Wednesday, December 29, 2010


They started early this year, those gym and weight reduction commercials that assault us every time we turn on the television.  They have a great hook, one that a majority are taken in by every single year.  The New Year's Resolution.  That one time where you pledge to do something different, better, more often all in the name of new year.  A flip of the calendar.  Seriously?  If you didn't get my message last year when I painted the scenario: resolve, join gym or diet program, go great guns for a week or two, get tired. . .or hungry, cheat, self flagellate, try again, give up.  The result?  Dollars thrown away and unnecessary guilt all because you felt compelled to announce a resolution when the calendar changes.  Who wins?  The gym, the diet program and now the self help centers that are ready to rush in and repair your ego. . .for a price.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, DON'T DO IT!  Instead, join me for some red wine and dark chocolate.  That's my kind of good health!

You're not going to listen to me, are you?

On a positive note, I am sponsoring a book give away for my book, Is It Just Me? or Is Everyone a Little Nuts!  I have 2 books to give away to any new followers  or current followers who bring in a new follower between now and January 5.  I will announce the winners on the 6th.  Thanks!  And Good Luck!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

It's The Big Time Now!

Is It Just Me? or Is Everyone a Little Nuts! has been chosen as a book club selection for clubs in Illinois, Pennsylvania and Texas.  
Upon notification that my book had been selected, I created a set of questions for club discussion - I’m not without a serious side, you know.  Reports back from the Pennsylvania group were positive with the representative telling me that the over all consensus was that they enjoyed the book and were glad for a break from “real”  reading.  
The Texas representative indicated that they, too, laughed their way through the book and used the questions as place mats for their cookies and margaritas.  The rep said, “they don’t like to put too much thought into reading.”
And to top it all off, I was approached by a highly regarded local citizen and asked to speak at the next meeting of one of the highly regarded service groups in town.  While I was thrilled to be asked, I had to decline due to another commitment.  His response? “Well, I guess I don’t have to read it yet then, huh?!”
Does it get better than that?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Kindred Spirit

Have you ever come across someone who reminds you so much of yourself, you think you may be in a parallel universe?  I recently read Diana Estill's "Stiletto's No More".  Diana has written a column for a number of years but clearly shares the same point of view that I have on the whole aging and parenting thing.  Here is my review:

Stiletto’s No More, by Diana Estill, is a funny, down to earth commentary on the realities of aging. It’s not easy facing the physical changes that occur, without permission I might add, to our bodies when middle age and menopause invade, but Estill faces these occurrences with a wicked wit that any woman will identify with (if not openly then secretly) and embrace. From underwear, to shoes, to the utterly ridiculous and hilarious protocols of local government and the pomp and circumstance involved in the smallest of decisions Estill’s commentary will produce a wry, knowing smile and, in some instances an inappropriate guffaw of which I no longer feel obligated to apologize. 

Diana Estill, author of several humorous books, has written an engaging read perfect for the beach, an airplane or a quiet afternoon. My only wish was that Estill spent more time elaborating, ergo, I wish there was more to read as I was finished too soon.

In case you are looking for something to read. . .just sayin.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Another Baby at 49? I'm Up to It!

I do have a day job you know.  Well, alright, it is a part-time day job.  Three days a week, I am a daycare provider - a nanny, if you will, to an 8 month old baby girl.  I arrive at their house shortly before 7:30 a.m. and am charged with playing, changing and feeding said baby.  My day ends at 3:30 (ish) and if I am lucky, there have been 3 hours worth of napping in that time frame.  At forty-nine, I am finding that I am still capable of doing the mommy thing.  And it got me to thinking,  what if. . .

Well first of all, "if"... then it would have to be an immaculate conception.  That, or we have to go back to the doctor who performed the big V on Dave all of those years ago and make him accountable.  So, settling on immaculate conception as the scenario,  and knowing that I am still able to do the whole baby thing, I believe if an angel came to me (via Twitter or a text message most likely) and told me I would bear the child of God, I could probably do it. . .with a few caveats:

1) I'll need a trainer who will keep me moving through the pregnancy.  I don't want the old body back, but a leg up in creating a new one would be appreciated.
2) I'd like a housekeeper.  I don't want to expose His baby to any dangerous chemicals, strained movements, or housework in general.  After all, this baby is headed for the big time.
3) When the time comes. . . I'd prefer a hospital to a stable.  The final days of pregnancy tend to create internal odors for which I am willing to endure but I will  NOT be in a place where a donkey smells better than I do. And, I require an epidural.  He enabled modern medicine to advance to the epidural level, it would be rude of me not to enjoy the benefits.
4) About the schedule.  I don't do night feedings anymore.
5) No encouraging the baby to crawl or walk, that only asks for trouble later.
6) And strained peas and green beans are just nasty.  I'm not feeding the baby THAT food or changing THAT diaper.  Trust me, it's better that way.  And while we are on the subject of food, the dog kibble is perfectly safe should it be ingested - don't ask me how I know.
7) Finally, I'd prefer not to be awakened until 7 a.m. and I'd like to be done parenting by 3:30 p.m.

I think if those demands can be met, I would make an ideal mother for God's child.  Except, I am about 2043 years too late.

Merry Christmas.

And you all probably thought I was going to announce a surprise baby, didn't you!?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My Left Foot . . .

Last week one of my Facebook friends brazenly posted that she had gotten on her elliptical after a hiatus and glowed with exhilaration after her workout.  She ended the status update with, “Hello, old friend.”  I felt happy for her.  That is, until I started to suffer from the backlash her simple comment started.
Apparently, her elliptical called my elliptical to gloat.  My elliptical has stood, userless for going on ten weeks. . .maybe twelve.  I mean, I enjoy the elliptical as an option.  It allows me to run without any direct impact on my knees and avoid the inevitable shift from health-minded jogger to breathless loper which is a visual no one needs to see.  But, when it comes to summer, give me a good outdoor walk any day over a workout in the mancave.  Thus, the elliptical hasn’t seen much action and now, jealousy was rearing it’s ugly head.  It started off using a soft tact, “Have you see your Facebook friend?  She looks SO healthy!” it said.  I smiled, after all, I am recovering from ankle surgery and a broken bone.  I’m not ALLOWED to have a relationship with exercise. That machine knows how to push my buttons though.  Gradually, I shed the cast, the crutches, and finally the boot and the elliptical stepped up it’s taunt.  “Are your jeans a little tight there?” it asked.  Yes, I thought.  “How is the walking coming?”  it asked.  It’s getting too cold to walk, I think, and well, my Achilles needs to be stretched.  “I can do that for you,” it purred, “Just take it slow.”  I started thinking about the benefits and out of the blue, my left foot gets totally ticked off and jumps in-
“Where the hell have YOU been?” it asked right foot.
“Um. . .I’ve been a little wrapped up.”
“Well while you’ve been “wrapped up,’ I’ve been doing double duty and I’m a little sick of it.  Do you know how much weight I’ve had to bear?  Seriously, just look up!”
“Yeah, but you’ve been able to wear a cute shoe while I have been bound in the ugly black boot.”
“I haven’t even had a pedicure because of you,” my left foot hissed, “and I broke my pinky toe doing all the work and couldn’t even whine because YOU weren’t around the pick up the slack.”
“So, what are you saying?” Right foot inquired.
“I’m saying, get your heel on that elliptical machine and start moving because if I have to haul her butt around one more time, I will make sure you NEVER WALK AGAIN!”
So, I got on the elliptical and started to move for the first time in several weeks.  It felt great . . .for about fifteen minutes then, my left foot took off out the door.
“Hey!,” right foot yelled, “where are you going?”
“I’m going for a massage.  You just keep going, I’ll be back in about 6 weeks!”  
My elliptical retreated to the corner to pout.  I’m sure, though, it won’t be long before it starts mocking me. And I thought the surgery was painful.

Friday, November 19, 2010

But Weight. . . Is There More?

Most of you are well aware that I have spent he past 6 weeks somewhat  incapacitated.  I had surgery to remove a bone spur that had grown between two bones of my ankle joint rendering my foot unable to bend in a natural way and, ultimately left me stuck in a prone position for 3 weeks with another 3 in a Herman Munster boot.  I've called this time my unfortunate incarceration.  

Having been here before, but in a much worse capacity a few years ago. With the whole Achilles reattachment that resulted in 6 weeks prone, I vowed that this time I would be much more vigilant about trying to keep active somehow so as to avoid the whole  issue of  "spread".  Aspirations are a great thing. . .reality is the great equalizer.

I don't step on scales.  Those numbers are useless to me.  I weigh 120 pounds.  I know this because my driver's license says so.  I am proud that I have been able to maintain that weight all these years.  But what happens when you go somewhere where they "need" you to step on a scale?  Like say, the doctor's office?

For years, I insisted on standing on the scale backwards and admonished the nurse to NOT say the number out loud.  Why do I need to hear that number when I have a document that says it anyway (and will for as long as a good friend of mine runs the DMV locally)?  But, I am proud to say that at 49,  I have seized ownership of my free will and simply tell the nurse who says blandly, "Step on the scale please,"  No.  

The way I see it, I know when things have changed enough that it needs to be recorded.  We all know it.  You know that day when suddenly your jeans require air drying instead of being put in the dryer - well that's not the signal.  The signal is the day you cannot pull them up beyond your muffin top (which we all know is a delicate term for Dunlop's Disease - as in my belly dun lopped over my belt.)  Conversely, when you have been working hard and been successful enough to actually have to go buy clothes because everything you have hangs on you?  That would be a signal too.  I'm not saying you have to face that number (because you already know it's 120) but you can turn your back to the scale and tell the nurse to keep her mouth shut.

Which brings me to the here and now.  I have been, essentially, a body at rest (which, according to one commercial, tends to stay at rest) and even though I was extremely conscientious of what I ate and DID NOT EAT, I am sure the inevitable has occurred.  How do I know?  Well, the good news is that I can still put on my jeans.  The bad news is I kinda feel like Jabba the Hutt.  I have a doctor's appointment today and my hope is that I can lose the Herman Munster boot (which I am sure must weigh 10 pounds on it's own) and then I can get moving again.  However I will not get on a scale. According to my criteria (the jeans that I can still get on), I still weigh 120 pounds and my driver's license proves it!  

Judi Coltman is author of Is It Just Me? or Is Everyone a Little Nuts! available through Amazon, Barnes &, and www.judicoltman

Friday, October 22, 2010

Marine, Man, and Child

The streets of Byron, Illinois are lined with flags. Hundreds of full sized, beautiful, new flags.  I don't know how they got there or who put them there, but I do know why they have come to line the streets of our little town.  Today another flag will come to town, draped across the casket of Marine Lance Corporal Alec Catherwood.  Alec graduated from Byron High School in 2009, the same class as my youngest child. Yeah.  He was a young man, a brave young man who's goal was to become a marine yet, he was a baby.

This is not our town's first loss.  We lost Marine Lance Corporal Andrew Patton in a roadside bomb in Iraq a few years ago.  Another brave young man.  Another baby.  Byron is a small town, a really small town and when a tragedy like this occurs, we are ALL affected.  Right now, I am experiencing this as a parent.  I know many people in town whose children have joined the service and gone to war and shared in their worry when their kids are shipped out and the joy when they return home.

It is not my inention to get political here, but, as a parent, I simply cannot accept this loss without  commenting on all of our soldiers.  I recently saw a photo of several flag draped caskets lined up in the hangar after being returned to the states.  The cutline read: Can you tell which one of them is gay?  It could have asked if we could tell which one was democrat, republican, male, female, black, jewish, or ADHD.  The point is, it doesn't matter.  It doesn't matter.  They are all brave, they put themselves out there to protect our freedom and they are young men and women who belong to someone.  They are husbands, wives, fiances and, they are our babies.

 There is a pall of melancholy covering not only our town, but our surrounding towns as we prepare for Alec's return.  We are not only bringing home a marine today, we are bringing home; a friend, a fiance, a  son.  God bless the Catherwood's.  You are in our collective heart.  That's just the way small towns are.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Travels With Lucy and Ethel

During the "growing" years of our progeny and the humorously perceived youth of our spouses, my BFF Cindy and I created, participated in and cajoled our spouses into a number of "crazy" ideas.  When the phone would ring and BFF Cindy would ask for Dave, he knew he was done for and had already been signed up to do something (dress like a cowboy and square dance at a Hoedown, ride across the western region of the United States on a bike, or wear a powder blue ruffled tuxedo 2 sizes too small complete with a kleenex corsage, to name a few) he wanted no part of.  He called us Lucy and Ethel and if that follows, then when he knew he was going to feel like an idiot, he was Fred.

So, when I had my first orthopedic surgery, I was granted my first pair of crutches.  I named them, appropriately, Lucy and Ethel.  Lucy is the left crutch and usually leads with Ethel following dutifully behind.  I've had Lucy and Ethel through knee surgery, achilles surgery and now an ankleysomething or other.  So, when the rehab people came to give their spiel about mobile apparatus, I waved them away out of respect for Lucy and Ethel.  This ain't my first rodeo folks.

Yeah.  About that.  I made it out for about 2 hours Saturday night, was up and about Sunday for a time and was ready to take a double dose of pain pills by Sunday night NOT because my foot hurt, no!  It was because my shoulders, neck and forearms hurt so bad, the thought of standing up with crutches was reducing me to tears.  What a baby.

Not one to give in however, I went for a ride in the car to pick up a pizza on Monday.  Feeling spunky, I hopped up the two steps from the garage to the kitchen, tucked Lucy and Ethel firmly under my arms and fell, face first onto the kitchen floor. Lucy flew forward while Ethel had gotten caught on the door jam.  Apparently I swore rather loudly as I hit the ground but I was laughing and crying so hard by the time my husband (scared to death, I might add) got to me that he wasn't exactly sure what had even happened and he didn't think it was funny at all.

This morning, the Home Health Care people delivered a "knee cruiser" - sort of like a 4 wheeled trike where I can rest my casted leg on the padded part and use my good leg to make it go.  I can't lie, I feel like an idiot.  I think I'll name this one Fred.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


It's a subject that makes for a teary eyed mess for both a mother and a father - most often for different reasons.  Her's being the event, his being the cost.  Weddings.  My good friend Vic is the Mother of the Bride (MOB) and while the brides father (FOB) is no longer her spouse, they have, over the years, figured out how to parent and co-exist in our small town.  Vic's husband, The Iron Man, has even been seen sharing a beer from time to time with the FOB and, no doubt, sharing a male generated joke about "their" wife.

The other night. The Iron Man was lamenting the loss of his masculinity in the fray of all the wedding talk - he couldn't even say the word "wedding" without rolling his eyes and swigging a beer.  November can't get here fast enough.  Well, it got me to thinking about weddings and the like and since my own wedding is the only one of 3 for which I have been a participant, I can only draw upon that momentous occasion for my commentary.  And when I compare that to the upcoming nuptials of Vic's daughter, it is apparent that some very clear wedding rules are no longer standing.  It kinda breaks my heart.

I won't deny that I had the wedding of the decade back in the 80's (with a bow to Karen, whose wedding was also a "todoo") and I still hold it up to most of the extravaganza's I have attended since.  I had an ivory satin couture dress, a cathedral length veil, a cadre of bridesmaids, a flower girl and ring bearer, a gourmet reception at Addison Oaks, a live band and fireworks and by rights, I was the focus of every single person ALL DAY LONG AND WELL INTO THE LATE NIGHT.  It was, I am told, the best wedding that most people ever attended.  While I did not even spend one minute at the open and flowing bar, opting for Tab on ice. . .I don't remember what isn't in a photo.  It was well before the video era so there is no footage I can cue up for recall.  I have nothing.  But a dress.  In a box.  In the basement.  That, and an album and my sister's Maid of Honor (MOH) dress - which is the crux of wedding rules being broken today.  Forget that my beautiful dress was a size 3 and that I couldn't fit my thigh through the waist anymore.  Forget that it has been hermetically sealed in a box with a window that shows a glimpse of the applique.  And forget what it cost.  If I were to do it all over again, I would still wear THAT dress.  A bride has that luxury.

What is so confounding these days is the plethora of acceptable pretty bridesmaids dresses.  In my day, the bridesmaid dress of choice was slinky, sexy without offending the churchy folk and usually made of quiana.  My color of choice was lavender.  The whole purpose of the bridesmaid dress back in my day was to include your friends in the big day without the added of worry of any of them looking prettier than the bride.  Oh, yeah, we all said these words: "You can wear it again.  You can cut it off.  It'll be great."

Do you really think that I didn't know there was no way on earth that any of them would be caught dead in the lavender quiana dress with the "Me Tarzan, You Jane" shoulder on one side and Grecian spaghetti straps on the other.  Did they really think I thought it would be easy to cut off and hem quiana with accordion pleats?  Puhleeze.  My MOH caught on to that in a big way and, in a fashion that only sisters can share pitched a fit - but that's another story ending with, 'it's in my basement along side the wedding dress box."

Vic will be a stunning MOB, her daughter will be the most beautiful bride ever (until the next), but after seeing her Bride's Maids and what they are wearing, all I gotta say is, "Honey, watch out!"  Huh, we knew what we were doing back in the day.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Where's My Hairbrush When I Need It?

Like every other kid who sang into a hairbrush, when I was still young, I wanted to be an entertainer.  A singer, actress, talk show host who could also do gymnastics like Olga Korbut (yes, I am THAT old) and ride horses whenever I felt like it.  The singing part wasn’t ever gonna happen and if you know me, I don’t even have to explain.  The acting part meant I would have to audition - in front of people - uh, no.  Gymnastics and horses required natural ability and well, a horse (which my father always nixed in the end after spending an entire summer visiting and considering the Bloomfield Open Hunt Club - huff and pouty face) and really that didn’t leave much else.  Sometime in that era, I started writing and announced that I wanted to be a writer.  
My writing portfolio has multiple layers containing the remnants of youthful, lovestruck and full -on gag worthy poetry,  heavy handed short stories and sketches that are so image and metaphor rich that the reader was often left with a certain level of dissatisfaction and a big ol’ question mark in the thought bubble above their collective head, the driest of marketing and sales materials, dullest of nuclear power articles and an occasional letter to the editor meant to point out some inequity in our local world.  I wrote a series of Beginning Guided Reading books for an educational program, a quarterly children’s newsletter, a collection of recipes and stories based on a region in the east and a youth fiction novel that my kids loved.  In short, I have written a lot and so always got a great laugh from the throng of people who read my (admittedly funny) Christmas newsletter and responded with, “You should write!”
So, my book has been out for a little over a month and I am sick of myself.  I have had to self promote on facebook (an action which asks me to post about ME) and every other social networking venue, I have had to announce and update my website and do interviews with local news outlets.  I’m not complaining, mind you, just a little sick of talking about myself  and I’m thinking that if I am that sick of myself, you guys must be really tired of me!  And to make matters worse, there is a certain man in town who I used to lust after that, every time he runs into me in public, points, squeals and runs toward me shouting, “Oh My God!!!!!!!  It’s Judi Coltman!” just because he KNOWS I will scowled (and blush a little). The last time that happened he was with someone who I have never met.  This virtual stranger innocently inquired what had I done to elicit such a reaction (albeit a facetious one) and when former lustee said, “She just wrote a book and now she is famous!” the stranger stepped back, took a long look at me and replied, “Oh, sort of like Susan Boyle!”  Hmmmm.  Susan Boyle.  That pretty much ended the conversation.
I hope to see many of you at the book signing at Hailey’s Winery on Friday, September 10, from 6-8 p.m.  I promise I won’t sing.
Do you think he meant Susan Boyle BEFORE the makeover, or after?  
Whatever, I’ll take it!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Byron, Blues and Beer

On my refrigerator, among the photos, appointment cards and assorted magnets, hangs a letter from the current powers that be of our little town that, in a nutshell (apropos), fires me and Moondoggy from a decade long volunteer job.  That job?  Selling beer at Byronfest, our 3 day festival that ostensibly celebrates and showcases the businesses of our town and the kindness of our citizens.  Welcome to Byron, enjoy your weekend and leave LOTS of money.  And so, the powers that be, found they were losing money at the beer gardens and decided the best thing to do was FIRE all of their volunteers.  That's right,  I was fired from a volunteer position.  Does it get more pathetic than that?

Ok.  There is always an upside to the shamed.  What that did for me was release me from the obligation of having to schlepp my ass uptown, wear a ridiculous t-shirt uniform that I usually altered somehow, spend loads of money on local food that I would prefer to eat in a restaurant anyway, fight crowds of people milling about between concert stages, and lose my voice and my hearing trying to socialize and catch-up with people while yelling over the conglomeration of three concert stages with vastly different genres of music in a 1 block area.  I'm not bitter - I'm just old.

However, this past weekend, there was a shiny, brand new festival - 12 hours of Blues downtown.  One stage, all Blues, all day.  No yelling over music, well behaved mellow people, and enough shade so as not to damage my already sun dried skin.  Food was sponsored by local eateries and there were three beer stations that sold bottled beer  for a cheaper price than Byronfest.  I don't know who was contracted to sell the beer but I can tell you this. . . 3 times the cute little girl with the big gravity defying tata's and the interesting slits cut in her t-shirt forgot to charge us.  And did she not realize what the 50 something turned twelve year old men were doing when they requested she dip down deep into the cooler to get the coldest beer?  I wonder what her pouty lips will look like when she gets her letter?

She will be getting a letter, right?  

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Life's a Beach

I recently returned from the best vacation spot I have ever known.  The beach.  Not a drinkable blue Caribbean beach, or a sugar white sand Florida beach or even a palm tree dotted Hawaiian beach.  My beach, the beach to which I have faithfully always returned is Sandbridge in the southernmost coastal tip of Virginia.  I've been going there since I was 8 years old, sharing a week with 4 other girls, all of whom are as close as sisters, and our parents.

This year, my father celebrated his 75th birthday by inviting extended family as well as his own childhood friends to stay in a mammoth house on the beach.  What began in 1968 as 4 adults and 5 girls has, over the years ballooned into Twenty-two what with spouses and children and all.  That plus the additional family and friends turned into thirty-three this summer; an interesting mix of ages, personalities and politics.

Politics.  Let's just say that a lot of "tea" seemed the popular topic.  You'd recognize me at these points in the day because I was the one trying to bury myself in the sand.  No, my idea of vacation includes very little political brain exercise - especially when the topic is Newt (For which my father proudly shares his nickname) Gingerich.  The only Ginger rich things I was interested in was the delectable bread that one of the guests brought with her ( 12 loaves!)

Our oldest guest was hovering around 80 years old while the youngest, a set of twins were going to be 8 years old soon.  It is safe to say that in our house the majority of guests were mid 70's.  This house had a pool which, for hardy beach girls like myself, is a whimps way to swim.  I mean where is the challenge in a pool?  There are no waves to negotiate, no jellyfish to avoid, crabs to step on or dolphins to chase (nor are there any cute boys to discover, oogle and fantasize about.)  On the first morning at the beach, one of the young twins stood by the pool gate shaking his head.  "Why do we have a pool at the beach?" he asked.  I had to tell him the truth, "It's for the old people.  This house is FULL of old people and you know what THAT means."  He dramatically rolled his eyes and replied, "I sure do!  It means I havta stay off their lawns!"

Considering the political climate of the group we were spending the week with, I think the 8 year olds advice was probably the wisest.

Monday, August 9, 2010

What I Want To Do When I Grow Up

When I was younger and people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I often answered, "An artist."  That response was often met with wane smiles and dubious eyes as I showed my drawings.  Because really, I know they were thinking, "Honey, it's a nice picture but not GREAT and besides, NO ONE makes a living as an artist."

Well excuse me while I blow some big wet raspberries in their general direction.  Some people do make a living as artists and I happen to be related to one.  So HA!   Aunt Lori entered my world sometime between my 10th and 11th birthdays.  I'm not sure how they met or where they met but I do know that Lori Arthur married my very cool bachelor uncle Bill in Las Vegas.  I know this because somewhere in a box I have some Kodak pictures of the two of them in the Vegas chapel.  I knew Lori was going to be cool because she wore a blue mini-dress, but more important, she liked to paint.  And, ironically, I think that is when I decided I wanted to be an artist.

And I took art classes, studied different mediums and ultimately discovered that my need for immediate gratification and my compunctity(no, it's not a real word but it just felt write when I typed it) to wholly consume every project to the exclusion of everything else rendered me hurried, half assed and just not very good.  Thankfully, my creative energies redirected themselves into words which makes a lot of sense for me since words are quickly consumed by the brain and then both the writer and the reader move on and there are no discarded watercolors, acryllics or pencil drawings left in the wake. 

Anything I have created is elementary compared to my Aunt Lori's work.  Her talent and skill have become more pronounced and precise in the years since I have known her (I know that sounds like it is because of me and as much as I would like to take credit it really only has to do with how long I have known her.)  My family has been both proud recipients as well as purchasers of many of her pieces.  I have long joked that my house could actually be considered Quarton Gallery East since she is a lifelong California girl who rarely comes back across the country.  But it's true.  Currently I have 6  Quarton pieces hanging in my little house with several others stored in the basement because even if they don't fit in this house, I intend to bring them out west.  She is that good.  So accomplished is she that I implore you to visit her website - especially if you are in the market for artwork.

I also have a friend who recently has been doing some incredible "upcycling" of furniture and decor with her artistic talents.  When I knew her in my youth, I had no idea that she any interest in art at all.  If I had, I am sure we would have been the best of friends and she might have shirked that uber popular crowd she hung out with in favor of sitting in the art room with me.  But, as luck would have it, when we reconnected last year (and a good 35 years after our social groups were formed) we really connected.  She has this beautiful, genuine outlook and I believe that is the key to her artistic success.  I ask you to visit her

As for me?  Yeah, I still have the art bug but I mostly use it as an inspiration for writing.  You should see what inspired this article.  On second thought, maybe not.  However, if you are still looking for a website to visit, visit mine!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Upside of Normal

There was an episode of "Happy Days" back in the 70s where Fonzie took a job driving an ice cream truck.  Richie asks Fonzie how the job is going and Fonzie replies, "Man it's frustrating.  I get the truck up to 70mph and I havta stop for some kid wavin' a dime!"  That's kind of how I feel.

It seems I grow bones in places they don't belong.  It started in my knee when I was 44 - they called it a 'Loose Body," which, to me, conjures up all kinds of pictures - none of which have to do with the 1 cm bone fragment that grew between the bones that make up the knee rendering me unable to walk.  A simple surgery later, a little physical therapy and I was back to normal.

Normal is a relative term.  Same leg, different joint.  When I was 46, my Achilles tendon, like a fraying rope, began to unravel as it rubbed against a bone the began growing out of the back of my heel.  A not so simple surgery later that involved shaving bones, releasing and re-attaching my achilles with fancy hardware and 3 months of crutches, and an extended relationship with my very handsome physical therapist and I was on my way back to normal.

I just turned 49.   I now understand that "normal" means to expect another bone to grow.  And it has.  This time between the joints that connect my ankle to my foot.  My MO is to allow it to annoy me, push through the pain and wait for it to become unbearable.  It became unbearable the day I decided to run across the highway before the next wave of traffic barreled through - the unbearable part occurring when I was about half way across.

The solution?  Another lovely surgery, 3 weeks no weight bearing, casted.  I need to go dig out my crutches. . .again.

On the upside, I get to go visit my favorite physical therapist.  He will be happy to see me, he will massage my feet,  and I might even develop another crush on him, unless he has finally gotten that restraining order against me.

Then, back to normal.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Now I've Gone and Done It

You talk the talk, but now you gotta walk the walk.

Words from my teenager after a motherly pontification about following one's passion.  And I knew what he was talking about.  I've heard it from others too, I've just never trusted myself to actually take that step and walk that walk without hiding behind my favorite phrase, "I just threw it together," which allows me to make excuses for imperfections.

Faced with my teenager's words I followed with a promise that, " Yes, I would do it this time," followed with a pit in the stomach and not a small hope that he would forget.  Except that child does not forget.

I have a lot of book worthy material, I even have a few actual books.  And. . .I have this blog.  I'm not sure when I had my Oprah "Aha" moment.  I'd like to tell you it was while contemplating a fix to the BP leak, or writing a treatise on a second shooter on the grassy knoll but, I think it came somewhere into my third glass of wine at a patio party in California.  Someone asked me what I do, and I replied, "Well, I'm working a on book," and then KNOWING I had to follow up with what the book was about, I continued, "based on a blog I write."  And there it was!

That moment solved several problems at once for me.  It gave me a focus, it gave me material from which to begin and it gave me legitimacy for my favorite phrase, "I just threw it together."  Ok, so I didn't really throw it together, but I did have a lot of ready made material in which to start.

"Is It Just Me? Or Is Everyone a Little Nuts" is a compilation of stories, some of which I have taken from here and some that are new, that will hopefully bring humor to the most mundane moments in life.

If all goes well, my book should be available in September.  I'll keep you posted but feel free to visit my website: anytime day or night and ALWAYS feel free to share it with friends!

And to my son?  Na Nana Boo Boo.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

And So it Goes

Years ago I wrote for several local and national publications: freelance, which was a pretty interesting gig when the content was cool, but most of the time my subjects were marketing and nuclear power.  The very thought of that dry subject matter sends me screaming to to faucet for water or ok, to the nearest bar for a nice cold beer.  So it used to make me laugh when, after receiving one of my screamingly hysterical Christmas Newsletters people who have known me forever would respond with, "You should be a writer."  Had they not read my article on Boiling Water Reactors or End Cap Marketing??  Sheesh.

When my kids were very little, I wrote a book prior to one of our beach vacations that set up a real life treasure hunt in an effort to make the trip magical.  And it did, but it didn't stand up to the dead man in a kayak that was found just off the shore from our house.  Now that was really cool.  Years later, my children have suggested I publish that book.  And I have thought about it too.

Last Christmas, my youngest listened while I pontificated on the importance of following ones passion.  He listened, nodded his head and then basically told me to put my money where my mouth is.  I hate it when teens are so damn smart.

And so, I am following my own advice as fed to me by my own child.  I am publishing a book.  A compilation of my blogs both already published and of those yet to be published.  I mean why not exploit what  I can, right?

I will make the information available as soon as I have it. In the mean time, excuse me while I put my hands on my hips and stick my tongue out at my kid.  So there!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Parenting Manual: Job Description

The universal parent manual leaves out a lot of important stuff when it comes to the job description for mother.  For instance, it extols the joys of motherhood, explains the birth process and sets you up for day to day infant care with a fair amount of accuracy.  When is comes to the less tangible "worry" section, it . . .well, it falls flat.  There is no time line for when you might be "finished" with the parenting process - especially the worry.  So, I figured it must be upon graduation from college.  The child has grown, become educated and is now ready to face the world on his own.  Who was I kidding?  With a kid who graduated into the worst economic crisis in our lifetime, I quickly learned that what really happens is that the worry just shifts because it still takes up the same amount of space, time and stomach aches. 

Lucky for you guys, I realized long ago that as far as my friends go, age doesn't matter.  At some point everyone becomes my age-- great for the older friends, maybe not so great for the younger ones but  that is beside the point.  I am only bringing this up because I have a friend who just had her first child three weeks ago and that, coupled with the recent death of someone else's child has thrown me into an introspective tizzy for which I simply MUST verbalize.

As I held this incredibly perfect, 8 pound bundle of beauty recently new to the world, I marveled at how her emergence has completely changed the priorities of her young parents.  It doesn't matter how ready you BELIEVE you are, the moment the baby arrives you revel in the joys of a healthy poop, attune to the sound of steady breathing, and knowing from that time on you will do whatever it takes to ensure their child's life is all it can be.  And sometimes those challenges are colossal. 

I look at the women I am blessed to know and find that I stand in awe of their of what they do everyday in the name of motherhood without the slightest clue that  what they do is admirable because it is simply part of the job. 

I have a good friend who, just five months ago learned that her son is gay.  When our children are born, we build dreams for them based on what our society has dubbed a "norm."  He will grow up, become successful, fall in love, get married and have kids.  All well and good if you aren't the mother of a gay child because all of those things certainly can happen, it just isn't how you have pictured it. And so, when after he had come out to his friends and the word started to spread,  he came out to his mother without any real guarantee that she would accept it.  Faced with this startling admission, this mom, who never saw it coming did the only natural thing she could do: she gathered her little boy into her arms and cried.  Were they tears of grief?  Sadness over what now would never be as she pictured?  No, as she held her son in her arms she cried for the pain he had held to himself for the last two years and said a prayer of thanks that his painful secret had not driven him to do the unthinkable.

 We are not prepared, when we are learning Lamaze breathing, and focusing on the impending birth for what that newborn will require when the care is lifelong.  I have another friend whose oldest child was born with a myriad of disabilities. Recently, she spent a good week in the ICU because her now 23 year old son had been experiencing increasingly dangerous seizures.  The idea being that when the next seizure of that sort occurred, it could be witnessed, recorded and then treated.  The room was like a fishbowl with medical staff observing them at all hours.  Her son's head was hooked and wired to transmitters and they simply lived their days out in that glass room HOPING for a dangerous seizure so that they could figure out how to manage them and move on.  My friend never once complained, never once lamented that her own birthday was spent in that fishbowl and NEVER considered a pity party as an option.  Instead, she jokingly referred to her situation with the cameras and infrared cameras, microphones and such as her own reality show...called... "Our Little Head Case!", all the while hoping for the dangerous seizure because that's what was needed to help him in the long run. 

Another friend  has a terrific son who, in his new found freedom of college has found that sometimes there are consequences that are costly to say the least ( and who among us hasn't been there?).  And while she worries and frets over his choices, she knows in the end he will have to figure it out on his own.  Let's face it, we can only hope the lessons we taught manifest themselves at some point and our children become happy, law abiding adults. 

Children are challenges.  Although the caliber of challenge differs from child to child and sometimes the challenges we are presented with feel insurmountable, that is never an option.  As mothers, we NEVER give up on our children.    Last week a twenty one year old child died after fighting an insidious disease.  His mother  has had to face probably the most gut wrenching challenge one can face.  After having her own killer stem cells harvested and transplanted to her son, she had to stand by while, in the end, it did not offer the miracle we had all hoped.  Instead, she had to face that her child was going to die and support him through it until the end. 

It's what mothers do. 

And that is what needs to go into the parenting manual under, "job description."

Sunday, May 2, 2010

It's Not In The Parent Manual

It's not often that I find myself at a loss for words, but that very thing occurred just the other day when I was in the process of writing about yet another job I worked where hyjinx eventually ensues.  I was writing along at a pretty good clip feeling like I had the world by a tail when I stopped to look at my Facebook and my world tilted.  No, it really wasn't a tilt, it was a full on JOLT and it happened just like that.  To be fair, there is no humor in what I have to offer and I'm feeling like it might even be a two parter. 

I saw this post on Facebook and it stopped me cold.  It said, "R.I.P Nick, you are in a better place."  It only took a moment for me to confirm that Nick Smith, who just turned 21 last week and celebrated with a trip down to the college he left for 2 years ago - Baylor, had passed away; his battle with cancer finally over.  Nick was two years younger then my oldest and two years older than my yougest.  Byron is a small town and all of the kids know each other, but Nick was a runner as is Jeff and I spent many a track meet cheering for Nick all the way to the State Meet for two years.  Nick left for college an eager freshman but, it wasn't long before he was diagnosed with Leukemia and he spent the next two years fighting, learning and loving life  inspite of it all. 

What I find completely heartbreaking is his final posted status on Facebook.  He posted this the night before he passed: 

the foebodding [sic] spectre of spending most of the summer In a hospital getting sicker again is one I have neither the strength to overcome or that special someone to make the choice easier."

 I am a trained hospice volunteer. I have spent countless hours with dying patients and I have experienced the gift that the dying have to offer.   Even with the prophetic post, I didn't see this coming and when I found out, I came apart.  Maybe it is the mother in me who grieves for his mom, maybe it is the abruptness in which I found out or maybe it is the sadness in realizing that he had so much to offer the world, his friends and family that will go unfinished.  Whatever it was, my response surprised me.   I found myself walking that fine line of grief.  Do I remain stoic and strong so that my own child has someone to lean on ( and really, who am I fooling with that thought?)  Or do I show him the depth of my sorrow and hope he absorbs the truth: all mothers feel the loss when a child dies. 

Sometimes I hate being a grown-up.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

How Did We Ever Survive Without All The Rules??

It's no secret that our local high school is undergoing a crisis of sorts.  Here's the jist of it.  Over the last few years the discipline code has been rewritten and tweaked into some of the most laughable offenses you can imagine.  The most obvious change has been the lanyard and the bulk of discipline action it has caused.  Briefly, the administration instituted a rule that all Byron students must wear ID badges on a lanyard around their neck.  Ostensibly, the ID was to identify the student and verify that he was a student in the school.  Forget that there are only about 150 kids in any given class year and everyone knows each other.  So, identification seemed rather silly.  But, it get's tighter.  The ID can only be displayed on an approved and provided Byron black and orange lanyard.  They MAY NOT wear their ID on a clip.  They MAY NOT wear their ID on a decorative lanyard.  They MAY NOT decorate the badge or the lanyard in anyway.  Any breach of this constitutes a detention that grows to a Saturday School.  Thus, the whole purpose of the ID tag has been lost to the lanyard.  And let's face it, an ID badge is false protection.  It doesn't prevent poor choices nor does it protect anyone from someone elses dangerous actions.  And while I will stop short of comparing it to having to wear a yellow star during Hitler's reign; it resides along the same vein.  And kids have both rebelled and been deeply disciplined for their mode of compliance ( or non - compliance.)  It causes me to stop and ask myself how in the world I and anyone I went through school with managed to become happy, successful, GOOD citizens given the lack of stringent rules applied to our school in the 70's.

Recently on Facebook a photo was posted by someone I went to high school with that inspired some wonderful memories of a particular day in 1977.  I have included the photo here as it appeared on the monthly Highlander, our HS newspaper.  There were approximately 650 students in each class and at that time we were a 10-12 school.  And. . . it was the 70's ergo, we had an open campus whereby we could leave at will during studyhall and lunch, hang out in the commons, smoke in the courtyard and call ourselves in sick if we were 18.  There was often a line of kids standing at the phone booth that sat in the lobby of the school right across from the attendance office waiting to phone in their absence and head out to something more fun. . .especially in spring.

There was a group of seniors that hung around together and were dubbed, "The Pigs."  These guys were your typical good looking, well liked, goofy and popular type and they had put themselves up on the block on a day that no longer is considered politically correct.  Slave Day.  The Pigs were purchased for a lot of money ( I want to say something like $212) and were required the next day to serve at the will of their buyer.  And the picture was taken that morning as they made their way down the hall in the garb they were required to wear.  Just look at the photo - it is a recipe for expulsion now-a-days.  We have 4 guys wearing skirts.  We have 4 guys in make-up, 4 guys wearing signs around their necks - one with a suggestive sexual comment ( which we girls all knew just couldn't be true!)  That would NEVER fly in school now -- at least in Byron.  Could those boys possibly be worthy of graduation or any kind of success in life?  Let's see.

The guy to the very left is Fax Bahr and really, if you don't know him, Google him but let me just say, "In Living Color"; creator of "Mad TV"; documentary film maker; comedy writer and producer to name a few. The next guy is Rich Snee who has become very successful in the area of children's music.  Then is Brad - he owns his own appraisal service that contracts with all of the major banks in northern Michigan.  He is the "Go To" guy in the Michigan mortgage and real estate industry.  And finally there is Drew.  It's no coincidence that he shares a name with my oldest.  In high school he was the guy EVERYONE liked and that stayed with me when Dave and I were naming our baby ( and we both agreed on it!)  Drew is a high school art teacher and a hugely talented scultpure.  I wish he had a website I could post but I can tell you he has a particular piece called, "The Giver" that I DREAM about it is THAT engaging.

I just wonder if all of these arbitrary rules are really making our children any better than we were.  And when our kids look back, I wonder if their memories will be filled with the height of hilarity or of times tempered with what they weren't allowed to do.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Vegas? I'd Rather Run Away With The Circus

There isn't anything that can be written about Las Vegas that hasn't been written already.  Except maybe this - I hate Las Vegas.  I don't just hate Las Vegas, I loathe it.  Crowds that aimlessly mill about staring gape mouthed at the Eiffel Tower, the statue of Liberty and the Great Pyramid of Giza all in a one square block; blue haired ladies with red lipstick and a cigarette dangling from their lips as they play the penny slots; and the constant assualt of bells ringing, machines beeping and horns honking on my ears are only part of the problem.  Apparently, I no longer consider losing money a form of entertainment.  And really?  I've seen some Vegas shows that have left me totally underwhelmed.  That is, until I saw Cirque Du Soliel's "KA." 

Holy Schnikees!  As you may recall, we were there to see Jason Zulauf perform in the show and take a backstage tour.  Well, if it weren't for bad luck, the Coltman's would have no luck at all.  The weekend we were there was the weekend of the Oscars which equals a theater with no celebrities.  Ok, I can handle that, I'm really there to see the show not see celebrities see the show.  Then, we get a call from Jason's father.  Jason is ill, he hasn't missed a show in 5 years but he is not going to be appearing.  However, he arranged for his girlfriend Cheri, another artist and one of the main stars of the show, to meet us and give us a tour.

The show itself is beyond any discription I can offer.   To try would render it just adequate. The stage is mobile and is often set vertical, perpendicular to the floor and the performers flip, dance and fly up and down the thing.  There is a story that is sometimes difficult to follow only because I was so mesmerized by the action, I lost myself in the moment.  If Vegas is sensory overload in the worst way, KA is sensory orgasm ( yeah, I said it.)

Afterward, we met Cheri and her sister at the door and she took us backstage.  Cheri plays one of the main characters in KA and is tiny.  I mean so tiny that if I were a few inches shorter and weighed alot less I would still look like an oaf next to her.  What she may lack in stature is made up in incredible talent, vast backstage knowledge and kindness.  Cheri explained how the stage moved, how the costumes are stored and how much the wigs cost ( 5 digits.)  She explained some of the moves that Jason performs and showed us the dressing rooms.  She did all of this at 11:30 p.m. while all of the other performers were changing and rushing home to begin their "weekends."  I'd say our bad luck was really GREAT luck!

And that, the whole Cirque experience, erased the fact that I smoked 2 packs of cigarettes just by breathing, collected a card decks worth of call girl cards on the street, and lost $20 in a slot machine. Cirque Du Soliel?  YES!  Vegas?  Meh.

Friday, March 5, 2010

And He Ran Away To Joined The Circus

I have spoken often of the plethora of famous people that hale for my part of Michigan. . .as nauseum.  There are, however, several people from the northern Illinois  area who have gone on to become famous as well.  There's Joan Allen, Michele Williams of TLC, William Katz and of course THE Jason Zulauf.  Who?  You know, the kid who ran away with the circus?

A few years ago Dave came home from work with a story about a co-worker's kid.  This kid had been a champion diver and gymnast in Sterling and was recognized by some pretty impressive people.  But, as Dave tells the story, . . ."Jason up and joined the circus at 16." 

"And his parents were OK with this?" I ask incredulously.
"I guess so, Zulauf was talking about it today.  Said they pay him pretty well and pay for his housing.  I guess it's pretty well known. "
I imagined Jason as one of the flying trapeze guys - living in a small trailer behond the elephants and really, I wondered what in the world his parents were thinking.  The circus?  I am a former carnie ( another article altogether!) and I know there are just too many diseases you can catch on the road with, well, clowns.  But who I am to judge?  My parents let me work in carnivals one summer.

Months - maybe years pass and Dave again comes home and says, "Remember when I told you about Jason Zulauf joining the circus?  Well, they are coming back to the states to open a show here. "

Hmmmmm, I think.  A circus that has been traveling out of the country.  A well known circus.  They pay well.  I can add 2+2+2 and get 6 so I ask, "What is the name of this circus?"

"I dunno, " Dave shrugs, "something foreign I think."

"Something foreign like Cirque du Soliel by any chance?"  I ask.
He snaps his fingers, "Yeah, that's it!"
"And they are opening a permanent show in Las Vegas, right?"
"Yeah," Dave says, "How do you know?"
BECAUSE IT'S FREAKIN CIRQUE DU SOLIEL not some rinky dink traveling circus.  Homer Simpson forehead slap and required, "DOH!"

So Jason is one of the leads in "Ka" in Vegas and we are headed there this weekend to see the show.  Afterward, we are meeting Jason and he is giving us a back stage tour.  I don't want to be a name dropper - Tom Cruise - but many celebrities attend the later show and go back stage afterward to meet the performers.  I'm not saying that all those celebs will be clamoring to have their pictures taken with me, but rest assured, I will be lurking in the background of any and all photos where celebrities gather so look for me on E!  Or not. 

I'm off to the circus!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Observations from My Chair

It's January. It's cold. It's gray. It's either going to rain ice or snow - neither of which I anticipate with any amount of glee. I'm not a winter person. The fact is, I am so completely controlled by light and temperature that I am going to admit something that will blow the lid off my social cover.

I don't do much all day when the weather is cold. It's true. There is a red chair in my living room located right next to the large picture window. I begin my days there with the morning news, a cup of coffee and Special K bar. I then spend the next 2 hours trying to talk myself into hitting the elliptical. I literally make deals with myself, "After I check my email one more time . . . as soon as I hear the weather forecast (which is on a half hour loop and I've heard 4 times already) . . . when the latest on Tiger Woods has been broadcast." And I do pay my dues on said machine usually before 10 a.m. But what about the rest of the day?

Chances are good if you live anywhere near me, I know your schedule. Mary Jane, my next door neighbor has the energy and metabolism of a humming bird. I don't know where she has been so early in the morning but wherever it has been, she is returning home at 6:30 in the morning. The school bus picks up the little girl who lives with her grandma across the highway at 6:50 a.m. It's still dark out and the bus waits for a few minutes if she isn't quite ready. Shortly after, two sets of parents drop off their children at the M's house for daycare. One of the mom's always honks as she pulls out of the driveway and the little girl in the window blows a kiss. At about 7:30 Mike heads up town for breakfast at the Swedish Pancake House returning an hour and a half later unless it is Wednesday when he heads to a cemetery in Chicago to pay respects to his late wife. Yeah, my morning goes like that.

If, by some odd chance I have an appointment, social engagement or job then the routine gets switched up a little. Last week I subbed in the middle school of another district. I awoke, showered, dressed, had coffee and landed at the school at 7 a.m. I was "on" all day and I loved interacting with those kids (and yes, I was shocked!) We headed up to Spanky's for a Taco Tuesday dinner and I was ready for bed by 7:30 p.m. Thank goodness I wasn't scheduled the next day because I needed to sit in my red chair and recuperate. Yesterday, I was meeting my BFF Deb for coffee at 11 a.m. Thus, I was able to monitor the usual goings on of the morning before getting, dressed, doing my hair and putting on make-up. Why would I do this just for coffee with a friend? Because, if I am going to slog outside in this gray mass of cold and ice, I wasn't going to waste the effort simply on coffee . . . I was going to stop at the grocery store which in my experience is a golden ticket to run into every person you have ever known when you aren't publicly presentable. And by God, I was right. I not only ran into one of my Planning Committee gals (we get together to plan nothing in particular but we know it sounds important) but my old friend Nancy too, both of whom took one look at me and asked when I was headed to California. Glad my make-up and hair as well as my animated personality fooled em.

I am teaching first grade tomorrow. I will get up, get dressed and land at school for a full day of talking with a perma smile. Then, I will get on a plane and head to California for a week of vitamin D therapy. I hope I don't miss my red chair.