Sunday, February 27, 2005

The Day From Bell

A summary of the day:
2:30 a.m. -- got to sleep.
4:30 a.m. -- alarm goes off
5:30 a.m. -- on my way to the church
6:00 a.m. -- on the road to Tulsa
7:00 a.m. -- stopped at McDonald's on Turnpike for breakfast
8:00 a.m. -- arrived at Tulsa Community Center and started set-up
9:00 a.m. -- started rehearsals
noon -- break for lunch
1:30 p.m. -- resumed rehearsals
3:00 p.m. -- concert for public
4:00 p.m. -- breakdown and reload van
6:00 p.m. -- back at church, then headed home
6:15 p.m. -- crashed, hard, on the bed.
9:00 p.m. -- woke up enough to watch a little TV
10:30 p.m. -- phone call from my aunt to let me know my drug-dependent cousin has now crashed her second car in a ditch since I was there after Christmas. Cousin was disoriented when taken to the emergency room by ambulance and incoherent. Assorted tests done, including an EKG which came back with abnormalities. Cousin checks herself out of hospital against medical orders. Cousin's son moves out of house because he's 21 and disgusted with what's happening. All kinds of speculation about consequences. My concern is that cousin will wind up dead or in prison in the immediate future.

It's now 12:46 a.m. according to the clock on my computer. It's time for me to go on to bed, shut my eyes and turn off the day. My lower back is complaining loudly about standing on concrete for so long today.

Oh -- before I forget, part of the bell festival tradition for our group is going to a little dive called El Rio Verde for lunch. It has about six table, and our group usually fills up most of the place. Their specialty is the "wet burrito." Should you want to give the place a try, take Tulsa's I-244 east to the Utica exit. Cross over the highway to the north side service road, which is Admiral. Turn left (westbound) and go to Trenton (landmark: West Side Funeral Chapel). Turn north and go about a block to the grafitti-painted restaurant on the west side of the street. It's across the street from the police tape marking off a burned-out house. Yeah, the neighborhood is real glam, but the food is great! Portions are generous and it's as hot as I can bear it. We NEVER leave hungry, I promise you. My girlfriend and I split a wet burrito today to avoid eating until it was painful.

I'll post a photo tomorrow of our youngest bell choir member having his first wet burrito. Just too wrung out to do it tonight.

Sleep well, everyone!

Friday, February 25, 2005

Little blips

* Vietnam Veterans will be making another pickup at my house on March 4. I love VVA -- not only because of the work they do, but because they have the best organized charity collection system I've ever witnessed. I can count on a call every six weeks. All I have to do is get my stuff to the front porch and put a sign on it saying "VVA". They come when they say they will and take the donation, then leave me a charity receipt in the door. Quick and easy, and my stuff goes to someone who can really use it after I'm through with it. I donate to other places, too, when they call, but VVA's system makes them the winners most of the time.

* My mom died just over five years ago. And yet. The mail keeps coming. The past couple of weeks there's been a blizzard of "NEW MEDICARE BENEFITS INFORMATION!" mailings. The one that really gets me, though, is the catalog "she" receives for The Limited Too, a clothing company for grade school girls. To make it worse, they ALL misspell her first name. It is aggravating. Sometimes I will send a note to the insurance companies to ask if they'll sign me up for coverage of my dead mom. I know, that's probably not respectful, but if you knew my mom, she would be laughing.

* For those of you who live in my vicinity in Oklahoma, I found the neatest information on the Oklahoma County Assessor's web site. You can see your own information about the assessed value of your house, the market value and the taxable market value. There's a picture of your house, as well as a sketch of the lot. BUT you can also look at any other address. That means you can sneak a peek at your neighbor's information. BUT even better yet, you can click one button and get all the comparable houses in your area and see their values. They even have the 10 best matches of recent sales, so you can see what that house down the street just sold for! And believe me, that is fun. No more making phoney calls to a Realtor to inquire. Sure, it's a little creepy knowing some govmint flak was taking photos of my house last September, but that's offset by knowing that the house two doors down just sold for double what I paid for my house in 1996. And my house is better (in my not-so-humble opinion.)

* Ego strokes -- I've gotten a couple of very nice e-mails from people I've recently written about. Those are always nice to receive, especially when they appreciate accuracy more than the fact that they got their name in the paper. And I just picked up a personally hand-written note in my mailbox from the president of a development company (he also had sent one of the e-mails.) That's extra effort on his part and really makes me feel appreciated.

* More ego strokes -- We've had a huge influx of new choir members at my church, which is wonderful. A larger choir always sounds better and we're always happy to have people join us. Wednesday night I got a MAJOR ego stroke from one of the new women singers with us. She had been a choir director at another church before joining us. My stroke came when she made the effort to catch me after rehearsal to tell me she really likes my voice -- not necessarily that I'm a powerhouse singer (which I definitely AM NOT). She said I had a nice tone that she really liked. Wow! Normally I am content to stand in the shadow of my good friend, Anne, who IS a powerhouse singer with a beautiful voice and tremendous range. I love singing duets with her, providing the background harmony for her. A solo singer I'm not, so I was really blown away by this compliment.

* I hate Dillard's at Penn Square Mall. More specifically, I hate the little weasel man who is the manager of the Dillard's at Penn Square Mall. I would have kicked his scrawny little butt around the store if I didn't fear arrest on assault charges. Wednesday I went there to return a jacket that was labeled "machine wash". Well, I had followed the care instructions and the jacket was ruined. Instead of refunding my $49.99 that I paid for the jacket (with the receipt in hand) Mr. Weasel would only refund $18 -- the "current value." I protested, citing the manufacturer's care label. He sniffed, looked over the top of his stupid half-glasses, disdainfully picked up a sleeve of the jacket and flipped it, saying "I wouldn't have washed this, no matter what the label said. So it's not a manufacturing defect."
Jerk. I think the stick he had stuck up his backside was poking at his brains. And now I feel better.

* Light bulbs are a pain. Last night both light bulbs in my office ceiling light blew out on me. They always go at the same time because I replace them at the same time. (Follow that?) Anyway, it seems like I'm replacing these two bulbs every other week. Also the one in the garage. Of course they are the hardest to reach, and the ones most often used. This may explain why my stepladder stays parked in my hallway just outside my office door.

* The other pain at my house is furnace filters. I had my 1951 furnace replaced with new central heat and air four or five years ago, I believe it was. There are now two air intakes in my hallway ceiling where the filters are located. One is 14 x 14 inches. Not too hard to find. The other is 14 x 24 inches, which is becoming more and more scarce. I can't find that size at Home Depot or any Sprawl Mart store. The popular size is 14 x 25 inches. I'd love to replace the filters every month, but when I can find the Filtrete filters in 14 x 24, they run about $15 each. Grr.

* Thanks for all the international votes in my Electric Blanket Vote. I've tried Jimmy Carter's advice of putting on a sweater. Somehow, it just isn't quite as satisfying to sleep wearing heavy socks, sweat pants and a sweat shirt. I normally have a sheet, thermal blanket and quilt on my bed. Sometimes I swap the quilt for a comforter, which has a little more loft. I also have a rice bag that I heat in the microwave for a couple of minutes and slip between the sheets to take the chill off. It's kind of an either-or choice, though. I can either have warm feet or warm shoulders. I'm just afraid a full body-size rice bag won't fit in the microwave -- or it would start a fire.

See y'all later -- that's all the blips from here this morning.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Vote Here

This is a very important election. I am putting this to you to decide. Feel free to explain your choice when you reply, to help clarify the issues.

Issue: I get cold, especially at night when I'm trying to fall asleep. I've never had an electric blanket because I've read too many Consumer Product Safety Commission reports about electrical shorts, melting and burn injuries. There's also a business consideration, as most electric blankets are made by Sunbeam (there was a point where the word "monopoly" was tossed around.)

Here are the questions:

Question 1: Should I quit being a worry wart and get an electric blanket?

Question 2: Do you have (and use) an electric blanket?

Question 3: Are the safety concerns great enough to affect purchasing decisions?

(I get a lot of time to think about these things while I'm awake and shivering.)

Here's the floor plan

I love the way the master suite flows into the closet and then the laundry room. That's one of my favorite features.

Dream home

Frenzied Feline posted an elevation of the home she and her husband are buying in California (see, nothing but positive thoughts here!) It's a beautiful house -- go take a peek!

It brought to mind my own dream house -- the only house I've craved in the couple of years I've been writing about real estate. It's in a neighborhood called "Providence," which in and of itself is charming enough. The builder has taken plans from a historic neighborhood, updated them to include modern necessities and amenities, then planned a neighborly gated community with swimming pool, park and other community perks that make it a REAL neighborhood, just like in the olden days. Kids and families can really play hard and get to know the families living around them. Anyway, here's an elevation of the house I dream of. I'm sure it will be a perpetual dream because this is just so way out of the realm of my budget, but still.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Ready for a mass bell choir?

On Saturday, I'll be performing in Tulsa at the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers Tulsa Fest. I won't be alone -- I'll be with the 12 other people in my church handbell choir, as well as 300 to 400 of our closest ringing friends (or more) from Oklahoma and Texas. I think there might even be a couple of 'em from Missouri.

We'll be leaving Oklahoma City at 5:45 a.m. so we have time to stop at the McDonald's midway to Tulsa on the Turnpike.

All of our choirs convene at the Maxwell Convention Center at 8 a.m., set up our bells, eat donuts and drink coffee, go to the bathroom, then take our places for three or four hours of rehearsals before we break for lunch. We're led by a nationally recognized handbell clinician, who changes each year.

Usually the clinician has written or arranged some of the music that's played at the festival, which means rehearsals can be fairly intense. Sometimes we'll hammer out a single measure 10 times until everyone plays it as the director desires.

The thing is, each of the handbell choirs has had the music for a few months. We get familiar with the music in our home choirs. Our group has been rehearsing five pieces of festival music every week since we got it. Some of the pieces are fairly easy; others are killers. Even though we've rehearsed this music until we're happy with it, the clinician may direct the pieces differently, with different nuances in dynamics, tempo, phrasing...

Our choir has played together for a number of years and has become quite accomplished, if I say so myself. We each have some other background in music which drew us into the handbell group. I was terrified when I first started playing, because it's unlike any other musical instrument or singing. Each person plays only a few notes, not the whole song. This limited range is hard, especially for people with a piano background who are used to playing ALL the notes in a piece.

In bells, we're playing about three to five bells each (with a few noteable exceptions; the highest soprano bells are sometimes played 4-in-hand. Essentially, our high-bell ringer plays 8 to 12 bells, depending on the piece.)

I haven't accomplished the 4-in-hand technique. I think I probably could, given enough time to experiment and practice outside of our rehearsal time. I know the player holds two bells in each hand, held perpendicular to each other. One rings with a "ring" motion; the other rings with a "knock" motion. Because of the way the clapper is attached to the inside of the bell, it doesn't ring while it's sideways. That's the short explanation.

One of the highlights each February is LUNCH during festival. Our choir has a tradition of visiting a small authentic Mexican restaurant where we mostly order a specialty known as a "wet burrito supreme." We will wait until we can put enough tables together for a dozen people. Sometimes, we have a pretty lengthy wait, and even if we get a little antsy, we're willing to risk being late getting back. (So far, we haven't really been late.)

After lunch, we rehearse for another couple of hours. Then at 3 p.m., the public is allowed in for our concert. During the concert, some of the bell choirs will perform solo pieces the other choirs haven't prepared. It's a wonderful treat to hear their special pieces. There are some high school choirs that can put the adult choirs to shame -- they have school bell choirs that really put the showmanship into their performances.

We conclude as soon as the concert is over, breaking down our equipment and packing the bell cases. It's a well-tuned dance, packing up the van so everything fits without shifting around.

We always leave Tulsa absolutely exhausted from standing up all day on a concrete floor and concentrating on the music. We whine and ache, but we can hardly wait until next February to go back.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

*tap tap tap*

Is this thing on? Hello? Anyone out there?

I'm starting to think that the Big Bomb went off and I slept through it. No one else is left out there to talk to. Man, I won't do well being the last woman on earth! It's lonesome around here.

Not that I'm counting or anything, but my last five or six posts have only gotten a couple of responses. I can understand that they might not appeal to everyone, but hey, someone out there must be bored enough to respond!

If you're not, I wanna know what YOU'RE doing that's so dang fun. So here's the challenge -- if you're cruising through here and you're tempted to keep going, STOP. Post something here to let me know what's happening in your neighborhood.

I'm thinking about going to the gym in a bit. Yeah, I signed up at the Pacer fitness center to start taking a pro-active step to being fabu at 50. I've got five weeks before the big Five Ohhh! arrives. I won't be anywhere close to my goal for my birthday, but I do have the chance to get a good start and lay the foundation for a great year. (Yeah, look for me on Oprah...)

Geez. Those are my options for the afternoon? Beg for posts and go sweat at the gym? Hmmm. Could be worse, I guess.

Monday, February 21, 2005

50 of my favorite things

Thanks to Tech at 51313 Harbor Street for this meme. Feel free to take a peek, then take the questions and answer them for yourself. I'd love to see what your favorites are, too!

1. My favorite color: Cobalt blue. Ruby red is up there too.
2. My favorite TV show: Hmmm. I have several that I like to catch. It would be difficult to pick one over another; If forced, I'd have to say Dr. Phil.
3. My favorite movie: Fried Green Tomatoes. Time for another showing.
4. My favorite drink: Diet Coke.
5. My favorite cookie: My homemade chocolate chunk cookies.
6. My favorite candy bar: Hershey bars.
7. My favorite potato chip: I try to avoid them because I'm not picky.
8. My favorite hamburger: Sonic Number 2 Cheeseburger, no lettuce.
9. My favorite vehicle: John Deere Mule, out on an open pasture.
10. My favorite author: It would be impossible to pick one.
11. My favorite song: Which genre? I love many different types of music.
12. My favorite singing group: I couldn't pick just one.
13. My favorite food: Mexican.
14. My favorite pet: Dog.
15. My favorite musical: "Baby" -- only because I saw it in person on Broadway in 1984.
16. My favorite male movie star: Tom Hanks.
17. My favorite female movie star: Meg Ryan.
18. My favorite male TV star: Christopher Meloni.
19. My favorite female TV star: Oprah Winfrey.
20. My favorite clothes: Jeans, T-shirt and tennies.
21. My favorite computer: Gateway.
22. My favorite internet service: Southwestern Bell.
23. My favorite kiss: Any that involve me as a participant.
24. My favorite web site:
25. My favorite religion: Christianity.
26. My favorite religious flavor: United Methodist.
27. My favorite hobby: Music performance.
28. My favorite wild land animal: Armadillos. Fascinating critters if you see 'em alive.
29. My favorite wild sea animal: Dolphins.
30. My favorite political party: Democrat, of course.
31. My favorite Congressman: Hillary Clinton.
32. My favorite president: Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton. JFK if he had been able to complete his term.
33. My favorite national park: Glacier National Park.
34. My favorite national monument: Statue of Liberty. Hands down.
35. My favorite vacation spot: Switzerland.
36. My favorite exercise: Walking. Or dancing wildly.
37. My favorite sleeping position: On my left side.
38. My favorite time of day: Evening.
39. My favorite sexual position: Nunya.
40. My favorite pickup line: Hi!
41. My favorite charity: Rebuilding Together (formerly Christmas in April). Or The Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, MI.
42. My favorite blogger: I love them all equally, just like my imaginary children.
43. My favorite newspaper: This is a trap. I would have to answer "the one I work for".
44. My favorite cartoon: "King of the Hill," I tell you whut.
45. My favorite superhero: Mighty Mouse. "Here I come to save the day!"
46. My favorite person: How can I pick one?
47. My favorite plant: Bouganvilla.
48. My favorite Star Fleet Captain: Jean Luke.
49. My favorite blond(e): I'm not crazy about blondes.
50. My favorite saying: "To everything there is a season."

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Ooooh boy

I may not be the most sophisticated consumer of automobiles. What I want in a car is dependable transportation with a modicum of comfort. I have to have air conditioning and cup holders. I enjoy my sun roof a great deal, but if, suddenly, I had to give it up, I could. It is a treat, but not essential.

I consider myself a somewhat responsible consumer of the earth's resources, so I like a car that gets good gas mileage. I'm old enough that I remember having cars with vinyl seats, so now I require better. Fabric seats are essential.

As I mentioned in the high school meme the other day, I missed out on contemporary pop music while I was in high school. The car I first drove didn't have a radio. Now, I have a 10-year-old car that has AM/FM/Cassette. That's nice. A CD player would be nice. XM radio would be a real luxury, akin to Godiva chocolate for someone who loves Hershey bars. It might just be too much for me.

I am a rare person in our current society. I don't have a cell phone. So I certainly would not want a phone in my car, except, perhaps for cases of emergency. I don't have OnStar or any of the similar tracking services, so I have to rely on myself not to lock my keys in the car. Fortunately, the driver's door requires a key to lock it. I don't have a remote door opener either.

And I have no alarm system. It's a 10-year-old car, remember? The only times I've had any problems, an alarm wouldn't have helped. Once I was at choir practice at church when someone chucked a brick through the passenger window. It was a sheer act of vandalism because they took nothing. They probably had no idea how much the music books in my car were worth -- they certainly had no value for the vandal.

The second time was during a snowy Christmas. I had left my door unlocked so the lock wouldn't freeze shut. During the night, someone drove down the street opening car doors and prowling around. I had just brought a load of things home from my mom's house after her death. All that was left in the car was my late grandmother's overnight case. I hadn't been able to open it, but the prowler did. And what they saw when they opened it was a bit of spilled face powder, a couple of bobby pins and some used Kleenex from 1978 when she last went to the hospital. This prowler had an accomplice, as was evident by the footprints in the snow. They went straight from the street to the car door and back to the street. Too lazy to walk door to door stealing, I suppose.

In any event, to me a car is a modern necessity for getting from one place to the next. I don't want it to serve as a portable living room with entertainment systems, DVD players, televisions or dish washers.

So, my little left eyebrow raises a bit when I see a comment on a bulletin board about a car called a Maybach. Apparently, this car costs $350,000. They aren't sold at car dealerships. No, they are sold at "studios." You don't deal with a car salesman, but a "Maybach Relationship Manager."

I'll leave it to you to Google "Maybach" if you want to look at the features of this vehicle. You can see the recliners (complete with air-cushioned back supports...), the panoramic glass roof and everything else. You might like that stuff.

Meanwhile, I'll be sitting in the cheap seats, shaking my head that the world has come to this. My philosophy of life leans more toward this motto: Live simply, so others may simply live.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

I could have danced all night

Since last I posted, about five or six hours ago, I've been to a wonderful wedding and an even better reception. The wedding was for a young woman at my church that I've known for a dozen years. Her parents and I have been friends during the time I've attended this church, serving on various committees together, cooking for the youth group frequently and for other events such as Bible school or chili cook-offs. Her mom and I play handbells together and her dad and I have worked on several evangelism and mission projects.

Weddings are always weepy events, but more so when you've watched the bride or groom grow up from a grade-school kid to a wondrous adult, ready to start a journey with a partner we all pray will be the love of their lives, for the rest of their lives. I think this couple has everything going for them. The bride's mom and dad have been married 30 years this year. There's a strong faith community standing behind them, ready and willing to help them launch this marriage as smoothly as possible.

The bride and her two sisters have been part of the church since they took their first breaths. Their family vacations have always involved mission trips, serving the most needy in the world. They've built concrete block houses, taught Bible school in Spanish on trips to Belize and Mexico, reaching out in love. At home, they've been reading tutors and teachers for Sunday schools and vacation Bible school. Both parents have always involved them in the projects they've worked on. And because of that, they have enthusiastic love and compassion springing out of their very pores.

So it was a joyous celebration to witness the marriage of the first of these three delightful sisters.

After the ceremony, the party started at Coles Garden, across the road from the Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. There was the buffet dinner, the chocolate fountain with skewered fruit, pretzels and marshmallows (the hit of the party!), and all the extras.

The dance floor was filled all night after the arrival of the bride and groom and their first dance. My dancin' shoes got a good breaking in, with the jitterbug, the twist, disco dancing and just general aerobic silliness. It was a blast! Everyone from 3-year-olds to the bridal party's grandparents got up and let it shake. Absolute joy ruled the night!

Before I left the church tonight, I had a moment of reflection about all that had taken place there this week. We've celebrated the life of a departed elder, witnessed the union of a husband and wife, shared the Lord's supper together. Tears of sorrow and of happiness have flowed freely there this week. New life and old, dancing babies and dancing grannies.

Life is good. It continues on its way, as it should, bringing us the fullness of the human experience.

I'm a little afraid I may catch myself dancing in the choir loft in the morning.


OK, it's a minor success, but I'll take it! It's now 4 p.m. and I'm home, triumphant, from my shopping excursion. I scored a $200 dress for $50 (whoo hooo!) and a nice pair of shoes for $40. Then some necessary girl unmentionables to go with the dress... and finally, some knives and a great pair of scissors as a wedding present.

The woman who helped me with my shoe purchase was exasperated, I know, that I wasn't doing cartwheels at her suggestion of silver shoes to go with my teal blue dress. Me? In silver shoes? And high-heeled sandals at that? In the middle of February? I don't think so.

She was probably even more exasperated when I told her the wedding was tonight. "WHAT!!?" she exclaimed. Hey,what's the panic? It was about 2:30 at the time, and the wedding doesn't start until 6. Plenty of time.

She was probably delighted when she brought out three pairs of nice, normal BLACK dress shoes and I squealed when I fell in like with one of the pairs. In the game of shoe buying, it was a three-point score for both teams.

Did I mention that I chose today, of all days, for my excursion. I didn't realize the store was in the midst of its huge mid-winter sale, and this poor woman was being assaulted from all sides by people like me asking for time-consuming help. Not just a "ring this up, please" type of help, but "hey, what goes with this dress" kind of help. She was a great sales associate.

So, I have a bit of resting time before I start the dressing ritual, putting on the rubber-band type undergarments that are supposed to make women look better on such occasions, then the dress and shoes. I'll even do the makeup ritual, clear down to lip-sticky, as one former beau called it. I will look goooooood. (eh, better than my normal jeans and sweats, maybe.)

I'll let you know if anything snaps unexpectedly.

We interrupt this Saturday morning

We interrupt this Saturday morning to go shopping.

I'm finally feeling better after a week or more of sicky-ness. And I may be pushing my luck by setting out with the intention of buying a dress for a wedding. Yeah, the wedding is tonight. I have a dress I can wear if I don't find something I like. Just thought I'd see if I could find THAT dress that magically turns me into a stunning beauty. *cough cough*. I might even buy HIGH HEELS if I find a dress. But that's a conditional matter. I'm also not a high-heels kind of gal.

It's supposed to be bad luck to give a knife as a gift, but I happen to know a guy who owns a knife shop with great knives. I've bought some from him over the past few months and am surprised at how much I love them. So, if the dress shopping goes well, I'll stop by his shop and see if I can find a couple of knives for the wedding couple. I'll put a penny in the gift box so they can pay me for them -- that's part of the knife-gift tradition to ward off the bad luck. And yes, I already have a back-up present too. The bases are covered.

Like I said, I'm not much of a fan of shopping, but I'm in the mood for it today. I'm not overly optimistic about finding something, and I'm not desperate, so there will be no stress or panic on today's journey. That should help too. This will be "recreational" shopping, if there is such a thing. I suppose there is since so many people get a thrill from it.

I'll let you know how it goes. Hope y'all have a great Saturday!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Another screaming meme

Well, now, it may really be a "meeeeem" instead of a "meemee." Depends on who you ask and whether you've heard the word spoken out loud, I suppose. Don't ask me.

Anyway, here is the "High School Interrogatory," which I lifted from E.R. It's a fine set of questions to respond to, so feel free to lift and separate (your answers from mine, I mean. Get your mind outta the gutter again.)

What year was it?
I am a proud member of the Class of '73.

What were your three favorite bands (performers)?
Honestly, I was kept in the dark about popular music. You may think I'm making it up, but I didn't have a radio or record player. Not even a radio in the car (yes, used to be cars came without audio equipment. Once I started commuting from Norman to OKC in 1976, I had a small, battery-operated AM radio that I could take with me on the seat of the car to help me stay awake late at night.)

What was your favorite outfit?
I had a navy blue dress with a big white collar trimmed in lace. The dress buttoned up the front with round brass buttons and had princess seaming which I found flattering at the time.

What was up with your hair?
Here. Look. Just like everygirl my age, it was long, straight, parted in the middle, with bangs. It was our "individual identity" and we shared it with thousands of others. There were a few times I cut it short a la Dorothy Hammill, thinking it would smell wonderful like the shampoo she hawked.

Who were your best friends?
Rena,my hippy-dippy cool friend, and Juan(ita), the one with a solid gold soul, who lived three houses down on the other side of the alley.

What did you do after school?
I did my homework and read like a fiend. I rode my bike 20 miles a day and played basketball. And I roller skated at the gym.

Where did you work?
I wasn't allowed to work. As far as my parents were concerned, my job was to get good grades.

Did you take the bus?
No. Most of the time I rode with my friends who had moms who could drive (mine couldn't.) I paid them $2 for gas money to let me tag with them. And a lot of times I walked to school. Finally, my senior year my dad would let me take him to work and then drive to school. I think somewhere in there is when he got a second car which made life easier for us both.

Who did you have a crush on?
I had a series of crushes -- later I discovered a trend. Most of the boys were gay. To this day, I can walk in a room, and be attracted to the one man there who's gay. Not all of them were. One in particular crush remains a dear and close friend, 32 years later.

Did you fight with your parents?
Oh my word. Did the sun rise in the east? Duh, yeah. We had some pretty major encounters, both verbal and physical. Today I probably would have been removed from the home.

Who did you have a CELEBRITY crush on?
Not a clue now, really. Oh, I did have a major crush on Davy Jones of The Monkees and collected all the bubble gum cards to make the Monkees poster so I could kiss him good night.

Did you smoke cigarettes?
Never did. Not one.

Did you lug all of your books around in your backpack all day because you were too nervous to find your locker?
There was no such thing back in my day. We used our lockers and lugged the books home every night in our arms.

Did you have a ‘clique’?
Kind of. We were the "GADS" which stood for Give a Damn. We were kind of an anti-clique.

Did you have “The Max” like Zach, Kelly, and Slater?
What the heck? This isn't even in my language. Beats me.

Admit it, were you popular?
Not a chance in hell.

Who did you want to be just like?
Marlo Thomas or Mary Tyler Moore, I guess.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
A journalist, particularly a political reporter. I was groomed for it in high school and college.

Where did you think you’d be at the age you are now?
I figured I'd be highly successful in my career, reporting from the state Capitol, probably married with children who would be grown by now. Possibly grandchildren by now. Everyone pegged me to be the mom in the wood-paneled station wagon. (In modern terms, a soccer mom.)

Wonderful memories

A smile which pushes a tear from a mourner's eye is perhaps the best eulogy any of us can hope for when we pass from this life. Today, Harry S. Culver received many such eulogies. Many sweet stories of Harry's life were shared during his funeral service -- so many that the service lasted an hour and a half.

Among the mourners were countless Oklahoma journalists and politicians, including former Gov. George Nigh. Gathered was a rainbow of people who ranged in age from children to Harry's mother-in-law, who is 101 or 102.

Harry was 82 at his passing. He and his wife were married in September of 1945. That's nearly 60 years, folks. That's true love.

Harry's family was seated all together -- black, white, young or old, it made no difference. Harry saw only loving and loved souls, not color or station.

Harry's service pointed out what a mosaic our lives are. Each of us knew Harry. Many of us knew others in the crowd, in different settings. The facets of our connections are like the facets of a gem, creating depth, fire, clarity and color in our lives. Harry sparkled from the life he led.

I mentioned yesterday one story about Harry's plane being shot down. That was but one of four times during his military service that his plane was downed. He was a prisoner in Sweden after one incident.

Despite the demands on Capt. Culver during the war, Harry wrote daily long letters to the love of his life, Lee. Many of the letters were 10 to 12 pages long. Harry was what all journalists dream of being -- a thinker and a writer.

So many people spoke their memories of Harry -- a cousin who was more like a brother, a couple of friend/ministers, and his son David, a minister living in Kansas City. Each told the kind of stories that produced those smiles that made the eyes leak just a little.

The sweetest story was told by son David. He remembered Harry's fondness for reading the works Robert Louis Stevenson, as well as a poignant tale of Stevenson's childhood in the mid-1800s.

Stevenson, a somewhat sickly child, pressed his face against the glass of an upstairs window in his family's apartment.

"Child, step away from the glass before you catch your death of cold!" his mother exclaimed.

Stevenson continued his intent gaze, face contorted against the glass, straining to see a lamplighter at work on the street.

"But mother," he replied. "Come look! There's a man down there poking holes in the darkness!"

The same could be said of Harry. Both as a journalist and as a Christian strong in his faith, Harry Culver poked holes in the darkness of the human experience and let the light shine through.

His light and spirit will be missed.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

What's new?

OK, OK. E.R. is gigging me for not posting since Friday. Well, truth is, there's not much to write about. The weekend was just kind of a gray blur. The daylight hours Monday were OK. I actually went in to "the office" briefly... it sounds so weird to write that since I no longer have the right to consider it "my" office -- not since I departed two and a half years ago.

It stirred up a weird combination of emotions, one being a huge loss of identity considering my lengthy affilation with the company. The other was same ol' story, umpteenth verse, feeling a huge loss of income during that time. I guess I really do miss having serious money coming in in a huge way. Anyway, my mind's not in the right place for dealing with that issue now.

I was pretty severely sick all night last night and got no sleep during the dark hours. And that made me somewhat less than optimally functional today. I tried stealing some time for naps between efforts to get some work done, and both suffered from the divided attention. It will be time to try again soon for a full night's sleep. I predict no problem in falling asleep and can only hope that tonight I'll manage to stay asleep without any rude interruptions.

Tomorrow morning I will be going to a funeral for a man I've known through church for the past 12 years. He was a true hero, not just militarily. During World War II he was a captain and pilot of a B-17 bomber in the Eighth Air Force, flying 33 combat missions over Germany. One day, the plane was heavily damaged and fell 10,000 feet before he could regain control. In recent years he shared that he heard a voice saying to him, "Harry, why haven't you tried to pray?"

He did pray and the plane stopped its fall. He and his crew were able to land in friendly territory.

After the war, he worked nearly 35 years as a reporter for United Press International, mostly covering the state Capitol, and in 1979 was inducted into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame.

I know the church will be bursting at the seams tomorrow for Harry's service. He was a pillar of strength, faith and devotion. By the time I came to know him, he had long been retired. It was by accident that I learned of his professional background. He rarely spoke about his work or his military service. But as long as he and his wife were physically able, he was present in the community of faith, always learning more through Bible study, and always teaching by his example. I'm sure he had no idea how his life influenced so many people who met him. The ripples in his pond touched more than he could have imagined.

Friday, February 11, 2005

It's Friday!

La la la it's Friday! Last night I made a batch of chocolate chunk cookies, so I have a treat to go with my Diet Coke. MMMMmmm.

E.R. is writing more about testicles, just in case anyone is looking for something interesting to read. (There just seems to be a lot of testicle news this week. Mostly about how they are coming unhinged from their owners. Nasty stuff. Sounds very painful.)

Nothing nearly that shocking is happening around my house. I've been pleasantly busy with some writing assignments which are making me realize just how good the economy is here. For everyone but me, but no, I'm not bitter. Yet. A little jealous, perhaps. I won't be bitter until second quarter, probably, according to forecasts.

I talked to a businessman today who also is a body builder (it came up in conversation, honest!) The man has shoulders wide enough to park an SUV on. I know his suits and shirts have to be custom tailored to fit him. Fortunately for him, he's in the thick of this economic uptick here, so I'm sure he can afford it. Why is it you rarely hear about homeless body builders? Hmmm. Something to ponder over the weekend, should you get tired of testicle news.

I hope y'all do something fun to refresh your spirits this weekend. I'll finish up a little work and maybe go to An Affair of the Heart," a frequently held girly-type event at the state fairgrounds. It's a cross between an antiques sale and craft show It would give any man hives, I promise.

I'll also be waiting for the conclusion of Tech's crime story, "An Unattended Death." He's kept us hanging on and now claims to be sick. I'm going to be sick if he leaves us waiting much longer!

Good weekend wishes to Dr. E.R., home after some heavy traveling this week. She's got a good idea about moving some expenses "off budget," just like the President. and for Frenzied Feline, we're hoping for some great news for her and her family about job opportunities and home buying. Rah! Go!

There's the news from Mount Ivy, best as I can recollect. I'd update you on a few other people but they seem to have lost their way in Blogland and haven't been posting for my entertainment of late. Hope everything is going well with them and that we'll read more from them very soon.

Evening approaches. It's time for me to light my candles, check out the fridge and kick back. Deadline? What deadline? We don' need no stinkin' deadlines on a Friday night!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Goodbye, Carly

Goodbye to Hewlett-Packard's CEO, Carly Fiorina, fired today by a board claiming she failed to deliver on goals to reduce costs and boost revenues. Maybe the board was right; stocks rose 6 percent after the announcement.

CEOs come and go based on performance. We can only hope performance was indeed the reason for Fiorina's departure. Her six years in charge were more often notable because of her gender. Indeed, the announcement of her election to CEO was documented as an awkward, televised dance, where neither Fiorina nor the male with her knew whether to shake hands, give each other high fives, hug or dance. Seeing that tape again tonight was still embarrassing for all involved.

Fiorina's personal career notwithstanding, she was good for women in business. Under her reign, women were hired without that same awkward "gee, we got another girl" kind of nonsense that Fiorina herself had to endure. Women, like men, were considered based on their merit, their abilities and talents.

I started working in a male-dominated field in 1976 (if you don't count high school and college). I so clearly remember being told by the old men I worked with that women, especially young women, were a bad risk for companies because we would probably get married, get pregnant and quit. God help anyone who got the order of that wrong!

Well, most of those old men are dead now, and hiring practices have progressed. But equality won't be real until events like Fiorina's firing are no longer newsworthy because of her personal plumbing. Hired or fired, gender should not matter.

Close, but blessed

I'd just gotten off the phone with E.R. when I turned around in my kitchen. The timer on the stove dinged to let me know my dinner -- a burger on the Foreman grill -- was ready for me. I pulled the plug, put the patty on my plate and grabbed paper towels to wipe down the grill while it was still hot. That's the best time to clean it, before it cools down and all the bits harden like concrete.

So I just finished my cleanup and was reaching to toss the paper towel in the trash when I caught the edge of the plastic grease tray and pulled it off the counter, right at belly height. Reflexes were good today and I managed to leap back. Unfortunately, the grease leaped also and fell squarely into the fabric of my favorite striped shirt. I had managed to keep flesh out of the way, I thought. And so, I did what I could, stripping off the shirt while mentally apologizing to any neighbors who might be gazing into my windows. Since I was in the kitchen, I was able to saturate the spill with dishwashing liquid and soak it in the sink. I hope I was able to avoid permanent damage; I'm really fond of that shirt!

After I got that part under control, I started surveying the collateral damage. Thick grease on the tile floor. Splatters on the baseboard and kitchen drawers.

I did a preliminary cleanup with more paper towels, minding the clock. Ash Wednesday service starts at 6:30 p.m. and it was almost 5:30 now.

With every step, I spread thick grease across the whole kitchen. Fortunately I realized it before I stepped onto my white carpet throughout the rest of the house. Now I have a shirt soaking in the sink and nasty house slippers kicked off in the middle of the floor.

Finally, I looked down at the great white whale which is my belly and noticed a large patch of gooey grease. No red skin or blistering, thank the good Lord! Easily cleaned up and oh my skin is SO soft now. *rolly eyes*.

I'll give the floor a good hard soapy scrub after I get home from church this evening. And this reminder of my klutzy nature will also prompt me to be more careful around the Foreman grill. Let this be a horrible example for the rest of you!

I'm so glad I had spent my evenings last week cleaning off my kitchen cabinets aand countertops. It could have been so much worse in the clutter. (And here's where I thank Flylady!)

Y'all be careful out there. I'm on my way to the Imposition of Ashes to mark the beginning of Lent. I wonder if I could give up clumsiness this season?

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

A quiet, cozy day

I had a hard night last night. I went to bed early (for me -- read that as "early late" for most of you.) I think it was about 10:30 when I hit the pillow. Within the hour I was awakened to the pain of an ear infection. I could hardly lift my head without feeling as though my ear drum would burst. Fortunately, I regularly take an antibiotic, the same one I usually have to take when the ear acts up. It's feeling better this evening after a quiet day.

I made a few calls today, and this evening went to the Designer Show House to check on the progress being made there. I'm doing a series of stories on the house's transformation between now and April. I feel special -- they've given me 24 hour access to the house. Tonight I caught a couple of people there but had hoped some of the designers would be working. Every one of them are doing this on their own time, without pay, after their regular working hours.

A rainy night and a social dinner across town kept many of them away. Several others are under the weather with a variety of ailments.

I'll continue checking back during the evenings -- things will also pick up after some of the major reconstruction work is done. They are about 14 days behind at this point. Part of the delay is a kitchen remodeling job which is not part of the designers' work, but which has to be finished before they can get into some of their rooms. For now, huge saws are filling the formal living room and dining room. Sawdust does not mix well with wet paint, so someone has to wait.

I spent the day cooking -- a crockpot filled with black-eyed peas, ham hocks, crushed tomatoes and diced onions. It's smelling wonderful. Tomorrow I'll make some rice to go with that. I also had a pot on the stove making "Sloppy Mikes," a vegetarian version of sloppy Joes. It's a mix of diced onions, diced bell peppers (two green, one red, one yellow), a small can of sliced black olives, a can of Rotel, a can of whole-kernel corn, a can of pinto beans and a can of chili beans. Saute the hard veggies, add the other stuff, bring to a boil and then lower the temp and let it simmer until it thickens up a bit. This can be served on rice, on pasta, rolled in a tortilla, on buns or alone as a soup.

So here I am, on a rainy night, starting to feel a little better. I'm well fed, glad I didn't have a more demanding work day today. Now American Idol is on and I'm enjoying the show. Hey, where else can you get great music from unknowns with an occasional dud to laugh at? I love it. It looks like a good crop of talent this season.

I may try going to bed early again tonight. I might even try to crash by 10 p.m. -- which is unheard of here at Chez Trixie. Honest folks, there are a lot of nights I'm still awake at 3 or 4 a.m. That's what years of working nights will do to your biological schedule.

Hope you're enjoying a cozy, content evening too!

Friday, February 04, 2005

This'll be fun too! "The Last" Survey

Y'know one thing E.R. is good for? He's good for stealin' ideas from. Like this one, which he admitted to lifting from somewhere else. I do believe this is what's called a "meme," which means an idea lifted from one blogger and scattered among others for nearly simultaneous discussions.

Anyway, I lifted this from E.R. My answers are included. Feel free to lift and post on your own blog with your own answers. And if yours wind up looking like mine, well, heck, we'll both be surprised!

The "Last" Survey

Last Cigarette: Never smoked one. Not ever in my life. My mom offered to let me light a cigarette for her when I was 4, and the notion of it put me off so bad that I was never tempted. I was also repulsed by both of my "smoked-like-chimneys" parents and the mess that is associated with smoking. Not to mention that it killed everyone in my family.

Last Alcoholic Drink: I had a couple of beers on a date two weeks ago.

Last Car Ride: With me driving? This afternoon, coming back from a photo shoot. With me as passenger? On the same date mentioned above.

Last Kiss: Um, well, that date is supplying wayyyyy too many answers for this quiz... (NOSY quiz!)

Last Good Cry: Yesterday, I believe, after seeing some sappy commercial which got me missing my mom. That's the one sorrow that will always trigger tears.

Last Library Book: Three books on the business of freelancing.

Last Book Purchased: "Sharing Good Times" by Jimmy Carter.

Last Book Read: "Sharing Good Times" by Jimmy Carter. (No, silly. I did not read it on my date.)

Last Movie Viewed in a Theater: Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events" (or whatever that movie is called. In early January. I enjoyed it.)

Last Movie Rented: Not really sure. It's been a year. I believe it might have been "Bruce Almighty." Or "Pirates of the Caribbean".

Last Profanity Uttered: Probably the "D" word.

Last Beverage Drank: Diet Coke with dinner.

Last Food Consumed: Broiled steak and a baked tater.

Last Phone Call: Just a bit ago, about 11 p.m. Unexpected call from a guy I dated in the fall. We talked about an hour with him catching me up on a trade show he went to in Vegas.

Last TV Show Viewed: "Roseanne" on Nick at Night.

Last Time Showered: Late morning today.

Last Shoes Worn: Do house slippers count?

Last CD Played: "On Eagle's Wings," Piano orchestrations by Steve Hall. Recommended by my aunt on my last visit to Missouri and very enjoyable inspirational songs.

Last Item Bought: Other than groceries, the last items I recall purchasing were a dish drainer and drain board.

Last Download: An e-mailed photograph from a homebuilder.

Last Annoyance: Being in a Catch-22 situation regarding work.

Last Thing Written: A newspaper story for publication later this month, on home improvement shows.

Last Key Used: Front-door key.

Last Words Spoken: "OK, talk to you later. Behave yourself." at the conclusion of the aforementioned telephone call.

Last Sleep: 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. today.

Last Ice Cream Eaten: Ben & Jerry's New York Super Fudge Chunk last week.

Last Webpage Visited: Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency (

Whew! That was fun! I expect to see your answers soon when I visit your blogs. Oh, and one more thing: WRITE SOMETHING! I need to be entertained!!!