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Whatever rings Mel's bells

Posts Tagged ‘happy endings’

Putting out fires at work

Usually when I use that phrase, I’m referring to urgent problems that I have to solve quickly.  Yesterday… not so much.

Yup!  Real fire!

Not a big one, mind you, but still, fire.  Open flame in a place where no open flame belongs.

Brent and I were pulling string into conduits in the north grade level, and Dave was up on a scaffold with Kim, showing her how to cad weld.  He decides to shield everything below from sparks – but he chooses to use a piece of cardboard.  I’d say that was his first mistake, but actually it was his second.  See, Kim was supposed to be his fire watch.  Which means she should have been down below him where the sparks would fall – and (incidentally) where the fire extinguisher was.

So the flammable-object-as-fire-protection was actually his second mistake.  It lit, of course, so he put it out.  Sort of…

Yup!  Third mistake was not making sure it was completely extinguished, which he compounded by then dropping the cardboard off the scaffold.  Needless to say, it flared back up and next thing you know, there’s flaming cardboard landing a foot away from me.

It was easily fixed, of course.  Grab cardboard (by non-burning end), stomp on cardboard, double check that it’s really out.  Problem solved.

But still, it was the talk of the crew for the rest of the day.  And probably will be when I get in today, as well!

Happy birthday, apprentice!

I got the most wickedly awesome birthday present today – a new career!

Last fall I got into the electrical trade, applying for an apprenticeship as an Inside Wireman and getting a  job as a low-voltage Sound & Communications Installer.  The installer job wasn’t meant to last forever, just till I got into my apprenticeship.  However, that can take a really long time – six months or even several years if you don’t get in the first time.  So I was just happy to be working at all, let alone in my chosen field.

Guess what?  I got into the program on my first try!  And today I went to my employer’s office and got dispatched out to my FIRST SITE AS AN APPRENTICE.  And it’s my birthday.  How about them apples?!?  Kiss it, retail, I told you I’m never coming back!

Gotta say, things got pretty hairy last fall, and I was worried I’d have to go back to the hateful retail world.  But I got the install job, and now I’m taking the first step on the five-year path to my Journeyman ticket.

I am SO. EXCITED.

It’s not about me

I’m really excited about the song I finished yesterday.  Why?  Because for once it has nothing to do with me.

Yup, I was inspired by the feel of a different song, and the first lyrics I came up with led to the second lyrics I came up with, and that set the tone for the whole shebang.  It didn’t exactly write itself, but it definitely didn’t come from my own life.

So now I need to polish and finish it up, and then I can play something that doesn’t make me feel like Taylor Swift.  😀

Great weekend

This weekend was really quite lovely.  Not what I expected in many ways, but lovely nonetheless.

Friday Shawn and I were planning on playing the Life Care Center in Port Orchard, but it was moved to next week.  So we got together and worked on some originals instead – finding harmonies and working out the arrangements, that sort of thing.  Then we put together a full 3-hour set list so we’ll be ready for gigs.  I was once again struck by how much I value these musical friendships that I’ve made recently.  There’s something so special in having at least a few people around you who share the same feelings and joys, and with whom you can share the crazy excited thoughts that run through your brain when you get random song ideas!

Well, after a couple of hours we headed for the Alderbrook, which was fabulous as always.  The crowd was good, the drinks were great, the scenery was incredible.  We played about a set and a half, then Robert Poole and Robert the flutist jammed for a bit.  The band actually went outside and sat down near the water while the guys did their thing!  😉  Then we headed back in to take over again and, lo and behold, Mike Pratt was in the house.  So when we got back up I dragged Mike on stage for a few songs, including a Travis Tritt duet and a group jam on Mustang Sally that had so many people we didn’t all fit on stage!  Before we knew it, it was time to shut down, but the party didn’t stop there.

Since several other musically inclined folks had showed up by then, we all ended up out on the patio around a fire pit, passing around a guitar and making up harmonies to all kinds of wonderful songs.  It wasn’t heaven, but it was pretty damn close, being outside with the music and the dancing and the people and the fire and the water and the stars…  Unfortunately, as the night wore on a very well-lubricated individual showed up and began making too much noise.  This of course Cannot Happen at a respectable establishment like the Alderbrook, so we were promptly removed from the scene.  That’s right, the BAND got bounced!  Priceless, eh?  It’s okay tho, I really had to get home to give Gumby his meds.

By the by, I got refills for him yesterday and I’m really happy!  See, I have to cut one of his three meds in half, and the pill is large and round, hence it tends to crush rather than break clean.  So every 4th pill or so ends up wasted.  (It’s still cheaper than getting the next smaller size and giving him 2 morning and 2 night!)  Well, to make a short story long, the pills are shaped differently now, so they cut easily and cleanly.  *happy dance*

Okay, back to the weekend…  Once again I missed my swim lesson, but this time it was because I had a class to teach at the same time, not because I’d been up too late the night before.  So I did my class, which went very well indeed.  Hopefully I will see my students back for project classes!  I’m really on the fence about teaching up there.  It’s hard to schedule, since my calendar changes around so often.  And the classes are set around 3 months in advance!  So it’s difficult.  And when I end up canceling other plans to drive 17 miles and teach a single student…  Well, let’s just say that the cost-benefit equation isn’t favorable.  But lately I’ve been having lots of multi-student classes, which makes things more palatable.  As you can see, I have reasons for wanting to quit before the next session starts.

But my class did go well, and after that I had a good chat with Jon about Navy issues while we moved more of Albert’s things out.  I’m going to sit down with Jeff the recruiter (Should I go all Mr. Rogers and capitalize that?) about the officer programs.  Jon suggested I go in as a yeoman, spend the first year getting my Bachelor’s, then go for a commission and the big money.  Not a bad plan!  And worth considering, since the band thing doesn’t seem to be happening.  }:-(

Saturday night we were at the Man-Pub, which was not nearly as busy as it usually is.  Perhaps everyone was nursing sunburns, what with the beautiful weather!  Honestly, it felt like we were a little off…  Not sure what the deal was, but to me it felt like we were trying too hard and it just wasn’t working.  I know Shawn was – he pretty much lost his voice by the end of the night!  We were both struggling to get some of those songs at the end.  But we (once again) overfilled the stage area – Tim and Kim Silke came out, so of course we had to drag Tim up front to join us.  We ended the night with Southern Cross and Seven Bridges Road, which was absolutely fabulous.  I love singing with these guys – the harmonies make me sooooooo happy!

Today I had anticipated playing at the Downtown Market, but as it turned out they had entertainment lined up already.  So…  I slept in.  😀  Can’t argue with that, huh?  Got down to Evergreen in time for my set at Kitsap Pride, but unfortunately that didn’t go as well as I anticipated.  First of all, the audience disappeared just as I started.  (The drag queens performed, then Michael spoke, then Derek Kilmer spoke, during which many people departed.  *phooey*)  So I stood up to a greatly depleted audience – and promptly started playing in a different key than I was singing.  *facepalm*  And more people left.

The rest of my set went well, and in fact they kept me for a couple of encores, which was sweet.  But the best part (aside from having friends come out specifically to see me play, which always gives me warm-and-fuzzies) was that I met some gals who live right down the hill from me!  So I made some new friends, and we’re gonna get together and jam some time.  How cool is that?!?

Went home, stopping on the way to drop booth stuff in storage for daMama and to hit the grocery store for a few things, and commenced with the domesticity.  In particular, the making of chili and the baking of various breads.  I was planning on white bread, wheat bread, corn bread, and banana bread.  Unfortunately, I did not realize that my milk was nasty – so much for the wheat bread!  And I took too much time on the other things, so the white bread wouldn’t have time to rise before I went to bed.  So that was out.  And then I ran out of cumin, so knowing that my chili wouldn’t be ready tonight I said “to hell with it” and put the cornbread off till tomorrow.  So…  Um…  I has banana bread muffins.

All in all, the weekend was lovely and fun and filled with many wonderful memories.  Not at all what I expected…  But isn’t that just how life works?  Tomorrow morning I’ll be meeting a couple of the other vixens at the garden, and we will break our fast with banana muffins and coffee, and then work our ass ends off to feed ourselves and our families.  So I guess it’s time that I put the last nail in this weekend’s coffin and hit the hay.  Good night all, and let’s all enjoy another week filled with unexpected surprises!

Dandelions

What do you think of when you see those bright yellow flowers in your lawn or garden?  Do you make a beeline for the weed killer?  Maybe you should revise your dinner plans instead.

Yep, I’m talking about eating dandelions.  That’s right, they’re edible!  What part?  ALL OF THEM.

The leaves (especially when they’re young) can go into your salads, or when they’re older (and a bit tougher) saute them with a little garlic and onion.  The flowers can go into salads too, or if you like you can actually batter and deep-fry them!  And then of course, there’s dandelion wine, for which you use just the yellow parts of the flowers.  The root (you know, every gardener’s least favorite part of the plant) is also edible, and is at its best between fall and spring when the colder weather causes the plant to convert starches to sugar.

Dandelions grow anywhere, propagate like wildfire, and are chock-full of important minerals and vitamins.  There’s iron, calcium, beta-carotene, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, a slew of B-vitamins, and vitamins C, E, and D.  All in high concentrations!

There’s only a few plants that are really similar to dandelions, and in America the most common is coltsfoot.  You can tell the difference in a couple of ways, but the easiest is to look at the leaves.  A dandelion’s leaves are long and skinny, with distinct saw-tooth edges.  Coltsfoot leaves are rounder, kind of heart-shaped in fact, and they’re hairy (sometimes on both top and bottom, sometimes only on one side).  Coltsfoot won’t hurt you if you do eat it (it has medicinal use to suppress coughs), but it’s not quite as good for you as dandelion.

So next time you see one of these guys and start thinking mean thoughts, change your perspective.  And eat the darned thing!  That’ll learn it…

Thanks to http://www.wildmanstevebrill.com/Plants.Folder/Dandelion.html from where I got the picture and some of the nutritional info.

Script Frenzy, part deux

So apparently my future as a genius screenwriter is just about as likely as my future as a genius novelist.  Which is to say, not likely at all.  Somewhat less likely, in fact, than my future as a genius songwriter, which I only say because I am actually trying to write songs.

Yup.  It’s Day 16 and I haven’t been back to my script since Day 1, which means I have about four lonely little lines in the document.  Meanwhile I have several new songs sketched out and a couple actually in the works.  Obviously we can tell where my priorities lie!

But that’s okay.  You know why?  Because I am in fact a singer and songwriter.  So the fact that I’ve totally blown off SF this year in favor of writing songs (and looking for a day job) doesn’t actually bother me at all.

Silly me

I did something rather embarrassing a couple nights ago.  Was heading home and stopped in the left turn lane, as was the person in the nearest oncoming lane.  The light turned green, and since my turn lane has its own protected light (the kind with the arrow that lets you know you have the right of  way) I started to turn.  But the oncoming vehicle came through the intersection anyways!  Well I was a bit perturbed, and honked lightly to let the idiot know he jumped the light.  That’s when I looked up and realized my light hadn’t turned yet.

*sigh*

Yup, turns out the thru traffic had the green, and I still had a red.  That’s what you get from putting two lights next to each other and the third light WAY UP ABOVE where the person in that lane has to lean forward over their dashboard to see their own light!

I’m just glad I waited before I started my turn.  Would have had a really bad night if I’d caused an accident and had to explain to the responding officer what an idiot I’d been…

Birthday thoughts

Obviously updating my blog has not really been much of a priority for 2012…  So it’s about time I fix that.  I shall begin by posting here a bit of life commentary I wrote today.

34 years ago today at 1:39 in the morning, my mother and a doctor she didn’t really like that much got to introduce me to this world. When I was a wee thing (six-ish perhaps?) I nearly got swept away by a river. About ten years after that I was thrown from a horse and fell wrong, and got the immense joy of laying on the ground, unable to move, wondering if I would ever walk again. (Spoiler alert: I did.) Eight years after that, during an incredibly difficult part of my life, I decided I was done with it all and started planning my exit strategy. (Spoiler alert: I changed my mind.)

Every day now, I get up and choose what kind of day I’m going to have. Every day I choose what kind of life I’m going to lead. I’m not gonna lie to you, some days I don’t make good choices. AT ALL. But you know what? It’s pretty darned incredible to look at my life; at what I’ve done and where I’ve been. It’s pretty darned exciting to see all the potential, to look at my bucket list and know that it’s a pretty safe assumption that I’ll live long enough to knock a good number of things off. It’s pretty darned encouraging to know that I have people to share this life with, from casual friends that I rarely see to dear ones that I spend a great deal of time with. It’s pretty darned humbling to read about people who have done more with their lives when they have less to work with than I do.

So every day I get up, and I’m proud that more often than not, I choose to do good and useful things with my life. I choose to do right and to help those around me. I choose to learn so that I can make even better choices.

I’m not perfect. And life isn’t perfect either. But I’m awfully fond of it, and I’m very happy to be here. And I’m soooooo excited to see what the other two thirds of it are going to hold!

It’s a good day. 😀

Arron’s Retirement

I had the immense honor of being asked to sing at my friend Arron Sterling’s navy retirement yesterday.  Not only did he hire Tuck and I to sing for his reception, but he asked me to sing the national anthem for the actual ceremony!

Now, I always love to sing the national anthem.  Every time I do, I feel like I’m part of something much bigger than myself.  It’s kind of like my own little form of national service.  Silly, I know, but there you have it.

And it was so flattering that he asked me!  The man’s a Lieutenant Commander, for heaven’s sake, he probably knows a dozen people who could do it.  He asked me.  Damn!  Did that make me blush?  Oh yes, it made me blush.  Right down to the tips of my toes.

So I cleared my calendar for the day, got all gussied up in something appropriate to the occasion, even shaved my legs, and took a nice leisurely drive up to Indian Island.  And it was a fantastic day for a drive.  Took one wrong turn because I didn’t read the directions carefully enough, but I recognized my mistake right away, flipped Rizzo back around, and got headed the right direction.  Got there with plenty of time to spare.

I do love military retirements.  I’ve attended several, and I gotta tell you, I cry every time at two points.  First, there’s a ceremony called “Old Glory.”  Several servicemembers stand in a line, representing the ranks previously held by the retiree.  The lowest ranking person holds an American flag, and they pass the flag from one person to the next, all along the line.  Each person moves slowly and deliberately, saluting before receiving the flag, then saluting again after passing the flag to the next person; it’s a very regimented and precise sequence.  The retiree him or herself is the last person in line, and when he or she takes the flag, he or she can then present it to a parent or spouse, or someone else very special to them.  The entire time the flag is being passed, the following poem is read:

I am the flag of the United States of America
My name is Old Glory.

I fly atop the world’s tallest buildings.
I stand watch in America’s halls of justice.
I fly majestically over great institutes of learning.
I stand guard with the greatest military power in the world.
Look up! And see me!

I stand for peace, honor, truth, and justice.
I stand for freedom.
I am confident . . . I am arrogant.
I am proud.

When I am flown with my fellow banners,
my head is a little higher,
my colors a little truer.

I bow to no one.
I am recognized all over the world.
I am worshipped.
I am saluted.
I am respected.
I am revered. I am loved.
And I am feared.

I have fought every battle of every war for more than 200 years…
Gettysburg, Shilo, Appomatox, San Juan Hill, the trenches of France,
the Argonne Forest, Anzio, Rome, the beaches of Normandy,
the deserts of Africa, the cane fields of the Philippines,
the rice paddies and jungles of Guam, Okinawa, Japan, Korea, Vietnam,
and a score of places long forgotten by all but those who were with me.

I was there!

I led my soldiers.
I followed them.
I watched over them…
They loved me.

I was on a small hill in Iwo Jima.
I was dirty, battle-worn and tired,
but my soldiers cheered me,
and I was proud.

I have been soiled, burned, torn and trampled on the streets of countries
I have helped set free.
It does not hurt . . . for I am invincible.
I have been soiled, burned, torn and trampled on the streets of my country,
and when it is by those with whom I have served in battle . . . it hurts.
But I shall overcome . . . for I am strong.

I have slipped the bonds of Earth
and stand watch over the uncharted new frontiers of space
from my vantage point on the moon.

I have been a silent witness to all of America’s finest hours.
But my finest hour comes
when I am torn into strips to be used for bandages
for my wounded comrades on the field of battle.
when I fly at half mast to honor my soldiers…
and when I lie in the trembling arms
of a grieving mother at the graveside of her fallen son.

I am proud.
My name is Old Glory.

Dear God . . . Long may I wave!

I read recently that this was written in 1983, which I found surprising because I always thought it was a much older tradition.  All I know is that I cry every time I hear it.  (Well, I cry when it’s done well.  I’ve heard MCs who didn’t know what they were doing, and a butchered reading doesn’t always bring up tears.)  The other part that always gets me is when they read “The Watch.”  Again, visualize me weeping like a baby.  A sad, angry baby.  (For those of you who aren’t Firefly fans, that’s a quote.)

Aye mates,
For many years, this Sailor stood the watch …
While some of us lay about our bunks at night,
This Sailor stood the watch.

While others of us were attending schools,
This Sailor stood the watch.

And yes, even before many of us were born,
This Sailor stood the watch.

As our families watched the storm clouds of war,
brewing on the horizons of history,
He stood the watch.

This Sailor looked ashore and saw his family …
Often needing his guidance but he knew he must stay,
Because he had the watch.

For many years he has stood the watch,
So that we and our countrymen could sleep soundly, in safety,
knowing that a Sailor would stand the watch.

Today, we are here to say “Shipmate, the watch stands relieved.
Relieved by those you have led, trained and guided.
Shipmate, you now stand relieved, We have the watch.”

Again, with the right person reading it, this is a huge tearjerker for me.  Yes, I get sappy when I think of everything that is given by those who serve.  It’s not just the lives they lay down, it’s not just the ones who died on our behalf.  (Though how the word “just” could ever be applied to that kind of sacrifice, I don’t know.)  Like anything else one does, the willingness to give over a long period of time is just as significant a sacrifice – holding fast, day in and day out, while all the little costs add up.

A life given in service to the military is just that – a life given in service.  I’m too selfish to do that.  I freely admit it.  I want to do my own thing with my life.  I don’t even want to work for a corporation, or anybody else for that matter, because I’d rather be accountable to myself.  I enjoy self-employment, because I can make all the decisions myself.  I am amazed and wonderstruck and incredulous at the many men and women I know, and the many more I’ll never know, who have given five or ten or twenty – or in Arron’s case, 28 – years of their lives to defend us.

And then, after all that, they don’t even get the national anthem at their ceremony.  Yep, that’s right folks, the sad, sorry truth is that when the time came yesterday for the MC to announce me, he skipped a line and went right past.  Poor Arron, I felt so bad for him.  I felt pissed for myself too, you understand, but really, for me it was an opportunity to be there for a friend, and to honor the nation that is my home and those who ensure its (and my) safety.  For Arron, it was the culmination of his entire career, the ending point of his life as it’s been and the beginning of his life as it will be.  He deserved fewer glitches, IMHO.

But of course, at the end of the day, he was still retired, and we had an awesome party later on.  At which, of course, he let me sing the anthem.

It wasn’t fairy-tale quality, but it was still a happy ending.

Trucky-Boo

So let’s say (hypothetically) that a certain young woman is displeased with the name of a vehicle she’s driving, and tells said vehicle she is going to rename it.  Let’s then say that the same hypothetical truck dies in the middle of an intersection ten minutes later and refuses to start again, pretty much screwing the hypothetical young woman’s evening (not to mention the evening of her also-hypothetical knight in shining armor).  Hypothetically speaking, is it safe for the young woman to go ahead and rename the truck something reasonable like Helga or Trudy or Angharad, or should the hypothetical young woman take the hypothetical breakdown as a not-at-all hypothetical SIGN FROM ABOVE and drop the issue?