in the gut from Fate.   We do a lot of pulling up of the boot straps here in horse country, but there’s always a fresh pile to step over, around or plow through.

I’m inspired by my strong, fighting friends, but seriously… they were already strong men and women and enough is enough.   There’s not even enough sugar to make lemonade from the lemons.  But as the victor smirked and reminded me this morning, none of us knows when our time is going to be up anyway…

Good thing I like boots and own a slew of them.  The afternoon brought more devastating news.

(And for the record, the Knight and I are fine.  The news isn’t mine to share, but there is plenty of very sad/bad/mad news to go around.  Let’s just say cancer sucks, especially the kind without much hope for a happy ending, and to have it show up more than once recently is … devastating.)

 

 

Sunday Sundries

This one could also be called “Not the Mama.”

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Me and my mother, circa 1980 – from a Polaroid!

I went to lunch yesterday with another friend who is past child-bearing age (or at least, what most of us still consider such) and it was a study in familiarity and manners.

What was funny was that the restaurant owner and the long-time server whom often waits on us knew better and just said how nice it was to see us.  It was the newer staff who presumed that because we are females over the age of … ?, SURELY we must be mothers.  I wonder if my younger friends have that problem?

Look, I KNOW I’m not a mother.  I am rather private and don’t care to share but so much, but I am childless by choice.  How much worse would it be if I was in fact, trying to have a late in life baby without success, or had a private adoption fall through recently, and these presumptuous cads were wishing me a most inappropriate happy inapplicable event?!

I don’t feel any more left out on Mother’s Day than I do on Father’s Day, Grandparents Day or any of the other Hallmark holidays.  (In my world, that includes Valentine’s Day, but the Knight is a smart man and knows that just because I think it’s inane, it’s probably still in his best interests to get flowers, chocolates or both.)

It ranks right up there with asking the stranger with the poochy belly when she’s due.   In an age of political correctness and anti-discrimination laws for anything one can think of, where is the common sense and/or common courtesy?  You know, it just hit me; we wouldn’t need so many laws if people just practiced the Golden Rule.

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Same day… a RARE photo with (from L-R) my maternal grandmother, my Nana, me, a cousin, a friend, and my much-beloved “old maid” great aunt, and one of her “furkids”. Clearly, no one but Nannie (my grandmother) was ready for the photo, but I didn’t realize I had any with all three of those GRAND women in it!

Oh, I am most grateful for the mothers in my life.  They get so much of the credit for the woman I am today.  I do think motherhood is a mostly thankless job, but the world should honor moms regularly, not just once a year.  Co-parenting shouldn’t be a word or a concept; it’s redundant.  It takes two people to make a baby, and it takes a village to raise one into a reasonably sane, functional adult.  Parenting is a verb, a very active verb, and Dad, godparents, neighbors, friends’ parents, etc. should all be involved EVERY SINGLE DAY.  I was truly blessed to have a large, extended family and a network of caring folks involved in my upbringing.

But you know what?  Even those who don’t get June Cleaver turn out okay.  Look at Opie.  Aunt Bea, Andy, Barney, even Gomer and all of Mayberry saw to it that little Opie grew up to be a gazillionaire who wasn’t just a former child actor, but a powerhouse in almost every aspect of Hollywood.

I do hope those of you celebrating – your own motherhood or the mothers in your life – had a great day.  We had a rare family meal, just the inlaws and me, and I know MJ really enjoyed having us all at one table again.   And yeah, we should do that more than a handful of times a year too.