If you can't say something nice, at least make it funny!

Thanks for visiting Tinfoil Magnolia, a blog about my life, times, marriage, friendships and all the strange things that happen to me and with me. I hope you find something here that will encourage you, inspire you or at the least entertain you. And if it doesn't today, check back tomorrow because, my life? honestly...

Sunday, June 23

Half a year

Five Minutes on a Sunday morning. With Jana's Thinking Place and Stream of Consciousness Sunday.

My thoughts are spinning this Sunday morning. So much has been going on this week. I find it harder and harder to keep up with it all.

This has been one hell of a month, actually hell of a year. I remember white knuckling it to finish out 2012 with hopes that this would be better. But no such luck.

Mom surgery, twice. Me surgery. Sis in law and mom in law surgery. Friend died. Friend diagnosed bi-polar. Friends divorced. Editor fired. I now have 2 jobs to do until further notice.

However, this year, for some reason, I feel that I've come into my own. Finally. Embraced who I am and what I stand for and embraced the fact that if people don't like that, they don't deserve to be my friend. I've met new people and forged friendships with them based on who and what I really, truly am.

2013 may go down in my history as a very complex year, or a very terrible year depending on how I choose to see it. Only time will tell.

Wednesday, June 19

Callie P.

Callie P. Herndon 1993-2013

She got quiet. She became withdrawn and avoided us. She swayed when she walked and couldn't get up on the sofa to cuddle anymore. She started sleeping almost all the time and stopped eating.

I took my 20 year old cat to the vet to be put down yesterday. By 5 p.m. I was driving aimlessly through my small town, uncertain what to do next, my dead cat in a crate in the back seat of my car.

At the age of 45 and 3/4 I am pet-less for the first time I can ever remember in my life. We always had a dog or a cat or a bird or a hamster throughout my childhood. When I got my first apartment, I adopted a sweet little black cat who I named Spaz. For obvious reasons.

In 1993 some kids in my apartment complex pulled a teeny tiny kitten out of one of the dumpsters. Well, I couldn't just let her die, could I? Or live in a shelter?

She was terrified. Spaz tormented her, and she basically stayed under the bed all day, coming out only to eat and use her box. Eventually, she became braver and more personable, but she always was relatively shy.

Once Spaz was gone, he died in 2007, her personality really changed. She became bolder, friendlier, as if she realized that she was the queen of it all. It was like having a different cat.

Callie was a great pet, aside from all the shedding. She never jumped up on the table, didn't get on the kitchen counters, didn't get into our food. Spaz did all of those things and so much more. She was totally easy to live with and wanted not much more than a lap to cuddle when she was in the mood. She loved to chase the laser pointer.

We buried her at my mom and dad's place, where Spaz rests along with my childhood cat Simon and another cat that I raised from a kitten, a yellow tabby named Bailey. The cat graveyard is now complete.

It's crazy how attached we become. However, after the suffering Spaz went through in his final week of life, and the grieving I went through, Mitch and I decided that when it was time we'd accept it and let Callie go. I didn't want her to suffer.

I can only hope when I am old and I can't eat my favorite food anymore, can't get into my favorite chair anymore and can't walk by myself without great effort....well, someone will be so compassionate with me. Honestly.....

My last look at the cutest speckled ear ever. 

By the way, ask me sometime about how I ended up driving 12 hours with a dead cat in my car.

Sunday, June 16

About my dads

This morning I am taking time for Stream of Consciousness Sunday over at Jana's Thinking Place. I already wrote a long, thoughtful blog post this morning about my dad but I'm also very much in favor of the occasional "brain dump" so I'm doing this as well.

Since I wrote almost an hour on my other post, this is the required, 5 minute, timed and unedited Father's Day edition!

My Dads

As an adopted child, the word parents, dad, and mom take on so many extra layers. There's so much meaning, so much left out, so much missing and so much extra to the words that so many people take for granted. I get to live first hand the nature v. nurture debate every day of my life. I will never know who my biological father is, or if I look like him, walk like him or act like him. I will never know if he is an artist or a writer or athlete (doubtful) or a postal clerk, cpa, or english professor.

But what I do know is that I've had two men in my lifetime who have been fathers to me. One is the dad I grew up with and the second is my husband's father, who treated me like a daughter from the moment I met him.

My dad, a salesman, taught me how to bargain, how to adapt and change to fit in, and how to get up and go to work every day. He taught me to appreciate and even crave more in life and to want nice things and be willing to bust my ass to get them.

My late father-in-law taught me that dads can be hands on, working around the house, going out and farming, hugging on their kids, demonstrative, emotional, fun loving people.

I have to great and very different examples of fatherhood before me and for that I am eternally grateful. Who could ask for more?

About my dad.....

Today is Father's Day. I've written here in the past about my husband's father, who passed away in 2006. But I've never written about my own dad.

I love my dad very much. However, I have never felt especially close to him. I've always thought it was because of his old-fashioned views about women and my extremely liberal, modern view that we are as good as men. It caused a lot of issues between us and while I've often wondered, as someone who grew up in a family with a very WWII inspired family dynamic, how did I get to be who I am?

The biggest thing I remember about dad from my early childhood is that he just wasn't around a lot. True or not, that's how it seemed. He had a job that kept him on the road a lot. I remember my brother and I would snuggle in and sleep with mom in their huge king-sized bed while he was gone. We would be so disgruntled when he came home and we were kicked out back to our own beds!

But as an adult, I know that he was working to provide for the family and being a responsible dad. So this morning I was thinking, I wonder what else has caused distance between us because I, as a selfish child (lets face it all children are selfish), saw it as a negative. Many of these things, looking back as an adult, are really a positive and have made me who I am today.

My dad has always been a good provider. He was in sales, and he was damned good at his job. The man could sell ice in Alaska. He worked hard to provide for us and while we weren't wealthy by any means, I grew up for the most part in a middle class home. Well, back when there was such a thing. There were times when things were tough, but I know he always hustled to keep us fed, sheltered and clothed.

As a good provider, he set an example of how to be a hard worker. I don't remember a day ever in my childhood that my dad did not get up, put on a suit and tie and leave the house in the morning. This includes an extended period of unemployment in the late 1970's when things were less than ideal economically in our country. I don't know or need to know where he went every day, but I know he was out hustling to find a job. He was never one to sit around and wait for anything.

My dad was always a dreamer. He always had plans and ideas and wishes to make his (and by extension, ours) life better. He liked having nice things, nice cars, clothes, and homes. Though I know it was frustrating for my mom, ever the down to earth realist who had to reel him in, he was always looking for that pot of gold.

My dad is adventurous. He has always had a serious wanderlust and moved around like a gypsy most of his life, following his job or just his instinct. One of my earliest memories is of my mom, brother and me in my pajamas on the runway at the airport picking dad up from a business trip. He used to travel a lot and was gone a lot when I was little, but I know it was just part of earning a living for the family. And it taught me how to change and adapt and make new friends easily.

After he had to take early retirement around 60, I thought he'd wither away without somewhere to go every day. He found something to do part-time and within a few years started a business that has grown to epic proportions. It has provided him and mom with a retirement income that most people don't have, and more than that it has given him a purpose for getting up and going every day. He's now almost 85 and still running that business almost 20 years after it started.

My dad is good with people. He always has a smile, a joke, a story. It's part of what makes him good at sales. He truly enjoys being around people, visiting, joking and talking to them.

My dad knows how to bargain. This is a skill that I believe is getting lost in our culture, and one that I believe every parent owes it to their child to teach. I know how to bargain if I am in a situation to do so, and I don't hesitate to do it. We, as Americans, don't like to do it– we cringe at the thought and as a result are taken advantage of way too often.

I once bought a used Mercedes, offering the dealer $13,000 on a $16,500 pricetag. I called my dad proudly to tell him about my victory. “I got it for 13,200!” To which he replied, “Tsk. He would have gone to 13! If he could do 13,200 he could do 13.” That's the kind of no holds barred bargaining he enjoys, and he's much more bold about it than I am.

My dad was our fearless protector. He did anything and everything to help us out when we were kids. He was one of those dads who took up for us and stood up for us no matter what. And now that we're adults I know we could still count on him.

My dad is a very old-fashioned man. Although sometimes that is a bone of contention for me as a very modern woman and someone who has always believed in women's equality (I honestly don't know WHERE I got it from) I believe it is a virtue, in a way. Because it makes him who he is. He is the type of man who got up, got dressed and went to work every day to provide for his family. He took care of my mom and is her best friend. He took care of us, and still does in many ways.

The thing is, I have always believed that my dad and I were total opposites and that's why we didn't get along great. I always envied the "daddy's girls" that I knew. But only today do I realize that we are so much alike it's scary.

So, happy father's day to my dad, Jack Peyton. I love you very much and appreciate all you've done for me in my life. I know I can always, always count on you.

Thursday, June 13

Here's to you!

Lately I've had a ridiculous and overwhelming urge to get out my sewing machine, blow off the dust and start sewing things.

Now, while I'm not a novice behind the sewing machine, I'm no expert either. I've made curtains, hemmed skirts, tailored in t-shirts-easy things that aren't a big deal. But pleats, zig zags, anything with curves or any kind of detail, forget it.

I can sew a straight line. On a good day. But for some reason right now I feel like I can totally slipcover my sofa cushions, make that tank dress into something cuter by adding material from a skirt that doesn't fit anymore. Or take a skirt that is too big and attach a shirt that is too short to make a cuter one piece dress from it.(Damn you Whitney!)

I know. Anyone who knows me knows. I am delusional. It's like when I watch Olympic ice skating and actually believe in my mind that I could pull off a triple axel or a salchow. What? Like it's hard?

In reality, I'm sure my sewing machine will stay safely tucked away in the closet where it allegedly is, but I have no idea because I've never unpacked it since we moved here 4 years ago. I am not even sure it made the trip here from Pennsylvania.

But the reason I'm so delusionally inspired?

I'm surrounded right now by a lot of artistic people. People with talents who actually earn a living, no matter how modest, through their arts. This, I love. This, inspires me. This, is necessary for me.

Friends who paint, dance, take pictures, write, design and create clothing, paint pottery, make soaps and candles, run galleries, and just “imaginate” their way through life.

As someone who spent the first 15 years of my adult life in a profession that was very, very wrong for me, it's hard to explain what this means to me. I now make my living in an artistic profession and have done so for almost 3 years now.

I returned to my writing almost three years ago, first through my blog and then through freelancing for the newspaper where I now work. I have written a novel that needs some serious attention and editing, and have begun a memoir that needs a lot more of everything before it is complete.

My point is this. If I weren't surrounded by so much creativity I wouldn't be nearly as inspired to be creative, artistic and offbeat. I feed off their energy. And I hope they do mine as well, in some small way.

I know now something that I never realized before. It is...stifling for me not to have other people around me who understand what it is like to have this....thing. And equally as energizing to have them around.

But artists, we're a different breed, all of us our own kind of crazy. Some reign it in and try to maintain a normal fa├žade while others revel in their eccentricities. But we all have it, whether we like to admit it or not.

We're neurotic, hyper, depressed, schizophrenic, bi-polar, split personality sons of bitches who'd run off all our friends if only they weren't as batshit crazy as we are. And the people who love us, well they'd better really love us. 1,000%, especially if they are a non-artistic ilk. We can only hope they love us not only in spite of our crazy but because of it (at least a little bit of the time).

It's been just over 3 years since I kicked off Tinfoil Magnolia in April, 2010. Although I've neglected her somwhat over the past year or so, she is not forgotten. I feel every other day that I will reign my life in just enough to at least commit 3 days per week to posting here. Sometimes (well most of the time) it just doesn't happen. But this blog means a lot to me.

Yesterday a friend of mine told me that he'd received a pretty serious diagnosis. Not one, I don't think, that he was entirely surprised to hear, not one he hadn't suspected. But hearing it in black and white, sometimes that's another thing, isn't it?

Although we've never met in person, I consider him a friend. He was the first non-relative or friend to comment or follow Tinfoil Magnolia when I began the blog. I had no idea who he was or how he found me, but I am so glad he did.

So I'm thinking of my friend and his wife and family today. His new diagnosis? Well, it's always been part of who he is. Part of the artist crazy. It doesn't change how I think or feel about him. I don't have to deal with it daily as his family does, but to change that part of him, I would think, would change who he is on a basic level. As it would for any of us.

The fact of the matter is, and this goes for all of us, it makes us who and what we are. Our narcicissms, our addictions, our faults, our neuroses-they are all part of us. Our insecurities, our grandiose thoughts, our voices and all of our personalitites. It makes life wonderful and difficult and passionate and thoughtful. And I embrace that about all of my friends.

No matter how crazy they might make me. :)