Sunday, November 30, 2008

Homemade Holidays

With so much commercialism resulting, sadly, in death as people trample each other to save $5.00 on some item they won't even know what they did with next year, I like gifts from the heart. In fact one year my father-in-law got so fed up with how much "purchasing" was going on he delivered the edict: make it yourself or you can't give it.

Wow, that was the most fun I've had at Christmas since I was a kid!

The reason it worked was because it made you think: who is this person, what are his/her likes, hobbies, things he/she would never do for themself? Father-in-law had a wood workshop and he turned out creations that would've made Santa's elves jealous. Even down to the wrapping paper, you weren't allowed to spend money. Okay, the exception to the rule was tape. But we used the colored Sunday comics or recycled paper from a birthday which had just passed. My Mom-in-law even had us crocheting long lengths of single crochet to use for bows or tie packages together.

This weekend I've accomplished two things [if we don't count laundry]: I've addressed my Christmas cards {but they need a message added} and I've shelled pecans until I have the scars to prove it. Nothing says homemade like picking up pecans under the tree at your house, shelling them and sharing. My Mom refers to them as "gold".

So here's my gift to you, to start your holidays out right. Sorry, I'm sure some of you will have to take these measurements and "translate" them but this can be a simple gift that makes people rave about you. And don't forget the most important rule of Cooking as a Gift: eat a few first, just to make sure they're special. :)

CINNAMON PECANS

1 teaspoon cold water
1 egg white
1 pound pecans: which equals about 4 cups, shelled.
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt

Mix egg white and water until frothy. Add pecans and toss gently, until nuts are coated. In a separate bowl, mix other ingredients, then combine with nut mixture. Again, stir gently. Spread pecans on a non-greased cookie sheet. Bake at 225 degrees for one hour....stirring pecans around every 15 minutes.

Cool on wax paper....and eat!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Are you sure we're not cloning relatives?

Having a few days off between dental difficulties and holidays, I've been putting some family photos on disc as part of the "Family Tree" preservation project. You know the one. That tome I'll finish when I'm 100 years old and the young nephew is closing in on grandpa status. Maybe with a good pair of glasses, he'll still be able to read it.

Mom always joked that I wasn't born, I was cloned. I'm like her in many ways, with features favoring her paternal side. Well, except for height. I tend to be closer to Memaw on that one. In fact, she was the only relative over the age of 10 that I was ever taller than as she was a towering 4'11". Her maternal side is where the Irish genes come in, but that's another story.

No, today's story is about Grandma's "paternal" side. I've realized in looking at photos this week, she favored her mother, with a nose that seems to illustrate those maternal French Huguenot roots. But it was the men in her life that caught my attention. Except for the style of dress, her paternal grandfather, father and brother look like the same man.

The first man is her Grandfather, Thomas and the second is her Father, Joseph



And this is her brother, Claude.

Even as they age, these men still all look alike! In photo after photo, the mustache stays, as does a head filled with thick, white hair. [Darn, didn't get THAT gene!] From what I've learned they shared the same temperament as well; calm, soft spoken yet tough as nails when needed.

I tease my cousin Claude Jr. that there's really no need to take pictures of him. In fact I have one right now that will show him exactly what he'll look like when he's 75.

Technically this our Great Grandfather, Joseph
but for my Cuz, in a few years it'll be just like looking in a mirror.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wednesday's Word

EGG!

Okay, that deserves an explanation. And yes, pretty soon I'll have to do away with the concept of one word on Wednesday if I keep feeling the need to type on.

Mom use to be a kindergarten teacher. For over 25 years, she taught five year olds in a church setting. Teaching that age group comes with perks not found in the corporate world: kids give endless hugs, believe every word you say and want to give you presents. Especially at Christmas. I could never decide if the kids or their harried moms came up with the most um...interesting... gift ideas. But every year at Christmas, my siblings and I would determine one to be the most...unusual.

The winner was the one which made us giggle the hardest.

The thing is, I've always loved kids. I have a degree in Early Childhood Education but sadly, there were no teaching jobs when I graduated from college so my career wandered elsewhere. But I never lost the understanding of how a kid thinks. This led the siblings and I [and later on our spouses] to participate in this seasonal act of silliness without being mean spirited. After all, not all families have equal bank accounts. Ironically, it was usually the financially challenged who came up with the best gift. So as we perused the nominations for "Oddest gift of the year", there was much giggling and an occasional, "But what IS it?" Although Mom tended to get lots of candy, which she readily shared, there was never any prize for the person who was able to justify their choice as THE weirdest.

Until the Year of the Egg.

People today are funny about things like being neighborly. When I was a kid, you'd go over and introduce yourself to the new family on the block. Today most neighbors seem to prefer you stay on your side of the hedge. But we're southern. Being friendly is in our blood. So one year Mom decided to gift the new next door neighbor with a simple present because they'd moved in so close to Christmas. She didn't expect anything back. She certainly didn't expect what she received from the neighbor.

Under the Christmas tree, after our personal Christmas came the "Oddest Gift of the Year" awards. That year, unbeknownst to us, Mom added the neighbor's gift. We all went for it immediately, with some asking what the heck it was and others wanting to know why anyone would give it as a gift. Here, see for yourself.

In case you're not sure, it's a fried egg shaped ceramic spoon holder. There's a dent in the yolk, to lay a stirring spoon on while you're cooking. We laughed until tears ran down our faces. We laughed so hard we couldn't talk. We asked Mom if this meant the neighbor liked her or didn't want her to come near the fence again? Mom was perplexed about any hidden meaning. The funny thing is, I don't know if the neighbor ever did anything but wave at Mom from a distance after that Christmas. But the thing we all wanted to know was, "What the heck are you going to DO with that?!"

I found out in January.

In the midst of opening presents for my birthday there was a box from Mom. Inside was...yep, The Egg. Inside the box lid Mom had written, "Egg-specially for you." We all laughed. Someone wondered if it wasn't just the perfect gift for me, with my country kitchen mentality. I laughed.

The next month, hubby got it for his birthday.

This is the stuff that family traditions are made of...legendary in silliness. Everyone in the immediate family has received The Egg at one time or another. Nothing is sacred....not Mother's Day, Father's Day, birthdays or Christmas. The only rule is: you have to use an "egg" word and the same word can't be used twice. Our dictionary skills are improving. Mom once mailed it to my sister, all the way across the country in Washington State, just sure it would never find it's way back. Sis sent it to Mom for Mother's Day.

Believe it or not, we have been passing around this stupid egg since....1994. We've had to change the box...ran out of room to write in the lid. After a few years we changed the box shape because someone would glance at a package and sigh, "Oh no...I got The Egg!" Later still, in order to keep things straight, I even used a small photo album, the cover of which shows a man flipping a fried egg and yelling, "GOTCHA!" Inside is the egg's history....from that one to this one on that date and the egg phrase used. It should be good for about 25 more years as I left egg-stra pages to fill in the blanks.

Yeah, it's silly. But it's fun. It's a tradition that costs not one thing yet makes everyone laugh. Well, everyone but the person sighing loudly about being the recipient. And deep down, I think we'd actually be disappointed if it broke or disappeared. In fact it did go missing for three years after my sis-in-law "misplaced" it. But like a crazed boomerang, it found it's way back... to me. I dusted it off, gave it a new box home and tucked the "Gotcha!" book in safely beside it.

Did I mention that today's my Mom's birthday? :)

My note to Mom, she who unknowingly started all this nonsense by passing it on to me, simply read, "Egg-hausting, isn't it?"



Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Control Freak

Control Freak. Has a rather ominous sound to it. As if being in control is a bad thing. That having a plan or a goal or a wish is freakish in nature. Requesting someone to explain a process from beginning to end so I can handle it like a mature adult, rather than a quivering child consumed with fear doesn't make me a control freak. In some cases, it merely indicates my level of wimp, especially when applied to medical situations. I've always considered the "level headed" side of me as So-organized-I-make-Gen.-Patton-look-like-a-rank-amateur. I've always been like this. Looking ahead, planning for the future, back up plan at the ready. That doesn't mean I can't have fun. I can. I do. In my mind, being in control just meant being the mistress of my destiny, as much as any of us can when dealing with the unforeseen future. I don't have to plan everything. I don't need to be in charge. I can sit back and let life unroll without the need to interfere or tidy it up.

Yesterday, I learned that's not really true.

Monday was a new dentally retarded day. An unscheduled one. Oh, I knew that tooth WAY back there had to come out one day because it had a hairline crack in it....which I suspect came from when the tooth above it was pulled several years ago. I remember a distinct "crack!" as the tool on the top tooth slipped down to smack the lower one. My dentist cursed under his breath, then sweetly breathed into my ear, "Honey, you doing okay?"

Yeah doc, swell.

Monday's challenge, I was to learn, was not for the dentist. Oh no. It was for me. This tooth had planned to stay with me forever. Why two of the roots were curled, attempting to hug my jaw bone as if begging me to leave them be in their nice quiet home. Well, if they hadn't woken up their neighbors, the ear and jaw, making them throb to the point of wanting to smack myself I wouldn't have served the eviction notice. I'd seen the x-ray and it wasn't pretty. Bottom teeth are especially stubborn. My dentist likes to tease that mine have roots that end just below my knee caps. It had been filled more than once, meaning the sound effects would be worse than the experience of being pulled out of a chair by one's innards. Filled teeth tend to break. An awful snapping like the sound effect they use in movies to denote breaking bones when the mafia wants their money. But hey, I've done this before sadly, so it wasn't anything new. Except that part where Doc said,"This one is so bad, I'm going to have to sedate you."

As in go to sleep and not know what's going on?! screamed Gen. Control Freak from Central Command. I merely smiled sickly and nodded.

I really don't know which was ruder; me suddenly cross examining the Dental Assistant about the steps of this procedure as if I were a criminal lawyer or her laughing at me with, "You've NEVER been knocked out before?!" This is where Gen. C.F. steps forward, voice suddenly cool and calm to reply,"No. So I'd like you to explain the steps to me."

Before you come near me with that needle! squeaks a silent voice quivering behind the General.

The Dental Assistant is retired Army. I'm guessing something about my no-nonsense tone made old habits kick in and she explained everything as if we were about to partake in an assault on some beachfront during wartime. Its wasn't warm and comforting, but it gave me the facts. I began to think of her as Sarge. Sarge demanded my watch. Doc came in and said he'd be there in a minute as he couldn't leave me once he started the I.V.. I smiled weakly and muttered, "Lucky you" as he patted me paternally on the shoulder. In anyone else younger than me it would've felt condescending, but he has a way of making me feel as if we're in this together, no matter how many degrees he holds. When he discovered I'd worn a sweater that couldn't come off without embarrassing both of us, he went into his office, then came out with one of his scrub tops. Sarge sent me into the bathroom to change as [a] the blinds were open and the bank patrons might get a free show and [b] it's one of those offices where you wander in and out of rooms without doors. I went to the bathroom as instructed.

When I returned to my torture chamber, I looked more like a little kid playing dress up than one of those television doctors. I sat down, Doc returned to start the I.V. and the girl who usually cleans my teeth came in to check on me. She hates needles. She likes me because I always ask about her son. So she walked to the other side of the chair and said in machine gun fashion,"I know just how you feel. I hate these things too. Just keep looking at me and we'll talk about anything you want to talk about." It was funny watching someone look more nervous than I felt. As Doc muttered his usual kindly, "just a pinch", she shuddered. It wasn't that bad. As Doc rattled off the names of 4 drugs he was about to give me while asking if I was allergic , [I'm not] I remember telling him it probably wouldn't take long because 2 aspirin put me to sleep. The only drug I remember from that litany was Valium. Gen. C.F. muttered, "Good. At least we know that one will relax you."

Sarge then returned and in a quick litany began attaching a mass of medical equipment to me. I began to wonder if my appendix was safe or if they knew my driver's license said I was an organ donor. On with the blood pressure cuff, followed by an oxygen monitor to my finger, then an oxygen line in my nose. As she untangled two objects which I swear look liked jumper cables I quipped, "What, you going to shock me awake if I flake out on you?" She got that same smile Jack Nicholson had in "The Shining" as she attached them to my wrists. I shut up. Unfortunately, the sound of my heartbeat wasn't comforting. It was loud. And fast.

As Doc put in the first shot, he explained the room would start to feel as if it were spinning. "Spinning yet?" he asked jovially.

"No", I muttered, my unspoken question being, why are you so darn cheerful?

"How about now?" he insisted happily.

"Spinning...no. But I am having a difficult time focusing on that idiot babbling on the t.v.," I replied as the CNN reporter suddenly sprouted 2 extra heads. This won me another shot. I had just enough time to think that I was about to lose control and not have a clue what was going on.

Oh crap!

When I woke up, I had not concept of time because Sarge had my watch. Hubby was standing next to me, hand out, asking if I could stand up. Sarge was pushing a bag of gauze at me as my feet hit the floor. I guess it was the floor. It was solid. I was about to ask for my watch back and remind them I needed to change back into my green sweater lying in the chair. As Sarge and hubby talked, I pointed at the chair with my left hand, as hubby was holding the right one. The left arm was green and had a watch on it. Why, I wondered, standing up like a wobbly new born calf, would anyone WANT to drink or take drugs if it made them feel this fuzzy or....

....out of control.

Seems Gen. C.F. had fallen asleep on the job. And I didn't like it. Not one bit.

Oh granted, it was nice not to hear those bone crunching sounds or know my gum was being stitched up, a task which makes my skin crawl, even if it can't be felt. But I was a little more than annoyed that everyone kept asking me if I was okay....in voices that were TOO DAMN LOUD! I just wanted to get away, into the truck and home. Inside, I marched on. Outside...the newborn calf effect took control and I wobbled out like Saturday night's last patron who didn't want to hear last call. And I found it slightly disturbing to hear hubby say he'd walked in to find Sarge putting my sweater back on, something he found odd since it was in front of open windows with a room that had no door. I'm a private person. Sarge viewing my bra pattern wasn't a comforting thought.

The whole thing was weird. And fuzzy. I don't like fuzzy.

Fuzzy, however, follows you for 24 hours, which did get me out of work today, just prior to our 3 day Thanksgiving holiday from work. I still have leftover moments of "Gee, is the room spinning or is it me?" I know it's my sinus during pollen season. But there is a small part of me not happy that Gen. C.F. went AWOL, deserting me in enemy territory, only to awaken with an aching jaw... and a cut lip. Maybe I don't want to know how that happened.

I don't drink. Never have. Well, once when I was eight but the beer was warm, flat and stale. Pretty much permanently killed my taste for all things alcohol. But deep down, I always suspected it was the fear of losing control that made my taste buds yell, "Crap! Spit that out!" when it came to alcohol.

Guess I'll always be the designated driver in life. For the record, I don't mind going along for the ride...as long as there are seat belts available and I'm doing the driving.

But hey, you can sing any song you want. I enjoy being entertained by extroverts.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Photographic proof

One of the most amusing things about becoming an "adult" is discovering what you DIDN'T know about those older relatives in your life. Today I was working on a Christmas project for my aunt in the nursing home, which included photos of her mother, whom I called Grandma, so as not to be confused with the one on the maternal side - Memaw. This photo is from my wedding: Memaw [who believed in the same style of house cleaning worshiped by Susan, Radge and myself] is on the left, Grandma is on the right. I always thought of her as the woman who wore men's shirts. When I asked why, she'd say they were more comfortable and she didn't really care about fashion. And yet she made me and my sister the most beautiful, stylish clothes each year for Christmas, right up to high school graduation.

When I was about fourteen, I still had long straight hair, down to my waist. Grandma, a big believer in perms, was always insisting I cut my hair shorter. Or at least curl it some, she would sigh. I remember some lecture about no self respecting young lady wearing her hair that way at my age. Interesting. I remember the day I found this photo...that would be Grandma on the left. I asked her age in the photo. She firmly suggested I go set the table for dinner. I did, but not before I saw a twinkle in her eye at being caught. I now know she was 17, but I'm not sure what they called that half and half style.

I think in my mind I'd decided that Grandma had always been a simple country girl who wasn't comfortable with "newfangled" things, much less fashion. She once confessed that she'd only gone through the 6th grade, quitting school to help work on the family farm. And more than once during my childhood, she would look down at her legs and muse that she didn't have "calves", she had "cows".

Today I found a picture that has forever laid to rest the idea that Grandma didn't have a fashion clue until we, her granddaughters, were born. Hey Grandma, seems you didn't always have "cows" attached to your ankles.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wednesday's Word...is again more than one

CONFESSION


I’m still amazed at how a 30 second glance combined with my ever present curiosity led me to interact with people in places I’ve read about but have never visited. What a fascinating group! Poets and Playwrights and Writers…oh my. With styles as distinct as their personalities, they’ve opened my eyes and made me rethink a thing or two. Growth is good. Growth among friends is cool.


All these new connections simply because my brain casually noted that David Strathairn is aging nicely.


I’ve shared this story before. About how I was reading the newspaper, waiting for some t.v. program when out of the corner of my eye I caught a promo for the movie “The Bourne Ultimatum”. What my brain latched on to in passing was actor David Strathairn. He’s often described as “good but with an odd mix of features, isn’t a classically handsome leading man type.” The brain cells not involved in reading smirked as feminine admiration noted that some gray haired men actually get sexier with age.


Strathairn has always been my favorite character actor. As a teenager I recall him being on my Mom’s soap opera, stuck with a one time appearance which probably was just to pay the bills. He made it last for months. When he was onscreen, soap opera evolved into legitimate theater. While his co-workers practiced the over-the-top method of acting, he quietly drew you in, allowing you to suspend disbelief and enjoy the moment. He was so convincing that when they killed off his character, I wept. Sure, I felt silly. But he was a master storyteller, allowing me along for the ride. I hated when the ride was over.


And there I was, newspaper in lap years later, when my curiosity raised its head and whispered, “Yeah, but what do you really know about him?”


Ah, the mental challenge. I swear I inherited the go-look-it-up gene instead of one for bravery or mathematically brilliance. I looked up Strathairn and discovered that “odd mix” was inherited from a Scottish father and a Hawaiian grandmother.


Scotland, my curiosity whispered.


Ah, when my curiosity is peaked, there is no stopping it until I’ve got enough information to drown it into submission. In short I got hooked on researching Scotland. A poem by Alexander Anderson made me smile, so I had to read more. This in turn led to accidentally stumbling onto a site manned by Colin Will of Scottish poets which included a section where poets read their work. Music to my ears. I listened to most of them, meaning a poem apiece, then moved on. Until I got to Hugh McMillan. I listened to all of his. Twice. I found a link to his blog. And I was hooked. If I’ve suddenly appeared to have taken up residence at your blog, you know the rest. I found you. Good days or bad, I find all of you fascinating!


Today’s confession: I love the sound of words. In school when asked to pick out a word whose sound brought a vivid mental picture, most kids chose words like “Bam!” “Pow!” “Smack”. I picked “cacophony”. If words make me happy, then accents are icing on the cake. They are a word’s personality. I’ve lived in the south all my life. Yet I grew up with friends from all over, so my accent evened out. I don’t talk like molasses in winter. Because I speak rapidly people still ask, “But seriously. Where were you from? Before you moved here.” My reply, “I didn’t exist before here,” always confuses them.


Television has homogenized Americans, removing regional seclusion. We’re like a nation of one sound. Or as my ears think of it: bland. Oh sure, catch me when I’m tired and you’ll hear me drawl out a word or two. That love of word sounds is why I enjoy listening to other cultures speak. It’s like chocolate for my ears. My natural curiosity, combined with the ear candy effect, explains why I often try to pronounce a word with the accent I heard it spoken. I’m sure Susan would get a kick out of the fact I attempted an Irish pronunciation of Fergus after one of our family tree conversations. Not just once. No, for about half a day. When no one was around to have me committed.


It makes me wonder: am I the only one who thinks curiosity is a good thing? The kids I work with don’t have any. Questions on the work front are discouraged. Someone suggested it’s a manifestation of a person who doesn’t want to grow up, insinuating I cling to childhood by needing to always ask “Why?”


Grumpy Grown Ups. I pity them.


I stumbled onto a couple of quotes about curiosity today that made me realize I’m not alone on my quest to understand. The second quote made me think of Dave King. And Ken, the last one definitely belongs to you.


We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.Walt Disney


It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.” Albert Einstein

Curiosity killed the cat, but for a while I was a suspect.” comedian Steven Wright


Curiosity is as much a part of me as my green eyes. It’ll only stop functioning when I do. Perhaps I owe David Strathairn a thank you note… for that twinkle in his eye led me to you.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Woe is....Us

The soon to be royal tooth [we prep for a Crown in December...sounds ridiculous, huh?] is simmering down. I'm still convinced the post my dentist put in for the coming crown is a fence post, which he planted firmly on a nerve. Or, it's a telegraph pole and those weird twinges are messages going from I-don't-know to who-knows-where. He mentioned during my last visit that there's a tooth back behind the royal one which will one day have to come out. Huddled in the furthest reaches of my mouth, it's an odd hybrid. I swear I'm a grown up, but I don't have wisdom teeth. Before everyone laughs and leaps to the same conclusion concerning my brain power, allow me to explain. Please. My ego can't take much more.

I never cut my 12 year old molars. When I was 19, four teeth start coming in. They hurt like the devil and I thought, "Great, here come the dreaded wisdom teeth." Seemed like a design flaw actually, to have four extra teeth that come in painfully and that 9 out of 10 folks have to have pulled because there is just no room for them. I was in college at the time and helping a former next door neighbor's husband at his dental practice, playing receptionist and general lackey. I was hurting so bad he took x-rays. Ironically, one of my duties was to develop the x-rays. He checked them, only to advise I was one of the lucky ones. Funny, pain didn't feel lucky. He then went to great lengths to explain to me how some fortunate souls, like myself, didn't even have the buds for wisdom teeth. I would never have to deal with them.

So what WAS I dealing with? I asked as politely as possible.

It seems my new teeth were either too late or too early. The front half was built like a 12 year old molar should appear, with the back half....yep, looking rather wisdom like. He was fascinated and kept checking them. About the time I was wishing for a flip top head, he stepped back and grinned. I inquired if this was a problem and he reassured me that it wasn't and the pain would subside if I took aspirin.

Then with a twinkle in his eye he added, "Your only problem is that you're dentally retarded."

That description has come in handy over the years, especially when I changed from childhood dentist to a not-so-great-one to the current comedian who holds many degrees.

At first it was a little unnerving when my dentist, Gee, would get a gleam in his eye as he discussed my dental woes. Then I realized he just likes challenges. I seem to have been handcrafted just to keep him amused. He said that back tooth, the last of it's kind by the way, may be the first time he suggests I let him put me out. I've seen the x-ray. It's not pretty.

Cue Bugs Bunny and that ridiculously large mallet used in cartoons to make people see stars. Or birds. But not today.

No, this weekend was spent worrying over our eldest four legged wonder, Smokey. When he was a young dog, he flew through the air like the Michael Jordan of doggie world, snatching Frisbees out of the atmosphere with amazing finesse. He's ten years old now but still has the spunk of a puppy when something interests him. For him to lie down and just whine was weird. He was eating, nothing odd was coming out of him and yet Smokey would lie on the floor and whine. Hubby took him to the vet Friday. Smokey didn't have any terrible diseases and the Vet agreed it was probably his shoulder. Like many people, Smokey has a shoulder that goes out from time to time. Naps cure it. So he left the vet's with doggie drugs and a note to tell me to up his Glucosamine to two pills. That would be the same pill hubby takes for his bad knees.

On Saturday I got an inkling that Smokey should be nominated for an Academy Award. Middle of the night, he whined. Just as I had on Friday night, I got up and checked on him. When I came back to bed, hubby asked what was wrong. I replied the kid needed to be rocked to sleep. so I rubbed his belly and he went out like a light. We took turns doing this check, which occurred about every two hours at night. Sunday, I figured it out. Smokey was fine if he woke up from a nap and saw a person nearby. If he didn't, the whining started, a doggie version of "Hey, I don't feel good! Where is everybody?"

The discovery came when we went outside to pick up pecans. The tree out front is so huge everyone thinks it's an oak. The old gal was in rare form again this year and we spent two hours in various poses gathering that crop. And we still didn't get all of it. There are three more trees, one of which is thankfully taking the year off like it's suppose to. Anyone asks for pecans, I'm going to hand them a bag and point.

But I digress.

Smokey had tiptoed down the steps, moaning and groaning the whole way. He kept following us around the yard and was content to snooze in the sun. Until I walked past his field of vision. He woke up, glanced around and started whining. When I suddenly appeared from behind the tree, he quit, tail just wagging. Can you spell m-a-n-i-p-u-l-a-t-e-d?

Sure his shoulder is healing and he's going to feel bad for another week. But yesterday he found a ball in the front yard and handed it over. That's a good sign. This morning he actually picked his head up off the dog bed and wagged his tail when I entered the room. The temperature dropped quite a bit last night so my sinuses were in high gear. Envision an elephant tap dancing on your head and you're close. My "royal" tooth was throbbing, it's retarded sibling was aching just enough to make my ear hurt and every step led to discovering muscles I didn't even know I had prior to pecan picking. Smokey didn't fight me when I sat on the floor next to him and gave him his pill. He put his head in my lap, tailing thumping once in thanks I suppose. And then there was a whine.

What's wrong with him now? hubby had asked. What's he whining about?

It wasn't Smokey. It was me. Trying to rise gracefully from the floor and failing miserably.

And so singing a different version of the Snow White song, [I owe, I owe, it's off to work I go] I left the house. You see today I have to cook 3 turkeys for tomorrow's lunch for the seniors. We do Thanksgiving a week early because some of them have family locally and eating that much turkey in one week is cruel and unusual punishment. And after a year of requests, today is the day a crew is finally coming to refinish the floors. They arrived an hour late, then groused about not being informed about how big the space was...a foyer, hall and Dining Room, not even the entire building. After exerting so much energy complaining, the Foreman declared he would not start before eating, so out the door they went. Fifteen minutes later they returned, where three of them sat in my kitchen and ate. Slowly. They weren't happy to hear I'd have to get back to the kitchen in a couple of hours to rescue the turkeys. I was TOLD when I could utilize the restroom so I wouldn't mess up the first coat of wax. Then a young guy was sent back to tell me he hoped the turkeys were done because they were about to start Round Two and I couldn't walk on the floor for 35 minutes. The Foreman bellowed at me that if I had to go, I'd better go now as my bathroom privileges were suspended for the next half hour.

I have utilized my privilege, rescued the turkeys and am back at my desk. The crew has gone to lunch. I can't go anywhere. No lunch for me. When I finally can leave, it's on to the next Center where the kids have been trying to physically maim one another for over a week.

No, I did not whine. It's just the sound I make today when I bend over.




Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wednesday's Word...plus another 300 or so

SURPRISE!

Monday was the saga of the root canal and fainting filling. Yesterday my employer added the bad news which illustrates that county government is not immune to budget cuts. We receive some funding from the State, which has cut it's budget. Twice. Yesterday we were advised we would be furloughed for 4 days. Translation, "Hey, you get an extra day off during the holidays! Um, now here's where we mention we take your pay for that extra day."

In order to be "fair" they broke the 4 days up so we wouldn't be hit so hard. Now we'll get an "extra day off" during our Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's breaks, then again at Memorial Day. That's three paychecks in a row reduced by one day. In this economy, that hurts. The worst part? That it has to occur during the holiday season, when most people experience a tight personal economy.

Ho, Ho, Ho! Sigh.

When I got home, I fired up the computer and began to read blogs. They make me happy. They're free. [Well, if you don't count the cost of Internet service]. My invisible friends cheered me up. Thanks invisible friends! One went above and beyond. That would be Dave King, who bestowed upon me not one but FOUR awards for my blog. Turns out writing isn't just cheaper than an shrink, it's sometimes actually enjoyed by people other than the author. I felt guilty taking all four, so I picked two. You can go to his website to pick up all four.

[NOTE: since this is the work computer, it refused to highlight all the names/links, even though they're here. Just click on the name to see their blog].

Dave's request was simple: that I pass the awards on to at least four deserving souls whose work I appreciate and whom I visit frequently. In that spirit, I pass them on to these 5 individuals, with 2 "Honorable mentions"...meaning I was going to name them but Dave beat me to it! :)

The first goes to Shug, without whom I would never have come in contact with so many nice, invisible people! My curiosity kicked in about all things Scottish and I stumbled upon his site. Not only do I enjoy his poetry, he has a sense of humor I can embrace, plus he's one helluva professor when I have questions. Thank you, kind sir.

Shug led me to Rachel and Ken, who are my "Honorable Mentions". Both make me smile for different reasons and I enjoy their creativity. Thanks for brightening my day!

Next goes to Susan, who makes me wonder if we were somehow separated at birth. If not, perhaps we will find each other in the branches of our family trees. I admire Susan not only as a writer, but as a Mom who finds time for all the people in her life. I still want a piece of cake, though.

The last two are folks I've just begun to read recently, but their sense of humor and way of looking at life make me laugh some days...and moves me on others. So Radge, I honor you for those days when you tell the most touching stories, filled with nostalgia and warm sentiment. Thanks for sharing. You know, when I was a kid, I always wanted red hair. ;) And to the newest blog which Moooves me in a most non-dangerous manner would be MooDog .

I wanted to add a number five. I've read Matthew Urdan's site for a while but the one I'm honoring/linking is his latest creation. It's timely and a good way to keep an eye on things.

Like Dave, for those of you I've chosen to pass on this fun, I hope you pass it on to four more. But it's not mandatory. That's the best thing about kindness: you share it from your heart, no strings attached.

And it's immune to budget cuts.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Freedom Isn't Free

Last year on Veteran's Day I posted a story about the MIA bracelet I wore as a kid during the Vietnam War. Some of you know that the "rest of the story" was that I found the son of "My Captain" and returned the bracelet to him, for his own daughters. It was one of those rare moments in life where you get to come full circle and arrive at peaceful closure. If you're so inclined, the posts are still here, including the before and after of it all.
So on this Veteran's Day I offer this:
to all who have served and are serving now, I thank you.

Goodnight Capt. Anderson.
Your bracelet is with your grandchildren
but I still carry you in my heart.

Monday, November 10, 2008

You Gotta Have Friends

I know some folks, including my wonderful hubby, who believe that blogging is, at best...odd.

"Why would you write personal stuff and put it out there for everyone to see?" hubby has asked rationally, well aware I am the more introverted of the two of us.

"I like to write," has been my stock reply. "Not state secrets. Nothing pertaining to personal finances or what we do in the privacy of our own home. Just stories. Things I observe."

This most patient man looks at me as if I'm a candidate for a straight jacket. He has been complaining that he doesn't know what to get me for Christmas. Perhaps he was trying to figure out what size jacket would do. :)

Truth is, my blog is the only place in my life I can finish a sentence without being interrupted. :)

Blogging has brought me a world of "invisible friends" whom I can converse with around the world. There is not enough money on earth to buy the comfort they bring by reminding me that human is human, no matter where you live. No one is happy ALL the time. We all fail, succeed, hurt, laugh and love, but at different times. It's the different times part which helps the most. Especially today.

I have bookmarked blogs which I consider a daily must read across the top of my computer. A creature of habit, I click on them from left to right until I'm done. Today, because it was Monday and I'd lost a filling, I started at the end. McDanger saluted me for living up to the name "hope". I laughed because I felt anything but hopeful when I got up, but laughter is always a step in the right direction. Then on to Radge, who was not exactly thrilled at Monday's arrival either. But he gamely drew us in with a mention about Hollywood leading men. I felt his pain. Not wanting him to feel bad all alone, I upped the ante. My root canal tooth had jettisoned a filling yesterday, leaving me with 3/4 of a tooth with really sharp edges and tongue lacerations. I jokingly added a song from a horrible [least from a teenage girl's point of view] television show my Dad had watched called "Hee Haw". Yep. Think country music and blondes in short shorts. There was, however, a silly tune they sang each week which stuck in my head, never to leave. I call it the "Bad Day Theme Song".

"Doom, despair and agony on me. Deep dark depression, excessive misery. If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all. Doom, despair and agony on me."

Just remembering that song made me laugh. Okay, first I winced at Dad's taste in programming, then laughed. Radge had a bad day, yet managed to make mine better.

I left him to visit Susan. Interestingly her post was about telling stories and appreciating that happy is basically where you find it. True. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful, warm day for November. Poetikat reminded me that Veteran's Day is tomorrow with her deeply moving tribute. A soldier's job is most definitely more life challenging than mine. Ken gave me a laugh about cats and a chance to agree with Matthew that those critters are just not my cup of tea...without feeling guilty. On to Rachel to hear about her upcoming poetry outing, then to Hugh, with whom she'll share a billing. [I mean on stage, not at the bar..well, that would be their call, wouldn't it?]. Hugh was inviting one and all to attend. I wish I could. What a cool thing it would be to meet two of my invisible friends...in the same room, at the same time! I had to save Dave for reading at home because it was time to leave Blog World to go see the dentist and have him smack my unruly tooth into submission.

My dentist is a character, all five foot six of him. Five years younger than me, he went to the Citadel, which is a highly respected military school. Everyone calls him "Gee", which is short for some family name I suppose he didn't care to use. He's the kind of southern man who addresses his elders by "Sir" or "Ma'am" as he enters the room. With me? He gives my shoulder a squeeze and asks jovially, "Girl, how are you?"

I joked today that I feared becoming addicted to Novocaine and dental x-rays. [I've had enough x-rays in the past 2 months to make me wonder if I'll soon possess the super hero power to glow in the dark]. Gee smiled at me and said, "I swear girl, you really have had a horrible time with that one little tooth. Don't worry. I'll fix that." And then, as he reached for the Novocaine he began to sing, "Doom, despair and agony on me."

I kid you not. :)

So the world will be better soon...especially when I can feel my face again. Takes Novocaine twice as long to vacate my system as other folks. Is it any wonder I don't drink? Radge, feel free to raise a glass in my name.

When I got home, I had an e-mail from my best friend since college. I swear she's psychic and knows when I've had a bad day. This is funnier because in college she was the newspaper Editor to my reporter. Yes, she gave me the "less than 500 word" speech as well. After reading this, you might be amazed that anyone even attempts to speak the English language. [Um, we won't get into spelling quirks or "s" and "z" this time out.] For those of you who write, it may give you a giggle. And happy is where you find it, right?

English idiosyncrasies: Author unknown

We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,
Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?
If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?

Then one may be that, and three would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine: she, shis and shim!

THEN AGAIN...
Why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing,
grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham?
If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking English should be
committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.

In what other language do people
recite at a play and play at a recital?
We ship by truck but send cargo by ship.
We have noses that run and feet that smell.
We park in a driveway and drive in a parkway.
And how can a slim chance and a fat chance be the
same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house
can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out,
and in which an alarm goes off by going on.
And, in closing, if Father is Pop, how come Mother's not Mop?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Preparing for Thanksgiving

Here's my Thanksgiving cactus, busting out in all it's glory! It's loaded with buds on the back side as well. Mom gave it to us for our first Thanksgiving in this house. That was 12 years ago! Amazing what the correct window and Miracle Grow fertilizer can do.

The rocking chair belonged to my paternal Grandmother. We always referred to it as "the Swan's Neck rocker". If you look closely, you can see that the arms of the chair are actually elegant swans. It was my favorite chair as a kid because it's built so low to the ground. Wasn't often I could sit in a rocker and have my feet touch the floor! Even now. :)




Here's one more close up. Enjoy!
Hope each of you has a wonderful week!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Hope for Childhood

I worry about the lack of creativity in kids. If it doesn't have a keyboard, monitor, joystick, hand controls or a television screen, the kids I work with have declared it a waste of their time. They'll ask what I did as a kid and when I tell them we made up games and played outside, they will sigh and shake their heads sadly. One even said to me, "I feel sorry for you. You didn't have a computer."

No kiddo, I had the world at my fingertips and my imagination as a guide.

Most parents will joke that little children will often find the box a gift came in more interesting than the contents. That's because at their age, younger kids can still entertain themselves to some extent. This is why I found one of my news e-mails today so interesting.

"Stick, skateboard and Baby doll enter Toy Hall of Fame."

I didn't even know there WAS a Toy Hall of Fame. Evidently it's located in the Strong National Museum, formerly known as A.C. Gilbert's Discovery Village in Salem, Oregon. The criteria for being chosen includes fostering discovery and creativity, as well as longevity. The 38 classics range from bikes, kites and Mr. Potato Head, to Crayola crayons, marbles and yes, the lowly cardboard box. Most of the items in the museum were played with by your parents and grandparents.

The Baby Doll is an 18th century creation and the 1950s brought us the ever popular skateboard. But I swear, my favorite was The Stick. As in fell off a tree in your backyard stick. The stick was praised for "its all-purpose, no-cost, recreational qualities, noting its ability to serve either as raw material or an appendage transformed in myriad ways by a child's creativity." From swords to wild west horses, river boat paddles to slingshots, snowman arms or roasting marshmallows, sticks have no age limit. Even dogs and other animals got a nod for their ability to find a stick and play with it.

Maybe in order to play creatively, you just need encouragement. Yesterday, I brought autumn picture coloring pages for the after school kids. I laid them on the table without comment. In ten minutes, all of them were sitting down and coloring. Everyone had collected each page and quiet actually reigned for a few minutes. One even complimented another on his "technique" of outlining in dark color first. When one whined at me, "I messed up!" another child shook her head and repeated my oft offered mantra, "You can't mess up. It's art!"

Two of them even left the computer to come color. There's hope for them yet.

Friday, November 7, 2008

My Two Cents Worth

By now, most people are probably tired of hearing about the unifying factor of our Presidential election. Yes, time will tell. But today we’re in that Honeymoon period of hey-we’re-happy-because-anything-IS-possible. Given the downward spiral we’ve witnessed lately, any reason to feel hopeful is a welcome change. In line on Election Day it occurred to me I was about to experience history in a historical place: the birthplace of what became known as Brown vs. the Board of Education. I was standing in a school with a segment of the population who, fifty years ago, wouldn’t have been allowed to stand in the same line, much less attend the same schools as me.


Boggles the mind to be confronted with those images in this day and age.


In front of me was a black woman about 65, behind me a black man a few years older. Growing up here, they’d live in an era where they were forced to walk to school in the rain… as a school bus passed them by, taking the white kids to school. Because their parents had stood up for what was right, I was one of the first kids to attend school with children who didn’t look like me. For my first 6 years of school, there were only 3 black kids in my grade. But I still remember them. Shy Emily Peterson, feisty Gloria Patterson and studious Emmanuel Willis. In the 6th grade I went home and declared that Emmanuel was going to be President of the United States. When Mom asked why, my answer was simple: because he’s the smartest kid in my class.


In my precinct even at midday, I’m usually one of the first 12 voters. At 10 a.m. election day, I was #197. Nice change. As I waited, I witnessed a pictorial demographic of my community. Young and old, black and white, single, couples with children, a woman pushing her husband in a wheelchair, complete with oxygen tank. No one complained about the wait. I’m not sure we were even aware of time. Everyone talked to their neighbors in line, even if they weren’t their neighbor from next door. The woman in front of me hesitantly asked why some people had a piece of green paper. I explained it was a copy of the Constitutional amendments, which some people liked to read again before voting since they were written “in lawyer, not English”. She laughed and thanked me. The gentleman behind me, who introduced himself as Mr. Wilson, said I was smart. I laughed, replying that I’d once been Director of Elections in another county and my job had included ensuring people understood the voting process. I made some off hand comment about voters doing their homework. Several people nodded in agreement.


Funny, any other day I bet one of them would’ve suggested I mind my own business. But not election day.


Talking didn’t just pass the time, it aided in discovering how people think. Ironically, no one discussed their candidate. Instead they shared fears and concerns, with conversations usually ending with hopes and dreams.


“I have a dream,” I thought with a smile. I was born the same day as Dr. King, you know. He would’ve been proud of our line. Historically speaking.


You see, walking through the front door morphed you from “individual” into “welcome to the group”. What a cooperative lot we became! A woman, discovering she’d left her registration card in the car, was forced to step out of line. Upon returning, the line had doubled. She smirked, “Well, you move you lose.”


“No you don’t!” called the woman who’d been behind her. “You come right back over here.” Everyone nodded. After 25 minutes of waiting Mr. Wilson had to slip off to the bathroom. Mr. Palmer, who was behind Wilson, offered, “Don’t worry, we’ll keep your place,” as he pointed from me to him. And we did.


Approaching our target, we were met by a harried poll worker concerned about maintaining order in our orderly line. Without explanation, he began demanding last names. The woman in front offered hers timidly, looking concerned. I gave the first letter of my last name and the worker nodded for me to stay put. He pointed for Mr. Wilson to go past me, into the next line. Mr. Wilson balked, “I can’t go ahead of her! That’s not fair.” The worker merely hustled Mr. Palmer in behind Mr. Wilson and kept moving down the line. I had to fight not to laugh when both men refused to move. I explained that during large elections, the name list is split alphabetically to speed up the process. The woman in front of me sighed in relief. The gentlemen then stepped into the proper line with a polite nod.


Cooperation is truly a natural state. If you just smile.


Just as a machine opened up for me, Mr. Palmer stepped forward eagerly. I wasn’t angry. I understood. He was another older black man who’d had to wait all his life at the end of some line. I was happy to see someone so excited to vote… who understood one vote actually means something.


Unfortunately, he got caught.


The woman in charge huffed at Mr. Palmer to get back in line. Looking somewhere between hurt and apologetic, he glanced at me. The worker huffed, “Oh no! Line cutting will not happen on my watch!”


Smiling at her I offered kindly, “Oh, he didn’t meant to. I’m just short. Hard to see me in a crowd.”


She motioned me forward with a shake of the head…and a grin. Mr. Palmer winked and was escorted to the next machine.


Ironically the only out-of-place moment in all this togetherness was due to, of all people, the educated. Well, the educated-in-training. Two young black women with a pre-printed list were stopping voters to ask two questions: [1] is this your first time voting? [2] who did you vote for? I watched them for quite a while, wondering if it was a college project or if they were part of someone’s political party. I was surprised to realize they were only polling black voters. That, of course, made my curiosity kick in. As I approached the exit, they took one look at me and literally turned away. They stopped Mr. Wilson. As I left, he was wondering out loud why they hadn’t talked to me.


They’re young, Mr. Wilson, I thought silently. They'll learn. Once they’re in the real world, they’ll realize we’re all connected. Your parents fought to change your world and changed mine too. Every day I work with kids, many from low income homes with parents who don’t care, to ensure they receive an education too. Education, plus the knowledge they can grow up to be whatever they want. Like President. It takes all of us to make a difference.


No matter what the polls say.


Driving away, I found myself wondering what Emmanuel Willis was thinking about this historic day. Because I was thinking about him. I’d chosen him as my potential presidential candidate because his grey matter was sharper than mine. At least on math tests. The color of his skin never entered my mind.


Emmanuel, aren’t we lucky to have grown up in a time where anything really IS possible?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

R.I.P.

One of my favorite writers passed away today: Michael Crichton. Yes, he directed a few movies too. He wrote and directed "The Great Train Robbery" as well as co-writing the script for "Twister".

But it was his books I loved because he was able to mix science, his medical degree and a "what if?" mentality that made you think. Any man who can make me read a book containing quantum physics and not want to put it down is quite a writer. [That would be "Timeline"...a great book but a lousy movie, even if it did have Gerard Butler in it].

Crichton's first book was "The Andromeda Strain", which he wrote while still in Med School. Kids know him for "Jurassic Park" and American adults who love medical drama worshiped him for television's "E.R." Ironic that this will be the show's last season on television...as if author and his creation decided to depart the same year.

I was amazed to learn that Crichton made a REALLY big impression on folks, partly because he was 6'9"! He loved writing so much that his medical professors thought he was wasting their time. Hey, their stupidity was my entertainment. And for sticking to what he loved the most and taking me along for the ride, I thank him.

Only 66, Crichton died suddenly today of cancer. It's ironic that such a public man of science clung to his privacy to fight a battle within his own body. Had he survived, I'm guessing we'd have gotten another great story.

Ought to be an interesting funeral...it was noted that he was married 5 times and had one child...if you don't count his books. The funeral will be private but the world will miss this gifted giant of a man.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

As I Hum the 7 Dwarfs Song...

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it's off to vote I go. I'll stand in line, try not to whine, Hi Ho. Hi Ho.

Every election I think of my Dad. Although I know he was secretly proud the day that I, his first born and a senior in high school, announced I was a newly registered voter, he sighed. Loudly. First he had fears about allowing 18 year olds to make decisions concerning taxes when most of them didn't pay any. He wasn't sure we would comprehend the ramifications of the decisions we'd be ask to make....that they could come back to bite us ten years down the road. "Change" is not a new concept. Neither is a father's fears for his children's future.

Then he added, "It's not bad enough your mother cancels out my vote, now I have you to contend with."

I came up with every logical idea I could, including the one where I would be working while going to college, therefore would be contributing to the tax pool. I'm the curious one, I reminded him. The one who wants to know why, who'll take the time to look at issues from all sides and go looking for information if I don't understand. He smiled and I thought I'd proven my worth.

I had, but not the way I imagined.

No, Dad smiled and said, "Well, your Mom might cancel out my vote, but I've got a 50-50 chance you might actually vote like me."

Dad's probably smiling down from heaven today. Because, although I didn't plan it this way, I think I'm about to go to the polls....and cancel out Mom's vote. :)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Someone has to do it....but not me

As someone who’s always wanted to write and call it a living, meaning there’s actual pay involved, I’ve once again confirmed why I’ll never be a newspaper reporter.

Not that I haven’t written for newspapers before. The first story I ever sold was to a Sunday magazine for a statewide newspaper. Ironically, it was about being ordinary. “Ordinary is being able to name 6 of the 7 dwarfs, 7 of Santa’s 8 reindeer and having to mumble, ‘30 days has September, April, June and November’”. You get the idea. Working rotating shifts at the time as a state police dispatcher, quiet Midnights enabled me to write and sell them two more pieces over the next couple of years. Being accepted was gratifying considering how many stories were submitted statewide.

But I digress.

As much as I love research, facts and finding out “the rest of the story”, I don’t have the stomach to get in someone’s face during a moment of tragedy. I could never ask, “So, you just lost your house in a fire, your children are missing and a tornado tossed a tree across your car and smashed it to bits. How do you feel?”

I have a conscious. And it works. To be a good reporter, you need to have the ability to occasionally switch that off and become clinically impartial.

I have no idea where that switch is…or if I even have one.

A good reporter is all business, sometimes even cutthroat in racing to tell a story first. If you can push aside old ladies, step over dead bodies and continue to question the grieving long after anyone with half a heart would’ve quit, you too could win a Pulitzer Prize. Sure. Someone has to do that. Just not me.


I write what “real” reporters refer to as “fluff”. Feel good stories. Stories that make you cheer someone on to victory and give them a standing ovation when they arrive. There’s enough gloom and doom in the world. Most of it on the front page. I’m just one of those people who prefers to shine a light on those the world has overlooked while they were doing the right thing, even if it was the difficult thing. I love finding out why a person is they way they are but if it means poking them with questions until they bleed, it’s not worth it. Not to me.

Driving home Saturday after taking some things to my aunt in the nursing home, I came upon a knot of police cars, blue lights flashing everywhere. As a kid, I knew this was a quiet neighborhood where people raised kids with values and more love than money. Time has erased some of the morals once found there, but the economic status remains the same.

It’s amazing how much the brain can absorb in just a glance. Especially color. To my right was bright yellow crime scene tape. A blue clad, stone faced policeman was posted in front of it. Yet his face was pale, hinting that someone worse than usual had occurred. Across the street a photographer from the local paper pointed a huge white telephoto lens at the scene. Next door was a young female reporter, her face as red as the shirt she was wearing. As she left the neighbor’s front doorstep, no doubt in search of a quote using words like “shocked” and “afraid”, her expression remained with me all the way home.

She wasn’t sad or disappointed. Stomping back to the scene she looked angry. Very angry.

Later that afternoon when I turned on the computer, I discovered what had happened. A 22 year old ex-con, afraid he was about to be robbed by someone knocking on his door, opened fire with an AK-47. After he sprayed 30 rounds through the closed door, leaving a 12 year old Trick-or-Treater dead and two family members injured. Mom was sitting in the car and witnessed the whole thing.

You know reading it is bad enough. I don’t have the stomach to be the one demanding the facts necessary to write it.

The local paper has a position open. Currently, I’m not happy at work. And yet, applying is not a temptation. Why? Because when getting the story is more important than the people blindsided by a tragedy, that’s not journalism. That’s voyeurism at it’s worst.

Guess I’ll just continue to write for the OTHER local paper, where headlines applaud those who have succeeded and cheer on those who are trying. Sure, it’s a charitable effort on my part since it comes with no pay. But at least I can sleep at night.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Wow....November! Already?

I'm having one of those, "Wait a minute. Didn't I just do hubby's end of the month books and turn the page on that calendar?" moments. Maybe time does fly. Well I guess tonight it actually does. Backwards.

I have one of those internal clocks which finds Daylight Savings Time a giant annoyance. Almost as much as hearing poor hubby lament every year, "Why don't they just change it once and leave it alone!?"

The problem is, my body clock is too finely tuned. A comedian once sniped, "It's only an hour for crying out loud!" Sadly, my innards do not agree. It will take a week to adjust, mostly of waking up what has become too early, but I'll adjust. I look at it this way. At least for one week we all have, and accept, the excuse, "It's that coming off Daylight Savings Time that has me goofed up!" Oddly, that excuse is good for a myriad of sins and oversights.

So my fellow Americans, don't forget to "Fall back". I've discovered that rather than set the clocks back at bedtime, I just change them after I get up Sunday morning. Wow, time flies! I will think with a grin, my body adjusting at a relaxed pace. If you live elsewhere, thank your lucky stars that your government isn't still using this archaic system from WWII which was meant to give Rosie the Riveter an extra hour of daylight to make those planes.

No matter where you're from, firemen everywhere request that after you fix the clock, you change the batteries in your smoke alarm. Hey, it's easy to get all the drudgery out of the way at the same time so you can concentrate on all the family gatherings...and edible goodies... yet to come.

And if I may make a suggestion to the future American President....kindly put Daylight Savings Time to bed. Permanently. Or else I'm sending hubby to help you change your clocks.