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 15, 2011


The wedding gown.  Perhaps the most important decision a bride will make when planning her wedding.  She searches for the perfect dress for her special day.  When she finds it, nothing else will do.  Fifty years later when she’s celebrating her Golden Anniversary, chances are she can still describe the gown in detail, right down to the last sequin and seed pearl.  Ask the groom what her gown looked like, and he’ll get that deer-in-the-headlight look, swallow hard, and hesitatingly say “….White?” 
An equally important decision the bride must make is choosing a wedding photographer.  The images that capture the day will enable those who missed the event to experience the magic simply by viewing the pictures. 
There is no shortage of wedding photographers these days, and with the technology of digital photography, creativity is limitless.  In the olden days of film, special effects were pretty much limited to double-exposure, depth-of-field trickery, and the use of filters.  While camera technique and photographer talent is still a huge part of it, nowadays the real magic is worked with manipulating the images on the computer.  It’s amazing what can be done.  I have a very special friend who has taken the art of preserving memories to an even higher level.  Dietke is an amazing photographer, with an incredible eye for composition and design.  This, however, is only the tip of the iceberg.   Once the image is captured, she then brings it to life using a technique called Photorealism.  With pencil or charcoal in hand, she transforms the image onto paper, creating a one-of-a-kind work that defies description in its detail and beauty. 

This is a sample of photorealism.

To see a time-lapse video of this portrait from start to finish, visit Dietke’s web page here.  Prepare to be amazed.

Born in Germany, Dietke moved to the USA about eight years ago, after partnering with Chris while organizing an exhibit featuring R.E.M., a band from Athens, Ga.  At their first meeting, she realized she had found her soul mate. After long-distance dating for 2 ½ years, she moved to the states, and they were married nine months later. 

Since meeting Dietke, I have been fascinated with her work, and recently interviewed her about the process.

How old were you when you realized that you had the gift of drawing? I remember being in Kindergarten and elementary school trying hard to develop better drawing techniques. But it wasn't until I was 12 that adults started to really encourage me, and that made a big difference. My sister's boyfriend gave me a book on portrait drawings - that boosted  both my confidence and my skill.
Someone smart once said that creativity needs a solid foundation of knowledge. So when you meet kids that may have talents for something, definitely give them a book, some video links - anything that opens some doors to more knowledge - and see if they take it to the next level. It doesn't even have to be your own kids.
Did you take formal art lessons as a child and young adult?  I did take art classes in school, but pretty much only added extra-curricular classes after I started drawing photorealistically. The book I mentioned helped a lot, though - the rest just fell into place.
What was your major in college? I actually studied arts management - largely because I didn't think I had enough potential to make it as a full time artist.
What intrigued you to draw your first photorealism piece?  Once more, R.E.M. play into it - I had some pictures of them that I wanted to have bigger for my room, so I decided to draw them. It just so happened that the drawings ended up being photorealism. After that, I stuck to the style.
How long did it take to do your first one? Probably about 50 hours
After years of experience, how long would it take to do the same piece now? Maybe 25-30?
When did you create Brooke’s portrait? How long did it take to complete?  I drew Brooke in 2008, and it was one of the first ones where I also took the photo it is based on. You can actually see me reflected in her eyes, precariously balancing in a French window to get that beautiful light. It took about 50 hours as well.
When do you know a drawing is done?   Well, for one, when everything I do seems to make it worse rather than better - that's a good indication. But beyond that, it needs to "grab me' - when a drawing is really done, it kind of feels like a little hit in the stomach when I look at it. If I don't get that feeling, it's usually best to leave it alone for a few days or weeks, and then see what's missing.
How do you keep from smearing the image while you are drawing?   I used to just use a sheet of paper to rest my hand on, but then a friend and I developed a product we named D'Anna Glass (Anna is my middle name) - it is a glass pane that hovers just a slight distance above a drawing and it has wheels so that you can very easily move it left and right. So now I rest my arm on that while I draw, and it not only keeps me from smudging, it also keeps my hand really steady, it is really comfortable, and it protects the drawing while I'm not working on it. If you are interested, you can learn more at www.dannaglass.com
How is the image protected from smearing once it is complete?  Putting the drawing behind glass, ideally with a bit of air between the drawing and the glass, is the most important thing to do. I also spray drawings with about 15 thin layers of fixative, which can be found in art supply stores. With plenty of thin layers it will eventually be smudge-proof. It's just important to check upfront if the fixative works with the specific drawing materials. One time when I was about 14, I spent many hours on a drawing with white chalk, and when I sprayed it, it almost completely disappeared in front of my eyes... Never did that again! :-)

What an amazing talent!!  What an incredible treasure for any bride. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Sky Lanterns

As promised in my last post, I'm adding some follow up pictures from our Sky Lantern adventure last weekend at Michael and Linda's farm.  My friends Dietke and Chris have added some great night-time photos of the event, and I wanted to share with you.  If you're unfamiliar with sky lanterns, click the link above to my previous post, which explains what they are, and how they work.  I can't wait to do this again!
Preparing to launch

Almost ready!

Into the night sky, our lanterns gracefully wafted on the breeze. 

I will defer to the words of the photographer himself...
I enjoy this photo a lot because it remains like the evening itself, a wonderful dreamlike moment.

A few more night photos:

The Food Tent

Adding another log to the fire

Good times around the campfire! 

For sure, this day and night will definitely be filed away in my bank of Favorite Memories.  Looking forward to making many more happy memories at Star Valley!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hillbilly Hippiefest 2011

What a great weekend!!  Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of my first date with my husband.  Wow… I never would have imagined how my world would change over the following months.  On the day we celebrated our anniversary, we were blessed to meet, for the first time in real life, the delightful woman who started it all.  (You may remember that story.)  I’ve enjoyed getting to know Dietke, and learning about her amazing talents, through Facebook, and was so happy to meet her and her husband, Chris, on Saturday.

Dietke, Steve and I.  We love her!!!

The event that brought us together was none other than the 2nd Annual Hillbilly Hippiefest, hosted by Michael and Linda, (baby brother and sister-in-law) at their farm in the South Carolina mountains.  Lots of folks brought their tents and camping gear, and settled in for the weekend.  Steve and I were unsure about whether we’d get to go due to work issues, and unfortunately, there’s a nasty kidney stone that’s giving Steve some trouble this week too.  We were so happy that it worked out for us to go.  I had never been to the farm before, though I had seen a few pictures, and couldn’t wait to check it out.
For those who don’t know my brother, let me tell you a little about him (but first my dad), and why the farm is so important.  Our dad is one of the most amazing men alive, and honestly, could make it in the wilderness with nothing but a knife and a canteen.  He could build a shack out of twigs, and feed himself with wild berries and roots.  He could catch a fish from the stream with his bare hands and build a fire with two sticks and a rock.  Get the picture?  He’s a very self-sufficient kind of man, and knows a little bit about most things, and an awful lot about a lot of things.  He is absolutely right when he shakes his head at “these kids today”, who wouldn’t survive one week if they had to “make do” for themselves. 

My brother got his DNA.  He can do anything.  If he can’t do it, he’ll Google it and figure out how to do it.  For several years, he and Linda have been looking for a patch of land in the mountains, in the hopes of building a farm and retiring there.  I don’t know the details of how they came across this particular patch of land, but purchase it they did, and are in the process of turning it into a self-sustaining farm.  There are a couple of streams on the property, a nice valley or two (I only saw the front side of the property; there’s another valley on the back side of their mountain.)  They have moved a small cabin onto the property to serve as their living quarters when they go up to work on the farm.  When the farmhouse is completed, the cabin will be the guest quarters.  The really cool thing about their plans, is that the farm will be completely self-sustaining.  Solar panels will provide the electricity, they will grow their own food, and grass-feed their animals.  Another goal is to make it a teaching farm, where they can bring folks in and teach them how to grow their own organic food, and how to can and preserve the food. At home in Atlanta, he makes his own wine, and is planning to grow his own grapes at the farm someday.  He makes his own bread, and will one day grow his own grain and mill it as well. You can read more about it in his own words here.  Check it out.  He is amazing. 

And so we spent the afternoon and evening with Michael, Linda, my nephew Ryan, and LUCY was in the house!  …um… on the farm.  The weather was PERFECT, and the afternoon was clear and crisp.  As the evening wore on, sweaters, sweatshirts, mittens, scarves and blankets were brought out, and we gathered the hay bales closer to the fire.  There are few things finer than a roaring bonfire on a clear, cold night, and the laughter of friends. With the wine tasting over, and the appetizers enjoyed, it was time to turn attention to dinner. Michael had built a smoker, and all afternoon the aroma of ribs, chicken, and pork tempted our taste buds, and finally it was time to load our plates.  Oh, the food!  In addition to the aforementioned meat, there were several varieties of soup, pasta, vegetables, and desert.  After dinner we sat around to let the food settle and watch the fire crackle and pop in the night.  The full moon was teasing us with brightening of the sky just over the ridge of the mountain, ready to spill its light into the valley. Baby Lucy was tucked away inside the cabin, a tired little pumpkin after running around all afternoon breathing the fresh country air. All the doggies were snuggled at the feet of their respective owners, and Scottie, Michael and Linda’s pooch, had found a nice warm spot in my lap underneath the blanket.  The night was filled with sounds of the wood popping and sizzling, friends laughing and talking, and at one point the loud bangs of fireworks.  We enjoyed a very nice display of streams of color streaking in the sky, and my favorite ones, the tiny explosions with the sparkles trickling down like a waterfall.  Big, fat sparklers were passed around and the smiling faces of friends having fun lit up the darkness.
My very favorite moment, however, was when we all released sky lanterns, and they floated up, up, and away into the night.  I had never seen this done before.  It was amazing.  Sky lanterns are very fragile miniature hot-air-balloon-like lanterns made up of tissue paper and a small, lightweight ring of wire at the bottom.  There’s a square of some kind of slow-burning, wax combustible material attached to the bottom.  You fluff up the lantern, light the square on fire, and hold the lantern upright and let it fill with air.  The hot air will inflate the tissue-paper lantern, and when it’s full, you simply release it and it floats silently and gracefully up into the air.  They are designed to burn for about 12 minutes, and can go several miles high into the sky.  Linda invited us to make a wish on our lantern, or meditate and perhaps symbolically release something from our lives that binds us and “let it go”, as the lanterns floated upward.  I sent my lantern heavenward with love and hugs for Delores.  There were around 40 people who released the lanterns, and the moment was quiet and somewhat reverent, with whispers of “awesome!”, “cool!” being the only sounds for a minute or so, as we all gazed upward to watch the slow ascent of the lights.  They traveled silently northward, then when they reached the altitude coinciding with the top of the ridge, a breeze changed their direction and they began to float silently toward the east.  Higher and higher they floated, until they looked like stars in the night.  Amazing.  I want to do this again!!

After the lanterns floated out of sight, Michael lit some luminary bags and placed them around the perimeter of the party area.  We left shortly afterward for the drive home, and as we reached the road and looked back down into the valley, we could see the luminaries scattered about the farm, and the shadows of the people gathered once again around the bonfire. 

It was a fabulous day.  I’m so happy for Michael and Linda, to be able to see their dreams come true.  I can’t wait to see how the farm progresses, and look forward to spending lots of quality time there with family and friends in the future.
Here are a few photos that I took of the farm.  My friends Dietke and Chris (both professional photographers) took photos of the fireworks and sky lanterns.  I will add those pictures when they are available, so be sure to come back and take a look.

The front acreage from the main road

 Tent Village

The Barn 

Our gracious host and hostess

 View from the front porch of the cabin.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Epic Fail

Blogging is addictive.  When I first started this blog, I was faithful to post every day.  During the 2008 presidential election it served as my soap box.  It's where I posted pictures of the grandchildren and talked about my family, and recorded my trips down memory lane.  I'm afraid the blog suffered a little when Steve and I started dating, as I preferred spending time with my sweetheart over sitting at the computer.  Imagine that!!  Blogging also serves as a diary, of sorts, and with my failing memory these days, I like that events and feelings are documented somewhere, and though Whitney calls me narcissistic, I enjoy going back and reading about what was happening, and what I was feeling over the past few years.  

A little bit after the time I started this blog, I created a more private one to document my many attempts at weight loss.  I found other weight-loss blogs, and became cyber-friends with lots of other folks doing the same thing.  Reading their blogs was very motivational to me, and became an important part of my day.  Strangely enough, knowing that I would be posting about my day would often help me make better choices.  I had determined to always be truthful and never cover up or justify "failures".  I specifically remember one day wanting to eat a particularly yummy and sinful treat, but stopped myself, because I knew I would have to report it to my blogger friends.  And the feeling of victory that I had over the moment tasted sweeter than the treat would have!!  

My real-life friends have watched my struggles and have seen me go through multiple dress sizes over the past couple of years.  Up, down, and then up again.  It was easy to post to my blog when things were going well, but as it seemed everything was out of control, I simply stopped posting to that blog altogether.  It is part of the purging process that sometimes helps, but can be very discouraging when the only thing I can say is that I'm failing miserably.  The holidays are coming, and while one side of me defiantly says I'm not denying myself the enjoyment of all the delicious foods of the season, the other side of me (maybe my butt-side???) is shouting "Danger!!"  At any rate, the struggle continues.  For me it is a mind-over-matter thing, and part of the process is addressing the issue. A couple of months ago I posted to the other blog, and then this week I posted the following. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

I close my eyes for just a second... and two months whiz by with lightning speed.  Another two months have passed, and nothing has changed.  Nothing, that is, except my frustration level is a bit higher than it was two months ago at my last post.  While shopping the other night, my sweet husband bought me a gorgeous pair of boots.  I had wanted some for a while.  I love the look of skinny girls with their jeans tucked into their knee-high boots.  I hadn't committed to buying any for myself, though, because I'm so short and dumpy, I know that I'll probably just look like a Weeble.  At any rate, my sweetheart had me trying on boots at Belk, and we found a pair that we both loved, (and they were 40% off!!!), so I brought them home.  I fully intended to wear them to church on Sunday, but only have one dress that I could get away with wearing brown.  (Most everything I own is black.)  I was doubtful that the dress would fit, since my mom bought it for me when I was at my lowest weight after (failed) lap-band surgery.  Oh. My. Goodness.  I donned the obligatory suck-me-up panties, the pantyhose, the half slip, and slid the dress over my head.  I got my arms through, and it sort of got stuck on my chest.  I wiggled and squirmed, trying to pull it on down.  The dress has a jacket, so I was hoping that the jacket would be able to cover a multitude of lumps and bumps.  However, I only got the hem of the dress below my butt cheeks... and I got stuck.  Couldn't go down, couldn't go up.  I was mortified.  My husband was out of town for the day.  My stepson and his children were visiting, but I was too ashamed to ask for help.  So I put the wiggle in reverse, and somehow got the dress back over my head.  And felt pretty discouraged.  Not only was I irritated at myself, because the dress no longer fit, I didn't get to wear my new boots.  ....sigh....  

If I had the time and the money, I think I would benefit more from a psychologist or a shrink than a dietitian or a gym membership.  It is all in my head.  Always has been.  On the way home from the mall, we stopped at the Krispy Kreme to get donuts for the grandchildren.  My husband asked me if I remembered the time that I was on a healthy eating kick and I rode for 30 minutes with a box of hot KK donuts on my lap and never touched a one.  He said "I don't know how you did it!"  I did it because I was mentally prepared, and had my mind made up that eating healthy was more important than indulging in my in-the-moment desire to eat hot donuts.  Where does that go?  How do I lose it?  

I don't blog here often because I have nothing positive to say.  I find myself gravitating to the blogs of people who are successful, rather than ones who whine all the time and never seem to get their act together and actually work the program.  So rather than be one of those whiners, I just don't blog at all.  Sad.  And more often than not, I don't even take the time to read the blogs that do inspire me.  Fail.  [end]

It makes me sad to read that.  But there it is, for all it's pitiful truth.  Say a prayer for me, and for all your friends who struggle with this.  They may never admit it, but I'd venture to say more of your friends struggle with this issue than you realize.  Unlike alcohol or drugs, we can't just quit food cold-turkey.  We must eat.  And the mentality of "just one more bite" is as dangerous for us as "just one tiny drink" is for an alcoholic.  It is a mental problem on so many levels.  A real head game.  Psyching myself up and getting the motivational part of my brain on the same page as my intellectual brain is key.  But then when things don't go well, looking in the mirror, or trying on clothes, the brain screams "Failure!" and "You'll never be able to do it, so don't even bother to try!".  It's not pretty.  

So if you're one of the people who has overcome your struggle and now make healthy eating choices, or if you are one of the blessed who never had a problem with it, take the time today to encourage someone you know who is struggling.  We need to hear it.  We need to hear that we are worth the effort.  We need to know that someone believes in us, and thinks we are strong enough to do it.  

Don't look at us condescendingly when we choose fries instead of apple wedges.  In fact, don't say anything at all in the presence of food.  It's too late then.  Encourage and inspire us outside the kitchen or the restaurant. Then maybe we'll make better choices.  If you try to do this after I've already fixed my plate, it just reinforces the fact that I am a failure, and instead of stopping when I'm full, I'll clean my plate and go back for seconds.  After all, I'm a failure, doomed to be fat, so I might as well enjoy it. 

I miss my weight-loss blogger friends, and today I'm making a vow to go back and catch up with them.  See how they are doing.  And maybe, just maybe, I'll get motivated again to start making better choices.  Yes, the holidays are coming, and one of the great things about the season is the once-a-year delicious food.  I'm not going to be so silly as to claim I'll be abstaining.  But I am going to make a conscious effort to reduce the portion sizes of my favorite holiday foods. 

After all.  I've got new boots and a brown dress that I want to wear.  :-)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Thirty Days of Thanks

During the month of November, many of my Facebook friends list each day something for which they are thankful.  I love reading these posts!!  I thought about participating, but I'm already three days behind.  I did the same thing last year.  Instead, I listed a month's worth of Thankful Things on my blog, and decided to do the same thing this year.  Most all of us will list, first and foremost, our obvious blessings:  Faith, Family, Friends, Employment.  Those are the big ticket items, and I am most assuredly thankful for all of those.  I can't imagine life without them.  I'm going to try to dig a little deeper, and find more specific things that I consider blessings. Some are silly, some are serious.  But all are things that make my life what it is, and for these things, I am thankful.

1. Falling in love and getting married in my 50s when I said I'd never do it again.
2. Sweet little grand baby faces that light up when they see Greemaw.
3. Parents who are healthy enough to enjoy the great-grandchildren, and love babysitting them!
4. My heated keyboard.
5. A husband who can fix things. And build things.
6. The ability to listen objectively to both sides. 
7. Spell Check.
8. Google.
9. Facebook. 
10. Forgiveness.
11. Music.
12. Creativity.
13. Take out food. 
14. The best co-workers ever.
15. The love of reading.
16. The love of writing.
17. Calculators (No love for math!)
18. Knowing who has my back (and who doesn't)
19. Working from home.
20. Early detection. 
21. Growing up in a small town.
22. A grateful heart.
23. Opportunities to do good. 
24. Girl time. 
25. A sense of humor (which sometimes only Whitney "gets")
26. Digital photography.
27. Salad.
28. Reading glasses at the $1.00 store. (I buy them 10 at a time)
29. The American soldier. 
30. School teachers, policemen, and firemen. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Lord Is My Shepherd

A Sunday School teacher decided to have her young class memorize one of the most quoted passages in the Bible; Psalm 23. She gave the youngsters a month to learn the chapter. Little Rick was excited about the task -- but, he just couldn't remember the Psalm. After much practice, he could barely get past the first line. On the day that the kids were scheduled to recite the 23rd Psalm in front of the congregation, Ricky was so nervous when it was his turn, he stepped up to the microphone and said proudly, 'The Lord is my Shepherd, and that's all I need to know.'

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Happy Fall, Ya'll!!

It's the most wonderful time of the year!
When the sun stops its burning and leaves start their turning
And Autumn is here!!
It's the most wonderful time of the year!!

Autumn. My absolute favorite time of the year! Back in the olden days, before global warming and drought conditions left the southeast such a tinderbox, leaf disposal was a major factor in the atmosphere of our little town. Literally. Every house up and down Broad Street, and all the side streets, had little piles of dried, red, orange, brown, and yellow leaves raked out beside the road. We didn’t have paved sidewalks in those days, just the sweet Georgia dirt, often interrupted by roots of the oak trees that had stood sentinel for decades. Between the dirt sidewalks and the wide lane of the street, the little piles of leaves would sit, awaiting the strike of a match. Late afternoon would find these little mounds of leaves crackling with unseen flames, simmering with acorns, tiny wisps of smoke drifting upward. We didn't worry so much about air pollution in those days, and it was not uncommon to look down the street and notice a light haze floating about tree-top level. And the smell. Oh my goodness. Few things beckon memories of my childhood so vividly as the smell of burning leaves. It is nearly a lost “art” these days, what with air-quality concerns, drought conditions, watering restrictions, and an aging population now unable to rake the yard themselves. The younger generation hires out lawn maintenance services, or at the least, big riding mowers with mulchers so that there is no longer the need to rake one’s yard. Our parents “let” us rake the leaves, (how very clever of them!) only so that we could run wildly into the pile and scatter them all over again. Just so we left the leaves neatly piled beside my dad’s garden. You see, I enjoyed this leaf-burning ritual only as an observer (or sniffer). My dad was a gardener/greenhouse owner, and wouldn’t let us burn the leaves. He used them for mulch. How boring. I believe, though, this personal deprivation allowed me to enjoy the smells of the season even more. The smell would waft into our open windows in the crisp night air, and I remember many evenings sitting on the porch swing at BJ's or Lisa's house, watching the little curls of smoke and enjoying my favorite end-of-summer tradition. Nowadays, it is the rare treasured moment to walk or drive through a patch of air heavy with the scent of smoldering autumn leaves. By chance when it happens, I am a little girl again, taken back in time by the simple delights of home-grown memories.

(originally posted to Cathy B October 6, 2008, and currently appearing in Sweet Tea, The Magazine That Refreshes online issue.)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

365 Days

September 18, 2010. Who would have thought that a few words on a social networking site would bring about such a change in my life? It was on this date last year that I received a response to a friend request from someone I had not seen in 35-ish years. I wasn’t even sure he would remember me. How amazing, sometimes, the way things work out.

There is something strange about all this, though. I am quite certain that the circumstance leading to our reconnecting was that he posted a birthday greeting on the wall of his niece, who was a FB friend of mine. Yesterday we were talking about the fact that it had been a year, and I stated I didn’t recall seeing Melissa’s birthday reminder come up on FB. To make sure I didn’t miss her birthday, I pulled up her home page today. Her birthday isn’t until next month. Hmm. My memory fails me more often than I like to admit, but I’ve held every detail about our getting reacquainted very close to my heart. Something’s not right. Either I missed that detail, and it wasn’t a “Happy Birthday” message he wrote to her, or (more likely the case), he just got her birthday wrong. Yes, that’s the explanation, I’m sure of it. I’m not sure FB will let me go back that far to find the exchange between them, but if I knew I could prove my memory hasn’t failed me, I’d probably give it a try.

At any rate, much has transpired within the year since we started “talking”. My new FB friend became my husband, and life is sweet. My family is nearby, my grandchildren grow ever more precious (is that even possible?), and Forever With My Sweetie looks better with each passing day.

Happy Facebook Anniversary, Stevie Jay. I love you!

Friday, September 2, 2011

It's All In A Day's Work

What is a Medical Transcriptionist?  Here's what you'd see if you looked at my Facebook profile: 

Medical Language Specialist. Healthcare Documentation Specialist. I translate the garbled, sometimes incoherent babbling of physicians into decipherable health reports to facilitate cohesive documentation of HIPAA-protected information required to provide patient continuum of care. (I type big, long, medical words all day.)
In this capacity, I've been called lots of things.  Transcriptionist.  Typist.  Secretary.  By far, though, my favorite is Dictationist.  That's what one of the cardiologists calls us.  He thinks we are his own personal transcriptionist.  He'll say "Note to My Dictationist, please go back and change where I said... bla bla bla" 
The industry has changed drastically since the days I learned the job on an old IBM Selectric (the non-correcting kind!) 85-lb electric typewriter.  In those days, there was no "go back and change" anything.  You ripped the paper outta the typewriter and STARTED ALL OVER.   The present-day doctors would be in a world of hurt if they couldn't go back and change 75 things after they were finished.  Well, let me re-phrase that.  I guess we "dictationists" would be the ones in a world of hurt if we didn't have our fancy word-processing programs that allow us to edit so freely. 
One of the questions I'm asked the most, is "how do you understand those foriegn doctors?"  Granted, they can be challenging at times.  Surprisingly, though, it's not just the ESL folks who make us want to shoot our monitors, or throw our headsets into the garbage disposal.  The good old, English-speaking folks can be a real nightmare as well. 
The other day I ran across a document called:  Dictation Guidelines For Physicians.  In the spirit of making life easier for physicians and "dictationists" everwhere, I'd like to submit these Guidelines as required reading for all graduating medical students.  We are confident that the Guidelines will be followed to the letter. 
Dictation Guidelines for Physicians

Adherence to these guidelines will assure the highest quality transcribed reports in the shortest amount of time.

At the beginning of the dictation, take as deep a breath as you possibly can. Now, try to dictate the entire report before you have to inhale again.

When dictating a particularly difficult word or phrase, please turn your head and speak directly into your armpit.

We charge per character, including periods. An effective way to cut your cost is to dictate your entire report as one sentence.

It is not necessary to repeat the same sentence multiple times in the same dictation.

If you have to sneeze or cough suddenly, please remove your head from your armpit and sneeze or cough directly into the microphone.

If you must eat while you dictate, please stay away from foods such as marshmallows, bananas, and pudding. Apples, pretzels, and celery are much better choices.

Please don't stop dictating when you yawn. It throws off our rhythm.

If the patient's name is Alan Ratzlaffenhasenphepherzinsky, please have the courtesy to spell "Alan" - there are several possible spellings, you know. For the last name, simply state "the usual spelling".

It is not necessary to repeat the same sentence multiple times in the same dictation.

Please note - the phrase "well-developed, well-nourished white female" is only three syllables.

Cardiologists, it is not necessary to dictate at the rate of your patient's atrial fibrillation.

Do not stop dictating in the event of minor background noise such as an office party, the janitor's vacuum cleaner, a screaming infant, etc. Again, it throws off our rhythm.

Be sure to place the emPHAsis on the CORrect syLLABLE, especially if enGLISH is your SECond lanGUAGE.

It is not necessary to repeat the same sentence multiple times in the same dictation.

Talk as fast you possibly can. Fair's fair; after all, we type as fast as we possibly can.

Please speak as quietly as you can.......we want to be able to hear what's going on around you.

If you need to pause for 5 or 10 minutes between words or phrases, pounding the receiver on the desk or repeatedly saying, "still dictating.... still dictating..... still dictating.... still dictating..... still dictating......" reminds us that indeed, you are still dictating.

Just because you need to use the restroom is no reason to stop dictating. Time is money!

Don't dictate so loudly that you disrupt your fellow physicians' football game in the doctors' lounge. In fact, you really should whisper all of your dictation, since the information is confidential.

Similarly, if you are going to watch TV while dictating at home, please watch a war movie with lots of bombing, and be sure to have the volume high enough so everybody in your living room can hear above your talking.

If you need to correct yourself -- sorry, correct an error, please do not rewind the tape -- sorry, do not back up and record over the error -- sorry, wait, the mistake -- just continue with the sentence -- wait -- go back -- with the paragraph and fix the error -- er, the mistake.

Please go back and just delete that last guideline.

When dictating on your cell phone from your car, be sure to go through as many tunnels as possible. This will ensure confidentiality of the information.

You (y-o-u) do not need (n-e-e-d) to spell (s-p-e-l-l) obvious words (w-o-r-d-s) for us (u-s). It is our job (j-o-b) to know (k-n-o-w) how to (t-o) spell words that (t-h-a-t) we learned (l-e-a-r-n-e-d) in third (t-h-i-r-d) grade (g-r-a-d-e).

Never, never dictate a full sentence, as it wastes your time and ours.

Please feel free to carry on a conversation while we wait patiently.

One last thing, it is not necessary to repeat the same sentence multiple times in the same dictation.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Dictationist

Saturday, August 13, 2011

School Days

Leyland's first week of school was a hit!  She loves it!  They are all doing really well with the new morning routine.  Well, except for one morning when she was grumpy because her mommy didn't have time (or hundreds of bobby pins) to put her hair in a ponytail.  She has a fashion sense of her own, and loves choosing her outfits, and I suppose her Wednesday outfit called for a ponytail.  Last Friday she was so brave while getting three booster shots at the office, but the very one required for admission to school was out of stock at the doctor's office.  They called this week saying it had arrived, we we needed to get her back in before they ran out again.  I had already made plans to have lunch with Leyliebug at school on Friday, so just a slight change of plans found her sleeping over on Thursday night, an early morning visit to Dr. Bo, and arrival at school just in time for 10:30 lunch.  I met her teacher, Miss Susie, and visited with her parapro, my scrapbooking friend, Miss Marie.  The children were all so cute, and most of them seemed to have adjusted to school just fine.  One little girl was having a tough time of it, and pretty much cried the entire time I was there.  Another little boy told Miss Susie "Guess what?  My daddy doesn't live with us any more.  He moved out."   She gave him some extra love, and said "That makes you sad, doesn't it!"  He was being so brave, but wanted to cry so badly, and said "Yes.  I wish he would move back home with us."  Very wisely, Miss Susie reminded him that his daddy loves him very much, and so does his mommy. Ripped my heart out.  I was fighting my own tears, and offered to take him into my arms for some hugs, but, of course, he declined.  As well he should... he didn't know me.  But still, being the mom of a little girl who experienced the separation and divorce of her parents, (only 2 years older than this little guy at the time)it hit close to home, and I just wanted to love on him a little bit.  My heart still hurts for him.  The children lined up in their "magic order", and off to the lunchroom we went.  Lunch was a piece of pizza bigger than the faces of some of the little kids, corn, salad, half a pear, and milk.  I didn't sign up for a plate, I just wanted to visit with the munchkin. The pizza wasn't half bad, and I actually did eat her tiny little salad. When it was almost time to clear the table and head back to class, I noticed her sitting a little closer to me, and the casual link of her arm through mine grew tighter and tighter.  She she was starting to sniffle a little bit, and I began dreading the separation process.  She's not one to have separation anxiety, but for some reason, she got really upset, and begged to "go home with you, and lay on your couch."  (She loves to sleep on the sofa at our house with the doggie.)  Miss Susie to the rescue again, and she asked Leyland to come stand with her.  I was afraid she would grab ahold of me and have to be pried away.  Thankfully Leyland went along with it, and I was able to leave.  It sure did hurt to walk away knowing she was softly crying, wanting to go with me.  I didn't dare turn back and look at her, for fear I'd end up being the one bawling.  Once I was out of sight, though, I'm sure she was fine.  She told her mom she had a good day.  Perhaps it was just a tad early to throw lunch visitors into the mix.  I think I'll wait a few weeks before going back. 

Not wanting Mary to feel left out, I had lunch with her as well.  She was so excited.  We sat at a special visitor's table, and she invited her little friend to come along with us.  Fourth graders are something else.  Mary is always lively and has an imagination like you wouldn't believe.  Her little friend trumps her, though.  As we were sitting there, the little girl said to me: "I'm supposed to be 13 years old!"  Me: "Oh, really?  How so?"  She:  "Well, 13 years ago, my mamma thought she was pregnant.  The doctor told her she wasn't, but she didn't believe him.  She was getting fat because she was eating for two people.  So at the end of nine months, she went to the hospital to have me.  But she only had gas."  Good thing I wasn't eating.  I probably would have choked. "But then a few years later, she had me.  But I'm really supposed to be 13 years old."  Me:  "Well, okay, then!"

Don't you know that schoolteachers must hear the funniest things!!  Sometimes sad things, too. 

Corey is continuing to do well at the daycare, but he started having hives, and will be seeing an allergist next week.  Say your prayers for him that all goes well until we can find out what's causing it.  

Spending the day with my sweetie today, watching John Wayne movies, and later we'll check out some movies I rented yesterday.  Homecoming tomorrow at church, then back to work. 

Looking forward to more school lunches, once I'm certain Leyliebug will be okay when it's time for me to leave. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Date Night!

Yay!  The weekend is here!  Only a few more hours til it's just me and the sweetie to spend a lovely evening together.  We've been enjoying lots of peaches this summer, and he's bringing home more today.  Even though we've been eating healthier and smaller portions, tonight is a night of celebration.  Diet be hanged... Let There Be Cobbler!!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


What a great weekend it was!! Friday I had lunch with a present co-worker and two former co-workers who I hadn’t seen in years. So much fun to catch up with each other. Of course there were pictures, (well, except for Sandra, who dropped her phone in the pool and lost all her photos) and the usual remarks of “My how he/she has grown!!!” All our kids were so much younger then, and the world was a different place. Joyce and I now have grandkids, and had to show them off. I was the only one with a new husband, though, so I took along a few wedding photos to share. They all thought my Stevie Jay to be quite the handsome gentleman, and assured me that he was lucky indeed to have found me. (They fulfilled their girlfriend obligations very nicely.) I’m sure the sparkle they saw in my eyes proves that I am the lucky one. We sat chatting for probably half an hour before even bothering to visit the salad/pizza bar. Pam’s sweetheart was at home waiting for her to return so they could leave for a weekend adventure in their new camper, so when our plates were clean, the conversation followed us into the aisles of Mazzio’s, and then out the door. It’s always good to see Pam and get one of her special hugs, and wonderful to see my old friends Joyce and Sandra again. We left with the promise to do it again soon.

After lunch, I went to The 409 to pick up Leyliebug for a sleepover. She was so excited to come to Greemaw and Papa Steve’s house “All by myself. All alone. Just me. Not Corey and Mary. Just Leyliebug.” We had such a sweet time. I miss them terribly, and get to spend so little time with them. Corey is a little lovebug too, but with the age difference, he requires a little more, shall we say… “maintenance”, whereas Leyliebug is all about the love, being cute, sharing “secrets”, playing dress up and Knock-Knock jokes. I decided to spend some one-on-one time with them so we could enjoy age-appropriate activities, bedtimes, etc. Besides, I want them to have special memories of time alone with Greemaw, where I can make them all feel as special as they are. Leyland has already declared herself my favorite, so I have to be careful to tell her she is my favorite Leyliebug, Corey is my favorite little man, and Mary is my favorite big girl. How do they get so competitive at such a young age? She told her mom that she is coming back again before Corey or Mary, so she can come two times before they come over even once. She and I had to run to the store to pick up a few things, and she was such a good little girl! She sat in the buggy playing with my phone the entire time. We sang silly songs and shared tight hugs.  I'm sure I was the envy of every grandma in Wal Mart. Not many things are sweeter than a freshly-bathed grandbaby, smelling nice and clean with shiny hair, snuggling in your lap. She soon fell fast asleep on the sofa, with Laddie at her feet and her baby doll at her side.

Saturday was the annual Dunahoo 4th of July gathering at The Lake. Yep, I’m fully aware that the date was July 30, not July 4. That’s just how we roll. Sometime over the years, with all the Snoops traveling about, and someone usually at the beach house for the holiday, we gave up trying to get together for the 4th. One of the Senior Snoops will choose a random date in late July or August. As long as someone chooses the date, the rest will come. Steve has been working 7 days a week since we returned from the beach, but decided to take the day off on Saturday so he could join me. It was wonderful having him with me. He fits right in with the family, and everyone is crazy about him. I’m pretty sure the thing that makes them love him so much is seeing how happy he makes me. Sometimes it’s a crazy family, but they are my crazy family, and I am so blessed.

After a time of great food, fun, and family, we enjoyed a lazy late afternoon/evening at home. When we returned from The Lake, Jason had cleared all his belongings out of the house, and was settling in to his new apartment, so it was just Stevie Jay, me, and the pup. After a restful evening and a good night’s sleep, Sunday morning crept up on us, and of course, I was late for church. Steve went to Jenny’s to work on her hot water heater, and missed church again. My mom said people are going to wonder if I still have a husband, it’s been so long since he has been able to go. Ha. Those Baptists. As if there’s not enough trouble in the world. And speaking of church, we’re soon going to be in the market for a new pastor, so all ya’ll preachers out there start sending in your resumes. A couple of Sundays ago, our pastor of 14 years announced his retirement beginning in November. It is bittersweet news for yours truly. I am delighted for anyone who is able to retire while young enough to enjoy it, yet I selfishly wonder what in the world I will do about Sunday School. He teaches a class for drifters, misfits, and rejects. At least that’s what I like to call us. He started a class several years ago for folks who weren’t already members of a class. A handful of folks started coming, and the most we had in common was how little in common we had with each other. All different ages, backgrounds, and levels of involvement. It was a diverse group, and we had a blast. Even now, folks just kind of drift in and out, with a few who have stayed the course over the years. I’ve learned a lot in this class… mostly that it’s okay to admit how little I really do know. Nobody is made to feel dumb, and questions are encouraged. That rascal preacher will throw out some trick questions from time to time, and he loves to trip us up. And then laugh at his own cleverness. Regardless of what topic he has prepared to discuss, if another subject comes up that bears attention, well, off we go on that tangent. For the first time ever (at church), I have felt free to express my thoughts and feelings, many of which are not the thoughts of your traditional Southern Baptist churchgoer. And they haven't kicked me out yet. I will miss the camaraderie, and the way we go about learning from each other. But, truly, I am happy for them. And though I will miss my special class of rebels and misfits, it will be a new chapter of church history for us, and I’m hoping God will have something exciting in store for us.

I’m now four days into my work week- tomorrow is my Friday! Leyland will attend Open House at school tomorrow to meet her teacher. As Mama Nay used to say… I’d love to be a fly on the wall to watch her at school. She is so stinkin’ smart! Corey has three days at Helping Hands Daycare under his belt, and so far no biting. Hopefully he won’t get kicked out again.

The weekend ahead is shaping up to be busy as well. I'm spending a few hours with the munchkins friday afternoon at The 409, and I’m hoping to get in a little girl time with DJ on Saturday. Maybe coffee on the deck (if the heat wave doesn’t melt the skin right off our bones), and perhaps a swim. One thing is for sure. It will be gone before I can blink.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Number, please!

I'm not a numbers person.  I hate math.  Give me big long words to spell over a math problem any day.  If I have to do anything beyond basic addition, subtraction or multiplication, there had better be a calculator nearby.  Otherwise my eyes will glaze over and my neck begins to twitch.  I really wish it would come easier for me, but sometime shortly after my last math exam , it seems everything I learned about math theories and algebraic formulas just disappeared - poof - out of my brain.  

If you assume, then, that I also suck at economics, you would be correct.  Normally I'm not bothered by this fact.  I usually don't blog about financial issues.  

Today finds me somewhat regretting my lack of attention in Mr. Summerour's 11th grade economics class.  Perhaps the current crisis facing our nation would be a bit easier to understand if I had listened more closely.  Tonight I find myself with my eyes glazed over and my neck beginning to twitch.  This national debt crisis thing is pretty big stuff, and I'm irritated at myself for not understanding things.  Oh, I get the basic concept:  We're in debt.  More going out than coming in.  That's not so hard to understand.  

I watched the President's speech, and the Speaker's response.  I hope you're sitting down when you read this, because I'm about to say something you won't often hear me say.  I agree with President Obama.  However- I realize that I say that as one who hates anything to do with numbers, and with only a barely-passing grade in economics.  I surely must have misunderstood something he said tonight. 

I know there are those who are blaming the Republicans for stonewalling and refusing to pass a bill that the Democrats want.  While I don't really like either party at this point, given the choice of only these two, I pretty much am NOT a Democrat.  

But could someone tell me what is wrong with the plan that the Democrats have proposed?  Yeah, I know it's all probably based on cheating, lying, and covering their own butts.  It's the stuff that I don't hear that frightens me.  

Absolutely, spending should be cut.  Fraud should be identified and eradicated.  But what I really like is that the rich people and huge corporations should not be privy to all the tax cuts and loopholes, while the little folks carry the financial burden by paying higher taxes.  IMO, he was very effective when he asked (loosely paraphrased) would we rather the budget issues be solved by expecting an elderly person to forfeit Medicare benefits before asking a corporate jet owner or oil tycoon to give up a tax break.  That sounds perfectly reasonable to me.

Maybe we need to look closer at the Fair Tax proposals that some have suggested. 

In the meantime, I'd really love to hear from both sides.  What do you think?

(On the flip side, if you enjoy irony, check out this article that shows how then-Senator Obama reacted when President Bush wanted to raise the debt limit...)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday, Monday!

My goodness.  Mondays sure seem to come around quickly these days.  Steve has been working seven days a week since we returned from the beach, and the heat has been brutal.  I'm right in the middle of an eleven-day work week myself.  We both could use some serious down time.  Yet we are thankful for work, and I am especially thankful for an indoor job.  We're counting the days until we return to our favorite spot on the beach, The Treadwell Hilton.  That excursion is a mere 11 weeks away, and with time whizzing by at warp speed, it will be here before we know it.  We're looking forward to my parents traveling with us this time.  Our friends DJ & David, BJ & Chris will be over there as well, so it is shaping up to be another perfect birthday at the beach!!!  I do love the beach in autumn, and it's so nice to have something to look forward to.  Our vacation/honeymoon was absolutely perfect.  It has been so crazy busy since our return that I still haven't posted photos.  And speaking of honeymoons... I highly recommend the "delayed" honeymoon thing.  You may remember that our original wedding date was June 22, with the beach trip immediately following.  We may be old geezers, but when it came to getting married, we were like kids waiting for Christmas, and decided to jump in and just do the thing, but decided to keep the honeymoon as originally scheduled in June.  I'm so glad we did it that way.  No wedding stress/exhaustion to worry with.  I moved my stuff in on Saturday after the wedding, hooked up my computer, and was back to work on Monday.  I did take off Easter Sunday, to enjoy a nice long weekend with the new hubby.  By the time our honeymoon rolled around, we were already accustomed to living together, already knew that we liked being together all the time (haha), and had a couple of months to look forward to and plan for our trip.  Yes.  I highly recommend the delayed honeymoon thing.  Now we can't wait to go back, and look forward to spending time with my parents and the best friends ever. Only eleven more Mondays to go....

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Let The Mud Fly!

It’s time to gear up for a new Presidential campaign season. Let the melee begin!! It’s old news to anyone who reads my blog that I’m not a fan of President Obama. Never have been, and it’s pretty safe to say I never will be. Digging a little deeper, I have to say that I’m not a fan of our political system at all. I’ll be the first to admit that what I don’t know about politics could fill all the oceans of the earth, while what I do know could, comparatively, maybe fill my coffee cup. I do try to stay somewhat on top of hot-button issues, and whenever possible listen to the broadcast news, both liberal mainstream and conservative cable networks. As I’ve said before, I think the truth lies somewhere in between the two, though IMO leaning more to the right than the left.

I suppose now it’s time for the mud-slinging to begin in earnest. I listened Monday night to ABC’s storyline on Michelle Bachmann, and how her counseling clinic wants to “pray away the gay”. In my humblest, and admitted-not-so-political-savvy mind, I consider this a smear tactic.  It may be the way their clinic operates, but ... read further ...

At the outset, let me say that I am not a gay basher. I have quite a few gay friends, and I love them no differently than my straight friends. I think I shocked my pastor one Sunday morning in Bible Study when I said that I think there are more serious issues that threaten our nation than the fight over same-sex marriage. I read and hear where some believe gay marriage is going to be the demise of our nation. While that’s another post for another time, I beg to differ- the threat and demise of our nation, IMO, is plain and simple: Greed. But I’ll blog about that later. I’m just saying here that, while some of my Christian friends may disagree with me and consider me “less Christian” because of my views, that’s just the way I see it.

But back to Michelle Bachman. I have not examined her platform very closely at all, (does she even have one yet?) but I do know that she is a Tea Party favorite. Which, in my humble opinion, might serve to hurt rather than help her. The Tea Party [again another post for another time] could have had great potential, but I am sad to see that some of their statements and behaviors have somewhat taken away a bit of the integrity and validity of what could have been a potential positive political force for conservatives. So, to many liberals, the Tea Party association is already one mark against her. However, I do think they see her as a threat, and it appears that she is now feeling the force of the liberal political machine as they are aiming their big guns at her.

Last week there was the report of their counseling clinic’s participation in the Medicaid program. I guess that wasn’t volatile enough.

Monday night was the first I heard of the “pray away the gay” scandal that is now in the news. If you didn’t hear about it, Bachmann and her husband operate a Christian counseling service. In a nutshell, they are coming under fire for offering counsel to gay people that God can change them into a straight person. This, of course, is offensive to gays, and I can understand that.

Let’s think about this, though. I do not subscribe to the Christian Science faith, and find some of their beliefs to be odd, at the least. So, let’s say that I’m pregnant, and looking to take a childbirth class. Would I go to a childbirth class taught by this church? Ummm… no, I don’t think so. I’m all about screaming and drugs when it comes to birthing babies… if that’s what it takes to get the job done. Would I expect to find instructions for baking my Christmas crown roast at a Vegan website or market? No. Would I try to buy a battery for my car at a dentist’s office? Then, why, if I were not a Christian who really felt that it was a sin to be gay, and want to be “delivered from my gayness”, would I seek out a Christian counseling service?

My point is this: If Michelle and Marcus Bachmann are out on the street corners, or going into gay bars bashing patrons, condemning them to hell, and telling them that God can change them, that’s one thing. If, on the other hand, they are running a Christian counseling service, and someone comes to them, of their own free will, for counseling, why is it wrong for them to try to “help” the person? Whether or not being gay is determined at conception, or is a chosen lifestyle will probably be debated until the end of time. Are the Bachmanns wrong to counsel people that they can pray away the gay? I don’t know the answer to that. But wouldn’t you expect that to be their take on it at a Christian counseling service?

During particularly tough times in my life, I have utilized professional counseling myself. One was a Christian counseling service, and one non-Christian. I have no idea if the non-Christian counselor was indeed a Christian in his personal life or not… but his counseling service was not marketed as “Christian”. I cannot make assumptions about his personal life. Just as there are Christian entertainers, and entertainers who are Christians, there are Christian counselors, and counselors who are Christian. Looking back on these counseling sessions, were the counselors “right”? Would another counselor have taken a different approach? Over the years, I have also sought informal counseling from different pastors at different churches I have attended. In doing so, I totally understood, and expected, that their counsel would be from a Christian point of view, with involvement of prayer and Scripture. Duh??  I don’t know if the Bachmanns are “right” in their teaching or not. But does it matter, politically speaking?

As I said, I have quite a few friends who are gay. Without exception, in the lives of these folks, there has been a defined moment in time when they “came out”. This leads me to believe, and most will probably tell you, that there was an internal struggle, perhaps religious, perhaps social. Maybe some did seek counseling, maybe not. If their parents brought them up in church, and they had a relationship with God, then perhaps the struggle was more difficult, and they sought Christian counseling. If such was not the case, I think that would lessen the chances of seeking Christian counseling over non-Christian counseling.

All that to say this. What difference does it make what they teach in their clinic? The Bible is clear in its teaching. I would expect a Christian counseling service to glean it’s teaching from the Bible. Just like I would expect the Christian Science childbirth class to base its teachings on whatever book it is that contains their rules. Or the Vegan website to teach a Vegan style of eating, based on their research and reference materials. So, if a gay person is having trouble with their identity, or their sexuality, and they do not place any credence in the Bible, then don’t go to a Christian counselor! The video that was shot and being played on the news appears to be a setup. It is a politically-motivated act to rile up a large, powerful group of people to rally against a candidate.

Religious affiliation and denominations are for the most part a bunch of legalistic entities that point fingers at other people whose beliefs differ from their own (alas, yet another post for another time..haha..) I belong to a church of the Southern Baptist denomination. More so out of convenience, in that it’s where my family goes, where my friends go, and it’s in my hometown, the church I grew up in, etc. The legalistic stuff of any religion bores me and saddens me. I’m not so sure that some of it doesn’t sadden God as well.

It’s even worse in politics, regardless of party affiliation. Pointing fingers, judging the acts and beliefs of others, cheating, misrepresenting facts, etc. And people of faith are some of their favorite targets. The story isn’t complete yet, and I’m sure there is more to be uncovered in this situation. But you can bet the mainstream media spin will do its best to paint Michelle Bachman in the worst possible light. Is she the best choice for Republican candidate? I wouldn’t even venture a guess at this point. Even if she is the worst possible choice, she doesn’t deserve the media spin. The gay community has thousands of supporters who are not themselves gay. This is not a group of people that you want campaigning against you. The left knows this, and will use it. I suspect other potential candidates will be faced with similar accusations, but this particular “scandal” must surely have caused some serious mouth-foaming over on the left.

Some may consider not voting for her based on this. I remember when Mitt Romney announced his candidacy last time around, there was concern with his being Mormon. I also have quit a few friends who are Mormon. The scrapbook industry (which I support heavily), is made up largely by Mormon vendors and business men and women. Because a part of their faith lends them to an interest in genealogy, besides being fun, scrapbooking provides a way of preserving memories and family records. Even my Mormon friends will tell you that their beliefs, while similar in some respects, are quite different from mainstream protestant or catholic religions. Because Romney has beliefs that are different from mine, does that preclude him from being President, even if he is the best candidate? Of course not. Likewise, If Michelle Bachmann’s religious viewpoints differ from mine or yours, if she is the best candidate, should that make a difference? I’m not sure Superman himself could pull our nation out of the tailspin we’re in, and for certain I haven’t decided who will get my vote at this point. I just wish that for all the people who cry “separation of church and state” (church and government, period!), that the decision to choose a candidate wouldn’t be based on religion.

Hopefully, we will be given the facts with regard to her qualifications for president. From what I see, she seems to lack sufficient experience, but, the same argument wasn’t enough to keep President Obama from being elected…

Now, having said all that, allow me to add: Not for one minute do I think that the GLBT community, nor their supporters, would ever consider voting for Bachmann. Her stand on same-sex marriage, and pro-life is widely known. If that’s your beef with her, then by all means, don’t vote for her. All I’m saying is that it really ticks me off how the media wants to spin the way they practice counseling as an issue. For pro-life folks, and those opposed to same-sex marriage, they already know what she stands for as well. We need to vote for her or not vote for her based on her platform and her experience (or lack thereof….)

Can I just say at this point I’m pretty much dreading all the hoopla (and TV commercials) that go along with an election season. The mudslinging by both parties makes me sick. It makes me tired, and it means I have to start doing my homework in order to make the best decision before casting my vote. And if 2008 is any indication, it also means lots of politically-oriented blog posts. My apologies in advance.  :-)

Monday, July 4, 2011


Time has slipped away from me today, and I didn't get my Independence Day blog post written. I'm going to hijack my post from this date in 2008. The message never grows old, and I simply can't let this day go by without recognizing its significance.


Independence! (Originally posted to CathyB 07-04-08)

October 11, 2001. The one-month anniversary of one of the darkest days in American history found me boarding a plane, heading to the very airport from which those ill-fated planes originated. I was traveling as a chaperone with a group of 10th grade AP US History students to Boston. Though plans had been made far in advance, because of the uncertainty of air travel, we were not sure we would get to make the trip. Fortunately, we were allowed to fly, and so began one of my favorite trips ever.

Now each year when July 4th comes around, I have a new understanding and appreciation for the holiday. It's way more than fireworks, picnics, and a day off work. So much more. While I expected the trip to Boston to be a nice adventure, I had no idea what was in store for me, and how it would forever change my view of independence. Our tour guide (a descendant of John Pitcairn) was a fascinating man with a passion for Revolutionary War history, and he made it come alive. I am humbled to have walked the very ground where it all happened. It made it real. I went inside the church where Robert Newman hung the two lanterns that signaled to Paul Revere that the British were coming. I saw the window where he escaped arrest, the window that has been blackened out to commemorate his heroic act. One late afternoon I sat in a grassy field in Lexington and listened to our guide describe the small, but significant exchange of gunshots that happened on the very ground where I was sitting. In Concord, I walked across the Old North Bridge, site of "The Shot Heard Round The World". I touched the monuments that give tribute to the men who died there. Though I didn't climb its 294 steps, I visited the monument at Bunker Hill, the site of the bloodiest battle of the war. The American soldiers were short on ammunition, and the British soldiers so many, that General Prescott ordered his men- "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes!" in order to make sure that every bullet counted. I visited the graves of many brave men who were instrumental in our early history- Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, Peter Faneuil, and John Hancock. I saw the building from which the Declaration of Independence was first read to the public. Wow.

The trip was fascinating, and I asked more questions than the students. Admittedly, history was a subject that I loathed while in school, and I remember very little of what I dutifully memorized in order to pass a test. Here in Boston it came alive to me, and much to my embarrassment, several times I found myself overcome with emotion at the enormity of the sacrifice that our forefathers (and mothers) endured to secure our independence. I have often seen and heard the remark that freedom is not free. It never has been. It never will be.

Happy Birthday, America! Thank you, soldiers of the Revolutionary War. Thank you, men and women throughout the history of our country who see to it that our Star-Spangled Banner Yet Waves, Ore The Land Of The Free And The Home Of The Brave!