Mid-Life Ramblings; Sanity Optional

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Hometown/Small Town

I write today from my parent's computer. E and I came here to hook up their DVD player and straighten out their address book in Outlook Express. [vbg] We live about 90 miles away and don't get here very often.

I grew up in this small town of about 15,000 people. We moved here when I was five, just before the twins were born. Nearly every childhood memory I have takes place in this town. I spent most of my teenage years screaming about getting out of this town as quickly as I could the moment I turned eighteen. The smallness made me feel smothered. Everyone here pretty much knows everyone else. Small towns are famous for residents who are all in each other's business and this place isn't any different.

In my younger years I thrived here. Our Catholic school was small so we got the best education to be had here. We had a neighborhood full of kids so there was always someone to go outside and play with. It was safe enough here for us to take off on our bikes and ride around all day. Those were the days before cell phones and pagers. Our parents didn't worry about us. The rule was that we were not to leave the city limits and had to be back by dark. We were everywhere around this town. It is actually still that safe here. :-)

The downside to this town is there isn't much for teenagers to do except ride around making "the loop". I wish I had a dollar for everytime I drove "the loop". I'd still be making money because I can't help but drive it every time I return. [vbg] There's no industry here either so it's hard to keep kids here once they graduate. I certainly had no intention of staying here once I finished high school.

I went to college about 45 minutes from here and that lasted a year and a half. I got tired of school quickly and instead of striking out on my own to a big city somewhere, I came back home. I got my job with the Sheriff's Office and ended up staying there seventeen years before I moved off to a "big city".

When I left here finally I was thrilled. I was doing what I always said I was going to do. I headed off to a city of about a quarter million and reveled in anonominity. But anonominity can only get you so far. I slowly realized that I missed going to Wal Mart and knowing half of the folks there. I missed being personal friends with the Mayor, the Sheriff, and the District Attorney. I missed being invited to social events at the museum and being involved with the community theatre. I missed being recognized.

Now I revel in coming back here for a quick visit. E rolls his eyes when I insist upon driving uptown to see what has changed and what has stayed the same but I just ignore him. There is a Cajun restaurant here that serves boudin and fried chicken that I must eat at when I get to town. I ate there every now and then when I lived here but now it is the taste of my hometown. My mom and I just rode through a new subdivision and had a blast trying to figure out who was buying the property out there and what they were going to do when it floods again like it did about 38 years ago. [vbg] We rode by my old house that I built in 1986. The trim is now sky blue and I had a huge laugh over that one.

It seems as if everytime we come here something has changed or something is new. I was amused to see that a classmate of the twins is now running for City Council. But as much as this town changes, it also remains the same and that's a huge comfort to me. This town is no longer the place I'm running from. Now it is a place I come running to when I need to see my parents or just be in my comfort zone. While I doubt I'll ever want to live in another small town, I'm no longer afraid of being swallowed up by this one. Instead it has become a source of peace and I like that.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Old Friends

E and I had the best time Saturday night. We went out with some old friends of mine that E had never even met before but had heard a lot about. T, F, ER, and I worked together at the Sheriff's Office a lifetime ago. In fact, T hired me back in May of 1981. He was the chief deputy then.

T was a young chief deputy in his early-thirties when I went to work for him. I was a mere babe of nineteen. He was full of life and drop dead funny besides being a born leader. Everyone at the Sheriff's Office loved him. He was a cowboy when he wasn't being a cop. I soon came to learn that he was the glue that held that place together. The Sheriff we worked for was a nutcase, literally. T was the guy that ran interference between us and the Sheriff. We never knew what the old man would tell us to go and do; half the time it was something not quite legal. We knew all we had to do was tell T and he'd tell us to ignore the order and he'd smooth it over with the Sheriff.

F was a patrolman and not much older than I was. I started out in communications on another deputy's shift. After a year, I switched over to F's shift and we bonded immediately. He was very much like T - down right hysterical, full of piss and vinegar, and a cowboy. F very soon became the big brother I never had. We wound up working straight night shifts for nearly five years (at our own request). It was heaven on earth. We didn't have to deal with the administrative crap during the day time and got to just do our jobs at night. Several other patrolmen came and went on our shift but F and I always remained. We loved our jobs and did them well but managed to have a great time along the way.

ER was my training officer when I arrived as a green nineteen year-old. She had been at the Sheriff's Office for ten years by then and was the best of the best. On my first day in the radio room we had a prisoner escape from the wash rack in the back of the courthouse. I watched with amazement as ER took control getting reports out to surrounding agencies and coordinating search efforts which finally paid off with his capture later that evening. I remember thinking that I'd never be able to do all that at once and yet by the time I left there I could do all that at once blindfolded. ;-)

ER left communications and became juvenile officer. When she got burned out a few years later, T offered the job to me and I left F's shift to move over to investigations. ER was the office manager there and life was good. I loved being an investigator and didn't do only juvenile work but did adult cases as well. I would have stayed right there if I could have investigated adult cases without fooling with juveniles. I burned out on juveniles in about three years. I realized I couldn't investigate one more molestation case and retain my professionalism. So it was back to communications (my first love) for me.

Around that same time, life began to change there. As an attempt to take down the crooked Sheriff, an investigation was begun that ended up with the FBI and State Police in our hair for nearly two years. By the time the dust settled, the Sheriff had faked a heart attack, thanks to his son-in-law the doctor, and T was off to spend a year in the Federal pen. Rather than take those who really deserved to go with him, T took the rap alone. As 1990 began, T was off to prison and F had left to work at another agency. ER and I remained but our office looked like the home for the walking wounded. Our once close "family" members had become victims of the war and life as we knew it was over.

Another Sheriff took over in 1992 and ER and I stayed were some of the very few that he kept on. The old Sheriff never went to jail and never admitted to his crimes. He wound up pleading no contest to one felony while the man who had worked hardest for him spent time in prison. I never forgave that old man and was glad to see him gone from public life.

I left the Sheriff's Office in 1998 and ER stayed on until she retired about four years ago. Until Saturday night, the four of us hadn't been together in about fourteen years. We've all done well along the way. T bounced back and has had a successful career outside law enforcement. So has F. Being with them all on Saturday night brought back all those years and all the good times that we had together. I never truly realized how very much I'd missed them until I saw them all there. We left at the end of the evening with the promise to keep in touch and to do this again soon. I believe we'll keep that promise because I saw in their eyes what I know was in mine - the happiness of being reunited with those who meant so much to me for so very long.

New friends are always wonderful but there is nothing like being in the company of a very old friend.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


I have always loved animals. My dad is an animal lover but my mom can take them or leave them so I had a couple of turtles and a couple of ducks as a small child but no dog, no cat. Mom's rule was always no animals in the house. It always made me sad because I longed for a dog to snuggle in my bed with.

When my brother broke his arm during his kindergarten year, Mom and Dad broke down and got us a dog. He was a tiny little thing - half Chihuahua, half Rat Terrier - and we named him Crunch after a dog my dad had when he was a child. Crunch lived in our backyard and we each adored him. He became our confidante as each of us turned to him in times of sorrow. We'd go out alone and sit on the edge of the patio and just talk to Crunch and sometimes cry in his fur. Even though he couldn't talk back, he was the perfect listener. He always made things better.

After Crunch died I got a German Shepherd puppy and named him Baron von Richtofen - the Red Baron. My mom was furious the day I brought him home because she'd sworn off dogs after we lost Crunch. But Baron won her heart immediately. He was the smartest dog I'd ever known. I was working for the Sheriff's Office then and I took him everywhere with me. He topped out at 110 lbs but was the sweetest dog around. When I built my first house and moved away I had to leave him at Mom and Dad's because I didn't have a fenced yard. I don't think Mom would ever have let me take him anyway. He was her guardian and it almost killed both she and Dad when he died. She's never allowed herself another dog but I'm working on her. Now that she's retired I think she needs a little house dog. I'm going to get a miniature or toy poodle from rescue one day and bring it over. She'll fuss at first then fall in love. [vbg]

After I moved into my house I got cats. I ended up with three fabulous cats, the youngest of which is still alive and will be fifteen this June. I tried a couple of dogs through the years but never could housebreak them. Now I know that males are extremely hard to housebreak. If I'd known that then, I'd have gone with females.

About six months after E and I got married I was yearning for a dog. I knew the three cats would be pissed but I needed a dog. That's when we saw the ad in the local paper for the Peke-a-poo pups. E and I drove over that Saturday morning and the old lady brought out Sophie and her brother in a box. That was it - I was in love. Sophie came home with us that day. She was so very tiny and we dragged her around in the car all day that day. E swears that's why she loves a car ride so much. She'll be five on St. Patrick's Day and has been the light of our lives all along. She taught the cats that dogs weren't too bad after all. Although Tyger and Penelope never snuggled with her, they came to respect her as a family member.

We lost Tyger and Penelope just two weeks apart, each at the ripe old age of fifteen. I thought E was going to have to bury me with them. I knew then that my broken heart needed another little fuzzy baby to help it heal. We'd decided long before then that when the two older cats were gone we'd get a Bichon Frise. Enter Sneauball - a white ball of fluff that came bounding into our arms on a cold February night three years ago. I announced to E that since Sophie had bonded more with him, Sneauball was to be mine and, boy, is he! My little Bean (short for Butterbean) is a Mama's boy through and through. His favorite thing is to climb up in my arms, lay down, and have me rock him to sleep and I just love that. [vbg]

When we bought the house in October of last year, it came complete with a fenced in backyard and E was feeling the need for a big dog. I was longing for another German Shepherd so I found a pup in rescue in Birmingham, Alabama. On the day after we moved into the house, we drove the six hours (one way) to Birmingham to pick up little Rikka. Although she was four months old she only weighed thirteen pounds. Those puppies had been through hell before they were rescued but they all rallied. Rikka is eight months old now and queen of the backyard. She's weighing in at about forty-five pounds now and has teethed on everything out back. She apparently didn't like the garden hose being as long as it was so she's sectioned it into three foot sections. She must love the taste of lawnchairs because she drags them all around the deck. She sleeps on the deck outside my bedroom window and snores like a buzzsaw. E is completely smitten and I'll be better once she quits teething on the external electrical outlet.

Thanks to a bout with cancer nearly fifteen years ago I cannot have children of my own. We considered adoption for a while but realized that we're pretty set in our ways. I now know that I was meant to be the mama to little furry faces and I'm good with that. In fact, if it were up to me, we'd have ten dogs in this house.

I began watching the Westminster Kennel Club Show years ago when I had Baron because I was interested in the German Shepherd breed. Through the years they have introduced me to over 160 different breeds. Some breeds do nothing for me but I have a mad attraction to others. One day I will have a Bedlington Terrier and a Chinese Crested, much to E's chagrin. [vbg] He loves big dogs so we'll always have one or two of those around as well.

We finish every evening by snuggling in our queen-sized bed. Sophie crawls in and lays horizontically between E and I stretching out to her fullest capacity. Sneauball takes his place in what we call the "pup tent" - which means he crawls behind one of our pillows that stands against the headboard behind our heads and snuggles between the pillow and the headboard. Most nights you can see his nose sticking out of one end and his behind sticking out of the other. Omar, the Persian cat, crawls up on my back and purrs me to sleep. I know it sounds crazy to some folks but I promise you that I don't sleep well when I'm away from home. There's something about those fuzzy bodies laid out around me that helps me sleep. E admits to being similarly afflicted.

Today he wrote some haiku about our home and I'd like to share it here:

Haiku of Our Home

Large wet dog outside
Waits to jump when I enter
Tumble with me. Fun!

Small dog waits inside
Brings ball to me to play
Play, Play, nothing more.

Bichon Frise waits
Wants nothing other than love
Scratch me, hold me. Ah!

Old stoic cat waits
Waits for food, waits for petting
At night, sleeps on wife.

Cockatiel sings loud
Very loud, if possible
Only stops for wife.

Wife and I are home
Our children are animals
Family still they are.

Furry, fuzzy family
Each speaks to us differently
Expressions of love.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Valentine's Day

Aw, geez, I've become a blog slacker. It's not that I haven't had anything to say lately; it's just that I've been pretty busy - well, except for the weekend when I was lazy. I promise myself to do better.

Today, here in America anyway, was St. Valentine's Day. I find it highly amusing that a day that originated because some guy got beheaded ended up being the day dedicated most to love and romance. I am somewhat of a romantic, less so now that I'm older, but E and I do celebrate the day a bit.

Actually, our Valentine's Day began on Saturday when E arrived back home from a morning jaunt to the local Hallmark store and the local candy store. He surprised me with a lovely card and a box of very good chocolates - dark chocolates, at that. My, my, that man knows the direct way to my heart. [vbg] Unfortunately, a huge disagreement followed later about whether we should get rid of the bird or not but we made up and all is well. ;-) Today I presented him with a lovely card and a gift card to his favorite bookstore. He was highly pleased. I suspect he'll spend his lunch hour there tomorrow digging around to find just the right book.

All in all, we didn't spend a whole lot of money on each other but to me, that's not what's important about a day like today. What is important is that we spent time focusing on what we mean to each other and how our love continues to grow. After five plus years now we still are best friends. I know that in the grand scheme of things five years doesn't seem so long but check the divorce rates. I think if a marriage makes it past three years these days one should count one's blessings.

But Valentine's Day isn't the only day we should focus on our love. Marriage is work and therefore needs to be looked after each and every day. There are days when we like each other more than others [vbg] and fortunalely for us we really like each other most days. Sure there are tough times but we get through them by communicating. Another thing that gets us through the tough times is the memory of the really sweet times.

Saturday night after E fell asleep, he turned toward me in the bed and tapped my nose three times saying, "Bonk, bonk, bonk". He was fast asleep and I knew he wouldn't remember it but we had a great laugh about it on Sunday. Neither of us have any idea what was going through his head to make him bonk me on the nose but we find it hysterical - especially since he's never done that to me when we were awake but I distinctly remembering him bonking Sophie the dog's nose a couple of times. [vbg]

It's a good thing we're all different because it makes finding the someone out there for us a bit easier, I believe. Our marriage works because it's ours. Who's to say that a marriage to someone else would work for either of us? I don't want to find out, that's for sure.

Thanks, Hallmark, for creating a day on which you make an obscene amount of money by reminding us that there are folks out there that we love. But, if we truly love, we really don't need you to remind us. ;-)

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Trivia Geeks

I have to admit to something here - I am a trivia geek.

There, I said it. I feel better now.

I am addicted to NTN trivia which, for those who do not know, is the trivia game you can play in some restaurants and bars where you compete against other locations. I am not alone in this addiction for E is also an addict, just not quite as addicted as I.

We found the games at a local restaurant just over a year ago and began playing on Friday nights when we had our date nights. We noticed that there was a tournament that took place every Tuesday night involving a game called Showdown. We began to suspect that there must be a group that played together at this location and that was confirmed one night when our waitress told us that they had finished the last tournament ranked fourth in their league. I began to salivate. I needed to meet these people. I needed to play in this tournament.

Why? Because I am extremely competitive. None of my friends will play Trivial Pursuit with me anymore. My brother is the only one who will dare and that's because he's as competitive as I am. We are the children of our father, who no one in their right mind wants to play Monopoly with.

E and I finally met a few members of the "team" and we've been hanging out with them just over a year now. We make national rankings pretty often and even had a perfect game of a game called Speed last week. Going into our game tonight we were ranked #42 overall of about 4500 locations in the US and Canada. On a good night there are about 10 of us who show up and spend several hours eating and sharing trivia answers together. It has been a great way for E and I to get to know new people in a city that neither of us is from. It has also been a great outlet for all that competitiveness that I have bottled up.

Yep, I'm a trivia geek and I'm danged proud of it. :-)