Monday, March 31, 2008

Happy Birthday Mickey

This is my sister Mickey. It's her birthday today. She is one of my best friends.

It wasn't always so. Not that I ever disliked her . . . she is the most likeable person in the world. Mostly, I ignored her. Mostly when I was a teenager.

She was 5 years younger than me. We were ALWAYS in different places in our lives. She was always my cute, athletically talented, little sis. But when you are 14, that is not the person you want to hang out with. And my brother, who is not quite 2 years younger, was my buddy. We had many of the same friends and liked to do the same things. Mickey got left out a lot.

When I got married, she was 15. My fiance, my brother, and our friends were all going out the night before the wedding. We were standing in the bedroom we had shared at my grandmother's house. We had shared the bedroom when we lived there when my Dad was in Vietnam and shared it again on our visits there growing up. She said "You and Chip always forget about me. You go off and don't even think about inviting me. Maybe I want to go too." She didn't whine and she didn't yell, she was right. We never considered that she would want to be included. So she went with us and we didn't forget about her again.

The older we got, the closer we became. She married and has 2 teenage sons now and they live in Louisiana. She is still beautiful and athletically talented. This is her last summer.
We were in Townsend, Tennessee and decided to swim in the river after visiting Cades Cove. The kids were jumping of a "cliff" into the water. We watched for a while and took pictures. Then her boys asked her if she would jump. She hopped right up, swam across to the other side, climbed up and jumped off with them. I think I have never been so impressed by anyone in my life!

Mickey is one of those people that everyone loves. She is fun and sweet and and patient and thoughtful and has no clue how beautiful she is. There is no ego either. And her faith is so strong, helping her to know the right thing to do at the right time. During the time that our Mom was in the hospital dying, I watched Mickey, we all did. She was completely in tune with what Mom needed without her saying anything, like there was a spiritual connection. My brother said watching her was like watching the embodiment of God's love.

I miss having her close. Our family is spread out across the country. I am lucky because her husband's family lives about an hour away from me. She lived there for several years and it was great. We could do birthday parties and family things. Or we could just meet to go shopping. But now we plan our visits and they only happen a few times a year. We planned our vacations to the beach separately last year but ended up overlapping a day. They arrived late Friday night and we left Saturday but we were able to stop by before we left.

It's funny that we are close because we couldn't be more different. She is calm and soft-spoken, I am bossy and opinionated. She is religious, I am spiritual. She is careful with money and I dream of winning the lottery. She is the peacemaker and I love a good argument. My kids have tattoos and hers have trophies in every sport. Maybe that's why we get along. We appreciate each other's differences.

So happy birthday sis. I love you and I'm glad you are part of my family. And I'm also glad you're my friend.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

It's The Little Things . . .

I attended a group meeting with the State Department of Ed last week. I had decided in my mind as I was driving to the location that it was going to be difficult. I work in a highly regulated business that is not terribly profitable. Usually these meetings end up costing us money and involve additional paperwork.

I was not sure of where I was going and plugged the address into my GPS. In my overcompensation for time, I left early and as a result, arrived about 30 minutes early even after stopping at Starbucks for a venti latte.

The location was at the campus for the Tennessee School for the Deaf. The security guard directed me to the very back of the campus. As I drove through I noticed the beauty and the stillness of the surroundings. It was much larger and prettier than I expected. I made my way to the back area and parked outside the building in which the meeting would be.

I rolled the window down and reached for my Ipod. But then I heard the birds. And crickets. Maybe not crickets - I think they come out at night - but it sounded like them. There was a slight breeze. The pear tree and the bushes were flowering. The air smelled so fresh. The grass was so green. I put down my Ipod. I sipped my latte. I closed my eyes and listened.

And the irony of where I was did not escape me. I said a quiet thank you for my gift of hearing. And I reminded myself to appreciate the beauty around me and to be thankful for it. To stop and listen, not just to the Ipod or the radio, but to what's going on around me.

I went into my meeting calm, with a better attitude. It went well. And so did my day.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Stop! Wait . . . Where?

Where would you stop?

This is where I received the ticket for "disregarding a stop sign". You can read about that here. But I didn't disregard it. So I went to court last week to fight it.

During the wait for the judge, I learned a lot about people that go to court over a ticket. When the bailiff called their name and asked how they intended to plead, most said guilty. Now, I ask, why would you come to court if you could just pay the ticket? If you come to court, you have to pay the court costs as well as the ticket. Maybe there's something I don't know but I thought it was strange.

I giggled when the bailiff called one young man's name and the young man answered guilty. The bailiff said "To which one, ya got 5 here?" The young man, who was around 20 years old seemed surprised and approached the bench. Turns out, he was stopped because his wife's car looked like one that had been used in a robbery and he was speeding. He wasn't wearing a seat belt and, oh yeah, he didn't have a driver's license. His wife, who had joined him at the bench, began to loudly complain and the judge asked if he reset the court day, could the young man get a driver's license? He answered, "Uhhhhhh, I can try??? . . . " I will not go into the thoughts that were running through my head (and I'm sure the judge's head) but they started with "If I was his Mamma . . . "

Back to my case. The judge said the officer in my case was not available and the date would need to be reset. We agreed on a date and he said "Bring your evidence." Huh? What? Evidence?

Not only was it the middle of the night so there were no witnesses, but what would be considered evidence? My plan had been that, basically, it was my word against her's and I swore I stopped. I felt the discrepancy was in how long. I probably didn't stop for 3 seconds, but I stopped. Even if I lost with that argument, I would have had a chance to defend myself.

Then the other day, I realized what the problem was when I approached that intersection. The stop sign location is very confusing. It is about 15 yards from the corner. You have to be at the intersection to see around the corner. Do you stop where the stop sign is located or at the corner where you can see?

I decided to take pictures . . . for evidence. It was interesting to watch the driver's reactions to someone standing there with a camera. It was obvious they didn't know what to do either. Many stopped at the sign and again at the corner. Some went straight through the sign and stopped at the corner. Others stopped at the sign and just made the turn at the corner. Still others never stopped at all but treated the whole thing like there was a yield sign at the corner.

So I think that is my evidence. I say I stopped. I travel that way almost daily and I always stop . . . at the corner . . . before I make that turn. I am sure that's what I did that night. Maybe the problem is that I was supposed to stop at the sign and not the corner. I don't know. I guess we will find out in court.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Lesson In 6 Words


Through several blog links, I ran across this at the New York Times. It is about the new rage of summing up a story in 6 words. I found it quite interesting.

As I have been on vacation this week, I have spent a lot of time hearing about recent election controversies. I am not a terribly "political" person. If I allowed myself to get wrapped up in all of it, I would be a depressed, angry mess. But this race is different. Our country is faced with something different and untested. It seems we are not quite sure how to react, not sure how to handle a woman and a black man running for President.

I have heard some vile things coming from people, in the media and in conversations overheard. I have never been a real fan of Hillary. Still I am amazed at some of the things that have been brought up against her. But even more, criticism of Obama seems very personal - for the color of his skin, his mixed race, for his middle (or his full) name, questions about his dedication to Christianity because of his name, now for his association with a hate spewing minister. I have felt the need to defend him, even though I have not made the decision to vote for him. It was all so unreasonable. And he always rose above it all, inspiring me with his words.

Until now. In an interview he was asked to clarify his statement regarding his white grandmother. I thought his statement was important and heartfelt. But sometimes we should just stop trying to explain and shut up. In the interview, he said 6 words that I could not get past . . . "She was a typical white person . . . ".

What does that mean? Last time I looked, there is nothing typical about any race. I had a hard time looking at him in the same way after that.

Then I thought about my own statements. My grandmother was white too - go figure! And she, as many of her generation were, was racist. I loved my grandmother more than anything else in this world. And she loved me unconditionally. But I could not get past her prejudice. It hurt my heart. Many times, I defended her saying she was TYPICAL of her generation. As if that made it okay.

Now I know that was wrong. It is just as wrong to lump an entire generation of people into one category as it is a race, a gender, or a sexual preference. There were many of her generation that marched with Dr. King and made choices that affected our progress in Civil Rights.

So how can I fault Obama for saying something I have said before? He was trying to defend - his grandmother, the past, his statements. It is sad that we put our candidates in these positions where we hold them to higher than human standards. I do too.

So my lesson in 6 words . . . Learn from it, just do better.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Found and Made

I recently participated in a Flickr project called Found/Made. I chose to show scrapbooks. The photo on the right is of some of my scrapbooks from recent years.

The photo on the left shows an antique scrapbook that was created by my 5th great grandfather, Oscar Loraine Dewees, and carried on by his daughter, Mary Loraine Dewees. Oscar originally kept it as more of a journal, writing poems and thoughts with an occasional clipping from a book or newspaper.

Mary used it to record family information and did a wonderful job of adding newspaper clippings of births, obituaries, weddings, and related family events. It is a treasure trove of genealogical information and was quite beneficial in solving some genealogical puzzles related to my Dewees and Wiggins families.

Mary passed the book to her son Blake who passed it on to his daughter Aline, my great grandmother. She was a sentimental student of genealogy also and kept it in a wooden box at her home along with letters that were sent between her parents prior to their marriage and other family treasures. Her sons had no real interest in these things so they remained in the box through their marriages and the visiting grandchildren, one of whom was my father.

My father's parents moved in with my great grandparents during the 60's to help take care of them. The house was a huge Victorian, full of antiques and history. I remember only a few things about my great grandparents but from family stories, I feel like I know more. My mother would tell you that my great grandmother, Aline, was the most patient and giving person she had ever met. She had severe arthritis and was confined to a wheelchair later in life but Mom said she never, ever complained. My great grandfather, Frank, on the other hand, was a hypochondriac. Once when he was complaining about some imaginary pain, my great grandmother, from her wheelchair, said, "Oh Frank, just shut up". My mother said those were the harshest words she ever heard her say.

After my great grandparents died, my dad was sent to Vietnam. During that time, my Mom and my siblings moved in with my grandparents. I loved the huge old house. Everywhere there were heavy wood doors with white porcelain knobs. There was a smelly cellar and huge, leather bound books in the library. There was always something to explore. And I found the box. It was fascinating to me - the old books and letters and the pair of child's shoes and the old spectacles. I would frequently go through them, carefully putting them back into the box in the order I removed them. Even after we moved on to our next location, at every visit, I always visited the box.

When my grandfather passed away, my grandmother moved out of the house and into an apartment. She asked what I wanted. I knew immediately that I wanted to box. And she gave it to me. It sits today on a table in my living room, surrounded by pictures of many of the people that added items to the box. I sometimes sit in my living room and read the letters, look through the scrapbook, hold the tiny shoes. It makes me remember those family members that I never really knew but to whom I feel so close.

This is one of the reasons that I scrapbook. It is telling our stories, saving photographs, documenting our lives for future generations. Someday my scrapbooks may be stored in a box for one of my future family members to discover 5 generations later. I hope she learns that we had meaningful, wonderful lives, full of love for each other. And I hope these scrapbooks mean as much to her as my ancestor's have meant to me.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Chill Out

I am on vacation. No real plans other than a late week trip to Atlanta but I am ready to kick back, relax, read magazines, drink coffee, and snack.

It is my daughter's last Spring Break of high school. She really wanted to make it a big one but ended up having to work most of the week. The cruise we will go on in May will serve as her spring break/graduation blow out. But a shopping trip to Atlanta on Thursday and Friday will have to substitute for now.

I hope to take some time to catch up on some photography projects, post to my blog, read other's blogs I have missed, get some spring cleaning done, just chill.

I'll keep ya posted on how it goes!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

My Credit Cards Might Blow Up


I have a week long company meeting next week in San Antonio. It is the end of winter, almost spring. It snowed this weekend and today it is around 45 degrees. I am sick of dark colors and warm clothes. I need some color in my life. It is supposed to be 75 - 85 degrees throughout the week in San Antonio.

So I decided I needed a new outfit for the meeting. My daughter wanted to go looking for prom dresses. We started in an outdoor shopping area that has most of the same stores as the mall. I hate the mall. Lane Bryant was my first stop. After trying on several things, I settled on a pair of jeans and a dressy jacket. The jacket will work perfectly over my black dress for the cocktail reception next week. Cha-ching!

My daughter didn't find any prom dresses at the other stores so I gave in and we headed for the mall. Our first department store was having a big sale. I found nothing but my daughter found the perfect prom dress. She is sort of a "hippie chick" and the dress is not a traditional prom dress. She did the whole "prom thing" last year - shiny, expensive dress, hair at Aveda, makeup at Mac, dinner at The Melting Pot, etc. This year, she and her boyfriend want to keep it simple. Her dress is totally "her" and it was on sale! Cha-ching!

We headed for another department store where I hit the mother-load. I found four outfits that will be perfect for next week and that will work really well for work. Cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching!

On the way out of the mall, the shoe department was calling my name. Two pairs of shoes for me and a pair of Rainbow sandals for my daughter, cha-ching, cha-ching.

I am supposed to get my bonus check next week. I think I just spent it today.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Where Did All The Good People Go?

I was called trusting today. I don't consider that a bad thing but I think that the person that made the statement did not mean it as a compliment. I am also objective and cautious, not naive at all. But I do trust until it's proven that I should not. And the worst thing anyone can do in my eyes is to cause me to not trust them.

This has been a tough week at work. I have been dealing with mean people. People that want to do others harm. Not children. Adults hurting other other adults that I care about. I am not talking physically. It's more mental, psychological, emotionally destructive.

I am remaining objective and neutral. I am collecting facts and considering all of it. I feel I know the truth. But I have to be patient and allow things to play out. I am not patient. But it is the right thing to do.

I believe in Karma. I have for a long time. I believe we are put here on earth to better ourselves by learning from others and to impact other's lives in positive ways. I try to live that daily.

My mother always taught me that people are put into your life for a reason. You are supposed to learn something from them. They come into your life at the time that you need that lesson. So I try to look at every situation, every person, and ask what I am supposed to learn. When I do this, it causes me to look at the situation more objectively.

I am asking myself that question now. What am I supposed to learn? I don't know yet. I will keep asking until I figure it out.

I am tired. It's Friday evening. I have poured a glass of Diet Coke and added a dash, maybe more, of Maker's Mark bourbon. Right now, I am only going to focus on the me in the picture above. It was Halloween, probably 1965. My mom sewed my costume out of my old bedroom curtains. I was happy. I was trusting. There were no mean people.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

St. Louis? I don't THINK SO!!!.....

I'm trying to be positive. But there is something about me and trips to St. Louis. As you might recall, my post from a few weeks ago entitled "For Real" took place on a return flight from St. Louis. On Tuesday, I was headed back there.

There were many signs that I did not need to get on that plane.

The night before, my eye got really red. I took out my contacts but it didn't help. So Tuesday morning I woke up with one very red eye that looked really ugly.

The weather was a major indicator that I should cancel. There were high winds in Knoxville and Atlanta, thunderstorms and possibility of tornados. St. Louis had ice and snow.

I also got a call that morning about a situation in Nashville that I really needed to handle immediately. I called my boss to tell her that I needed to change my flight and arrive on Wednesday morning but the cost was over $500 and we decided against it.

So I got on the plane. We took off on time. When we got close to Atlanta, we circled for almost an hour because of the weather. The lady next to me was wringing her hands and bouncing her knee. They diverted us to Chattanooga and the roller coaster began. The turbulence was horrible and we were tossed around, up, down, and sideways. The lady next to me was on the verge of tears, curled up in her seat and praying. The pilot finally landed us in Chattanooga and we sat on the runway for about 40 minutes.

I won't share details on how the bathroom smelled by the time we took off again for Atlanta but I will tell you that I was sitting right next to it. With the lady next to me anticipating another terrifying climb through the clouds, we took off for Atlanta and had a fairly uneventful flight and arrival.

Of course, my flight to St. Louis had been canceled as had many others. We cued up for the ticket counter to find out what exciting alternatives the Delta computer had selected for us. I laughed out loud when my choices were presented . . . my next flight would be the following evening at 6:30pm, arriving in St. Louis at 9:30pm and my return flight would be an hour later at 10:30pm!!! But, the agent explained, we will give you a hotel voucher. For Real??????

I headed for the direct phones to talk to a human about getting a flight back to Knoxville and a refund of my ticket. They quickly found me a flight back home at 8pm that night, about 4 hours from then. Okay, I could deal with that. I would wander, explore, snack, read, and surf the internet for the next few hours to kill the time.

8pm came and the plane was there but no flight crew. They were late arriving from another flight so it was 9:45 before we took off. We got into Knoxville at 10:45 and I headed for the baggage carousel. Please, please, please be there.

But it was not to be. My bag went to St. Louis. And now, almost 24 hours later. I still don't have it. It "might" be on the flight arriving at 9pm. It "missed" the 5pm flight to Knoxville. Hmmm, that happens a lot, huh?

I took today off. I am tired. 11 hours on planes and in airports and all I did was go from Knoxville to Atlanta and back. That's normally less than an hour flight or a 3 hour drive.

That old song by Freddy Fender comes to mind . . . Wasted Days and Wasted Nights! So next week is my trip to San Antonio. It has to be better. I am keeping a positive attitude but looking for signs!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Books R Us

My blog friend Ruth at Upstream and Down tagged me on a meme. For those that aren't sure what a meme is, The Daily Meme says:

People often ask, "What is a Meme?" so here's a more than a little information on that. I pronounce it so it's rhymes with 'dream'; some pronounce it so it sounds like 'mem' (from mem-ory).

In the context of web logs / 'blogs / blogging and other kinds of personal web sites it's some kind of list of questions that you saw somewhere else and you decided to answer the questions. Then someone else sees them and does them and so on and so on.

So here is the meme:

1. Grab the nearest book of 123 pages or more. 

2. Open it to page 123. 

3. Find the first 5 sentences and write them down. 

4. Then invite 5 friends to do the same.

I have 3 books that I am reading right now - The Law of Attraction by Michael J. Losier, Basic Black by Cathie Black which I am about to start, and Schott's Miscellany 2008 by Ben Schott which I read on airplanes and in the bathtub. Yes, really.

First, I turned to page 123 of Schott's Miscellany. There are mostly lists rather than sentences. Page 123 contains Hollywood's Worst Dressed Women, A list of people that have sported Milk Mustaches, and What is Sexy? Not really profound or even terribly interesting.

I moved on to The Law of Attraction. On page 123, Losier discusses negative thinking.

On the other hand, many of you may also be familiar with the saying "Negativity breeds negativity." Most of us have people in our lives that aren't on station 98.5 at the same time when we are. Recall a time in your life when your vibration was high. You're having one great experience followed by another and you love everything about your life. Then your telephone rings.

Wow, way to leave us hanging! Losier goes on to talk about not letting "Negative Nelly" change your "high" and bring you down.

So I checked Basic Black. Page 123 was the first of a chapter entitled "Landing Your Dream Job".

I thought I'd seen everything, until a day a giant potted plant appeared in my office in New York Magazine. It looked about four feet tall.

"What's is this?" I asked my assistant. She told me it was from someone I'd just interviewed for a job. She handed me the card that came with it and I read with astonishment, "I'd love to come to work for you and help your garden grow" (or some such) signed by the hopeful applicant.

Hmmmmmm . . . cheesy, I wouldn't do it. But I was interested in knowing her reaction This was a book that I had not started yet but I read on. Catherine Black's advice was that this was not the way to get a busy executive's attention and that appropriate communication is always better.

In following other's answers to this meme I am a little underwhelmed by my selections. I enjoy these books but other's had some really profound and interesting selections. But reading is all about enjoyment. And I have enjoyed reading other's selections.

I am passing this on to 4 people rather than 5 just because I am new to the blogging world and have not developed as many blog contacts. So I am tagging:

Andie

Chip

Wanda

Carrie J


Looking forward to hearing what you have to say.

Battle of the Bands

My daughter's boyfriend, Chase, plays in a band. He plays the bass guitar. He and his friend, Donald, were recently part of another band. About a month ago they joined up with two other friends and formed a new band called Whiskey Tenor. They play their own songs and are learning some covers. Their first "gig" was Friday night at Battle of the Bands. Here is the link to the first song they performed "Diesel" on YouTube. Their second song is also there. Chase is in the middle, wearing the red hoodie.

So . . . THEY WON!


How cool is that?

Chase is very talented. He is self taught and plays the guitar, bass guitar, and mandolin. His favorite is the bass. But he plays it like a six string guitar, not like a bass. He sits in my living room many nights and just writes songs.

My daughter was so proud of him. I was too. He works so hard and to see success so soon after the band formed is very encouraging for him.

And I had fun! I sat with Chase's parents and we have decided that we are getting old. Most of the bands were pretty good but there were a couple of screaming punk metal bands that caused us to cover our ears. It looked like a Saturday Night Live version of High School Battle of the Bands! I like all kinds of music but I didn't like that. When one of the guys swung the guitar around his neck, it flew off and sailed across the stage, crashing to the floor. Then while his band members flailed about and screamed, he tried to fix the damage and re-tune his guitar. I was laughing so hard I was crying. So I guess I am getting old. But that's okay with me.

So congratulations Whiskey Tenor. Congratulations Chase. We are proud of you.