“Midnight Strikes”


“Midnight Strikes”

The clock is ticking, the ball will drop

the year is ending at midnight o’clock.

Counting it down, it’s fading fast

a few more hours, it will be the past.

Toss your dreams, way up high

in that final hour, light up the sky.

Make a wish in the black of night

close your eyes and hold on tight.

Another year has just flown by.

A new year comes when midnight strikes.

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We will not speak of this again


I was still in “Santa” mode as I prepared to spend a few days after Christmas with my kids in Waco.

There was one small issue I dreaded…………the drive.

So I planned my MO carefully.  My son and his girlfriend would meet me the day after Christmas around 10:00 a.m. and we would hit the road shortly there after (after the morning traffic cleared out), with an ETA of about 2 1/2 hours later.

The kids were a little late, but not much.  We made a quick stop at Starbucks for Lattes and we were on the road.

What I didn’t factor in………..was the traffic (everyone was suppose to be back at work) AND missing a very important exit ramp.  Oops!!

How do you miss a numbered exit by about 15 exits and 60 extra miles outa the way?

That’s right……..60 (plus) long miles.

Apparently it’s not hard for me.

I have a Garmon………where is it you ask?  It’s is sitting on a shelf in Jasper and I’m in Houston.

Not doing me much good there, now is it?

But I do have my trusty iPhone with my “Maps” application, which has gotten my outa many a wrong turns. 🙂

Why didn’t I use my trusty phone?  Well………..I typed in the address, picked my route and feeling rather cocky (I’d driven to Waco a few times before), I looked at the directions one time and said……….”I got this!”

Wrong!!

I was so off in so many different ways it wasn’t even funny!!!

First, I ignored my “Maps” suggested route of taking the “toll” road and just hopped on the interstate highway I needed to be on that would take me straight to my exit for Waco.

How in hell was I suppose to know it was going to take me an hour and a half in stop and go traffic just to get out of the city?

Then…………….how was I to know, that the 4 lane freeway went down to 2 lanes because of construction………….taking us 40 minutes just to get down to where the 2 lanes started!!!

Can you say “Road Rage”???

We are 2 hours well into our trip and we are just barely outa Houston!!

Seriously!!!!!!

This was going to be a long day……….

Along about Huntsville there’s a break in the traffic and our speed picks up.  I decide to make a quick restroom stop…………I’m getting ready to make up some time.

So I think…………….I was soooooo wrong.

I set the cruise and settle in; I know I’ve got several miles to go before my exit 189.

But not as many as I think………………

Along about exit 196, things don’t look familiar and I’m thinking the exit should be getting close.  “Super Mom” mini-me begins to doubt herself and wonders why she hasn’t seen any signs saying “Waco”.

“Keep driving; I’m sure it’s just a few more exits.”

Exit 206…………”Super Mom” mini-me is no where to be found.  She has been replaced by “Dumb Blonde” mini-me asking, “Did I miss the “Waco” exit?  That sign says Dallas – 80 miles.”

Holy Smack!!!!!!  I’m going the wrong way!!!!

Just so you know…………there is no “Waco” sign on I-45.   (*&^%?@!!!!!

I consult my trusty little iPhone and it confirms………….I’m way off course.  So I take the next exit and get new directions from my “current location”.

The mini-me’s are talking amongst themselves………….so we don’t alarm the children.  My son’s girlfriend Jessie, is napping in the backseat and my son Daniel, is riding shot gun.  He hasn’t said a word; until we exit the interstate and turn down a small black-top road called “Ranch Road” something, something.

Finally he says, “Is this right?”

Me ~ “It is now.”

Daniel ~ “What you mean NOW?”

Me ~ “I missed the exit.”

Daniel ~ “MOTHER!”

Jessie is awake and sitting up like a rocket in the backseat, not saying a word, but fully alert.

It is at this point that I realize “Ranch Road” something, something; is an actual “Ranch”, “Road”!!!

“What a dumb blonde” all the other mini-me’s say.

I’m driving in the middle of freakin’ nothing on a little black-top road with barbed wire fences on both sides.

I consult my trusty phone.

It says I’m going the right way.

Daniel ~ “How far on this road do we have to go?”

Me ~ “32 miles.”

Daniel; spinning around like a top to face me, laughing hysterically, “Ooh…..32……..MILES!!!!  How far outa the way did we go?”

Me ~ “I don’t know.”

Daniel ~ “Then what?”

Me ~ “It says, when the road ends turn right.”

Daniel ~ “What??”

Me ~ “You heard me.”

Daniel ~ “Let me see your phone.”………….”Oh my Lord; that’s what it says.  We’re lost.”

Me ~ “No we are not.  The phone says we’re going in the right direction!!”

Folks……..do you know how far 32 miles is in the middle of nothing???

Endless…………….

After 40 minutes of driving on this “Ranch Road”, I say; to no one in particular, “Did I miss a turn?”

Daniel ~ “How could you, we haven’t come to the end of the road yet.”

Cutting my eyes at him I quietly tell him, “Hush”.

50 minutes and 32 miles later, we reached the “end” of the road.  Mini-me “Dumb Blonde” says, “I told you we were going the right way!  Just a little ways down this road and we’ll be back on track!”  We turn onto another small, black-top road called “FM” something, something.  “Dumb Blonde” mini-me knows that “FM” means “Farm to Market” road (because we have those where she comes from) and it’s just as narrow and windy as the last road.

Daniel ~ “How far down this road?”

Me ~ “11 miles.”

Daniel ~ “Hum, 11 miles.  Then what?”

Me ~ “Turn left on 3rd street, go 8 miles……….,through a town I’m thinking; then turn left on Hwy 84.  I know my way from there.”

My son turns and looks at me, “Really????  I doubt that.”

Cutting my eyes over at him I quietly say, “Hush.”

11 miles down the “Farm to Market” pig trail, 8 miles through town, 6 more miles (following the signs) to Hwy 84 and I am finally on a familiar road.

Bubbly, I say, “It won’t be long now!!”

Daniel ~ “Uh, huh.”

The next road sign says………..Waco ~ 48 miles…………….

All of my mini-me’s say, “You’ve gotta be freakin’ kidding me!!!” and my son says, “OH………MY………LORD!!!”

There is not a sound from the back seat.

Driving along quietly, I say, “We will not speak of this; our added scenic route.”

Daniel ~ “Never.”

Silence from the back seat.

Five and a half hours later, we reach our Waco destination.  We are so thankful just to get out of the car and I’m so anxious to see my little diamond.

My daughter greets us, we all hug and exchange “how are you” and I’m kissing on a sweet little cherub face when my daughter says, “What took ya’ll so long?”

No on says a word; you know, kinda like we didn’t hear the question.

She then says, “You got lost didn’t you?”

Quickly I reply, “Weeelll……NO!!”

From outa no where, a sweet angelic voice says, “She missed the exit off the interstate.”

The quiet, back seat angel, that didn’t say a word through the whole ordeal; just ratted me out!!!

My daughter looks at me, “MOTHER!!”

My son, “And we went about 160 miles outa our way!!”

All bug-eyed I’m looking at both of them ~ cutting my eyes from one to the other; I quietly say, “We were not to speak of this.”

Jessie just giggles and my son sadly shakes his head.

I tell my little diamond, who is looking at all of us, “We almost went to Dallas, yes we did.”

My daughter exclaims, “Oh my gosh!!!”

Her husband Paul, who is usually very quiet, can’t help but laugh.

I just look at him.

I snuggle my little diamond, who is smiling at me and I feel all of the days frustration melt away.

Cutting my eyes at all 4 of my grown children, I quietly say, “Hush.  We will not speak of this again.”

Ever so faintly, I hear a sweet, angelic giggle……….from my quiet passenger in the back seat.

“‘Twas the night before Christmas…………”


“‘Twas the night before Christmas…………”

“Twas the night before Christmas…….up in Santa’s crib

he’s getting things started, for getting things did!

He’s rockin’ jingle bells, he’s screamin’ ho, ho, ho’s,

the man in the suit, is ALL in the know.

He’s studied all the lists, consulted all his elves

cranking up the music, they work to fill the shelves.

Blaring through the speakers, Pandora’s turned up loud

they’re grooving to the beat, they’re cranking toys out.

No time for something soothing, Perry Como or Kenny G,

Santa’s on a mission, he’ll give them what they need.

Nickelback and Train, Beyonce and Jay Z,

Carrie and Miranda, Usher; and Jason Aldean.

They wobble as they work, they shuffle as they stack;

booty grind and butterfly, the elves aint’ holdin’ back.

Santa knows his helpers; what gets their blood to pumpin’,

he cranks it even louder, you see the speakers thumpin’.

They’re bustin’ out the moves, the ones that have no names,

they’re filling all the stockings, it’s time to fill the sleigh.

They’re all doing hip hop, a little doesy doe,

they’re passing down the presents, in the sleigh is where they go.

Santa’s at the helm, Pandora’s popped on quick,

he’s rappin’ to the reindeer, they’re jammin’ with St. Nick.

They do the reindeer hustle, they’re pawing with the beat,

booty twerking Santa, is stirring up the heat.

His team is getting antsy, the music makes them move,

rockin’ roll Santa, will be flying with the groove.

He’s turning up the volume, the sleigh begins to dance,

the reindeer know it’s time; they’re stomping and they prance.

Winking to his helpers, he plays some air guitar,

gives the reins a little flick; he’s off like a shooting star!

The elves stand and listen, they watch the strobing lights,

as their rockin’, jammin’ Santa, starts fading out of sight.

You can hear the speakers thumpin’, Santa shouts with all his might,

“Merry Christmas to all and a rockin’ good night!!”

What to get Who


It’s not that I don’t like gift giving, it’s that I don’t like searching for a gift to give.

It causes me stress.

So I was delighted when we (family) said we wouldn’t do gifts this year.  That meant I didn’t have to feel that holiday anxiety of having to decide what to get who.

Right……….who was I kidding.

First my daughter tells me they are staying home for Christmas; it’s just to hard driving for hours and packing for days with a new baby.

“Mom why don’t you come see us?”

That’s a great idea, but I can’t go empty handed; so I’ll take my grand daughter a few things.  And since I’m getting my grand daughter a few things, I’ll pick-up my 3 year old step grand daughter a few things.

She told me she wanted Barbie; that should be easy enough.

After all Christmas is for the kids.

Hummmmm……….my daughter and her husband are kids, right?

They’re my kids.

So it’s only right to get them a little something also.

Right??  Can’t leave them out.

Then my son calls, “Hey Mom, I’m off the whole week of Christmas and I’m coming to stay with you!”

WHAT??

“But I’m going to Heathers.”

“Great!  When are we leaving?  Jessie’s coming to!”

OMG!!!  They’re my kids; gotta get them a little something; wouldn’t be right to leave them out.

I feel my anxiety building, “Calm down Jeri, it’s just a few little things.  No biggee.”

Not wanting to disappoint my mother, my son and I will be spending the day of Christmas Eve with her.

“Christmas will be “slim” this year, but I’m glad all three of my girls will be here.”

“Slim??  I thought we weren’t doing gifts?”

“Oh, it’s just a few things.”

Well, I can’t be the only one there not bearing gifts.

I feel the pressure rising and I’m running outta time.  This is the part I dislike………deciding what to get who!!

My few things has turned into many things!!  My Oz has turned into WhoVille and the Witch of the South has turned into the Grinch!!

I’ve made my list and I’m checking it twice…….three times………four times………running outta time!!

My baby “who’s” ~ check

My daughter “who” ~ check

My son-in-law “who” ~ uh oh

My son “who” ~ uh oh

My son’s girlfriend “who” ~ check

My mom “who” ~ uh oh

My step dad “who” ~ uh oh

My sister #1 “who”  ~ check

My sister #2 “who” ~ uh oh

My nephew “who” ~ uh oh

I have more “Uh Oh’s” than I do “Checks” and looking at the number of bags with purchases, it should indicate the “Checks” and “Uh Oh’s” should be the other way around.

So much for no gift giving.

So much for “just a few things for the kids”.

So much for “no stress” on what to get who.

I better get dressed, times a wastin’!!!!!  I still have a few “who’s” to check off my list.

It’s gift cards next year………

for real!!!!!

I say that every year 🙂

“Tis the season, from WhoVille in Oz!!

First and Last


Last Thursday evening I attended my last Christmas party with my work “family”.  It was bitter sweet for me and took all my strength to hold it together through the evening.

Months before it was decided one of the cost saving measures would be to eliminate the company sponsored Christmas dinner; so a few weeks ago a few people got together and decided to put together a little celebration.

We were going to have a progressive dinner with a “Chinese” gift exchange at the last house.  It was a great idea and everyone was excited.

The day of the party, I had yet to buy a gift.  I had only done these exchanges a couple of times and each time it was different.

One year it was “Dollar Store” gifts, another year it was “nice” gifts (as nice as you can get for $10) and one year it was “nice” gifts, but one person didn’t get the memo and that person brought a “Dollar Store” gift…………..

Guess who ended up with the “Dollar Store” gift?

That “Mini Me”, who brought a “nice” gift, was none to happy to have a plastic flash light.  And to add insult to injury, there were no batteries!!

But it’s all in fun right???

So this year I was a little hesitant about what to bring.  I consulted my co-worker and friend, Kay; who would also be my date for the night.

I walk in her office and ask, “Ok, is this a “gag” gift exchange or a “real” gift exchange?”

She laughed, “I know there’s a difference, but I bought a “real” gift.  My rule is, always buy something you like………you may end up wanting it back!”

So off I go.

It’s cold in my house so I’m always using blankets.  I find a pretty ruby red, plush, velveteen blanket coming in just under the $10 mark.  I snatch it up.

I can always use a pretty blanket.

The evening comes and my date picks me up and we head off to the first house.  Along the ride I tell Kay I took her advise and tell her about my blanket purchase.

The evening “progresses” full of fun, good food and laughter.  We arrive at the last house for dessert and the gift exchange.

You all know how these gift exchanges go; the general idea is the same, but the rules are different each year.

Our hostess and my dear friend Trenna, is passing around the bowl for every one to draw a number, all the time blurting out this years rules.

“You can only steal a gift 3 times and the 3rd steal that gift is “dead”.  You want to pray for the lowest number or a high number; lowest number gets last pick.  Good luck!!”

Ok, let me just say…………..I wasn’t paying much attention to her.

The bowl came around to me.

I rummaged around those little slips of paper and pull out #2…………

of 30!!

That’s right, 30 numbers!

@#$%@&!!!!  REALLY??  That’s an awful number in this game!!

Or so I thought.

My friend (through thick and thin) of 15 years, Celestine; pulls out #25.  I immediately; laughing, say, “You should trade with me!”

She ~ to willingly says, “Ok!”

I think she knew more than I did, at the time, about this silly game.

Of course I told her “no” and that I was only joking, but she kept trying to get me to trade.  In the end I kept my rotten #2.

Everyone has drawn and we have all gathered ’round the living room to get the gifting started.  I’m sitting next to my dear friend and hostess, Trenna.

She calls out, “#1, who has #1??  Hello, who has #1?”

No one answers.

My friend ~ “Hey, someone check the bowl and see if the #1 is still in it.”

From the other side of the room ~ “Yep, it is.”

Excitedly, she looks at me, “Jeri, you’re first!!”

Smiling I reply, “I guess I am!”

What I was really saying was, “Damn it to hell!  Why are you so excited??  REALLY??  #2 was bad enough, but #2 has turned into #1 and that’s awful!!  I only get one pick!!”

I look at all the wrapped gifts and quietly do an “Eny, Meany, Miney, Mo!” and pick a BIG bag.

Big is always better right??

I open up a Hot Chocolate gift set with Snowmen mugs.

More insult to injury…………

I don’t drink hot chocolate and I collect Santa’s not Snowmen.

I’m already thinking about who I can re-gift it to!!

Shame on me.

Along about #13 or #14 my blanket is opened.  I sigh and think to myself how I don’t even have a chance to “steal” my own “safe” gift back.

At these exchanges there’s always a couple of “hot” items.

You know what I’m talking about……………

the ones people……….steal!!

The stealing this year didn’t start until higher up in the numbers. The two “hot” items……….

A flash light (REALLY!!  It was magnetic.  It was pretty cool.) and ………..

my blanket.

My blanket was opened.  My dear friend Trenna, who has; like #29, leans over to me and says, “That throw is mine!”

I smile, thinking, “Lucky you!!”

The blanket is stolen for the first time.  My dear friend says, “I’m getting that throw!!”

We’re getting up into the higher numbers; the flashlight is stolen again and the blanket is safe.

My dear friend leans in, “That throw is……..MINE!”

Along about #27, from across the room, my long time friend Mark; shouts, “Jeri, you’re gonna have a lot to choose from!”

Confused; I ask, “What are you talking about?”

My dear friend beside me, leans back all bug-eyed and exclaims, “The #1 pick gets the very last pick!!”

Me ~ “WHAT??”

Somehow I had missed that part of the rules; I guess I wasn’t paying attention.  🙂

My dear friend ~ “Well, yeah!!”

I look at my long time friend, “Really?”

He smiles, “Yep!”

OMG!!!  Hot damn!!  Thinking to myself…………..”That throw is MINE!!”

We’re down to my dear friends number and she steals my blanket.  Excitedly she says, “I told you that throw was mine!”  I just smile, “Uh huh”.

Silently saying, “That’s what you think.  That throw is mine girlfriend!”

The gifts have all been opened.  My long time friend says, “Now you get to choose.”

Me ~ “From ANYTHING?”

Everyone ~ “Yep.  Unless the steal is “dead”.

I lean into my dear friend, “You know I love ya right?”

She smiles, “Yes I do.”

Smiling, reaching, I whisper, “That throw is mine!”

Shocked; squeezing it, she says, “But I need it!”

Me ~ “Not as much as I do.  It’s cold in my house and I’m single!”

Handing it over, “I can’t argue with that!  You do need it more than me!”

Holding my blanket, we said our “Good nights” and “Merry Christmas”.  My friend and date, Kay; is waiting in the car.  I climb in and I as I shut the car door she says, “Aren’t you glad you bought something you liked and needed?”  We both laughed, having just had the conversation early in the day about the possibility of bringing home your own gift.

As I prepared for bed in my cold house, I think about the great fun I had with my work “family” and how much I would miss them.  I crawled into my bed, where I have thrown my new ruby red blanket on top of all the other blankets.  Snuggling down, blankets to my chin, sadness filled me; but I smiled and said to myself, “Oh yeah, this throw is mine.”

It will be one of my fondest memories, when being first meant saving the best for last, and what fun it was to share with my very dear friends.

Ho, Ho, Ho!!!!!!

“Bowl full of Therapy”


I have just discovered a new therapy.  It doesn’t cost me a dime and since I am newly unemployed and no longer have insurance (YIKES!!!); free is all I can afford.

A friend from work gave me a large bag of pecans.  At Thanksgiving I made pecan pies.

I shelled a few for my pies.

I tried a new recipe.

I didn’t like it.

I will go back to my old faithful one and not waste my pecans……..

As I shelled, I thought to myself how time consuming and tedious it was.  The shells cut my thumbs and made them sore; and I spent lotsa time making sure I removed all the little “bitters”.

I was glad when I finally had enough for my pies.

This week has been a very emotional week for me…………hell the whole year has been an emotional roller coaster.  I would compare it to a roller coaster I rode at The Kemah Boardwalk called “The Bullet”.

First of all, at (then) 48, my thought was; “What the hell was I thinking?” and my second thought was,  “I’m to freakin’ old for this!”

A wooden roller coaster with twists and dips and drops that beat a poor body to death; then comes to an abrupt stop that gives you horrendous whip lash.  At the end of the ride, you want to just sit in the cart for a moment just to try to gather your thoughts that had just been rattled around inside your head!!

I hurt for days afterwards and vowed never to do it again!!!

There’s still a few weeks left in the year, but this week my cart came to an abrupt stop.

Yesterday, lucky Friday the 13th, was considered my last official day of employment with the company I’d worked a total of 20 years for.  Based on financial struggles; it was in the best interest of the business, to close the department I worked in and move it to a regional level.

It was a sad, frightening day; having to leave “family” behind and wonder about my future.

As I drank coffee at my kitchen counter I stared at a bowl of unshelled pecans.  I thought to myself, “I’ve got nothing else to do, I’ll shell a few pecans.”

I picked up those silver plier, nut crackers things and began……………

I squeezed, I busted, I snapped, I peeled, I picked and I chunked in a bowl………..

one after the other.

2 hours later, I found myself sitting on a bar stool at my kitchen counter having shelled more than a “few” pecans.

My cart had come to an abrupt stop and I needed some time to gather my rattled thoughts.  I found I could spend hours shelling pecans as therapy for my sadness, frustration, worry and even anger.

With each squeeze of those silver nut crackers, I released a little of something.

With each crack, pop and crumble; something else would let go.

At the end of my “session”, I felt I had been successful.  I felt a little better and I had a bowl of shelled pecans.

The best things about my new therapy……………….

no appointments necessary, walk-ins are always welcome and it doesn’t cost a dime.

I get a delicious pecan pie outa the “session” as well, if I choose to 🙂

I may feel a little beaten and bruised by life’s roller coaster ride, but…………..

here’s to abrupt stops

and a bowl full of unshelled pecans.

This to shall pass…………………….

“Empty Desk”


“Empty Desk”

The shelves are empty
the walls are bare,
the clock is ticking
the time is here.
Shut down my computer
no emails to read,
my desk is clear
all task complete.
One last time
I’ll close my door,
turn in my key
that’s needed no more.
Stare out the window
where I’ll no longer sit,
thinking about
all the people I’ll miss.
Leave my badge
on my empty desk,
look around me
but there’s nothing left.
The back door is waiting
the “exit” sign shines,
I’ll walk through it
one final time.
I walk down sadly
the familiar steps,
we always complained
when they were icy, wet.
I walk to my car
there’s dew on the grass,
I promised myself
I wouldn’t look back.
There’s no one else here
I sit in my car,
my 18 years
has taken me far.
Driving out slowly
my job here is through,
watching my building
as it’s leaving my view.

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