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.
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