Sunday, August 31, 2008

resting from our labors

Today is a welcome day of rest this Labor Day weekend after a hectic week. Yesterday Ken hosted a "customer appreciation" cookout held on the grounds of a local church. We invited customers for whom he has done work, as well as those to whom he has given estimates, and had about 30 people in attendance. Not a bad turnout for a first go-round, and being held on a holiday weekend. We did some of the usual burgers and dogs, as the photo will attest, but also brought the cast iron skillet for home to grill onions, made our own slaw and beans, and I contributed a dessert courtesy of a popular Pampered Chef recipe (Chocolate Velvet Strawberry Cake--it's awesome!). It seems we spent half of Friday shopping or preparing food for this event, then Saturday morning wrapping up preparations and carting things over to the church. It was a nice day, but hot, and we were grateful for the covered pavilion and ceiling fans there, which kept things comfortable. In the end we were pleased with it, and Ken got three additional jobs out of it!

This morning we enjoyed some relaxation with the newspaper, watched some television programs that we never get to see because we're usually in churh (Meet the Press and Face the Nation--we're just fascinated by the newly configured race for President by virtue of McCain's choice of Sarah Palin), and nibbled on leftovers. Now we're just home from a matinee viewing of the new movie Traitor. Based on the trailer I anticipated the typical film of suspenseful political intrigue along the line of the Jason Bourne stories, but this was not typical at all. Though some of the usual elements ran through the storyline this was more a story of one man's inner conflict, grounded in and yet challenging his core beliefs. We both thought it was a fabulous film, and personally I think Don Cheadle deserves an Oscar for this performance. Like most movies that get me thinking I now want to go do some research about its genesis and learn about what motivated Don Cheadle, who was one of its producers, to make this film. I never saw Hotel Rwanda and don't know much about it, but I suspect there are some links between that film and this.

The remainder of the weekend is as yet unplanned (with the exception that we know leftovers are on the menu), which sounds just right to me. Of course there's the usual Sunday Times crossword puzzle, but that's a foregone conclusion. I hope this a wonderful weekend for all, and that you are able to rest from your labors as well.

Friday, August 29, 2008

she's a beauty

Many of you know my young friend, Sammy, through this blog, and some of you had the pleasure of meeting her at my wedding. She is one of the gem's of my life, and though I don't see her much these days (funny how being a teenager alters priorities!) she is still as dear in my heart as ever.

A few days ago her mom emailed a link to proofs of potential choices for Sammy's senior photo. I've selected my two favorites to post here, so that you can watch her grow up, too. Isn't she lovely?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

she's a winner

Whether you like her or not, Hillary Clinton must be admired for the fabulous job she did at last night's Democratic National Convention delivering her speech. Most runners up focus fully on themselves or spend their time in the spotlight trashing the opposition. Although Hillary did refer to her campaign and did have a few things to say about John McCain, her message was focused on the goals of her party and the priorities she shares with Barack Obama. She did more than offer lip service to her concession to him as the soon-to-be-official nominee for president. She graciously and firmly declared her support and challenged others to follow her lead in throwing in her lot not just to support his campaign, but to work for his victory. I thought she was amazing, and I was proud of her. Rock on, Hillary!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

laughs are to be shared!

From a young author:

In the beginning, which occurred near the start, there was nothing but God, darkness, and some gas. The Bible says, 'The Lord thy God is one', but I think He must be a lot older than that. Anyway, God said, 'Give me a light!' and someone did. Then God made the world. He split the Adam and made Eve. Adam and Eve were naked, but they weren't embarrassed because mirrors hadn't been invented yet. Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating one bad apple, so they were driven from the Garden of Eden. Not sure what they were driven in though, because they didn't have cars.

Adam and Eve had a son, Cain, who hated his brother as long as he was Abel. Pretty soon all of the early people died off, except for Methuselah, who lived to be like a million or something.

One of the next important people was Noah, who was a good guy, but one of his kids was kind of a Ham. Noah built a large boat and put his family and some animals on it. He asked some other people to join him, but they said they would have to take a rain check.

After Noah came Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jacob was more famous than his brother, Esau, because Esau sold Jacob his birthmark in exchange for some pot roast. Jacob had a son named Joseph who wore a really loud sports coat.

Another important Bible guy is Moses, whose real name was Charlton Heston. Moses led the Israel Lights out of Egypt and away from the evil Pharaoh after God sent ten plagues on Pharaoh's people. These plagues included frogs, mice, lice, bowels, and no cable. God fed the Israel Lights every day with manicotti. Then he gave them His Top Ten Commandments. These include: don't lie, cheat, smoke, dance, or covet your neighbor's stuff. Oh, yeah, I just thought of one more: Humor thy father and thy mother.

One of Moses' best helpers was Joshua who was the first Bible guy to use spies. Joshua fought the battle of Geritol and the fence fell over on the town.

After Joshua came David. He got to be king by killing a giant with a slingshot. He had a son named Solomon who had about 300 wives and 500 porcupines. My teacher says he was wise, but that doesn't sound very wise to me.

After Solomon there were a bunch of major league prophets. One of these was Jonah, who was swallowed by a big whale and then barfed up on the shore. There were also some minor league prophets, but I guess we don't have to worry about them.

After the Old Testament came the New Testament. Jesus is the star of The New. He was born in Bethlehem in a barn. (I wish I had been born in a barn too, because my mom is always saying to me, 'Close the door! Were you born in a barn?' It would be nice to say, 'As a matter of fact, I was.')

During His life, Jesus had many arguments with sinners like the Pharisees and the Republicans. Jesus also had twelve opossums. The worst one was Judas Asparagus. Judas was so evil that they named a terrible vegetable after him.

Jesus was a great man. He healed many leopards and even preached to some Germans on the Mount. But the Republicans and all those guys put Jesus on trial before Pontius the Pilot. Pilot didn't stick up for Jesus. He just washed his hands instead.

Anyways, Jesus died for our sins, then came back to life again. He went up to Heaven but will be back at the end of the Aluminum. His return is foretold in the book of Revolution.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


I'm not a big fan of reality television, but I confess to two "must sees:" Dancing with the Stars, and Project Runway. The former stems from a love of dance, and Ken's particular love of ballroom dance. The latter, well, there's real substance to the challenges, serious creativity is involved, and the winner actually benefits in the area of his or her vocation. Except for the cooking shows, I can't think of another program that works to promote an individual's talent in such a way. And except for the first couple of season where there was some real nastiness from a few individuals toward others in the competition, the relationships that form appear genuine and the competitors, by and large, behave themselves.

All of this is unnecessary background to laugh out loud at last night's episode. The challenge was to design for some of New York's more "flamboyant" drag queens. What a stitch! I haven't laughed so hard and enjoyed the results so much in a long time. And my favorite line, delivered by Tim Gunn to the designer of the lovely outfit pictured here, was "that looks like a teradactyl in a Gay Jurasic Park." Tim is, if nothing, diplomatic, but he is also frank, and this line delivered the best of both worlds in one.
Michael Kors gets the prize for first runner-up for his "I want those boots" comment to the kabuki-styled DQ. This is one of those times when I think you "had to be there," but I couldn't resist sharing a good laugh.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

this 'n' that

Sorry it has taken me so long to get back here—I know how disappointing it is to visit a blog that hasn’t been updated! The last several weeks have been a whirlwind. Between being caught up with watching Olympic events (when did they introduce the trampoline, for heaven’s sake?) and keeping plants watered during the driest August since 1932, a lot of other activity has taken place.

We’ve been busy preparing documents and assembling information for Ken’s application to the state contractor’s board for his General Contractor’s license. Assuming approval, this will allow him to expand his work to larger scale residential projects, as well as take on commercial jobs. At long last we hand-delivered the packet to the contractor board’s office in Nashville early this afternoon. Phew!!! Let’s just say that there’s been more pressure on the administrative assistant (that would be me) than on the prospective GC throughout this process. The query, “what’s the status of my packet?” has grown old! The board meets September 20 and we hope to learn soon afterward whether or not the license is granted.

On the lighter side we attended our county fair the other night. We were blessed with several days of cooler temps (mid 80’s) and low humidity, so the days were tolerable and the evenings and early mornings quite pleasant. Perfect fair weather! Ken had never been, and it had been several years since I was there, so we toured all sorts of exhibits, booths, and livestock displays. It was fun to see the chickens and goats and reminisce about my four-legged and egg-laying neighbors from my days in Sewanee. I especially miss the goats, but the chickens were pretty fun, too. And yes, we sampled some fair food as well, the best of which was fresh corn on the cob. Other highlights included watching a hypnotist at work, and hearing bagpipes. I also registered for a number of giveaways, and surprisingly found myself getting very excited about Ford’s 2009 F150 truck giveaway. The extended cab model is awesome! I especially like the way the back seats fold up, creating a cozy, yet spacious area for dogs, among other necessities.

Last week I attended a class to learn my way around some design software that Ken purchased to aid in his business. As a frustrated architect I can say that there are lots of cool things about this program, but it is also one complex cookie that at times serves to raise my blood pressure. Fortunately I have a project near and dear to my heart that I am working on, so I am highly motivated to solve problems myself or find help from other sources to navigate the rough spots.

Two other highlights warrant mention. One is that we now have a new deck! Through one of his suppliers Ken was able to score, at cost, some composite decking. A deck wasn’t our first priority in terms of improving and adding on to our space, but we couldn’t pass up this deal. With the aid of his crew, the deck was constructed in a matter of days. We haven’t yet enjoyed much time on it, but anticipate pleasant evenings as the temperatures begin to resemble fall. To herald the completion of the deck I tackled painting our Adirondack chairs. I’ve had these for 12 years, and they definitely looked the worse for wear (and weather), and even I didn’t want to sit in them. That is no longer the case! I primed and then painted the chairs and they now sit brightly on the deck. I haven’t yet gotten pictures of the finished product, but will post those when I do.

And that seems enough for now. With the Damocles sword of the contractor packet a thing of the past I think I will thoroughly enjoy settling in to watch the Olympics this evening. Though I admire Michael Phelps and am thrilled for his accomplishments, I am so over the media enthusiasm about those 8 gold medals. I’m much more interested in watching Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh play beach volleyball. They are awesome athletes who demonstrate incredible teamwork. How do you spell MVP? How about 108 consecutive wins? Rock on, ladies!

Friday, August 01, 2008

time for an update

One of the great things about my trip to Chicago was the "down" time I had at the airport and on the plane to read. It had been a long time since I was actually reading something, but I was determined to get involved with a book on this trip.

I selected The Glass Castle, the memoir by Jeannette Walls and a gift from my friends Jimmy and Barbara for my birthday a couple of years ago. What a great choice! It is one of those stories that, had it been fiction, would have been challenged as so utterly implausible. But as they say about truth... It is remarkable both for its story and the way the story is told. Perhaps because Jeannette wrote this from the vantage point of her adult life 180 degrees removed from her childhood knowing that all would be well, I never once felt despair for the children in this book (though I confess I grieved for the father). For all its tragedy, it is full of the ingredients that make the best kind of story: pain, humor, compassion, love, wisdom, triumph, trust, awakening, disappointment, perseverence, forgiveness...

I read somewhere that a movie is in the works for this story, though frankly I think it would be difficult to translate well the perspective of the author to the screen. That remains to be seen. In the meantime I commend this book to one and all (and Kip, especially to you, who enjoys nonfiction!). To enter The Glass Castle is to travel with this family and explore a world we would likely never encounter on our own. That is one of the greatest gifts of story.


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