Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tag! I'm IT!

Well, maybe it was a ploy to get me back to posting - which is long overdue. I suppose I just got lost in the hazy, lazy days of this past weekend, and have yet to fully resurface! But Desert Songbird has tagged me with "My Top Ten Simple Pleasures." My difficulty is going to be coming up with only TEN!
But first, I have to give a HUGE SHOUT OUT to the Texas Aggie Football team! I'm always proud of my alma mater, but watching them saw varsity's horns off in last Friday's Lone Star Showdown was divine. It almost made up for the Razorbacks' senseless loss in their hopeful race for the National Championship. Almost. At least I've still got Peyton and the Colts to cheer about.

Okay, so here are the ten (in no particular order):
1. Snuggling with my husband and daughter on a cold day.
2. Receiving wet, joyous puppy kisses from my dog.
3. Watching an exciting/back-and-forth NFL or NCAA football game.
4. Getting wrapped up in a romantic movie, especially if it makes me cry.
5. Playing a nice, flowing piece on the piano.
6. Getting lost in a book for days.
7. Wrapping up in a warm blanket (or towel), fresh from the dryer.
8. Laughing with my friends over the SILLIEST things.
9. Making ANY dessert, and having exclusive "licking of the spoon" rights.
10. Having a day to sleep in, with NO obligations to go anywhere or do anything.
By the way, the winners of last week's "Find Amber" contest are Shauna and Marnie! I was actually very glad that Amber didn't do the "pursed lip pout" thing in this photo. And even though it looks like she's all "Hook 'Em Horns," I know she's aiming for "Rock-n-Roll Fingers."

Tag time! My chosen victims are local Songbird, Shauna, and Karmyn R.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Giving Thanks

I have so much for which to be thankful. Primarily, my loving family and friends, who truly go the extra mile for me. I am blessed to have an education, my own business, my health, musical abilities, a comfortable home, and several great opportunities in my future. I have to stop there, otherwise I'll get all sappy and weird, and after the drama of this past weekend I don't need to cry anymore. In fact, I believe that the timing of my heartbreak (which in the grand scheme of things, was a minor incident) is poignant; this week's Thanksgiving holiday has given me perspective. I may share the details at a later date, but be assured that it was not a major crisis. For some reason, however, it prompted a hysterical reaction in me that is quite rare.

I know you are all thankful for certain things, most of them akin to what I have mentioned, but here are some silly things that have made life more fun this past year!

I give thanks that my everyday commute (all of 2 minutes from home to work) is nothing like this:

Also, I'm thankful for pals like Mugsy, who send me things likethis fun/frustrating little game, so if you get bored over the long weekend, try it out!

I am thankful for human curiosity and the advent of YouTube which gave us the best science project of 2006:

I am most thankful for my husband and my daughter, who have seen the beautiful and horrific parts of me, and love me all the same. I hope they are aware of how precious they are to me. They also bring friends into our home, making it lively and fun.

Lastly, I am thankful for the photographs that document special moments in our lives. I plan to cover the walls of our new home with them, to remind us of those we love. Now, here's your project for the holiday - kinda like "Find Waldo." "Find Amber" in this group of spirited girls!

Happy Turkey Day!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Donkey vs. Elephant - Taboo??

You may have noticed that I steer clear of politics and religion on this site. I'm not sure that's the most honest approach to blogging, but hey, I'm not your dancing circus bear. At least I'm raising the bar a tad from our last donkey discussion!

However, the political divide this nation experienced was troubling. And now that the "people have spoken" and voted for change (notice I said, CHANGE, not DEMOCRATS), I'm more optimistic than I've been in a while. Not that I think either party has all the answers. Instead, my faith in the American people has received a boost. We DO have the gumption to get up off our couches and try to change the direction of the country. I was beginning to wonder if we had all been hypnotized by the fancy footwork of Emmitt Smith, and were generally oblivious to the actions of our government.

In college and graduate school, I was taught that there are two topics to avoid discussing in the workplace: religion and politics. In a small town, where our businesses are more like families (crazy and dysfunctional), those rules don't necessarily apply. Or should they? Two of my agents professed their Christianity during the interview process. Oftentimes, a discussion amongst my staff will pit Republican against Democrat, though never to the point of a screaming match. The participants act with dignity and usually "agree to disagree." For the most part, we know where we all stand, who we can talk to about certain issues, and whose toes not to step on. It's an atmosphere of mutual respect.

Unfortunately, something happened at my husband's workplace that could affect his employment. Don't worry, he's not going to be fired. But he is deciding to "opt out" of working on days that a staunchly Republican doctor performs surgery. He had made this request long ago, and yesterday, under great pressure from his manager due to understaffing, broke his own rule and bit the bullet for the good of the hospital. Said doctor has argued with Roger in the past about political issues, and Roger no longer wishes to entertain those discussions.

Our hospital has a new security system in the OR. It involves locked doors that can only be opened by staffers with their ID passes. As Roger was navigating the system to take a patient through these doors, he commented to the patient, "This place has more security than Fort Knox! But that's good, because then no one can come in here and 'get ya.'" Just a little joking demeanor that he uses to put his patients at ease before their procedures. Republican Doctor, far removed from the area, shouted out, "Yeah - that's what we need here to keep the Democrats out!!" Not in a joking manner. In an inflammatory manner. He was decidedly vindictive. Mean-spirited.

If you know my husband, you probably are curious as to what happened next. As he told me this story, I envisioned three possible scenarios:

1. Roger delivering his patient, then going back to Republican Doctor and "giving him the what-for." (This would have been an ugly confrontation, at best.)
2. Roger delivering his patient, then telling the manager, "That's it - I'm out of here," and leaving for the day, refusing ever to work on Republican Doctor days.
3. Roger delivering his patient and holding his tongue.

I am proud to say that he took the high road - choice #3. But at what cost? Should he have to endure verbal jabs? Roger's father is a STAUNCH Democrat, and in a way, the vileness of Republican Doctor's comment was an insult to his family. Allowable, because of the "status" of the one making the comment??

For the record, the definition of "conservative," according to the online dictionary, is "disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change." The definition of liberal? According to the same site, "favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs." I have no idea how the term "liberal" became tarnished with such negativity.

So, I ask you for your thoughts. Is it better to keep our mouths shut? Should managers set boundaries for what can be discussed in the workplace? Or is this another form of discrimination that serves to limit free speech? I solicit your discussion, though I request civility among participants.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Okay, Now You Have Permission to Get Excited!

As do I.

You may have noticed a bit of consternation and worry in my last post. Basically, I can't back out of building a house now. Not that I want to, but I feel like I'm strapped into a roller coaster - edging up that first big hill, getting ready to drop over into who-knows-what.

The first photo is an extra 1/2 acre (ending about where my car is parked) I HAD to buy. HAD to, as I told my husband. You see, when we first visited the property - we had agreed on ONE ACRE. He was unavailable the day I went to measure it, so I traipsed out with my uncle, and quickly discovered that these beautiful trees were NOT on our acre. I stood at the spot you see here, and wondered how on earth to justify to Roger paying another $1,000 per tree. Because that's why I needed that additional 1/2 acre - for the trees. Of course, one sentence from my uncle convinced me: "Just imagine someone buying that acre next to yours, cutting down all the trees, and slapping a mobile home up there." So...I bought some trees. Signed the binding contract. And nonchalantly mentioned this to my husband as I left our house on an errand, so he'd have time to absorb the news. Luckily, he didn't kill me, and agreed whole-heartedly about the decision after walking the property with me yesterday. (Whew!)
Unfortunately, this purchase has already created a problem, because now, this house plan will no longer do. See this photo? This is the mountain view!! (Don't worry - I'm going to approach the neighbor across the street about cutting down the dead tree.) This is the direction we plan to face the house. Our plan features big windows in the living/dining rooms - in the BACK. I'm also going to flip the whole dang plan over, so that my garage and master bedroom are on the east side. Flipping the plan is easy, but working out how to redraw the middle - not so much.

I've been told that building a home can produce the biggest strain EVER on a marriage. Well, next to death.

If our perc test and survey are completed this week, we'll be well on our way to one or the other.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A Reason for My Silence

Some of you may recall this project, which over the last few months has seemed like less and less of a reality. Not a week goes by that some friend of ours doesn't ask, "So, when are you guys gonna start building that house?" Imagine my embarrassed reply, especially given my 14-year profession, that "We still haven't found a piece of land."

It appears that we may be one step closer. As of this week, we have a completed offer and acceptance on this acre and a half:
In the process, I have gone through many emotions, most of them good.

As we progress through closing, I'll keep you posted on the developments, as well as the state of my nervous system.

Monday, November 06, 2006

LOL!!! :-)

Yeah -- had to have something to counteract that weepy "Free Hugs" video from last week. Lest you all think I'm a sap.

And for the record, I think those folks who send out those "somebody loves you" emails with all the cartoon teddy bears with hearts and flowers stuff mean well. I just hate getting them. Maybe they are the crazy dog owners? Nah - us dog owners are cool.

Thanks to Mugsy for the clip.

Friday, November 03, 2006

We Survive Another Halloween

This kid absolutely REVELS in Halloween. It's the one time of year she can dress like a gothic body snatcher and not get in trouble for intimidating her classmates. She would probably dress this way every day, if the school had more lenient dress codes AND we had a portable defibrilator at home to revive her father periodically. She starts obsessing about her costume MONTHS before the big event. Last year she insisted on a dye-job to complete the effect (you can see that costume here). PERMANENT dye, mind you - not that spray-in stuff. Thankfully, it washed out in a few months, and the school didn't expel her.
I thought I had it easy this year - she wanted to be a vampire. Done! Dress her in a black sweatsuit for warmth, buy a cape, get some fangs, and then paint the face and add some fake blood. Right? Wrong. Oh...so...wrong. I'm entering a mysterious span of parenthood that defies all logic and science known to man. You know, that time when your child is brimming with VAST amounts of knowledge that ONLY teenagers possess?? It coincides with a leakage of brain power from the parents. Basically, we will be "complete idiots" for the next few (let's hope it's only few) years, while the teen becomes All Wise and Knowing One Who is Forced to Spoon-Feed and Educate Her Parents Until They Give in and Admit That Her Brain Power Far Exceeds Theirs Combined. I'm also told that this phase involves a lot of eye-rolling.
So, my first lesson was in the "updated" vampire look for girls. Hotness is paramount. To attract a victim, I suppose. I did a little research online, and had to admit that modern girl vampires resemble this and this. Sigh. My second lesson was in fangs. She HAD to have these snazzy fangs that are the equivalent of dental molds. Admittedly, they did stay in place extremely well. Lastly, vampires evidently pierce themselves. In the lips. (I would think this would interfere with proper blood-sucking, but what do I know?)

Normally I wouldn't post photos of other people's children online; however, the school web site (which is public) has already posted these. They were taken at the Halloween Dance, and the kids really look cute, IMHO. I can't wait until next year to further my education.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Free Hugs!

I received this video by email a week or so ago, and forwarded it on to a few special friends. One friend was VERY moved and in turn forwarded it on to others. I had no idea how it would impact that one person - but I was pleased that he chose to share it. He sent me the responses from those recipients, and their words brought tears to my eyes. So, today, I share it with all of you.

Then again, it is doubtful that you have been living in the 'net world and HAVEN'T seen it. It appears it has become another YouTube sensation. This is a video of a man who was on the brink of abjectivity, but chose not to wallow in despair. Instead, he took action - and though it is a controversial tactic, the results were overwhelmingly positive.

You can read the story of the Free Hugs Campaign here.