Welcome to my blog. Thanks for coming! One day I hope my little piece of internet real estate will be home to lots of family photos, pictures of my scrapbook and card art, with some random thoughts and memories posted on a somewhat regular basis. Mostly my world is very predictable, but occasionally some excitement will find me, so visit often. Who knows what useful (or useless) information you may find here.


Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Year In Review

Wow. The last post of the year. Of the decade, even! What fun I've had blogging this year! It's a wonderful outlet for that tiny part of me that dreams of being a "real writer" someday. A way to post thoughts, stories, and pictures for my family members and friends to (hopefully) enjoy. And while it may sound narcicistic, I enjoy going back and reading the old posts my ownself, and remembering what was going on when I wrote them, and looking at the old pictures.

2009 was a very good year at The 409, and we have been tremendously blessed. Now, your version of "blessed" may be different from mine. We still pretty much live from paycheck to paycheck, like most Americans. We don't drive new or fancy cars, we shop mostly at Wal Mart, and buy our clothes and shoes when the department stores have sales. Our home has that definite "lived in" look (sometimes it looks like a very large family of packrats lives here). Our lawns aren't manicured and there's no designer back yard.

But our fridge and our freezer are full, our home is warm in the winter and cool in the summer. And what we lack in designer fashion clothing and fancy cars, we more than make up for in love and devotion, laughter and fun. I can't tell you what a joy it is to have my grandchildren in my home. Every day when those little arms reach for me I know I'd rather have that any day than live in a mansion and have everything money could buy. Yes, there have been some nice big blessings in 2009, but the best blessing of all are those tiny hands, those toddler giggles, and those sweet little kisses. "I love you Greemaw" and "Can you play with me?" "Watch me, Greemaw!" "One, two, three.... SURPRISE!" "I can go to the potty all by myself!" "Greemaw, I rode a pony!" Those are the times that my heart feels perfectly content.

In January of this year, you may remember that I enclosed my carport and moved my bedroom and office out here. It is a wonderfully huge 20 x 20 room, and I pretty much live out here. We fixed up my old office/bedroom into a Princess bedroom for Leyland, complete with a painted castle on the wall. A few months ago, when Corey was ready to move into his own room, we emptied all the stuff from my craft room to make a mini-man-cave for Corey. It's a tiny little room, but turned into a really cute toddler room for him. I was a bit worried about moving all my craft stuff out here, afraid it would clutter up my beautiful haven. It took some planning and coordinating, shelf hanging, moving, moving again, rearranging, but I must say I am delighted with the results. It's not at all crowded, I still have tons of floor space. I really enjoy having my things here in my room. I like seeing the stuff. I like being able to work on a project for a few minutes, then go back to it later, without going into another part of the house, dragging out what I need, then (maybe) putting it away when I'm finished. Yep, I'm very happy with my little world out here. Besides the blessings of my family, building my room is probably my most favorite thing in quite a few years.

My mom, dad and I enjoyed a little trip to the beach back in October, cut short by Corey's being hospitalized for swine flu. Thankfully, he didn't have a bad case of it. We'll try again next year for a longer trip to the beach. Whitney, Dustin and all three kids went to Myrtle Beach in the summer, and had a great time. I told her if she didn't take lots of pictures for the scrapbook, not to bother coming home, so she obliged me with lots of great pictures... some of which you've probably already seen... but will see again once I get them in the scrapbooks. :-)

It has been a fun year for me, learning a little here and there about politics. Whetting my appetite to learn more about how things are supposed to be done vs how they really are done. I became a fan of FOX news this year, which is "controversial" in itself. I'm a firm believer that we shouldn't believe much of what the media tells us, regardless of whether it is far left or far right. I believe the truth has to be somewhere in between. I like that FOX news causes me to question what I used to take as gospel from the other newscasters. I feel less manipulated. I am intrigued to research issues on my own. Which is what we all need to do, and stop allowing (especially) the left-leaning media to determine the climate of our nation. I've enjoyed the journey, but have been distressed at much of what I have learned. America, we need to take back our nation!! And I'm not talking about democrats or republicans. I'm talking about big government.

Obamacare has been fodder for many of my posts this year, and has sparked several discussions with those who have opposing views. It has been interesting! I still oppose it. Can't imagine that will ever change.

I've had wonderful times with my friends, though not nearly enough. We're still saying our prayers for Delores, thankful that we have had another year with her... praying for many, many more.

Lots of fun with the grandbabies this year. It's amazing how every day is something new, and though I know I experienced these things with Whitney, it's as though I'm seeing it for the first time. Grandparenthood really is better than parenthood!!

We welcomed baby Gemma into the family in September, on Leyland's birthday! We learned that Brandi will be having a baby girl, due in January, and Alissa is also expecting a baby girl, due in March. Brooke Madison and Lucy Jane, respectively. What fun!!! Looks like Corey will be the only boy baby in that generation for yet a while.

We've witnessed a dream come true for Michael and Linda this year. They have purchased some acreage in the mountains and are planning to build a log home and a self sufficient farm, complete with solar powered things and environmentally friendly, organic gardens, etc. I'm so excited for them and can't wait to watch their dreams further unfold.

One of the most fun things of all has been my discovery of Facebook! All the kids grumble about we old folks being on there. It used to be just for college students, but now anyone can make an account. I have reconnected with so many former friends and classmates, and even enjoy getting to know one of my cousin's children. Blake lives in Tifton (or somewhere like that, I'm not really sure). I never see him except at family things once a year or so. We've probably communicated more on FB than we ever have in person. It's really fun!!!

Yes, it has been a busy year at The 409, and we are thankful. Thankful that we have managed to keep our jobs, Whitney is continuing to work on her degree, no major health issues, and we've been able to keep the lights burning, the water running, gas in the cars, and food on the table. We are part of the most wonderful and giving family, and have the most incredible friends. And a most Gracious Heavenly Father who loves us no matter what.

Now if I hurry, I can catch the ball drop on TV in Time Square in NYC. To all my friends and family who may read this... thank you for stopping by my blog, and for all you mean to me. Happy New Year! Happy New Decade! God Bless Us All (and may we bless each other!)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Santa Read My Blog!

Well, not about the HotHands. I think I waited too late to document that request. I'm sure he already had the sleigh loaded and didn't have time to run in Academy or Wal Mart to pick up some of those. I would imagine there wouldn't be any lying around in his workshop, since the elves probably have to put them in their little pointed boots to keep their toes warm. After all, it is quite chilly at the North Pole, so I'm told. So I'll give old Santa a break about not bringing the HotHands this year, and pick up some myself next time I go to the store. Maybe he'll bring me a case next year.
He did, however, see to it that I received a very special present, from a very special person, who knows me so well! I stopped by to see DJ and David a couple of days before Christmas, and they presented me with a groovy new tool kit to use with the Cricut machine. What a perfect gift! However... in the bottom of the bag was the sweetest thing of all. My own personal stash of cloves stick candy!!! I don't recall ever telling her how much I love that candy. She must have remembered it from reading this blog post. ...[Well, maybe we did talk about the old candy store, but I'm the kind of person who forgets five minutes later what we talked about. So if we talked about it, I don't remember. See what I mean?] ...

You know, I just love it when somebody does an extra special something like that. Such a thoughtful gesture. Though it may seem such a small thing when compared to other Christmas gifts, it really is a very, very big thing to me. My favorite gifts are always those from the heart, especially when it is something that I have mentioned in passing that would bring me pleasure. Thank you, DJ, for knowing me so well. Thank you for your years of continued loyal friendship, and for being a safe harbour during the times I'm tossed about in the storms of life. Thanks for your advice (heeded or not!), for the strong shoulder, for the laughs, the tears, and everything else we share that constitutes the perfect mix for the perfect friend. I love you!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Coming Soon

Sooner or later, that is. It seems the wonderfully talented lady who creates the blogger layouts I've been using is no longer among the blogosphere... so I must find a new layout. This one is scheduled to go down "at the first of the year". As we all know, I'm about as forgetful as I am klutzy. I hope I remember to search around and find a layout that appeals to me. I'm always a little apprehensive about pressing that final key that changes the LO, afraid that I'll lose page elements or posts. It was great having a person I *trusted* writing the code, and I didn't worry so much. Oh well... maybe I'll find another person whose LOs I like as much as I have enjoyed these. In the meantime, if you visit my blog and find it looking like the tasmanian devil has been here, would you please let me know? I'll try to be back and get a new look to the place before the final curtain falls. But we know how that goes. :-P


Survivor. That's what I'm hoping to be. Striving to make it through another day of post-Christmas chaos. How sad that the most sacred holiday of all often ends up being the most stressful. I promised myself I wouldn't stress this year, and I was fairly successful for the most part. I didn't get tore up about my baking projects, and simply rolled with the punches when something didn't turn out right, or when I ran out of time. I didn't beat myself up for eating Ryan's little container of candy... I simply made him another one. (And then forgot to take it to my mom's... but a quick phone call to Whitney solved that issue. And then a second quick phone call took care of Alissa's gift - that I had also forgotten to take). The weeks leading up to Christmas, though busy indeed, didn't get the best of me and the stress-o-meter was well below the danger zone. All that said, and as happy as I am to report it... it's the days following Christmas that may be the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. I'm ready to get the house back in order. I'm not so worried about the den, which is now serving as Leyland and Corey's personal Playground Wonderland. It's the kitchen, the bathroom, My Room.... all the dirty laundry, the clean laundry waiting to be folded. All the remnants of gift unwrapping are nicely stuffed into one large and one small box, awaiting their final destination in the dumpster. Mary's gifts are packed in large tote bags, awaiting delivery to her mom's house when she goes home on Thursday. Corey and Leyland's new clothes are stacked neatly in my room, waiting to be tried on, stripped of their tags, then off to the laundry before wearing. All their new jammies are freshly laundered, waiting to be folded and put away. Tiny pieces of sparkly and glittery things lie about the floor in my room, left over from wrapping and embellishing. All manner of "things" are out of place, and it's driving me nuts. So to say that I hope to be a survivor is putting it mildly. There's this characteristic I have that defies understanding. I can tolerate clutter and an untidy room/house... to a point. I can tolerate it sometimes for days on end. But once I pass that point, it really gets on my last nerve and I think I will spontaneously combust before I can get it rectified. I passed that point about 1:57 Sunday afternoon... and I've been taking slow breaths in and out, in and out. Saturday I was able to take a nap amidst all the chaos, and be a little bit lazy. And wouldn't you know it, my jumping off point had to hit me Sunday afternoon.... when I had to work and couldn't do anything about it. Then late Sunday evening when Whitney couldn't find her work folder... I was starting to reach for the panic button. Bless her heart, that apple didn't fall far from the tree. She told me she remembered putting it in a "safe place", because the rest of the house is so out of control right now. I just looked at her when she said that, and knew we were in trouble. "A Safe Place" at The 409 is translated: "It will never, ever be seen again." About two seconds before I pushed the panic button, I found the folder. That can only mean one thing: I will survive the madness, and one day soon - THIS WEEK, we will get our home back to some semblance of normalcy. But please don't come visit me this week. And you might want to give me a call if you're planning on next week. There may be several episodes of spontaneous combustion before it's all over with. But I'm confident that in the end, I will survive.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

All I Want For Christmas

Peace on earth, and all that jazz. But what I REALLY want for Christmas is a case of HotHands. You know, those little thingies that you put in your gloves to keep your hands warm? Those things that hunters and (the insanely crazy) people who attend football games in blizzards put in their gloves? Yeah. I want some of those. A bunch of those.

Some days I just absolutely freeze to death while I'm working. My room stays a fairly constant temperature, and if I am up and about doing normal things, it's just fine. However, just sitting with the only thing about me moving is my fingers, and occasionally the twitchy-bouncy-leg thing going on, I get cold. Some days will find me wearing flannel jammies underneath sweat pants and shirt, a scarf around my neck, and wrapped in a fleece cloak thing. Such a glamorous wardrobe! That keeps me pretty toasty, all except for my exposed face and hands. You'd think since my hands are moving that they wouldn't get cold. Wrong. My hands and fingers are sometimes like chunks of ice. Which is not conducive to high productivity. This is a problem shared by many in my profession, and even when the rest of me is all warm and snug, my hands and fingers still get cold. Happens in the summertime too. (My MT friend Joyce, who lives way up north in Pennsylvania, told me about a nifty heated keyboard. I'll hafta check that out one of these days.)

I've tried fingerless gloves, and though they are somewhat helpful, it's not worth the bulkiness. Sometimes I just have to stop and sit on my hands for a few minutes. But that takes time away from the keyboard, and no typing = no money. And it's only a temporary fix, lasting a few short minutes. So I've been searching for a better solution.

Hobby Lobby used to sell these form-fitting hand/wrist covers designed to lend support to crafters who suffer from hand and wrist problems such as carpal tunnel syndrome. They are cut so that the entire thumb is exposed and cover the back of the hand only to the knuckle level. They are lightweight and thin, so as not to encumber the crafter's hand movements. So I got this bright idea that if I got me some of those sweet little hand warmer thingies, and put them inside those Hobby Lobby hand/wrist support gloves, that it should help keep my hands and fingers warm. So, I picked up some HotHands the other day, then headed out to HL to purchase the gloves. Much to my dismay, my local store doesn't seem to carry them any more. So I continued to ponder my plight and the solution thereof.

While working this afternoon, my hands and fingers were terribly cold, so I decided it was time to get creative. I mean, here are these little packets of HotHands sitting on my desk just waiting to be activated, and here are my freezing little fingers just waiting to be warmed. I opened the package, shook, shook, shook the little teabag-looking things, and inserted them into the cuff of my sweatshirt sleeve. Ummm... they actually DO get warm!!! After a few minutes of hassling with positioning, the wheels in my brain started turning again. I set out in search of something with which to secure my warm little friends more closely to my wrist. Initially I was searching for some of Leyland's ponytail holders, but it was soon evident that those wouldn't work. Not big enough. I'm not interested in the tourniquet effect. I want my hands to be warm... not fall off. Ultimately I found a solution that worked, and I'm delighted to say things are warming up. Namely my fingers. Whitney made some tutus yesterday and left the elastic laying on the table, and as soon as I saw it.. Light Bulb!!

So here I sit at my desk, very excited to report that Global Warming is taking effect in the distal-most part of my upper extremities. I measured the elastic, cut it and tied the ends together, and now have a snug, but not-too-tight little band to hold the warming pads to my wrists. Sounds absolutely crazy, doesn't it!! Well, it looks pretty crazy too. But let me tell you, my friends...it feels... FABULOUS! Placing the pads over my radial and ulnar arteries was like running my blood vessels through a nice mug of hot chocolate, and within minutes I could FEEL the warm blood flowing into my fingers.

Granted, it looks pretty stupid, but they're covered with my sweatshirt sleeves at the moment. My newest light bulb idea is to get some of those wrist sweat band things that athletes use, and slide the warmers underneath there. That would look much better, and then I could pretend I actually work out. Looks like a trip to Academy Sports is in the my near future.

My daddy always taught us to make do with what you have, and if something is at all workable, figure out how to make it work. I think I've figured out how to make this work for me. :-) I have enough hand warmers to get me through today and tomorrow. After that I'll be needing some more. A small personal heater might be nice too, but short of aiming a flame thrower or at least a hair dryer on my hands, even the personal heater doesn't doo much to solve this dilemma.

So, Santa, if you're reading my blog, please bring me some HotHands and wrist sweat bands. Spring thaw is a long ways off yet. Thanking you in advance, I remain, Yours Truly, CathyB

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Elf On The Shelf

I was reading some Facebook posts the other day, and my friend Jessie M. (mother of three preschoolers) was talking about the Elf on the Shelf. I had never heard of that, so, Googlehead that I am, I Googled it for mor information. It's a neat concept. It comes as a kit, complete with a story book and a little stuffed-toy elf. The little elf sits perched on a shelf (or some other spot in the home that offers a good vantage point) and watches the kiddies all day long. At night, he magically transports himself to the North Pole to give Santa a report on the behavior of the children. The next morning, he is back at work watching the munchkins... only he returns to a different spot. The children are excited each morning to search the house and find where the elf will be perched for the day.

At least, that's the basic idea of the Elf On The Shelf. I haven't read the book, but it seems like the concept is being used by moms and dads all over to encourage, cajole, (and otherwise threaten) children into good behavior as the excitement of Christmas peaks and threatens to explode like a pressure cooker full of confetti. When I was a kid, there were no little toy elves placed in mysterious places, or shelves... just the constant warning "the elves are watching" whenever we did something less than angelic. From what I can tell, this particular Shelf Elf not only reports the naughty behavior, but the nice behavior as well. Smart moms and dads can use this not only as a threat against bad behavior, but as a tool for encouraging good behavior. How clever!! I can't wait to buy this kit next year for our munchkins. Hmmm. I wonder if we might find it on clearance after Christmas... and use it all year long???

Monday, December 14, 2009

A White House Christmas

It's no secret that I'm not a fan of President Obama. And Oprah fell from favor with me a while back as well, with some of her hairbrained "religious" views. However, I found myself drawn to Oprah's Christmas special at the White House last night. It was an interesting show, and the house is indeed decorated beautifully. Though I am vehemently opposed to much of his policy, to the people he surrounds himself with, and to the ultimate place that I feel his leadership will take us, I do find him an engaging speaker. Though at times his demeanor is a bit arrogant, he also can display a down-to-earthness that I like. I found the exchange between he and Michelle charming, and it was almost like sitting in the parlor chatting with your neighbor. Oprah asked some interesting questions, and I especially enjoyed the conversation about Santa. I do applaud them for (seemingly) trying to create a normal life as possible for the children. It surely must be awful growing up under a microscope. All in all, I found them to be very gracious hosts for the event, and enjoyed seeing the different decorations and the beauty of the season as it was showcased in The White House. (See... it IS possible for me to say something nice about him... sometimes...)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Holiday Cheer ~ Holiday Blues

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas! It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year! Happy Holidays! Joy To The World! Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas!Oh yes, the holidays are a time of love, wonder, peace, and the feeling that all is right with the world. A little bit of heaven on earth. Family togetherness with brightly-lit trees and mountains of gifts. It truly is a magical time. The decorations, the music, the candles, the scents, the traditions… all of these things foster within our hearts a softer side, a forgiving side, a greater sense of tolerance, a spirit of giving. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.But I am reminded that for many it is a time of profound sadness and loneliness. I am one of the most blessed people I know… I am surrounded by the best family and friends EVER. There is never an excuse for me to be lonely, as I’m always busy, or always with the people I love. Nevertheless, sometimes a sense of loneliness will overcome me and no matter how hard I fight it, it comes anyway. So I have learned to just let it come, and focus on my blessings, and it will pass. At some point in life, I’m sure everyone has felt this sense of loneliness during the holidays. Your first Christmas after the death of someone you love. Your first Christmas with a loved one in uniform serving on the other side of the globe. Your first holiday after a divorce or the end of a relationship. And though time will heal much of the pain, subsequent Christmases will always hold a reminder of happier times, or times spent with someone who won’t be at your dinner table this year. There was one particular Christmas that was very sad and painful for me, and while the acuteness has subsided, there still come pangs of painful memories, reminding me that in some ways, I too, am alone. How much more painful, then, for those whose losses are recent? Who have bitterness in their hearts instead of love and good cheer? Who are truly alone and have no one with whom to spend happy moments around a tree. And in these tough economic times, those who have lost so much? Those who are suffering with illness and disease? Those who wish someone would simply notice them, and take a moment to say hello and offer an encouraging word?Yes, Christmas is a time of the year like no other. A time that promotes all the feel-good emotions. But also a time that just amplifies the sadness and loneliness for many people. My friends who read this blog are also among the most blessed people I know- and yet that doesn’t mean within our hearts we don’t have sorrowful moments. My challenge to each of us, while we are going about our family traditions, decking the halls, being jolly and donning our gay apparel, is to spend a moment each day to say a prayer for those who are hurting. And it’s okay to admit that there is hurt in our own hearts as well. Not one of us are exempt, and for many of you I know the source of your personal pain. So let’s be sure to remember those about us, strangers and friends alike, who though may indeed enjoy the season, are dealing with challenges and sadness brought on by the holidays. God bless us, one and all! (And may we be a blessing to others!)

(Originally posted 12-16-08)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Private Meeting with Democrats?

President Obama went to the capitol on Sunday to speak with Democrats who remain divided over the health care bill. Apparently the meeting was to spur them on and urge them to unite in their support. What part of "NO" does he not understand? Honestly. After the uproar in our nation over his version of health care reform, one would think that he would step back and look at other options, examine other proposals, and maybe even exhibit a small measure of common sense, and realize that We Do Not Want it. Not to mention that It Will Not Work. There is enough Big Government already. There is much wisdom in the bumper sticker that says "You think health care is expensive now, just wait until it is free." Wise as it is, though, it is quite misleading. There is nothing FREE about it. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I'll betcha the uninsured people who originally supported the bill are questioning their support. Oh yeah, you'll remember that I'm all about health care reform, but I don't see this as anything but a lose-lose. All the way around. Besides, any bill that isn't prefaced with tort reform isn't going to matter anyway. (At this point, please refer to one of many previous blog posts lamenting this subject. I'll spare you my ranting today.)

And can I just say about the Copenhagen Climate Conference this week... Something's rotten in Denmark!

Two Wolves

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, "My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.

"One is Evil - It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

"The other is Good - It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: "Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

Monday, December 7, 2009

Mama Told Me Not To Come

Three Dog Night was a great band! I used to have a nice collection of 45s that I just about wore out. Late Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons, channel 17 used to air a show called Now Explosion. The MTV of the 70s, if you will. Kaleidoscope-like scenes (often in black and white) would gyrate across the tv screen, or perhaps a still shot of a bunch of hippies with a VW van... whatever seemed to fit the song playing at the time. My friends and I would gather around the monophonic (is that a word?)tv with our portable tape recorders and make cassette tapes of our favorite songs. Then we'd drag those recorders everywhere... even though they were about the size of a shoe box and weighed about 40 lb. (Well, maybe not that much....) I remember being in the car with my mom one Saturday after our weekly trip "to town", and listening to the a.m. radio. I told her that when we got home I was going to call the station and request they play "Joy To The World". She looked at me like I had lost my marbles and reminded me that was the middle of the summer. What a silly mom! She just wasn't "hip" and "with it" enough to know that "Joy To The World" was a super mega hit song by Three Dog Night. Another of my favorite TDN songs was called "Mama Told Me Not To Come". It was a song about a guy who goes to a wild party, and his reaction to the experience. One line goes "I've seen so many things I ain't NEVER seen before.... don't know what it is, but I don't wanna see it no more."
Which brings me to the reason for this post. As I was making my dash through Wal Mart yesterday, I saw a little mirror. It was a super-powerful 15x magnification mirror. It looked like a handy little thing to have, so I tossed it into my buggy, brought it home and looked into it. Now, if you've never looked into one of these mirrors, let me just say.... DON'T. You have to get it really, really close in order to focus. I was apalled at what I saw. I have witnessed a new level of gross. My wrinkles have wrinkles. The pores on my nose could serve as a topographical map of the moon. Seriously. If an entire Whoville full of Whos can exist on a single particle of dust, then I shudder to think what manner of life form inhabits these craters on my face. I've never worried about waxing my eyebrows, because I only had a few rogue hairs out of place, and I'd just tweeze those out every few months. Oh no. I discovered that I was in serious need of a bush-hog. Why didn't anyone tell me that I had a unibrow? My poor lips are so old and cracked that I'm almost afraid to smile now after seeing them close up. Yes, indeed, it was a scary sight. The only good thing about this mirror is that my mostly-undetectable eyelashes appeared long and beautiful in the reflection. I'm seriously considering risking 7 more years of bad luck and crushing the mirror with a sledgehammer. I suppose now I must return to the store and purchase some magic skin potion to restore youth and vitality to my skin. I'm kinda like that guy at the party: "I've seen so many things (on my face) I ain't never seen before... I don't know what it is, but I don't wanna see it no more!!!!!!!"

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Party

We read this and laugh, but sadly, it's not far from the truth these days. Thanks, Cousin Sharon, for passing this along.

Company Memo
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: October 1, 2009
RE: Gala Christmas Party

I'm happy to inform you that the company Christmas Party will take place on December 23rd, starting at noon in the private function room at the Grill House. There will be a cash bar and plenty of drinks! We'll have a small band playing traditional carols... feel free to sing along. And don't be surprised if our CEO shows up dressed as Santa Claus! A Christmas tree will be lit at 1:00 PM. Exchanges of gifts among employees can be done at that time; however, no gift should be over $10.00 to make the giving of gifts easy for everyone's pockets. This gathering is only for employees!
Our CEO will make a special announcement at that time!
Merry Christmas to you and your family,

Company Memo
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: October 2, 2009
RE: Gala Holiday Party

In no way was yesterday's memo intended to exclude our Jewish employees. We recognize that Hanukkah is an important holiday, which often coincides with Christmas, though unfortunately not this year. However, from now on, we're calling it our "Holiday Party." The same policy applies to any other employees who are not Christians and to those still celebrating Reconciliation Day. There will be no Christmas tree and no Christmas carols will be sung. We will have other types of music for your enjoyment. Happy now?
Happy Holidays to you and your family,

Company Memo
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: October 3, 2009
RE: Holiday Party

Regarding the note I received from a member of Alcoholics Anonymous requesting a non-drinking table, you didn't sign your name. I'm happy to accommodate this request, but if I put a sign on a table that reads, "AA Only", you wouldn't be anonymous anymore. How am I supposed to handle this?
And sorry, but forget about the gift exchange, no gifts are allowed since the union members feel that $10.00 is too much money and the executives believe $10.00 is a little chintzy.
Company Memo
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
To: All Employees
DATE: October 4, 2009
RE: Generic Holiday Party

What a diverse group we are! I had no idea that December 20th begins the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which forbids eating and drinking during daylight hours. There goes the party! Seriously, we can appreciate how a luncheon at this time of year does not accommodate our Muslim employees' beliefs. Perhaps the Grill House can hold off on serving your meal until the end of the party or else package everything for you to take it home in little foil doggy baggy. Will that work?
Meanwhile, I've arranged for members of Weight Watchers to sit farthest from the dessert buffet, and pregnant women will get the table closest to the restrooms.
Gays are allowed to sit with each other. Lesbians do not have to sit with Gay men, each group will have their own table. Yes, there will be flower arrangement for the Gay men's table..
To the person asking permission to cross dress, the Grill House asks that no cross-dressing be allowed, apparently because of concerns about confusion in the restrooms. Sorry.
We will have booster seats for short people.
Low-fat food will be available for those on a diet.
I am sorry to report that we cannot control the amount of salt used in the food. The Grill House suggests that people with high blood pressure taste a bite first.
There will be fresh "low sugar" fruits as dessert for diabetics, but the restaurant cannot supply "no sugar" desserts. Sorry!
Did I miss anything?!?!?

Company Memo
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All F*%^ing Employees
DATE: October 5, 2009
RE: The F*%^ing Holiday Party
I've had it with you vegetarian slime!!! We're going to keep this party at the Grill House whether you like it or not, so you can sit quietly at the table furthest from the "grill of death," as you so quaintly put it, and you'll get your f*%^ing salad bar, including organic tomatoes. But you know, tomatoes have feelings, too. They scream when you slice them. I've heard them scream. I'm hearing them scream right NOW!
The rest of you f*%^ing weirdoes can kiss my *ss. I hope you all have a rotten holiday!
Drive drunk and die,
The B*tch from H*ll!!!

Company Memo
FROM: Joan Bishop, Acting Human Resources Director
DATE: October 6, 2009
RE: Patty Lewis and Holiday Party
I'm sure I speak for all of us in wishing Patty Lewis a speedy recovery and I'll continue to forward your cards to her.
In the meantime, management has decided to cancel our Holiday Party and give everyone the afternoon of the 23rd off with full pay.
Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Happy Birthday Whitney

I can't believe my baby girl turns 24 today!!! It truly doesn't seem like it has been that long! I can't remember where I left my car keys today or the name of the book I'm reading, but I can give you an almost minute-by-minute account of the day she was born. Some things are branded into our memories forever, and I suspect few things can rival bringing a baby into the world. Though I can't truly say that I have loved EVERY minute of motherhood, I can honesly say that I've loved my daughter every minute that I have been blessed to be her mother. We share the same crazy sense of humor, and one of my favorite things is that we totally "get" each other. Probably not many mother-daughter teams have nearly been expelled from a funeral home or prepared childbirth classes, or KFC in Winder for hysterical laughter, sometimes resulting in the spewing of soda. The phrase "human remains" for most people conjures up unpleasant thoughts, but for us it brings back memories of the improper use of the phrase and how we knew better than to look at each other or we would have exploded. Of course, like any mother and daughter, we've had our moments where we didn't like each other very much, but thankfully fewer than most. It has been my honor to be her mom, and today I'd like to wish her a very special Happy Birthday!!

A few years ago I made a little scrapbook telling the story of her birth. Here are a couple of pages from that scrapbook. December 4, 1985. The happiest day of my life.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Terry Reid Kia

Should I be working right now? Yep. It's 12:35 in the afternoon. I should be halfway finished with my work day. However, there's a glitch in my VPN connection and I can't hop on board the hospital network at the moment. So here I am. I have groceries to put away and some laundry, and serious vacuuming to do, so there's no chance I'll have time to get bored. I'm hoping for a call from Mr. Bob at any moment to diagnose and fix whatever it is that's blocking my connection.

So while I'm waiting... instead of laundry, groceries and vacuuming, I thought I'd stop by the blog and give a high-five to my friends at Terry Reid Kia in Athens. I just absolutely love a place that treats their customers with courtesy and efficiency. You may have seen my posts regarding Brad Akins' Ford Mazda dealership in Athens, and how pleased I have always been with their service. The Athens Kia dealership closed a while back, which is what lead me to Akins to buy tires. That, and the fact that I know Brad is an honest businessman, and has a fine staff (my dear friend Kim N. included.) I had just had my oil changed (for FREE because I bought tires there... check it out!) a couple of weeks ago, and then last week the car started running hot. Whitney was out driving it, so I instructed her to take it to Akins, and I called Kim to let her know she was on the way. Since Terry Reid has now opened a Kia place across the street from Akins, Kim sent Whitney over there, in case it was something that would be covered under warranty. Lo and behold.... Whitney called me so excited to report that Mr. Stephens, WBHS band dad extraordinaire, Pit Crew Chief, is now the service manager at Kia!! How cool is that! We spent every Friday night in the fall, band camp in the summer, and band field trips with Phil and Nancy for four years, and enjoyed being around them so much. He was especially close to the pit kids, and everyone just loved him. Most women hate to mess around with "car stuff" and generally distrust most men who try to tell us things we don't understand and take our money. I was very relieved to hear that Phil would be taking care of us. I took the car in this morning, with my laptop in tow, hoping to get some software installed. Made the mistake of checking Facebook first, and got caught up with that. And then this big teddy bear of a guy (employee), a self-proclaimed computer geek, sat down at the table. We started talking, and he did some tweaking on my laptop, downloaded Mozilla Foxfire, and man is that baby running fast now! Yipee!

I've had a great morning. My car is healed, my laptop has been ramped up, and my grocery shopping is done. I always like to spread the word whenever I receive good customer service from somewhere, and today I give Terry Reid Kia two thumbs up! Now if someone would just come put away my groceries, my laundry, and vacuum for me, I'd be set. Oh, and fix my VPN connection. I'll bet my new friend from the Kia place could fix it!!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas Decorations

I'm sitting in my office/bedroom/craft room enjoying the quiet of an empty house. The grandbabies are at GiGi's, Whitney has gone to turn in/pick up work from Dr. F's office, and it's just me and the whir of my computers and the washer/dryer noise in the next room. Ahhh. My Charlie Brown Christmas tree is standing tall and proud by the window, within reach of my desk. I bought some of the old-fashioned-looking LED lights this year, and I really love that I can leave the lights on for hours and they never get hot. I'm so anal (can you believe it!) about the lights. I put them on and took them off three or four times before getting it just right. I bought two strands of 200, and was hoping it would be enough. (I had about 800 of the mini-lights on the tree last year) It's amazing the difference these bigger lights make, because I only needed the one strand of 200, and will take the other strand back for a refund. It was such fun going through the box of ornaments that went missing last year. Well, actually it wasn't missing, it was tucked safely away in my (former) craft room. I was delighted to find it when transporting all my craft supplies out to the new room. I knew I had put the box in a safe place... I just couldn't remember where I had put it. Oh the joys of growing older. :-) Now if I can only find the tree skirt....

No decorations in the family room as yet - we'll wait a little closer to Christmas to do that. Even though the tree in the family room will be dressed in unbreakable ornaments, tiny little hands will still probably wreck the whole thing, so we're delaying it for a while. I'm going to put garland with lights on my porch bannister, so they can look out the window and see the "Christmas lights". I'm also hoping to put a lighted garland over "the ledge" (a look-through hole in the wall between kitchen and den with bannister thingies. We call it "the ledge" because we put things on it to keep them out of reach from Corey's little hands. Dr. M had a work station in his hallway we called "the ledge", and the label just seemed to fit this particular place in my house.)Anyway, the plan is to put a lighted garland over "the ledge" and hang our stockings from it. Stockings that I haven't found yet. I think they're with the tree skirt.
Leyland is such fun this year, getting all excited about the lights, and
Corey just points and says "Look, LOOK!!!" In town there are two large, lighted wreaths, and one night this past weekend as they were driving by, Dustin said "Look... Christmas donuts!!" Whitney said the kids got hysterical. So they're really enjoying the season, and they love to come in here and look at my tree. Miss Leyland sometimes tells her mommy she needs to go potty... just so she can take a detour and come see Greemaw's Christmas tree. Greemaw has been using the same little scrawny pine tree for several years. It's a very thin, very sparsely-limbed Charlie Brown tree. And I love it. It's so perfect for my small area. And because most every other surface area in my room is already covered with something, there's little room for Christmas decorations this year. I do have one area that holds my most favorite gift ever. Surrounding this, I have Christmas photos of Whitney as a child, and of Leyland and Corey too. That's about all the room I have for decorating, which is okay, because it means less to pack up and store in a safe place once it's all over.

However, I was quite surprised to find that another small area had been decorated for the holidays with no effort at all on my part. For a few moments this morning, the sun shone directly onto the base of my computer monitor, where I was treated to the sight of a winter wonderland!! It's amazing how nicely dust particles fit into the decor. It's a sweet little snow scene. The way the monitor stand is molded, it looks like there's a little frozen pond, and a nice little area of shoreline, complete with garlands hanging overhead. Well, it's really cobwebs, but I think garland sounds more festive, don't you? I can imagine all the little dust bunnies frolicking around in the "snow", and skating on the little "winter pond". There are certain rewards involved in being a slacker when it comes to dusting. Who knew? So, who am I to deprive my little dust bunnies of their own Christmas decor? I'm sure in a few days the snow will be deeper, the garlands will multiply, and I'll start to see little dustbunny snowmen surrounding the pond. Merry Christmas, dustbunnies!! Your decor is safe with me!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

How do we even begin to count our blessings? In a time where much of what we hear is complaining, doomsday prophesies, when our family and friends are suffering through bad health, loss of jobs and homes, sometimes it is difficult to see where our blessings lie. But for all the negative energy and in the reality of pain and loss, we don't have to look far to see our blessings. Around this time of year it is common to hear people freely speak of "What I Am Thankful For". During the month of November, some of my friends on Facebook would list something every day for which they are thankful. I so enjoyed reading those posts. Some were humorous, but most were very sincere thoughts from the hearts of those who are humbled by their blessings. Most all of us would list our family, our homes, our jobs, our health, our faith, you know... the big ticket items that we seem to take for granted until they're gone. Yet, the Bible teaches us "In everything give thanks..." (I Thessalonians 5:18) Now that's a very high goal for which to strive. I don't understand it, and it is often difficult to do. But because my faith allows me to see a bigger picture, I know that "all things work together for good for those who love God." I don't understand much of what happens, but I do know that no matter what happens, the God that I love will never desert me. I like the little saying that says something like: Life is not about learning how to avoid the storms. It's about learning how to dance in the rain.

As our world seems to get crazier every day, and our lives busier than ever before, let's not forget to be thankful for the little things. Learning to have a grateful heart in even the small things will change the way we see things in every perspective. When I am whining about how "tough" my life is, I think of the thousands of people, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people would gladly trade their life for my version of "tough". You and I may have it "tougher" than some folks. No doubt we do. But then we have it a heck of a lot better than most folks. Let's be thankful for that. I love my family, my friends, my home, my job, and I'm thankful for them all. I love the freedom and liberty that we enjoy in our nation, but sadly are in perilous danger of losing. On a side note here, I'm doing some light research for a project I'm working on, and I've gotten my hands on some middle and high school history textbooks, as well as a copy of US History for Dummies. I'm fascinated by our country's history, and the more I learn, the more thankful I become for those who came before us and who paved the way for the birth of a nation. It is from these courageous adventurers that we began the custom of celebrating Thanksgiving. They didn't celebrate the day by poring over salespaper ads for Black Friday shopping. They didn't watch huge floats in the Macy's parade or turn on their big-screen tvs to watch football. No... they were too busy thanking the natives for teaching them how to grow crops, and most of all focusing on thanking God Almighty for bringing them through the worst winter of their lives, where many were lost because they did not have the things that we take for granted... food and shelter. It was a brutal beginning to what we call America. I'll be one of the first folks in line at Wal Mart on Friday, that's for sure, but I know that I am blessed, and I am truly thankful for each one. May we all find a quiet moment.... many moments.... during this season.... during each day of every season, to remember our blessings and be thankful. Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mr. Tom Turkey - Revised

Well, my wonderful Blogger friends... it is the Eve of Thanksgiving. The time when Suzy Homemakers all over the country are bustling about their kitchens, preparing for tomorrow's feast. Normally at this point, I would describe these activities in detail.... except I have no experience from which to draw, so I'll just leave it to your imagination and your own personal experience as to what happens in the kitchen on Thanksgiving Eve. Over the years, I've been blessed to be the benefactor of the Thanksgiving Eve labor of others, while my own personal contribution has usually been brown-n-serve rolls, or Mrs. Smith's apple pie, or the occasional green-bean-casserole. I've never, ever cooked a turkey. Never wanted to. (Still don't.)

In a way, it's a sad day today. It's the day of the Thanksgiving lunch at the office where I used to work, the first one since I left to go back to the hospital. My boss was a very generous man with Christmas bonuses, and knew the best way to make a girl happy was to give her the bonus at the luncheon... because he knows we all love to shop on Black Friday!!! I'm talking a very serious kind of generous here. It was fabulous. And so wonderful that he didn't make us wait until Christmas, but gave it to us in time for Major Shopping. And while I am very grateful for anything that anyone gives me, I knew it would bring back bittersweet memories when I received my $20.00 Wal Mart gift card from the hospital. Sorta pales in comparison, if you know what I mean. Granted.... the hospital has many, many MANY more employees than my former office, where there were only six gals working. So obviously, any gift at all from the hospital couldn't be very much. But, hey.... I'm the Queen of Wal Mart, so $20.00 at Wal Mart can still be a good thing! So I'm all geared up, prepared to graciously accept the gift card and try to remember how much better off I am in my current job (read about that story here), and try not to fret over the absence of my nice, big, fat, juicy, bonus check. And while I do appreciate any gift, and I do understand that we have lots of employees and everyone is having to tighten their belts, it was a tiny bit disappointing to learn that this year, instead of the Wal Mart card, we would be receiving a 10-12 lb frozen turkey off the back of the delivery truck that brings our cafeteria food. Not very exciting, but hey, I'd much rather have a 10-12 lb frozen turkey off the back of a transfer truck than a pink slip for me or any of my fellow hospital emloyees!! And lest I sound ungrateful, just let it be known here, that I am totally Paying It Forward, and donating my multi-thousand-dollar bird to Dustin's family's Thanksgiving feast.

Which brings us back to Tom Turkey and Suzy Homemaker. Those of you who know me well might remember that my cooking talents, what little there were to begin with, began to fade when I moved back to Statham in 1993. It's all my mom's fault. Whitney stayed with her after school, and when I returned from work to pick her up, my dinner was on the table every night. She spoiled me plumb rotton. Rurnt me, if you will. You know that whole use-it-or-lose-it thing? Yep, it applies with cooking as well. I seem to have lost my touch all together, and no longer even attempt. (Truth be known, I really CAN cook... but it is oh so wonderful to only be expected to bring paper plates, potato chips or rolls to all the covered-dish lunches and family reunions....)

DNA is an amazingly wonderful thing. Somewhere deep within the chain of molecules there lies a cooking gene, and though it must have been recessant in me, I do believe it has been passed on to Whitney in its more dominant form. Bless her heart. Her mama didn't teach her nuthin' regarding the culinary arts, but she has turned out to be quite the little chef. I won't delve into her repertoire, but she has several dishes that she has perfected nicely. Today she decided to try her hand at Mr. Tom Turkey. Having transferred it from the freezer to the fridge two days ago, we had no idea that his innards would still be frozen. Never having had my hand up the rump of a turkey, I assumed it would be just like a chicken, and told her to remove all the loose stuff inside. (Actually I told her to "curette the walls") Well, the loose stuff inside was still pretty much frozen and stuck to the walls of the... cavity. There was also this funky little plastic looking thing that we figured was a handle to facilitate easy removal of the innards. (No, it wasn't a fancy little pop up "I'm done" thing.) Well, the plastic thing broke with the innards still hiding inside the... cavity. After about the third question about turkey-cookin, I told Whitney she was just gonna hafta call her Nany, who has cooked many a turkey for many a family gathering. Well, Whitney had Tom Turkey juice up to her elbows, so I dialed the number. Now, here we are, two turkey-cooking-virgins, calling our elders on the phone to solicit culinary advice. Can you believe that they LAUGHED at us??? Yes ma'am... Nany and Pawpoo both just hooted like hyenas when we asked how to cook a turkey. And I thought Nany would split a gut when Whitney asked her about that "bony spine-looking thing" that simply would NOT come out of the.... cavity. After much laughing and poking all manner of fun at us for not knowing a giblet from a gizzard (and I still don't), they instilled enough confidence for Whitney to have another go at that neck-thing. We had to cut them off at the pass, though, when they started talking about giblet gravy. BLECH!!!!! These giblets and gizzards are going straight in the garbage!!! No gravy from this turkey!! When the spiney looking thing still wouldn't budge, another phone call to Pawpoo assured me that it really would be okay to just cook it with the neck in there and pull it out later. (It's a turkey... they taste like cardboard to start with. What's a little neck juice gonna do to hurt it?) A few minutes later, Whitney came in here with her arms raised in victory and doing a little happy dance. She got the neck out. And the giblets. And the gizzards. (Eww... now that just sounds soooo appetizing i think i'll just go eat me some turkey. Oh wait, it's still raw. )

Mr. Tom Turkey has been sprinkled with salt and pepper, wrapped in the finest of tin foil from the dollar store, and now sits gutless and neckless in the warmth of my oven, where he will roast for eight or nine hours. Or three or four. I don't remember what Nany said. Maybe Whitney will remember.

I won't be eating any of the turkey my ownself, but if this is the last post you see for a while, it may be because I'm tending to those who did. Ha! Actually, I have every confidence that if any turkey can be made to taste good, then Whitney can do it. I admire her courage to try. Maybe I can be like her when I grow up. Happy Thanksgiving Eve!!!

UPDATE I know you're all wondering how Mr. Tom Turkey fared during his stay in my oven. I think he turned out beautifully, and he smells pretty darn good too. Way to go, Whitney!!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Candy Store

When I was a little girl, there used to be a candy store in Bogart. Seems to me that maybe it was a cement block building with a tin roof that said "See Rock City". But that may only be a memory concocted in my imagination. I have no recollection of ever going inside The Candy Store. But I do remember that when my Mama Lorene and Pappy would come to visit, we would sometimes ride down to The Candy Store. Pappy would go inside for a few moments, and return with enough candy to put us all in a diabetic coma for weeks. Boxes of soft peppermint sticks, hard pepperment sticks, the tri-colored coconut planks, and my all-time favorite... hard sticks of cloves candy. Why was this my favorite? Well, for starters, it tasted yummy and lasted forever in my mouth, but it also brought on sweet memories of Christmas! At our house it wasn't Christmas without cloves candy, and every year my grandparents made sure that we had several boxes to enjoy throughout the season.

Some childhood favorites never die, and to this day, my favorite hard candy is the cloves stick candy. The Candy Store was ultimately closed and fell to ruin, and it became difficult to find the old-fashioned hard stick candy. Remember, this was back in the olden days before super malls and Wal Mart. Nowadays you can usually find it at Cracker Barrel, but last year our local store had the nerve to sell out of it before I got my Christmas stash. Not to be denied this year, last weekend I went into the store, and spotted the jar containing the cloves (which was conspicuously emptier than all the other flavors). I thought I'd browse about the store for a bit, but wasn't willing to risk someone else coming along and buying up the candy, so instead of a shopping basket, I just grabbed the entire jar and walked around the store until I was ready to check out. A nice girl behind the counter offered to go to "the back" to get me my own personal box of 80-count sticks. I contemplated for a moment, then said "Sure, go ahead", justifying the decision by thinking that I'd attach a little stick to my Christmas gifts this year as an added festive decorative touch, (but knowing deep down inside that even 80 sticks of candy probably wouldn't last til Christmas!). She returned from "the back" and said that there were three boxes, but they were "on the manager's desk", and she could only assume he was holding them for someone. Evidently someone else besides me has fond memories and a taste for the spicy sticks! So, I didn't get my 80-count box of candy. But I was able to count 30 beautiful, shiny, unbroken sticks from the jar in the store, and I walked away happy. (At ten sticks for a dollar, it was a cheap piece of happy!!) Perhaps they'll get another shipment in before Christmas and I'll get to tie them onto my (very few) packages this year. But if you're getting a gift from me, don't hold your breath. You'll probably never see that stick of candy. After all, it's MY memory of The Candy Store, and YOU probably wouldn't enjoy it nearly as much as me anyway. Maybe you'd settle for a simple candy cane? In the meantime, I'll ration myself, and enjoy the nostalgia of holding the candy in my mouth, savoring the flavor, remembering trips to The Candy Store with my grandparents, and childhood Christmases with boxes of cloves candy.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Are Opinions Changing?

As more and more information comes to light about Obamacare, I can't help but wonder if uninsured citizen supporters are beginning to question their support. No doubt, "we the people" will never know what is contained within the nearly 2,000-page document. How could we possibly ever know... if the members of congress, those who will vote, do not themselves know? By their own admission, few of them have attempted to muddle through it... and those who have, I'd venture to say, have no idea what they read. Healthcare is such a multi-faceted entity, that even those of us in the industry for decades have difficulty fathoming the far reach of each element. As always, I am a firm supporter of FIXING the problems of health care, as opposed to re-vamping the entire system. Over the past year, I have posted many arguments to support my thoughts, and I won't repeat them here. What I'm wondering, though, is if any of the citizens who have staunchly supported The Bill, are beginning to waver in their support. Prior to the current economic downturn and increased unemployment, the percentage of uninsured in America wasn't that large a number. The rise in number of those who have lost jobs has, unfortunately, increased the number of uninsured. (Most of us are only a pink slip away from being uninsured... myself included.) In trying to understand how this Plan is designed to help those who need it most, I've become more confused than ever. There are those who are uninsured because they do not work. Why are they not already on Medicaid? Could it be that they do not qualify for Medicaid because there is no reason that they shouldn't be working in the first place? And make no mistake... there are thousands of people in my own town who are Medicaid recipients who are as able-bodied as myself to be working, so I'm just not understanding why any legitimately-disabled person is not insured. But that has always been a problem in our society, hasn't it? So those people encompass a certain percentage of the uninsured. Then there are people who do work, whose employers do not offer insurance benefits, as well as self-employed, freelance, or contract workers. They are faced with the choice of paying exorbitant premiums for non-group coverage, or simply remaining uninsured. I would imagine those two demographic groups comprise the majority of the uninsured. Without, of course, including the number of illegal residents, who in my opinion, shouldn't be factored in AT ALL in the group of uninsured Americans. They are not Americans, yet they place a gigantic burden on our health care system, and they are included in the numbers that the President uses when presenting the percentage of uninsured. ....ahh... but that's another topic for another day.... So, here we have the two groups of citizens who comprise the majority of uninsured: Those who, for whatever reasons, DO NOT work, and those who DO work but cannot afford healthcare premiums. Under Obamacare, everyone is going to be required to have insurance, or pay a fine. Now, those who DO NOT work, who cannot afford to pay for insurance now, STILL won't be able to afford insurance. Oh wait... they will be "given" a subsidy, so they can pay their premiums. Not sure of the logistics of that one yet, but nothing much will change for those folks. They will remain unemployed, and still won't contribute anything to society, yet they will have, without cost, the same health care that those of us who work (and pay premiums for) will have. Then there are those people who are hard workers, who pay their bills, who are productive citizens, yet can't afford coverage. Under the new plan, they will also be required to purchase insurance, or face a fine. What if they still can't afford the premiums? They will be fined. And don't kid yourself that the entire almost-four trillion dollar project will be paid for by insurance premiums. Oh no. It will be funded by taxes here, taxes there, taxes, taxes everywhere. The government can, and will, raise taxes anywhere they choose, to fund the insanity. So here we have a hard working young man and/or woman, trying to provide for their family, who now will be forced to pay an insurance premium (amount set by the government), or face a fine. And there's every possibility that they STILL won't be able to afford the premium because they are being taxed to death at every turn in the road. How will this help? Chances are, they'll be worse off than before. I am afraid that not only are we who opposed the plan in for a bum rap, but also the uninsured workers in this country who have supported the plan. I believe the empty promises they were fed are going to end up biting them in the butt... and it will be a bite felt 'round the country, as we all are going to suffer. The winners here? Those who will continue a life of subsidy... housing, food, health, free cell phones, etc. Lest I seem insensitive, I remind you that I'm a very compassionate person to those in need. My profession has afforded me the unpleasant opportunity to see people of all walks of life with true need, and dire circumstances. I've seen much heartbreak and true hardship. For the infirm and disabled, I am all for lending them a hand. For those who work hard and contribute to society, hats off.. and give credit where credit is due. Children and the elderly, who have no control over their circumstances, should be top of the list for receiving health care. Working-age adults who are too lazy to work??? Deserve no subsidy at all. They are a burden to our society and should not be given handouts, while you and I must punch a clock to fund our grocery bill and utilities. I just don't believe that Obamacare is the answer, and certainly not the ONLY answer. As I have written in the past, the 400 billion dollar a year fraud in Medicare and Medicaid could quite adequately fund healthcare for the uninsured. Use that money to fund public health departments. Subsidize one year of medical school in exchange for one year of service (during residency) in public health. Hire independent (not ACORN-type) agencies to determine on a case-by-case basis, Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security Disability benefits for recipients. There just has to be another way.

And in the meantime, I wonder how uninsured working people who have supported Obamacare are feeling now? Unfortunately, even if they change their minds and oppose it, their voices won't be heard any more than mine. The decision is being made by people who are not like you and me. People who will not be directly affected by the change. I have yet to hear one member of congress who is willing to be under the Obamacare umbrella. That's because they know it's nothing but a naked metal frame umbrella... the fabric of protection having been eaten and rotted away in the form of taxes here, taxes there, taxes, taxes everywhere.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mission: Little Green Machine

A new gadget has found its way to the top of my Must Have List. You may remember (but probably not... who remembers such a sillly thing as this??...) last year my favorite Black Friday purchase was a Bissell steam mop. That little baby has rocked my world. Now, you'll never hear my name associated with June Cleaver or Martha Stewart with regard to... well, with regard to anything... but especially with housekeeping talents. (I'd much rather play with Martha's line of scrapbook products than cook with her kitchenware or clean with her cleaning products.) But, oh! How I love my Bissell Steam Mop. Especially with two toddlers who are very messy eaters, and three adults who somehow seem to track and then grind into the floor every form of dirt imaginable. My once-beautiful, ceramic tile kitchen floor is constantly abused. But thanks to the steam mop, it is cleaned to perfection with very little effort (which is the BEST part!!!).

Now I have discovered another little green Bissell gadget that is desperately needed at The 409. A little mini upholstery-carpet cleaner thingy!!! Not only has my poor kitchen floor suffered greatly under the extra traffic, but the carpet throughout my house has taken an especially hard hit. I've had it professionally cleaned twice within a year, and once myself using Mary Kay's Monster Bissell Carpet Cleaner (which works great but will absolutely wear you out and took me all day!) Warning: After the first professional cleaning of your carpet, count on it getting nasty ten times faster than it did the first time. I guess cleaning it also strips the Stain Master stuff off of it. Anyway, the spots on my carpet have become a great source of anxiety for me, and vacuuming just puts me in a bad mood. But vacuum often we must, because Corey is still in the Billy Goat phase, and will put any and everything into his mouth. Including crumbs, bits of paper, yard debris, or whatever other foriegn objects happen to be loose on the carpet, so I'm just resigned to be in a perpetual bad-carpet-mood. So... whatever money I can find behind the sofa cushions, in the washing machine, at the bottom of my purse, in the sock drawer, etc. will be put in a jar in hopes of saving enough to pick up this handy dandy little power cleaner. And I'm hoping for another big sale at Kohl's and some coupons!

The reason I know that Kohl's carries this item is because I saw it my own personal self last night. I ran in to check on some 50% off Christmas jammies for the children. It was to be a quick dash in the store. My trip to Athens was for the sole purpose of going in Lowes and exchanging some shelves (yes... THOSE shelves, the ones I had such a hard time hanging) for the longer version. I was dressed in a long, comfy sweatshirt, sloppy jeans with paint stains, the ugliest shoes in the history of the world, and I hadn't shampooed my hair yet. I wouldn't be seeing anyone in Lowes, right? And if I did, I could point to my shelves and say I was in the middle of a construction project. BUT... then I decided I'd sneak into Kohl's. And wouldn't you know... I'd run into my (forever) mother-in-law and (forever) sister-in-law!!! As always, so nicely dressed and lovely... and here I am looking like the Blob-Slob From The Black Lagoon. Oh, and did I forget to mention that I had spilled ketchup all down the front of my long, comfy sweatshirt???

So how come it always happens. When I think I can sneak out without seeing anyone that I run into ex-boyfriends, family members who are way more dressed up than me, the bosslady from work, the pastor... you know... folks that you would prefer not see you looking that way? Well, I guess the moral of the story is, if I'm are too ashamed for my friends to see me looking so... ummm.... "comfy casual" we'll call it... then I guess I'd best just stay at home. Or at least change my clothes.

All was not a total loss, though, because I discovered The Little Green Machine. Maybe once I purchase one, I should use it on myself before I go out looking like that again....

And I really enjoyed talking to my SIL about how much better things would be if WE could be the boss of everything... and we discussed to such great depth and detail that by the time we finished, Lowes had barricaded the parking lot and shut the place down before I could exchange my shelves. How rude. Oh well... that just means another trip to town. I promise I'll clean up better before I go. And then of course I won't see a soul. But if you do see me on Friday, please tell me how gorgeous I look. And drop a few coins on the ground so I can find them and add them to my jar. I must have that Little Green Machine!!!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Trunk or Treat

Boo!!!! Goblins, Transformers, Princesses... Oh My!! It was a cool and rainy, then turning cold and rainy night for our annual Trunk or Treat at FBC Statham. Though the clouds never really broke, the rain did stop for a while early in the evening. Hundreds of Halloween visitors went from (car) trunk to trunk in search of frightful treats. I do believe they get cuter (and uglier...in a Halloweenish kind of way) every year! This year The Transformers was a hot costume, along with Disney princesses, little fairies, lady bugs, ninjas, pirates, and of course the scary, gross monster faces. My own little munchkins were by far the best thing about being a Georgia fan today.

This is probably my most favorite community ministry that we have at church. Bible School is great, Awana is awesome, but this is something that the parents of the children really get into as well, as they experience it along with their children, as opposed to just dropping them off and picking them up later. The great majority of them are always so polite. (I love to hear parents teaching their children to say "Thank You"!) This year we had twenty-something cars, many of them all decked out with fall and Halloween decorations, giving out yummy treats. Someone is always there to hand out a pamphlet that highlights our children's ministries, and church information, in hopes of bringing families with no church home into our family. Before heading out for more haunting the streets of our fair little town, we invite them to come by for hot dogs and drinks. This year we cooked around 1000 hot dogs for our spooky little guests and parents. I suppose because of the weather, and wanting to finish trick or treating and get home where it was warm again, we didn't have as many takers at the hot-dog stand as we had hoped. There were lots of dogs left over, but there's a concert tomorrow night, and we'll just heat 'em up and serve 'em afterwards. My other favorite thing about this event is how the church folks, people of all ages, come together and work as a team. There were maybe 40 or so adults there, young and old alike, working in the kitchen, handing out treats in the rain, serving food, cleaning up... how much fun is that!!! I do wish the weather had been nicer, not only for those of us who worked out in the rain, but especially for the kids (and their parents) who look so forward to enjoying the tradition of going from trunk to trunk, then from house to house, in search of the treats of the season. Even so, any time we can serve Jesus, even wet, soggy, and cold, and show kindness to His children, it can't be considered anything less than successful. Happy Halloween, everyone! BOO!!

PHOTOS: {I always forget and upload my pictures in the order I want you to view them. Which means the ones I want first end up on the bottom. Oh well. And if you've already seen these on Facebook, they're the same ones, so you don't hafta look unless you just want to see our beautiful people again! Sometimes you can click on the photos to enlarge, but it never seems to work for me. Give it a try and let me know if it works.}

First up are photos of pumpkins carved by the husband of one of our former members, Shari Holland. She had these posted on her Facebook from Trunk or Treat at her church, and I just love them and asked if I could share the phots. She said it takes him several days to do these, and I can certainly see why. There were four or five different ones, but these two were my favorites. Following Shari's pumpkin pictures are photos of my grandchildren, who didn't stay to Trunk or Treat with us, but stopped by for a few minutes on the way to Whitney's dad's to meet some friends and go out haunting in Oconee County. Then you'll finally see pictures of our event! Thanks for looking!!

Leyland and Mary