Friday, December 28, 2007

reporting in from connecticut

After a lovely Christmas Eve, made moreso by the earlier-than-anticipated arrival of Junior, we left Christmas morning for Connecticut and some time with my family. We enjoyed a holiday celebration and dinner at my brother's Christmas night, and dinner with Dad on Wednesday. Thursday we joined family friends for lunch, and at dinner my brother's family joined us here at Seabury followed by some hot and heavy rounds of ping pong and a couple of games of pool.

It's been an eventful day today. We met Dad for lunch at an Afghani restaurant where we had an incredible meal, and then headed over to a new (and still not completed) shopping center called Blue Back Square (see artist's rendering)--named for the color of the back of the student primer associated with Noah Webster, a hometown boy. We found some great deals at Crate and Barrel (why, oh why don't they come to Tennessee?????), then met Mom to see "The Kite Runner." I had not read the book, but found the movie to be a powerful, painful and redemptive story of human failing and courage. Definitely worth seeing. After the movie we found our way to a middle eastern restaurant and had another great meal (the tapenade was out of this world).

With two days to go before our return home we have more dates for food on the agenda, along with some idle time and a few tasks to help mom with some details at the apartment. It's been a nice respite, and though I have enjoyed seeing snow on the ground, I would really like to see some fall!
Unfortunately I couldn't find my photo card reader when we were packing for our trip so I can't share the two pictures I've taken so far, but you're not missing much.
Hope everyone is enjoying some continued holiday spirit, and those to whom we shipped packages on Monday have by now received them (except probably you, Clare!). Happy last days of 2007!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

speaking of wrapping

But first, a status report (humor me, I'm proud of my accomplishments)
Wrapping: done!
Shipping: sealed and addressed and ready to go in the morning (apologies to the recipients that these gifts will be late, though with the exception of Clare (sorry, doll) they will arrive during the twelve days).
Baking: hope springs eternal!

Okay, I confess, I'm a gift-wrap snob. And should the confession that follows offend anyone, let me please offer my apology in advance with the disclaimer that nothing stated here is personal.

I didn't come to terms with my snobbery until Friday night, when I purchased a hostess gift at Barnes and Noble en route to the hosted event and opted to have the gift wrapped. The wrappers were supporters of a local youth orchestra, and one of them claimed to be a professional, having once been employed by Macy's to do the deed. Spare me. This was an act of tape overkill in the extreme. Every fold of paper was taped into place. The folds themselves threatened to give origami a bad name, and the extreme "care" with which the paper was positioned (in itself rather bizarre) about put me over the edge. Ken nudged me to shut up--mind you no words escaped my lips, he was all too aware of my non-verbal communication (the eyebrows raised into my hairline were the first clue).

You have to understand, I come from a gene pool of master wrappers. Except with awkward shapes or very large packages we wrap without using tape. Bows don't have knots, nor are they twisted awkwardly on the underside of the package. Our paper is crisply and cleanly creased to hold its shape and the ribbon tying is deftly handled. It is, frankly, simple (and practice is really all that is required to achieve the art). So you can understand my utter horrow as I watched my craft being mangled and tortured with tape.

I don't pretend to be Martha Stewart, and I admit that if I had the time, the money and the storage space I would have accessories to tie into my bows. That flaw notwithstanding I do have to I admit, I'm a snob. There, I've said it. I feel better now.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

random thoughts while wrapping

A quick status report (because I know how eager you all are to learn about the status of my sanity):

Christmas letters: Saturday, 22 December, 10:54 AM CST-- folded, signed, addressed, stuffed, sealed, stamped and in the mail! (exception: those going out of the country need to have postage calculated--I'll get to that...)
Shopping: Friday, 21 December, 5:45 PM CST -- done!
Christmas music: constant!
Wrapping: one out-of-country (that would be you, Clare), and four out-of-state households are wrapped. At least two to go.
Shipping: not a chance
Baking: still a figment of my imagination

Now to my musings. I was wrapping a package for Katie (four in January), using gold metallic ribbon. I imagined her first sight of it and could hear her voice saying, "ooh, pretty." And then I got to thinking, how would she know something is pretty? I suspect that in our early years we simply mimic our parents when they admire something beautiful. We begin to think as they do about what is beautiful. But eventually we develop our own tastes, preferences and ideas about what constitutes beauty.

Where do you suppose that comes from? Is there an aesthetic gene (there must be, because I'm convinced that some people lack it entirely)? And what makes some people love purple and others abhor it? Why are some minimalists in decorating while others go crazy with ruffles? Modern style versus French provincial? You get my drift. I have never given this one moment's thought before, and now I'm really intrigued about how it is that our sense of the aesthetic gets shaped and formed. Although some of what we prefer comes from what we have learned, I am convinced that there is something inate that determines our likes and dislikes. Just curious.

Thoughts?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

counting the days...

and trying to hold them back with all my might! This is the first year in the history of my life that this close to Christmas I have yet to wrap a single gift. Let's just let go of the notion that anything that needs to be mailed will arrive anywhere by Christmas. There, I feel better already (well, no, I don't, but maybe if I say it often enough...). Today I finally got our Christmas letter written. Tomorrow I'll work on getting them printed, and then there are envelopes to address... Okay, that was whining and I'm not going to do that.

Good news--Dooley is much better, back to his spunky, feisty self. We had a re-check at the vet this morning and he got the all clear sign. He still has a heart murmur, what is called "degenerative valve disease," and I've got pictures and everything to understand it all. He's got one more medication (blood pressure), and I will now be medicating his little self twice a day for the rest of his life. Hopefully that will be a long time yet. It's frightening to consider how bad he really was when I got him to the vet, but at least he let me know in no uncertain terms that he wasn't himself. We're a good team, Dooley and me.

In the meantime Rigel grows by literal leaps and bounds. He's got such long legs! He's trying to get the hang of good behavior, but he's still got a ways to go. Sigh. Nothing in the house is safe, but he's so cute that it is hard to stay annoyed with him for very long. I'll need to try a photo shoot this weekend to get updated pictures of him for the record.

I'm rambling, so off I go into the holiday whirlwind!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

ruh-roh

Since my return home our skies have been gray and the weather has turned raw. I am grateful for the recent memories of sunny Florida days and breezes at a time like this! It's cloudy here at home as well. Our dear Mr. Grumpy (affectionately named), better known as Dooley, has congestive heart failure. He'd been hacking and wheezing for a few days before I went to Florida, and a trip to the vet yielded a diagnosis of bronchitis and a dose of antibiotics. Since I left the next day I couldn't monitor any changes with him, and though in some respects he seemed better, this morning he was definitely feeling punk. Our vet isn't open on Saturdays, so we headed elsewhere for care, an x-ray, blood work, and so on. An exam indicated a heart murmur, and the x-ray showed an enlarged heart and pulmonary edema. Poor Dooley. He received an injection of lasix and two sets of pills for treatment. He is glad to be home, and I am glad to have him on his way to better health. Time to put on some Christmas music, turn on the lights, light some candles, and inspire a cheerier mood. Who knows, we might even bake some cookies!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

back to the grind


The days are becoming a blur. I returned home yesterday, heading from the airport directly to the office, getting home at about 9:00 after an evening meeting. According to the calendar there are two weeks left before Christmas, and there is still a great deal to do--shop, wrap, mail packages, arrange for dog care, finalize plans for our trip home, write the Christmas letter, print the Christmas letter, fold the dang thing, address and stamp envelopes...

My sojourn to Florida has refueled me for these tasks, but there are still only so many hours in the day that aren't already committed to other things (like work!).

A few more pics from the weekend will at least let me take visual breaks from the holiday crush!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

road trip!

I left for Florida Thursday morning, but it wasn't until yesterday that I was able to get an internet connection to post here. It is divine being here. The air smells different, the culture is different, and it's a delight to be on vacation with beloved friends.
Far too much activity has taken place to recount the details to this point (although Kip's blog does a great job!--see link to the right!). I spent the first almost 24 hours with Jules and E at their place in Tarpon Springs, north of Tampa. Little did I know that TS is the sponge capitol of the world, and inhabited almost entirely by Greeks! What fun it was exploring some of the town with Jules and soaking up the transplanted culture.

Friday Jules and I picked up Kip to head to Anna Maria Island and Janet's house where we would begin what has been dubbed "The Goddess Weekend." (We happened on a couple of t-shirts with four women drawn and depicted as the four goddesses--the perfect subtitle for us). Janet's house is amazing, with a fabulous view of the water. It pales, however, to the delight of being with good friends, of laughing, playing, eating, drinking and toasting to the glory of good relationships and shared times together. Here are a few pics that tell a little something of our tales...

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

stolen from Jules

1. Colored lights or white lights on your house or not at all? None
2. Hot chocolate or Egg Nog? Hot Chocolate (even better with Kahlua added!)
3. What's your favorite holiday dish? I haven’t made it in years, but the only thing I make at Christmas that I don’t make at other times of the year is a Buche de Noel.
4. Does Santa wrap the presents or just sit them under the tree? Why, wrapped, of course! What’s Christmas without a little suspense?
5. Do you hang mistletoe? No
6. When do you put up your decorations? When we can get around to it!
7. What's your favorite holiday tradition? Traditions have shifted and changed since I was younger, and no longer live in the same area as my family. From my early days I think my favorite tradition was the Advent calendar. I also appreciate the lengths my mother went to to decorate the house with a seasonal theme. I’m afraid I haven’t developed a tradition of my own as an adult that has had any consistency, sad to say.
8. What's on the top of your tree? It used to be a special angel until one of the dogs mistook it for a snack. Nothing has replaced that angel since…
9. Do you have a nativity displayed through the holidays? Yes, finally! I have spent most of my life looking for just the right nativity, and found the one I love in the Willow tree collection (see photo!)
10.Candy Canes, traditional or flavored? Or Chocolate Covered Cherries? I’m not into candy canes, and have never been a fan of chocolate covered cherries. Sorry.
11.What's your favorite holiday goodie to make and share? Mom has a great toffee recipe that I used to make all the time.
12.What's your favorite Christmas song? Just one? O Holy Night is a childhood favorite that continues to deserve top billing.
13.When did you learn the truth about the "magic" of Christmas? don't remember??? The Truth? You mean there isn’t magic at Christmas?
14.Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? I did as a child
15.Is there a special ornament or Christmas decoration that you wouldn't feel like Christmas without? At Mom’s the organ pipes and angel orchestra are a must. At my house my favorite decoration is the shepherd Santa with his sheep.
16.Do you take neighbor gifts/treats to anyone, everyone, a select few? Depends on the year, but I usually make goodies to distribute to a variety of folks
17.Is your big meal on Christmas Eve, Christmas morning or Christmas afternoon? Christmas afternoon
18.How do you decorate your tree? Lights and ornaments. Last year I thought the tree needed something else, but I haven’t figure out yet how to get the right look.
19.Snow? Love it? Dread it? Tolerate it? LOVE SNOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
20.Do you remember a favorite gift? The year I got my first dog, a Sheltie puppy.
21.Do you have a family get-together during the holidays with extended family? No, they all live too far away.
22.What's the most important thing that you must do each Christmas season? Remember what the season is about
23.Do you bake Christmas cookies? I used to, but haven’t in the past few years
24.Do you leave cookies and milk for Santa? I did when my nephew was young
25.What's your favorite Christmas memory? One memory doesn’t stand out—there are lots of good memories!

Friday, November 30, 2007

more from the road

We continue to be enthralled by Luke, and we've also had a little time to get out and experience El Paso. We toured the mini museum of "Old Fort Bliss," did some shopping, and came within reach of the Mexican border. I had hoped for a view of the Rio Grande, but it is more accurately called the Rio Trickle at this stage of its life. El Paso butts up against the mountains, which are beautiful, especially in the afternoon when shadows begin to be cast among its peaks and lower folds. I haven't been able to get a good picture of those mountains because of haziness and poor vantage points, but I've enjoyed taking them in. Last night we shared our Christmas. As Junior noted, Luke had the best "haul," and we essentially looked at him and said, "well, Duh!"
After some discussion we have concluded that I will be "Nana." Although in some regards a name could have waited, an inscription in a book required a decision, so this was it. Works for me.

Here are a few more photos. We head home tomorrow so today is our last chance to get a few "must haves." I'm sure you'll be seeing those results!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

greetings from el paso!

We're here in EP and he's a doll! At the age of eight days we don't expect a lot of interaction, but what a delight it is to hold Luke and gaze into his precious face. Here are a few pics to share. More will follow!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

ah, cold in the air!

We've had a few days of temperatures in the high 30's and 40's, and I'm thrilled. It's not that I'm crazy about cold weather--I like it well enough--but cold weather is what trips the internal lever that releases the seasonal spirit and makes it possible to enjoy the holiday to the fullest (snow is a bonus, but I don't expect that). While out earlier today the cold breeze bit against my face and the switch was flipped. "Yes!!!" I proclaimed. "Now we can get ready for Christmas!"

We crazily did some shopping yesterday--we're celebrating Christmas with the kids next week while we're in Texas and, well, shopping had to be done! We even braved the most local mall, but one of our key destinations is set apart from the likes of Target and other biggies, and we found a parking place 30 feet from the store. Go ahead, touch me. I sizzle.

Today we ventured out to a new bookstore in search of a gift, and though we didn't find what we were looking for we stumbled upon a few other things that now mean crossing items off the proverbial list.

This will be the extent of Christmas activity on the homefront for us until our return from the Lone Star state. Tomorrow we have multiple activities after church that mean not returning home until dinner time, and Monday I start early and end with a 6 PM meeting before heading home. And then there's packing. Ugh.

As Julian of Norwich says, "All will be well." Now I just need to decide what name to use as a grandmother...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

happy thanksgiving!

For some odd reason I woke and rose early today, and have already managed to clear the dining table so that we have a place to eat later on. Now to get a start on some of the items we'll be enjoying at our meal later: Cornish hens, a potato-onion mash, sweet potatoes, stuffing and cranberry sauce of some description (need to decide which recipe to make). Ken is assembling the pumpkin pie and I'll put together a small salad when the time comes.

We've got a church service this morning, and then the day is ours. There's plenty of tidying up to do, and since we'll be gone a good chunk of next week I'd like to leave the house in some kind of respectable order. It's always nice to come home to a clean space.

Haven't heard from the kids so I can't offer you a baby update, but will when we have news and pictures.

In the meantime, a toast to you all from a grateful heart on this day of counting blessings!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

HE'S HERE!!!!

Most of you who read this blog have either seen this posted or received an email, but I am duty bound as a proud grandmother to report the news that HE'S HERE!!!! Luke Christian Hamilton arrived yesterday afternoon to the waiting and loving arms of his parents, and was soon greeted by his uncle who had existing plans to fly in last night to start his block leave. Lucky Junior! He's been referring to this baby as his nephew from day one, so you just know that he is beaming.

We won't be able to wrap our arms around the little fellow until a week from today, and it's practically killing us! I am taking as compensation having a little time to shop for him before we go, now that we know Luke's sex.

If I can figure out how to email pictures from my phone before we get any via email I'll post those, but for now you will have to wait for images of our new dear one.

Welcome darling Luke. We love you!!!!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

core value

I woke this morning with a wad of grief in my chest that finally worked its way from my heart to my tears. It was unexpected, and on reflection I think it was released by a massage I had on Friday. There are a number of things that seem to be connected to this grief, but mostly it is the loss of connectedness. It's harder and harder to have face to face, voice to voice interaction with people, and I am feeling the absence of that at a cellular level.

In several weeks I will have the joy of being with some friends in Florida, time spent with whom is among the best balm my soul ever gets. I need that time desperately. But those occasions are too infrequent to sustain me through the ordinary, everyday need to pour out frustrations or ponder questions that emerge as I bump up against life's challenges and encouragements. Most of my closest friends are at a distance, and those who are nearer have commitments and schedules that make it difficult to find time to spend together. It seems harder and harder to be there for one another when the chips are down, or even to know when there is a need. A year ago a very dear friend was in real trouble, and though I had the time and could get to her easily, I didn't even know that she needed me.

I miss my friends. I miss being there to listen to what weighs on their hearts and colors their days. I miss the sound of their laughter and the animation of their gestures. I miss their hugs. I need to find a way to alter how I engage life so that what matters most, the relationships I value and desire, can be more central to each and every one of my days.

Here is to you all. Blessings and thanksgivings to you for being light and balm to me.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

the best 99 cents you'll ever spend

It's a simple thing. 99 cents for a reusable grocery bag. Why aren't we all doing this? I cringe when I see grocery carts filled with plastic bags that will be thrown into the trash. I cringe when I see baggers place one item into one of those plastic bags simply for ease of carrying. So much will fit into these bags, and with a box-style construction they are easy to carry. We have four of them (thank you, Publix!), and in addition two mesh bags that are less favorable but worth having. They only cost 99 cents. You could, of course, purchase a canvas variety from Pottery Barn for $39, but why? Yes, they are sturdier and will last longer, but the cost differential should be convincing enough. Repeat after me: no more plastic!

Friday, November 09, 2007

praise for my bank

Yes, this is blog-worthy. Life circumstances during the last five years have included more than its share of financial challenges, not the least of which was more than two years of under-employment (more than half of which was unemployment!). Add to that our wedding last year (which was modest, as such financial black holes go), and we've got quite the accumulated debt load.

Last spring I devised a formula for beginning that long road of debt reduction, which has been helped by the income from St. Paul's. We've made steady progress, and each month the picture looks better and better. I try to take advantage of promotional offers when they come, juggling balances and calculating interest rates to give us the best leverage. Another such offer came in the mail the other day with the newly issued card on a low credit limit account. I called to activate the card, and the person at the other end of the phone asked some pertinent questions and then offered to made some adjustments on some of the accounts to try to help us out (I have multiple accounts at this bank: business accounts, cards from other banks that are now owned by this bank, etc).

Thanks to this woman's customer service the balance on my highest interest account has now been transferred to an account with 1/3 of the interest rate! Can we say "thank you, God!" With Christmas in the wind some of our funds that would ordinarily go toward paying down debt will be redirected to gifts. With the adjustments just made to a couple of credit card accounts we won't lose ground on our debt reduction progress. A deep, heavy sigh of thanksgiving is escaping from me in these moments of celebration.

And another thing. I've decided to shift how I refer to this financial journey. It's not debt reduction. It's debt elimination. Ah, I feel even better now.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

it it's thursday...

... then it's the fifth day of the week! Time is absolutely flying, and the hours of each day are packed with things to do, AND getting them done! No complaints here about that! I would like a little more leisure in my schedule, but these days that is hard to come by. This, too, shall pass.

We continue to have some fabulous fall weather, and finally had a frost the other night that zapped my impatiens. I was leaving them in the ground for color, but now it's time for them to go! I may replace them with hardy pansies, but then again, there is so little time to tend to a garden that I'll just be happy to get daffodil bulbs planted.

This morning I am "presenting" my Pampered Chef business at a local networking chapter to which I belong. Each week two members have eight minutes to do a schpiel, and today is my day. I'm trying to decide what products to take for display (there won't be a sales pitch), and need to make that decision soon!

Tonight I am having dinner with my "new friends" of several posts ago, and will also bless the house of the host. The previous owner died in the house, and let's just say that there is some discomfort about that! Tomorrow I am off, and have no immediate plans!

Hope it's been a good week and continues to be for y'all! Janet, this picture is for you!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

especially for word and language lovers

The days have been crammed from morning until evening, and time for email, never mind blogging, has been elusive. This morning I'm borrowing from an email that reported the results of an annual Washington Post contest to create new meanings for existing words. There are some clever people out there! No idea when this was done in the Post--you know how long things circulate by email. Enjoy!

1. Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs.
2. Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.
3. Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
4. Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.
5. Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.
6. Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightgown.
7. Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.
8. Gargoyle (n.), olive-flavored mouthwash.
9. Flatulence (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller.
10. Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.
11. Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.
12. Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.
13. Pokemon (n), a Rastafarian proctologist.
14. Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.
15. Frisbeetarianism (n.), The belief that, when you die, your Soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.
16. Circumvent (n.), an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

a new day...

...a new opportunity. Yesterday didn't unfold the way I had hoped, but today is a new day. I have a new hair color, thanks to friends at last night's birthday party. Lots of laughter and lots of wine into the evening, two of us got makeovers (we were the most visibly gray, which is not to say that we were the oldest there). I still have visible gray, but it is less noticeable since I am now a couple of shades lighter than 24 hours ago. No pictures, alas, since my camera is at the office. Instead I am sharing internet photos of fall color, since today is also gloriously chilly and a little raw. Now this is REAL autumn! It's the first day for heat on in the house, a day for making soup, lounging in sweats and enjoying the company of the dogs. The other night Rigel even cuddled up and calmed down, so maybe there's a chance that we can snuggle on the couch and catch up on some television. I'm loving this day of non-essential bliss. Could I please have several more of them, soon?

Friday, October 26, 2007

one of those days

I don't begrudge the rain, which we need desperately, but it doesn't help. Today I've had too many errands, the added attention to the puppy with Ken out of town for a few days, a death in the parish that necessitates a trip to Murfreesboro on my day off. As long as I was making the trip I thought I'd head to the new Stein Mart to take advantage of a "two day only" coupon, Turns out Stein Mart has it's grand open next week! Grrrrr. I need some new clothes, since I have put on weight and don't fit into anything I own. No time to go elsewhere to find something. Stopped in at a shop to look for something for the grandbaby, but they didn't have what I was looking for. I stopped at another store to look for something to take to an impromptu birthday party tonight, and that was a bust. It's just not my day. So here I am sitting in my jeans (I had anticipated a new outfit!) to meet with the family of the deceased. Fortunately they are forgiving, and probably won't even notice.

The good news is that when I went to get Junior's car registered today they had received his fax last night of his orders for active duty. Those were necessary in order to waive the emissions inspection (since his car is out of state), and another tax. I was fully expecting a hassle about that, but was pleasantly surprised when the woman said "oh yes!" when I mentioned the fax. Phew! Within 15 minutes that bit of paperwork was in the mail and on its way to him.

The other nice thing, I am hoping, is that the day will end pleasantly with this birthday party. It's nice to be included, and with Ken out of town if offers some company on a Friday night. Time to start quoting Scarlett: tomorrow is another day!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

are you... ?

A laugh for the day (true story).

A friend of mine is married to a priest, and she fielded a phone call recently from a prospective visitor to the church.

Caller: "Is your church one of them conservative churches?"
Priest's wife: "I think my husband is in a better position to answer that question for you. Perhaps you could call him at the church."
Caller: "Can't you just tell me if you're one of them conservative churches?"
Priest's wife: "What do you mean exactly by 'conservative'?"
Caller: "You know. Do you have any gays or lesbians on the altar?"
Priest's wife: "No ma'am, we usually just have flowers."

Monday, October 22, 2007

one drop of grace

Last week the phrase "one drop of grace at a time" made its way into my sermon. It's not unusual for me to preach something that I need to hear, though at the time these words spilled out that wasn't on my mind. Today I am appropriating them for myself as a way of looking at some of the little things that happen in the course of a day.

For instance, watching leaves fall... noting the brilliant deep red that tinges some of the trees in the neighborhood... gratitude for having shampooed some of the carpets over the weekend... getting books moved to the office... emptying a storage unit in my office in anticipation of a modest (and long overdue) overhaul... gorgeous weekend weather...

I was responsible for some of these things, others were simply noted and appreciated for their presence. Each of them, in their own way, erased a degree of pressure and stress in my life. Those erasures in turn make it easier to look beyond my own world into the more expansive world where others live and have concerns, and where balance and peace are to be found. Grace is always present. The drops are always there. Today I'm grateful for seeing them.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

the Gore war

Okay, let me say first of all that I'm not writing this as a fan of Al Gore. I can take him or leave him as a political persona, and he's given me no reason to make a decision one way or the other about whether or not I would support him as a future candidate for any office.

That said, I'm really sick of how much he gets picked on unjustly. If I side with Gore it's because I consider myself to be an environmentalist, and I believe he's been a great voice for "green" concerns. I take particular issue with those who talk about how much energy is used in his home in Nashville. As a local girl, I have something to contribute to this conversation.
1) Until this year, the community in which he lives did not allow solar panels on homes, and the electric company only recently began to offer Green Power Switch--a more expensive energy source that is renewable! He wasn't in a position to practice responsible energy use in these ways prior to that.
2) "Average" families of four brag that they don't use the amount of energy that Gore does. Well, duh! Does anyone think he lives in a 1400 square foot house? Furthermore, this same house includes offices in which people work. He also has security needs that are beyond what most average citizens need or require.
3) The automobile issue. He does drive an SUV, but it is a hybrid.

Could Gore do better? Sure! So could I. So could everyone. This is a tired subject, but I had to speak. Let's move on.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

as promised

Puppy pictures! It cracks me up that he either sits or lies down to drink water. I've never seen a dog do that! It's tough to get pictures of this little guy since he is always on the move, but I managed to capture a brief moment here when he was no doubt calculating what territory he would conquer next. Never a dull moment here! Thank goodness for the confinement of crates.


I managed to make some progress yestserday on my mid-fall resolution, and intend to continue in that vein today. "One day at a time" is a mantra that applies to many arenas of self-improvement! Concrete, tangible and measurable steps are good ways to achieve goals. Forward, ho!

Have a good one!

Monday, October 15, 2007

If it's Monday...

We've been back from our vacation for a week now, and already it feels like it was ages ago, and the days are something of a blur. I remember rain. Poor Ken, the morning of the day that I arrived he had a small injury that put him out of commission for several days. I say "small" because it was, in the literal sense. He was scraping paint on the house exterior and one of his fingers took a direct hit with a sizeable splinter--right into the finger joint. He says that except for getting shot, this is the worst pain he's ever experienced! Thank goodness Mom was in residence because she was able to drive him to the emergency room. The frustration for him was that he was unable to finish the last part of painting that needed to be done, and although he had recovered sufficiently toward the end of the week to try to tackle the project, rain prevented him. Oh well! He'll wrap it up in the spring.In spite of rain, we enjoyed the leisure of time on the front porch, as well as the company of the dogs. On our last night we were treated to this sunset. Who can resist a view like this from the porch?

Puppy adventures continue. He is in constant motion, and likes to put his teeth into everything, including my hair! And still, in spite of utilizing the backyard as he should, he seems to have a fetish for leaving a spot indoors on the rug. Wish we could figure that out. In the meantime he's a cutie, and we're enjoying getting to know him. Additional pictures will follow!

In the meantime, it's a new week, and I've resolved to tackle some persistent tasks that I never seem to get to. It's a mid-October new year! Hope your week goes well...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

keeping with a theme

...of animals, that is, here are a few pictures from last week. Ken decided he wanted to do some South Carolina sightseeing, and learned about a goat farm. We decided to dedicate part of a day to our tourist ventures and headed off to Greenwood and the Emerald Farm. They had goats, peacocks, llamas, bunnies, and probably other critters that we didn't see. I developed a fondness for goats while living on the mountain, so naturally I spent most of my time visiting with them. I stalked the peacocks, hoping to get a fan-tail display, but no luck.

We then shifted gears and drove to Abbeville (attention scrappers, there's a nationally published scrapper from Abbeville, but I can't remember her name or which mag she appears in!). Abbeville has the distinction of being both the cradle and the grave of the confederacy, and onf ot he its architectural treasuresis the local Episcopal Church, built in 1859. Although the tourist info brags about the church, it has not been well maintained and is in serious disrepair. It's quite sad, and I'm sure that the money required to restore the building to its original architectural splendor is significantly beyond the means of the congregation. We had a great lunch at one of the restaurants on the town square, and enjoyed playing tourist for the day.

Stay tuned for the next report!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

he's heeeeerrrrrreeeee!

I don't know how it is that I managed puppyhood when I was single, because it is certainly a challenge with TWO of us here to tend to the task.
We picked up the puppy yesterday after lunch, and it's been a bit of a ride since then! The primary task was to get him named, and after trying out a variety of options, a new one came to the fore. He's a liver-spotted German short-haired pointer, with a splash of mottled color running up his nose to the top of his head. There in center of that splotch at the top of his head is a solid white mark, not quite the shape of a star, but enough to suggest it. I suddenly thought of Rigel, the brightest star in the constellation of Orion, the hunter, and that was it.

Housebreaking is proving to be more challenging than I remember, and at his young age we're going to have to be like parents of a newborn getting up during the night to get him out of the crate to make a visit to the yard. In spite of providing early hour relief during the night, this morning he had messed in the crate, and a load of laundry is now about done.

He is doggone cute, our little Rigel, and he's keeping us busy keeping him out of trouble!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

hellooooooo??? anybody home???

Well, we are, finally! The last couple of weeks have been so full-to-overflowing that I didn't even have a chance to leave a note here to let my faithful readers know that we would be out of town! Ken left a little over three weeks ago to head to Melrose to paint the cottage and install some replacement windows. The dogs and I headed down last Monday to join him, and also Mom, who arrived only a couple of days before that.

It was lovely to be away, and this time we "flagged the yard" to give the dogs a boundary like the one they know at home. It worked! They had a great time being out as often as they liked, and it was peace of mind for us. I'll post some pictures and share a few tidbits soon. At the least, I thought I should offer a break from the zinnias!

Glad to be back home among my cyber friends!!

Monday, September 24, 2007

blooms

Yesterday when I arrived at church a jar of zinnias was waiting for me at the door to my office. I don't know who the flower elf is, but I'm delighted with the gift! I love zinnias--reminds me of the days when we planted gardens as kids, and Mom usually has them in her garden beds. I need to remember to include them next year in my own garden!

Another busy week ahead. What else is new? This morning I need to make a run to the store to get some groceries to make a dish for tonight's PC meeting. I had signed up to be food coordinator, a thankless job, since most of it is spent on the phone trying to reach people. (The first time I made calls I only got answering machines!) I've got two flakers, which means I will double a recipe to make up for their negligence. Not what I anticipated doing with my morning!

Off to the shower and on with my day. Hope it's a good week for one and all.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

working through the list

I have a list about a mile long of things I had hoped to get done yesterday on my day off. I accomplished two of them. The week had been so busy that just to have time to be home and piddle around was its own reward. I can shift yesterday's list to today just as easily! Plus, the first part of the shipment of stuff from my PC open house was delivered yesterday (all the cookware!), so I can get that delivered today.

Tried a new PC recipe for bbq ribs that was great. Start 'em in the microwave! The sauce was mmm good, as well. I'm happy to share the recipe if anyone is interested.

Ken is making progress on his work at Melrose. All the replacement windows for the kitchen, dining room and two bedrooms are now in, and painting is underway. He's encountering problems along the way, which we expect at Melrose, but tending to those as he comes upon them slows down the efforts. The latest was a leaking roof over a storage room. Check out the damage he uncovered! Who knows how long that has been brewing, but he's getting it fixed. It may well be that by the time he is done he will have rebuilt half the house!
The morning is pushing onward so I'm going to go tackle the list. My parting thought is to reflect on one life-giving thing that happened yesterday. I did manage to deal with one of the piles on the dining table, and shuffled some things around on my desk to help open up the desktop. That was very satisfying, and offered a sense of accomplishment. Works for me.
Dooley is barking for breakfast, so I really MUST go!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

possibility

Last night I had dinner with a group of women I had never really met. The host, a member of St. Paul's, called a couple of weeks ago and invited me to dinner at her house with her and some of her friends. "Sure," I said. For the life of me I could not place her as I scratched my head and tried to recall who she was. On Sunday, she came through the line of parishioners who file out the center door of the worship area and introduced herself. She looked only vaguely familiar.I arrived at her house at the appointed hour (well, five minutes early, actually), coinciding with the arrival of one of the friends. She didn't look familiar. It turns out that all of the women (four) attend St. Paul's, and they all exit on Sundays using the side doors. As a result, I had never really met them.

I had a great time. We laughed, they were candid, we laughed, they asked questions, we laughed, I asked questions, we laughed some more. Yes, adult beverages were involved, but not overly so. It is too early to say that a kinship was born. I find that I protect myself a great deal when it comes to trusting new relationships. But there were soft moments of honest sharing and discovering common ground, and it felt really, really good. I felt honored that they wanted to share their time with me (in one of those "if you could invite anyone to dinner, who would it be?" speculations, they all named me). They claim they weren't disappointed. I still feel honored, and humbled, and grateful. There may yet be a network of deep friendships that can be born who are accessible locally (My beloved Cabana Crew, aka my long-distance scrapping buddies, aren't near enough for regular face-to-face fun).

One thing that we shared during the evening was a report from the day: name one thing that was life-draining, and one that was life-giving. It was worth the reflection, and may yet bail me out here on those occasions when I find it difficult to think of worthy things to write or share.

Stay tuned.

Monday, September 17, 2007

my golden hour

It doesn't matter how many times I make a determination the day or night before about how I will try to fit in everything I need to get done the following morning, it doesn't happen. I have finally figured out why. I crave an hour in the morning with my cup of coffee and some time to just be. When I am deprived of that my day feels off-kilter and incomplete. The challenge, of course, is to get myself up early enough to allow for that hour in my schedule. Somehow that doesn't happen, either, but something's got to give soon. Time to revamp the habits (the night before I can make lunch for the next day, prepare packages for the mail, make the day's list of things that need to get done!) and get on track. Too many things are slipping through the cracks, or left too late. The pace of the day can be managed and I am capable of managing, but I have not made it a sufficient priority. I have not held myself accountable and that needs to change.
First, though, I need that hour with my coffee...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

thursday already?

I never seem to have time in the mornings to get to this blog, and there definitely aren't many occasions of late to take pictures to post! I do have a few, however, from a recent Pampered Chef open house that I held to preview the new fall products. Cookbooks are on sale this month for $10 (email me if you want one--it's a great deal!), so I made a recipe from each of the ones that I had to promote those. PC not only has great products, but wonderful recipes, too! As usual the week is flying by and there are more things to do than I seem to have time to accommodate. Eeek! As I type I've got my eye on the clock to get out the door to a morning meeting, then head to church for my virtual Friday. Let's see: gas, calendar, notes for the day, notebook, lunch... y'all have a good one!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

meet...

the soon-to-be newest member of our family. He's a five-week old German short-haired pointer that will come home in another month to join the ranks on Lilac Drive. Ken has been itching for a bird-hunting dog, and has been dogged (if you'll pardon the pun) in his pursuit of finding one. As it happens there is a kennel just a handful of miles from us here in the same county. He paid a visit this morning while I was away at a PC training event, and upon my return we paid a visit to the kennel. The little guy doesn't have a name yet, but he is a cutie! Dooley and Juliet have had two occasions to get a whiff of the newcomer, so by the time this little rascal comes through the door he should be somewhat familiar. Ah, puppyhood and house-breaking. We've got our work cut out for us...

Monday, September 03, 2007

a monday to meander

I am so grateful for a day off. The last few weeks have been non-stop with activity, and there has been little time for anything that resembles leisure. Today I can do as I please, and this morning it pleased me to sleep in! I am now ready to move into the day and take care of a few odds and ends and see what else unfolds.

Although it was part of the non-stop blur, Saturday evening we attended the closing night of the annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, held in Shelbyville, TN. We were invited by the mother of Ken's summer employee, Patrick (who has now returned to college--we miss you Patrick!). Nancy works at one of the walking horse stables in Shelbyville, and entered her own horse in a preliminary event, taking home a blue ribbon. Way to go, Nancy! It was fun to watch Saturday's show with her and learn about what the judges were looking for, as well as choose our own favorites. So many of the horses were stunningly beautiful, and Nancy had the eye, picking most of the winners herself!

When the weather cools off I'll pay a visit to her stables and meet her horse, as well as some of the other champions that reside there. That will be a treat! It will also be a good opportunity to get some pictures. I took my camera Saturday night, but the lighting wasn't good, and the horses moved too quickly for a slower shutter speed. Oh well! In the meantime, the Internet proves itself useful to share the image here of the opening event preceeding the national anthem.

Hope you all have a great day!
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