Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Do Not Stumble Upon Pinterest

There are several black holes in the cyber-verse.  Drawn in with innocent curiosity, they lure you to their deepest depths with the siren's song of "look heeeere...ever seen one of theeeeeeese...aren't these kitties cuuuuuuuute...doesn't this look good enough to eeeeeeeat...I betcha wish you had one of thooooooooooose!"

Black Hole #1:  Stumble Upon
This site has become such an addiction that I have to set a timer before I'll allow myself to begin stumbling.  Here's how it works.  You register for the site (basically name and email) and enter in different topics that interest you like sports or commerce.  My list includes things like design, art, humor, crafts, and gadgets.  Once you've completed your checklist, you click on the stumble icon.  That is where your cyber-adventure begins.  Oh, the places you will go in a most random fashion! 

You'll see beautiful works of art:
You'll be able to write a letter to your future self:
You'll visit amazing places in faraway lands:
You'll find yourself laughing out loud all alone in front of your computer:
You'll see fashion inspired by works of art:
You'll sit for a lot longer than you'd think and watch this little guy toast and eat marshmallows:

You'll be calling people in from other rooms of your house.  "Reed, you have GOT to come see these hilarious ads!"  "Alan!  Come see these reefs that have been created by people who submerged cool sculptures!" I could go on.  And on.  And on.  For hours.

Stumble Upon has added a new feature in which you can type in your own interest.  I typed in "Mail Art" and began to stumble.  Sure enough, all of the stumbles were mail art related.  It's not exactly like googling.  It's cooler.  You'll see.

I save SU as a treat for when I get all my work done.  I actually say to myself things like "When you get all of the laundry washed, folded, ironed, and put up, you can stumble for 20 minutes.  1...2...3....Go!" or "Once you get the rice started, you can stumble until the kitchen timer dings!"  One must be very careful when embarking on mindless yet intriguing entertainment.

Black Hole #2:  Pinterest
It took me a while to figure out the point of Pinterest.  It can best be explained as a place where you can publicly display interesting things you've found on the web.  It's like tearing pictures from magazines and pinning them to bulletin boards.  You might have one bulletin board that you dub "Cool Bathroom Design" and another named "Cats do the Darndest Things."  

There are two ways that you can fall into this abyss of "oh-my-gosh-it's-almost-noon-and-I'm-still-in-my-pajamas."  
  1. Top of page - "Boards" - "Staff Favorites" - Beware of this alluring trail.  It leads to visual stimuli that will make you lose track of all time and space.  You'll dance from "How to and DIY" to "Places to Go" to "Loft Ideas."  Soon, you'll be repinning ideas to your own Pinterest boards.  
  2. Your Own Pinterest Boards - After spending hours jumping from board to board gawking at weird furniture design and idyllic beach photography, you'll decide to spiff up your own Pinterest account by adding your own boards.  Thought process:  "Boards...boards...boards...what kind of boards should I make?  Hmmmm."  Then:  "Hmmmm.  What do I name my boards?  They have got to have clever titles!"  This question will send you backtracking on the trail of boards you've just spent 2 hours exploring.  "Let's titles..."  Then you'll wonder what happens if you start a board labeled...say..."A-MAY-ZING Earrings" and only find about 3 pairs of earrings that are "pin-worthy."  Case in point:  my board titled "Products I Love" which has only had a picture of a Magic Bullet and a plexiglass canoe on it for quite some time.  I hit a wall on that one.  I'm totally suffering from "Products I Love" block.
From time to time, you'll get emails from Pinterest saying that someone is following one or all of your boards.  Talk about flattering!  It's like having someone say, "You have the coolest pictures of kitchens!  I just love the way you think!"  Then, you find yourself following your infinity and beyond.

These are but two of the ways that one can end up time traveling through a day in one's pajamas with unbrushed teeth.  "What!?  It's 2PM?!  A minute ago it was 7AM!  What happened!?  How did I get here?!  Oh my!  I can smell my own bad breath!"  I would feel guilty if I shared more "roads to nowhere."  That would just be wrong and irresponsible.  Consider yourself warned.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Delayed Sadification

I dedicate this blog post to Cindee, Jillie, Gloria, Shana and Lori.*  
When I told you that the empty nest was fun and exciting,
I did not know of what I spoke.  Thinking of you today.

Last year I had a rough August.  I had to move my mom out of the Thanksgiving Dinner-Easter Egg Hunt-Christmas Morning home of 30+ years.  I was in Waco for 3 weeks sorting through all of her accumulated trash and treasures.  I cried all three weeks. 

Week 1:  tears for all the memories made at 2709 Rockview
Week 2:  tears for our 14 year old border collie, Pepper, who had to be put to sleep
Week 3:  tears because my youngest son moved into the dorm at Baylor 

Those 3 weeks became blizzard-y blurred memories because so much was happening in such a short time.  We moved Reed from Lubbock to Waco on the 19th.  The moving truck bearing Mom's treasures drove from Waco to Lubbock on the 23rd.

I didn't feel the full impact of the empty nest.

Our oldest son, Jonathan, was visiting home from Chicago for a couple of weeks.  So, I didn't come home to a totally empty house.

Still didn't feel the full impact of the empty nest.

We spent the last days of August getting Mom's apartment set up at Raider Ranch.  Jonathan flew back to Chi-Town on September 4.  On September 5, Mom woke us up with a phone call at 4AM saying that her legs "weren't working."  Later that day, she had brain surgery to clear out some bleeding that had been building up on her brain.

Nope.  Not yet.

The month of September flew by as Mom recovered from surgery and finally got settled in back at "the Ranch."

Still nothing.

Then came the flurry of Autumn leaves that brought us Parent's Weekend and Homecoming at Baylor.  Then came the hustle and bustle of the holidays.

Zip.  Zilch. Nada.

Last week, our family vacationed in Seaside Florida.  We played croquet.  We dozed in beach chairs while our books lay napping on our laps.  We watched old episodes of Lost.  We played in the surf.  We rode bikes.


Saturday the vacation came to an end.  We hugged Jonathan goodbye at the airport in Panama City.  He flew back to Chicago as we flew to Dallas with Bryce and Reed.  In Dallas, we hugged Bryce and Reed goodbye.  They drove from Love Field to Waco while Alan and I flew back to Lubbock.  Just the two of us.  We joked about whether or not our cats would notice that we had been gone for a week.

Wait for it...wait for it...

We walked into our hot, musty house at 8:30 PM on Saturday night.  We both felt kind of punky from the colds that we brought home with us.  The cats ignored us.  The refrigerator was empty.  Nothing on TV.  No jaunt to Bud and Alleys rooftop bar for a sunset mojito.  Nothing particularly exciting on my calendar for the upcoming week.  Hmm.  

Then, BOO-AY!  BOOM!  YOWZA!  It hit me.  The full impact.
Mea culpa, dear friends.

* I know that I'm leaving some dear friends out.  Those same dear friends know that I have the worst memory ever.  Again, mea culpa.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Errands: Pick up the Baby at Buckner

Yesterday, we celebrated my firstborn's 24th birthday.  My 6'1" precious baby boy.  This morning he and I chatted about the week he was born.  I pulled out my 1987 calendar and told him how it all went down.
The actual calendar page.  I added "Jonathan was born" later that week.
We lived in Mesquite, TX, at the time. That summer the days were drawn out with oppressive, withering heat.  And, nervous anticipation.  I woke up each morning wondering if it would be the day that we would get the call.  I hesitated to leave my house for more than about an hour.  If I wasn't there when the phone call came, I worried that they would move on down to the next couple on the list.

I spent the night on that Monday night in Fort Worth with my sister, Kathy, and her husband, Lee.  Alan was out of town on business, and I couldn't stand sleeping alone in our little starter home.  That is neither here nor there.  It's just a wee inconsequential part of the tale.

I'll skip to Wednesday, the 12th.  I had a cut and color appointment with Xavier at 9AM.  On my way home at about 11:00, I popped into Albertson's to pick up some groceries.  When I walked in the store, I was overcome with a tingly, Christmas morning feeling.  I felt like something big was about to happen.  The feeling was powerful...almost electric.  

I wandered up and down the aisles throwing this and that in my cart.  I felt distracted.  I felt antsy.  About 4 aisles into my list, I looked down at the items in my cart.  Confusion swirled in my head.  I saw dog food (we had a cat).  I saw things like canned lima beans and canned carrots.  Cheap toilet paper.  This was not my cart.  None of the items on my list were in that cart.

I looked up and down the grocery aisle half expecting to see Rod Serling narrating my dilema.  "Carolyn Lackey.  A teacher in a gifted and talented program enjoying her last few days of summer.  This day began like any ordinary day.  She showered and dressed, ate Frosted Flakes for breakfast, and then, ventured out to the grocery store.  Little did she know that instead of going through the automatic doors into her local Albertson's, she, instead, has entered...THE TWILIGHT ZONE."
 The grocery aisle was desserted.  I stood peering into the foreign basket of food.  Then, I did the only thing I could figure out to do.  I left the cart where it was, went to the front of the store for a new cart, and began shopping all over again.  This time I made a special effort to concentrate and be "in the moment" on the canned vegetable aisle.

I ended up passing the mystery shopping cart as I made my way up and down each aisle.  No one had claimed it.  No one had moved it.  There it sat like an old wooden buckboard in the middle of a western ghost town.  DO-dee-do-do-DO-de-do-do.

I still felt discombobulated when I drove home with my groceries in my steamy Nissan Sentra.  I pushed aside the "Christmas morning feeling" and unloaded the groceries.  I had work to do for a meeting that afternoon.  In a hurry, I spread some peanut butter and jelly on a couple of pieces of bread and sat down to scarf them down while I looked over my notes.  I took one bite out of that sandwich.  The phone rang.

"Hewwo?" I answered with peanut butter hanging in the back of my throat.
The actual peanut butter sandwich.
"Carolyn?  How are you?!  This is Billie Shotts!" 

My heart stopped and I drew in my breath.  Was this THE CALL?

"How have you and Alan been doing?  Did you have a good time on your vacation?" she continued just as normal as pie.

"Uhhh, yes.  We had a great time," I said without embellishing on our trip to Estes Park, Colorado.  I wanted Billie to quickly get to the business at hand if there was actually any business at hand.

After a couple of brief pleasantries she exclaimed, "Congratulations!  You and Alan are the parents of a healthy baby boy!!"

"What!?  What!?  A boy!?  When!?  Where!?  How!?" I stuttered.

"He was born on Monday!  He's healthy!  And, he's beautiful!" she said excitedly.  As she continued to fill me in on all the little details, I scrambled for a pen and a notepad.  Glancing at the peanut butter sandwich, I knew that it would never be eaten that day.  Oh, no.  We had so much to do!  We were parents!
The actual notepad scribbles.
Jonathan and I read over my calendar page from the week he was born.  He knew about the peanut butter sandwich.  He had forgotten about the mystery basket of groceries.  I retold the story of how I called Alan and work and shouted the news of great joy!  "You're a DADDY!!!"  Then, I called my mom who was visiting her friend, Betty Duckworth, in Carthage.  "Get in the car! I told Billie that I couldn't come to meet my baby without my mother!"  I called Alan's mom in Salado and told her to throw some clothes in a bag.  Hurry!  Hurry!  Our baby had been born!

Just telling about the day 24 years ago when I raced to a local party store for "It's a Boy" signs and balloons made me get that old familiar Christmas morning feeling.  I felt that same lump rising in my throat.  I told Jonathan that I could almost feel his little baby boy body curled up in my arms and smell the sweet baby smell of his hair.  I was totally in that moment again.

"That's funny," he said in his deep, chocolatey voice, "Look what you wrote! 'Pick up baby at Buckner.'" (See very bottom of calendar page above.)

I glanced at August 12, 1987.  Sure enough, there it was.  It could have been on a list of errands.
  • drop off clothes at the cleaners
  • pick up RX at Albertson's
  • get milk and deodorant
  • pick up baby at Buckner
He and I shared a laugh.  "Yep.  That was one amazing errand!" I told him.  One amazing, life-changing, Mommy-making errand.  Welcome Jonathan Alan Lackey.
The actual new parents and tiny baby son.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

My Newest Obsession: Mail Art

When I first mentioned mail art back in March, I was truly only dabbling in the art of mail.  Now, it's become a full-blown obsession.  At night while Alan and I watch "Lost" reruns (we're on Season 2 Episode 15-ish), I scour through magazines in search of interesting or unusual pictures.  I keep a basket with scissors, colored pencils, and rubber cement handy  ready for when inspiration strikes.

I try to keep about 6 pieces of mail ready at all times so that I can respond to a fellow mail artist's postcard posthaste.  As a "card-carrying" member of the International Union of Mail Artists (IUOMA - they pretty much let everybody join...), I've begun exchanging with people from all over the world.  I now have a little lilt in my step as I traipse to the mailbox every afternoon.

The downside.  I haven't felt like blogging.  My words have turned to pictures.  Perhaps if I could figure out a way to use collage as a form of blogging.  I'll google it.

Sent to Vaida in Lithuania
Sent to John in the UK
Sent to Nadine in CA
Sent to Svenja in Germany
Sent to Reed in TX 
Sent to Dillon in TX 
Sent to Dawson in TX
Sent to Bryce in TX 
Sent to Cindee in TX


Meems had a very special visitor this weekend.  Our friend, Laura Ard, flew down from DC to spend time with her.  Laura lived next door t...