Mid-Afternoon May Day Surprise

May first is our wedding anniversary. This past Friday was our thirty-fourth. I took a day off from working at home and turned it into a three day weekend.

Before Terry went upstairs for a nap shortly after noon, he warned me to answer the door if the door bell rang. Since I had no where else to be, I stayed in the living room, watching obscure dramas I stumbled across via the Tubi channel on our Roku. As foretold by Terry, sometime around two or three o’clock the doorbell rang and I receive a beautiful bouquet from a local flower shop with a note that brought tears to my eyes and warmed my heart.

Click photo to see rest of album.

Next year, our thirty-fifth, we hope to spend a weekend in a remote location, preferably a dark sky site, so we can enjoy some star gazing and some peace and quiet. I’m hoping for a Flint Hills cabin or camping site myself. But we’ll see. We have a year to plan.

Author Two-for-One on May the Fourth

Strange first week of May so far for 2013.

My apple trees started blooming on May Day:

May Day

Terry and I celebrated (as best we can on a Wednesday) our 27th anniversary.  He bought me a bouquet and card and a gift (which I won’t share here but greatly appreciate):

Anniversary Bouquet

The very next day, May the 2nd, it snowed.  For real.  Since I had to drive through it, I didn’t take any photographs, and most of it melted as it hit the ground.   Visiting authorial dignatory John Scalzi commented on the situation via Twitter:

My own photo taken after dropping off my Hallmark riders at 7:10 a.m. on Thursday morning, May 3rd, facing north with the Sheraton (fka the Hyatt) where Mr. Scalzi was probably still snoozing:

North from Crown Center

Saturday morning, May the 4th (officially or unofficially international Star Wars day), I put $20 worth of gas in the Bonneville.

Why is this significant? I wanted to meet a couple of authors signing during a book fair at the RT Booklovers Convention hosted by the Sheraton at Crown Center.

Because I drive a vanpool, Terry and I don’t fill up our personal vehicle but once a month or every six weeks. From long experience, I know I need a minimum of three gallons of gas to make a trip to Kansas City and back home. Three gallons of premium (required for both of our Pontiacs) is close to $4 a gallon (I think I paid $3.699 at Quick Trip yesterday), so I rounded up to the nearest $10 increment. I also grabbed $20 cash from an ATM so I’d be able to buy the book fair pass ($5 at the door). Parking at Crown Center is free on the weekends (Huzzah!).

So, for $10 in gas, $5 at the door and free parking, I got to meet two of my favorite authors:

RT13 Book Fair Excursion
John Scalzi, author of The Human Division, recently released in hardcover and earlier released as a serialized ebook.  Shown here signing the only print edition of one of his books that I own, Zoe’s Tale. Oddly, it’s also the only one I have yet to read.  I own all the rest of his books, but in ebook format, and didn’t think having my Nook Color or new Samsung Note II signed would be a good idea.

RT13 Book Fair Excursion

Sarah Zettel, author of The Quiet Invasion, one of the best first contact stories I’ve ever read, and the Isvalta series.

I almost didn’t find Sarah in this chaos:

RT13 Book Fair Excursion

Authors were spread out across a dozen rows of tables in alphabetical order, except for headline authors like Scalzi, who were segregated along a back wall (or a quiet corner in Scalzi’s case):

RT13 Book Fair Excursion

Sarah should have been on the last row near Scalzi, but only one other “Z” author sat there and it wasn’t Zettel. I despaired of traipsing slowly through all the rows, mostly because all these other authors really didn’t have anything I would go out of my way to read. The entire convention was sponsored by “Romantic Times,” a genre I normally avoid like the proverbial plague. I’ll tolerate a well written romance, if it’s a subplot in a fantasy or science fiction novel. Otherwise, I’ll pass.

I did find Sarah, in a special section devoted to young adult readers. Her latest book, Dust Girl, is apparently in that subgenre.

I returned home, arriving back before noon.  Terry and I topped off our anniversary celebration by grabbing the last two available VIP seats for the 7:30 p.m. showing of Iron Man 3 at the Legends 14 Theaters.  We liked it and we sat through the credits to watch the Easter egg final scene.  Cute.  The only thing missing was Black Sabbath or even some AC/DC in the sound track.  I think it would have been a nice touch over the final montage before the credits rolled.

Roxy Remembered

Roxy (Christmas 2011)
Roxy (Christmas 2011)

One year ago today, Terry and I laid to rest Roxy, our beloved yet ditzy female Rottweiler.  I find it imminently appropriate that today is also the dark of the moon.  When I walk out to the van this morning, I will quickly and easily be able to find Sirius, the Dog Star, the brightest star in the heavens, a fitting reminder of the brightest memories I have of Roxy.

Crouching Tiger, Dying Dragon, Springing Snake

Terry, Derek and King (Easter 1987)

Tomorrow, I celebrate the 27th anniversary of my journey into motherhood.  And the little bundle of joy I brought kicking and screaming into the world twenty-seven years ago, arrived safely, after a long drive north from Texas, to visit us just before 3:00 a.m. earlier this morning.  In a strange juxtaposition of events, tomorrow also happens to be the last day of the Year of the Dragon. Even stranger, Derek was born on the very first day of the Year of the Tiger in 1986.  Sunday begins the Year of the Snake, the second for my daughter, since as she turns twenty-four in June.

My feelings about this past year are mixed and bittersweet.  Part of me grieves with the passing of my fourth Dragon year and part of me is disappointed with where I am, what I’ve accomplished (or failed to accomplish), where I’m going and what, if anything, there is to look forward to by the time the next Dragon year rolls around.  Right at this very moment, I’m not even sure I can muster any enthusiasm about it’s arrival or whether I’ll make it another twelve years to enjoy it (or not).  Gloomy, I know.  Perhaps it’s a by-product of two consecutive days of insomnia.

Derek Supporting the Lotus F1 Team
Derek at the USGP (Nov 2012)

But enough of my maudlin thoughts.  I came here today to write a short blog post celebrating my son’s birthday.  I haven’t seen him since last November, when all of us (my husband, my son and his wife, my daughter and her boyfriend and myself) traveled to Austin, Texas for the return of Formula 1 to the United States.  Derek opted to support Kimi and the Lotus team (see photo at left) in direct contradiction to his father’s preferred team, Ferrari.  I was clearly the underdog, since I cheered for Michael Schumacher.  Today, though, I am very excited to have both Derek and his wife, Royna, visiting us.  All I have to do is survive a gauntlet of meetings at work today followed by the commute home. Then I’ll be able to spend quality time with both of them.  I even ordered his favorite type of birthday cake earlier this week.  I’ll pick it up from the local Dairy Queen tomorrow morning.

Derek (2nd Place, 69kg Division) USJA Junior Nationals (July 2000)

My biggest adjustment to ’empty nest’ life has been a less hectic schedule for the last four years.  During the last Year of the Dragon (circa 2000), we traveled all around the country, taking Derek to compete at regional and national judo tournaments.  That schedule only increased through high school with the addition of wrestling, soccer and lacrosse. My Saturdays are decidedly quieter, as compared to a school gymnasium crammed to the rafters with screaming parents and ten or twelve wrestling mats. And warmer, compared to all-day tournaments in the early spring for soccer or lacrosse.

I do miss the excitement, though.  Watching him compete.  Or even listening to him sing at a choir concert.  The quiet life sometimes has its drawbacks.

Royna and Derek
Royna and Derek (Nov 2012)

At least I have him, and his wife, for the weekend. I take what I can get when it comes to visits from my kids.

Happy Birthday Derek!

Five Thousand Eight Hundred Forty-Four

Days … but who’s counting?  Apparently, I am.

Yesterday was my 16th anniversary with my employer.  Oddly enough, I had completely forgotten about the anniversary until my boss entered my cubicle, late in the afternoon on Wednesday, August 1st, and presented me with a card and token gift.  Very strange indeed, since I hadn’t seen him in probably ten days and he usually misplaces or forgets things like anniversaries and birthdays.

But the real highlight of my day came when I met an old friend and her husband for dinner and a jazz concert.  I’ve known her just as long as I’ve been employed, although she up and retired earlier this year.  We still get together, usually once a month for this first Wednesday concert, called Spirituality and All That Jazz, but sometimes for lunch as well.  Last’s night’s theme was:

The Sensational Swingin’ Saxes
A Night of Exceptional Sax Educators Cutting Loose
performing with Tim Whitmer & The Consort Band

Dueling Saxophones
Todd Wilkinson and Jim Mair (click image for rest of album)

I surprised myself by leaving the camera bag in the car.  Serendipitous in that I could then attempt to take some better photos than I could have managed with my cell phone camera.  The lighting at Unity Temple isn’t the best, so I changed the ISO to 800, and eventually 1600, but most of the photos I took were very blurry.  I took a few from up front and those turned out better.

The group played mostly jazz standards, including Duke Ellington’s ‘Things Ain’t What They Used To Be” (in honor of the Royals); “Stella by Starlight”; a Harry Allen chart called “Jake’s Lament”; a Charlie Parker chart called “My Little Suede Shoes”; “Body and Soul”; “The Preacher”; and they closed out the concert with some blues … “Blues Up and Down.”  I missed some of the song titles because I couldn’t always understand Tim or Todd (less gain on the microphone and/or better diction please).  The second song I recognized, and could almost hear the words being sung in my head, but for the life of me I don’t have any idea what the name of it might have been.

The concert wrapped up shortly after 8:30 p.m.  I said my goodbyes to my friends and hit the road home.  The sun had already set and the full moon (well, three hours short of being a full moon) had risen behind me.

I had a great time, catching up with friends and enjoying some amazing saxy jazz or jazzy saxes … take your pick.

Sweet Surprise

Anniversary Flowers
26th Anniversary Flowers

I came home last night to a sweet surprise waiting on my dining room table from my wonderful husband:  Beautiful roses, a thoughtful card and a gift card to my favorite local clothing store. I thought I’d share the flowers with friends and family here.

Since Terry hasn’t been feeling well the last few days, we relaxed around the house, watching an episode of Chopped All Stars we’d recorded on the DVR and a couple of last week’s Jeopardy episodes.  We ended the evening playing nine holes of Frisbee golf via Wii Resort Sports.  Just like we did last year when we played real miniature golf, we tied (one under par for both of us).

Tonight, provided Terry feels up to it, we will meet up with a couple for dinner and attend the annual KCKCC Jazz night at Spirituality and All That Jazz, hosted at Unity Temple on the Plaza.

Here’s more on tonight’s performance:

Kansas City Kansas Community College Jazz Extravaganza

KCKCC Big Band, Latin Concert Band & Vocal Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Jim Mair, Jurgen Welge & John Stafford

A full night of Jazz is in store by the Kansas City Kansas Community College Jazz Department, under the direction of Jim Mair. They will be showcasing their 17-piece Big Band Jazz Ensemble, and the 9-piece Latin Jazz Band. These groups have performed at the Montreaux, Switzerland Jazz Festival and are the first and only Community College Jazz group to perform at the New York City JVC Jazz Festival. They’ve also received invitations to play at the Puerto Vallarta, Hawaii and Morocco Jazz Festivals. They will also be featuring the chorales of the #1 Vocal Jazz Ensemble in the Kansas City Metropolitan area directed by John Stafford.

Remembering and Missing My Grandmother

Doris Andrea Visitation June 2011
Doris Andrea Visitation June 2010

The first anniversary of my Grandmother’s passing is tomorrow, which also would have been her eighty-ninth birthday.  I preserved an electronic copy of her obituary and my memories (compiled a couple of days before she died).  I still have not had the courage to view the video I recorded of her memorial service held last June at Foxwood Springs chapel.  I at least backed the raw video files up to a DVD though (something I should have done months and months ago).

All of Doris’ children are gathering in Ohio to attend her youngest granddaughter’s wedding this weekend.  I shall miss them, as I miss her, and wish Katy and her groom abundant joy and prosperity in their new life together.

Continue reading “Remembering and Missing My Grandmother”

Family Funk

Dreary Early Sun Over KCMO Skyline Wed 08 Jun 2011
Dreary Early Sun Over KCMO Skyline Wed 08 Jun 2011

I can’t seem to shake this funk I’m in.  All motivation for any activity has evaporated from me.  I could blame it on the heat, but that would be a lie, since I’ve felt wonky from back in May when the lows at night were still in the 40s.  I have many hobby and home projects I could be planning and prepping, but the minute I get home, I just wilt.

Terry tries to make me smile in many gracious and loving ways, and it helps me get through the evening.  He makes fresh sun tea for me and greets me at the door with a tall glass of it.  He grills and smokes the most amazing cuts of meat.  He creates delectable appetizers, salads and side dishes, all ready and waiting for me the minute I get home.  And even though he’s chronically ill, he manages to keep the house in tip-top shape, despite Apollo’s ability to shed three or four times his weight in fur.

I complained about cloudy skies, yet when the clouds disappear and the sun bakes the Midwest to a toasty 100 degrees in early June, I can’t be bothered to drag up the telescope and attempt to see the supernova in M51 (near Ursa Major).  I can’t justify staying up late (and by late I mean past 9:30 p.m.), waiting for the sky to darken, since I must be up by 5:00 a.m.

Rachelle (mid-May 2011)
Rachelle (mid-May 2011)

I forgot to buy a birthday card for my daughter, who turns twenty-two this Sunday.  Not that she’d be home to receive said card.  She’s traveling, again, to Boston next week.  In fact, she’s on a plane Sunday (her birthday).  It’s been five or six years since Rachelle has actually been home (or even in the same state as me) to celebrate her birthday.  She tends to travel routinely on her birthday.  Last year, she turned twenty-one while studying abroad in Germany.

I opted to stay home this weekend and not travel like the rest of my father’s family to Ohio for my youngest cousin’s wedding.  My dad is on the road now, heading east, while his brother is on the road, heading west from Virginia.  The impromptu Andrea family reunion will converge upon Ohio this evening and continue throughout the weekend.

Next week, my mom is scheduled for surgery, for which I’m taking a day off to transport her to and from the hospital.  At least she has finally found a blood pressure medicine that has few side effects.  The following day is my aunt’s birthday, another one I routinely forget but this year I will get a birthday card and I will send it to her.  I even put it on my calendar with double reminders to text me on my cell phone.

Dad and I (circa 1980s)
Dad and I (circa 1980s)

And a week from this Sunday, is Father’s Day.  I’ve reminded the ‘adult’ children to get their cards and gifts in the mail soon.  I just hope my dad makes it back from Ohio in time to celebrate, not that we need an excuse to take him out to dinner.

My son and his wife are prepping for their interviews.  More on that after the fact, as I don’t want to jinx anything.

I used the word (or contraction of two words to be precise) ‘can’t’ many times in this post, something I usually avoid vehemently.  I strongly believe that ‘can’t’ never did anything.  Perhaps if I purge ‘can’t’ from my system, I’ll also free myself from this funkiness.

One can hope.