Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What a Wakeup Call

So the day started when I was awakened at 5:20am by the tornado sirens. I laid there for about three full minutes before my brain woke up enough to realize I needed to get my fanny up and see what all the fuss was about. A quick check of the TV motivated me to wake up my peeps and send everybody to the walk-in closet. Nothing like squeezing in together where we can all enjoy the plethora of combined amounts of morning breath. WHO had garlic last night? It was either garlic or somebody had been chewing on a dirty mop. And I'm not namin' any names, but it could have been me. I did take the time to pee before I crawled in the closet because I do have some vanity. On the chance that it was "my time to go" as we say in these parts, I was not about to be found in a tree in my neighbor's yard with urine all over my pajama pants.

The good news is that the tornadoes skimmed right past us. The bad news is that they rolled over the people living about an hour north of us in southern Illinois. At last count, six people were dead, more than 100 were injured and dozens had lost their homes. Awful. Just awful. As the crow flies, Mama and Daddy are in the vicinity of the storm's path, but they were untouched. And if those two don't build a storm shelter soon, I'm just gonna scream. They live on top of a hill where the winds come sweepin' down the plains on a regular basis it seems, and I fret every time a big storm blows through there. It would not surprise me at all if a tornado didn't send them flying into the next county one day. Seriously, they need a cellar.

A family on the other side of our county managed to escape injury when their trailer went end over end during the winds. Can you imagine taking that wild ride? I suspect you would expect to see Jesus any moment. I know I'd be callin' his name with every flip.

It was a bumpy start to what looks to be an early spring storm season. Oy vey. We spent a lot of time in the closet last year. If we're going to be in there as much this year, I'm gonna have to install a refrigerator and a laptop in there. Oh, and a bed for the dog. He does NOT like the closet. Something about the lack of treats and a Big A$@ Chair.

It seems as if the world is a bit out of kilter this week. First, a local soldier died in that mess in Afghanistan, then the tornadoes and now Davy Jones is dead. My favorite Monkee died of a heart attack. Can you believe it? What is this world coming to? Oh, and apparently, Lindsey Lohan finally got clean. Plus, Bill O'Reilley and I actually agreed on TWO issues in the past week. TWO. Pray up, brothers and sisters, it's the end of times.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Yesterday's Headline

When I saw the internet headline yesterday morning about the school shooting in Chardon, Ohio, I immediately felt great sadness for that community. Sadness, because I know how those people are feeling today. Our community suffered a school shooting fourteen years ago. Before there was Columbine, there was Moses Lake, Pearl, Mississippi and then us. Heath High School. We have endured the drama that is playing out now in Chardon, and the events that are unfolding there are a very uncomfortable reminder of those early days following the Heath shooting. We have lived it. And it changed us. For many it was small changes, like the rules we now have to follow for entering our children's school. Others closer to the event have scars that may never heal. All of us lost that feeling that it could never happen to us.

December 1, 1997. It was a Monday, and I will never forget that day. I was the Assignment Manger at the local television station then and one of the first people in the newsroom that morning, aside from the morning show crew. I picked up the phone, and someone was hollering into my ear that somebody had just shot up the lobby of Heath High School. When I realized that it was a very respected source of mine who would have access to that information, I knew it was likely that something serious had happened, but I still wasn't ready to believe the worst. But as I hung up the phone, the scanner next to my desk went wild, and the voice traffic told me that the worst had indeed happened. I picked up the phone to start calling in staff, but my mind couldn't get any traction. I was still trying to process the information that I was hearing. When I heard the call for multiple ambulances, I was stunned. I got a reporter on the line to tell him to get into his car and drive straight to the school, and because he was relatively new to the area he needed directions. I literally couldn't remember how to get there, even though I knew exactly where that school was. That's how numb I was. I handed the phone to a coworker who had walked into the room, and I said, "Tell Berndt how to get to Heath High School." Within hours, we would learn that three girls were dead and five other students were injured, one of them paralyzed from the waist down.

That was the beginning of what ended up being two of the most difficult weeks I've ever had on the job. We worked almost around the clock. Papa T. was the school superintendent at the time, so he and I each wandered home late each night, caught a little sleep and went in early each morning. I think he aged ten years in those few days. He had some very difficult decisions to make about when and how the kids would all go back to school. I think he handled it very well.

It was an extremely stressful time, and everyone's emotions were raw because this was such a blow to our community. We all knew people who were directly affected, and we all felt extremely protective of our children. I smiled to myself when the gentleman in Chandon yesterday encouraged parents to go home and hug their children. It was almost as if he was following a script already written by the Heaths, and the Pearls and the Columbines. I've heard that quote before. Right here in my own backyard and in the towns who have suffered this brand of horror since.

With the national media descending immediately on our town in 1997, the spotlight shined brightly on us, and the whole country witnessed our grief. There were candlelight vigils, the perp walk. There was a mass funeral for the three girls who were killed. The families asked our station to provide live coverage of it for the networks. They wanted the world to see the devastation the shooter had brought to their families. We did it with as much care and sensitivity as we could. We tried our best to protect them from some of the network news madness, but it was almost impossible. My job was to deal with the network affiliates, and they wore me out with their requests. And their boldness. A Dateline NBC producer walked right into the back door of someone's home. A CNN producer tried to slip into the funeral behind one of our crew members, which was strictly off limits to everyone except our employees we had assigned to operate the equipment. We had to threaten to have that producer arrested. It was just crazy how pushy they could be, and at one point, I ripped into some CNN folks like a buzz saw over their behavior. I make it a point to NEVER yell in the workplace, but I lost my mind that day, mostly due to stress. I yelled loud enough for that producer to hear me in Atlanta without the phone. I remember my mother calling me in the middle of all that madness, just to see how I was doing. The minute I heard her voice I burst into tears. What a release. It was common to find one of our employees silently crying as we edited video tape or planned the funeral coverage in those days. Like everyone else, we struggled to understand how it could happen to our town.

The images of those days roll through my head easily when I think about them. Panicked parents running to the school to find their kids that morning of the shooting, bloody towels on the floor of the school lobby and the scrawny fourteen year old boy who caused the havoc when he snuck three guns into school and opened fire on a prayer circle of unsuspecting kids. I don't think I'll ever forget those pictures. And I'll certainly never forget the emotions attached to those days. And as troubling as they are for me, they are nothing like the emotions of the people who were victims or close to the victims. I just can't imagine how difficult it has been for them, although I've gotten glimpses of it in interviews that have followed in the years since. Their pain runs deep.

That kind of pain strains marriages, it causes anger and it changes the rest of your life. Those folks will simply never be the same. And their pain never ends. There's always a new chapter. The Heath gunman pleaded guilty six months after the shootings but has since appealed that plea. He has been in and out of court for the last fourteen years, dredging up old hurts for the victims' families every time. His family has felt pain, too. It's hard to live in a city where your son shot up a school.

The reason I share this with you is that I want you to understand that it can happen to you, too. Even if you live in a small town in the middle of nowhere. We are a rural community of 60,000 people where crime is very low, and people don't always lock their doors. It still happened to us. These shootings are not random acts of inner city gang violence. They are generally planned by kids who fit a particular demographic. They are boys who usually are bullied or feel picked on. They are loners with few friends, and they are often deeply troubled. Their classmates describe them as weird or odd. They are shunned. They take the abuse of school mates until they can't take it anymore. They crack, and they choose to respond in a horrible way. Our gunman spoke of being picked on. He was small and meek.
Source:  Reuters

Oddly enough, he had a growth spurt just a few years later and became very capable of defending himself.
Source:  WRCB

I've often wondered how things might have been different if he could have hung on until he had grown more.

And there are almost always signs. In our case, the boy told some kids, "Something big is going to happen on Monday." No one took him seriously. It is common in these shootings for the shooter to give some kind of warning, especially in this day of social media. And if the people around him have the courage to report it, he can be stopped. There was an excellent report on Nightly News last night about the number of planned attacks that have been stopped in recent years because someone reported a suspicious comment or behavior. I encourage you to talk to your children or grandchildren about the affects of bullying and the importance of reporting suspicious behavior. In hindsight, most of these shootings were preceded by signs that something was going wrong in the shooter's life. Hindsight may be 20/20 but unfortunately, it can also be fatal. Does your child know what to do if there is an intruder in his school? Does your child's school have a plan for such an event? These are questions you should ask if you haven't already. If it can happen to us, it can happen to you.

The folks in Chardon need our prayers. They have a long road of healing before them. We're at fourteen years and counting.

Monday, February 27, 2012


Oh, how I love a good tree.  For the other entries this week, hop on over here.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Show us Your Cathedral!

Just for fun, I thought I'd show you post Mardi Gras that not everything in New Orleans is about parties and beads.  In the middle of the French Quarter, on Jackson Square, is the beautiful St. Louis Cathedral.  Its history is interesting, so, as my mama used to say, go look it up and read about it.  It's a lovely place to visit and stands in stark contrast to all the revelry that takes place up the street.  The juxtaposition of it all makes me giggle.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Another Question

So, I'm all about interaction and feedback this week. Your comments on the train photos were extremely helpful. I may do that more often. It helped me to definitely weed out the chaff and to narrow down my choices. It also gave me food for thought that has inspired me to try at least one other idea that requires me to learn something new about the technical side of photography and specifically how my camera works, so that's a good thing. Ideally, it also includes a somewhat muscular track athlete, but I haven't figured out how to pull that part of it off yet. We'll see.

Also, I just love seeing what, if anything, about an image, is appealing to people. Since I've never met most of you in person, it gives me glimpses of your personality, and I quite enjoy that. So, thanks for the feedback. And now, for the second chance for you to weigh in on something of interest to me.

On my last post, I found a comment from my friend in Spain, Oreneta, about her experiences with touch very interesting. It made me think about how touch, not just from another human being, affects me. There's texture of materials. And there's obviously the effects of passionate touch from another person. We're all pretty familiar with that. I hope. But I'm not really talking about that. I'm talking about all of the other more subtle forms of touch we enjoy. Personally, I love to have someone wash my hair. Whenever I get my hair colored, I absolutely love the part where Miss B. rinses, washes and rinses my hair again. She massages my scalp and makes me feel shiny and new. If I ever become extremely wealthy, I'm going to pay someone to do that for me more often. I also love the feel of a baby's tiny hand wrapped around my finger. There's something about that I find very comforting. There's so much strength and trust in that little hand.

And thanks to Oreneta's willingness to share, I'm now curious about the rest of you. Your thoughts please on touch, in any form or fashion, and how it affects you. You'd think I was working on a thesis or something the way I'm all yadda, yadda reflective on contact this week. Nope. Just nosey. Dare I ask? Have you hugged someone today?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Touch Here or There

Anyone who has ever cared for a senior citizen on a daily basis will tell you, if he's honest, that it's dadgum hard. In fact, it's exhausting and frustrating. For the caregivers AND the senior. For the caregivers, it taxes their patience and energy. For the senior, it robs them of their security and independence. When we're having a particularly difficult day with Papa T., I try to remind myself that he doesn't want to be weak and dependent, and I try to imagine what it's like to walk in his aged shoes. It must be scary to lose your memory, and I can only imagine how frustrating it is to lose your ability to do simple math or to see or hear clearly. I fully understand why there are days when he's downright difficult or surly. I'd probably be mad too, if I couldn't find the bathroom when I know it's just yards away in a house I've lived in for years. Those thoughts and a deep breath (or two or three) help me to find the patience I need on those troubling days, which don't outnumber the good days, but they are certainly gaining ground. There are enough of them that when an especially good day rolls around it seems special.

Monday night, I sat with Papa T. so Hubby could have a poker night with his buddies. It had been weeks since Hubby and the boys had gotten together for their "me" time, and it was something Hubby needed desperately. For a few hours, I sat with Papa T., and we ate dinner and caught up on some routine things, like trimming his fingernails and reading aloud the monthly magazine about the University of Kentucky Wildcats, the Cats' Pause. He's a huge Big Blue fan, so he soaks up every word of that magazine. The reading aloud duties fall to me because Hubby and Teen Angel hate reading aloud, and Papa T. says they don't enunciate well. Because I don't often have many opportunities to read to him, we usually have more than one edition to read per session, and it takes a while. So, for quite a while we read stats and articles about the players, most of which I have little interest in but have learned quite a bit about during these reading sessions. It's starting to rub off a little, I think. Don't tell anyone, but I flipped the TV over to the game the other night to catch the tail end of it. I'd like to pretend that it's just because I wanted to know the outcome so I could talk intelligently about it with Papa T., but alas, I really just wanted to see them win. I've also been watching the Murray State games in snippets, too, but I'm blaming that on the fact that I'm a Murray alum. Surely, I'm not falling under the spell of this thing they call college basketball?

Anyway, we eventually got around to trimming his fingernails, which also falls to me because Hubby can't seem to tell the difference between the nail and the nail bed. (I like to sum up my care giving duties as the Three F's: food, finances and fingernails.) Papa T's fingernails grow like crazy, so he and I have a little trimming session every couple of weeks. I pulled an ottoman up to his recliner and grabbed his hand. The skin was soft and wrinkled, signs of someone who retired from a desk job years ago. They've long lost the traces of his years spent working on the farm. I pulled his hand close and started working, and as I did, it suddenly occurred to me that it was one of the few methods of touch he receives on a regular basis. Oh, he gets touch through hugs from Teen Angel but he's not one to hug adults. We hold his arm when trying to lead him somewhere, but we don't do a lot of that because we and he are trying to keep him as independent as possible for as long as possible, and that means sometimes letting him find his own way. Mama J. is gone, and so is her touch for him. His isolation has left him in an environment where the contact with people's voices, presence and touch is gradually diminishing. It was a light bulb moment for me, and I got lost in that moment as he told me a story I no longer heard, and Wheel of Fortune rumbled softly on the TV behind me.

I thought about him. I thought about age. I thought about my age and how quickly I will be in his shoes. And I wandered if the same thing will happen to me. And I wondered how often I forget that he needs the touch of human hands, arms and faces. I forget that too often, I think. I refocused on our conversation, slowing down the work, realizing that it wasn't a job that should be rushed. I took my time, turning each finger gently, holding his hand for as long as possible and filing his nails with great care when I was finished with the clippers. Filing for much longer than necessary really. And I listened.

Our conversation drifted to the trip to Europe with Teen Angel, and he started asking me to describe things there he'd never seen and would never be able to see. "What's the Mona Lisa like?" he softly asked. "Smaller than you'd think," I said. I described the room in the Louvre in which it hangs, the crush of people squeezing in to see her behind the glass case and her delightful smile. I told him of the beauty of the Venus De Milo and how close you can stand to her. I described the construction of the Eiffel Tower and what it's like to stand at the top and witness a rainbow stretching from one side of Paris to another. He asked about the other art museums, and I told him about the beauty of the Orsay and the wonder of Monet's Water Lilies at the L'Orangerie. I tried to find words adequate enough to relay the beauty of the stained glass in St. Chappelle Cathedral and how it takes your breath away to stand in the midst of it. I let him ask the questions, and I added tidbits I thought he'd find interesting. He nodded from time to time with an occasional, "Hmm," or a smile. At some point, I told myself, "You will always remember this evening, Hula. When he's gone and even before then, you will remember this conversation." We wrapped up when his overnight sitter came through the door, bustling in with her bags and shouting greetings from the front door all the way into the den where we sat. The magic of the evening was broken with her arrival.

In the past week or so I've been trying to decide what I want to give up for Lent. I've considered several things and haven't been able to settle on one particular item. It certainly wasn't going to be cake. I did that one time, and it was the longest month of my life. I couldn't concentrate on being God-like because I was too busy trying not to gnaw off my fingers. Deprivation does not work for me. Besides, that's not really what Lent is about. As I listened to the Ash Wednesday service at lunch today it finally occurred to me that I shall focus on the human touch throughout Lent. Using it to connect with people who really need it, especially Papa T.. It could be as simple as the grasp of a hand, a touch on the arm when talking or just a pat on the back. I'm not talking about invading someone's space or making him feel uncomfortable. I'm just thinking that it wouldn't hurt to be more affectionate with those who seem to really need it, especially the elderly or the lonely. Perhaps with enough practice it will become a habit. And perhaps it will give me more patience with Papa T. And Hubby. And Teen Angel. I think it's important at this stage we're in right now, and I'm not sure I can adequately explain why. It's significance is a little harder to describe than the Mona Lisa.

Monday, February 20, 2012

I Hear That Train a Comin'

I need your help. Each month, at our local photography club meeting, we do a photo challenge. There is a different theme each month, and we each bring a picture that is our best interpretation of that theme. I love the challenge. It inspires me, and I love seeing everyone's different perspectives on the same subject. Often, I look at the pictures and say, "Hula, why didn't you think of that?"

The March theme is "Fixed Object", specifically the train that sits downtown near our floodwall. Our submissions have to feature that train (or one other landmark in our community that I found to be very uninspiring. After two visits to that train, I have now shot it from 1,683 angles. I'm not sure I'm done. I should be done. But I'm probably not. I should just stop right now, but I have another week or so for a few last shots. The perfectionist in me is never satisfied. Also? I'd be less than honest if I didn't admit that I'm so darn competitive, I can't stand that I haven't won a ribbon in those challenges in several months. I know it's just a ribbon, but remember, you're looking at the gal who slid six feet across the deck of a cruise ship on her butt to win a plastic ship on a stick. Oh, we all have our weaknesses. Anyway, I can't decide which pictures, among the ones I've shot so far, I want to turn in. And that's where you come in.

I've learned in the last year or so that what appeals to me in photography is often very different than what other folks like. Sometimes, I just fall in love with a picture and then find myself really disappointed when everyone else looks at it and says, "Meh." So, peruse the photos and tell me which one you like best and why. And tell me your second favorite. If you don't like any of them, that's okay, too. I'd like to know why. Be honest. I'm looking for good feedback.

You won't see a photo of the whole train because, frankly, I was trying to avoid that. I specifically avoided obvious shots that I thought others might submit. I'm trying to stretch my skills this year in some very specific ways, so I limited my options when shooting the train. I'm interested to see how the opinions of the locals who are familiar with this train compares to those who have never seen it. And I need several opinions, so if you usually just lurk and run, then today's the day to leave a comment for a change. Vote and then run. Thanks, brothers and sisters. At this point, I'd do my best imitation of a train whistle if I could. But alas, I'm a whistling failure, so a big "Toot, too!" will have to do.  Oh, and for the locals, yes, I am well aware of the big signs all over that train that ask you not to climb on it. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012


I hate winter, except for the fact that every now and then it gives me a cool picture.  Other than that, I find no use for ice, snow and temperatures below 60 degrees. 

Pop on over here to check out everyone else's entries.  Even better, sign up to participate.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Photo Friday Challenge-"Eat"

Okay, I know those of you who stop by here regularly have seen this one, but I can't help posting it again.  It just fits the theme too well.   If only, we all relished everyday joys as much as little J. savored this ice cream cone.  It was her first ice cream cone ever by the way.  I love how she just dove in with her whole face.

For the other wonderful entries, click here.  Oh, and go have an ice cream this weekend.  It's good for you.  Kind of.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sun Flare!

Right now, I have close to 15,000 pictures in my archives. Yeah, chew on that for a moment. What that means is I need a lot of storage space for those files. To a lesser extent, it means I sometimes forget what I have, and it is a nice surprise when I stumble across a favorite image I didn't remember. I have 957 pictures from our trip to Europe, and one day I hope to get them all cleaned up and select some of them for a Shutterfly book about our little adventure. If I do one picture a day, maybe I'll get them finished before the Duggar's quit having babies. As it is, I work on a few every six weeks or so, get busy and stop.

Until this week, it had been about three months since I had looked at them closely. And aside from some early favorites of the Eiffel Tower, the Palace of Versailles and a few of the sites of London, I had forgotten what else was in that folder. Lo and behold, I stumbled across this little jewel. It's from the front of Notre Dame Cathedral.

I'd like to thank the sun for cooperating that day. And for the invention called external hard drives.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I Love it When my Family Gives me Blog Fodder

This is the picture Teen Angel texted me today.

It's the jar Teen Angel placed on the kitchen counter today.  I like it.  I'm in.  She tells me so far we have about a dollar.  That means we can afford a beverage out of the vending machines in the Metro or a trip to a public toilet.  But not both.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Be Mine

A gal couldn't ask for a better Valentine.  Besides, no one else would put up with my nonsense.  Or my ancient flannel pajamas with the stains on the top. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Life in the Slow Lane

To be honest, I'm having a bit of writer's block. I'm at somewhat of a loss as to what to write about because so many exciting things have gone on around here. Like those four loads of laundry I did Saturday, and that $20 I saved at Kroger this week with coupons and my Kroger card. AND I cleaned out one of the drawers in the bathroom vanity after I had trouble finding a barrette during a hair emergency. Between catching up on all the DVR'ed episodes of Chopped and babysitting Papa T, it's been a whirlwind of social activity, I tell ya'. The fact that my 73 year old father contemplated swimming in a hotel pool in his underwear a week and a half ago means his social life is more exciting than mine, and I have some really mixed feelings about that.

Actually, the slow pace of the last couple of weekends has been a welcome change from that hurricane called December. Other than gathering together all of the paperwork for ours and Papa T.'s tax returns, I'm fairly caught up on my list of mommy do's around the house. I edited my last batch of pictures for a customer the other day, and my chores are somewhat under control. Well, other than cleaning that closet in the spare bedroom, but let's not talk about that. Never put off today what might resolve itself during a spring tornado, I say. By Saturday evening I had finished laundry, bought and put away groceries and wrapped myself in flannel pajamas with a good book. A BOOK! Did you hear that? A real live book. A novel. A work of fiction I could read at my own leisurely pace. It's been so long that I've been able to do that I'd almost forgotten what it was like and how much I enjoyed it. And get this. On Sunday, I watched some television. New programming that wasn't just ambient noise on the Food Network or the History Channel. I watched the Grammy's which wasn't necessarily the best TV I've ever seen, but it was definitely delicious mindless entertainment. A little slice of low brow heaven. It would be at this point that I should come clean and admit that I like a little bit of celebrity drivel when I'm in the right mood, and nothing's better than an awards show for THAT.

It was tempered by the death of Whitney Houston, which makes me sad on more than one level. I'm sad for the loss of such a talent. Like a lot of folks my age who spent a lot of time wanting to dance with somebody in the 80's, I was rooting for her to get her act together in recent months. I had hoped she would get her addictions under control and give us some of that Whitney we knew and loved before she wandered into the garden and bit the Bobby Brown apple. Alas, it was not to be, and to be honest one of my initial reactions was to be mad at her for pissing away such a God given gift. Unless there's some kind of unexpected health issue that comes forward, it's pretty likely the prescription medication had something to do with her death, and if that's the case, it's a darn shame. But those of us who have lived and dealt with the addictions of a loved one, know all too well how difficult it is to save someone from the pull of that mess. Every time there's a well publicized death like Whitney's, I automatically start reliving those two years we spent trying to save Sissy from her demons. All those memories of waking up every morning wandering if today was the day she was going to die and finding her near death more than once just weighs me down like a big wool coat in the summer. I had to work not to be sad when watching the Grammy's, and thankfully, there was Nicki Manaj to help with that.

I'm all for groundbreaking entertainment, but all I could think of while she was performing was, "What the heck IS that hot mess?" Seriously. Lady Gaga's got the weird thing all sewn up, and Madonna's already done the tick off the Catholic church thing, so I'm not sure who Nicki was trying to offend, but I'm sure it was somebody. The only thing offended at our house was my ears. That was just a whole mess of confusion and noise. And please don't tell my mother I just sounded like her.

On the other hand, Adele? Divine. Just divine. I rooted for her all night, and I just find her so refreshing. She doesn't worry about dance moves or costumes or looking like a Barbie Doll rock star. She just walks out there looking polished and neat and belts out a love song like nobody's business. And she giggles and laughs and seems pretty authentic when she's on stage. I mean, anybody who owns up to a "bit o' snot on me nose" in front of an arena full of people is just awesome in my book. I really hope she tours this summer because I'd love to see her.

Other general observations on the evening? Rhianna was higher than a kite on somethin', the Beach Boys should have never sang and confirmed how damaged they are by age and drugs, Glen Campbell gets an atta boy for telling Alzheimer's to kiss his arse for the evening while he gave a flawed but admirable performance and Lady Gaga was just rude, rude, rude for leaving when she didn't get Album of the Year. Oh, and Bruce Springsteen is still awesome. It was just a delicious numbing evening of entertainment, and I got to watch the whole dadgum mess. Sigh. I don't know how long this slower weekend pace is going to last, but I'm going to ride that wave as long I can. And work at keeping daddy out of trouble 'cause I have no interest in bailing him out of jail 'cause he wants to find out how cold the water in the pool is.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


This was shot in New York's China Town, where, believe it or not, I did not buy a fake designer purse.
For this week's other quotes, hop on over here and enjoy.  And can I just say, red is one of my favorite colors.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Word of the Day-"Nonplus"

non•plus: noun \ˌnän-ˈpləs\

Definition: a state of bafflement or perplexity : QUANDARY

Origin: Latin non plus no more

First Known Use: 1582

Used in a sentence: "Hula was nonplussed that her 73-year-old father contemplated skinny dipping in his underwear in the hotel swimming pool during the family road trip last week."

In fact, had Hula's cousin backed up that swimming proposal with a bet, she figures Zeke would have jumped in quicker than Newt Gingrich changes wives.

Monday, February 6, 2012

This One's Just for the Ladies and the gay Men

Normally I don't like it when advertisers pander to me.  And normally, I find nothing attractive about a tatted up man.  However, in the interest of keeping an open mind, I'm willing to make exceptions. 

Pander to me, H&M, pander to me.  Please.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Going for a Spin

Another one of the fun and very touristy things we did in London was the London Eye. We initially planned to do it early on the first day of our trip but kept pushing it back for higher priorities as we got behind on our itinerary. We passed by it when we first visited Big Ben and saw the Thames so we did see it in the daylight.

But we ended up actually riding it on our last evening there, and in hindsight I'm glad it worked that way. It was a beautiful way to end that leg of the trip because we arrived at sunset and watched the sun go down as we boarded and started our ride. Our timing could not have been better because everything was beautifully lit by the time we reached the top.

We had some great views, and this is one of my favorite photos from the whole trip.

It's in the running for a stretched canvas print I want to hang in our master bedroom.

We even managed a picture of the two of us at the top because it was one of the few places I felt comfortable handing over my camera to a stranger. Whose going to run off with it when we're in an enclosed glass case several hundred feet above the ground, right?

Tip...the line for this can be long, and I suspect it will be horrible during the Olympics this summer, but you can eliminate that wait by buying your tickets online in advance, and while I'm sure a ride in the daytime is swell, I'd recommend the evening. The London Eye at night....a rousing coolness score of nine on a scale of one to ten.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Photo Friday Challenge-"Tall"

The view from the Eiffel Tower...Tre magnifique.

For the other great entries, hop on over to here.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Abbey Road

Last night, I was going through some of the pictures from our trip to Europe as I'm want to do whenever I want to relive those fun filled days. Teen Angel and I are still on a bit of a London/Paris high. She bought red current jam the other night because it reminded her of our breakfasts in London, and I keep listening to Duffy and David Gray on Pandora. Sigh. Anyway, I thought I'd share one of the more fun things we did on our trip. Among all of the historical sites and museums we visited, we made time on our last afternoon in London to take the Tube over to the neighborhood where Abbey Road Studios is. It seemed a bit low brow, given all of the historical sites we'd been too, but heck, we're pretty low brow, so off we toddled to that end of town. And I'm glad we did, because it was a hoot.

I thought it might be a little hard to find because it's in a residential neighborhood nowhere near downtown London, but it wasn't difficult at all. We just followed all of the other folks on foot, trucking to the same place. Apparently, we weren't the only ones who packed Sharpies in our luggage for a visit to that little corner.

It has become tradition for visitors to sign their name on the concrete wall and gates in front of Abbey Road. And thousands do every week.

I've read that they repaint that fence every few weeks, providing a clean white pallet for the next round of tourists. There were few clean spaces in the paint when we were there, but we found room to scratch our names among all of the others.

Teen Angel also wrote the name of her cousin who died in 2000 and the name of a friend of hers who is a HUGE John Lennon fan.  And we doodled a few other messages.

It was great fun, and all around were people doing the same thing. I'm normally opposed to graffiti, but there was something about this that just seemed so appropriately Beatle-like. And it is great fun to read all of the messages and signatures by people from all over the world. Beatle fans apparently come from all parts of the globe.

And what about the iconic crosswalk? Well, we had plans to photograph ourselves in the crosswalk. In fact, I wanted a photo so I could PhotoShop our heads into a picture of the White album cover, but we realized as soon as we got there that wasn't going to happen because that intersection? Busy. Extremely busy. The traffic through there is steady and fast, and you literally have to risk life and limb to get that shot.

Some people tried.

But few really succeeded. This group came close.

They were lucky enough to catch a bit of a gap between cars, but not without making some drivers mad. The people who live and work in that area understandably get frustrated with all of the tourists plugging up the works in that intersection all day long, so they don't have much patience with picture takers. We saw cars come dangerously close to a couple of folks, so we didn't risk it. But we sure enjoyed watching others do it.

I'm glad we made the trek to Abbey Road. It may not be as historically significant as the Tower of London or Tower Bridge, but it sure is a cool piece of pop culture. And we can say we left a little piece of us in London. Including our hearts. Seriously, somebody pass the jam. I need a British fix.