Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Urban Suburban *

Saturday night was our annual fundraising event for an art gallery where I volunteer. The fundraiser was an art auction and cocktail party at the gallery, complete with entertainment (fire twirling, quixotic dancers, men dressed in drag as the Desperate Housewives, you know...your standard fare). The art gallery is housed in a nursing home. This made for an interesting evening. We were told we'd have to keep the fire twirling outside, for security reasons. *rolling eyes* And the music? Outside. Because the residents had to sleep. Ah, the indignities of old age. Bedtime at 8:30, when there's a party going on. How sad. But the real fun was sitting back (I was working the check-in and check-out table all evening) and watching the art patrons interacting with the residents (those who didn't want to go to bed yet) who strolled in and around the goings-on with varying degrees of clarity and mobility, some attached to oxygen tanks and some with tri-colored tubes dangling from their necks, temporarily detached from their life-sustaining IV tubes.

As I stood at the bar waiting to order my tonic water with a twist of lime, I asked the gentleman standing next to me if he was having a good time. In return, he scowled and grunted something like, "it's alright." He asked if it was a cash bar and I told him that no, it was an open bar, hoping that might cheer him up a bit. He ordered a screwdriver and puttered off to his room, reminding me of Tim Conway on the Carol Burnett show. I bid him a good evening, hoping that he might find a little something to be happy about.

Another gentleman came by with his walker and a copy of a death certificate for a relative. I suggested he might wait until morning to turn it into someone who works in the office. And then there was Marion, who was supposed to work the front door that had to remain locked, but kept wandering off and forgetting her duties, leaving guests standing outside the glass doors. And Anna, who took a liking to me and stood at the check-out desk asking questions and initiating small talk while I tried to quickly process art sales when the flood gates opened after the auction closed. Bless their hearts.

All of these residents were not-so-gentle reminders that, if we are blessed enough to live a long life, we can also look forward to the many indignities of old age. We can fight it all we want, staying healthy and active, both mentally and physically, for as long as possible, but the end of life is just never pretty. The philosophy of the gallery is that art has the power to overcome differences and celebrate our common humanity, and at the end of the evening, I felt we did just that.

* This was the name of our event...suggesting the integration of urban artists and patrons with the suburbs, in a very suburban venue.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Month in Review, So Far

Remember the scene in Anchorman, where Ron Burgundy is "trapped in a glass box of emotionnnnnsssss!!" Well, that is me this month. I have been rendered incapable of blogging with any enthusiasm because all of my energy is going into things that I cannot blog about. Plus, my company has blocked access to Blogspot, and since I spend my life at the office, it is now impossible to visit this site or many of yours, even on my own time, except on my personal computer.

Nevertheless, I am alive.

We have closed on our boat, s/v Dancing Queen, aka Sophia, aka Fernando, aka The Deep End, aka Schedule C, aka Certified. So, some of the stress surrounds the logistics of finding a slip, insuring, repairing and finding time to spend with her/him/it. And related to that is a much bigger stresser that is weighing heavily on my mind day and night. It involves severing a certain umbilical cord and I am finding it very difficult to muster up the courage to do that (although I committed to my husband that I would do so last week). I've worked hard to get to where I am, but more importantly, I am where I am due to fortunate circumstances beyond my control that aren't likely to repeat in my lifetime. So while I've got one eye on a completely different and exciting future, I'm having a hard time pulling the other eye off of the financially secure but very stressful past. Enough said about that. This is a very painful reminder of just how strong is my compulsion to be self-reliant and it is testing my faith.

Meanwhile, our 18-year old is also testing our faith. She moved out almost as soon as she turned 18 and her singular goal seems to be to prove to us once and for all that she is finally 18 and can "do anything she wants." The details are not pretty. The path she is on is not the path we would have chosen for her, and we pray that God points the way for her in short order. We do realize that we are not the authors of her life, but that does not ease the burden of wanting to help someone who does not want to help herself enjoy a better life.

Stressful too was the October 15th tax deadline. And three ugly IRS exams just now getting underway. Blah, blah, blah.

A highlight of the month was attending a grand opening Gala for this museum that my brother helped with, architecturally. He was also in attendance and I got the full tour of both architectural details and artwork in this fabulous contemporary art museum.

Before that, the highlight of the month was an all day family reunion/annual business meeting in the town I grew up in, where my ancestors helped build the town that is now Manhattan, Kansas. Our namesake still hangs on the old theatre in town:

Wareham Theatre

Another notable sign...my husband and I re-painted this sign in downtown Kansas City (he painted the left; I painted the right...nice, huh? I'll refrain from posting the "before" picture which illustrated much more botanically correct greenery surrounding the lettering):

And to add a little levity to my month, I'm sure, my Dad surprised me with these photos in my email box this week, from an era that is not very well documented in photographs, for good reason. After I finished laughing, I was reminded that a) I have gained an awful lot of weight since I quit swimming 2+ hours a day; b) I have never had a clue what to do with my hair; c) it's no wonder I never went to Prom; d) much as I hate to admit it, I have aged a bit since then; and e) I really do miss those overalls.

Farrah Hair

Sweet 16 (seriously, I know)

That's all for now. Peace to you all and thanks to those of you who have continued stopping by even when there is nothing to share and thanks also to those of you who have expressed concern for my well being. I am here and generally, life is good, but there's a funk in the air. This too shall pass.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

All Shook Up!

How did I miss this?! These "limited edition commemorative" candy bars were released this past summer to celebrate the 30-year anniversary of Elvis' death (which was on my birthday, wouldn't you know). I think I might prefer the real fried PB&B sandwiches that Elvis was famous for indulging, but these candy bars are certainly worth a try. I have yet to spot one in its natural habitat. Have you?

I wonder why they didn't use the Fat Elvis for the packaging. Notice that there are several cover designs. Collect them all!

Thanks to Jagasaurus for the enlightenment.



A River Runs Through It

Who says there is no Heaven on earth? I think this comes pretty darned close...Dad fishing the Gallatin River in Montana, near Bozeman, the river where the movie was filmed. Beautiful. This is all the proof of God's existence that I need.


Monday, October 08, 2007

The Meme 'O Fours

From Jim at Serotoninrain...just for fun, The Four Things Meme:

Four Jobs I've Had:

Motel maid at the Golden Pelican
Fry cook at the Fish Shanty
Newspaper "boy" for the Manhattan Mercury
Distribution manager for Estrella River Winery

Four Films I Could Watch Over and Over Again:

Monty Python & The Holy Grail
Sleepless in Seattle

Four TV Shows I Watch:

I don't watch any TV shows regularly, but if I am channel surfing, I will stop on these channels now that we have cable...

Travel Channel
Animal Planet
Court TV
Fox News

Four Places I’ve Lived:

Kansas City
Manhattan, Kansas
Morro Bay, CA
Knoxville, TN

Four Favorite Foods:

Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream
Pecan pie
Strawberry Rhubarb pie

Four Websites I visit Daily

Besides all of you on my blogroll? Hmmm...

CCH (tax research)

Four Favorite Colors


Four Places I Would Love To Be Right Now

Pacific Northwest
Adriatic Coast of Croatia
Greek Islands
New Zealand

Four Names You Love, But Could/Would Not Use For Your Children:

Huh? I can't think of any.

Four tags:

Anyone who wants to play.


Sunday, October 07, 2007

One Step Closer to Water

The surveys have been completed and we are much wiser now in the nuances of purchasing a boat and in the long list of maintenance items required. All in all, the surveys (there were three of them...hull, engine and rigging) cost nearly $1,500 (not counting travel expenses), but saved us $20,000. The rigging survey showed that the stainless steel rods (The strouds that hold up the mast on either side of the boat) need to be replaced. It looks fine to the naked untrained eye, but to the trained eye that knows where to look for corrosion (in the places where the stainless steel is deprived of oxygen but exposed to heat and salt water), it is corroded and cracked, ready to snap without warning. Unlike steel cable rigging that wears down like rope and gives you plenty of warning, the snazzier and stiffer rod rigging looks fine until suddenly, it's not. And then your mast ends up in the water and your boat takes it in the shorts.

The engine survey also turned up some problems, most notably a bent prop shaft that is causing vibration in the engine...left untreated, the vibration causes metal fatigue in the brackets that keep the engine and the alternator from ending up in the boat's bilge (not a good place to be). But the engine itself is in good shape.

So we got an estimate of the cost of repairs and renegotiated the price down by $20,000. We really didn't expect the seller to budge off of the original pre-survey price. They had reduced their asking price significantly right before we came along and offered much less than that. We had already factored in some repairs to the original pre-survey price, so we feel good about the final price.

And now we have a signed contract! They say that the happiest days in a boat owner's life are the day they buy the boat and the day they sell it. My husband's birthday is this Wednesday. He plans to write the check that day so as to indelibly mark this as his happiest birthday so far.


Friday, October 05, 2007

What is your dog wearing for Halloween?

All joking and sick humor aside, my brother's family had to put down their 7 year old pug last Saturday. He developed cancer and was suffering. It was an especially sad event in my neices and nephew's lives. May Bloo rest in peace. His ashes were scattered in a beautiful pet cemetery located in Parkville, MO.

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Updated, based on my latest e-mail exchange, and to correct a few of my many grammar errors:

I'm fairly tolerant of the Lawyer Ego, especially the Male Lawyer Ego (apologies in advance to any male lawyers who may stumble upon this site...clearly you are the exception). Tolerant in the sense that I'm willing to let it roll off my back, rather than try to deflate the offending Ego, but it still bugs me and the temptation is always there. But really, life is too short to waste it shooting at feathers, don't you think? Eventually, they puncture themselves. Puffing feathers and performing exotic dances may be an essential part of the mating process out in the wild, but seriously, Man can get by without it in the business world (and the dating/mating process for that matter).

One of many phone calls today involved a detailed discussion with a Male Lawyer Ego about the various ways that a business owner (our mutual client) might wish to go about selling his company to a key employee. As with most discussions about this, the issues are always three-fold...how do I a) get the cash out, b) minimize my taxes, and c) minimize the headaches of getting it done (i.e. with the least amount of legal documents, title transfers and risk)?

The MLE had posed a couple of solutions and asked for my input. As it turns out, he didn't really want my input on anything except two very specific questions. I was really not invited to pose any other possible solutions. But I didn't know this until I tried. To which he responded, "well, that would be pretty cute if it works." Cute. Cute?! So I responded that "yes, it is cute. It was especially cute (my use of the word "cute" was becoming excessive and pointed) when we did this just recently for a transfer between family members where it has the advantage of benefitting the entire family unit, not just the seller." But when I asked if he would like for me to model out the cute plan with actual numbers, he said he would need to first check with the other attorney on the engagement since he is not the one to "champion" it (the idea). The Male Lawyer Ego is especially protective of their ideas and quick to take credit but if someone else has an idea, they are also quick to dismiss it. This is known as the "not created here" doctrine.

I might add that when I did answer his specific questions, he shot back an email that indicated he had no idea that I was just answering him in the affirmative, giving the green light he was looking for, and instead took exception and went off on an unnecessary tangent with cites to irrelevant code sections, copying the client on his "brilliant" response. I corrected him in private, but this is what I mean...it would have been so easy to correct him in front of the client with a "reply to all" response.

So now, I'm waiting for my call back, to see if we are interested in pursuing this cute strategy.


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Monday, October 01, 2007

Careful What You Pray For

Rain! Lots of it. I got exactly what I asked for, just not at the right time. I had hoped the rain would come early and eliminate the need to spend all day at the race track. Instead, the morning started out beautiful, sunny, optimistic. And so we went. But the friends who were to meet us could not make it for another reason...the wife woke up feeling sick from something she ate. We went anyway, but we didn't do much tailgating. We arrived early and pulled out our chairs, our magazines and enjoyed coffee and scones while we waited for the race to begin. Which it did...2 hours later. We never put up our tent or pulled out the grill. We just sat there...zzzzzz.

After only 13 laps, the rain caused the race to stop for 45 minutes. After the rain blew through, the blowers and squeegees were out in force, drying the track, so that the race could resume. Which it did...

Then at the half way mark, another torrential downpour, accompanied by lightening and 70 mph winds arrived, evacuated the stands and made us think the race would be called off (which would have been unfortunate because all of the race leaders had just taken a pit stop, putting them out of contention for any of the Top 15 slots...AND this would have made Tony Stewart the strategic winner...he purposefully did not pit so that if the rain stopped the race, he would be declared the winner...now that is faith, given that he had only enough fuel for 3 laps and did not know exactly when the rain would start).

In the end, the race was called off at sunset (for the driver's safety...no lights on the track) and only 210 laps (out of 268), making it a 315 mile race, not 400. And after all that, it ended on a caution lap so that we didn't even get to see an exciting finish. Our guy, Jimmie, (you can tell I'm becoming a true fan when I no longer put the quotes around "our" and sit through 2 rain storms to the bitter end) had pulled himself all the way from the back of the pack twice in one day but ultimately, ended up in the 3rd place position. Too bad.

So not only did we waste a lot more of our day than even planned, we also got exceedingly wet and cold and miserable. But we did stay til the end, as did many people. One thing about NASCAR fans...I will give them credit for being patient, loyal and generally good natured.

Here is a before shot of the stands:

Full House and Ominous Skies

And after the rain:

Get out the squeegees and blowers

Slowly, the stands refilled but only half way

But here was my favorite part of the race...the Anhauser Busch Clydesdale Horses (and the Dalmatian):