Sunday, August 31, 2008

that time of year

It's football season folks! Several years ago I was quite mortified when I went home and discovered that UofA had updated its logo. Gone was the cute little gray elephant. It is now a ferocious looking, rampaging beast. And life goes on.

If last night's game was any indication, there may actually be a chance that Auburn's winning streak will end this year. (Yes, that is a huge gasp of air you're hearing from down south and from Theresa Grant's house). And even better, this year's game is the SAT after Turkey Day. Provided I can get a certain someone to cooperate, I might actually get to see the game with my family this year.

Regardless, there's two days of the year when the females in my family do not answer the phone with "hello." Immediately following the AL/AU game, the females and my father will answer the phone with "ROLL TIDE!" regardless of the outcome. (And on Christmas Eve morning it's always "Christmas Eve Gift!") It's made for some interesting scenarios when Bobby's family has called on those days. I think Bobby's nephew Robert would say that "I'm from Alabama" is synonymous with "I'm crazy." That may be, but I think there's some traditions that are worth upholding.

Friday, August 29, 2008

the women of today

When I first moved to NC, Bobby informed me there were two women at church I would have to watch out for. One was five years old, and she thought Mr. Bobby was hers. I settled her distress at there being another "girlfriend" in his life by asking her to help with the wedding. The other woman was a little trickier. She was much older, considered herself the ultimate authority that mattered, and her closest friends called her by her childhood nickname of "Dick." Her first name was Gertrude (also known as Gertie). Somehow I couldn't even imagine calling her any of those names, so I simply settled on Mrs. Mullen. I tried to stay out of the way as she hobbled toward his chair to hang on as they exited the slightly steep ramp at church, and I cringed inside with every struggle her arthritic body faced, knowing one day that could be my Mom or perhaps even me. She was demanding, a pessimist, and fiercely loyal to those she loved. We also shared a birthday, which was fine as long as I was willing to cancel any plans we had not to miss HER party. Tonight I'll sadly perform the last favor for her...I'll play her favorite hymns at her funeral. Her granddaughter, whom she raised, is about my age and commented yesterday that she could picture her running in heaven. That startled me for a minute, but she's right. I had thought about the fact she is in no more pain; no more despair and feelings of uselessness, but it hadn't crossed my mind that her body is now new and whole. But probably sometime this weekend I'll eat both ice cream and a hot dog in memory of Bobby's old feisty girlfriend.

And on the upswing of life's roller coaster, I was TOTALLY shocked, curious, and EXCITED at McCain's choice of a running mate. So far I like everything I've read, and I have a feeling this race is truly only just beginning. I dread working the polls on election day, but I am truly excited for our country. As long as she doesn't shoot her hunting partners like Cheney did, I think she'll do well.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

the amens and oh me's!

For those of you tired of my political blabbering, this is my last commentary on the DNC. Yes, I do plan to listen tonight, but I most likely won't comment on what is said. So on to the self-righteous preaching of night #3:

the Amens:
  • Steven Spielberg's film on the sacrifice of veterans - as tastefully done as such a subject can be
  • John Kerry's comments on how the flag is a symbol for our nation and belongs to all Americans, not just people of a certain party or ideology
  • Bill Clinton's comments on how John McCain does love this country as much as the Democrats do; he just embraces the "extreme philosophy of his party". Finally some sound reasoning from this convention and not just more of the you're either a Democratic or an idiot tripe.

the Oh Me!s:

  • "The American dream is under siege at home." (Clinton) Yep, my dream of practicing my religion freely without persecution is most definitely falling under siege: Government sponsored/mandated: The required teaching of evolution in school, sex ed, character education which includes the promotion of homosexuality, tax sponsored abortions and euthanasia, etc.
  • "Barack Obama has a clear grasp of foreign policy...will build our military" (Clinton) Um, isn't Obama the one who has consistently voted against our military, both in funding and support? Isn't he the candidate who recently went to Iraq and Afghanistan to visit with military leaders and snubbed the very soldiers who wanted his autograph and saluted him?!?
  • Barack Obama will bring about a "renewal of the battle against HIV." (Clinton) You mean the battle that the REAGAN administration started, and Clinton AND current President Bush have undermined? I know it's shocking, but I truly think the numbers declined at the beginning of the Clinton presidency because a whole generation of us entered college (where HIV is often spread) after having Nancy Reagan's "just so no" campaign on drugs and the Reagan administration's HIV class in school which CLEARLY STATED ABSTINENCE AND A MONOGAMOUS RELATIONSHIP ARE THE ONLY GUARANTEE OF PREVENTING HIV FROM SPREADING VIA RELATIONSHIPS. Funny how the drug rate and HIV rate went up during Clinton's second term. Interesting how after Pres Bush appointed a practicing homosexual to head up the AIDs awareness program his first term in office that the office was pronounced "ineffective" in stopping the rise of HIV in America during his second term. And now we are to boldly believe that Obama is going to take up the battle of HIV when he so boldly supports the advancement of homosexuality. Reality check, anyone?
  • "the example the Republicans have set" (Clinton talking about the sad state of our health care) Yes, Mr. Clinton, our health care system is in desperate need of repair. Yet I remember being without health care in college, during your administration, and having to babysit and work a few extra jobs before I could afford to get my broken foot examined.
  • McCain's record toward American veterans (Chet Edwards, TX). Sadly, while McCain himself was a POW and has a valiant record and also has two sons in the military, one currently serving in Iraq, I'm said to admit that numerous stories about of how he refused to support bills in Congress that would help fund our VA hospitals, help families find their missing loved ones in Vietnam, are issues that he does need to explain and address. Sadly, these stories are one of the few issues why many Repubs have been so hesitant to embrace him as the candidate of our choice.

and I crashed before Biden's speech, which all the media was proclaiming as a "punch" to John McCain this morning. So that wraps up my DNC opinions.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Parade of the Downtrodden

I can't include speakers names from night 2 of the DNC as I was unsuccessfully attempting to can grape juice while it was on, so I can only highlight what I heard.

Not to belittle their circumstances, but the vast majority of speakers in last night's DNC were the down and outs - those who have faced tough situations and are making themselves out to be victims of the government. And of course, by government, they mean the President and his political party. It obviously cannot be the fault of the Democratic Party who controls Congress, or themselves, or just part of life.

Repetitive themes seemed to be "abandon foreign oil" and in so doing, help "solve global warming." I'm all for abandoning foreign oil. I don't think we have any business importing things that we are capable of providing for ourselves. I'm also in favor of us developing more fuel efficient vehicles. But the reality remains that those two things in and of themselves are not going to solve global warming.

Standards of living were mentioned on more than one occasion. We are guaranteed "the pursuit of happiness" NOT happiness itself. I truly feel for people who have had their homes foreclosed on them. There are many of them who had no control over the situation. But the truth remains that there are many more who DID have control of the situation and placed themselves within it. For example, a couple who were giddy over getting the loan for their dream home AFTER the bank told them it was way out of their price range and they could not afford it. Three years later, they are moving to avoid foreclosure. Scenario number two: Durham Rescue Mission last year when WCA students distributed school supplies to low income families. They were shocked at how rude and unappreciative many of the families were. The kids would show up with name brand clothes and shoes, then gripe because they didn't like the color of their bookbag. And example number three: the Mom who had to choose between a birthday party for her child and paying the electric bill. She chose the birthday party, then griped about how society had failed her on the news. I think it's time Americans learned to live within their means, and had some lessons in the difference between needs and wants.

Compassionate conservatives are the ones who abandoned the people both before Hurricane Katrina and after it hit. HELLO?! What rock have you been hiding under?! I can't say much about BEFORE Hurricane Katrina, but I do know that Samaritan's Purse and the NC Baptist Men were there and committed to Hurricane Katrina and the rest of the Gulf Coast for at least a year of Katrina hit. We gave and raised money in record numbers, helped provide them with places to live all across America and furnished their new homes, and I fail to see how any of those things constitute abandonment.

And last, but most certainly not least: THANK YOU HILARY CLINTON! Prior to last night's speech, I would have classified myself as 65% McCain and 35% Obama. While my views of McCain have not changed, Obama has now been relegated to 4%. Your 100% staunch endorsement of Barack Obama because he is totally for women's rights (a.k.a. pro-choice) and gay rights informs me that he is anti-religious rights. You reminded me that he will be a candidate who will have absolutely no problem using my tax dollars to pay for a third-term abortion and will continue to fight for that to remain legal, that he will support Supreme Court Justices who are as liberal as he is, and that he will continue the current trend of persecuting anyone who believes the Biblical teaching that homosexuality is a sin (homophobic, requiring "training" and education as CA now has it). In short, you reminded me that in your view I am a second-class American whose right to practice my religious beliefs does not register anywhere in your radar, not does it fit into your party's agenda in any form or fashion. I also do not believe that the only way to protect America's future and salvage our nation and its dreams is to elect a President who holds dearly to such ideals, no matter how much HC claims it to be so. Furthermore, while I appreciate many of the things the Democratic party has done, the Democratic party is not the Saviour of America as you seem to think. Thanks to you and your liberal cronies, I would easily recommend you change your name to the Socialist Party of America. I've lived in China with their national health care, and quite frankly, Hil, it's not worth the hot air with which you proclaim such a thing as a wonderful.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

critique of dnc night one

Nancy Pelosi - She is not a public speaker. She might do well at keeping the House in order, but she does not deliver well. She looked nice in a very feminine, white pantsuit, and her demeanour was actually pleasant for a change, but her frantic grasps at the podium as she turned side to side (trying to read the teleprompters perhaps?) was quite distracting from her message. She didn't receive a warm welcome from the crowd, and her excessive stereotyping of Dems and Republicans didn't sit too well with me, either.
Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg - Vivaciously detached, as always, yet a gifted speaker. The crowd seemed to love her, though in my opinion she didn't say anything noteworthy.
the Republican Senator - Um, what kind of fallout did you have with John McCain? Other than obviously being anti-war, he applauded the Republicans up until the current administration, then did a 180 and verbally shredded them while applauding Obama. Even if O does win the election, does he really think his fellow Repubs in the Senate are going to cooperate with him on anything when he returns? I think he may have given the perfect example of a person burning his bridges BEFORE he crosses them.
Chris Robinson - Barack Obama's brother-in-law is a VERY gifted speaker. He clearly enjoyed introducing his little sister, and all the family anecdotes made the family seem like someone next door. The video prior to his speech was very well done, and I especially enjoyed hearing the story of Barack and Michelle's first meeting, first date, and his first introduction to her family.
Michelle Obama - The woman hit a homerun last night with her speech. For a while I wondered if she was ever going to talk about Obama and his bid for presidency (the first 60% was about her family, then her first ten years of marriage to Barack), but when she did, it all tied together perfectly. I think she connected with every blue collar worker, and every mother and grandmother with her speech. One of her more outstanding statements (from my memory, not directly): There is America as it should be. Then there is America as it is. Our goal should be focusing on the gap between the two and making it go away. I most appreciated her sharing about her Dad, and his struggle to provide for the family while fighting MS. If her husband shares even half her sentiments and thoughts on work and opportunity as she claims, then his taxing of the wealthy does not also include free handouts to the poor. My favorite moment...when he came in via satellite to tell the girls goodnight and briefly address the convention and the youngest daughter kept peppering him with questions. I think she took him by surprise a couple of times.
My question of the night: If Michelle Obama is 6'6" as I understood, then just how tall is Barack Obama?

Monday, August 25, 2008

so many projects, so little time

Many years ago, a friend gave me some cassette tapes (SEE, I told you it was MANY years ago!) of lectures called "The Artist's Way". A lot of it was the typical new age junk, but she did make some very interesting observations. One of them was the principle that as a person explores and develops one area of creativity, then other areas will start to blossom or develop interest. And in my own life, I find that to be true.

Thanks to my Granny Rea, I've always been interested in quilting. As a child I was always interested in learning to draw, but never had the opportunity to learn. Years later an artist friend of mine challenged me to go for it, saying "Anyone can learn to draw the basics." That was all the encouragement I needed (besides Bobby, agreeing to let me take a class and only do maintenance housework during the time). I found that as I learned more about one aspect of art, then my quilt ideas starting growing like crazy, and my interest in all types of art became piqued.

And unfortunately, it's happened again. While in the mountains, I saw all these beautiful carvings and sculptures, and a seed was planted in the back of my mind. Meanwhile, I'm trying to finish up a quilt I started several years ago so I can start another one (no, not one in my stash that I've already planned...a new one!), and I also have several art projects I need to start/finish, and yet my mind keeps being drawn to wood and carving knives and designs. I've even go so far as to research it some on the internet. Seratoma Arts Center in Raleigh does offer an introductory wood carving class fall, but it's during my working hours. :O( So my brain is telling me to be patient, tackle the many on-going projects I have, and THEN I can see about starting something new.

In the meantime, dear hubby has informed me that even though I haven't finished putting up all the apples yet, the pears are ready to be picked and the grapes have started ripening. Maybe I should just quit my paying job so I can get everything done. Pears, anyone?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

a fun weekend

Besides the normal Sat work of peeling apples and shelling peas, I did something fun yesterday! A group of CBC ladies met at the NC Museum of Art, and had a blast browsing through 2.5 exhibits before lunch. (sorry we had to cut your favorite part short, Betty!). It was great just being able to look and examine and discuss artwork with other ladies who were truly interested. (It was also great to be there because I wanted to be and not because a class dictated it!)
And hopefully, all our brainstorms of craft days or work days will come to fruition and we can actually work together every once in a while. How cool would that be?
So thanks Anita and Betty for taking the initiative for planning a wonderful morning!

Friday, August 22, 2008

DAWGS

My high school mascot was the Blue Devils, and like most small southern towns, football reigned. The team was supposed to be exempt from the next to the last period of the day on Friday so they could go to the locker room and either rest or watch clips to help them prepare for the big game. I'll refrain from sharing my past and present thoughts on that subject.

One of our two main rivals was the Dora Bulldogs, located on the other side of the Warrior River. Games were always exciting; bus rides home (for away games) always required a police escort away from the stadium and windows up at all times (and yes, we were pelleted with rocks on more than occasion).

For some reason, the CHS band and Dora's band had an on-going tradition of making various signs to hold up at each other throughout the game. Dora's signs always had some reference to the "river rats" (us), and they always spelled their name DAWGS. We retaliated that year. Gone were the little nice signs. Instead, we had:
We might be rats, be at least we know how to spell!
and
Here, puppies, here! Come and get your bones!
as well as all the traditional signs. We even had chants to go with the last one. (Weren't we nice?) Come to think of it, that was the year we had rocks thrown at the band bus.
So imagine my horror when I walked into WCA the first day of school and saw a cheerleader in uniform with DAWGS spelled out across her chest. I don't know if the cringe and horror showed on my face or not, but I sure felt it! Tonight the season starts, and I'll be there with Bobby, wearing blue for the Bulldogs, but one thing is certain: I WON'T be caught dead sporting a DAWGS shirt.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

censorship

The current discussion ensuing among the Carolina region of SCBWI is the issue of parenting vs. censorship. A parent, who is also a writer, was mortified at some books her child brought home from the school library (classified as narrative nonfiction for 4-8 grade, they are in an elementary library and discuss actual crimes that have happened and the CSI techniques used to solve them). Evidently the books are quite graphic, but the larger discussion has been over the issue of whether or not the books should be in the library at all. Does that amount to good parenting, or censorship?

When I was 12, there was a series out that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. A friend of mine had the entire set, and would loan them to me. After my Mom read one of the books, she told me she didn't approve, and why (the main characters, in HS, had no problem with gossip, lying, backstabbing, etc) and stated she really didn't want me reading such stuff. She didn't tell me I couldn't read them. And that was my loophole. I simply read them at school. But by book three after our discussion, the books didn't seems as great. I knew what the characters were going to do; I knew it wouldn't be kind or nice, and the plot seemed a little lame. By book four, the fun was gone. That was my last book in that series.

Now that I'm older, I understand the wisdom behind Mom's dislike. But I think I shocked her later by asking questions about one of her books. Having read most of ours, I simply moved up one shelf to her books. I was blessed to be surrounded by a lot of great books, but I wish I had been exposed to more classics and adventurous, fun books in Middle School.

And I guess that makes me question the assertions of some librarians that if you don't approve of a book you don't have to check it out. In theory, that is very true. But when you're dealing with a child, such as I was, then that child will find a way to check out a book they want. They may never take it home, but it will almost certainly be read. I don't pretend to have all the answers, but I do think that sometimes a little censorship doesn't hurt.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

tipping

I have some questions for everyone. When you get haircut, do you tip? If so, how much? Are there any mitigating factors (their own studio vs a place like great clips; cost, etc)

Monday, August 18, 2008

brevity

I passed a bad car wreck leaving work today. A metal tool box had been knocked off a truck and twisted. There were work boots and tools and a cooler and all sorts of things all over 401. The tools reminded me of my brother. I didn't see the truck itself, but I did see two cars that had clearly been hit. One of them was a minivan with a handicap sticker, and the entire front of the vehicle was gone.

It brought back memories of another crash almost four years ago, when my sister was chaperoning a group of children from church to see the Christmas lights at the zoo. A car pulled out in front of the van, the driver swerved to miss, and the van went airborne, flipping into a ravine. Two truckers behind them immediately stopped, radioed for help, and headed down the hill. By the time they got there, my niece and the other 5 girls were at the back doors attempting to get them open (the van was upside down, head first). When I went with my brother-in-law a few days later to take pictures of the van for the insurance company, you could still see all their little footprints in dried mud. For a long time they couldn't find my sister, the youth pastor, his wife, or one of the students from Bible College. Once the firemen arrived and started cutting out the seats, they began to see more. The water from the ravine had flooded the van, and coated them in mud. My sister was in critical care for several days. I was driving back and forth to Florence, SC, and pouring out my heart to our Great Physician with every mile I drove.

That memory came back again today for another reason. My younger sister met/is meeting with a specialist about a lump. And again, I find myself trying not to worry and talking to my Great Physician. I like to think that the four of us will be old one day and live near each other and hang out at each other's houses and swap stories and argue. But the reality is that life is brief - a vapor, the Bible says - and I'm not guaranteed those tomorrows.

That's a very sobering and unpleasant thought, especially for a maddening Monday.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

super saturday

today's one of those stupendous days when even though you're exhausted you're totally pumped and excited about everything you've accomplished and wished you had a few more hours to do more

How's that for an upunctuated run-on sentence? Tonya's room is clean and sorted, her bathroom is clean (except for mopping), and the boys' bathroom is clean (except for mopping) and I'm almost finished cleaning out the dining room, which had been pack central station. While cleaning the boys' bathroom (aka the nasty of nasties), I opened one of the drawers to place their toothpaste inside and discovered: clean Q-tips, dirty Q-tips, empty toilet paper rolls, batteries, dental floss, earphones, toys, rolls of gun caps, and little bitty pieces of paper. While I had a brother growing up, I don't ever recall him leaving such stuff in the bathroom (though that could have been because his three older sisters would have let him have it!). Now all that's left is sorting through their room and trying to reclaim some semblance of order.

Meanwhile, Tommy and Joey came today to do yardwork, and they got quite a bit accomplished! I joined them for a little while and trimmed the bushes out front while Tommy mulched around them. Unfortunately, Lucy and Linus for some reason decided to start chewing again last night, and part of the door frame, one column, and numerous posts on the porch railing are now missing massive chunks. I hope they got splinters.

I know the neatness won't last; it never does. But it's still nice to know I'll head into Monday with maintenance to do when I get home and not monster cleaning. Gotta love those Saturdays!

Friday, August 15, 2008

music in my head

Today I've had the chorus to two songs reverberating through my head:

Twila Paris' God is In Control and Crystal Lewis' People Get Ready Jesus Is Comin'

Before lunch, I received an e-mail at work, informing us that as of now the ABRO program is suspended (the group the kids come through). Last week, a Belarussian girl in CA refused to return home. With her host family's backing, she has retained an immigration attorney, is seeking to extend her visa and obtain political asylum. Chernobyl's Children, the group she came through, has been informed by Belarus that their program will be stopped and they are being cited for kidnapping. This week all NGO (non-government organizations) who have children's programs (which includes ABRO) had a meeting in Minsk, and were informed ALL programs are now suspended, and if they are resumed then orphans 14 or older will not be allowed to come to the states. There are other new stipulations, but we will not be informed of those until later. Needless to say, this one situation is not helping the already deteriorated relations between the US and Belarus.
Along the same line, Belarus strengthened its ties with Russia earlier this spring, appointing Vladimir Putin as a government official in Belarus. With tensions brewing hotter between Georgia and Russia, and now other former Russian republics (like Belarus) being threatened, things do not look good.
And while my mind tries to wrap itself around all the facts, my heart starts throwing out the words, God is in control. We believe that His children will not be forsaken. God is in control. . We will choose to remember and never be shaken. There is no power above or beside Him, we know. God is in control; oh God is in control.

Then I think of all the things currently happening: the mail from Samaritan's Purse yesterday, confirming all the stories we've been hearing of food shortages around the world, and claiming it hasn't been this severe since WWII; the increasing threat of another World War as we continue our fight in the Middle East and now facing increasing problems in northern Europe; the spread of immorality (every bookstore we now enter has a gay and lesbian section, not to mention CA's new ruling about the teaching of such matters in school); and the seemingly large number of natural disasters the last few years. These may be simple swings of the pendulum of time, but a part of me feels more strongly every day that we're rounding the corner for the point in time when we'll hear a trumpet sound...people get ready.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

oh my!

Once a month all the ladies in the office pitch in and provide a gift and a meal out at lunch for whomever has a birthday that particular month. Today we stopped at Andy's near Fuquay (this lady has been on a diet and was hankering for a hamburger) but they were CLOSED! One lone worker stood outside with...a locksmith.
At first we thought perhaps the store had been broken into, but turns out the owner/manager is getting married today, and the person he left the keys with to open the store never showed up. I imagine someone is going to be in mighty big trouble when that owner gets back!
But I commend that college kid for going the extra mile to open the store for his boss. I think many people today would have shrugged and said, "Oh well" and headed home.
But since we couldn't wait 20-30 minutes for the store to open, we headed on down the road to Chick-fil-A. I fear Andy's lost a fair amount of business at lunch today. I just hope they didn't call that poor man (or woman) to find out what to do!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

a day of rest

This topic has come up with many friends within the last few weeks.

We as Christians are commanded to "honor the Sabbath to keep it holy." Growing up (until my teen years, that is) I thought that meant going to church. After all, isn't that what we did on Sunday? But then I discovered the little verse in under Exodus 20:8 and discovered that this commandment actually means to REST one day a week.
I'm not sure we obey that command very well.
Now, compared to the other six days, my Sundays are restful. I do minimal chores, there's no work, and we often have 2-3 hours spursed throughout the day to rest, read, or whatever. But that's not an entire day of rest. And when you work 5 days, spend 1 day on housework, then are at church most of the time the 7th day...where's the rest?
When we first got married, we debated whether or not to eat out on Sundays. My senior year of high school, the grocery store where I worked started opening on Sunday afternoons. I'd leave church during the invitation, wolf down a sandwich, and make it to work only a few minutes late. Then I'd go straight from work to church on Sunday nights. 95% of our customers on Sunday afternoons were church people. Had they stayed home, the store would eventually have stopped opening on Sundays due to no business. In college I worked in the school cafeteria, and Sundays were always my worst days. The students had to eat, but it always rubbed me the wrong way that everyone else at Bible College could go take a Sunday afternoon nap while 4-5 of us scrubbed pots and pans or worked in the dish room for 2 hours. My senior year I upgraded from the school cafeteria to Taco Bell, and I had Sundays off. But it was a privilege I had to constantly fight for, specifically since my manager recognized many of my classmates and found it stupid that they would come through the drive-through (and for the record, that was forbidden by the school), but then I wasn't able to work on one of the busiest days. I totally understood his point of view, and I worked many 12 hour shifts on Saturdays to have the privilege of Sundays off. So I feel guilty whenever I go to a restaurant on Sunday and see someone working because of me. Yet if we don't eat out, that means cooking and clean-up for me. It's almost a no win situation.
I firmly believe church is important. You know, the "don't forsake the assembling of yourselves together" verse. I can think of very little our church does on Sundays that isn't important, but I must admit there are days I'm very jealous of non-Christians who get a two-day weekend, allowing them one day of rest. It strikes me as odd that a non-believer can actually follow that commandment much better than I can.
So meanwhile, I've started resting more on Saturdays. If everything doesn't get done, so be it. It will still be there tomorrow. And until I find an acceptable, balanced resolution to this catch 22, I guess we'll keep things the way they are.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

the insanity of "to do" lists

My freshman year of college I found myself mortified one Tuesday night to discover that in addition to a major test the next day (which I had been studying for), I also had three projects due the next day, none of which I had started. My upperclassmen friend who was in two of those classes (and had thankfully stopped by my room to see how they were going), recommended that I purchase a day planner and spend the following afternoon cataloguing all the project and paper due dates. I wisely took her advice, and that was the last time a project slipped up on my unawares. (NOTE: I did NOT say that was the last time I was up all night finishing projects...just that I was no longer ignorant of them).
But a new problem arose. Between class, work, and yearbook staff, my free time was very limited. And let's face it, some homework and reading assignments, even in college, are just plain dull. So I quickly learned to ignore items on my "to do" list that were not due that week (except for research papers). yes, that gush of wind you're hearing is my dear "get-it-done-now" Bobby gasping in absolute horror as he reads this.
Now that I'm out of college, I find another problem with my little lists...where did I put them? They tend to disappear even faster than my car keys!
Life without organization (aka - to do lists) isn't fun. It creates a lot of problems. And yet there's something in me that just rebels at a list of things that must be done that day. I mean, the grocery store can wait one more day and I can mop the floor instead, right? They both need doing. And perhaps if I do the one I like first, it'll get done faster and then I'll have time for the other and I'll get TWO things done today! and this is where Bobby's two eyebrows become one and he tilts his head trying to decide if I've reached the ultimate level of insanity
So I wonder, how many other idealistic dreamers are out there? Do you make to do lists? And if so, do you follow them?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

where I come from

I'm not actually from Townley (where the above picture was taken). My hometown of Cordova, AL is actually several steps above Townley sporting two banks, a small grocery store, two drugstores, a post office, a video store, and several gas stations (Townley only has a part-time post office, and is where my father currently pastors). But like Townley, Cordova suffers from the past. In the early '60s, like many other places across America, the cotton mills closed their gates and went overseas. Unable to find work, many moved away. Others joined the coal mines. In the late '80s the coal mines began drastically cutting back (and it always seemed they did it at Christmas time). I'm not going to rehash the age old debate of whether the mines were only seeking profit or if the miners and the union's constant strikes and demands brought it about, but the reality is - it happened. Again, people moved away in search of means to support their families.




The above picture is of Main St in Cordova taken in 1993, where most of the stores are located. Every Thursday evening the road is shut down, for the most important reason:
the Cordova Blue Devils football team
The band plays and marches down main street, then the players salter down the street, followed by a 10-20 minute pep rally. If you've ever seen the movie Friday Night Lights, then you get an idea of what my hometown is like.
According to the 2000 census, Cordova has a population of 2, 423 people. And for these 2,423 people, there are ten churches within the city limits, and almost as many immediately outside the city limits. Most everyone considers themselves a "Christian" because they like to think of themselves as good, but not because they know Christ, follow his teachings, or attend church.
WHY am I telling you all this? Because my small town upbringing solidifies a lot of who I am today. I work in a job where things are supposed to be perfect, the smallest mistake must immediately be corrected, and cost, while important, is not to be the final factor. It is a major factor, but almost never the ultimate one. Appearance is everything. And that is such a far cry from who I am and how I was raised. (and yes, I was raised, not reared...) I cringe inside at all the waste, ponder the frivolous lifestyle of people who have no concept of limited resources, and often miss the simplicity of how things "were back when".
And while people do throw out their trash in AL just like people do here (thankfully Bryan Rd has FINALLY been cleaned up once again), at least people have a sense of humor about it back home, as is displayed by the above photo.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

:O)

I feel no shame; I'm proud of where I came from;
I was born and raised in the boondocks.
One thing I know, no matter where I go,
I keep my heart and soul in the boondocks.

And I can feel that muddy water runnin' through my veins;
And I can hear that lullaby of the midnight trains.
And it seems to me that it's so familiar...
~ Little Big Town's "Boondocks"

Monday, August 4, 2008

totally disgusting

Tonight as I was taking the trash container to the road, I noticed Linus had something sticking out of both sides of his mouth. To my chagrin and horror, it was a frog. I don't think he actually bit it, just carried it around for a while. Later he put it down and Lucy had it hopping by pawing at it. Poor little froggy.
Even more disgusting, while working in the garden, I came across a leaf on my tomato plants that looked like it had a fungus on it. So I pulled it off, but made the mistake of examining it before tossing it out. Turns out, it wasn't mold. It was actually a caterpillar with little white things all over it. Then I spotted another one. So I called Bobby outside and had him look at it. The little white things I thought were worms on the caterpillar, according to my farmer husband, are actually...eggs. I refused to touch the next one, and instead shook it off the plant. I think tomorrow I will actually wear my work gloves for a change.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

tomato & corn salad

4 large tomatoes
1/2 tsp salt
2 T balsamic vinegar
1/2 c extra-virgin olive oil
2 c fresh corn kernels (cut from 5 ears of corn)
1/4 c chopped basil

Cut the tomatoes into small pieces (remove seeds if you prefer). Toss with salt.
In a seperate bowl, put vinegar, then gradually add in oil. Toss in remaining ingredients. Season with salt and pepper.

I tried this recipe yesterday. It was my first experience with both balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Contrary to my initial reaction when I saw the recipe ingredients, I actually liked the taste. So imagine my surprise when I pulled it out of the refrigerator tonight, and saw that the oil/vinegar had hardened. ?! I heated it slightly in the microwave, but it made me a little hesitant about eating it. The taste was still the same.

So for all my cooking connoisseur friends, I have some questions.
  1. What is the difference between olive oil, virgin olive oil, and extra virgin olive oil?
  2. What is balsamic vinegar?
  3. Does olive oil have more fat than regular vegetable oil?
  4. Should this dish have been refrigerated?

the country gal cook

Saturday, August 2, 2008

little by little

I like that song Dave plays on Wed nights:

Little by little, inch by inch,
by the yard it's hard, by the inch, what a cinch!
Never stare up the stairs, just climb up the steps,
little by little, inch by inch.

That somewhat describes me these days: tiny, minute movements that don't seem to accomplish a whole lot. I attempt not to focus on the big picture but to look at the tiny things, but I've inherited my mother's gene of randomness. For example, I start cleaning Tonya's room. There's a small batch of clothes that need to be bagged to give someone. So I go to get a bag from the kitchen. While I'm in the kitchen I see a half-made grocery list, so I get side-tracked by the grocery list. In the process of finishing my grocery list I head to the bathroom for a "quick" inventory, and wind up cleaning there instead. One of the cleaning supplies reminds me of something that belongs in Tonya's bathroom, so I head back in that direction. I'm close to where I started, but not quite. Our day is approaching near over, and I have 1/2 of Tonya's bedroom ready, and 1/2 of her bathroom cleaned, but nothing is finished.

Perhaps that is why I like Laura Numerhoff's books so much. (If you give a mouse a cookie; If you give a pig a pancake; If you give a moose a muffin) I've met many children's authors who absolutely hate her books, but I can so relate to them. I like things that come full circle. (and having a cute pig or mouse as your main character enhances the story line, as well). A friend of mine took her story line, and changed the first sentence to "If a Christian prays for ________, then ____________." Each person in the room had to complete a line. It really made us stop and think about what can happen when we sincerely pray.

So now you know how random I am: we start off with music, switch to my cleaning projects, hop to children's books, move toward devotions, and now I've got to abruptly end.

Friday, August 1, 2008

August project list

Happy August 1st!
The kids are gone, and have arrived safely in Belarus.
Bobby is home, and his surgery was successful.
I am at home, and actually got a nap this afternoon!

So now that I'm almost caught up on washing clothes (and I've just come to accept the reality that I will NEVER be caught up on ironing), I'm making my major project list for the 31 days August:
  • get caught up at work
  • clean and sort all the stuff in the kids' bedrooms
  • baste the layers of Bobby's quilt together
  • put up the apples and pears
  • find a decent grape juice recipe for next month
  • start and finish a painting
  • start the rough draft for the children's Christmas play

I could easily keep adding to this list (I like thinking up stuff!), but I'm working very hard on setting realistic goals that I can reach. (That should be a goal in and of itself!) So if I look a little haggard these next 31 days, you'll know I'm probably stretching myself too thin (haha!) once again.