Summer School of Rock

It’s summertime-a break from classrooms, text books and homework for my son. However, learning can still take place despite the fact that school is not in session. This past week, I took my eleven-year old son to his second rock concert. (Last year, I took him to a Bruce Springsteen concert.) This time around, the music was “heavier” and there were three bands-Cheap Trick, Poison and Def Leppard.(My son is familiar with all three 80’s bands as we regularly follow a local group that plays music from that decade.)

The concert was about four hours long, which included set changes between bands. The crowd was a fairly young one-mostly folks in their 20’s and 30’s, with a few older devotees like myself mixed in. My son was not the only minor in attendance, and his presence was acknowledged by several fellow attendees. One guy instructed M. on the proper techniques of the air guitar during Poison’s set, and another one high-fived me and told my son that “your Mom rocks!” Still others encouraged M. to move closer so that he could have a better view of the stage.

M. seemed oblivious to the somewhat sleezy crowd, and was grossed out by the excessive beer consumption and cigarette smoking going on around us. I’m pretty sure that an additional “scent” wafting through the air literally and figuratively went right over his head. We danced and sang all night, and were thoroughly entertained by all of the performances. My son’s favorite band of the night was Poison, as he insisted that they had the best guitar solos. (He has been a student of the acoustic guitar for four months.) As we made our way to the car after the Def Leppard encore, M. remarked that he had an “awesome time!” I explained to him that the evening had been an education of sorts, and one that he would never receive in school.


Rooftop Guest

As we pulled into our driveway a few weeks ago, I spotted an unfamiliar object on the roof. A hawk was perched on the vent, just checking things out. I am uncertain what prey it might have been patiently stalking, however, I enjoyed observing and photographing our visitor. I understand that hawks have incredible patience, hence the saying, “watched like a hawk.” Our bird of prey remained in command of his post for quite some time. I hope it was time well spent. I could use a lesson or two in patience from this feathered friend!


Rain,Rain Don’t Go Away

It’s that time of year again. I’ll bet you are thinking picnics, baseball, ice cream, vacations, etc. You would be correct, however, I am referring to those days in June, July and/or August when the water quits falling from the sky and instead flows from my outdoor faucets, through a garden hose, into a sprinkler and out onto my lawn and landscaping. I long for an in-ground sprinkler system, but until I win the lottery or am bequeathed a huge inheritance, I AM the sprinkler system. In the early mornings or evenings, you may find me outside, dragging hoses and adjusting sprinkler heads to just the right angle. I turn on the faucet and let the water flow, while my water meter goes “cha-ching!” (I live in one of the counties in our state with the highest water rates.)

The weather has been decent so far this summer. The temps have remained seasonal for the most part, and we have been blessed with weekly showers. However, it is mid-July, a month full of “dog days.” Lawns are turning from a lush green to a crunchy brown, and the flowers and shrubs beg for a drink. I, the nurturing caretaker, give them what they ask for-a refreshing hosing down at least once a week.The only good thing about a lack of rainfall is that my car stays shiny and clean.

50 States in Eighteen Years?

A few years ago, my son mentioned that he wanted to visit all fifty states. Since then, we have been on a quest to begin ticking off states, one by one.  Junior was born in Texas and lived there for his first three-and-a-half years. Therefore, the Lone Star State was instantaneously crossed off the list. (My son has very few memories of life in Texas, so we may have to revisit his birth state at some point.) We can also check off the state we currently live in.Two down, forty-eight to go. We live near the border of two states-Kentucky and Indiana-and have been to both places often. Two more states with a big fat check mark! We have been to Florida twice, but will only count it once. We have also vacationed in North Carolina, New York, New Jersey (another two-time stop), Tennessee and Michigan. Just a few weeks ago, we traveled to Washington DC, not an actual state. We did however hunker down in Virginia, which was admitted to the union in 1788. Another one bites the dust! On the way to our nation’s capitol,we drove through West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland.  (We did stop in Morgantown, WV twice for lunch.  Should that count as a visit? What about the drive-thrus?)

So, if my math skills are up to snuff, we have spent time in eleven states and the District of Columbia. We have passed through an additional four states, which includes a jaunt through Arkansas on our move north from Texas.  That is a grand total of 15 states, or 30% of Junior’s goal. Not too bad for an eleven year old!

I neglected to mention that we have spent time in Canada, and are planning a trip to Germany in the next year or two. I may not encourage Junior to add foreign countries to his list. He can travel to other continents as an adult, on his own dime. I do expect, however, that we will continue to chip away at the list over the next several years, or as long as he still wants to vacation with mom.

Hope on the Horizon

On ABC’s nightly news one evening this week, they profiled a story on diabetes. It seems that researches have developed an “artificial pancreas” that does it all-monitors blood sugar, determines the necessary amount of insulin required after a meal and then delivers the prescribed amount of insulin.  No finger sticks or needles. (Currently at mealtime, my son must first check his blood sugar. Then we calculate the amount of carbohydrates in his meal. We then inject enough insulin to “cover” the carbs.)

My son and I watched the piece together, and were amazed at this new technology that may become available within the next few years.  (Junior was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes almost four years ago. We live within the confines of this disease 24/7. ) My son had one comment at the end of the story-“I will just be able to eat again!” It is our hope that one day a cure will be found and my son will be able to open a refrigerator or pantry door and “just eat.”

Goodbye M.J.

I am not ashamed to admit that I have shed a tear or two or five since learning of Michael Jackson’s passing. I was a HUGE fan of his albumn, “Off the Wall.” I can remember blasting that particular cassette as I drove around town in my orange VW Beetle. I kept right on listening and buying his music well into the 80’s. On April 25, 1988, I was fortunate to witness his talent first-hand at a concert in Dallas, Texas. As my friend, Shawn, and I sat in our seats, I couldn’t help but notice the faces in the crowd. There were people of every race and color, ranging in age from children to grandmas. I had never before (and probably never since) seen such a diverse crowd at a rock/pop event.

On the day after his death, a local radio station played non-stop Michael Jackson music. We had three different radios at work all tuned to this one location on the dial. We sang and reminisced our way through the day, and managed to get some work done, too.

I do not actually believe in placing celebrities/entertainers on any kind of pedestal. I choose to think that this type of “worship” should be reserved for the heroes searching for a cure for diseases such as AIDS, cancer or diabetes. Or, just everyday folks who devote their lives to charity work. However, I just felt like writing about Mr. Jackson in an effort to honor his amazing talent and his gentle, giving, often misunderstood soul.


As the calendar changed from March to April, life’s pace picked up and I have been running ever since, trying to keep up. I feel like I have been on auto-pilot for the better part of three months, and am pleading for some much-needed down time. It wasn’t just a jam-packed schedule that found me feeling squeezed. I have been experiencing an almost claustrophobic feeling living in my suburban neighborhood. Suddenly, the five feet or so that separates my property from my neighbors on the right and left, feels confining, restrictive-not unlike the image of a 13-foot boa constrictor wrapped around my neck. I feel sandwiched in between two not-so-positive energy forces, and feel my own life energies draining. And, if that were not enough, I also have two acquaintances who have individually appointed me their own personal Dr. Phil. (I guess that would be “Dr. Phyllis”.) They phone me at all hours with their tales of woe created from their self-induced dramas. I feel like all of my invisible boundaries have been invaded. I have been wrung out like an old dish rag.

The pressures induced by the “big squeeze” have left me daydreaming of a home somewhere in the country, nestled in between tall, towering trees, where there are no barking dogs and loud neighbors, and cell phone towers are non-existent.  Just me and the peaceful sounds of nature. A recent change of venue (read:vacation) has buoyed my spirits somewhat, and I do foresee several dates on the calendar with nothing scribbled inside the box. The two damsels-in-distress have refrained from calling, at least for now, and I feel less intruded upon by my neighbors. I am not exactly sure if these recent feelings are the result of stress, perimenopause, old age, or all of the above, however, I do hope that someday I will be writing from my cabin in the woods…….


In one of my very first posts (perhaps even my first post), I wrote about the impending fiftieth birthdays that several of my friends would be celebrating (maybe “dreading” is the more accurate term) this year. I went on to brag that even though I will reach my 49th year in August, I am still just “30-something” in my mind. I hope that no one actually believed that nonsense!

The ever-increasing number of candles on my cake have resulted in many unpleasant and unwanted changes to my anatomy. Beginning at the top, my once perfect vision was gone in the blink of an eye. One day I could read the fine print on the back of a children’s Motrin bottle, and the next day not one letter was legible. I now own several pairs of magnifying glasses, which are stashed in nearly every room in the house. I am certain that very soon, I will be investing in one of those chains that you wear around your neck with a pair of my extra eyes always in reach.

Moving south, I now have developed perpetually chapped lips. This past winter, I experienced what I thought was weather-induced drying out of the lips. Not so! It has been been as hot as 90 degrees and humid here, and I am still applying lip balm daily. I can only surmise that my lips will never regain their youthful self-moisturizing ability, and that I should consider purchasing stock in the manufacturers of Chapstick.

One of the most distressing age-related morphs has occurred to my thighs. In my 30’s, I developed a small amount of cellulite on the back of my thighs, near the top. Fast forward to my early 40’s, and it began to take over every aspect of my thighs-front, back, top, bottom. My exercise regime can no longer stave off the dreaded influx of these unsightly dimples. (Aren’t dimples usually thought of as cute? On one’s cheeks or chin-YES. On one’s thighs-NO!)  I recently caught a glimpse of my thighs up close and personal in a department store dressing room. I immediately realized that these are not  “30-something”  thighs. Wake up, Joan. Your driver’s license, birth certificate, and passport do not lie. You ARE almost 49 years old, and you have the vision, chapped lips, thighs and memory loss to prove it. (More on the memory loss issue another time…..)

Oh well, as my husband used to say, “It’s better to embrace each birthday, because it is better than the alternative.”