Rabbit Habit

The street we live on, Flamingo Drive, should be renamed Rabbit Run. There are a gajillon bunnies on our short little avenue. Every morning when we ride to school, little bunnies pop out of every bush and hole. Adorable. Just like this fella. SQUEE!

bunny under the stairs
If we see two bunnies, we call that a Double Bun. Three? Triple Bun Fun. Four? Quad goals.

Except. These rabbits have a habit. Of almost dying! They are a touch suicidal. They run in front of my car. They hear the car and run towards it. Confused.

I, of course, brake when I see any movement. I only go around 15-20 miles an hour because there are some dumb bunnies. I grew up in the country, so I know what it’s like driving around squirrels, rabbits and deer. Once I brake, their spell is broken and they run in the other direction.

Run, bunny! Run!

I watch for bunnies and the Ghosts of Venice (I call them). Old people who drift in and out of the fog. I don’t want any innocent, yet careless, creature’s life in my hands. With the bunnies, I would fear retribution from the multitudes.

Thankfully, I am a cautious driver, always on the alert. 10 and 2, always focused, and keeping an eye on those bunny bushes.

NOT ON MY WATCH, Bun!

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12 Days of Driving

I drive for a living. I love my job. It’s so easy and the pay is great. The hours are amazing. Plus, I have the best boss. THE best boss I’ve ever had. Such a nice guy. So easy-going.

I pick up labs (body fluids, of course contained) and take them to the main downtown hospital super lab. Easy-peasy, liquid squeezy.

The other day, I arrived at one of the clinics. The staff have a strange penchant for feeding stray cats (and by accident, raccoons and vultures) in the back-of-the-strip-mall parking lot just behind their clinic. It’s sort of like Grey Gardens without the elaborate outfits and dilapidated old house. This is where I park before I enter their facility.

There’s usually at least one cat in the lot. Waiting around for scraps. But the other day it was like Black Friday at Wal-mart or a new version of The Twelve Days of Christmas:
3 trash pandas
2 mangy vultures
AAAAAND 1 gray and white alley caaaaaat!

I’d never seen so many scavengers in one place, even at Dr. Doolittle’s. They all sat waiting just outside a vast clump of bushes. Wonder what was in those bushes? I really don’t wanna find out.

Food? Dead animal? Dead body?? EEEK! I just grabbed my labs and split!

Happy Holidays! Try singing The Twelve Days of Trash Panda. 🙂 LOL

Mini Canvas Shell Art

So, on my medical courier route, I met this really nice young woman. She’s a lab tech/nurse. She has a family, husband, young daughter, possibly more than one child. I don’t know her that well, but she’s been one of the kindest people I’ve met in Florida. Her birthday was earlier this month, but I just found out. She mentioned it in passing on another topic.

So. I made this for her.

mini canvas shell art.jpg

Do you think she’ll like it?

The size is only like 2″ x 2″. So those are tiny little shells.

I bought the frame for under $5? Possibly even $1. I don’t remember. Had it forever. And I found the shells on our beach. Painted the picture black (because it was hideous little, weird cacti in orange and green and brown, and not the good kind, gag!), epoxy’d shells to the canvas/cardboard insert backing thingie, and made a button hanger for the top. So this project was $5 or less. Crafty Beaver on the loose!

I hope my new acquaintance likes this small gesture and I hope I make a new friend! 🙂

Even if she is just my nicest route client (and we are never friend-friends), it’s nice to be nice to nice people.

How could you not want me as a friend? When I make cool stuff and give it to you? LOL 😉

Hope everyone has a great day and a great weekend!! Love you, Friends!

Go With the Flow

My dad was dying. I didn’t know it at the time, but he was would be gone within two months. He had end-stage lung cancer and could no longer drive. So I had to cart him around. Which he hated. So did I.

He’d lost all autonomy and that was hard for him. A fiercely independent, strongly opinionated man. He couldn’t even decide to go home from the hospital at his leisure. He wanted to die in his own bed. He finally got his wish.

One day, we were taking the interstate home and I was dutifully going the speed limit. I was afraid if I went over the limit, Dad would say something. Criticize me. He did anyway.

“You need to speed up. Move with the traffic.”

At the time, I was extremely annoyed, but all I could mumble was, “Sorry.” And I put the pedal to the floor.

There, Old Man.

“Why do you have to find fault with me in everything I do?” I wondered.

Too fast, too slow. Too lazy. Too everything you think I shouldn’t be. But your sick. So I’ll just keep quiet and take it.

But today, when I remembered his nudge (I still think about and remember these things, ugh), I thought, “Thanks, Dad. Good advice.”

I drive for a living now. All I have is time in the car to think about things, past and present. Too much time, perhaps. It’s like all the thoughts you ever have when you’re working out and in the zone.

I’m a very good driver. I pay attention and know a thing or two about cars, thanks to my father. He was a mechanic by trade. He taught me how to take care of a vehicle, inside and out, and how to drive one.

I know why I was so sensitive at the time. Any opportunity my parents had to correct me was unwelcome and resented. They behaved in ways that grownups shouldn’t: fighting, engaging in unfair behavior, inconsistency, neglect. They were normal parents from the 80s.

Who are you to tell me anything??

And I held them accountable with my teenage indignation. Except, it didn’t help and I was just as wrong. Even if I was totally justified in rebuking their correction, they were still my parents. And they were, on the whole, usually right. Or steering me in the right direction.

I’m 44 now and much more confident about who I am and how well I drive. I’m well-adjusted and have worked through most of my past. I take criticism, for the most part, in stride now (thanks to mandatory art school critiques). 😉

Today I’ll just say, “Thanks, Dad. You were right.”

I miss my dad. I mourn all the years I lost to his mental and physical illness. But I also mourn all the years I lost growing up without him or knowing him as an adult.

He never saw my daughter. I know he would have been proud of the job I did/am doing with her. I wish he could have held her, heard her, helped her. But it was enough that he ever did that with me. I can only remember a handful of times, but it was enough.

I forgive you and I’m sorry, Dad.

I am, in fact, employable.

I got a job. Finally.

After months of looking and trying different things, I found a job. A good one. It’s only part-time, but it’s a start.

I’m driving for a medical courier company. Locally owned company and super friendly people to work with, even at the medical facilities.

I rode for the first time yesterday and everyone seems nice. You basically pick up bodily fluids (blood, urine, what have you!) from the doctor’s office and deliver them to a main lab, downtown, at a hospital. I won’t mention names since it’s confidential. And everything is sealed, bagged and kept in a cooler, so totally safe.

I’m not thrilled about being in a job that uses so much plastic, non-reusable bags and gas-powered vehicles, but this is the job. It’s super easy, flexible and pays well. I wish I had an electric car, then it would be even more lucrative and better for the environment. Maybe in the future I can afford a gasless car. That would be great.

But in spite of the impact on the environment, I am providing an essential service for patients. I can’t believe there isn’t a better way to transport lab work, but I don’t know enough about the industry yet to say. It’s 2017 though. Where’s the jetpack lab service we’ve all been dreaming about? Or on-the-spot blood and urine analysis with micro-biobots? Is that a dream everyone’s been having?? LOL

It’s something to pay the bills, get us by, and not have my soul slowly sucked out of my body in a mindless corporate atmosphere.

Plus, I start tax school in just a few weeks and that I’m looking forward to. I don’t support the current tax structure, but it’s what we have and I can’t wait to understand it better. I can still attend the school for free and it fits with my new schedule. Awesome!

And, of course, I’m going to still try and get Crafty B Designs off the ground again, start my party planning adventures, write my socks off. 🙂

It feels good to be productive again. To have my brain and body back. To find my determination and exuberance as well. I had them in my 20s. I missed you, Life.

I do have some really bad ear and jaw pain right now, but not enough to slow me down. I have a doctor’s appointment September 28th to rule out thyroid cancer residual nodules in my lymphnodes or such. Fingers crossed. Hopefully it’s just some weird sinus/ear tube thingie that’s easily treatable yet annoying as heck. And hopefully they won’t require a lab sample! LOL They would make me take it to the lab myself, I’m guessing.

So I’m no longer Taxi Beaver for people, just their fluids. ;D

Sad-urday

Yesterday was a sad day for me. Really tough. But fascinating.

I was a mock juror yesterday for a local mock trial firm in the Tampa area. I can’t say who I was working for or what case we were hearing. But I can say it was for a car accident working towards a civil settlement.

I should explain. Real case. Real accident. Not a real judgment or decision we were offering. It was a test before trial. The two parties involved were trying to reach a settlement and determine how a jury might find.

Needless to say, the occupants of the car had their lives changed forever oh-so many nights ago. It was hard to hear and hard to evaluate/judge. Who’s right, who’s wrong, who’s responsible and for how much.

It was a grueling almost-12-hour day for me, but a drop in the bucket compared to the families affected by the incident. Negligence was at play, on the part of the driver, along with recklessness. Many other jurors agreed.

I think we all assume too little when we undertake the responsibility of driving. We often take for granted the luxury of driving and allow ourselves to be distracted. Easily. How often do you rummage through your purse while driving one-handed? How often do your children ask about the mysteries of the universe or where their favorite toys are or if they can have some treat from the backseat while you’re navigating from Google Maps while negotiating a multi-ton vehicle on a 70 mph highway? How often are you looking for the perfect driving music on your phone or radio or CD player? Instead of 10 and 2 and using your peripheral vision to spot surprised deer, raccoons, rabbits and other cars and people!

I am a freak about my driving. I rarely let others drive me. I’m a defensive driver. Overly cautious. Sometimes too much to the frustration of my husband. I have driven professionally and pay close attention to the road. I often drive with two hands, white-knuckled! But even I make mistakes. Big mistakes.

The driver from yesterday made a big mistake. The biggest mistake a person can make. And he blamed everyone else.

That was tough.

Ever made a big mistake and instantly wanted to take it back? Ever made a big mistake and blamed the world around you, immediately, because you couldn’t accept the weight of your own idiocy? Ever made a big mistake and no one noticed, but the guilt inside ate away at you silently? For years? Ever made a big mistake and lied about it and no one ever knew?

We all fall short. We all sin. Small and big. And we all get grace. That’s tough. The rain falls on the just and unjust alike. None of us deserve grace. But we’re all made in the image of God. That’s tough. Because to find God’s face in someone so evil or ugly or un-remorseful is almost impossible. Almost.

So I’m going to pray today. For that young man. For this country. For myself. For those who died. For those that will live with their mistakes and consequences. Pray for God’s will and perfect plan.

That’s tough.

88

Slow down, you move too fast.

I met a gentleman this morning with the most lovely accent. From Virginia. He was 88. I could listen to him talk all day.

I knew moving into this driving job, I would meet interesting people. Aromatic people, talkative people, desperately lonely people. But I had no idea I would meet magical people.

“I just need to stay alive and keep a house going.”

That was his mantra all morning long.

Two things to keep in mind when you’re 88:

  1. Stay alive! (very important)
  2. Keep a place going (also very important)

Survival and shelter. Can’t argue with that.

I carried him to Winn-Dixie to get some groceries. From here on known as grosh. As I helped him out of the car and into the store, he kept reciting things he would be doing. He was full of helpful tips and practical suggestions. To everything he stated, to affirm I was listening, I replied, “Smart.” and “Good idea.”

He would reply, in the most charming Southern drawl, “Smart?! Only way to go as I see it.”

I love you, sir. Let me help you with your grosh.

Two things to keep in mind when you’re 44 (exactly half his age, that would be my age):

  1. Stay alive
  2. Keep a place going

Got it. Smart. Only way to go as I see it.

Moved

Haven’t written in a while! Finally moved, halfway through unpacking. Got internet service back! Phew. Feeling like a human again.


I knew I wouldn’t be able to write on the way down to Florida. That bothered me a little. I was driving through Missouri, making our way toward St. Louis to head down south, and I could feel the pull to write. That was cool, but at the same time–anguish. I have blogged so much lately, I couldn’t process my feelings without writing them down. All I could do is think and form perfect, evaporative sentences that would vanish with the miles behind me. You know, what non-writers do while driving. 🙂

I relearned my pre-writer meditation of sorting out problems and quieting voices without written letters. It was hard to adapt, but accept it I did. It was frustrating at first, but I settled into churning waves of beach-pounding thoughts of what-if and what-not. Regret, remorse, remembrance. Sorrow, love and forgiveness. For myself and others. A photo album of feelings to flip through while Florida-bound.

The rest of the time was spent talking to my daughter, laughing about silly signs and license plates and even having the dreaded chats about sex, physical maturity, venereal disease and tampon use. UGH! Hard conversations in a car with your teenage daughter while looking for the nearest bathroom. Road trip!

It was great though. Except for Nashville traffic. The highway interchanges in the bowels of the Country Music Capital of the World were hellish. I almost crashed my car and caused my husband to crash the U-haul truck and trailer he was driving. Not fun. But we had to keep going. I was confused, tired and snarled in traffic with my husband behind me. I just wanted to stop, but we were behind schedule and had to make it to Valdosta, GA that night. We only made it to Dalton.

My husband and I agreed to stop and rest. He rose before us and headed out early from the motel. God bless him. I don’t know how he did it. I was not able to catch up to him (I could go faster than he could with a truck), but he made it here to Florida just a little late. He’s my hero for that. We (mainly he because he had the truck with our stuff) had to meet the movers and he hauled house to get here. No speeding, no tickets, no accidents and our furniture made it with only a few scratches. I’d rather my dining table legs suffer a few scrapes than any of my loved ones.

We followed up just a few hours later, but the movers were already done when I got here. 10 minutes before I rolled up to the door. The timing was perfect because if I had to look at the messy back of a truck any more, I would flip bat-guano-crazy out. Movers paid, showers taken, food eaten, lights out.

Here are some pictures of our trip and first week here in sunny Venice, Florida. I am so happy.

martha laughing
A little out of focus, but Lilli’s first time shooting a human subject. Not bad! And I love that I’m smiling so big. Happy to be out of the car for a few moments on the road.
taking a break
Taking a break on the curb at random gas station. Happy to be out of the car as well!
eyes in the bush
Lilli took this one! Cool! Looks like eyes in the bush. Yikes! It’s some intersection stoplights though. Phew. 🙂 Good shot! Nice bokeh!!
lilli park palm 2
She’s a Floridian now!
happy
My uniform. I am not beach-body ready, but it gets hot! Gut bare, don’t care. Too happy and busy to worry about what I look like to others. I’ve seen worse.
raccoons
Aggressive raccoons! Stealing fellow beach-goers unsecured snacks. Dang! Funny to watch, but the picnickers were nervous and irritated. Lock up yer snacks!!!
guilty raccoon
Filthy, guilty raccoon. But so darn cute.
green rocks 2
Have you seen anything so gorgeous? Rocks below beach platform we viewed the Gulf and sunset at Caspersen Beach (shark tooth capital of the world?)
guy beach
A rarely-requested snap for his mates back home. Truly at peace. :*
sunset 2 marino beach
Gorgeous sunset from our private beach.
sunset marino beach
More.
sunset marino beach 3
*Angels singing*
wonky shot sunset
I love this wonky angle.
sunset almost gone
Almost gone.

My daughter watched the sunset; she was still and quiet. As we got up to head home, she looked me in the eyes, “I am so thankful to God.”

Not to me. Not to her parents. Not to anyone or thing but God. That touched me so deeply. That’s what you want to hear as a parent. Not pats on the back of “You’re the best, Mom.” But deep-down gratitude to our Savior and Provider.

I am so thankful to God, too. Glory be.

Superior Mother

The pic above was from my childhood home. I gave it as a present to my mom this morning for Mother’s Day.


Went on a day trip today with my mom. It was fun. As a surprise for Mother’s Day, my husband, daughter and I took my mom down to her hometown of Aullville. We took pictures and stopped at a local eatery for some unusual dining, The Belarussian Bakery.

Aullville, MO has a current population of 100. In its heyday, my mom said 200. 🙂 Small town.

It was adorable. Mom showed us her old house and the two churches in town.

It was a great day with lots of memories for her and history for us. We stopped back in Higginsville on the way home. Home of the Huskers! lol We took pictures of the old movie theatre where she saw pictures for a nickel! Then we spotted lunch.

We ate at The Belarussian Bakery, a unique find in Missouri. The food was delicious and extremely flavorful. Home-cooked and savory with a Russian influence. We would definitely go back. An old, large brick home with many rooms. It has that old gas smell of a home from the 19th century, but it’s so cute. And once the kitchen is going, you can’t tell. It has a well-kept interior with reasonable prices. If you’re out that way, stop in. If you like old-timey cooking and houses.

What a great day. It was a successful surprise. We didn’t tell her until she sat down in the car. She was a good sport to let us kidnap her. 🙂 It was an honor to hear Mom’s stories and see where she spent her formative years. Hope you like the pictures.


aullville.jpg
Aullville Exit! 45 minutes out of KC.
aullville grocery
Used to be the bank.
bw aullville baptist
My grandmother attended church here. Aullville Baptist Church
bush
I think she said this was honeysuckle? Is that right, Mom?
chrstn church
My mother had her first picture taken here at the age of 5. This my daughter on the side of the same church. Aullville Christian Church
church
Same church. West side. So beautiful. Caught a lens flare.
bw truck
Pickups & Peonies–Cool, old truck on the other side of the street. Made it black and white in Photoshop. Love it!
bw house
Mater’s homestead. They lived here in ’38-’44? Is that right, Mom? Still standing. But vacant.
country road
Beautiful country lane.
fence
Love a good fence line.
davis theatre
Old downtown Higginsville movie palace. Movies were a nickel? Shot this, did not crop, did not fix the color. Love this shot. Love the angles and the wonky set up.
belarussian flowers
Flowers at The Belarussian
belarussian table
Photo Credit: Lillian Maggio, Vibrant colors at The Belarussian
belarussian two lillies
My two Lillis. Lillian, my daughter was named after Mom.

Matthew 6:28-29 NASB
“And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.

These Lillis are beautiful!


I saw this silo today. It had SUPERIOR at the top.

silo.jpgI have a superior mother. One of the best. We haven’t always seen eye-to-eye, but that’s pretty normal, right? God saw to it that I had what I needed. A mother who loved me all the way to here. Even when I was ungrateful.

I had a father who was rough, but a mother who was gentle and kind. Everything that I am? I owe to her. She made me, cradled me, cared for me more than any person on the planet. She wants to see me succeed and helps me to do that. Thanks, Mom. I know you love me. And I love you so much. Happy Mother’s Day.

Some days, you were all that I had. And that was enough.

May Field Trip

Photo: Flowers from the creek bank near my childhood home, April 30th, 2017.
April showers bring May flowers!


I’m sitting here with the windows up and the fan on. It’s damp outside and sweet breezes through the screen. It’s definitely May.

Growing up in a rural community in Missouri meant soppy mornings and fresh cut grass in May. Everything would be dew-doused by dawn, even without rain.

Elementary school field trips. I remember May days because they were cool in the morning, warm by afternoon and full of field trips. Field trips were exciting. The whole day would be an adventure without any hint of panic. No class and sack lunch with soda. As a kid, new activities were welcome without any anxiety. When did that change? Outings nowadays usually invoke stress and nervousness. Why do we have to get old? Burnt? Used?

The most panic-producing element of a field trip, under the age of 12, is:

“Will I have a buddy for the buddy system??!”

I had enough friends during my elementary years to be assured a friend for field trips. So. I was good.

I remember going to a plastics factory, a General Motors automobile factory, Liberty Memorial?, Fort Osage, and Truman Library. I don’t remember what years we went where, but I remember being in 80s running shorts, on a bus with cool May air flowing through the windows on my slightly-damp hair. Buddied up and ready for lunch at 9:00 AM.

I’m going on a field trip this Saturday with my mom, husband and daughter for Mother’s Day. It’s a secret where we’re going. I do feel excited. I’ve got my buddies and I’m sure we’ll have lunch somewhere. 🙂 With windows down and hopes up!