Sunday, August 31, 2008

Fairy Tales

The writing group I belong to sends out COPs, which stands for Crap on Paper. A subject is thrown out and then we write whatever comes off the top of our heads about it. The purpose is to get our creative juices flowing, as well as keep us writing. As I normally write non-fiction, the COPs have been a bit of a challenge for me. The latest assignment was to write about the influence on us of fairy tales in general, a particular fairy tale or a character in a fairy tale. I really struggled with this. I'm not a big fan of fairy tales, so I don't really have a favorite. I was going to write about Little Red Riding Hood, noting the similarities between her experience and owning a business (lots of wolves disguised as something else in the business world.) But as I re-read the story, I remembered how much she annoys me. Why didn't she just listen to her mother? Look at all the angst she created! So I created the top ten things we can learn from Little Red Riding Hood as my COP. Which caused one of the other writers to respond that she had always been bothered by Goldilocks. After all, if she had come upon an empty chair and a bowl of porridge (which she didn't even have to prepare!), she would not be complaining. Who was Goldilocks to think it was all about her anyway? We decided there are a lot of top ten lists in fairy tales. And way too many Goldilocks in the world.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The End of Summer

I always feel like Labor Day weekend is the end of summer, although technically there are a few weeks left. A weekend that had no plans is suddenly filling up with get-togethers, which I suppose is what it is all about. Most notably, Katie's friend Ji came back from Mizzou for the weekend, and asked if she could stay with us. It was fun to hear all about her first week of college. "I love Mizzou!", she exclaimed when asked how things were going. How great to hear that it is all working out for her. I'm pretty sure that I did not come home from my first days at Iowa State saying that I loved college. And I was only an hour away from home, not 14 hours. Today's college students seem much more composed and mature than I remember being. Maybe it is because Ji has traveled so much in her 17 years that this move does not seem like a big deal to her. At any rate, Katie is getting an insider's view on freshman year, and that can only help her next fall.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Another First and Last

Today was the first day of Katie's last year of high school. I took her picture in the back yard, as I have every first day of school since kindergarten. This is the first year that she will drive herself to school as she is participating in the co-op program through the marketing department and will have the last period free each day to go to work. After 18 years of driving kids to and from school, I now will have extra time each morning and afternoon to work on my stuff. Another era ended... As I was making peach butter today I had the radio on. The theme song from my high school graduation came on; "We May Never Pass This Way Again." How appropriate, I thought.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Black Out

"...and the stylist who leaves 'Shear Genius' tonight is..." Poof - off went the power. My daughter and I stared at one another last night in disbelief. Are you kidding me? Down to the last four competitors, and now we don't know who was sent home! As I glanced out the windows to see which houses were affected by the storm, I noticed everyone on the alley was dark - again - and the houses behind us on Elm as well. But in looking out the front windows, all the houses across the street were lit up like Christmas. They NEVER lose power on that side of the street. It is amazing how many evil thoughts can be conjured up against your neighbors when they have electricity and you don't. My husband was at a meeting and blissfully unaware of our powerless state, and my daughter jumped ship to go to a powered up friend's house. Finding it uncomfortable to read by candle light, I went to bed at 9:30. The power was finally restored at 4:10 AM, which I know because the television came back on then which caused our cockapoo to erupt into a frenzied barking machine. But at least this outage only lasted hours and not days, as it has in the past. As the old saying goes, "You don't know what you've got till it's gone."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Another Walk Down Memory Lane

Yesterday I took a college freshman to Mizzou - and she wasn't even mine! Ji is a student from South Korea who spent last year at Webster Groves High School. She came back to the United States last week to go to college here, and has been staying with us. As I filled up my car with her stuff and three teenagers, I thought back to 34 years ago when I loaded up my Green Mean Machine (translation - green piece of junk) with my stuff, along with my friend Kim's stuff, to head up to Iowa State. No parents helped us pack the car, or set things up when we arrived at our respective dorms. What a different experience yesterday. Parents and siblings hustled up and down the steps and dorm corridors, rearranging room furniture and hanging memories of home on the walls. It seemed a lot less scary than 34 years ago. But as I looked at Ji, who was not 200 miles from home but instead thousands of miles from everything she knows, I was in awe of a 17 year old who would willingly make the choice to experience a way of life so different from the one she grew up in. I was happy that we were there with her to stand in as her family, and I wish I had the opportunity to talk to her mom to let her know how great Ji did. She has a lot to be proud of in her oldest daughter. I learned a lot from Ji yesterday, and I think my daughter and her friend did as well. If nothing else, it gave me a dose of reality for what I will be facing again this time next year...when my baby heads off to college.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

30 Years of Wedded Bliss

Today is our 30th wedding anniversary. I made reservations for us at Citizen Kane's, St. Louis' best steakhouse, in our opinion. Jim's partner Ted had heard we were dining there, so the waitress brought us each a glass of champagne and then a bottle of wine, courtesy of Ted and Jill. That was wonderful and so were our meals. The couple at the next table was celebrating the man's 30th birthday. It was so strange to think that he was born the day we were married! They were a really nice couple who transferred here from Dallas a couple of years ago, so we enjoyed talking with them. We laughed about St. Louis' obsession with where you went to high school. I told them about the time we stayed in a B & B in Hoquiam, Washington, which is just a dot on the map that I picked out because I liked the review and pictures of the B & B. At breakfast one of the other couples mentioned that they were flying back to St. Louis that day. When we told the owner of the B & B about the coincidence, he asked, "So, did you go to the same high school?" We were amazed that he knew about the St. Louis high school deal. He told us that everyone knows about it. At any rate, following supper we came home for the Oreo Ice Cream Cake I had made earlier in the day. We are actually doing our big celebration in November on a Caribbean cruise with two other couples who were in our wedding. It should be a great time!

Eight Decades of Life

My father-in-law turned 80 last week, and to celebrate we all met at Lake Panorama outside of Des Moines for the weekend. We crammed a week's worth of activities (and a week's worth of food as well!) into the three nights and two days we were there. Attending the Iowa State Fair on Friday night brought back memories of working at the Fair during college, as well as meeting up with my boyfriend now husband of 30 years while he worked in a booth at the Fair with his dad. We reminisced about those days, and others, and what it feels like to be 80 years old. It was a wonderful weekend, and while some may say that you can't go home again, it certainly didn't feel that way to me.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Year of Lasts

My daughter registered for her classes today. She is a senior in high school. As I completed the myriad of forms and wrote out checks to send with her, it occurred to me that this is the last time I will be doing this. Starting in 1990 with my son, every August has found me doing the same tasks - contact information, buzz book data, school picture forms, and on and on. This will be our last buzz book, our last package of school pictures, our last yearbook. Just the first of many lasts.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Carpenter Dog

Kirby and I were taking our daily walk through the neighborhood this morning when we came upon an elderly man carting trash out to the curb. He stopped to admire Kirby and asked what kind of dog he was. I replied that he is part cocker spaniel and part poodle. The man said, "Not a carpenter?" Thinking he had misunderstood me I replied, "No, he's a cockapoo." The man asked, "Do you know what a carpenter dog is?" and I had to admit that I did not. "It's a dog who does repairs for you around the house!" I replied that a dog like that would be pretty handy to have around.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Eye of the Storm

Well, I didn't get the news I wanted at the ophthalmologist's office today. They are pretty certain that I have a basal cell carcinoma on my eyelid. How unusual is that? Well, I am nothing if not unusual! I am very familiar with those as I have had six (one on my neck and five on my face) as well as two squamous cell on my face. I know what it was like to have them removed from my face, and I can't even imagine how it will be to have it removed from the eye. Next step is a visit to an ocular plastic surgeon. Who even knew such a specialty existed? The earliest I can get in is September 8th, so I'll just have to sweat this out. As with most things in life, the unknown is scarier than what ultimately ends up to be the case. At least "eye" hope!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The American Dream

My husband and I own several small businesses. Most of the time we are proud of the fact that our companies have been successful and that we employ so many people. And then there are times like last night. We received a phone call around midnight from the St. Louis County police that alarms were going off in the building at our compost facility. After confirming with the alarm company that there were three sensors going off in the office, we knew that there were intruders. My husband quickly dressed and headed out, meeting up with the police and two of our employees who were also notified about the alarm . The thieves were able to break through the security door (the manufacturer may want to rename that one) to gain entry, and then they broke open the cash drawer. Upon finding only a few rolls of coins in the drawer, they proceeded to beat the crap out of the counter and desk. Sadly, they were not apprehended. The investigators were called to dust for prints, and they seem confident that this was an amateur job and they will catch the culprits. Jim did not get home until 3 AM. Sometimes the American Dream is a nightmare!

Monday, August 4, 2008

The "Eyes" Have It!

Having put up with the stye in my left eye for 3 months now (despite two visits to the ophthalmologist) today the doctor's office decided to open up the stye and scoop out the contents. It was every bit as painful as it sounds. The doctor described the instrument as a mini ice cream scoop. Yum.... It took four shots in the eyelid before I no longer felt the clamp they attached to my eyeball to hold the eye open. I always have a problem with the anesthesia not taking, even at the dentist's office. After he was done, the doctor dropped the bombshell on me that it might be a tumor. He said it didn't drain much, and that it was hard when it should have been soft. I need to go back in on Friday, when he hopes he will see a significant reduction in the size. This would indicate that it was indeed a stye. If there is not significant reduction, then he will send me to an ophthalmologist who specializes in plastic surgery to remove the whole thing and send it off to pathology. Wow - talk about being thrown a curve. I am going to continue to be optimistic because this thing did drain when I first got it, so hopefully it is just calcification of the stuff which didn't drain. The anesthesia wore off before we even got out of their parking lot. The pain in my eye shot right up my forehead, sort of like an ice cream headache that would not subside. Where are my pain meds, man?

Friday, August 1, 2008

New Ezine Article Published

My latest article "Deeds-Using Deeds to Research Your House History" has been published by Ezine articles. Go to
House-History&id=1359432 to view it. Being named an "Expert Author" by Ezine was really exciting for me, and I want to keep up with new submissions to the site.