Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Now here's a corporate charity that makes a difference!

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Tide's CleanStart offers victims of disaster loads of hope.

After Hurricane Katrina, Tide® and the America's Second Harvest Network partnered to create Tide® CleanStart — a program that provides clean clothes and a sense of comfort to families through a free mobile laundry facility.

The Tide CleanStart mobile laundry facility contains 32 high-efficiency washers and dryers; can wash and dry approximately 10,000 free loads of laundry over a four week period; can do about 300 wash and dry cycles a day — equal to one year's worth of laundry for a single family.

Go Here to Tide's corporate site to see more about this incredible helping hand program. And imagine yourself as a victim of last year's hurricane. Wouldn't it be a huge blessing to you to have any way to feel just a little cleaner after that?

Thanks, Tide, for helping to turn things around with this corporate outreach!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Good morning! It's Saturday!

Yeah! And you know what? It is one of those increasingly rare Saturdays for which I have no commitments or obligations! This is a play-day Saturday! No guilt for leaving chores undone because I've helped a friend move, for example. No feeling bad about making it someplace on time. Nope. This day is MINE! All MINE! Bwah-haha!

It has started well. I slept in, and even when the clock radio went off I dawdled in bed and listened to the entire "Car Talk" on NPR this morning. Those guys are a hoot -- comedians and good information all in one. Makes me feel better about driving an old car when I listen to them, especially when I can diagnose car problems along with them from the listeners' calls.

To update y'all on my car situation: At the moment I am completely without any air conditioning. Last Saturday I was out of town, and an an inopportune time the compressor bearings went out and started creating an embarrassingly horrific sound. Nothing I could do would stop it. Leaving church was also embarrassing as there were plenty of people in the parking lot listening to it and wondering if my car was ready to explode.

Monday morning I learned that the evaporator core (No. 4 for those who are counting) is on back order until the end of August! Another week, probably, at the earliest -- that now puts us over the Labor Day weekend and I am betting that I won't hear a peep until AFTER the holiday. So I explained the problem has now contaminated the compressor and the bearings are squawling. They offered to disconnect the belt and change the clutch on the compressor to at least stop the noise. He'll also get me a compressor at cost, saving me hundreds of dollars, when the evaporator core is available and we install that. I may have cool air in October, right about the time we all have cool air.

This hot summer is tough on a delicate little wilty flower like me, although someone said I was more like a sunflower -- and sunflowers are tough! (Thanks for that, someone! But remember sunflowers are also tall, which I decidedly am not.)

Honestly, August heat and I don't get along. I'm also sporting a major sunburn from having spent a few too many hours outside without protection while doing some work. I'm about as white as a sheet of paper and it doesn't take a lot of exposure for me to get a serious burn, so a couple of hours outside in a rural area is just begging to get cooked to a crisp.

On the other hand ...

Yesterday morning I had a great experience, meeting someone for coffee at Starbucks. It's a whole different sort of place at 10 a.m. than at other times of day. There were a couple of moms there in different areas -- one momma giving her baby boy a bottle on the soft club chairs and another momma with her toddlers playing in a nook with a couple of love seats. The toddlers were enjoying some of the baked goods for a special treat, alternating between taking bites and coloring and playing with blocks of some sort. It was quiet and serene, and, I noticed, everyone had smiles on their faces. Especially the momma feeding the baby boy his bottle.

There was also a man at a table for one, reading the morning paper as he sipped his coffee, and an older couple. I think they were probably traveling through because they asked to have a thermos filled. It was fun watching them as they decided what to order -- one would pick something only to be reminded by the other why that was a bad choice. Then they flipped roles. It was a wonder they ever were able to place an order, but when they did get their treats they went to sit on the patio under an umbrella.

The cool slate floor and the blond wood ceiling features made the coffee shop a serene, almost holy place for these special Friday-morning moments. Through the windows we could watch a gardening crew replacing some of the small shrubs that had fallen to the summer heat.

Lazily watching these gentle moments made me glad that I had arrived early. I found myself able to breathe a little more deeply than usual, pulling out memories of my childhood and those special moments with my own momma when we would do something different, like going to a little cafe for lunch instead of eating at home. Such times as these are special bonding moments with children -- times when adults can show them, even without words, that they are special and deserve those prized moments and experiences.

I felt special too, when my acquaintance arrived. I wasn't sure why she had called for coffee, but had a bit of a fear of a serious conversation about some recent conflicts involving other people. I could not have been more wrong.

Instead, she started by asking me how I was doing, and was unwilling to take the glazed-face "Fine" that we all respond with. She gave me a chance to voice all the nasty little problems that have accumulated recently. And I appreciate it so much.

We wound up having a great, long, serene conversation, exchanging some real truths about what is happening in both of our lives. Sometimes just speaking the truths helps to take the pressure off of those things we're dealing with -- knowing that now there is another human being who knows and understands what we're facing.

During our conversation we also kicked around some creative ideas that we're going to discuss further, in another morning coffee session. Ideas for worship and a women's retreat and other spiritual expressions.

Funny how one morning's coffee klatch can have such an effect. Funny how one hour spent like this can take someone from an acquaintance to a friend. Thanks, my friend.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

30 Years Ago This Morning

I was 21 years old and had finished a summer internship at a large newspaper. I had spent this last weekend at home with my family before the start of what was supposed to be my final semester at the university.

Things had seemed normal, but not. Nothing was the way it used to be, but we thought it was going the way it was supposed to be. Until Monday morning.

As usual, my dad had gotten up earlier than everyone else to get ready and leave for work. His habit was to get up about 6:30 a.m., smoke and drink his coffee, then get himself dressed and ready to leave about 7:15 so he'd be at work at 7:30. Just the same, every morning of my life. Normally the rest of us stayed out of his way -- truth is, the sound of him closing the door was our cue to rise.

And so this Monday started like every other day that I had been in this household. But I was changing -- this had become less and less my home over the past three years since I went to school 120 miles away. The daily rituals weren't mine so much, any more. Over the summer I had made my first "real" money during my internship.

My schedule wasn't like my dad's, though. All summer I had worked nights, starting at 3 p.m. and getting off at midnight. Then there was the 20-mile drive back to my college town, where I was still living with my roommates.

So this Monday morning was a bittersweet shadow to remind me of 21 years of habit, about to end for a lifetime of something different.

My mom and I got up after we heard the screen door shut. It was late August, and like always the front and back doors was open to circulate the little bit of cool breeze through the house. We didn't worry about closing the doors at night, much less locking them. Back then there was nothing to worry about unless a stray cat managed to slip through after fanagaling the screen open.

After we got ourselves dressed, Mom and I went downtown to the bank, ready to get the money I'd need for my last semester's living expenses. Scholarships had paid all of my school expenses throughout my time at the university -- otherwise I don't think I would have been able to go. In any case, it was time to get the travelers checks I used for my "allowance," so to speak. We got them in $20 denominations to help space out my spending. One check a week was what I could have for incidentals.

Mom and I were joking with each other. "Oh, if you don't have any extra money you're using, I'll take it off your hands." That kind of stuff. My grandmother had recently died and my mom and her sister had coped by joking about grandma's estate in much the same way. The bank officer who was helping us didn't quite know what to make of our comments until we explained we were only teasing. Her expression would come back to haunt us later that day.

I think my brother must have stayed home that morning, because I don't remember him being with us when mom and I pulled up in the driveway in the Datsun. A car was parked at the curb and two men in suits were standing at the door. I don't know if Bob had answered the door or if they had just walked up as Mom and I were pulling in.
In any event, when they saw our car they turned towards us and waited for us to reach the porch.

They introduced themselves and asked to come in. It was at that moment I realized how tiny our living room was. There wasn't room for these strange men -- they didn't belong here and they shouldn't be in our house. There wasn't room for them.

"Mrs. Smith, I'm sorry, I have some very bad news. Bill died of a heart attack this morning at work, right after his coffee break. I want you to know that even if a doctor had been right there next to him, there was nothing that could have been done that would have saved him, he was gone that fast," one of the suits said.

Mom fell to the couch -- Dad's couch. I had never seen her like that and even now, 30 years later, I can't adequately describe her reaction. I had never seen her like that.

Bob, as I recall, said "No!" Then he started mulling the information over in his mind. One big tear rolled down his cheek as he looked from the men to my mom, then back to the men again. His face turned red and he started sobbing.

I felt my own face flush as the tears rushed to my eyes. Though they teetered on the brink of spilling over, I managed not to cry as I tried to listen to every detail the men had to report about what had happened.

Apparently, about the same time mom and I were joking at the bank, dad and his co-workers finished up their Monday-morning coffee break and were heading back to the machines when my dad went down.

"What's happening with Smith?" someone said. Someone else realized he was in trouble and called for the company doctor, who was in an adjacent building. He responded immediately and pronounced him dead.

I started making phone calls to tell neighbors, former neighbors and other friends. I might as well have saved my time because the news had already made it through the community grapevine. It was my first time to realize that gossip is an effective way to transmit information. Our old next-door neighbor was already sobbing when she picked up her phone.

Later that day or the next day I had to go back to the bank to do the inventory on the accounts and the safe deposit box so Mom would have access to everything. The same bank officer who had heard my mom and I joking was the one who did the inventory with me. I don't think I've ever seen a more sober face. I can't imagine what she must have been thinking.

Today it's hard to believe that was 30 years ago. I'm only four years younger now than my dad was that morning he died. My life is so much different than it was then, and miles different than I thought it was going to be.

Everyone who lived in that tiny house with me is gone now. Dad first; later my brother and finally my mom.

There's no room for any of us there any more.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Prayers, please

For dear friend J.T. and his family, on the passing of his mother. Her service was Saturday morning in our hometown. She was a warm, wonderful woman whose generous spirit will be missed while we remain on this side.

Blog Tipping*

I saw this on Connexions, the blog of Richard Hall, a Methodist Minister in South Wales. He notes that he saw it on
Bene Diction Blogs On and Ian’s Messy Desk.

Here's his post:

If you’re not familiar with blogtipping, it works thus:

* Choose three or more bloggers you admire and link to them;
* List three reasons why you admire each one; and
* Add one tip for each blogger.

Easy Peasy

Why not?!

(Note from Trixie: Well, this is very difficult! I enjoy so many blogs and it is very hard to choose just three. I appreciate all the blogs I read, but I want to introduce others to some of the blogs I've found more recently. I hope you agree or can see why I have chosen the ones I have.)

Kuky Ideas
1. Extremely creative in several ways; cute cartoons, great knitting projects, makes the best onesies I've ever seen.
2. The blog is an incredible journal of her baby's growing up. Cute stories, photos and videos -- you can just see this little person unfold right before your very eyes.
3. Each day's post makes me smile, just seeing your good humor and your talent.

Tip: Don't ever stop keeping track of Isabelle's progress, and I hope you are backing everything up "just in case." What a gift this will be for her later!

Alicia at Posie Gets Cozy
1. You make me believe the whole world is beautiful, the way I want it to be. I feel like you channel my inner visions of how daily life should be. Lovely beyond words.
2. That beauty extends beyond pretty colors and attention to details. I love the way you talk about Andy and family and friends. Stumbling across a magazine article on you while I was at the car repair shop just cemented that. And Audrey? A little furry angel from heaven!
3. Just a few words that wrap up the sense I have of you: Great food (Ina Garten!); beautiful fabrics (quilts!); keeping the best ideas (aprons! flowers!); hospitality (family and friends!).

Tip: No matter how much we, your public, may whine about change, always listen to your inner voice that directs your creativity. You are the leader. You must have your vision. Even if that means closing your store and finding a different outlet.

Junior the Bear
1. Hands down, best blog by a bear with an elite audience of readers.
2. Well traveled with a unique sensibility about relationships and the humans in his life.
3. A great reminder that it's not the size of the bear that matters, but the size of the life the bear lives!

Tip: Just keep up the good work, my little fuzzy friend. Your stories and photos are always refreshing, and I hope more people come to appreciate you the way I do.

This was really, really hard, choosing only three blogs to highlight. I may have to come back to this exercise again and again. I love all my blog friends!

*Blog tipping is in no way related to cow tipping, which is a practice we do not condone. (Note from Trixie: Nor do we condone "kid tipping," which is demonstrated when the cows take over in the animated film, "Barnyard.")

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Happy Bloggivesary to me!

Trixie's Home is 2 today!

(Reflections may follow later. Right now, I'm going to the car repair shop ((yes, again; day 6)) to see if I'll ever have a cool ride. Hmm. Not long until the Great State Fair of Oklahoma starts, which explains some of the rain. Usually by the end of the fair's run, things are a might tolerably cooler.)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Hooray for good people!

Here's my church family at work. I asked for help from the mission team and they came through like champions. I got in touch with the chairman of the team and he put out the call to the guys at church who have chain saws. They were set to come to my house between 4:30 and 4:45.

About 3:30, I heard a chain saw start up so of course I went out to see what was happening. There was Bill, already hard at work. I hollered Hi! He said "Oh good! I got the right house. Can you imagine how surprised your neighbors would have been if I'd started on the wrong tree?"

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Bill made short work of cutting up what was left of the Bradford. I was torn -- sad at the tree's loss but thrilled that the problem was being handled so well.

A police officer pulled up to the house across the street as Bill was cutting limbs off the main trunk. Bill had tied a control rope to help direct the tree when he made the cut to fell the trunk. The officer was watching as he interviewed my neighbor (I don't know what that was about but she was standing on her front porch and it looked like all she had on was a long T-shirt, like she had been asleep.)

Bill cut the wedges for the trunk cut and started testing the fall pattern. The officer got nervous and hollered "Let me move my car before you do that!!"
Hee hee.

Just about the time Bill finished cutting the major cuts, Paul pulled up. His son is the one who coordinated all the guys who were going to work on it. Paul was great at helping move branches to the curb and really cleaned up the area with a rake.

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Before you know it, everything is cut, stacked and bagged. The street is clean and Paul even got some of the gutter mud cleaned out so the water from any more rain won't pool at my house.

All gone...

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Now I have a barren yard and a clear view of my neighbor in the T-shirt.

The other tree is still there. It's a maple tree and I think this particular tree is ugly as sin, but it is healthy and strong. I don't know what I'm going to do about landscaping, but I've never liked the maple tree.

Fortunately, these guys saved me hundreds of dollars. Potentially thousands of dollars -- the Bradford could have completely toppled into my house in the next wind storm.

Yay for good people!!!

Oh yeah-- I also got my washing machine fixed this morning and while the repairman was here I had him clean out the innards of the dryer, too. One small problem later: I found a d-e-a-d m-o-u-s-e in front of the dryer later. SHUDDER!!

God bless city workers!

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A city crew was just here picking up the tree that the chain saw hero cut up last night. Not only that, but they removed the big honkin' part of the tree that had been holding me captive, blocking my driveway. Now, it just looks like my tree has been on a severe diet.

I had called the leader of my church's mission team to ask for help. He is rounding up some of the men from church who have chain saws. The great news now is there is much, much less for them to do. The urgency has passed somewhat (provided we don't have another potent wind storm before they can come help me.) I do have a little concern that it wouldn't take much for this to topple over onto my house.

I've had some micro-vision of this. I went out to thank the workers and one of the guys told me that there are several houses down the street with uprooted trees. They are down past the bend where I can't see them. I pity everyone who has lost trees.

Even worse, the neighborhood has suffered a huge loss, apparently. The worker said that the NW 19 Boulevard, next street from me, lost many trees. It's a divided street with a long median through several neighborhoods. Many of the old, lovely trees in the median have been lost, along with those at homes adjacent.

The neighborhood will never look the same. This neighborhood was built in the 1950s and the trees were planted at that time. How sad.

The morning after

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Monday, August 14, 2006

Pardon my French ...

... But holy crap!!

In the 20 minutes it took me to cook my dinner, it started getting dark, then it started raining then the wind started blowing. I was looking out my kitchen door to see how the trees were doing. They were blowing horizontally. I figured I better go look out front.

Here's what I saw:

1. My tree! My beautiful tree!!
2. My car! Too close to my car!!!
3. That is rain blowing horizontally across my neighbor's roof across the street.

Yeah. In that 20 minutes, I got .90 inch of rain, winds up to 70 MPH. Split my beautiful Bradford pear tree right in half and blocked the street. Came within 10 inches of landing on my car. Knocked the birds and their nests out of the tree.

4. Here's from the street side. You can sort of see how much fell into the street.
5. Hero with a chain saw from the city.
6. The tree splits right down the middle. A few years ago the opposite side split off during an ice storm. I'm afraid my tree is a goner for sure this time.
7. One of the birds' nests.

Some of the poor, stunned birds were laying in the yard. I thought they were dead, but a mockingbird managed to fly away when I approached it. I am afraid of what's under all the branches that I'll find later.

NOTE: It was actually quite dark outside, explaining why these are blurry. I had to use the night setting which lightened up the images, but the shutter speed was too slow to keep a crisp focus. But I think you get the idea.

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Draw a Pig!

Time for a new game. I found this one on Trixie in Transit's blog.

Draw a Pig and see what it says about your personality.

Go take the test for yourself before you read my score!


WARNING!!! Take the test first before reading further!!

I drew my pig:

Toward the bottom of the frame, you are pessimistic, and have a tendency to behave negatively.

Facing front, you are direct, enjoy playing devil's advocate and neither fear nor avoid discussions.

With few details, you are emotional and naive, you care little for details and are a risk-taker.

With 4 legs showing, you are secure, stubborn, and stick to your ideals.

The size of the ears indicates how good a listener you are. You are a good listener.

The length of the tail indicates the quality of your sex life. You have no sex life.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Moving on

Dear friends Anne and Cliff started moving to the new house in the country. Several of us got together this morning at her house to load up our cars and trucks and caravan out to the country. So fun, and with that many hands the work was easy.

Seeing some of their individual furniture now in the house makes it look like a real home now instead of just a nice house. I was overcome with emotion and was not the only one. Anne, friend Lisa and I were walking through the house, getting weepy
several times. At one point the three of us were standing in one of the bathrooms and all three of us started sobbing! Happy sobs, of course!

I'm trying not to post too many photos of their place because I'm working on a secret project. So I'll just post a few that won't blow my cover.

After touring the house and unloading the vehicles, everyone went over to the guest house to have a look. One of the kids in the group happened to spot a lizard so I, of course, had to see if I could get a picture of it.

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One of the girls brought her Westie out to see the place. Cute, cute doggie!

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The rockers on the wide front porch were calling to us. Pretty soon just about everyone was relaxing on the porch. It gave me such a good, good feeling, seeing everyone kicking back and enjoying a simple, perfect moment.

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It certainly didn't take us much time or work to take this load of stuff, so before long we were all caravaning into Jones to the Rooster Cafe (Britton Road and Hiawasee for anyone in the area.)

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The neighbors have horses, a Shetland pony and a couple of mules. I positioned myself near these animals in order to get photos of everyone going up the lane to get to the main road. While I was watching for my friends, my back was to the mules. Scared the daylights out of me when one of them started braying right behind my head. Egads!

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You have to try The Rooster. Portions are exceedingly large. The chicken fried steak is easly large enough for three to five people to split. Catfish is glorious! I was afraid a fight was going to break out over a piece of French silk pie. Yummm yummm! Here we are after lunch.

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

No prom pictures here

OK, I don't have a prom picture to share, so I get to choose my favorite photo to share. Tech posted his hot prom photo (complete with blue tux). And somehow we twisted Frenzied Feline to post her prom dress photo.

I didn't go to my senior prom. No one asked. I did go to my junior prom, but it was not a great experience. My prom date later committed suicide after being caught molesting a young boy. He had a short, tragic life in so many ways. Anyway, the past is past.

But here is one photo of me that I have always felt good about. This was in 1997 after I had lost a lot of weight. Unfortunately people would not now recognize this as ME. Equally unfortunately, this is the way I see myself still. Someday I may return to reality. Sigh...

Just put a sparkly dress on me and we'll call this my prom photo:

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I'm Home! I'm HOME!

It's been a good mini-vacation of sorts, house sitting for my friend Anne. She and her mother and son got home from their vacation this morning. She was kind enough to call me about 8:15 to say they were about an HOUR from home! EEK! I had decided to sleep in, thinking they wouldn't be home until late afternoon or early evening! So I hit the floor running, getting a shower, stripping the bed and tossing some laundry in the washer. (Sigh.) I am so glad she had a working washer. I had done a load of wash from my previous days at her house. Since my washer broke on the couple of days I was home, I was either going to have to do a load at her house or hit the laundromat. What a choice...

Anyway, after I got dressed and loaded up my stuff, I thought it would be a good idea to attack some of the dog hair tumbleweeds that had formed over the past week and a half. Oh my goodness. The blue eyed/brown eyed dog left enough fur to make at least two guinea pigs!

So I swiffered and mopped and dusted and washed the sliding glass door inside and out. And I used one of those Swiffer dusters on the leather couch and ottoman.

The one thing I didn't get done that I wanted to get done was changing the guinea pig's litter. That would have been a nice touch, but they'll get it after they wake up from their post-travel snooze. The three of them traded off driving all night.

They caught me mid-mop and I was doing the windows as they unloaded their vehicle, to keep Emma the Dog outside and entertained so they wouldn't have to struggle with dog and luggage at the same time.

When I came back in, it was just like any family-- as soon as the cleaning was done, it looked like a tornado struck! But that's OK. I'm glad they made it home safely and had a really refreshing Sabbath time away from home with other members of their family. Yay!

I felt a little like Donna Reed and June Cleaver this morning, shining up the place a little. I brought all the cleaning supplies home with me (they were mine-- I got some new cleaners because I didn't know where hers were stored.) While I'm inspired I am going to try to continue the cleaning spree here! I got home before the trash truck and recycling truck came through, so that's a plus. The dead stuff in my fridge is waiting for them at the curb.

I also got some knitting done last night. Photos later -- I knitted some dish cloths as a housewarming present for their new place. We'll be having a big moving day on Saturday.

It's nice to focus on my little house this week instead of some 20,000 square foot manse. Home, Sweet Home. May it always be thus!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Just filling in

Hi, y'all.

I'm just posting a "Hi, y'all" message today because there's been a gap of a few days since my last post.

My situation at present is such that I don't really have anything positive to blog about, and I don't want to unload here about the craptastic things going on. I started to write a quick summary list, just so you wouldn't feel like I'm keeping secrets, but even that was too negative.

Just a couple of things: After spending $611 on my car air conditioner, and spending five days in the waiting room, my car still doesn't cool on short trips around town. It seems to take between 7 and 10 miles before I get some coolness blowing.

Second, my washing machine is broken and the repairman won't come until Aug. 15.

The good news is that my aunt was well enough to go home earlier this week. I hope to call her later today.

I'm going to do some house cleaning today (what I can get done without a working washing machine. I may take a load of wash with me when I resume house-sitting tomorrow. Another friend has filled the gap for a few days, but I'll be there playing with Emma The Dog again tomorrow.)

I'll be visiting with a friend from Shawnee later in the day.

Go wish E.R. a happy Second Blogiversary! Two years! We should have a party or something.

Life is transitioning around me right now. I wish some of it was clearly a positive, happy thing for me. Hold good thoughts, please.