Saturday, September 30, 2006

Random Saturday

I was going to show you a picture of what I did today. It was very dangerous and a little scary, but not nearly as scary as this, freshly dug up from the archives. Now, this is scary:

This was taken in Croatia in 1993. We were visiting my husband's family. There's nothing like rolling out of bed and grabbing one of these to put a giddy smile on your face. I look very menacing, don't you think? You'd hate to run into this in a dark alley. I had not yet had my coffee if that explains anything at all. Yes, that is my nightgown.

In all seriousness though, the weapon I am holding (an AK-47 automatic rifle) was loaded (which is why my finger is not on the trigger) and belonged to my husband's nephew who was headed out the door to fight in the Croatian war against Serbia. He was killed with this gun in his hands less than 2 years later. May he (and his cousin, also killed the same day) rest in peace.

Rather than leave you with that sad thought, I'll be back on Sunday to report on the weekend's events which will include my first ever NASCAR race. My husband was invited by a contractor he works for and I'm expected to come along as well. I'm planning to take a book to you think that is too rude?

Friday, September 29, 2006

Blogroll Additions

I finally got around to making some blogroll additions that I've been meaning to add. They are all listed at the top of The Deep End for now, so they're easy to spot. They're in no particular order right now but soon will be alphabetized into the mix (when I get a round tuit). Most of these people don't even know I exist but I've blurked around on their blogs long enough to trust them to be mostly polite, mostly friendly, fun blogs. I found them via your all's blog rolls so most should be familiar already, but just in case...try 'em on for size. :-)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Now, What Asian Country Should I Visit?

You Should Travel to China

China can satisfy your craving for many travel opportunities in one trip.

You can hang out in modern Shanghai, walk along the great wall, or visit sacred mountains.

What Asian Country Should You Visit?

I really should ask Mis_Nomer this question. She lives in Singapore and just got back from Bali, a place very high on my wish list. For me, it's all about the food and the diversity.

What Art Movement Am I?

The question of the day...

You Are Romanticism

You are likely to see the world as it should be, not as it is.

You prefer to celebrate the great things people do... not the horrors they're capable of.

For you, there is nothing more inspiring than a great hero.

You believe that great art reflects the artist's imagination and true ideals.

What Art Movement Are You?

For Beth

Monday, September 25, 2006

On Becoming a Vegetarian

Eeeeuuwww, I just learned where "meat" comes from. Shocking, I know. But something happened Saturday that changed my life forever. My beloved husband told me that we needed to go to the ATM and get some cold hard cash (who carries this stuff anymore?) and go pick up a pig or a lamb from some Croatian guy my husband met at a church picnic. I was thinking barbequed pig or lamb, as the Croatians are prone to making (and they do a good job of barbequing their animals).

Head On A Plate

So we got in the car (my car, the VW Bug, the one with the small trunk) and drove to the ATM for $200 ($200?! How much "meat" are we buying?! Calm down, it's not all for the meat!). Then we drove what turned out to be about an hour drive to the guy's home in the country. I was still okay at the point of pulling in the driveway and looking out at his fields of farm animals. I was thinking that, not only did the guy barbeque the meat, he must also raise "the meat." We got out of the car and I introduced myself, then the guy hollered down the stairs to his wife (hollered in a way that made my husband turn around and grin at me...he knows I would not respond so well to being hollered at in that gruff tone...heh). His wife came running up the stairs and introduced herself, first in Croatian, and then when I spoke in English (because I don't speak conversational Croatian), she switched to broken English for my benefit.

Our husbands began heading up the hill to the barn and I began to follow my husband. She asked, "Oh, are you going up there too?" " Well, yes, I thought so...wait a minute! Are you guys going to kill something?" The two guys had been conversing in Croatian and I had no idea what was going on, but began to get a clue. My husband looked a little guilty. I think he too thought the meat would already be in "meat" form when we arrived.

Well, NO, I was not going up to the barn with them if that is what they intended to do. So instead, I stayed behind and had a reasonably pleasant conversation with a 68-year-old Croatian woman who was busy making apple strudel just like in "the Old Country" (a phrase she used often to describe from whence she came 33 years ago). She made me a cup of extra strong Turkish style (Croatian) coffee and we talked about how much she loved animals and could never eat any of the animals they raise, not even the chickens. She was baking a roast in the oven but said that all the meat she cooks comes from other people. Then, she told me that the lamb our husbands were in the process of killing was only 2-3 months old and was the friendliest lamb they had ever had! Arghhhh!!!

And then it happened. A traveling vet arrived to treat one of their rams and we had to show him to the sick animal. The wife told me that all the killing should be over by now and wouldn't I like to come up and see the animals? I knew better. I really did. But I trekked up the hill with her and past the open barn door. I nearly tripped over the pan of bright red blood! And hanging from a meat hook just inside the door was the woolly white furry skin and some remains of what was "the friendliest lamb ever." Ughh! I nearly lost my cookies! So that's where meat comes from!!!

And then, as if that wasn't enough, we had to wait even longer for them to finish butchering him, chopping him up into pieces small enough to fit in the smoker, and then putting all of the pieces into plastic garbage bags. Not even butcher paper! In the end, they loaded all of the body parts into a wheelbarrow (this really had all the look and feel of a CSI crime scene to me) and wheeled it down to the car. In attempting to lift the bags and squeeze them into my trunk, some parts slid out of the bag and into the trunk of my car! As we drove home, I could hear them sliding around in the back. Oh, the humanity! I felt like I should drive straight to the nearest police department and turn ourselves in. "Yes, officer, the body is in the trunk. Could you just take my confession and give me some valium or something?"

I vowed right then not to eat any of this meat. Or any meat for that matter. Well, okay, maybe meat from strangers, but never any meat killed by my own (or my husband's own) hands. Never. Ugh! I think I'm gonna get sick just thinking about it.

Creature Feature

Oh, Eric, look what I found!

Spiders on a Plane

You can thank Dave Barry for this. ;-)

Refrigerator Re-boot

Some (my "regular" readers) may recall that we bought a new refrigerator recently. Of course, we did not purchase the Best Buy service plan which, if I cared to look at their annual report, is probably where Best Buy makes most of their profits, but not off of me...nope. I prefer to "self-insure" which means sometimes, we are going to have to pay the piper, just not at the time of purchase. Fortunately, this time, we're still covered by the manufacturer's warranty.

For the last couple of weeks, we noticed the milk going bad and the vegetables rotting faster than usual (granted, I always throw away more vegetables than we eat, but still...I turned the temp control up to maximum coldness and still...muchos rottening). This begat muchos noise. For days, we have noticed the fan or some other inner workings of the refrigerator getting louder and louder, until today when I could no longer ask myself with a straight face, "I wonder if that is normal?"

I called Best Buy's service department, who referred me to a local contractor (who...surprise! is not yet qualified to work on Samsung refrigerators...I knew this was coming when we decided to buy a Samsung refrigerator...knew it! But we bought it anyway...hrmph). The contractor referred me to Samsung's 800 number which I dutifully called and was pleasantly surprised to find myself speaking to a pleasant English speaking Samsung employee.

He took down my information and then said, "Before we send out a technician, I'd like to try a few trouble shooting ideas first." He asked, "What kind of noise is your refrigerator making?" I told him, "Basically, it sounds like a jet airplane getting ready for take-off." I did. I told him this, because this is true. And then, he suggested that I try unplugging the refrigerator, leave it unplugged for 3-6 minutes, then plug it back in and reset the temperature controls. He said that sometimes the computer (the computer?! Oy!) just needs to be re-booted. I shared with him my skepticism that really, the noise it is making is just awful and I'm afraid to leave the house (or stay in the house for that matter) and really, couldn't he just arrange for a technician to come out right away, before all of our food spoils (speaking of which, did I tell you about the lamb we bought on Saturday?!) I told him I was just sure it was a mechanical problem of some kind. He assured me that if this didn't work, he would send someone out right away.

I unplugged the refrigerator, went to take a shower, came back and plugged it back in, set the "power cool" thing-a-ma-jig to the proper temperatures and waited. And waited. And now, 5 hours later, the refrigerator is nice and cool...and QUIET! Color me shocked! And happy. :-)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

10 Things My Parents Taught Me

I've been tagged, by Denise, of Blue Sky in Texas! I think this one deserves some thought. So, without further ado,

10 Things My Parents Taught Me:

1 - Both of my parents taught me that whether I passed or failed, what mattered most was that I did my best (when I asked them what would happen if I failed 2nd grade, they said they would still love me and all they expected of me was my best effort...then they said they knew I would not fail, so I guess you could also say that they gave me confidence...I don't remember why I was so worried about flunking 2nd grade).

2 - My mom taught me how to sew and more importantly, how to make things with my own hands (she still has the first dress I made, at the age of 5, and I actually wore it to school)

3 - My dad taught me to go above and beyond expectations and do things right (I remember writing a children's book in 7th grade and he had a binding machine at his office, so he bound my book for teacher was impressed and sent the book off to a publisher...I never saw the book again).

4 - My mom taught me to treat everyone as an equal, with respect and kindness; she is always kind and always pleasant to everyone around her. She is blind to symbols of status and power, or lack thereof.

5 - My dad taught me to do things with passion and gave me a passion for books and travel.

6 - Both of my parents taught me to appreciate the value of art in all dad is an architect and my mom is a painter...both are very talented and inspiring to me.

7 - My dad taught me a love of the outdoors...camping, hiking, fly-fishing, canoeing, sailing (heh), bicycling, etc.

8 - My mom taught me to appreciate the beauty and perfection of nature, of animals, of thunderstorms, of waterfalls and birds singing in the morning.

9 - My dad taught me that it is important to be balanced and well-rounded, to study the humanities as well technical and professional skills.

10 - My mom taught me the value of working hard and never taking my job for granted.

These are the things they taught me. I don't always execute what I have been taught, but I do think about these things a lot and try to incorporate them in my daily life. I owe my parents a lot, for the valuable lessons they have given (and are still giving) me. I only pray that I am able to pass along half of these lessons to my step-daughters.

Thanks, Denise, that was a fun meme for a Sunday afternoon. :-)

I now tag Beth, Rachel, and Brian.

A Lazy Sunday Afternoon

Relaxing on the bed...

The Plaza Art Fair

Yesterday, we attended the Plaza Art Fair, Kansas City's best and largest art fair. There are always great artists from around the country and I always come away with something, usually from an up and coming (aka "inexpensive but not cheap") artist. This year's find was a perfume bottle by a Fort Collins, CO artist named Karl Yost. All of his pottery looks like found objects* (driftwood, eroded seashells, animal bones). In his words, "something so perfectly designed, it seems to have been created for the sole purpose of beauty." He does a remarkable job of bringing that beauty to light. I won't put perfume in this, but I like the fact that it is functional that way.

* I have an affinity for found objects. The dashboard of my Tahoe is adorned with objects found on both coasts and many points in between; here is a snippet:

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Annual Independence Confirmation

Enough to drive a person to drink...

Question #54 in a long, long series of questions designed to make sure we're not committing any federal crimes in the category of "Independence":

"If you, had a financial interest in a non-client that had a financial interest in a client with respect to which you are a covered member, did your financial interest in the non-client impair your independence with respect to the client?"

Isn't the population of "non-clients" pretty much everything that is not a client? Yes.

Next question:

"If you had a financial interest in a non-client partnership that had a financial interest in a client with respect to which you are a covered member, did your financial interest in the non-client impair your independence with respect to the client?"

Is this not essentially the same question (only without the erroneous comma)? *sigh*

What about non-client corporations? Non-client individuals? Non-client non-clients? I think they're just trying to break us down. Make us give conflicting answers out of sheer boredom and repetition. Little did they know that some of us would take a break to blog about it. ;-)

As you were...while I go finish this stupid test.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

De-Motivational Posters

Thanks to Eric for sharing the tool to make this possible. Thanks to Beau's mother (Beau is Jen's husband) for sharing the photo (and no, I'm told that this is not Beau or his father underneath the truck, although they've been known to do such things). ;-)

The World's Smallest Political Test

Right. I said no politics here. There are other blogs much better equipped to discuss political opinions and political leanings than I am. But before you move along, take this quiz and let me know your results. I'm just curious. Tell me if you think it's accurate.

It doesn't ask questions about such current hot topics as abortion and gay marriage, the things that quickly identify you as "liberal" or "conservative" in today's world. It hits to the more fundamental questions about rights, responsibility and freedom.

I am a Centrist, almost a Libertarian and borderline Conservative, on the upper right border of the Centrist quadrant. I think for the most part this is accurate. As a recovering Liberal, I was happy to see that I steered clear of the far left, but I can honestly say that I see myself as more and more conservative the older I get. They say with age comes wisdom. ;-)


For My Jewish Friends

Tomorrow (or rather, tomorrow at sunset) marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, celebrating God's sovereignty and the creation of the world. It is a time for reflection and self-evaluation. And it is a time to eat apples and honey to bring in a sweet and good year. As the article linked to above reports, "there is little similarity between Rosh Hashanah, one of the holiest days of the year, and the American midnight drinking bash and daytime football game."

But the best part? No work is permitted on Rosh Hashanah which runs from sunset on the 22nd to nightfall on the 24th! Rejoice!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

This is a Test

...and it works!

Like Anyone Cares...

The artist behind The Tourists is Duane Hanson. I've seen a few of these sculptures lately on art crawls and in the museums (both of our big museums have "a Duane Hanson") because apparently there was an art dealer in town back in the 70's that talked a few collectors into buying Duane's work. They are fun but startling. As described at this site, "Hanson describes the masses, their loneliness, their isolation and despair, with deeply sorrowful humour." Very true. As interesting as his technique is his choice of subjects and accessories. It's always about the accessories, isn't it?

The one I showed you earlier (don't make me link to it) was created in the 1970's and the owners actually have to wash their clothes and clean their hair from time to time...and I think I've got housework! Sheesh!

There is what looks to be a fascinating Duane Hanson exhibition up currently in Doylestown, PA, halfway between Pottstown and Trenton, at the James Michener Art Museum. Those of you living in the area (*hint* Jim *hint) really ought to check it out.

Monday, September 18, 2006

More Close (Closer?)

I first heard of Chuck Close just last Christmas, when I wandered into the San Francisco MOMA. It was a very impressive exhibit in a world class museum that left me wondering why I had never heard of this intriguing and distinctive portrait artist. Needless to say, I was surprised to see this painting in a private collector's home this past weekend:
Portrait of Merce Cunningham
The scale is difficult to appreciate here, but the painting is about 6 x 9 feet! You can't even see the detail of each cell from this distance (I was only standing about 15 feet from the painting). What is most amazing to me is that Chuck's entire life work appears to consist of a gazillion variations on this same theme and technique, that is to say all of his portraits are done grid by grid, cell by cell. Some in black and white, some color. Some painted, some made of dyed hand made paper plugged into mesh or wire, and every medium in between. I really like the finished products, but can't help but think there's some serious OCD going on here...I mean, 40 years he's been doing basically the same thing!

If you have a chance to see an exhibit of his work, I encourage you to do so.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

What is Art?

From today's art crawl:

Imagine walking into a home that looks and feels like an art museum, and being greeted by these folks, The Tourists. I nearly fell over when I realized they were not "real." You've gotta love their outfits. Can anyone guess the artist?

My favorite piece was this:

Mummified Barbie. Heh.

And here's a "close" up of their latest acquisition, by Chuck Close. I know they spent millions on this piece alone. Can you tell what is represented in this section of the painting?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Brought to You By The Number X

It's been a bad week. By nearly all standards, maybe the worst week in my working history. Not tragic in any real sense. Just bad in the, how the heck am I going to get this all done, work-a-day sense. Today was the final deadline for all extended corporate income tax returns. Usually, for me, this is only the 3rd worst deadline of the year, following October 15 (the extended due date for individuals) and of course, the one you all know and love, April 15. But this year, September 15 was the worst. The worst ever! Every morning, I prayed mightily that God would grant me just enough Grace to get me through that day, one moment at a time. And He did. That's what blogging is for. ;-)

The final straw was getting word from the parent company of my biggest return (a subsidiary of said parent...said parent being a French based petroleum company with US headquarters in Houston...that's all I'll say) that they had changed numbers at the parent level which would change all of my state returns! And they forgot (FORGOT) to tell me about it! This, two days before the returns are due felt like an impossible task to complete, on top of all the other returns that I had already juggled into tight position to complete just under the buzzer. Maybe if I tell you that when I delivered these returns, I could not even fit it all into the trunk of my car (and I have to review every bloody page of the thing and then someone has to copy, collate, attach special statements to the whole mess...this process alone takes a whole day!). Maybe then, you will feel sorry for me?

Add to this that I forgot to turn in (or even prepare) my billing last Friday, so I had the managing partner breathing down my neck to get that done Monday night. I hate billing anyway, so I began composing a resignation letter in my head as I prepared the minimum dollar amount of invoices required...or else the resignation letter would all be for naught, iykwim).

Add to this, a dinner Tuesday night that I was required to attend wherein I had to listen to Dee Dee Myers (Clinton's press secretary) attempt stand up comedy (she sounded just like Ellen DeG) and talk about how to "empower women" for half an hour. I've got more power than I want or need, thank you very much. Please, let the men rule the world. They can have it!

Add to this, the tragedy suffered by one of our tax partners such that the rest of us are taking care of his clients, and well...okay, this puts my struggles in better perspective.

I survived. I'm all done now. And funny thing is, when it's all over, I wonder what all the big fuss was about. And I think, if I were to quit today, I'd probably go look for another job doing the same kind of work. There's just enough something to keep me around even when it's bad that it must be where I'm supposed to be right now. So I'll stop the complaining already. ;-)

But my problem now is that my # (four) key no longer works. This doesn't bode well for accountants generally. We are not thrilled by the possibility of having to work around missing digits in order to do our work. But here's the kicker. I can't type the number four, but when I go to type anything else such as a Google search, an infinite string of # (fours) begins prancing across the screen. Infinite. If any of you find that someone arrived at your blog who seemed a little overly interested in the number four, you will know that was me. I'm pretty sure, nobody else in the universe is nearly so interested in the number as I apparently am. I've tried many things, but nothing seems to work. In fact, in order to type this post, I'm having to delete every other keystroke. Oh, and now, my "r" is acting all sensitive. Must be time for a new keyboard. Glad this didn't happen Tuesday night. God is in the details.

And I'm glad Jim came through town on Monday, before I knew my week was going someplace in a handbasket. ;-)

Here's the most oft repeated Bible verse this week (Lamentations 3:21-23):

21 Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
22 Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.

Thank the Lord for His boundless Mercy and Grace.

The Astonished Head's Bike Trip Update

It looks like Ian, over at Astonished Head, is about to wrap up his bike trip across America. Close to it anyway. He is right now, as we speak, in San Luis Obispo, CA where I went to college and lived for a few years after that. Night before last, he was in San Simeon, just a couple miles north of where my Mom still lives. And before that, he was in Monterey where my aunt and uncle still live. He took a gorgeous shot of the Big Sur coast line, layered in fog, its usual state. This is one of the prettier shots I've seen of the's worth a peek. I've seen the coast like this before and it's like a blanket of snow. As the day warms, you can usually watch it melt away before your eyes. Just gorgeous.

I'm disappointed he doesn't report more on the 94-mile stretch of highway between Monterey and San Simeon because this is the stretch I was so worried about him riding. It's a narrow, winding road with little or no shoulder, and the right side of the road marks the edge of some serious cliffs. It's my favorite stretch of road in all the country! I've driven it more times than I can count. My best time is 2 hours and 6 minutes. But most often, it took 6-8 hours because of all the stops to take in the ocean and pine smells, the views, and just being there. At any rate, clearly he lived to tell about it...he just didn't tell much. My guess is that it was exhausting and he's got no energy left to write.

This is something I wouldn't mind doing someday. I would not start out on the East Coast like Ian did. I'd "just" start in Vancouver, Canada and work my way down to San Luis Obispo. Yeah, right. Like that will ever happen. Well, there's always the train. ;- )

Sand Castles in the Sky

This just in, from the e-mail box. I can only leave a picture of me eating deep fried grease balls at the top of the blog post heap for so long, you know. So until I have a moment to ponder a post, please marvel at this (it appears to be nearly life size!):

Click to enlarge

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Beignet Mess

For Rachel, who was a bit embarrassed about blowing powdered sugar all over Disneyland's New Orleans. You are not alone, dear! Here's a rare sighting of me, eating on my blog.

The before:

And the aftermath *

* Actually, this is just our second order, so we're not quite finished yet. 8-} Mmm, what's not to love about beignets?!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Public Notice

This is what we in the business call a "negative confirmation." When auditors (of which I am not one, just to clear that up right from the get go; I am a tax person, a different breed altogether) want to verify something, one way to do so is to send out letters asking people to verify something (usually, the goal is to get them to verify the same something that you are seeking to verify, but sometimes, you discover something else that needs verifying...this is known as an "exception"). When sending out letters, the hope is that people will not immediately throw the letter in the garbage (as I am prone to doing with the mail at home...sorry, Jim, I know that's a whole lot of delivering for nothing) and will respond in positive and timely fashion so as not to result in lots of "exceptions" that require further investigation. Now, since auditors are not stupid, they know that not all of these letters will be returned, and so they sometimes (for low risk, high volume "stuff," the technical term for things like your bank account) send out "negative confirmations." These letters basically say that you only need to sign and return the letter if there is a problem with whatever requires verifying.


Hopefully, by now, the person to whom this public notice is addressed is no longer reading (if ever he was reading) and has slipped off to light up his torch and play loud music while we discuss our plans to go to New Zealand. Rachel has some great posts up about NZ (posted while she was busy visiting the U.S. for the first time), and she has offered to serve as our tour guide!

The original plan was to have a U.S. Bloggers Invade N.Z. tour, funded entirely by Eric, of the Fire Ant Gazette, the great money-raising guru, who has agreed to do the fundraising. The question currently on the floor is whether or not Eric also agreed to fund the spousal portion of our trip, or if we are going to have to come up with this money on our own. My understanding was that Eric would be funding the entire trip, for bloggers and their spouses. Eric, if you disagree with the terms of this agreement, please contact our auditors at the link below, by tomorrow at noon. If we do not hear from you, we will begin making plane reservations.

The Auditor

Disclaimer: The non-receipt of a negative confirmation provides less than reliable evidence as to the existence and collectibility of a debt. However, the return of mail not delivered to a customer similarly indicates to the auditor the debt may not exist, or if it does exist, may not be collectible.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Little Serotoninrain (or, When Virtual Friends Become Real)

Yesterday started out a little rainy, but it was sunny by the end of the day, thanks to the serotoninrain that passed through. ;-)

When I e-mailed Jim to see if his road trip would be taking him through KC, I hardly expected a response, let alone an acceptance to my invitation for coffee or lunch (both as it turned out). How exciting! A chance to meet my first virtual friend in real life. And he is real! He is real nice. He is real funny. And he is real charming. He is not a psychopath internet stalker like you hear about in the news. ;-)

We talked about our families, our life experiences, our travels, our thoughts on blogging (both of us thought it was juvenile and beneath us somehow; now look at us), youth ministry, and our glutinator termi...what was that again, Jim? There was not enough time to talk about everything, although we did get as far as "defenestration." ;-)

I am not allowed to divulge where he is headed, but I trust that we are in for a good report upon his return.

Happy trails, Jim. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, September 11, 2006

A Moment of Silence

In remembrance...

May we never forget.


Sunday, September 10, 2006

Game Day

It's been two weeks now since the Comair crash took the lives of 49 people, including one of my co-worker's daughters, Paige Winters (I figure there's no need to keep this anonymous when there were only two passengers from the KC area on the plane and the MSM has covered the story extensively; the family has even been contacted by Geraldo on numerous occasions; God help them). I've been to the memorial service * at the high school, which was beautiful (and a first for the high school which was hesitant about allowing the family to hold the service there). I've been over to the family's home to lend whatever support I was capable of lending. And I've been to the funeral. All very heart wrenching and heart warming. But all just bit parts in supporting this family through their tragedy. And to think that there are 49 similar stories unfolding across the country is just so, so sad. It's hard to find the words to convey what I feel, but I'd like to share a few moments...

There is no good in the tragedy itself, but we can all pray that much good will come out of it, that God will be glorified. The family shared with all of us a prayer that they have shared amongst themselves every night which was to ask not "why did this happen" but "how do we respond?" And they have responded with an abundance of love. They have opened their hearts and their home to their many friends and family. They have been a role model of strength and courage and faith, and yet they have freely expressed their extreme grief among the many who are there to support them. And I think what I learned in all of this is that our support does not need to be spoken or reflected in our special deeds. We just need to be there.

It is possible to see some of the Good that has come out of this tragedy already. There were hundreds and hundreds of people at both the memorial service and the funeral. It is very evident that Paige touched many lives (it wasn't just the teenagers who had wonderful stories to share; it was also her teachers, coaches and parents) with her bright smile and friendly demeanor. She loved people and it showed. God's love shined through her smile. And after watching the video of her life (chapter 7 in the memorial video linked above), it was evident that she lived a fuller life in her 16 years than I have lived in my 44 years on this earth. Her parents did everything in their power to see that she had a good life. And she did.

Paige's mother, Joan, also shared what I think was a very poignant reflection. Joan is the quintessential "soccer mom." The family is all very athletic and engaged in a number of sports at a highly competitive level. They know what it means to practice, and practice, and practice until game day comes along. Joan suggested that in many ways their weekly walk with God and attending church services every Sunday was good practice for this Game Day. She didn't know how else they could possibly cope. Indeed. It's easy to forego our daily, weekly walk with God when things are good, when it's not Game Day, when we would rather do something else besides practice our faith. But come Game Day, what will people who have not practiced do when someone passes them the ball? I talked to a number of people after these services and many were moved to strengthen their committment to God as a result of what they had experienced during the services for Paige. How is that ever a bad thing?

I kept wondering how it was that mother and daughter weren't on the same flight. If the flight was simply overbooked, then wouldn't it make more sense for the single 26-yr old horse trainer (whom they were traveling with) to stay behind and let mom and daughter fly together? And if she gave up her seat so that he could get on the flight, what kind of guilt was she feeling now? As it was, Paige's mother was not originally planning to go on the trip at all, but at the last minute booked a flight to Lexington and wasn't able to book a return flight. She knew that she would have to make other arrangements for the return flight home once she got there, so she was essentially flying stand by. Although she hoped to get a seat on the same flight as her daughter and friend/trainer, that flight was overbooked and so she stayed on the ground, as Fate would have it. Thanks be to God for that blessing!

* If you watch any of the video (it's broken up into chapters), the final chapter is Paige's father, the one I work with. I spoke to him the next day and he said that it was completely unplanned. He wasn't planning to speak, but as you can see in the video, the ceremony was concluded and nobody got up to leave. Everyone was so stunned after watching the video of Paige's life that they just sat there and sobbed. Kevin eventually stood up and went to thank those who had put it together and decided at that moment to say a few words. He said he didn't remember any of it, but felt as if Paige was guiding him. Those who weren't sobbing before he spoke were sobbing afterwards, everyone grieving a father's loss of his only daughter.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Just for Giggles

I just couldn't help myself.

Check this out.

Make of it what you will, but...butter lettuce?

Makes me laugh...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Speaking of Botulated Meat

You can thank Jim for this new word in your vocabulary. He's a swell guy, that Jim. ;-)

Now that we have removed the botulated meat from the mysterious depths of the freezer (you can thank Mis Nomer for adding a noir twist to the story), we have filled it full or these, Contessa's Ready-to-Cook dinners, available at your local Super Target (I can't find them at the Walmart Super Center, which is another reason I'm shopping more and more at Target these days) I'm a big skeptic when it comes to ready-to-cook meals. Either it's gonna come out tasting like Hamburger Helper (or worse, Tuna Helper), or a Swanson's teevee dinner (you know the kind...with soggy corn and mealy mashed potatoes next to some meat-like by product). But these are really, really good! Our favorite is the Paella...looks and tastes just like chicken! And shrimp! And rice and vegetables and real Spanish seasonings! Almost as good as La Bodega.

I just wanted to share this little helpful hint because I know how difficult it is to choose from all those frozen food offerings, when sometimes there's just not enough time in the day to cook from scratch.

And no, it's not botulated. I just wanted to use that word again. ;-)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Cleaning Out The Freezer

I have a question for my wise readers (or voyeurs...whatever you call yourselves).

If someone you cared about were to find an old ham in their freezer and ask you if they should eat it, what would you tell them? What if the date on the old ham was January 15, 2001? What if the ham smelled of old frozen bananas? And what if it's in the original heat-sealed plastic wrapper but also caked in ice, no doubt caused by multiple thaws and re-freezes caused by multiple power outages over the years?

Be honest. Would you eat it?

Sunday, September 03, 2006

World Trade Center

I've seen two movies lately...Snakes on a Plane and World Trade Center. Night and day. Two extremes on the spectrum of good and bad. It was a difficult decision to go see WTC, not because there was any doubt that I wanted to see it, but because I was in the mood for a light-hearted comedy. It's been a stressful week and I wasn't in the mood for more tears. On the other hand, there was nothing else showing that sounded even remotely interesting. So WTC it was. And there was only a small handful of people in the large theatre. Shame that.

What a great film! This has to be one of the best movies I have ever seen. Not because it captured the events of 9/11/01 in documentary fashion (though I was fascinated by the revelation that those closest to the disaster didn't have a clue how events were unfolding right above them), not because it brought back memories that had begun to fade (though I will admit that it did that), but because it captured the heart and soul of those who serve this country every day...our defenders and protectors. It's the kind of movie that renews your faith in your fellow man. It's about heroism.

And it felt good to cry about it. It certainly put the events of this past week into perspective. It's not until you break down a story of this magnitude into its smallest parts and tell the story of one or two individuals and their respective families that we can really feel the agony of those who were directly affected. And this movie did just that, without a political agenda. No conspiracy theories here.

I needed to see this movie and I encourage everyone else to see it too. Every once in awhile a movie is made that makes a difference and I think this is one of them. If nothing else, it will make you wonder, how far are you willing to go for your fellow man? How far could you push yourself to endure the unendurable, for the sake of your loved ones? How do you treat those you love when you are not in the throes of disaster (I thought they did a good job of addressing the subtle side story of the McLoughlin relationship very realistically and delicately)? Do not take them for granted. That's what I took away from it anyway.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Tres, Trois, Three Things

Tagged! This may be a first for me (getting tagged). Thanks, Beth and Denise! :-)

1. Three things that scare me:

Dark alleys
Tyrannical dictators
Poisonous snakes

2. Three people who make me laugh (this excludes blog friends most of whom make me laugh…that's why they're on the roll):

My uncle Harry, maybe the funniest person I know
My friend Bob, a close second
Steve Carell, in The Office

3. Three things I hate the most:


4. Three things I don't understand:

Reality TV (my apologies to all you fans out there; I really don't get the appeal, or the "reality" of it all)
The Mideast peace process

5. Three things I'm doing right now:

Typing up responses to this meme
Daydreaming about #6(a)
Watching National Lampoon's Vacation

6. Three things I want to do before I die:

See the world
Whatever it is that God has on His agenda for me
See my step-daughters grow up to become happy successful adults

7. Three things I can do:

Tie my own shoes
Feed myself

8. Three ways to describe my personality:

Charming (see #2)
Laid back but also a control freak (it's the little things I try to control, the big things I leave up to God; of course, He might say that He also controls the little things like how I like my bed made in the morning, but I don't know why He cares)

9. Three things I can't do:

Bench press my body weight

10. Three things I think you should listen to:

Johnny Cash's My Mother's Hymn Book
The small voice inside your head at night (or whenever things are still)
Birds singing in the morning

11. Three things you should never listen to:

Hateful words
Gangsta rap

12. Three things I'd like to learn:

Patience, especially in parenting
How to make a living as an artist of some kind, perhaps a silversmith
Speed reading

13. Three favorite foods:

Mexican food (esp. taquitos and guacamole)
Italian food (gnocchi or lasagne)
Desserts (starting with Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream and strawberries)

14. Three beverages I drink regularly:

Diet Coke with lime

15. Three shows I watched as a kid:

Gilligan's Island
Leave It To Beaver
The Munsters

16. Three people I'm tagging (to do this):



Friday, September 01, 2006

Letter from Heaven

The local paper has an online guestbook set up for the family and today, I flipped through the pages and read this poem. It is lovely and very fitting for Paige, whose smile and laughter touched the hearts of many, many people during her short life.

To my dearest family, some things I'd like to say...
but first of all, to let you know, that I arrived okay.
I'm writing this from heaven. Here I dwell with God above.
Here, there's no more tears of sadness; here is just eternal love.

Please do not be unhappy just because I'm out of sight.
Remember that I'm with you every morning, noon and night.
That day I had to leave you when my life on earth was through,
God picked me up and hugged me and He said, "I welcome you."

It's good to have you back again; you were missed while you were gone.
As for your dearest family, they'll be here later on.
I need you here badly; you're part of my plan.
There's so much that we have to do, to help our mortal man."

God gave me a list of things, that he wished for me to do.
And foremost on the list, was to watch and care for you.
And when you lie in bed at night, the day's chores put to flight.
God and I are closest to the middle of the night.

When you think of my life on earth, and all those loving years
because you are only human, they are bound to bring you tears.
But do not be afraid to cry; it does relieve the pain.
Remember there would be no flowers, unless there was some rain.

I wish that I could tell you all that God has planned.
But if I were to tell you, you wouldn't understand.
But one thing is for certain, though my life on earth is o'er.
I'm closer to you now, than I ever was before.

There are many rocky roads ahead of you and many hills to climb;
but together we can do it by taking one day at a time.
It was always my philosophy and I'd like it for you too...
that as you give unto the world, the world will give to you.

If you can help somebody who's in sorrow and pain,
then you can say to God at night......"My day was not in vain."
And now I am contented....that my life has been worthwhile,
knowing as I passed along the way, I made somebody smile.

So if you meet somebody who is sad and feeling low,
just lend a hand to pick him up, as on your way you go.
When you're walking down the street, and you've got me on your mind;
I'm walking in your footsteps only half a step behind.

And when it's time for you to go.... from that body to be free, remember you're not're coming here to me.

Ruth Ann Mahaffey (author) © Copyright 1998-2006