Monday, July 27, 2009

Does anybody really know what time it is?

…. Does anybody really care about time? (Chicago, 1969)

1960-something. I recall my dad being SO excited about his newly-acquired satellite radio. Each Saturday at 12Noon, a disembodied voice would announce “GMT time” and he’d go calibrate all the household clocks.

These days, our household’s similar to the neighbor whose little one asked, “Grandma, which one of these clocks is correct?”, and she bemusedly replied, “Why, NONE of them, sweetie!”

For instance, my bedside alarm comes to life each workday at 4:09AM. Knowing that’s not correct, I can slap the snooze bar in good conscience. The microwave reads one thing; the TV another. Poor hubby’s suspect to even ask anymore!
Our ultimate Authority’s become “Verizon time.”
(I’ve heard this is a barometer of generations: Ask “What time is it?” to a random group of 100 and few will consult a wristwatch.)

Because I’m nearly phobic about not being late, all our timepieces, to a varying degree, are fast. God love hubby! In our 7 years together, he’s accustomed himself to my peculiarities and will good naturedly “hurry up to wait.”

On the other hand, have you ever traveled with your polar opposite? I’ll never forget a vacation taken with a gal-pal whose idea of time was really blurry. Day #1, we literally raced through DFW airport and onto the plane, just as the door was about to close. She turned, smiled sweetly and said, “See, I told you we’d make it!” (Suppose that was my cue to start drinking? LOL!)

Mother used to say, ”Life would sure be dull if everyone was the same.“ For the most part, I try not to think too hard about the concept of Time ....except, of course, that it goes by much too fast!

And for some reason, I’m reminded of an old line from Rogers and Hammerstein’s Carousel: The “Keeper of the Stars” explains to Billy Bigelow, “A year on Earth is just a minute up Here.”

Were it so, wouldn’t that be cool?!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

House Built on Love

Come Wednesday morning, I was already anxious what I might share today. Totally stymied, trying too hard -- when the answer lay within arm's reach!

Sue Kroupa Riley has written and recorded numerous Christian CD's. One (actually, the only one I own), All Is Right With My World is so uplifting. I'm reassured having it nearby.

I'd realized, the lyrics from "House Built on Love" totally describe my feelings about Spiritual Sundays.....about Charlotte 'n Ginger, about each of you!
For today's purposes, may I just refer to this excerpt as, "Site Built on Love"?

House Built on Love

This is a place of great power, we are all children of God.
We find great strength as a people of prayer;
This is a house built on love.

This is a place filled with peace; this is a sacred space.
We join our voices in glorious harmony;
This is a house built on love.

Put aside your heavy burdens; be at peace and enter in;
Hear the quiet voice of Spirit,
feel the steady strength of friends,
Feel as if you were on a journey,
and at long last you are home,
Where your memories surround you,
and you’ll never be alone.

This is a place of great power, we are all children of God.
We find great strength as a people of prayer;
This is a house built on love.

~Susan Kroupa

There is a genuine solace in the shared experiences of others.
~Lee Woodruff

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Amongst our stable of physicians, it’s no exaggeration to say I adore our PCP. In the last 5 years, Dr. H and his Girl Friday have demonstrated a “Marcus Welby-ish” niceness that’s well, astonishing. His “McDreamy” good looks don’t hurt either … but, hey, I digress.

So, I was cooling my heels in the examining room, when in walks a young lady I’d not seen before. Wearing a Very Serious expression, the lass proceeds to take my blood pressure, consults the chart and asks,”What medications are you taking?”

“Umm, I hope you have that information in my file!?”
Too surprised to be sarcastic.

Then, “Have you any allergies?”

At this point, my “good” fairy stumbles; is barely clinging to my left shoulder:
“I really, really hope you’ve got THAT on file!”

(To self: Is this a test, to make sure I’m who I say?)

Unknown Lass concludes her business and disappears. No, I didn’t say anything to Dr. H. Any upset's been replaced by curiousity.

‘Figure she’s a newbie, following a script? Perchance the folks at HIPAA are enacting more regulations while we sleep?

… or have I been the one at fault -- asleep at the wheel while the rest of the world is changing?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Feelin' Hot, Hot, Hot!

Yes, it gets a “tidge warm” in these parts come summertime. … enough so that my car’s rear speakers up and cried “Uncle” last year.

Thinking they looked a bit odd, I touched one with a fingertip and poof – like ashes-to-ashes, the plastic just disintegrated!

When phoning the local dealership, we were met with skepticism. Why, the manager wondered, hadn’t we kept it parked under cover? (Sorry, but that’s not always possible!) To add insult to injury, we learned that simply changing the speaker covers wasn’t an option. The entire rear deck assembly would have to be replaced. $$$$$!!!

Now it takes a good while, but once Hubby’s really provoked, look out! Onwards to T*****’s District offices. After gathering all the facts, one sympathetic suit asked for 48 hours to research; he would get back to us with a satisfactory proposal.

Turned out, their idea of “satisfactory” was offering $500 off the cost of a new C****. Ummmm….. that would be a “No!”

So, my car will be paid off this year; the speaker control’s been set to “front” …. and in all honesty, I think these old table-lamp mats give it character! Don’t you think?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Labyrinth or Maze?

Life’s journey can sure take us places that we don’t always plan to go!

Every morning my dad would drop me at school with a caution: “Keep your wits about you!”
Nevertheless, there have been countless times I’ve had to admit, “I should have stopped and thought.” More than stopped and thought: Stopped and prayed. Stopped and felt, deep inside. Because we can’t always navigate life’s journey using only our left brains.

Some years ago, our minister shared the ancient myth about a labyrinth: A great hero was trying to find his way through it to destroy a monster, and out again to regain his kingdom… kind of a nice symbol of our own lives! The way in which he was able to navigate the labyrinth was, the princess who loved him had given him a ball of twine and she held onto the other end!

I wasn’t aware, but there is a difference between a maze and a labyrinth. One is symbolic of chaos; the other, order.

Life isn’t a maze; it is not geared to trick you. It’s a labyrinth. The only decision is, whether or not you’re going to start on the pathway leading to the center and out again, to expression.

We were prompted to ask ourselves, “ Is my life a maze or a labyrinth? “ “Am I on a prayer journey that will, if I just go slowly and pay attention, lead me to my destination?”

It’s so neat to know that no matter how crazy difficult our lives can seem, that God has a hold of that other end of twine. As we journey, all we need to do is pause, center ourselves and begin to recoil. That thread will lead you back!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

An apple a day .........

So, I ate an apple yesterday.
While this doesn’t seem earth-shattering (call the Movie-tone news!) those who know me well might be surprised.

My mother’s lament, “You’re going to turn into a hamburger!” ..... was darn prophetic. For close to four decades now, red meat has comprised a good 95% of my weekly regimen. Veggies are OK. Unlike my mother, who'd have been perfectly happy eating fruit 3 times a day, I usually pretend that food group doesn't exist.

A coworker used to delight in telling of an obligatory luncheon we once attended – and the look on my face when the entrees were presented: Piles of fresh, exotic fruit, tossed with itty-bitty pieces of crabcake, like so much parsley.

Coming the long way around to the point ……
This cat’s got to change her stripes. Recent lab tests show my cholesterol levels are a bit awry. Hence, the apple. Oatmeal each morning’s becoming a real bore, ...but! it’s been kind of fun learning to decipher and interpret food labels. In the Chinese language, the symbol for Crisis is the same as the symbol for Opportunity. I want to “wow” the doc …so let’s just see!

How about you? Given the chance, is there any food group you’d eat almost exclusively?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

When the Music Stopped

OK, I'm a little late for a 4th of July topical. Only yesterday did I receive this e-mail -- and felt compelled to share it here, in it's original, unedited form:

To understand this story, you need to know that, in military theaters, the National Anthem is played before every movie.

This was written by Chaplain Jim Higgins, who is stationed in Iraq:

I recently attended a showing of "Superman 3" here at LSA Anaconda (an American base camp north of Baghdad). We have a large auditorium we use for movies, as well as memorial services and other large gatherings. As is the custom back in the States, we stood and snapped to attention when the National Anthem began before the main feature. All was going as planned until about three-quarters of the way through The National Anthem the music stopped.

Now, what would happen if this occurred with 1,000 18-22 year-olds back in the States? I imagine there would be hoots, catcalls, laughter, a few rude comments; and everyone would sit down and call for a movie. Of course, that is, if they had stood for the National Anthem in the first place.

Here, the 1,000 Soldiers continued to stand at attention, eyes fixed forward. The music started again. The Soldiers continued to quietly stand at attention. And again, at the same point, the music stopped. What would you expect to happen? Even here I would imagine laughter, as everyone finally sat down and expected the movie to start.

But here, you could have heard a pin drop. Every Soldier continued to stand at attention. Suddenly there was a lone voice, then a dozen, and quickly the room was filled with the voices of a thousand soldiers, finishing where the recording left off:

"And the rockets red glare,
the bombs bursting in air,
gave proof through the night
that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave,
o'er the land of the free,
and the home of the brave."

It was the most inspiring moment I have had here in Iraq . I wanted you to know what kind of Soldiers are serving you here. Remember them as they fight for you!

Pass this along as a reminder to others to be ever in prayer for all our soldiers serving us here at home and abroad. For many have already paid the ultimate price.

Monday, July 13, 2009

High on Food!

Wouldn't this be fun??!!

"But just what am I looking at?", you ask!

It's Dinner in the Sky!

Don't drop your fork!

Check out the pianist on his own little platform!

Good thing I couldn't afford this dining experience ... my luck, I'd get up there and then have to use the bathroom!

Friday, July 10, 2009

So, the Class of '68 recently hosted it's "Hilltoppers" reunion .... and I was off in Florida, cavorting with a Mouse. While I never intended to join those relative strangers, it sure stirred up memories. Allow me to reminisce?

My "real" hometown lies midst mountains and mesas formed a million years ago, in what’s believed to be the largest volcano that ever existed on Planet Earth.
Originally homesteaded by ranchers in the late 1800’s, Los Alamos eventually became home to an exclusive Boys School. A frequent visitor in those days was a young professor from the University of California at Berkeley – Robert Oppenheimer. Later, when searching for a site for a secret laboratory, he remembered the isolated ranch school. Reached solely by a winding dirt road that clung to the side of cliffs, “Lost Almost” seemed a fitting site for development of the atomic bomb.

Because of the secret nature of the work, early settlers couldn’t tell friends or relatives where they lived. Each carried drivers’ licenses bearing numbers in place of their names. Outgoing mail – all censored – carried a return address, “P.O. Box 1663, Santa Fe, NM.”

When the war ended, the community nearly became a ghost town. Instead, the government decided to maintain the labs and soon after, a new wave of caretakers moved in to expand the operations. My parents joined this second invasion of the mountain in 1952.

In retrospect, mine was the type of hometown that kids hate and their parents love ~ a suburbia without an urban core. We knew neither slums nor "silk-stocking" districts. Since having a job was tied to obtaining housing, Los Alamos had no unemployment .... and few senior citizens. Employees who retired, simply seemed to disappear … replaced almost 1-for-1 in their jobs.

“Hill kids” weren’t bored listening to dad talk about his day at work ~ because, in most cases, dad wasn’t allowed to talk about his work. Research projects and the security procedures that guarded those secrets were not discussed, and few of my friends, if asked, could describe exactly what their fathers did for a living. “He works at the AEC” was considered a sufficient reply.

Too, no-one seemed terribly concerned about the danger of living across the canyon from the nuclear laboratories ~ although the occasional muffled boom from a test area might raise eyebrows. Authorities, on the other hand, fretted over being a possible target in a nuclear attack, and devised a well-organized plan for this apocalypse: All residents were assigned to one of several well-stocked bomb shelters; we even had opportunity to participate in several mandatory evacuation drills ... big time fun for a 10-year-old!

As the city was virtually closed to the outside world throughout my grade-school years, our family had to pass through guarded gates when leaving the hill. Planes didn’t simply avoid our skies; they were forbidden from traversing our air space. Security wasn’t sought ~ merely assumed. Now, with a chuckle, I recall my dad's words when he'd call each night before bed, "Have you and your mom locked the doors?" (Like, what on earth could happen there?)

I left Los Alamos in a hurry, without looking back ~ knowing that among the Class of ’68 the greatest sin was to stay when you didn’t have to! None of us had any real roots in a city only a few years older than we were. When my parents retired and left the hill in '81, they were tickled to have received something like $17,000 for their "quad" unit. Who'd ever guess, a couple of decades later that like-kind parcel would be marketed well over $300,000?

And who'd have guessed, that someday I'd look forward to going home again? No, we've no immediate plans ... 'suppose this what they call nostalgia.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Come Fly With Me!

Are you afraid of flying? An estimated 50-million Americans admit to some level of fear …. a tally which predates 9/11!

After countless flights here, there and beyond …. and years of hearing, “Flying is safer than driving!”, I checked the numbers. Great. Now, I was feeling foolish and fearful!

Then I discovered Layne Ridley’s self-help book, “White Knuckles.” Never mind that it was published more than 30 years ago. The author – once a fearful flyer herself– combines time-honored scientific facts, mental exercises, empathy and humor. As a matter of fact, her wit had me laughing out-loud at 37,000 feet – a first!

Ridley writes, “As far as I’m concerned, the world is divided into two kinds of people: normal, intelligent, sensitive people with some breadth of imagination….. and people who aren’t the least bit afraid of flying. The latter are usually all right otherwise. In fact, you usually don’t notice anything is the matter with them until you get them up in a plane and see that vacant look on their faces. Then you find out a person you thought you knew is mysteriously unable to register the difference between being in the air and being on a bus.”

Like Ridley, it’s important that I appear completely nonchalant. See, what trumps my fear of flying is a larger phobia: Displaying fear!

For instance: (I'm excerpting again.)
No use dressing for success if you’re going to cringe like a whipped dog for two hours. I tried to look bored. (Now, it’s hard to look bored when you are jerking in your seat at every bump as if you have been slipped twenty volts). So, I tried to look bored, but energetic. When I finally could not, possibly, under any circumstances, sit there one second longer, I’d pat back a little yawn, stroll to the bathroom – and make deals with God. In the toilets of major airlines I have fervently renounced every sin in my life.”

So, do I consider myself cured? For the most part, I think so.
And no, I don’t give all the credit to this book. Hubby has a real Passion for aviation, so that’s a big motivator.

Still, I cling to certain behaviors, study the emergency procedures and keep a keen eye on the flight attendants’ expressions.
If nothing else, I might slip up and serve as comic relief for somebody else!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Child's Prayer

I hope everyone enjoyed a safe and fun holiday? (Yes, I’ve finally reached the age where I can pair those two adjectives without an accompanying eye-roll!)

We were so blessed last week drink in the sight of my granddaughters happy faces and hear their giggles ….not a care in the world!

What contrast then, spotting this child’s prayer when searching on-line for today's post. Hers is just one example of the reality too many children face every day.

Oh, what precious liberties we’ve been afforded … and so often, presumed. I pray that I never again take for granted our freedoms and the gifts He bestows! Sometimes, “thank you” seems terribly inadequate.

A Child's Prayer for Kosovo
Dear God,

My parents say that a long time ago, You came down in Person to live with us and to teach us to love each other. But now my parents tell me to be careful not to even talk too much to the neighbors because a lot of them don't love us. Why is this? Was it something I said? Something I did? I don't remember doing anything to anyone that would make them hate my whole family! But I'm sure sorry for it, if I did!

Thank You for not allowing our house to be burned down, too. Please
protect my best friend's family, wherever they live now. Please protect the
school where I still go whenever I can, even though sometimes people throw rocks
at the school bus. Some of those rocks used to be in the walls of our church,
where my family went every Sunday to talk toYou, God! Why did they tear down the church? God, why do You let people do things like that? Wasn't that Your house?
I will build another house for You someday, God, if I can.

And please, if it's not too much trouble, help us to get some more food
because I'm hungry almost all the time. And I'm starting to get cold, too. If
You can, make those angry people less angry so they'll stop trying to burn down
our houses and make us move. Best friends shouldn't have to say 'good-by.'


Friday, July 3, 2009

M-i-c ... k-e-y, M-o-u-s-e!

Ever hear yourself saying, “I’ll never go there again!” Be careful!
Some 7 years after the fact, last Wednesday DH and I were practically salivating to board a jetliner bound for..... you guessed it, Florida.

The bait? The granddaughters, of course!

Earlier this year, my son phoned, inviting us to join them for an all-expense paid week at Disney’s Old Key West Resort. Due to a (not-so-funny) comedy of errors, we’d not seen one another for 2 years. Eager? Ohhh yeah!

Our calf muscles are still sore due to the unaccustomed (but necessary!) exercise … but we’re still smiling. Here are some of our highs … and lows:

Accommodations? WAY beyond my expectations! Our condo/villa/what-have-you was easily twice the size of my previous townhouse … 2 BR/2 Bath, with a fully-equipped kitchen, separate laundry room, living and dining areas with an adorable patio deck overlooking the waterway.

The kids had driven down that morning from Alabama, and DIL, bless her pea-pickin’ heart, had already positioned the a/c at 64 degrees. Aaaaah!!!!
Now some folks have posted (out on Trip Advisor) that the furnishings were dated, etc. But ya know, we don’t live in an over-the-top, Architectural Digest-type house and certainly don’t expect that when we travel. Clean, yes? Comfy’s good too. Thumb’s up, OKW!

What I hadn’t anticipated was the friendliness and “can-do” spirit of each and every employee we encountered. ‘Was personally encouraged to note, at least half of their employees appeared to be 50 y/o – and more! How ‘bout a round of applause for that Personnel Director?

My BFF and her significant other even drove over from St. Petersburg on Thursday night. Some of you may recall my recounting their road-trip-from-H*** last October. At the time I thought it might be another 6 years before we saw each other again. De-lighted!

Funny? To meet my son, you’d think him a most laid-back, easygoing sort. (Here he and I are hanging out.) Unlike his granddad, Troy claimed to have no itinerary ... “We’ll simply relax and take things as they come.” Uh-huh, right.

In less than a day the transformation began. Swear, my dad was channeling through him from up above! (I even heard DIL once use the expression “Nazi”!) Given an opportunity to experience the Parks an hour prior to opening time, it went something like, “Get up, get up now … we ARE.Going.To.Have.FUN.” Been there? Done that, you say?

Lows? Having acclimated to the desert, yes the humidity was a BIG deal … but not unexpected. The ‘skeeters and chiggers enjoyed their feasts, to the point I wanted to take a fork to my flesh. Again, my bad, forgetting the insect repellent.

‘Hesitant to call it a “low” but in the first two hours I feared my “grandma” merit badge might be revoked. While DH languished under the a/c, Troy and Lois went for groceries. Would I take the girls to the pool? 11 and 15 y/o, both swim like fish. Some time later I thought it no harm to excuse myself. What could go wrong in 5 minutes?
Coming back, I spot Chloe being escorted - security on one side, tearful Sarah on the other, holding an oversize towel to her face … originally white, now turning bright red. Seems somewhere midst the giant cheese labyrinth (aka, waterslide) she led with her mouth. Would I give my permission for them to summon the paramedics?

Thankfully, her parents are used to their youngest daughter’s antics/visits to the ER and when reached via cellular, reacted calmly. Double thankful, Chloe’s a real trooper … in fact, we couldn’t get her to keep her mouth shut! She thinks it totally UNnecessary to have that adult tooth replaced; that it’s way cool to “grrrrrrrr” like Pirates of the Caribbean. Of course, I’m already harboring plans to have this blown-up poster-size for display at her wedding reception!

Sure, saying our goodbyes was a downer. Sometimes this old country seems too vast. But it’s true, “There’s NO place like Home.” Now, I need my fork again …scratch-scratch!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What's next?!

Have you heard the expression, "They don't print enough money to make me ___________ " (fill in the blank). That sort of sums up my feelings about boarding a helicopter.

Now comes news of an abandoned Boeing 747 jumbo jet that has been transformed into a 25-room hotel in the Stockholm-Arlanda airport ........presenting the Hotelicopter – the world’s first flying hotel made from a huge Soviet-made Mil V-12 helicopter!

Designed with the sophisticated, affluent traveler in mind, the Hotelicopter has 18 lavish rooms for people on the hunt for a truly unique inimitable travel experience. Each soundproofed room comes with a queen-sized bed, fine linens, a mini-bar, coffee machine, wireless internet access, flatscreen TVs and a range of amenities you’d look for in a flying five star hotel. Other lavish features include private entertainment systems, showers, spa treatments, Jacuzzi, yoga classes, arcade gaming, a tea garden, Babysitting & Kids’ Kamp, blackjack/ping- pong table and playground for kids.

The flying hotel will take its first flight this summer. The Hotelicopter will be also be available for rent for special events and occasions. Pardon me boys, I put my dollar-two-ninety-eight on the budget-conscious, mainstream people-movers. 'Twood be fun to see up-close and personal, tho, wouldn't it?!