Sunday, April 26, 2009

I Have Never Fallen FLAT On My Face . . .

... until today!!

I've heard people describe falling -- "and I fell flat on my face" -- but they don't usually mean that they literally fell FLAT on their face. Usually they just mean they fell forward pretty hard and heavily and hit the ground. I do know one lady who fainted and fell FLAT on her face, and she had the scrapes and bruises and concussion to show for it.

Well today I did it, and thankfully it wasn't on concrete.

I was in the back yard. I turned quickly and started to step forward just as I turned. Eler Beth's terrier, Little Bit, unknown to me, was either sitting right at my feet or she ran in front of me just as I moved, because I tripped over her. It wasn't a normal trip and fall. It felt as if my feet didn't actually move at all, like I was glued to the ground and just tipped over. I really don't know how I did it. All I know was that I had a quick impression of a black and white dog at my feet and then my knees were bending quickly as if someone had shoved me from behind and told me to "kneel!", and my upper half was speedily meeting the ground. When I hit the ground I was on my shins and knees, and I had bent my arms at the elbows so that on either side of my face my upper arms and open palms hit the ground a split second before my face did. I remember saying, "Well, shoot!" as I was headed to the ground, and the next thing I knew my face was FLAT on the ground in four inches of grass.

Eler Beth said she heard me call out something and turned just in time to see me on the ground, looking as if I were doing an act of obeisance to something or someone. Well, she didn't say that. What she said was, "Mom, it looked like you were worshipping something!!"

I slowly pushed myself up, giggling, and then just sat there laughing. My face had started itching from the grass almost immediately. Eler Beth ran to me. "What happened!? Are you okay?!"

I couldn't stop laughing, so she joined in, and the dogs of course came over to see why Mom was acting nutty, so it was a minute or so before I managed to stand up. Then I hurried inside to wash my face, because it was really itching horribly.

So now I can literally say that I have fallen FLAT on my face!

And how has YOUR Sunday been?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Oh no! Today's the Deadline!

I just remembered that today is the day I was supposed to get my signed accepted invitation back to The Association if I am going to get it to them in time for them to help me get through Cycle Two! They actually said in the letter that if I didn't get it back to them by today I may be too far along in Cycle Two for them to help me. lol I'll just be beyond help, I guess. I've always thought that anyway!

I googled Greatest Kept Secret, by the way, and found two other sites where people mentioned getting this same very long, very weird letter. I hope no one was foolish enough to take them up on their offer!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Frankly Friday

Frankly, my dear, you need to get your stories straight!

I thought I wouldn't have anything to complain about today until I contacted Cabelas customer service this afternoon to check on an order.

Back at the end of February I placed an order at Thomas' direction for a Hasting's rifled slug barrel for a Remington 1100 LT. The one we ordered was for a 20 gauge, and it was the one with the cantilevered scope mount. We'd already gone to a LOT of trouble to make sure that they were sending us the right item because I was uneasy with how their Hastings rifle barrels were displayed in their online catalog as well as their print catalog. It really was unclear that what we wanted was what was being offered. I called, then Thomas called, spoke not only with the person taking the order but with some kind of special-supervisor-person to MAKE SURE we were getting what we wanted. We were ordering from Cabellas in the first place because they had the item in stock and were offering it a bit cheaper than some other places.

We got a package from Cabelas four days after I placed the order! Wow! We were really impressed. Until I opened the box. I pulled it out and looked at it. It did have the cantilever scope mount, but I held it out to Eler Beth and said, "Does that look like a 20 gauge to you?" She said, "No, it looks more like a 12 gauge." Sure enough, it was a 12 gauge barrel.

So I called to tell them. The copy of the order that came with the barrel said 20 gauge, and their records said 20 gauge, but the rifle was stamped 12 gauge. I was instructed about sending it back (return UPS paperwork had been included with the order), and I took it to UPS the next day.

In one week I called them to make sure it had got to them and to ask about the correct item. They did show that they'd received the return, but the 20 gauge barrel that I wanted was now on back order, due to come in on April 15.

So I called on April 15. Sorry, it isn't here. It should be in any day now, and please check back in a couple of days.

So I called on April 17 -- last Friday. First I was told it was still on back order. Then the lady said to hold on, she would double check. She came back on the line to tell me that it was in, and then she asked if I still wanted it. (?!?!?) I asked her if it was a Hastings rifled slug barrel for a Winchester 1100 LT 20 gauge, with a cantilevered scope mount. If so, then, yes, I want it! She said it would ship right out and I should have it between five and seven days.

Today, the 24th, is the seventh day. I call and say that I am checking on an order that had been a back order, that was supposed to have shipped out on the 17. Has my order shipped? I have not received it yet. The gentleman checked and told me that the item was still on back order. How can this be? On the 17th I was told it was there and would be shipped. He says to let him check. He comes back on the line and says that the item had indeed come in but there were none left and now it was on back order again until June 15! I VERY CALMLY said, "Look. We ordered this in February. The wrong item was shipped to us, and we returned it. When I called to check on it I was told it was on back order until April 15. Then on the 17th I was told that it was in stock, and then I WAS ASKED if I STILL WANTED IT! Since I DO STILL WANT IT, I was told it would be shipped right out. Now you are telling me that it is on back order again and it won't be in stock until JUNE??? Yes, he says, and he apologises, and he says he has no idea why ours wasn't shipped out first. I thank him, but before I hang up I say that I definitely DO WANT THIS ITEM unless I call and cancel the order. I want it shipped automatically to me when it comes in. I don't want anyone to wait for me to call or to contact me to see if I still want it. I WANT IT!!

So then I call Thomas at work to tell him about this, and I suggest that he call them as well, because I'm really curious if the story will be different. Well, guess what! The story was different! He asked to speak to someone higher up than the person I spoke to, and this gentleman told him that the item had NEVER been in and had been on back order since the first of April. Thomas asked why I had been told last week that it was in stock and would be shipped out and why April 15 had been the date that I had been told it would be in stock, and this guy said that we must have been given misinformation.


I was obviously given the wrong information, but I'm not sure now by whom. Was it ever there? How could two people, checking (I'm assuming) computer records tell me that it was there at one time, and then another guy tell me it was never there. He actually got snippy with Thomas when Thomas told him exactly what I had been told each time I called. He just kept saying, "Well, sir, you obviously were given misinformation. The barrel is scheduled to be here on June 15, and it was never here or we would have shipped it to you all ready." Thomas said, "Okay, will it actually BE in stock on June 15 or thereabouts, or should we just ask for our money back and look for it somewhere else?" The man said, "That's entirely up to you. June 15 is not a definite date. It may be here then, but it may not be. We're not guaranteeing that it will be here then." He didn't offer to find out WHY I was given "misinformation". If it had been me talking to a customer about that kind of mess-up I'd be swearing to get to the bottom of it and promising to stay on it until the customer got the right order.

If I can find it somewhere else I'm cancelling the order with them. Cabelas is a big company, and I would have thought that they'd have their act together a bit better than that. I'm very disappointed in them.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thankful Thursday

This week I am very thankful

~~ that I only had to use the porta-potty ONCE while we were at Thunder Over Louisville

~~ that I am finally feeling like this head and chest cold is going away; my symptoms are about a day behind Thomas' so tomorrow I should really be feeling well

~~ for the bundle of fur lying on my chest and purring

~~ for the forecast for this weekend which says we'll see 87° and lots of sunshine

~~ that Thomas is feeling so much better, because he isn't going to take a day off work if he doesn't have to, and I hate seeing him go to work when he feels bad (makes me feel REALLY guilty, too! lol)

And I guess that's it for now. I've just about caught up with most of the blogs I read, and that's no small feat. I'm looking forward to getting back to my interrupted spring cleaning, and I hope it's dry enough to mow tomorrow because my back yard has grass that is almost knee-high. ('Course I'm short!) I've done a lot of reading while I was sick this week and listened to some audio books as well. I think I can get rid of a few of them that I know I don't just HAVE to have in my library -- and that will make room for buying more, don't you know!

Speaking of books, some good ones I've read or re-read lately:

The Coldest Winter by David Halberstam;
The Best and The Brightest by David Halberstam;
Legacy of Ashes by Tim Weiner;
The Spies of Warsaw by Alan Furst;
All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren, and;
Indemnity Only by Sara Paretsky.

I need to blog some reviews of these on my book blog because they were really good.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Please Check Out This Blog

I don't do this very often, but I'd like to mention a blogger that I've been reading for only a short while and whom I have found is not only a great writer but a friendly, sensible, funny, and highly courageous lady. I mentioned her blog, Life's Funny LikeThat, in an entry recently and would like to make a direct request that you check her out if you don't already read her. Even if you don't continue to read her, you should read the recent posts she has made entitled The Hiding Place, Different, Waaaaait a Dang Minute Here, Statistics, and Regrets. So many times when I read one of her entries I will think to myself "Oh so-and-so would really like that entry (or appreciate that entry), or that sounds like so-and-so." (Insert your own name there!) She has her regular job but also writes for the Times Observer out of Warren, Pennsylvania, including this column, Living With The Curse, dated April 4, 2009.

Your Blog Party Invitation

Click this image to read about the Blog Party and sign up if you are interested in "attending"! Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I'm More Special Than Any Of Them Could Imagine!

I can hardly type right now because I am laughing so hard! In my mail today, addressed to me and at my current address, I received a double-sided, three-page, typed, single-spaced letter in a business envelope with the trim around the edges that reminds me of the old airmail envelopes, no return address but with DOMESTIC FIRST CLASS stamped on it.

I have to share it with you. Although I knew it was junk mail I had to open it, and the very first paragraph that met my eye, before even the proper heading of the letter, told me it was very special junk mail. Below I have reproduced some of the letter in italics -- my comments in bold, not italicized.

"Lori, please forgive us, but we have just taken a closer look at your profile. It turns out you're more special than any of us imagine! Okay. I have a profile and they have not only looked at it but have now taken a CLOSER look at it? I wonder where they got this profile. Did you know that you possess some very rare, hidden traits? In fact, there is a famous person (someone you would instantly recognize, he's on TV every night) who possesses these same special, incredibly rare traits. That scares me a bit, because I can think of a few people who are on TV at night who possess "special" traits, but I certainly hope I don't share those traits with them. ...It turns out that people who possess these same rare and often hidden traits that you do are some of the most famous and successful people on this planet! Lori, you are indeed blessed! I know those around you don't know this yet, but they will! Down deep, you sense it, too. Right? I'm so excited for you!"

Then follows my address, the date and the actual body of the letter. It gets better!

Dear Lori,

This is a personal letter just to you. Notice: this is not a mass mailing; this letter came to you by first-class mail, not by third-class bulk mail. This is not a solicitation for money. . . .

There has existed for many years an exclusive association, a secret society, of some of the world's most famous and powerful people.
Here I begin hearing the character Howard Stokes from the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? saying, "Naow, I buhlong to a soyt'n, secret, suh-si-uh-tee...) These include renowned actors and musicians, leading scientists and intellectuals, self-made entrepreneurs and artists, even some of the rare genuine astrologers and psychics. . . .

The association has analyzed your profile (you'd be unbelievably flattered if you knew who these individuals were). Please forgive us, but we've discovered something special about you.

It seems you, Lori, possess several rare traits we are searching for. Because of these traits, which we'll talk about later, you are eligible to become part of our exclusive club and to share our Greatest Kept Secrets, too, absolutely free. By the way, as you read this, you may be saying to yourself that this is all a bunch of hooey.
How did they KNOW?!? But I swear on the Bible we will send you our Greatest Kept Secrets free of charge. I'm sure they will. Here is where I must interject that reassuring me by swearing on the Bible is probably not the best thing to do, especially since they've already told me that some members of this association are "astrologers" and "psychics". You see I actually do read and follow the Bible, I am a disciple of Christ, and I believe that it is wrong to consult astrologers and psychics. So, no. Not the best way to get to me. Anyway, to continue . . .

But I can shed light on how we found you by first telling you my own story
: She then tells me how she was contacted like I was, was skeptical, but then after she accepted the association's invitation her luck changed. ...I even got a little greedy. For example, after I received my package of inside secrets, I won a lot when I gambled! I believe gambling is wrong. ...But it wasn't luck; the society's secrets armed me with the power to win.

Something else remarkable happened. With these secrets I actually knew what other people were thinking, as if I were reading their minds...

People respect me, admire me, love me. I have become the center of their attention...

...And yes, you are meant to do great things, exactly as we are going to show you.

How do we know? Be honest: have you ever felt like God or some higher power may be communicating with you, giving you a sign? If you answered yes, and we know you did,
(!!!) then you are indeed that special person we are looking for...

Then she starts talking about hypnotism. I'm sorry, but I don't bare my mind for anyone. There's no telling who or what might put something in there while it's a "clean slate"!

Here's something else that's phenomenal. With the Association's secrets . . . you can read the future. . .

Consider another astonishing ability --- the power to cure. . . But Freud discovered these are powers buried within a handful of people with unique talents --- the talents this association has detected in you, Lori! ...
She never did shed any light on how they found me.

Such miraculous abilities are what make a person believe, "There must exist another realm, a higher mystical realm, or how else can one explain these phenomena." Well, there does exist a realm that no one (outside of the association)
(Ha Ha Ha!) can explain, . . .The association knows you have that other realm, Lori, (HA HA HA!)...

Now, this brings us to another important point.
There's more?? When we analyzed your profile (the people who do this analyzing are brilliant, I just wish I could name a few names for you) we discovered something else about you, Lori. It seems you're about to enter cycle two. Oh no! Not Cycle Two! ...

...You're going to pass through this second cycle over the next few weeks, starting right about now.
And here I thought it was the cold medicine!! ...

...Those of us here in the association are so looking forward to your presence, ...

So mail or fax back your free-membership invitation form below by this Friday, April 24, 2009 and we will share with you our Greatest Kept Secrets, totally free! And before long, you'll be ready to meet us....

It was signed with the handwritten signature "Katie", but the typed signature below it was "Kirsten".

And the really funny thing?

It was addressed to Lori Helmans.

I'm so disappointed in the secret association. They didn't even get my name right!

No School Today. The Teacher is Sick!

I don't feel well. And I need a "poor baby" or two.

Actually I feel a lot better than I did last night or even when I got up this morning, but still not well. I did lessons yesterday, but today I'm indulging myself and staying in bed. Thera-flu and Mucinex and hot tea have done a lot to make me feel halfway human. I must have read at least six blogs whose bloggers describe having the same thing I have, so I guess it's just a spring cold. If I keep feeling better, no doctor, but if I feel the same tomorrow I'm going to break down and go. Thomas had planned on making a doctor's appointment today for himself, but he got up feeling so much better that he changed his mind.

So here I lie, with my favorite soft, cuddly blanket around me, my tissues handy, my cup of hot tea, my computer, my phone, my ipod, my tv remote, and two or three books that I'm reading. I'm not sure what Eler Beth is doing right now, but I told her that I wasn't even going to give her an assignment to do on her own -- she has the day off! I haven't heard from her since! No, seriously, she is in the living room talking to her new bird and working to socialize him -- I can hear her. I haven't had to cook for anyone. There are plenty of leftovers and quick-fix items in the frig, so they can just take care of themselves today. Now is a good time to catch up with some more blogs, so that's what I'm going to do. Until I get sleepy and drift off, that is.

If you are sick, I hope you get to feeling better very, very soon. If you aren't sick, I hope you don't get sick. And whether you are sick or not, I hope you have a very good week.

Take care!

One of my Favorite Poems

Something brought the T. S. Elliot poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock to my mind today, so I had to drag it out and read it. I like it so much I wanted to share it with you here, but I won't post the entire thing -- it is rather long --; just the lines that I especially like, and my favorites of those are in bold print.

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question . . .
Oh, do not ask, "What is it?"
Let us go and make our visit.
. . .

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.
. . .

Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.
. . .

For I have known them all already, known them all:--
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all--
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?
. . .

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?
I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
. . .

Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter
I am no prophet--and here's no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.
. . .

No! I am not Prince Hamlet nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous--
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old . . .I grow old . . .
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

. . . .

Click on the link to read the entire poem if you wish. Don't you just love Elliot's gift? The cadence of this poem is so beautiful. I love the way some of the lines roll off my tongue. Some of them can bring me to tears.

Monday, April 20, 2009

With a Music Lesson Going On in the Background

I'm sitting here listening to Andrew giving Eler Beth her music lesson and marveling that she can be corrected and instructed by him and not get frustrated when she's having trouble getting something down. She is practicing one particular tune and keeps getting the tempo wrong. Andrew talks to her as he would an equal -- he doesn't pussyfoot around when he is critiquing her. She does it right, then she does it wrong again, and, using the metronome, he demonstrates again how it should be played. Over and over they have done this and she has not gotten frustrated once. Why am I marvelling? Because if it were me correcting her on something, say a math problem, that she is having trouble with, no matter how I would handle it she would tend to get frustrated I know. (That's why quite often I let Andrew handle introducing new math concepts!) I don't know if she just doesn't want to appear juvenile to big brother or whether it's just a good day. Anyway, it is a pleasure hearing them. Andrew is going to make a good teacher some day.

I am not feeling too well today. I had an allergy-induced stuffy head and cough last week, and I think that having the wind blowing directly in my face Saturday night probably didn't do me any good. I drank a lot of hot tea last night and finally early this morning I had a cup of Thera-flu. Mostly I just feel languid and have a cough, stuffy head, and semi-stopped up ears. Thomas hasn't felt well either, but he did of course go to work today.

I was trying to think of something tasty and easy for dinner tonight and really didn't want to fix anything. But I started cleaning out my refrigerator this morning, which needed it, and discovered that I had some yellow squash and zucchini that needed to be cooked soon. So I sauteed some mushrooms, added a bit of chicken stock, and then put in sliced zucchini, yellow squash, a bit of celery and some yellow and red bell pepper. Andrew smelled it cooking and asked if I was making chicken and rice. I told him I could if he wanted me to, so I ended up pulling out some chicken breasts and adding them to the vegetables. Then I served it over rice. It was SO delicious and just perfect for someone not feeling well. It was light but satisfying and easy to digest.

It rained yesterday and most of the day today (although right now it is sunny) and is supposed to rain tomorrow, but then I believe we're in for a few dry days. I hope so because I will have to mow my yard this week for the first time this year.

I have got caught up with several blogs and continue to blog my way through others. If I haven't been around lately, fear not! I am on my way! I hope everyone has a very nice week!

Wide Awake in the Wee Hours

I was feeling a bit yucky last night and had a cup of tea. And now I can't sleep. So I figured I'd blog a bit.

Thunder was great. There are wonderful pictures and video on The C-J's web site if you'd like to check them out. I had a really great time. I really do not get out often enough. I had forgotten how many different types of humanity there are out there!

There were three groups that provided us with much entertainment throughout the day.

In front of us and to the left were the "young lovers". And when I say young, I mean young. The couple looked no more than 16, but they could actually have been older than that. They were sitting with two other older couples. The women could have been the girl's mother and aunt, or they could have been older sisters. Whoever they were they didn't seem to mind the public displays of affection from the young girl and boy that at times bordered on an R-rating. At one point I whispered to Thomas, "Do you think we should start hugging and kissing too?" And he referenced a quote from the movie "Oh, Brother Where Art Thou?" and said, "What, and look like a bunch of Johnny-come-latelies?" I asked him how long he'd been waiting to interject that one into a conversation!

Directly in front of us was the "exhibitionist" and her clan. This girl also must have been in her late teens. She was heavyset and was wearing a tank top. She kept moving around a lot, and she would either be facing us and bending over, giving us a full view of her generous endowment, or she was lying on their blanket with her arms up over her head, and, as she was lying on a slope, we'd get an eyeful that way as well. (You could purposefully look away, but then you'd forget yourself and before you'd know it and without intention, there you'd be with a couple of breasts right in front of you.) It wasn't an attractive site. In her clan were a couple who seriously looked 13 but were probably older and just small for their age. They were almost as bad as the "young lovers", and again there was no adult supervision or intervention.

In front of us and to our right was "happy hour guy" and his family. The woman and the two kids were normal-acting, but the man had obviously had a lot to drink before he got there, and he continued to drink from a whiskey bottle that he tried to keep hidden for most of the evening. At least he was a happy drunk. He was very loud and very rambunctious, though, and was an embarrassment to his wife. We marveled at how well he stood and moved around, because he was obviously plastered. At one time as he was standing there on the slope Thomas said he kept expecting him to fall over and just go rolling on down the embankment and into the river. I said, "No, if he were on level ground he probably would, but since he's already standing on a slope, I guess it kind of balances him out."

Everyone else in our immediate vicinity were normal, classy, friendly people. When I went walking around with Eler Beth to the different vendors or looking for friends, we ran into some more interesting people, though. I live such a sheltered life! I indulged myself too. I had a burger and a plate of ribbon fries with cheese and sour cream. And then later I had a funnel cake with chocolate. It's okay though, because we had to walk about six blocks or so from where we parked to the site and back again afterward.

Thomas always enjoys the air show during the afternoon, and I enjoyed seeing it with him. At one point in the show a military helicopter (CH-47 Chinook) always hovers closely over the river and sends spray up on the banks. There are people who go down close to the river just to experience this. Why, I don't know. Even where we were sitting we could feel a few sprinkles when he did this. When that happened a little boy near us said, "The river's spitting at me!" That was so cute. The air show was good, but the fireworks was one of the best shows they've had in years!

So all in all, I had a really nice day. It was sunny and mild, although the later afternoon and evening brought a chilly wind. I think that's why I was feeling yucky last night -- stuffy-headed, scratchy throat -- because the wind was blowing directly in our faces. Traffic wasn't too bad and we got home at about 11:40. Yes, all in all, a very nice day!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Frankly Friday

Frankly, my dear, I don't have anything to complain about today!

Sorry, but my week has gone pretty well and I can't recall anything that particularly got under my skin. So how about you? What has been bugging you? Leave me a comment, so my "Frankly, my dear" Friday won't have been in vain!

Tomorrow is Thunder Over Louisville, the annual kick-off for the Kentucky Derby Festival. I may actually go for the whole thing this year. I'm rather looking forward to it. Today the weather was gorgeous, and I hope it is like that tomorrow, but I think there's a chance of rain. Oh well, we'll make the most of it.

I worked outside in the yard today, and Eler Beth and I gave the bird cages a good scrubbing. They were overdue for it. Andrew's dog needed a new collar, and I was going to pick one up today, but I saw a Freecycle ad where a lady was giving away three collars that would be the right size for any of our dogs. I love when the timing is right like that.

Eler Beth bought a new cockatiel, a white one this time. Our friends who own a pet shop are getting rid of all their pets because they are turning more toward the pet-meds part of their business. So we stopped by there. We wondered what they were going to do with their breeding tiels. They didn't have any of the females left, but they still had the males, and one of them was a white one that Eler Beth has always liked. She gave us a good deal, so we bought him. He's a good breeder and a protective daddy, so maybe we'll find him a suitable mate.

Guess that's all for now. I hope everyone is having a good start to their weekend.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thankful Thursday

I am thankful for:

~feta cheese on my salad. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside!

~that my girl is still young enough that building a fire in the fire pit on a cool April evening and cooking burgers for dinner over the open flames is a "cool" thing to do!

~ that in this economy Thomas still has a job that allows me to stay at home with my kids.

~ that my 85-year-old Mom is still spry and active and happy!

~ that I can read blogs like this one, Life's Funny Like That, where the blogger is willing to share this kind of ordeal with her readers. Reading her entries helps me to keep things in my life in perspective.

Susan Boyle -- Britain's Got Talent

If you haven't already seen this, please give it a listen. I just had it shared with me today, and I had goosebumps and was moved to tears. I'm sure it's been around a while, and I'm late coming to it, but please listen if you haven't already. It's a bit long before the song starts, but be patient and you'll find it was worth the wait. This lady needs to be singing on stage -- there are no two ways about it.

Susan Boyle

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Too Good Not To Mention!

I just came across another Verification Word that is just too wonderful not to share:


Isn't that wonderful? Let's all take a moment to imagine the definition (complete with photo) of that one, shall we?

Interesting Word Verification "Word" of the Day


This is one of the "words" I had to type in today when I left a comment for someone.

Definition: The way the word "consume" sounds when you have a bad head cold.

Friday, April 10, 2009

"Frankly, My Dear" Friday

Frankly, my dear, I didn't want to buy it at Wal-Mart anyway!

I needed a new, comfortable office chair. One that is a bit more ergonomically friendly to my back and arms than the one I've had for a few years. I spend a lot of time at my desk where the family desktop is, and so does Thomas. Eler Beth even sits here and uses the desktop from time to time, even though she has her own laptop.

My old chair, besides starting to look worn, was getting on my nerves because every time I'd go to sit in it I'd have to adjust the height back to where it was high enough for me. It was apparently adjusting itself because the rest of the family swore they never changed it. Whenever I would sit in it (and I'm very short, remember) I would find that my eye level was below the middle of the monitor, and I felt like I was reaching up to get to the keyboard. Or I'd go to sit down at the desk, and find that Thomas had brought in a straight-backed chair and moved the executive chair out because the straight-backed chair was easier on his back. Also, one of the castors kept coming off. Yes, it was time to buy a new chair.

I looked at Sunday supplement ads from Staples, Office Depot, and other stores that carried nice office chairs. I knew how much we were willing to spend, and I knew my back would tell me when I found the right chair, so Eler Beth and I made plans one day to hit the office supply stores and do some chair-testing.

But first, earlier that day, Thomas and I were running a few errands and found ourselves at Wal-Mart. On the way to the sporting goods department we passed furniture and I spied about four different office chairs sitting up on a shelf. I told Thomas to go ahead and I stopped to look them over. Two of them looked like what I wanted, but I couldn't sit in them because not only were they up on that shelf, but they were all connected with some kind of wire. It didn't look like it would be hard for an employee to untwist the wire to disconnect the chairs so that I could check them out, so I went in search of someone wearing a Wal-Mart smock. There was no one near, so I stepped over to electronics and asked if they'd call someone to furniture for me.

Very soon (much sooner, than I'd expected, I have to admit) two young men showed up, one of them pushing a hand-truck. I guess they just assumed that being called to furniture to assist a customer meant they should bring a hand-truck. I thanked them for coming so quickly, and I told them "I'm ready to buy one of these chairs right now, if it's what I want. I can't really tell, though, if it's going to be comfortable for me unless I sit in it. Is there some way you can disconnect them so that I can try them out? I'm interested in these two." And I indicated the two most expensive of the four.

These two young men just stared at the chairs for several seconds, both having rather bovine expressions on their faces, and then they both started murmuring at the same time and shaking their heads. They either could not or would not speak audibly and clearly, or they were murmuring to each other and not to me anyway. I said, "I'm sorry, what did you say?" One of them murmured again, and I made out the words "don't think we could do that." Then the other pointed at the wire and said, "They're wired together."

"Yes, I know, but surely people don't buy chairs like this without testing them out. Could you check with your manager or someone with authority to see if you can detach them from one another so that I can see if one of them is what I want?" I even used gestures -- I went through the motions of untwisting the wire and detaching the chairs.

More staring at the chairs and more murmuring.

I have a real problem with service personnel who haven't been trained how to at least try to speak with a customer. I want the person helping me to speak to me clearly and respectfully, and if he can't give me the help I need, I want him to find someone who can or to apologise and send me on my way. These two were just shaking their heads and muttering things like, "no, I don't think we can do that" and "they're all wired together", which we'd already established.

I asked again, "Is there a manger who can help me?"

And do you know, they shook their heads and said no, they didn't think so?!?

I said, "Well. Thank you for coming to help me so quickly. I appreciate it. But I'm not going to buy a chair without trying it out. You may want to ask your manager what to do the next time something like this happens." And I walked off.

Thomas suggested I ask at the customer service desk for a manager, but I was really irritated by then and said I wouldn't buy it from Wal-Mart now if they paid me. I did, however, stop at customer service to get the name and contact information of the store manager. I have left a message on his voice mail, and I have written him a letter. It was a nice letter, but it suggested that some changes be made in how they display their chairs!

Yes, I know, it was pretty petty of me. But, I could have disengaged those wires myself and Thomas could have lifted down one of the chairs. What really got me was the unprofessional way the two young men spoke to me. Neither ever looked at me, much less looked me in the eye, and neither of them really ever spoke to me, they just muttered to themselves.

Well, that evening Eler Beth and I went to Staples. Have you ever spent a whole hour in Staples? We did. A young man approached us as soon as we came in and I told him that we were going to try out their executive chairs until we found one we wanted. He told me to take my time, told me his name and to call him if I needed any help. There must have been 20 chairs accessible to us, and I think we sat in all of them. We narrowed our choices down to about six, then to two. Then I called Thomas to tell him how much the one we really wanted was (and it was on sale, too!) and he said to buy it. We went up front, asked for the young man, and he made a sale. For $7.99 he put it together for us too, right there in front of us. Took him about 20 minutes. I bought the chair, assembled, and a three-year warranty ($16.00), and still spent less than I'd have spent at Wal-Mart for (I'm sure) an inferior chair. And the Staples employee carried it out to my SUV for me. This guy was a young man, possibly a high school student, as were the two from Wal-Mart, yet the service he gave us was excellent, whereas theirs was non-existent. The next time I'm in Wal-Mart I'm going to look to see if their office chairs are still tethered together.

I love my new chair!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Thankful Thursday

I can't remember if I've ever done a Thankful Thursday before, but I'm going to tonight, and I have a specific reason for it which I'll explain at the end of this entry.

~~ I am very thankful for good friends. We spent the evening with some close friends and had a wonderful time with great conversation and up building association. I am stress-free and relaxed at the moment.

~~ I am thankful that Thomas' schedule today made it possible for him to join our little party tonight. He was able to work a complete day shift instead of night or a split shift, so he could be there.

~~ I am thankful that I am able to stay home and home school Eler Beth. She's my little partner in almost all things.

~~ I am thankful for having Eler Beth for a daughter. She takes an interest in everything and has so much enthusiasm for living! (Gets that mostly from Thomas I have to admit.) I learn as much from her as she does from me.

~~ I am thankful for having Andrew for a son. He and I are usually on the same mental wave length. He is a good-hearted, very talented guy who is growing into a responsible adult that I'm proud to show off as my son. (He's still my baby boy, though.)

~~ I am so very thankful for having Thomas as a husband. He's hard-working, funny, and trustworthy. I couldn't ask for better.

~~ I'm thankful it's spring finally.

It's good to keep in perspective the things going on in our lives and remember what we have to be thankful for, so I'm going to try to do this weekly if I can.

It's also good to blow off some steam once in a while (in a safe and healthy way). Getting things off your chest can be kind of like blowing the dust out of your computer tower. You should do it once in a while (if you know how) when your computer starts behaving sluggishly. It can make it run a bit faster. So I had this idea. On Fridays I'm going to start posting a weekly entry to blow off steam from anything that got on my nerves during the week or to write about a pet peeve; to put anything bad that happened during the week behind me in a humorous way if I can; to close out the week with a clean slate; to start the weekend and the next week on a good note. Kind of like writing it down and setting fire to it -- I'll write it down here and "set fire to it" by sending it out into cyberspace. And I'm going to call it "Frankly, My Dear" Friday. If anyone would like to join me, do your own Frankly Friday entry tomorrow and then link back to it in a comment here. I will start doing a regular Thankful Thursday, too, just to keep things even.

So, I'll see everyone tomorrow with Frankly Friday, and I hope everyone has a good one!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Passing on the Kreativ Blogger Award

I was honored with a very sweet Blog Award today from Lynn of Time and Thoughts TNT II.

I feel a bit hypocritical accepting it however, because I haven't blogged very much recently, and when I have, I don't think my entries have been particularly creative! But for the ones in the past that possibly can have been thought creative, I will accept it humbly and pass it on.

The instructions are to link back to the blogger who gave me the award, Lynn, which I did above (be sure to check her out), and I am supposed to list seven things that I love. Well, that should be easy.

Let's see, seven things that I love.

Well, obviously I love my family, my God, and all the things that you would expect me to put in such a list. But I think I'll try to get a bit "Kreativ" here and list some different kind of things.

1. I love to say the word onomatopoeia.

2. I love the way line-dried clothes smell.

3. I love to read a book that I can't put down, and then when it does inevitably end, the ending leaves me feeling whole and satisfied; a good book doesn't have to leave you wanting more -- it's a good thing to have completion.

4. I love hearing a song on the radio that I haven't heard in years, find that I remember all the words, and then create some much-needed endorphins by dancing around the living room singing along at the top of my lungs.

5. I love doing the above and having my husband join in! Hearing the opening bars of an old favorite, looking at each other, both of us with the same gleam in our eyes, then simultaneously breaking into song and dance together -- yeah, it's hard to beat moments like that.

6. I love waking up to rain on the roof on a spring morning, realize I don't have to get up, and then slowly sink back into a dreamless sleep.

7. I love being in the mood to dust all my books and bookshelves and then get sidetracked when I come upon something I haven't read in ages; an hour or more may pass while I revisit some old friends and immerse myself in much-loved prose, witty dialogue, or funny situations.

And now I am supposed to pass this award along to seven other bloggers. That is a tough one. I know a lot of bloggers whose entries I consider creative, and it will be hard to narrow the list down to seven. But here are my choices, and I hope they will pass the award along to others.

(By the way, when I went to Lynn's blog to read her post and to thank her, I started backtracking from her blog through the blogs of the previous award presenters, and finally made myself stop at eight blogs -- all very new to me, and all written by very funny, witty women. Not one had I ever read before. So I have found some new enjoyable reading material all through Lynn's kindness to me. Thank you again, Lynn!)

I present this award along with the logo above to:

Bea of A New Bridge. Even though Bea must be very, very busy because she hasn't posted in a while, I couldn't make a list like this without including her. Bea is a very talented and creative art teacher, and a talented artist and writer in her own right, and I always get a lot of enjoyment out of her entries.

Mara of I Have Tea. Again, Mara is a blogger whose entries have been sporadic lately, but she belongs in this list. She writes with a beautiful cadence, even when she's just updating us about her day-to-day life, but sometimes she honors us with some of her poetry, too.

Martha of Menagerie. Martha is a creative and interesting writer and photographer (and a creative cook, too, to judge by the pictures of some of the (vegetarian) dishes she prepares!). She has kept photo challenges going for the past several months and has linked us to other creative photographers, so putting her on this list is actually putting a score or more bloggers on the list if you take the time to check out her blog.

Beth of Nutwood Junction. Beth is funny, quick-witted, and very creative with words. AND she's a fellow logofile (and bibliofile). You never know what she'll write about, but it will always be interesting, sometimes thought-provoking, sometimes light and airy, and almost certainly laugh-inducing as well.

Ben of Better Left Unsaid. Ben is also a teacher, an entertainer, and an enjoyable read. He, like Mara and Bea, has written sporadically lately, {everyone must be SO busy these days!}, but when he does write you can expect it to be interesting, thought-provoking and humorous. What I said about Beth applies to Ben as well.

Julie of Coelha Thoughts. This is how Julie describes herself: "1st & 2nd generation Portuguese/American with roots from the Azores-namely the mysterious island of Terceira. Where are the Azores, and why are they so mysterious? Don't worry, I'll educate you." I love the way she writes about her family and children. Reading one of her entries is like sitting down with a good friend for a long chat.

DB of Vagabond Journeys. DB is a retired actor and broadcaster. He writes and paints, reads history, philosophy, psychology, and religion. And he enjoys writing about what he's read and sharing his thoughts with us. When I read DB's entries I don't always leave a comment, because usually he's said something so profound that I can't think of anything worthy to say. He's a very creative writer and also quite prolific.

Okay, there they are, my seven picks for today. There are many more that I consider very creative -- and "Kreativ" too! -- but I'll have to save them for another day.

Enjoy checking out these bloggers if you haven't already done so!

P.S. Thanks for all of the bd wishes! I really appreciate them so much!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Tartan Day

The MacDougall tartan.

In the US today is Tartan Day a day to celebrate Scotland! It is the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns so Scotland has had several events going on for the past few days in the form of Homecoming Scotland. This is an advertisement video that is rather pretty.

I am Scottish on my father's side. I am a Dowell of the Clan MacDougall and a member of the Clan MacDougall Society of North America.

Vincere vel mori (Latin)

~~ To Conquer or Die

And this is the crest with the motto in Gaelic that can also be translated as

"Victory or Death"

Cool, huh? And, today is also MY birthday!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Thirty-fifth Anniversary of the April 3 1974 Tornadoes

This is a re-print of the April 3 entry from last year:

On April 3, 1974 I was just a few days short of my 8th birthday, a second grader at Hardinsburg Elementary School, in Breckinridge County, Kentucky. I have only one really clear memory of that day, and that was when our school bus stopped about a quarter of a mile from our house, in front of what had been the house of a great-aunt.

This was not a scheduled bus stop, so when our driver slowed to a stop it brought my attention out of the book I was reading. I looked out the right side of the bus and was greatly surprised to see my mother standing there. I called to my sister, Barbara, six years my senior, "What's Mom doing there?" She looked at me like I was an idiot, and that is when I realized that Dad was there too, holding a chain saw, along with other men, neighbors, cousins and uncles, also with chain saws, and they were engaged in cutting up the huge oak that had once stood at the end of my great-aunt's drive. The tree had been pulled up out of the ground by the roots, and as my horrified gaze drifted past that sight I realized that the old house that had stood a bit back from the road was gone!

Our driver, after talking to some of the adults outside, continued on the route; ours was actually the next stop. I was thoroughly upset. My sister was still irritated with me -- "Didn't you know we had a tornado come through today? What did you think that tornado drill was all about?"

Well, I swear I have no recollection of any tornado drill. I don't think I even had any memory of it at the time she said that. Either the fact that a tornado had come through that close to home and had destroyed a house that was familiar to me had wiped all other recollections of the day out of my mind, or the drill had been conducted as a regular drill and had been so innocuous that it had meant nothing to me, I don't know. I'm sure the older kids, like my sister, had either been told by their teachers that it hadn't been a drill, but the real thing, or they'd figured it out, but I'm sure we younger ones were just led to believe that it was only a drill.

I found out later that at our house, my father, who had been outside working in his shed when the weather took a horrible turn, had watched from about a half-acre to the back of the house as the tornado had headed straight for our home and then had seemed to just "jump" over it. He said it literally picked itself up right before it got to our house, stepped over the house, and then lowered itself back down. This would have been right after it had taken out my great-aunt's house.

Inside the house, my mother, two of my sisters, a four-year-old niece and a family friend, had all crawled under my parent's iron bed as soon as they saw the tornado approaching. We didn't have a basement, and that was deemed the safest place to be on such short notice. A lot of praying was going on under that bed, I can tell you!

That tornado, an F5 by the time it hit Brandenburg, to our East, was one of at least 26 deadly tornadoes that hit Kentucky that day. The one that jumped over our house was considered the most severe and one of only 7 F5 tornadoes recorded. In Breckinridge and Meade Counties I believe 31 people died. The most damage in our county was done to the town of Irvington, to our East. The city of Brandenburg, in Meade County, was almost completely wiped out, and many of the deaths were of children playing outside. The city of Louisville, Kentucky, in Jefferson County, was hit by a different tornado and also saw a lot of damage and deaths. The April 3, 1974 tornado outbreak is considered one of the worst, if not the worst, in U.S. history.

The following is a quote from this site:

The forecast for Wednesday April 3, 1974 was for showers on the East coast and for thunderstorms across the Midwest. In the heavens, a storm of an overwhelming magnitude was forming. Children went to school, people went to work and lives went on as normal until the second worst storm of the 1900's struck. Tornadoes broke across the heartland with such an intensity and frequency never seen before in the United States. Homes and schools destroyed. Loved ones lost. This site looks at the events of that day .This site is dedicated to the 315 people who lost their lives in this storm and to the over 5,000 people who were injured.
There are some really awesome photos on that site.

The following information is from this site:
April 3, 1974
Counties: Breckinridge and Meade, Kentucky, Harrison, Indiana Meade, Harrison IN
F-Scale: F5
Deaths: 31
Injuries: 270
Path width: 500 ft.
Path length: 32 miles
Time: 2:20pm
Grazulis narrative: Touching down five miles southwest of Hardinsburg, Breckinridge County, the tornado passed along the northern edge of that town, with F3 damage to homes. Thirteen people were injured and 35 homes were destroyed as the funnel moved to the northeast across Breckinridge County and into Meade County. The tornado gradually enlarged and intensified as it approached Brandenburg. The funnel devastated that town and crossed the Ohio River into Harrison County, Indiana. At Brandenburg 128 homes were completely destroyed, many of them leveled and swept away. Thirty businesses were destroyed and damage totaled over ten million dollars. There were 28 deaths in the Brandenburg area. The F4 damage occurred from north of Irvington, into Indiana.
Noted discrepancies: SPC and NCDC give a time of 2:20pm, Grazulis gives 3:25pm, Storm Data 3:30pm. SPC and NCDC give a path length of 32 miles, Grazulis gives 34. SPC and NCDC give a path width of 430 yards, Grazulis give 800 yards.

Click here for emails of personal accounts of the April 3 tornado.

For many years walks in the woods or camping trips would invariably include the sight of tin roofing high up in trees and the comment, "Must have been from the April 3 tornado."

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April at Last!


by Richard Le Galliene

So, April, here thou art again,

Thou pretty, pretty lady!

With broidered skirts of sunkissed rain --

A grown-up girl, already!

Thy sister May

Is on her way,

And June, with tresses shady;

But, of the three,

I love best thee --

Thou pretty, pretty lady!

Thou hauntest all the sobering year,

With echos of thy laughter;

And life is nought till thou appear,

And but remembrance after.

Though Autumn's yield

From garth and field

Run o'er from floor to rafter,

Thy wild-rose breast

Haunts all the rest,

And makes it poor with laughter.

I have posted this for three years now. It is one of the very few poems that I committed to memory when I was a child that I can still recite.