Sued51's Blog











{April 5, 2017}   Eviction Notice

You! What are you still doing here? Didn’t I tell you your presence here was only temporary???!

pike of snow

Snow Pile

It’s April! You have overstayed your welcome! And you are dirty and disgusting like Jabba the Hut! NO one wants you here!

I’m serving you an eviction notice. I have brought both the rain and sun as my deputies….You are done you lazy loafer! Be gone by the end of the week!

SPRING



{August 13, 2015}   Of Buttons and Badges

buttons, badges

Button collection

The sorting, selling, and throwing out continues as I attempt to downsize.

I found this last week: my button collection (or badge collection as my British friend Brian would say). I made this guitar-shaped “pillow” to hang on the wall and display them back in my music-is-life days. I made one for my friend Jane too. (You can read about our favorite bands back in the 80s here.)

My first job out of college was as a receptionist at a law firm. It was a take-whatever-job-you-can-get time (just like the present). I dressed up in skirts and blazers for my job, but my “rebellion” of sorts (or personal life spillage) was that I always wore a music button. Conservative dress would just be Elvis Costello’s face in black and white rather than the more colorful ones. Our law firm wasn’t one with visitors coming in and out; we represented mostly companies and businesses. The office was one big room with rows of desks where lawyers and secretaries sat together like schoolchildren.

No one there commented about my buttons…except the secretary who sat behind me. She dressed in the latest fashions, wore lots of makeup and dripped with jewelry…and sarcasm. One day I wore a turquoise velour v-necked shirt and wore my hair up. The lawyer she worked for came in and said, “Well look at you…you look almost beautiful today!” To which she replied, “I wouldn’t go THAT far!”  When I left that job she said, “Let me give you a piece of advice…grow up and stop wearing those buttons!” Naturally I just laughed…I was only 22 after all.

I didn’t heed her advice and continued to wear them. I continued to call them buttons until the fateful day when wearing them led to my meeting my British friend Brian. And I met him thanks to a button, a Lloyd Cole and the Commotions button to be exact. My friend Julie and I went on a tour group trip to London; Brian worked for the tour company. As we went to ask him a question, it took only a moment for him to spy my button…er, badge, as I soon learned. We started talking about music and found that we liked a lot of the same bands. Julie and I ended up going out to some clubs with him during that trip and met some friends of his that played in British bands. Over the years he sent me tapes and continued to introduce me to new bands, and became a friend.

All because of a badge. So glad I didn’t listen to Ms. Fashionable’s advice!



{March 13, 2015}   Tidbits from Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe's shopping bag, supermarket, Trader Joe's

Shopping Bag

I love Trader Joe’s. I don’t do all my shopping there, but I love their image, their marketing, and some of the interesting products they carry. And when I go there, I can honestly say the employees make it fun.

I usually shop there for specific products, one of which is Trader Joe’s Rustic bread. Anyone who has been there knows that they have a station where someone is cooking up samples featuring at least one of their products. Last sunday a woman was making a “special” grilled cheese sandwich: one with Dubliner cheese (a mild cheddar they are featuring for St. Patrick’s Day) and fig butter using the Rustic Bread. Right up my alley! I thought it was delicious! So…the Dubliner Cheese and Fig Butter joined the Rustic Bread in my bag. I hung out there for a bit by the little sample coffee cups to watch other people’s reaction to the sandwich and butt in, encouraging them to try it. I laughed and told the lady I was helping her sell it. 🙂 While I stood there, she was telling me other recipes she has tried. She recommended making meatballs in Red Pepper Jelly…mmm…I love red pepper jelly too!

At one point a male employee came over to talk to the woman about a trip she had made to the Providence Bruins game the day before. Apparently her nephew plays for either the Bruins or their opponent, and she said 25 family members went to the game and “he got quite a bit of ice time.” She said they had a lot of fun. The male employee said his niece (or little sister?…I didn’t listen well enough…) was going to be in some kind of production being held in Worcester. He said he had a “gig” that night but he was going to try to make it. Ah, I thought, grocery worker by day, band member by night? My mind recorded all of this for a future story (or maybe just this blog).

I proceeded to the register, and talked to the very pregnant young woman in front of me in line who was trying to control her toddler. I had put my shopping bag down on the floor and he was very interested in what I was buying. I looked in her basket and thought I saw cilantro, which I had forgotten I needed for the turkey chili I was making that day. I told her that and she laughed, “Oh no…that’s just the leaves on the flowers I’m buying. Isn’t that funny?” Suddenly a Trader Joe’s employee appeared next to me and said, “Can I get you anything?” “Yes,” I said, “I forgot cilantro!” Off she went…it took a little bit of time so I started to think they didn’t have any, but meanwhile the cashier chatted with the lady in front of me.

“You’ve got your hands full!” he said.

“Yes” she said, “and another coming soon. What were we thinking?!” We all laughed. And then, here was my employee with the cilantro. “It was the last one!” Ah…aren’t I lucky? I was having a good day.

Finally as I left the store and walked back to my car, I suddenly heard a booming and amazing male voice singing, “Oh Jamie, oh Jamie.” I looked around thinking maybe Trader Joe’s had hired a singer to entertain their customers. Yes, and no…the source of voice was a Trader Joe’s employee collecting the baskets! And no…he wasn’t mentally challenged as far as I could tell, but what a voice! I was too far away to acknowledge that I thought he was great (that’s how LOUD and strong his voice was) but I got in my car smiling from ear to ear. The only thing that would have made it more perfect is if my name was Jamie.




sunrise over snow

Sunrise Over the Snow Pile

Good morning from the New Artic (I mean New England)!

I want to say “Thank you” and “Welcome” to all my new followers!

I will come and visit you all and thank you individually as soon as I can. I have been a bit snowed in lately, by the weather and by life’s complications: an accident; a death; and snow, snow, and more snow!

snow out the window

View Out the Window

See you (and spring) soon, I hope! 🙂



{November 5, 2014}   Talking to Ourselves

cartoon

Talking to Yourself

I have a confession to make: I talk to myself…a lot. I have done so since I was a child when my brother would harass me with his “talking to yourself” song and make me feel bad (and how many times in my life did people give me weird looks and tell me I was crazy…more times than I can count). But the reason I am able to confess this in such a public way now is because I’m not ashamed of it anymore. Now I realize how many people do it…a lot.

This thought struck me yesterday as I listened to a coworker: a lovely woman who I don’t think is crazy at all. And suddenly I became aware that many people I work with chatter away to themselves all day. I hear them as they use the copy machine, which is near my cube, and I listen to the mumblings that float over the walls. Is it more prevalent now than when I was young or am I just noticing it because of close working conditions? Is it an age thing? (Most of the people in question are over 40.) I’m not sure I know the answer to that, but I allowed myself to observe some of the functions this conversation seemed to provide for my coworkers (and myself):

  • We are helping ourselves get through a task (speaking the steps helps us to be involved in what we are doing). For myself, I find this especially helpful when I am doing something really boring when my mind tends to wander. It keeps me in the moment.
  • We are reminding ourselves of things. When I am interrupted, sometimes I forget that I had a planned list of things to do. “After I finish copying this material I need to put this on Joe’s desk and then stop at Kelly’s and pick up that file from her before I go to the bathroom on the way back to my desk…”
  • We “blow off steam” after an encounter with someone. “Boy, was that customer rude!” or “What a jerk!” It helps us get rid of frustration.
  • We are trying to make our own fun and keep ourselves entertained. I love hearing the little asides people mumble about conversations going on over the cube walls. They say it soft enough to not seem like they are participating in the conversation…and yet, loud enough that some people can hear and appreciate the comment.
  • Lastly, I think it relieves loneliness. Most workplaces discourage stopping by someone’s cube to tell them about an encounter that didn’t go well (or did); we are all supposed to keep our minds on our work and not socialize. And let’s face it, going to lunch with people who all sit silently around a table and look at their phones is not very satisfying social interaction.

So after writing all this I did a search and came up with this article. I guess I forgot that function of encouragement. That’s a big one.

Since it is now “okay” to talk to myself, I can at least make it work for me by making it positive instead of negative. Heck, maybe if someone overhears me congratulating myself they may join in.

All I know is that the constant chatter of people around me reminds me that I am not alone and I find it comforting.

What about you readers? Do you talk to yourself?



{August 25, 2014}   Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge

Cee’s right…there are definitely those photos that you don’t know what to do with but you can’t throw away…

Blue Car, Blue Building

Blue Car, Blue Building




Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Thank Goodness for Buffy The Vampire Slayer

We all have certain things that never fail to cheer us up, or at least help us to tolerate the less-than-perfect times. It is with a giggle I admit how often I have turned to Buffy in the last year.

One year ago I moved to my tiny apartment. Even with very little space, I decided to lug along my big, heavy TV with the built-in VCR and DVD players to put in my bedroom. As senseless as it may have seemed at the time, I have been grateful for it many times in the last year. Like when it took three appointments with three different technicians to get my cable and Internet running properly. As I was trying to settle in and find comfort in my new space I was able to turn to my “old technology” TV and pull out my Buffy the Vampire Slayer series DVDs. Ah…the clothes, the silliness, the witty writing…and the familiar characters…it was good to see them again. I didn’t feel so lonely and so lost.

A year later I was again having trouble with my cable and Internet; I’m up to Season Three now…and I’m grateful…again. I even told the customer service person on the phone about Buffy. When I couldn’t get a technician to come out for two days she said, “Well, I guess you’ll be watching Buffy again tonight!” And we laughed. I’ll bet she was grateful too… Buffy helped her not to have to deal with a frustrated customer.

And within that year I had a month and a half when my cable-connected living room TV was broken (it was the holidays…too much going on…then the TV repair man had to come out three times before he got the correct board to fix it). Buffy and my old TV kept me from feeling upset with things out of my control. After all, we have Buffy to protect us from the vampires and demons out to get us! 🙂

And when I had a horrible migraine, a terrible day at work, and sat in the waiting room for an appointment that had been changed to another day? Buffy and a bloody mary (get it?) was the redeeming ending to my day that allowed me to go to sleep with the confidence that the next day would be better.

You definitely wouldn’t call it binge watching as after one year I am only in Season Three, but I’m savoring it…every moment.

Tell me, readers, do you have a movie or TV show  you turn to in the “tough” times?




Last week definitely felt like an obstacle course for me. I was sick and just couldn’t get over it. Unfortunately I don’t “do rest” very well. Following advice and taking a couple of days off from work did not result in my laying in bed or on the couch with a book or watching TV (unfortunately it did not result in my getting rid of my infernal cough, either). I descaled my coffeemaker. I sorted through some mail. I played with the cats. Not strenuous activities by any means, but I have a hard time letting a day go by without doing anything on my “to do” list.

edited storyThe other (important to me) thing I did was to try to work on a short story I had planned on submitting this month. This is a time-sensitive goal because the publication usually charges a reading fee, but waives that fee in January. The end of the month is fast approaching so I didn’t want to let another day go by. I ended up creating my own obstacle course for achieving my goal.

The first obstacle was created by the fact that the story was written and saved in a many-versions-ago format of WORD (that I didn’t own, but borrowed) I had no “authorization” to open. So I basically retrieved it from the bowels of the computer. I had to open it in a notepad format and clear out the code. There were still sections that seemed misplaced, but it was mostly intact.  I cut and pasted the misplaced text (which appeared to be edited text, so still possibly valuable) and pasted it at the end of the document.

When I first read the story, it flowed with a consistent voice and SEEMED well-written and worth submitting. But then, I read it with my editor hat instead of my reader hat. The original version seemed to flow, but it was too simplistic. The verbs were too ordinary and it was full of those reviled parts-of-speech: adverbs. I had written it over 10 years ago, after all.

I began to edit on paper, getting rid of the adverbs and creating more active verbs. I found some elements of the story that didn’t seem believable, and tried to make some small changes to fix those problems. I soon had a mess on my hands: the voice became uneven and the flow had disappeared. I tried to type the revised version on the computer so I could work on it some more on the screen and had trouble following what I had done. It really became a chore! One that did not get done.

So here I sit typing this blog instead of working on the story. I am tempted to scrap my goal: the equivalent of sitting in the sand beneath the obstacle wall, unable to go any further.

So I sit here with my sandy butt, examining my motives: is this another excuse not to send anything out because of my fear of rejection and failure? I question whether I am better off going back to the original simplistic version and submitting it anyway — at least crossing that hurdle or mental block — or just submit the mess — or get up and walk away and pretend the whole thing never happened? Readers, what would you do?

Damn that wall looks hard to climb…especially when you are coughing your head off…



{December 5, 2013}   A Real “Happy” Birthday…

speed limit sign

Growing old is no more than a bad habit which a busy man has no time to form.

Andre Maurois

I’ve always dreaded birthdays because I used to use them as yardsticks for my life. I had EXPECTATIONS for what I should have accomplished by a certain age. No more.

When I think back to childish thinking, 55 was OLD!  The expectation back then was that 55 was retirement age; work accomplishments were over. But it is a totally different world now; many people don’t retire at all. It just so happened for me that I don’t really have a “career” anymore, but I’m not retired; I will likely work until I can’t anymore, but that’s a good thing! What else is good about it? I can get discounts in some places!

Seriously, I feel physically strong and I’m looking forward to the creative things I will do with the rest of my life. Today is just another beginning!

We turn, not older with years, but newer every day.

Emily Dickinson

I’m with you, Emily!




I have always loved Christmas decorations — their colors, their sparkle! It seemed like I could never have enough…until now. Whatever I have now, has to be enough. In my new small space I don’t have room for a big Christmas tree. This year my ornament collection of over twenty-five years, painstakingly unpacked, displayed, and repacked annually will stay packed away in storage. This year’s “late” Thanksgiving means this Christmas season is a short one, just 4 weeks (though the stores keep trying to make it seem longer) — definitely not worth digging through boxes in storage. Having anticipated this though, my 4-ft tabletop tree has been riding around in my car’s back seat for weeks. But what will I decorate it with? Surely I won’t be buying more ornaments? Imagination needs to be kicked into gear…But I do have something to draw on — a memory of a Christmas long ago…my Christmas in California.As someone born and bred in the Northeast, that was an oxymoron. Christmas is cold, and snow, and evergreens…

Tabletop Christmas Tree

Decorations to come…from my imagination…

That year my father had taken a temporary position in California. Near the end of his career as a marine draftsman, shipyards were closing and the need for ships was diminished, so he had to work where he could to support his family. I was in college, living in the house back home, while he, my mother, and younger brothers were living in an apartment in California. It was semester break and I was flying out to spend Christmas with them. I remember arriving at LAX two days before Christmas and seeing wreaths on the palm trees, thinking, “This is just wrong!” When we got back to their apartment, there was no Christmas tree! I was really disappointed and immediately complained. (I was young and ungrateful…after all, I should have just been happy to be with my family.) It could have been the start of a miserable holiday for everyone, but something wonderful happened. Always wanting to make me happy, my father said, “Let’s see what we can do…”

I followed him outside, not sure what he had in mind. Were we going out to buy one? Nope, he doesn’t have the car keys. Sticking out of the full dumpster outside was the top of a real Christmas tree; someone must have cut it off because the tree was too tall (or the ceiling too short). My dad pulled it out and said, “Here we go!”

I couldn’t help but smile, and I quickly jumped into the game. I pulled out some crushed soda cans…after all they were shiny and colorful! We got creative — using what we had and attaching things to the tree with bread ties my mother had stashed in a drawer. Our ornaments were stick-on bows, and gift tags, MacDonald’s toys, whatever we could find in the house…and we laughed and felt proud of our ingenuity. Charlie Brown had nothing on us!

I wish I had a picture of our “ugly” little tree to post here for you, but I don’t. I can only share a beautiful memory of a tree I will remember forever. A tree that helps me to remember to be grateful.



et cetera
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