Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Stranger's Goodbye

     I was cleaning out some files in my home office yesterday and found a poem I had written in 2002. It was prompted by an obituary I read in that day's paper. I'm embarassed to admit I actually sent it to the newspaper to see if they would put it in the Opinion section where they publish reader's letters to the editor. (Did I just admit that??) They didn't. There were more noteworthy letters to publish about much more important things going on in the world.
   So I filed my little poem away and forgot about it. I wouldn't have found it at all if not for the cleaning kick I'm still on. I thought I'd post it here since in this tiny little part of the world, I'm the editor.
     I think it sums up why people read obituaries, or at least why I read them.  It's not out of morbidity. It's empathy. We read the departed's name, a few facts about them, the names of who will miss them, and we think of that soul for just a moment.  For that moment we connect with strangers grieving for the same person. Deep down we are hoping that when it's our obituary in the paper, a stranger will take a minute to think about us.
     The obituary I read that day was for a child. Empathy is the most profound when it's because the life lost is a child's. We take a few extra moments to think about those young souls and to grieve with those families. 


I read about you in the paper today
Right after the story of the war far away
After I read of the murder of a mother and son
And after the story about the hit-and-run
I had already read more about ground zero
And saw the memorials to local heroes
There was a story about germ warfare
And more about the Anthrax scare
Page after page about all that is bad
Strange, but I should have felt more sad
Then it was after the announcements of births
That I read about how you left this earth
You were only thirteen, just crossing the street
You were hit and the world didn't miss a beat
They mentioned what happened in just a few lines
But when I read them I began to cry
You were just a small figure in a sea of lives
Another child un-named that needlessly died
But you were the world to those who loved you
For them the world stopped the moment they knew
What can be said to bring them comfort?
Can anything ever heal their hurt?
Perhaps the memories of you can ease the pain
Or the knowledge that now you are in God's hands
Just maybe it helps to know that others care
That the loss of your life mattered to a stranger out there
That your story, although obscure among all the rest
Was read and will be remembered the best
I'll pray for you and for those whom you loved
May God keep you in his love

     That's my post for today.  It's a little bit sad, but a little hopeful too. Our human emotions, whether they be sorrow, empathy, joy, or fear, connect us all and enable us to relate to each other. We may not share the same experiences, but we do share the same emotions. When we feel these things for one another we're reminded that we're not alone. Even among strangers, we're not alone.

Photo courtesy of Maggie Smith

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


     I got tired of my living room this weekend.  I've been thinking about it for a while now, but it just hit me all at once that I needed to change things around.  Now.  Hubby runs and hides when this happens.  He calls it Changeivitis.  I think deep down he's afraid that he might be the next changee.  He could use some color co-ordinating, but this weekend I just focused on the living room.

I changed it around so now it looks like this
Sorry, I don't have before pictures, you'll just have to trust me that it looks better.  See the Springy pitcher and greenery?

In the process I found alot of this:

Eww.  Maybe the other corner isn't as bad.


     So, I did some Spring cleaning in the process.  As you can see, it really needed it.  After I cleaned and re-arranged the living room, I cleaned the family room.  I even cleaned and vacuumed the couch, which at any given time has at least three asses and 4 dogs on it.  So it was pretty dirty.  I'll spare you pictures.

Then I added some Spring color in the Dining Room
I just feel this need to put blues and greens around my house when the weather starts getting warmer.

I added some more Spring touches here

And here

The only downside to Spring is the abundance of these:

So I weeded too.

     Then I helped my daughter clean and rearrange her room.  What the heck was wrong with me?? Changeivitis is like that though.  It just strikes out of the blue and you feel the need to make things...different.  More appealing.  Less boring.
     I don't think I'm over my Changeivitis.  I should feel very good that I had such a productive weekend and at least part of my house has been Spring cleaned, but I don't.  I want more.  I think I'm going to paint the bathroom.
     Then I got to thinking, do we change our surroundings because really we want to change something bigger in our lives, but maybe don't have the courage to do it?  Maybe we don't even know exactly what it is that needs to change, but we know it's something. 
     Or maybe it's just Spring Fever.
     Whatever the cause of Changevitis, changing things up - or around - in our lives is usually a good thing. Sitting in a rearranged room can change your perspective on things and bring about creative thinking.  Maybe if I sit in my living room for a while I'll figure out what it is about myself that I really want to change. 
     Think I'll wait till after I paint the bathroom. Why waste a perfectly good case of Changeivitis?
     What about y'all?  Does Spring cleaning make you want to Spring clean yourself?  Do you get Changeivitis and what do you do about it?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Hey Brothah What's For Suppah?

I may have mentioned this a time or two, but my brother, his wife, and their two doggies live with us.  Just about a year ago we decided it would help both of our families out if we combine households. 
All families have ups and downs getting along
I realize that not all families can do this. Past grievances, personality differences, and sibling rivalries can run deep and be difficult to get past.  Family tension can make a once-a-year holiday dinner unbearable, let alone every meal, every day. 
For us though, living together has been working out fabulously.  I attribute our success partly to our easy-going personalities and partly to the fact that my sister-in-law does floors.  But the best perk of our commune-like lifestyle is that my brother loves to cook.
He watches Paula Dean and Bobby Flay and The Neelys, scours the internet for recipes, and is fearless when it comes to trying something new.  Hubby showed him a recipe he found online for Roman burgers.  Those are burgers made the way the ancient Romans did. 

I didn't know Romans ate burgers, but I'm no history buff.  Apparently they soak french rolls in white wine, mix that with hamburger and fish sauce, shape it into patties, and poke pine nuts and green peppercorns into them.  Then they bake them in reduced grape juice.  No, really - here's the website.
I was instructed to go to the party supply store and buy little plastic Roman swords to garnish the Roman burgers (which would be served on ciabatta bread by the way).  My brother warned me, "Don't buy pirate swords because pirate swords in Roman burgers would be lame." 

I confessed I didn't know the difference between a Roman sword and a pirate sword.  As a result, I was immediately relieved of that duty.  As it turns out, the party store didn't have Roman swords. 

We made the burgers anyway, with ceasar salad on the side.  For me, they tasted a bit weird, but hubby and the kids liked them.
Most of my brother's concoctions come out delicious.  He made a crunchy coating for baked fish from Captain Crunch cereal once that was wonderful.  His chicken and meat marinades thrown together from whatever he can find in the fridge are always tasty and he is an awesome barbeque-er.
Southwestern eggrolls with black beans and corn
Sometimes I come up with the idea for the concoction and he carries out the execution.  A couple weeks ago we were trying to think of ways to use our Easter turkey leftovers.  I said Southwestern style eggrolls made with turkey instead of chicken sounded good. 

His eyes lit up and off he went to the computer to look for recipes.  He combined two into one and the result was eggrolls made with chopped up turkey meat, corn, black beans, cumin, chedder and cream cheese.  They were scrumptious with the avocado dipping sauce. 

We're going to do the same thing with Thanksgiving leftovers and I'm thinking some kind of cranberry dipping sauce.  Yum, right?
Once in a while he makes a culinary faux pas. He was making hubby's favorite bean dip with refried beans, cheese, sour cream, and salsa. He found a container in the fridge that looked like it held leftover refried beans.  Being not a food waster, he dumped it in, mixed it up, and served the dip to hubby and the kids.

Hubby came upstairs with a nasty grimace on his face and whispered to me to taste the bean dip because it tasted "funny."  I tasted.  It tasted like fish.  Definitely not bean dip. 

We discovered the unidentified leftover contents that my brother thought was refried beans was actually salmon dip.  That explained the fishy taste.  Furthermore, it was salmon dip bought back in January.  That explained the runs.
A pan simmering on the stove
I have to say, I am getting spoiled (in a good way...not like the salmon dip) having a personal chef living with us.  Sometimes when I'm in my office, stressed out and working late, the smell of garlic and onions browning, or of chicken baking, will waft upstairs and comfort me.  The cooking aromas remind me to stop, come downstairs and enjoy being home with family.  The day's problems will be back tomorrow and cocktail hour is now.
Who knew that the same brother who, when we were kids, used to say, "Open your mouth and close your eyes and you will get a big surprise," then shoved blanket fuzz in my mouth, would turn out to be such a blessing now?

My brother just came in and said he's barbequeing  pork chops with sweet and sour sauce.  It's time to go downstairs and have a cocktail.  
My Bro
Mouth-wateringly yours,

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Hubby's Procedure

     Hubby had to have a "procedure" done on Friday.  He doesn't like it when I use that word.  He says it sounds like I'm referring to some type of medical service that is too embarassing to call by it's real name and is vague enough to let the listener conjure up their own medical definition.  Things like hemorrhoid removal, penis enlargement, or cyst draining come to mind. 
The first time I used the word, I told a client over the phone that we couldn't meet that morning because my husband was having a procedure done.  I saw hubby's pained expression as soon as I said it and quickly tried to banish any disconcerting images that might be forming in my client's mind. "Oh, it's nothing major, just something he needs to do," I said.

Implying it was not medically necessary probably just opened up a whole new realm of possiblilities for "procedure" and made it worse.   When I got off the phone, hubby glared at me and said, "You can't just say you have another appointment??"
Friday's "procedure" was a steroid shot in his neck, administered under anesthesia, for pain from a displaced disc. There. All disconcerting images banished, I hope. The truth is, hubby likes having procedures done. Anything that involves him taking a nap is a positive experience.  He practically skipped into the examining room. 
I was rather surprised at his enthusiasm, considering the last time he was there they got his chart confused with someone elses.  After settling him in the "procedure" room, they told him to lay face down on the table.  He complied without questioning.  Then they said, "Ok, pull down your pants."

His complacency screeched to a halt and he asked where, exactly, they were going to give him the shot for his back.  After some him-hawing and mumbled apologies they figured out they had the wrong chart, or the wrong guy - it was just definitely wrong.  Whatever the other guy was getting, "procedure" was the right word for it.
Da Vinci illustrating proper technique for making snow angels.
The face-up technique is recommended.
That prior visit's little blunder would not curb hubby's anticipation of his anesthetic induced nap however.  He made jokes with the anesthesiologist as he was being prepped and cheerfully waved goodbye to me as I left to wait in the reception room. 
Fortunately, they play movies in the waiting room to distract people from the fact that they have been waiting for a really long time.  There were previews for the movie Madagascar.  The voice of one of the characters was Chris Rock.

It reminded me that the night before I had dreamed that I was making out with Chris Rock.  I don't have a thing for Chris Rock, I've never given him much thought, and I haven't seen a movie recently that he's been in, but there he was making out with me in my dream.  I remember thinking, "Wow, he has big lips."
Back to hubby's procedure. The nurse called my name when he was done.  As I followed her back to the room, she said hubby was "a character."  I agreed with her.  She said when she told hubby he should be a stand-up comic, hubby replied sleepily, "Yeah, but then I'd have to stand up."  That sounded like hubby.  He delivers his best material when he's groggy.
When I entered the room, he waved at me with a goofy grin and said the nurses tried to grab his butt.  Then he said he tried to grab the nurse's butt.  The nurse told me I better hang onto him as we walked to the car.
It's become a tradition that after hubby's "procedures" we stop at Jack-in-the-box on the way home.  He's always starving because he has to fast due to the anesthesia.  Husbands are like kids and dogs when it comes to their little routines, aren't they?

Just leave their treat-time, bed-time, bath-time, procedure-time routines the same and all is right with the world.  He munched on his tacos while back-seat-driving all the way home.  Then I tucked him in bed for a nap.  I wondered if he would dream that he punched out Chris Rock.          

Monday, April 5, 2010

No More Blog Blahs!

Well I done did it!  I messed with CSS code and everything.  With the help of lots of freebie sites and advice, I gave myself a blog makeover.  The header is still in the planning stages, and the fonts need some work - a process that looked too complicated for me to tackle at the moment - but all in all not a bad job if I do say so myself. 

If it's too busy for your taste, I apologize, but like my cousin Gina says, "If it's worth doin' - it's worth over-doin!"  Speaking of over-doing, I was so caught up working on my blog over the weekend, that my brother nicknamed me "Busty Bloggins".  I kind of like that.

Whew.  I'm so exhausted from the effort of my makeover that I really have no energy to blog at the moment.

But, I have to give credit to some super helpful websites I found in the process.  There are such creative folks out there in blogger world and the fact that they are willing to share their creations for free (or a donation) is darn nice.  So I'm going to end this post with a list of the websites that made changing CSS code not as hair-pulling-ly frustrating as I expected.  Or they just had really cute backgrounds and buttons.

Three Column Blogger

Oh yeah - What d'ya think?  Be honest.  But only if you like it.  If you don't then just lie.  Not really. I can take it.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Happy Spring!

Don't you just love tulips?  So Springy.

     This was a bit of a "submerge" week for me due to work being busy. I didn't have much time to surface and blog so please forgive me if I haven't been over to visit your blogs.  I hope to catch up this weekend.

     Spring always inspires me to change things so don't be surprised if you pop over to my blog over the next few days and find it looking different.  I'll be experimenting with backgrounds and headers and colors...oh my!  Aussie Lori and Brenda did it and I can't let my down under girls show up us Yankees.  Mine will be a budget makeover (which translates to I have to do it myself so if I have to mess with CSS code forget it), but we'll see what I can come up with.  My sister never liked my header.  She said it looked like a gargoyle in a cemetery and creeped her out.  I just thought it was a pretty little angel thinking about stuff. Tomatoe, Tomato.

Hope everyone has a Happy Easter!