Thursday, March 27, 2008

rocks, rocks and more rocks

Did you know that the smallest pebble in our bodies can create havoc on the body?

Bobby likes to save his kidney stones that pass naturally. The dot in the picture above was one of the last two that he passed. Just big enough to be seen, but small enough to not make him too sick.

The two above are earlier ones, and the one on the right is the third largest one he's had. He passed one slightly larger than this, and the biggest one to date had to be blasted.

Why am I telling you all this? Because we are once again waiting on a rock. We had three days of minor symptoms, and today he must have really decided he didn't want to go to the couples retreat, because he came home from work sick. (Just kidding! about the couples retreat, anyway) We'll go tomorrow to see what the deal is. Until then, it's just rocks as usual.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


This weekend Bobby and I were shopping at Target, and were comparing two different sizes of the same washing powders. (Do we still call them powders if it's a liquid?) One container says 120 oz, 35 washing loads. The larger container on the shelf below it says, 145oz, 38 washing loads. Maybe I'm crazy, maybe the designer at the printing company didn't bother to track someone down to verify their facts, maybe that truly is accurate, but why on earth would 25 ounces of detergent only produce 3 more loads of clothes while filling up a bottle twice the size and costing almost twice as much? Am I missing something somewhere?

Monday, March 24, 2008


American Ambassador to Belarus, Karen Stewart, was pressured to leave Minsk last week. Lushanko, as a protest to America's sanctions, is requiring the US Embassy to cut its staff back from 40 people to 30. In return, the US is temporarily halting all visas from Belarus to America. At this point we don't know whether or not or munchkins have received their visas, or if their paperwork is in the pile on someone's desk awaiting a stamp. ABRO director Joe Strong says until we hear otherwise, all groups are to continue to plan as if the children are coming.

We ran into a similar situation last year when political unrest over the "presidential elections" caused disruption in various services, including flights out of their only airport. By the end of April things had calmed enough for paperwork to be processed and sorted. So I'm not apprehensive, but I'm also aware that the possibility of a quiet summer is also likely.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

a political rant

lest you think I've lost my mind, I don't agree with all of Obama's policies and beliefs, but I do heartily agree with the following excerpt from Zane's article in today's News and Observer:
...Wright, for example, is not the first person to link U.S. foreign policy to the Sept. 11 attacks. And his view that America is a deeply racist nation "controlled by rich people" is expressed routinely in the halls of our universities, in the pages of leading liberal magazines and on the streets of our cities....
That others share Wright's views does not make them wise or right. But it should stop us from pretending that his views are only his. That he speaks for no one but himself. That by denouncing him, we're done with his complaints..."

It startles me that people continuously want to brand Obama with the socialist, racist label, while ignoring that Hillary's policies and views are exactly the same. It also amazes me that people act as if Obama's former pastor (he resigned the church a few years ago) is the first to express such views. Does the name Dixie Chicks ring a bell? I remember after 9/11 talking with friends who are teaching in China, and their horror at total strangers walking up to them on the streets and making such comments as, "I'm glad that happened to America. The big giant is finally getting what it deserves." and other such comments. And when I look at certain situations in China, there is a slight validity to their comments. I remember reading my cousin's comments as he traveled with his Marine Unit through Egypt, preparing to enter Iraq. He talked of the looks of hatred, of people spitting towards their ship, and children running alongside shaking their fists. Did we have governmental approval to be there? Certainly. But just because governments sanctify and allow certain things to happen, doesn't mean the citizens of that country are in agreement with it. And I think that's the crux of the whole matter. People in countries who dream of having our opportunities of free speech cannot fathom that its citizens do not have the freedom to change things. Many of my Chinese students thought I could pick up the phone and call the president of the US and tell him whatever I thought. That one always made me laugh, but it's the resounding truth of how powerful the notion of free speech truly is. People think we can change the world with it. And maybe we can. Maybe that's why the Rev. Wright's speeches have so many Americans outraged, just like the Dixie Chicks did years ago.

Perhaps this is why we were always taught in theology class to start with the book of John, "In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God."

And that leads me to my voting dilemma. I disagree, strongly I might add, with both Democratic candidates. I don't like McCain, either. But Obama, as much as I disagree with him, from what I've observed the last three years, has been unwavering in his policies, votes, and actions. Just as I endorse Bush because he's not a push-over, Obama presents that same steadfastness. Steadfastly wrong, perhaps, but steadfast nonetheless. And I think that is one of his attractions among young voters: we're looking for hope and steadfastness.
Happy Easter!
(or Happy Live Again Festival! as the Chinese say)

Friday, March 21, 2008

my snoopy

When the puppies were first dropped off near our house last summer, the only spotted was one was dubbed "Pig" for various reasons, all of which pertained to food. As we started saying good-bye to puppies as they found their homes, I found myself relieved every time my spotted pup wasn't chosen. And then one day he was. But two hours later, the college student returned, asking if we'd take him back. Turns out his roommate was allergic to dogs and his parents gave him a resounding "NO!" Not long after, we were down to two dogs, one of which became known as Lucy. To my silly mind, it made perfect sense that if one female dog was to be Lucy, then her brother should be Linus. Bobby suggested Snoopy, since he is my all-time favorite beagle, but Linus just never exhibited any Snoopy-like characteristics - until today. He has learned to crawl on top of his dog house, where he spent a good portion of the day. At one point I became fearful he was stuck up there and couldn't get down, but once I opened the back door and headed toward the pen, he hopped down. The minute I came back inside, up he went again. I guess that gives him a better view.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


When I was a child, one of my favorite memories was spending time at my Grandma's house. We called her Rea-Rea. She had this huge quilting frame that my uncle made for her, and she quilted all the time. On the days when all of us grandkids were dropped off, our Moms would spend the day cooking and quilting. Sometimes we would hide from the boys by crawling under the quilt frame, which always made Rea-Rea fuss. I was memerized by the different movement patterns of needles. Rea's was always the fastest; you barely saw her needle, just the thread whizzing through the material.

Fast-forward thirty years, and I'm now trying to decide which quilt project to start. After we got married, I briefly joined a quilting circle in Raleigh so I could learn the correct way to quilt. The quilt top I made there is finished, but the layers have yet to be quilted together. My plan was to start it in January. Needless to say, it's still in the container. Two weeks ago, my plan was to put it together this weekend and get started. Then we got the announcement that Bobby's niece is expecting, which means a baby quilt. My brother is also steadily dating someone, and if Granny Rea were still around, she'd already have a wedding quilt made for him. So now I'm in a quandry. Do I start Bobby's quilt, the baby quilt, or a future possibility wedding quilt?

I'm seriously considering looking into getting a quilting foot for my sewing machine. That would make things go so much faster. My mother-in-law thinks machine quilting is sacrilege, but the quilting part isn't my favorite part of quilting; it's the piecing of the top that I like. I have a LOT of material that I've accumulated into piles for quilt tops I want to piece, but dear hubby who is ultra organized can't quite comprehend why I would start another project until the old ones are finished. I have an aunt on the other side of the family who enjoys piecing as well. One she gets it pieced, she'll send it off to have it quilted. I don't think that's cheap, but then I think of the HOURS you spend hand-quilting and you probably come out ahead.

Decisions, decisions!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

the sticker convention

Tonight Bobby and I attended "the sticker convention" (a.k.a. Wake County GOP Convention). Once we found a place to park and maneuvered the sidewalks to find a wheelchair accessible entrance that was open, we then stood in the registration line for a little bit, then ran the gamut of people trying to exit the entrance amidst the campaign tables and the sticker delegates (think preschoolers who found their teacher's sticker cabinet and were gleefully sharing with all their classmates. Picture Awana vests or Girl Scout sashes and you'll have the general idea, except these are old people in Sunday clothes.)
I did enjoy hearing the various candidates speak. Eliminated some off my list of people for whom I'm voting, added a few to my list of people to research a little further, and heard a few I wouldn't mind voting for if they were in my district, etc.
One of the funnier comments made tonight was about the NC Democratic Party asking Obama (who is in NC campaigning and speaking with only military personnel and their families in Fayetteville tomorrow) not to make his traditional "change" speech. After all, if NC has only had three Rep governors since 1901, hasn't had a Rep House or Senate or Reconstruction, do the Dems really want him to talk about change?
Two different candidates brought up issues that brought about a round of applause - some of the few heard tonight. One was the statement that parents have the right to deem what is suitable for the children, not the "village." (Which of course ties into the ongoing controversy over school choice, including home school.) The other was the need for legislation on our continuing lack of water and the continual building of subdivisions in areas that are already water-strapped.
The scariest thing I heard tonight was a lady who was running on the sole platform: Vote for me; I'm not a lawyer. The craziest thing I saw was the fourteen resolutions (which never made it to the floor), including a refusal to endorse John McCain as the Rep nominee. Granted, it does aggravate me that we have absolutely no say in who our nominee is, but the resolution seemed a little extreme. A few of the resolutions were realistic, but some of them were way out there. (Do away with the FDA, FEMA, Dept of Energy and other such organizations because they're unconstitutional?!) I believe in small government, but that's extreme for even me!

On a totally different subject: called ticketmaster last night, and the lady on the phone didn't know how to pronounce Raleigh. She kept saying, "So this is for the Raylee Memorial Auditorium in Raylee, NC?" to which I would repeat it back correctly, and say, "Yes, that is correct." She never did get it right. I may come from Alabama (without the banjo on my knee), but we did learn our state capitals and how they were pronounced!

Bobby's correction

we have a rifle, not a shotgun

Monday, March 17, 2008

and then there were 3

Saturday morning as we were getting up, the dogs started going crazy. They were throwing themselves at the end of the pen, and yelping like they do when they're on the scent of something. Then the geese went crazy. I looked out the window and saw a FOX! Not on the dam, or in the corner of the woods, but actually in our yard! I grabbed the shotgun, realized it's not loaded and I have NO idea where I "safely" stored the ammo. Then I realize by the time I find the bullets, get Bobby to tell me how to load and fire, then put my shoes on, that fox will have either eaten the goose eggs or a goose, or disappeared. So I run out on the back ramp and start screaming, "Get out of here you stupid fox! Get!" He ran to the dam, then turned around and looked as if he were reconsidering. So feeling stupid, I yell, "KaBoom!" He took off running then. Unfortunately, either he already had the eggs, or else Mr. Raccoon has been back to visit during the night. The two nests containing a total of 20+ eggs were down to three. I went ahead and claimed the three eggs from the third nest, but left the other three (partly because Chirpie {one we hatched in year two} was nesting on them!) They were gone Sun afternoon.
I feel mean for taking their eggs and incubating them, but if I leave them in their nests, something always gets them. Maybe next year I'll get a special fence and nesting boxes up, but this year I just don't see it happening. I do have the boxes ready, but I don't feel up to putting up a fence right now.
Meanwhile, my egg turning chart and incubator are now back in commission.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

crazy lists

Things I hated about living in a small town:
  1. Everybody knew your business (or at least tried to!).
  2. Everybody knew your parents and their livelihood and never hesitated to remind you of it.
  3. The world revolves around the local football team.
  4. There was very little to do.
  5. Jobs were hard to find.
  6. You had to drive forever to go shopping.
  7. Teachers always told you how advanced students from everywhere else were.
  8. People who go to college don't come back.
  9. The "You ain't from around here, are ya?" mentality.
  10. 1/2 the girls in my high school senior class were engaged by graduation

Things I miss about living in a small town:

  1. the closeness of a tight-knit community.
  2. there's little to unite the city (subdivision homeowner associations don't count)
  3. small government (it's your property..who cares if you put up a shed, etc)
  4. the "traffic"
  5. no shame in working menial jobs
  6. EVERYONE kept quiet and still during the national anthem (or someone made them)
  7. simple craft "bizarres"
  8. it's easy to find your way around
  9. having next door neighbors
  10. community sledding on main street when it snowed and other crazy traditions

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


It's been a very BUSY day!

First, we got some good news after Garner's Town Planning Commission Meeting last night. Bryan Rd Elementary School, which will be our adjoining neighbor, is going to have a 35 foot landscape barrier between the two properties. (That's 12 yards, for all us southerners). Included in the barrier will be Japanese Maples, Dogwoods, evergreen shrubs, and peonies. The only gap will be where the public sewer line stops before it gets to our property, and I can fill that in with some type of tree or sculpture or something. Work is supposed to begin in May, and the school plans to open fall of '09. Bryan Rd Middle School (further down the road) is scheduled to open fall of '11, and the new High School off of New Bethel Church Rd (which will be across from Bobby's sister Pat and near his brother Tim) is slated to open fall of '12. The Timber Drive Connection between the current Timber Dr and the White Oak Shopping Center is also slated to begin construction in '09 with a target completion date of '11.
The bad news...there's now a big possibility we'll be annexed by the town of Garner within the next few years. Which means if Bobby plans to get any farm type animals he'll have to get them now so they can be grandfathered in, if that's possible.

Second, we finally have garbage service! Whohoo! We actually got a bill in the mail yesterday, so Bobby called them today since they haven't delivered the container nor picked up anything.

Third, the dog fence people are coming tomorrow!

And last, but certainly not least: we only have one more ABRO fundraiser for this ABRO year. We've actually skipped several this year (thought not quite as many as I would have liked).

As always, the political situation is still up in the air there. The US issued sanctions last fall because their president also owns the only energy company in Belarus. With all the election controversies from the last election (one presidential candidate mysteriously disappeared, another thrown in prison, and the third was barred from campaigning in many places), the US claims Lushanko is nothing more than a dictator. Regardless, Lushanko has now responded to the new sanctions by removing the Belarussian ambassador from the US. He is also recommending our American ambassador leave Minsk (to which the US refuses because a recommendation is not an ultimatum.) But as things stand now, our three not so little munchkins will be arriving the middle of June and departing the end of July. I'm already tired!

Monday, March 10, 2008

talent competitions

A few weeks ago in the News and Observer, there was an article about a two pageants in Maryland (60 miles from Washington) where the contestants show off skin - for talent. Evidently there is normally two competitions: one where girls dress up in their finery; another where they have to skin a muskrat for the judges. Evidently this year two young girls decided to mix the two pageants. One of the girls, claiming she couldn't sing, dance, or play a musical instrument, walked out on stage during the talent performance wearing sparkly earrings and her evening gown, and proceeded to skin the football-sized muskrat. The 17-year old made the Washington Post; nothing was said about the actual beauty pageant winner.

Reckon we could find enough non-squeamish girls to have a coon queen in NC?

Saturday, March 8, 2008

one of life's cycles

You cut back your food to a "normal" portion size. Two hours later you're not only still hungry, but a little crabby as well. All the experts say you need to exercise as well. So you exercise, but not too much too soon, because you need to build up to it. And yet, the next day every joint in your body constantly exudes reminders that you are not as young as you used to be. SO, you have the crazy circle - eat what you want, do what you want and feel somewhat okay; OR eat what you should eat, do what you ought to do, be "healthy" but totally miserable. Am I missing something somewhere?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Rainy Day

Today has been an unusual day for Garner, NC.
We've had a whole day of rain - you know, that wet stuff that falls from the sky.
My garden is a mud puddle!
But my snow pea plants have grown quite a bit!
And then I heard a strange "Kwoosh, Kwoosh" sound.
For the first time since I don't know when, the water in the pond is above the drain!

And this little "trickle" is now a stream as it gushes out the drain pipe on the other side.

But I don't think the puppies are too happy.
The calf-deep hole they've dug in the middle of their pen is full of water.

They're HOME!!!
Now I just need to call the fencing company...sigh.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

prodigal puppies

It's the same old saga.
"Who let the dogs out?"
Our beagles are once again playing prodigal. The day of the storms, Bobby turned them out so they could sleep in the garage, and we discovered where they were escaping. (Lucy was scrouching on her belly beside the pond; Linus was actually wading out into the water and around the shock of the fence.) So yesterday morning, they returned to their penned prison. When I got home from work, I rewired the fence line out into the pond, reconnected the radio current, and we turned them loose. They stayed in the fence for a whopping total of 20 minutes. Bobby stayed outside to watch them, and says they both sat and whined where I had fixed their escape route. Then Lucy ran up and down around the fence line for a little bit, then ran straight through it. Linus whined and cried inside for some time, but then yelped and joined his sister. They did return home this morning, but before I could get dressed to get them back into the pen, they were gone again. I am so aggravated. Hopefully they'll come home tonight. And if they do, Dog Guardian Fencing will be getting a phone call tomorrow. Our neighbor uses them, and his dog NEVER escapes.
So if you hear rejoicing and the fatted calf sizzling, you'll know our prodigal pups have returned.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


YES!!! IF and when the time comes to replace my car, should we decide it is necessary to have something Bobby can ride with me, then we are no longer limited to a van! Chrysler and Scions now have vehicles that are adaptable for wheelchairs. The Honda Element can be fixed as well, but it still looks like a van to me, plus the fact that I think it is extremely ugly.

We had just about decided my next vehicle had to be wheelchair accessible, and then Bobby stopped getting sick! A part of me says we still need that - just in case. And of course, if my vehicle gets better gas mileage than his huge van, I get to drive to ALABAMA!!! He claims that is reason enough not to do it. He had the delightful experience of actually riding with me about a year ago when we rented a van in AL. For the first time ever in my life, I fell asleep at the wheel. (Which is how his accident happened that resulted in his SCI). He hasn't let me forget it.

Now, if they can ever figure out how to make pickups that are both wheelchair accessible and drivable, I have a feeling I know what I'll have to ride in all the time. :O(
Thankfully they're not there yet.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Bobby's birds

Well, it's mating season, folks. The geese have paired off; we've discovered a nest with two eggs, and I STILL don't have the nesting boxes built, a special fence put up for their protection, or the brooder box cleaned.

We're not going to collect the eggs from the current nest. Like the past three years, we'll let some wild animal eat them, and then will start collecting the second batch that we find. It sounds cruel, but I keep hoping against hope that somehow the geese will be able to lay, incubate, hatch, and raise their own goslings so I don't have to.

And that's where the nesting boxes coming. If I can build a simplified box with a small step, then enclose that area with chicken wire, hopefully that will keep all the predators except for turtles and snakes away. I have an idea that might deter the turtles away from the eggs, but there's not much I can do about snakes. Granted, I've never seen a snake around the geese nests, but several years ago we did have one on the porch railings going after a bird's nest.

I guess the good news is that according to my daffodils and geese...spring is here!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

funeral homes

I know this is a really odd topic, but funeral homes here are a whole lot fancier than the ones we had at home growing up. Sometimes I feel as if I'm in a musuem instead of a place for mourning. Almost every one in the state of NC has had some type of huge glass display full of small birds, and all of them have had display cases of some sort of collectibles, whether it be model cars, porcelain dolls, ceramics, or old drawings of the town - they all are showplaces.

This afternoon we went to a funeral home in a nearby town, and one whole section of the funeral home is a display case for the old funeral hearse. It's the wagon part of a buggy that was modified to carry a coffin. It was very ornate, even though it was wooden, and had the most intricate carvings on it. The furniture inside, like most places here, was very fancy, but it was very old antiques (like the couch my Grandma White had forever and a decade).

The thing that really cracked me up...they had a playground for kids back behind the building. I actually think that was a neat thing. So many times I've known family members who had to stay behind to watch everyone's kids when they really wanted to be with everyone else. As a child I remember my uncle walking us down to the nearby Dairy Queen for ice cream. It was a nice break from all the somber grown-ups who would pat you on the head as if you were about to break. With a playground outside, parents could take their kids outside for a few minutes, yet still be close by to the family.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not opposed to funeral homes having nice furniture and collectibles and their large, family portraits up on the walls. It just seems a little strange, even if it is cool to look at.