Friday, October 29, 2010

The Expectations Are Dwindling

I have a single group with Aflac, an office that shall remain nameless, and I want to close their account and never speak to them again. These people are so messed up and unethical that it makes me sick. And they do it all while being good Christians and praying every day.

If they aren't trying to find ways to file false claims for themselves and their patients (a noble sounding gesture I am sure) they are refusing to pay the bills. I have had to go and quite literally demand a check every single month since July. Now I am worrying myself sick because one person wants to file a claim over something NOT covered by her policy. And she's upset because she doesn't know how to pay the bill. Well sister, me too. I'm upset because your boss promised to pay your premiums and then suddenly changed her mind in order to 'punish' you. I'm upset because I shouldn't receive 'secret' emails in the middle of the night requesting that I not speak to you anymore. And I'm really upset that you all committed to something and despite my best efforts to make sure you understood the procedures, you still feign ignorance and refuse to do things the right way. I lose sleep because of carrying someone else's burdens.

I am no longer able to be responsible for people in this way anymore. I think everything that is wrong with my health and mental state right now is because of this job. The consequences if I fail are too great and could result in someone getting hurt or losing financially. And I will carry that failure forever because that is a psychological defect that I have - I carry the weight of the world on my shoulders, even when it isn't mine to carry. I'm like the guy in the Inferno who constantly rolls the rock up the hill only to have it fall back every day just as he nears the top.

I did get more news about the job opportunity that I have applied for and have been waiting on. It's going much slower than I anticipated, but according to my insider, they will begin calling people for interviews next week. I can hardly wait. I have one thing going for me - the fact that the person who previously held the position is recommending me for it. That's really promising.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I decided it would definitely be worth it to do a few household changes while Alex is in St. Louis. Nothing drastic, nothing expensive - just enough to make him take notice when he gets home. There are several projects that I really want to complete, and if I am anything like my mother, I will no sooner get done with the very last project in the house, and I will want to completely redo the kitchen - the first thing we redid when we moved here.

I didn't think far enough ahead to take any pictures of what I was dealing with to begin with, so I'll have to describe. Think to yourself if you will about the impracticality of have a large sunken living room floored with off-white plush carpeting - and having cats and people who spill on a regular basis. Yep. It was time to rent a carpet cleaner and deep clean that carpet! The cat vomit and spilled coffee stains were getting so bad that I could no longer cover them with an area rug. It took 6 fill-ups and 6 emptyings of black, filthy used water, but these floors feel SO nice right now! Even the cats are purring their approval and rolling around on the clean feeling.

There are many things I love about our living room and many things I dissaprove of. I love the size - 14' x 18'. I love that it is sunken from the rest of the house and there is a nice big landing area. I love that it has a fireplace and windows and a high ceiling and that it invites guests to relax and feel welcome.

I don't like that the fireplace is located at the bottom of the stairs, on the farth north wall. It's hard to arrange furniture around it. The windows and back door are in weird awkward places. I don't like that the room sits on the freezing cold ground in the winter time with absolutely nothing to protect it (as opposed to the slab that the rest of the house sits on). But worst of the worst - I absolutely DETEST the artificial, black walnut, wood paneling!

This house was owned by Alex's grandparents for 40 years - almost to the day. They have an old-fashioned sense of decorum. No wall colors. No floor colors. Black trim. White furniture. We do have a gorgeous handmade staircase and chandelier - made by Grandpa. But every room in the house was white. Except for the small bedroom - artificail oak wood paneling - and the living room, as I have already described.

I am too small, and don't have enough time, to undertake the removal of said wood paneling and honestly, I don't even know what is under it. But I am not afraid of paint, I am quite fond of stripes, and I have never been afraid to try an idea on a big scale. I began with the landing and a can of primer that I found hidden away in a cupboard. Pretty soon that dark, ugly, marred paneling began to lighten! It actually took the primer very well! The landing started to feel more open and appealing, dare I say, even larger?

I had an idea of what I planned to finish this undertaking with. The living room is our 'cottage' room. I approve very strongly of the 'lake/beach cottage' look of light neutrals, accented with watery blues and greens. We have a lot of art that follows this appeal. I literally marched into the paint store, stood at the sample wall for approximately 30 seconds and walked to the counter with my decision made. Two shades of sandy beige, one very pale and one slightly darker, in two different finishes (satin and semi-gloss), and 18 hours later, I almost have a striped room! I decided to alternate the colors on the pieces of wood paneling to create that sweet cottagey feeling when you walk into the room. The colors are so subtley different that it isn't a pop-up-in-your-face stripe, but its there and feels very calming. It's the most uncommitted decision I have ever made when it comes to paint.

The living room, due to its size, will have to wait for a few weeks. But at least there is an idea being brought about as to its eventual potential. And because I will have finished it before that husband of mine returns on Friday, he isn't around to tell me NO, and he won't complain because he won't have had to do any work. :) I shall have to put up a picture upon its completion.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Annabel Lee

This pretty little girl is our sweet Annabel Lee. I would love to tell you that she is named after the poem by Edgar Allen Poe, but Alex named her after a song by MxPx.

Annabel is mostly Siamese, with seal point markings, pale blue eyes and mostly white angora fur. She is the softest and has the longest fur of my three childrens. She also has no voice. She tries to mew at me, but no sound ever comes out! Weird!

Annabel is the only one of our cats that has a middle name.

Annabel is a 'one-person' cat. And I happen to be her one person. If I am sitting still, Annabel is in my lap. Her sleeping place is on my pillow, on the left side of my body, far away from Alex and both of her sisters.

She is afraid of most men. She merely tolerates Alex, as he usually is the one who fills the food dish. She runs and hides from any other man who may enter the house, and she has an especial fear of Alex's grandpa. There is a story to this - when we moved from our first apartment to a rental house, Grandpa Dave and Uncle Jim helped us move. Annabel hid under the bed, where she usually goes to get away from strange men in the house. They went into the bedroom and lifted the mattresses and it scared her so badly that she hid in the back of Alex's Marshall amp and it took us 2 hours to find her.
Annabel is a perfect little lady. She sits prim and proper and likes to be as high above the rest of the household inhabitants as possible.

The cutest thing she does is a tiny squeaky noise that she makes when she finds a little piece of fleece fabric to play with. She rarely plays. She spends more time searching for me.

She is constantly trying to get outside. Whenever I can't find her, all I have to do is unlock the back door and she will come running, trying to get outside. Last year Alex finally let her out - in the middle of a blizzard. She leapt from the back steps into a 2 foot snow drift and didn't think much of it. I wish I could say that it worked, but the next day she tried to get out again.

She has marked every surface in the house with a fine coating of white fur.

Don't expect to meet Annabel right away if you visit. She tends to hide out until she has determined whether it is safe or not to come out. But she IS beautiful. :)

Monday, October 25, 2010


Well, it is the end day 2 of being without Alex for a week and last night was the worst night I have ever experienced in my life - even worse than the week I gave myself internal injuries by puking so hard and had to go to the hospital. Tonight I am taking serious precautions. And sleeping pills.

First of all, I received an email from a client, business-owner, that is absolute trouble. So bad in fact, that we are looking for ways to close her account from under her and provide her employees with alternate options. It was definitely a contributing factor to my insomnia. I kept having nightmares about this woman cannibalizing her employees.

It also thunderstormed for a short while. I usually find storms to be quite relaxing.

And we have a houseful of loud ghetto neighbors down the street that drove past my house at least 6 times last night with their loud, ghetto-bangin' cars. Inconsiderate jack@$$es.

Every creak, every cat fart, every thunderclap sent me into a panicked andrenaline rush  - and friends, I have an old house that is settling all the time and three cats. I was awake all night. In fact, at 4 a.m. I simply gave up and started getting ready for my 7 a.m. product fair in Goshen because I couldn't stand to lay in bed with my eyes open for another moment.

I txted Alex at 5 a.m. (which was 4 a.m. St. Louis time) and he apparently wasn't sleeping well either because he actually responded. We are never usually good Sunday night sleepers anyway. There have been lots of Sunday nights where we sit up in bed and talk because we just can't sleep. Right now, I am sipping a red tea blended with chamomile, lavender, and passionflower, and will take a sleeping pill before bed. My eyes are so red and bloodshot that a piano student asked me if I had been crying. I hadn't. I just hadn't slept at all.

Alex and I have a really amazing relationship I have come to recognize. Sometimes I feel like it is a little bit deeper than just a husband/wife relationship and it definitely treads into the 'best friendship' kind of marriage. I sometimes laugh and say we are totally co-dependent upon each other. Almost to a fault.

You should see the notes Alex has left me all over the house:
-Don't forget your keys
-Don't forget your cell phone
-Don't forget your purse
-Turn off all the lights
-Lock the doors when you're home alone
-Double check your curling iron so the house doesn't burn down.
- Do not shut the door until you have made sure your keys are in your hand
-Take your medicine
-Don't leave the stove on!
-Feed the cats!

It may seem absurd, but if he didn't write those notes to me, I would probably lock myself out of the house or the car, with my purse, phone and other necessities inside, and have to walk to my parents' house for help. While walking there, something on the stove would catch fire and burn the house down. And the cats would be taken away from me by a well-meaning but ill-informed social worker.

BUT it does go both ways. If he didn't have me, Alex would sleep on the same sheets until they disintegrate. He would dress himself by way of the "sniff-test" and laundry detergent wouldn't exist in the house as long as Febreeze is affordable. His zipper would be down 4 out of 5 mornings and he would probably die young due to a diet of hamburgers, Corn Pops and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. His socks would be full of holes, and he would stay out all night in every manner of place of ill-repute looking for his big break in the rock n roll industry. He might have joined the army and could have had every bone in his body broken on day 5 of basic. Worst of all though - he would still live with his mother.

I accept our co-dependency, even though it makes it very difficult for us to be away from each other for very long. I know our reunion later this week will be that much better because we are anxious to be together again. Honestly, I just want his body heat next to me again. I get cold quickly at night.

Friday, October 22, 2010

My Children are not people....

ALL of my friends who have children do this! They describe their beautiful children and what they are like and what quirks and silly things they do. But alas, I do not have children. Well...not really. I have cats. And yes, I am doomed to be a crazy cat lady. My descent is slow for now because I am married, but if I should outlive Alex, watch out. So because I hate to be left out, I am going to tell my friends about my quirky lovable fuzzie-wuzzies.

This is Tobey. She is 4 years old and has green eyes and a soft white tummy. She is the Alpha female of our househole and we are not permitted to forget it. She dominates every part of our house, and occasionally bullies her sisters as well, but I prefer to think of her as 'bossy' instead of dominant. She just has ideas of how she wants her house run.

Tobey was the first of our three kittehs to appear on the scene. Back in the summer of 2006 I was sitting on the patio at our first apartment, writing in my journal, when this adorable kitten came running up to me. She immediately began to rub her little head on my legs and chatter to me in cute kitten noises. So friendly! I had never seen such a friendly kitten! She was about 18 inches long and skinny as a rail and walked with the most absurd limp I had ever seen. Her back legs were clearly not right. To this day she has that same absurd swagger. The vet told us that it's very likely that she was under someone's feet a little too often and they either stepped on her or kicked her, and her limp is the result of an improperly healed broken pelvis.

Tobey began to demand our attention by jumping from the ground to the top of our screen door. She talked to us constantly. We knew who she belonged to - the nasty people who lived next door. We had often seen three cats in the window of the apartment next door, since their little girl had broken all of the mini-blinds by grabbing them and pulling them down so she could look out. By the next weekend, we realized that these neighbors had skipped out on their lease. They had emptied their apartment over Labor Day weekend when the office was closed, and had tossed their 3 kittens out into the backyard. Who abandons kittens?!?! And those kittens managed to find their way over to MY backyard. That was the beginning of my family. :) I've always been a strong supporter of adoption.

The first night that I let Tobey in the house, she was covered with fleas, so I gave her a flea dip. Bad idea. Turns out my goofy baby is allergic to flea dip. She had a reaction that gave her seizures and tremors all night long. I spent the night in the animal hospital with this little runt cat that wasn't even mine. But she was such a good bath taker! She sat in the warm water and let me scrub her down and never flinched or freaked out once. She has joined me in a hot bath more than once - but only because she has fallen in.

From that first night, I knew she was going to be part of our family. She is our social butterfly. Anyone who comes to the house will be greeted by Tobey. She demands cuddle time every single day and when I'm gone all day, she will crawl in my lap for a snuggle as soon as I sit down for more than 2 minutes. She sleeps at my feet at night, and in the morning, while the rest of us are up and getting ready for a day's work, she stays there, yawning and watching us and thinking "Suckers. I get to stay here in bed all day."

 Tobey's favorite person on earth is our mailman. She waits for him to come every day and will chase him through the big picture window.

Tobey falls down our steps on a weekly basis - usually around 3 am - just in case we were daring to try to sleep while she is awake.

She plays fetch. Not kidding. Just see what happens when I throw a catnip mousie down the hallway.

Tobey will empty the entire basket of cat toys out just so I will pick them all up and put them back in the basket so that she can empty them all out again. It's her favorite game. She usually feels like playing this game when I am trying to clean the house for guests to come over.

Tobey also gives hugs. If you are sitting just right, she will wrap both front legs around your neck and squeeze.

If you come over for a visit, expect to be inspected by the Boss of the House - Tobey. :)

And just when I was getting into a routine!

I guess I haven't had any great things to get out of my head this week! Sometimes I am full of wisdom, sometimes I just sit on the couch and watch the History Channel International. (Not the regular History, all they play anymore is Pawn Stars and Gangland, neither of which I can stand to watch.)

I got an email from yesterday. It was actually an ad for 50% off of Halloween costumes, but once I clicked on the site, I got sucked into the little Lemax Spookytown villages, which of course then led me to the Christmas Town villages, and then the Christmas decor itself.... and you know the rest of this story. You would have done the same! I do love the holidays. Even now I am sitting here looking at a suggested link from Amazon to a Christmas CD called 'O Holy Night' and I fully intend to find every piano solo arrangement of that carol that I own and play them all today. Early, yes. Too early, not a chance!

I dread the coming week because Alex will be on a business trip. I am a little co-dependent. I don't do well without him. So I plan to have friends over, and I am drawing up some plans of crafty things that I want to do all week. And I have to finish painting the laundry room. But I have been expressly forbidden to do anything to the upstairs bathroom while he is away. Boo.

The cool weather has kept me indoors quite a bit this week, but I am enjoying the changing of the seasons. One of my little students, Blake, asked me if he could rake my leaves this week. I asked him if it bothered him that I hadn't been keeping up with the raking and he said yes. I laughed. I see those leaves on the grass as a lovely oriental carpet - all reds and golds. And its covering the grass that hasn't been mowed since August. I'm a teeny bit lazy. But we did buy a new rake last night, so no more excuses! I'll at least get the leaves off of the sidewalk.

Final thought of the day: "But the Fruit of the Spirit is Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faith, Gentleness and Self-control. Against these things there are no laws." Galatians 5:22-23

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Putting The Thoughts All Together

I haven't been able to put a complete thought together in about 2 days and this is frustrating to me because I am normally not at a loss when it comes to things going on in my head.

I supposed the one thing I can attribute my scatterred brains to is the future.

I was presented with two new employment opportunities - one at a private school and one...elsewhere. I can't really talk about it yet. The school did not even have the decency to return my call of enquiry, which was extremely frustrating because I went to that school and thought that they would at least answer a few questions for me. I was wrong.

The other opportunity came upon a chance meeting with an old high school chum at a concert. He mentioned that his job was about to open up as he was being promoted to another position and that I should apply for it. I did, as soon as the job was listed, and now have been waiting a full week for the application deadline to expire. I want to hear from them so badly. I want to be asked to interview. Not because this strikes me as the 'perfect' job for me, or because I want so desperately to be out of insurance, but because the position itself absolutely intrigues me. It's what they call an 'offer you can't refuse'. :)

My health has been on a continual decline lately and I'm not sure why. There is almost no time of the day now where I don't feel sick to my stomach or something hurts. I have had some fierce digestion problems that have been bothering me and I dread the thought of having to have something removed. I also have headaches pretty frequently and joint and muscular pain on and off. But I don't have any particular answers to any of it. I finally agreed with Alex that we will contact his old family doctor and make an appointment.

I have also lost the joy that I usually have when it comes to matters of my house. I am a freak - I love housework. I like to take care of my house. It's like the child I don't have. But lately, I've been letting things go because I'm simply too tired to take care of them or too lazy. I've gotten lazy. That's troubling.

On the other hand, we have fallen in love with our church again and we look forward to worshipping every Sunday. We had lost that desire to be with other believers for awhile, so it's a welcome sentimate to have again. It's the music, I'm sure. :) And perhaps we just needed some new perspective on things as well.

Maybe I'll go cook something. That might get me out of this little funk I'm it. And perhaps a short nap this afternoon will also improve my attitude.

I keep forgetting what day it is. I got up and prepared for all of tomorrow's appointments.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Bag of Bones

Alex and I bought the newest Jars of Clay album last Tuesday when it was released and this past Tuesday they had a surprise concert at Bethel College. Awesome!

There is one particular song on the new album that I have been singing in my head over and over again this whole week. The chorus has the following lyrics:

"Why carry on our own, what's coming to all men?
Why drag a bag of bones to Hell and back again?
Look around,
Lay it down."

And those lyrics keep putting this mental picture in my head that is both inspiring and disturbing, because I keep seeing myself trudging through a black and desolate landscape, dragging a bag full of bones - some of them mouldy and yellow with age, and some of them still holding flesh and blood, and each of them representing a past emotional or spiritual injury.

I know, I'm kind of morbid. It is drawing near to Halloween. I tend to see more disturbing things in my mind's eye around this time of year. I blame the media.

To tell the truth, what bothers me the most is the desire to continue dragging that bag of bones around! How many of us know that we need to forgive others for wrong-doings against us? We know all the sage advice about turning the other cheek and love your enemies and blah blah blah. At least, you know all this if you were raised in church like I was. But I have known more women in my short lifetime who are dragging around a bag of bones that is getting to be too heavy for them!

I am a small person - one of those people who was tiny and fragile from day one, who turned into the tiny and fragile runt of the kindergarten and elementary school classes. I was easy to bully because I couldn't fight back. I'm sorry to say that my parents had to pull me out of public school when I was in 2nd grade because a teacher found it easier to bully me than deal with her own personal problems. I was bullied in Christian schools too - from people who were pastors' children, people who should have known better. I could easily say that everything wrong with me is a direct result of bullying and intimidation from growing up. That's a crutch that gives me an excuse for almost everything! I should just keep dragging that bag of bones around!

OR --

I could choose to drop that bag of bones and be free! Free to be the beautiful woman God has called me to be. Free to live, free to dance, free to enjoy life and free to forget those past hurts caused by ignorant, foolish, prideful, selfish people and realize that this life is far too short to allow the sins of other to affect my personal well-being.

Drop the bag of bones. It's not worth it to carry those old things until death.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Silent Evolution by Jason deCaires Taylor

Empty Canvasses

I'm rather artsy. If you know me well, you know this is true.

I have an odd thing that I find amazing joy in - I am overjoyed by potential.

On Tuesday I opened up a blank notebook that I have had for a looooong time and simply never started writing anything in. I felt a little tingle of excitement as I ran my hand over the blank page, imaging the great and rediculous things that I will eventually fill all those pages up with. Those pages, empty now, have a potential for wisdom, humor and, probably a couple of my famous lists.

I love to walk through the aisles that hold blank canvasses at the art stores. All those different shapes and sizes! What amazing works of beauty and controversy will be put on those surfaces? Will they inspire and delight, or offend and hurt? What colors will they hold? What will the subject matter be?

My favorite part of starting a new cross stitch piece is to spread the blank piece of Aida fabric out on the floor and measure out the size, and then put those first few stitches in. (I replicate pieces of fine art in cross stitch form and my favorite artist is John William Waterhouse, although currently I am replicating Van Gogh's Starry Night) The first of 50,000 little x-shaped stitches to come, knowing that someday in the future they will all join together to create a beautiful piece of artwork.

I love the yarn shop in River Park. All those shelves and baskets full of colors and textures! Someday they will be baby blankets and booties, warm hats and mittens, and snuggly sweaters. Those colors of yarn will give someone a feeling of coziness and peace. (Winters are COLD around here.)

"If I were to wish for anything, I would not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye, which ever young and ardent, sees the possible." - Soren Kierkgaard

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Yet another side effect of stress I have learned...

So we all know that stress causes insomnia and anxiety and exhaustion and pain.

I learned a new one yesterday - it also causes your stomach to almost completely stop making the digestive acids that break down the food you consume and in turn, causes halitosis (rancid breath!), constipation and diarrhea. Lovely!

I won't admit to how many of these particular symptoms I have suffered from in the past, but it certainly reveals some things! Here's how to fix it:

A tablespoon of apple cider vinegar before meals - its burns going down, take it like a shot of tequila - to increase the digestive acid and promote healthy digestion
A glass of diluted lemon juice before bed to help increase nighttime digestion and reduce the gasses that build up in your intestines while you sleep
A complete colon cleanse - be sure you can stay home for about 36 hours if you decide to do this
Garlic (odorless garlic tablets, such as the homeopathic ones that reduce cholesterol)
Drink plenty of water to help wash your guts out!

And those are just a few things that can help get rid of nasty breath and other little digestion problems.

Oh, and if you are a habitual yogurt eater - as I am - you need to let up a little bit. Turns out that it coats the lining of your stomach and reduces that acid even more. Yikes!

Yesterday's Thoughts Today

Four years ago on October 12 we had our first snow of the winter. This year it was 80 degrees outside and and my fall lettuces and broccolis are bolting to seed because of the heat. So much for preserving broccoli soup. But despite all that, I am thinking about the upcoming holidays. As I said a week ago, October brings my favorite time of year - all the best holidays.

I recently rediscovered the "Spirit of Christmas" books by Leisure Arts and now have determined that I need to collect them all again. (I managed to locate Nos. 1,4 and 10) My favorite thing about those books is the first few pages of Christmas trees that all have a special theme. Poor Alex thought I was going to try to make a Christmas tree with every single theme that I said I loved. He panicked for a moment, but I assured him that I plan on doing only one per year. :)

My most lasting favorite holiday theme is that of angels. Not just normal angels, or fairies with angelic aspirations, but big Christmas angels in flowing robes and golden halos, with lutes and trumpets and harps, bouquets of poinsettias, and everything trimmed in gold and silver and sparkles.

This is our 5th Christmas together as husband and wife, and our 2nd year in our own home. I have so many ideas for the holidays this year and I am thinking about theming everything around angels. Or teddy bears. Or teddy bears dressed as angels. No, not really. :) I have a lot of angels that I have collected over the years. It was a collection that most family members approved of. I have visions of big silver and gold ribbons entwined with pearl garlands and baskets of white sparkled florals. I can't wait for Thanksgiving so I'll be allowed to get the Christmas decor out of the attic. Alex says we're not allowed to be one of 'those houses'. (Meaning, the crazy people that decorate for Christmas before Halloween.)

I even started looking for the best Christmas cards.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Praises from the Psalms

I don't always read the Bible every day and sometimes I wish I did. I love being a crazy person who believes that the Bible is divinely inspired! Let those 'rational' smart scientific people out there mock me for all they're worth, it doesn't bother me a bit. I'll believe 'til the day I die that the Good Book is the Word of God because every single day I find inspiration and hope and wonder and wisdom and more.

Today I just opened my Bible up to where the ribbon was holding a place. I didn't know where it was going to be. Sometimes I do that - just let it fall where it may. And I was delighted to find myself reading the last 4 chapters of the Psalms - chapters 147-150 - which are songs of PRAISE that King David composed.

Praise is different from worship. I was once mocked by some fellow church members for saying we should make a difference in the praise songs and worship songs. They laughed at me and said there was no difference. I beg to differ. 

PRAISE - is the act of glorifying God for the things that he has done! When your child bring home an A+ report card you praise them for it, don't you? Maybe even reward them? Praise is the act of giving God glory and honor for the wonderful things He does for you.

WORSHIP is the act of giving God honor and glory for WHO HE IS. He is a holy, just, righteous and above all LOVING GOD. If you worship something you not only give it all of your attention, but you start to mold yourself into becoming LIKE that thing or that person. I used to worship the Beatles (in a manner of speaking, I was NOT a member of some weird cult). I listened to them alllllll the time. I dressed like a hippie and started calling my guy friends 'lads' and my girlfriends 'birds'. I did not do drugs. I knew more trivia than I should admit to. But none of that would get me anywhere. If I had focused all that energy on worshipping GOD instead, I would be more like Him in every way. And isn't that what we are hoping to achieve in all this life?

So I was reading some wonderful praises penned by King David. I started with this one - chapter 147:1

"Praise the Lord!
For it is good to sing praises to our God:
For it is pleasant and praise is beautiful."

And right there, I knew that no matter what happens today, I will praise God for it.

Monday, October 11, 2010


I like to make lists. Some might even say I live and die by the lists I make. I have more long pads of notepaper with lines on them than any other kind of paper. I am a list-makin' maniac!

Some of the things I make lists for include:

All the chores I want to accomplish for the day
Grocery list!
Christmas cards
Recipes for the week's meals
Books to read in the future
What I will wear for the business week
Places to go for all the vacations we might get to take in the next five years
Favorite ice creams
Sewing patterns I want to try
Things to give Alex for birthdays and Christmas
Did I say grocery list? That's my favorite.
Things I want to study someday
Names I would consider for my children
Positive thoughts
Herbs that should be blended for teas.
Flowers that I like
Blessings from the day

I do that last one on rare occasions, but I think I should do it more often. Myself and another friend are fighting of the throes of depression on a pretty regular basis now, and I am constantly trying to remember that no matter what, God gives me blessings on a daily basis. For example I WOKE UP THIS MORNING! Not only did I wake up, I woke up early, and made coffee. That's my personal time and I am grateful that I get to do it and that I'm not confined to a home or hospital and that I actually own a coffeepot that works and that I can get coffee out of that tastes good! I'm healed and whole, and although I am not making any money from it right now, I DO (sorta) have a job. And I was given a very welcome opportunity last Sunday that I was given the opportunity to act on this afternoon.

Count your many blessings. Count them one by one.

What Do YOU Think??

I need some thoughts.

I want to post something every day. But I'm not sure what to post every day.

I generally stick to 3 topics - cooking, spirituality/faith, and bitching about my life. I'd like to get rid of that last one though. No one likes to read about someone's issues and I have a lot of them. And sometimes I review and recommend books, but not often.

If you read this, tell me what I say that strikes you as interesting.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Over That Rainbow

This past Sunday my sweet hubby, Alex, took part in the debut concert of a young man that we have known for a short while who has biiiiiig dreams to become a professional singer/entertainer. Justin Williams, a local kid, recent high school grad, produced by the Lampkin Music Group, gave his first pro concert at the Palais Royale in Downtown South Bend. The concert was called 'Just Me'.

Now a couple things come to mind for other musicians/thespians/performers when we see a local boy getting such an opportunity. First of all, every single one of us says WHY ISN'T IT ME?? You see, some of us work much harder than others, and still never get an ounce of credit. Justin was scouted. He's taken lead roles in several of our local theater gigs and performs on the amateur level pretty frequently.

Some of us are happy and excited for him. What an exciting opportunity! How amazing! Someone young, local, not a celebrity - yet - not someone related to a celebrity or a contestant on a reality show - no, a genuinely talented young man who was performing actually got seen by a talent scount and music producer! That's great!  But some of us can do nothing but complain about how he never shows up to rehearsals and how big his ego is and what a little jerk he is when he doesn't get what he wants - like a lead role in 'Rent' this past summer? - et cetera, et cetera. Yeah, we performance oriented folks definitely have our issues with each other.

Alex really enjoyed taking part in the performance. I enjoyed seeing him on stage, dressed up so handsomely in concert black, wearing his black fedora as requested by Justin, playing his guitar. My favorite part though, as I knew would be so, was when Justin sang 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow' as performed by Israel Ka'amakowiwo'ole (that Polynesian name might have a couple extra letters in there, I can't quite remember and I never pronouce it right, I just call him IZ) who was an 800 pound Hawaiian singer with pipes of a golden god.  Alex accompanied Justin on a ukelele, which he picked up from his dad exactly 7 days prior to the concert. I loved it.

There were a few things that I would have changed. For example, I don't think Justin is more than 19 years old. And when he talked to the audience he had the tone and candor of an old man. In fact, I actually heard him say "it came about in my youth...." and my mother in law, sitting next to me, leaned over and said "In his youth?? He IS in his youth!" Justin - enjoy being young. There will be plenty of time to draw on your past experiences in the future! You sound rediculous talking like you're Frank Sinatra when you're actually little more than Justin Beiber right now. (Notice I said 'more' than J.B. I do NOT condone that particular variety of pop music.) And speaking of Frank Sinatra, I absolutely detest it when people change the words to a song so that it can be personalized to someone. Justin's performance of "My Way" should have been sung as it was written - and not changed to "Don's Way" so that he could dedicate it to his grandfather. My feeling on the matter is that if the song holds meaning the way it is written - dedicate it and perform it AS WRITTEN! Otherwise, write a song to dedicate to your amazing grandfather who taught you so much about music or have a song commissioned. I've been writing a song about my grandfather for 2 months now because he meant so much to me. And I don't have to change any words to any existing pieces of music.

But I digress.

Justin's producer is already talking about the next performance and Justin is already planning on including Alex in the show. I hope this young man has a great future ahead of him and that all the troubles of most young performers in my industry will pass him by. Lord knows, we musical types make some of the WORST choices known to man. Something in our little musician brains. :) Good luck Justin Williams! And thank you for including my husband and I in your debut.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten

A couple of years ago my dad handed off a bag full of books to me from Grandma Betty. This is a constant source of annoyance to most members of my family, as few of us have time to read and indulge in literature in the ways that Grandma would have us do. She WAS, after all, the librarian for Beiger Elementary School and the curator for the Hannah Lindahl Children's Museum. She's had a lot of exposure to books.

I like to read. I find a lot of solace in reading, and I read many different kinds of books. I read fiction the most I would say because as a high stress person, fiction gives me an escape from the real world. But I also greatly enjoy auto-biographies (Alex and I are currently diving into the life of Phil Vischer, the genius behind VeggieTales) and I love to read books that teach me things I need to know. You may remember the descriptions of my vast library of gardening books, cookbooks, fashion and fabric guides and business books.

When Grandma hands off a stack of books, they usually come to me, because she knows I will read them.....eventually. I finally looked into the bookshelf and pulled out this dusty old hardback with it's cellophane library jacket on it and all the stamps from the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church Library crossed out with a black Sharpie. I thought to myself Why haven't I read this yet? and opened up the first page.

I have laughed out loud at certain parts of this book, and some of the more memorable writings in it will make their way to the postings of my blog. I really am enjoying this author and I think it's because he writes and verbalizes like I do! The tone of his writing is very similar to my own! No wonder I love it!

I wanted to share the list of very important things about life that inspired the title of the book All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten because I agree with them 100%. Wouldn't life be beautiful if we could step outside of our adult reasoning and justification and thought process and go back to kindergarten?

"ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sandpile at Sunday School. These are the things I learned:

Share Everything.
Play fair.
Don't hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don't take things that aren't yours.
Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody. And mean it!
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life- learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
Whe you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really know how or why, but we are all like that.
Goldfish and hamster and white mice and even the little seed in the cup - they all die. And so do we.
And then remember the Dick and Jane books and the very first word you learner - the most important word of all!

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living." -Robert Fulghum

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Possibly My Very Favorite Song EVER

I can't express how much I love this song. As I posted on Facebook earlier today, I would gladly trade a dozen pop stars or more if God would give us back Freddie Mercury.

Time For A New Recipe!!

I am most famous for my experimental cooking with my garden harvestings. I haven't posted any new experiments lately! Apparently my head has been far too full of other things. (Stressful things that don't lead to productivity or happiness.)

My most insanely successful herb this year was clearly the ordinary, garden variety basil. It doubled, tripled, quadrupled and then grew some more. It took over the herb patch and made me decide to move my basil plants to the front garden next spring. The darn thing is basically a small tree. But I also had great successes with golden sage, rosemary, dill and parsley, none of which are hard to please and grow very well in a sheltered sunny spot. I also gave two new herbs a go - lemon verbena and lemongrass. Both have been vital in the creation of my Lemon Chamomile Get Better Soon tea mix.

Anyway, lemon grass and lemon verbena are pretty delicious, and surprisingly, they are delightful to blend with sweet berries like raspberries and strawberries. And so, the miracle of Berry-Lemon Jam was born!

You will need the usual essentials for jam-making: pots, jelly jars, lids and rings, a non-reactive spatula (silicone is best), something long for removing air bubbles, jar lifter, lid magnet, etc. You also need a jelly bag!!

This is a recipe for any type of berry - blackberries, red raspberries, or strawberries - but I used red raspberries because they grow in plenty at the back of my parents' property. Adding the lemony herbs gave it a subtle citrusy flavor that comes almost as an afterthought. Simply delightful!


3 medium sized Granny Smith apples
3 pounds (about 8 cups rinsed) red raspberries
2 cups of sugar
3 tablespoons or strained fresh lemon juice
1/2 c. packed fresh lemon verbena, torn into pieces
4-6 lemongrass stalks, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 package of Sure Jell

Prepare for water bath canning: Sterilize the jars and keept them hot in the canning pot. Put a small plate in the freezer and put the flat jar lids in a small saucepan and put over low heat. Allow this to come to a very slow boil.

Quarter and core the apples, reserving the core and seeds. Put these apple trimmings (The core and seeds and peels!) and all of the herbs that you can pack into the jelly bag (or 4 layers of cheesecloth) and tie the bag closed. Reserve the actual piece of apple though!

Put the raspberries and sugar in a wide, 6-8 quart preserving pan. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently, then continue to cook until the juices are just deep enough to cover the berries, about 8 minutes. Pour into a colanger set over a large bowl and stir the berries gently to strain off the juices. Return the juice to the pan along, along with the apple pieces and the bag with all the apple trimmings and herbs. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the syrup is reduced and thick and registers about 220 degrees F on a candy thermometer, 15-20 minutes.

Return the berries and any accumulated juice, along with the lemon juice and the package of Sure Jell, to the pan and bring to a simmer. Simmer, stirring frequently. Test for jelling by putting a small dab on the plate in the freezer and returning it to the freezer for one minutes. If it has jelled it will wrinkle. If not, simmer 5 more minutes and then test again. Remove the jelly bag and the apples.

Using the jar lifter, pull the hot jars out of the canning pot and ladle the jam into them. Use a damp paper towel to wipe the rims of the jars, then put a flat lids and ring on each jar, adjusting the ring to finger-tight. Return the jars to the canning pot and process.

After processing, move the jars to a towel in a location where they will not be disturbed for about 12 hours. After 1 hour, check to see that the lids have sealed properly by pressing down on the center of the lid. If the sealing did not occur, refrigerate the jar immediately and eat it with breakfast tomorrow!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Anxiety and Insomnia

I'll keep this short because I firmly believe that no one cares about anyone's personal problems except their own. (LOL)

I haven't slept a decent night's sleep in about a month. I have a cold, which isn't helping and I suffer from some serious anxiety. Part of is is hormones, part of it is that I am simply a high-stress person.

I have tried herbal tea, which I blended myself and it helps except in extreme cases. I do yoga before bed and don't drink alcohol before it's time to go to bed. I read and try to calm my brain, but it still races in thought until I doze off and then I have insane dreams that wake me up again. I can't even take drugs, like NyQuil or Simply Sleep, because I still wake up two or three times thoughout the night, even while drugged.

Thoughts? Ideas? I'm looking for something new here. Something besides my husband whacking me over the head, which I'm pretty sure he wanted to do at 2 this morning when I woke up and started to cry inconsolably, and then became angry and restless.

Cavemen Pride

This is rediculous. I am not proud in any way of my high school and I'm not a sports fan. Not of any sport - except racing, which doesn't happen in schools.

But I am proud of my alma mater, who BEAT their cross-town rival in FOOTBALL for the 2nd year in a row AFTER a 27 year losing streak.

Our alma mater now resembles a state penitentiary, painted gray where the maroon and white used to be, and heavy industrial locks on every single door, and continues to hold one of the highest dropout rates and teen pregnancy rates in the State. It's sad and frustrating.

But its about time we got a 30 year winning streak of our own.

Friday, October 1, 2010


The weather has been cooling and the tree in the front yard has begun dropping its yellowed leaves with greater intensity. September is over - I didn't make my number for the month - and its the first day of my favorite part of the year.

October thru December gives me more joy than any other time of year. I pulled the first pumpkin out of the garden yesterday and there is a bag full of apples in the kitchen giving off the sweetest possible aroma. If my fall-induced cold and sore throat would hurry up and go away, I might finally be able to make some apple pies and applesauce. We have so much going on for the next 12 weeks and I am eager to get it all started.

October starts with a wedding! Our friends Kyle and Rosie are tying the knot tomorrow afternoon. After the reception we're off to the first concert of the Symphony Orchestra and they are performing the Firebird Suite, which is an amazing piece of music. Sunday, Alex has a concert to play for that, although it isn't any great thing, will bring opportunities and new people to meet.

I might have an appointment next week with another doctor's office to introduce Aflac. I pray that it goes through. My luck hasn't been very good lately. All pre-conceived notions seem to be against me. I even had someone tell me that they have enough insurance and don't care if their employees have it or not. It was frustrating because I don't care how much insurance the owners of a business have - its my job to help their employees acquire it without costing their business anything.

After next week, I have an appointment with a physical therapy company with 2 offices, one in South Bend and one in Laporte. Then we have an awards banquet for the high performers in the state (which I am not one of) and a talent show (which I am a part of) and a fancy semi-formal banquet.

Our vacation was cancelled, but Alex has to go to St. Louis for a week for a convention, so I'm going to be a bit lonely at the end of the month. I think I'll fill the time with parties and friends. :)

I love November. I like the anticipation of the year winding down to a close and the start of the holiday season. I love squash soups and cinnamon flavored coffees and holidays that celebrate food and family. The snow starts falling and it's beautiful until January, and then I'm sick of it. The nights are cold and crisp and I have every good reason to turn on the fireplace and snuggle under fleecy blankets with Alex. And then December starts and its full of planning and cookies and goodies and Christmas. I'm so glad it's October 1st!