Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Mystical Game of Self-Improvement

A friend (who will remain anonymous) and I have decided to venture down an interesting path of potential self-improvement. My friend's idea; a good one, I thought, so I elected to play along.

Some background. In theory, it is said, it takes something like three weeks of continuous work on changing something about oneself for the change to stick (frankly, I think it's a lengthier period of time). Anyway, my friend said (and I am paraphrasing), "If I chose to change something I don't like about myself each week for a year, that's fifty-two things. Hopefully, after a year, some number of them will have stuck".

To make it a game with RULES, each thing will be assigned a card from a normal deck of playing cards with changes pertaining to relationships being a Heart, to activities a Club, to Sins (I take this to mean anything from bad habits to character flaws) a Spade and money-related items a Diamond (one of my additions since having studied the Tarot, I know that Diamonds = Pentacles = money).

Finally, the lower cards, such as 2s, 3s, 4s, etc., would be for fairly simple/easy changes; conversely, the face cards would be for much more difficult things with the Ace being an almost impossible feat (but one, by definition, likely the most worth the ultimate effort). So, as an example, an attempt to always enter checks, withdrawals and deposits into the checkbook might be assigned the two or three of Diamonds; conversely, a desire to give 10% of one's income to charity might be the Queen of Diamonds.

In mulling over how I might attack this, I got to thinking I'd be likely to start off picking things that either were not that hard OR that I was already doing (such as the checkbook example above). I'd likely continue in this vein until all I had left were the toughies and then I might give up out of sheer frustration. I thought what I might do is, each week on the appointed day, draw a playing card out of the deck and then decide what change it represented. Of course, each week, I'd have to make sure I removed the cards I'd already used and then there is the potential problem of not being able to come up with anything for that card.

Mr. B suggested that I sit down BEFORE starting the game and come up with the change represented by each of the fifty-two cards. Not a bad idea, except, I'm not sure, frankly, that I can conjure up fifty-two things I want to change about myself right now. As with many things in life, this type of effort can be pretty fluid and subject to, well, change. Something I think I want to work on in September of 2011 in the activities area may not be pertinent by the time I might draw that card four or five months later.

Am I over thinking this maybe? Probably!

In the end, I've decided to tie my game to the Tarot. Why? Well, first, because I have a real cool Tarot deck that's been gathering dust, but, mostly because each of the fifty-six minor arcana cards, which roughly correspond to a normal deck of playing cards but with four extra face cards (the Pages), pertain to something in particular (generally speaking as nothing in the Tarot is terribly particular), thus, will provide a bit more guidance/structure as to WHAT to focus on. Arguably, this doesn't work quite as well with the lower cards being assigned easier changes but I suppose I can modify it somewhat to making those change on the lighter side. And, if I end up doing pretty well with this, I can tackle the 22 additional cards of the major arcana; the real heavy hitters, such as The Chariot, Justice, Strength, The Tower and Death. And yes, I realize dear friend, that I've just added half a year to my game!

In the true spirit of reality show TV, I'm going to take this one step further and chronicle my game right here on Mrs. B's Brilliant Blog. Hey, it's not as if I've been writing much about anything these days, anyway, so, as my friend pointed out, this will also serve as fodder.

On Monday October 3rd I'll draw my first card and the game will be a foot.

Mrs. B

Monday, September 19, 2011

Gimee's Writing

My brother Nathaniel and I decided to exchange REAL letters, as in, "putting pen to paper, paying for a stamp and placing it in the snail mail". Problem is, he had trouble decyphering my writing. I TOLD him he would and offered to type; he declined.

I should have mentioned to him the long list of other people who can't read my writing. Heck, my staff used to place bets on what I was saying in the notes I left them! College friend Don simply gives anything I've written to his wife, my good buddy Kathleen, to read to him and BFF Peri, after knowing me 40+ years, can't always determine what I'm saying. Even my Mr. B says, "I can USUALLY figure it out".

Once, when helping the Durham Symphany address envelopes for a mail campaign, one of the old grande Southern dames of the organization held up a stack of envelopes and announced to the room, "What IS this? WHOSE is this?" I pipped up and admitted it was my work. She said, "Did you grow up in a FOREIGN country?" I said, "No, I grew up in California", to which she replied, "My, my, my, how UNUSUAL!"

Oh, and the "Gimee" part? In 10th grade, I decided to change the spelling of my name from "Amy" to "Aimee". Apparently, my "A" resembled a "G" as first one, then another, English teacher referred to me as "Gimee". 30+ years later, one of those teachers STILL remembers he used to call me "Gimee".

Not much has changed in this regard; when I was switching our ADT account from NC to FL, the customer service guy said, "The name on the account is ATT B******? That's an odd name!" No, not "ATT" but "AH". And, so, the beat goes on!

I have no idea how my writing evolved to this "hieroglyphic" style, but, frankly, it's ME.

Mrs. "Gimee" B

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Beach Venture

So, we took the goofy dog to the beach yesterday afternoon. Although there are many beaches in the area that allow dogs ON leash, this appears to be the only one that allows dogs OFF leash. It's located in Venice, which is roughly 20-25 miles from our house. Maybe a bit farther. Anyway, it didn't take us long to get there.

When we got there (about 1:00 or so), it was sorta quiet. A few people/dogs in the dog park area that you have to walk through (multiple gates) to get access the section of the beach that is dog friendly. Thankfully, Lucy strolled on by the doggies getting hosed down (sandy); she was anxious to see what this was all about!

After a hefty crap ("Hey, ma, new place, gotta leave my load!"), we eventually made it to the beach. Most owners let their dogs off the leash from the moment they were inside the dog park; not us. We had NO idea what she'd do.

So, the beach itself. HOT HOT HOT sand. Kinda marshy (definitely not the best section of beach but still lovely); lots of folks with pooches running about with Frisbees, balls, other water toys. Blankets, towels, small beach umbrellas abounded; one set of people even had a small pup tent set up.

We dropped our gear (not much; a few towels, a mat, Lucy's water bowl and a bag of pita chips) and took her on down to the water's edge. She wasn't sure at first but she did eventually walk into the gentle surf and swim around a bit. After a few minutes, we decided to let her off leash and see what she'd do. Well, she basically ran off down the beach, investigating everyone and everything. Thankfully, she did not get into it with any dogs but she also did not listen to her voice commands to come back. We slapped the leash back on her. A little bit later, we tried again; same thing. Frankly, we're not sure if she really just didn't know what to do or if she was truly ignoring us. But, the leash went back on and stayed on. She swam a bit more and then promptly rolled around in the sand. Digging in the sand appeared to be a lot of fun, too.

After about an hour, we'd all had enough. We walked back to the dog park, hosed her off (she did NOT like this part) and then drove into Venice's main drag to stop and have a pint or two at TJ Carney's, dog-friendly Irish pub. Lucy did great there; she loves to people watch (and bird watch and squirrel watch). We enjoyed the two for one drafts.
Lucy under the table at TJ Carney's. I forgot to take my camera onto the beach.

We do think we'll take her back to the dog beach and try again. We mused that perhaps it'll just take her a few times of watching the other dogs to get the hang (sorta like me in Yoga class!) If all else fails, we could probably "pretend" to leave and that'll keep her close by.

Mrs. B

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years On 9.11.11

"When I despair, I remember that all through history, the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they seem invincible, but, in the end, they always fall. Think of it--always."

Mahatma Gandhi

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Au Revoir Mais Ne Pas Adieu

Now that we're pretty much settled into our new home (this means the majority of the boxes are unpacked and those that are not are hidden in closets), I'll take a moment to reflect on our departure from Durham; the hard part, the "saying good-bye" part. And, also, post a few pictures from the last family get-together we held in the Durham house.

It seemed fitting that, despite the fact the majority of our worldly possession were packed into cartons and boxes, we had the gathering at our house; back in 2006, many of the same folks were with us celebrating our purchase of that house when all that was there was a table and chair set we'd recently purchased and a few boxes we'd brought in a U-Haul. That night, December 19th, 2006, we slept on blankets on the floor in our bedroom; me, Mr. B and our now departed Clyde. That was before Lucy; before the cat colony, before a lot of things. Ah, memories, they can certainly be bittersweet.

And, so, almost five years later, our family gathered, as we had done many, many times throughout those five years, to hang out in the kitchen and visit, share food and drink and watch the children play. Of course, that first time, there were not yet any children to watch play. Yet another significant change that time has brought.

Thinking about this, I am struck by the similarities of a time many, many years prior. The year was 1969 and we, my mom and dad and my sister and I, were staying with my maternal grandparents on the eve of our departure from Indiana to move to San Diego, California. Earlier that day, we'd taken the obligatory "good-bye" pictures in front of their house and later visited with many of the extended family. The next morning, we were up bright and early; and I can still remember sitting at my grandma's kitchen table eating those small Hostess donuts covered in powdered sugar with my grandpa.
Grandpa and Grandma with Mom Summer 1969
Dad, Grandpa, Grandma, (a quite little) Mrs. B and Mom

I wonder what, if anything, my brothers's children will remember from their last visit to Aunt Mamie's and Uncle Mark's North Carolina house?
Mrs. B AKA Aunt Mamie, with Sophie (left) and Holly August 2011
Sophie and Jacqueline
Mrs. B with Holly, her bros Jon and Doc and Mr. B
SILs Analee and Shannon
Doc checking out the dwindling B's booze supply
Kendal and Grandpa

My mom told me years later that leaving her family in Indiana was extremely difficult, especially considering how close they'd been, how frequently they'd seen one another and how unlikely it would be that they'd see each other any more often than once a year. Of course back then, there was no Internet, no email, no instant chat, no Facebook, no Skype; in fact, even phone calls were quite expensive. Folks had to rely on the good old US Postal service to facilitate much of their communication. And, certainly, it wasn't as affordable to travel, either. It wasn't "adieu"; but, it was a pretty long "au revoir".

Which brings me to an explanation for the title of this entry.

Many, many years ago, I took French in junior/senior high school (and later, college). As happens, I don't recall a lot; "J'oblige beaucop de ma francais!" but, there are certain things I'll never forget; one of which is the difference between two salutations which mean "good-bye". Unlike English, where "good-bye" can refer to all sorts of situations, the French are much more specific. "Au Revoir" is used when you WILL see the person again, regardless of the length of time between meetings. On the other hand, "adieu" pretty much equates to, "This is IT; we'll never see each other again, EVER".

Leaving our NC family was tough, to be sure. My heart ached for both Mr. B and The Kid as they said their farewells and even I, tough old step-mother broad that I am, found water in my eyes as I gave her a big hug and kissed the top of her head. I've already blogged about the emotional good-bye I shared with my youngest brother and also the tug of the heart strings when I stood next to my mom for our obligatory good-bye photo.
Mrs. B and Mom August 15th, 2011

Unlike with her and HER mom, however, it won't be a year before I see her again and I can also reach her much more often via cell phone, email and the like. Still, it's tough, it always is, to leave; to walk down a different path and turn your back on the one you were just on.

But, I remind myself frequently, this is "au revoir mais ne pas adieu"; "good-bye, but not for forever".

Mrs. B