Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Home, sweet home! It's always good to come home. There's no place like God's Country.

I didn't even drive, but I was exhausted when I got here. So I took a nap for like four hours. I totally missed the trick-or-treaters. I'm not a big celebrator of Halloween anyway, so I don't think of it as much of a loss.

Jeff is working until the wee hours of the night. So, I'm on my own with the cat. He's now been fed and is out prowling the neighborhood. I'll stay up long enough to watch "Numb3rs" and then read awhile before going right back to sleep.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hump Day

This turned out to be a pretty good day, considering the headcold.

I woke up with a scratchy throat, a headache, conjestion, and feeling totally exhausted. I just wanted to stay in bed. I hate to get sick on travel. At least I didn't have to get into a plane. But still, I didn't have any meds on me and really, I just wanted to go back to bed.

Even though the agenda said that I was to give my presentation at 12:30pm, I was first up. I'm not one to get all nervous when I have to speak in front of a group. I can talk anytime, anywhere, to anyone about anything. Public speaking does not bother me in the least. Really. But today, I was NOT in the mood.

Lucky for me, it turned out pretty well. I was on the agenda for two whole hours and used up every minute of it. I got lots of questions and some good feedback...and several action items to take back to the office with me. But still, I was happy that it went well and that it was OVER. I could spend the rest of the day sitting and simply taking notes on what others were presenting.

After work, we decided to go the the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I wasn't feeling 100%, but this was the only night of the week that it was open past 5pm. And we didn't want to come to Cleveland without stopping by, so we went. It was really cool, though I'm sure I would have enjoyed it more had I felt a little better.

We finished the night by having a late dinner. We went to the Waterstreet Grill. It was wonderful! I strongly suggest it if you're going to be in the Warehouse district of Cleveland. I had the lobster macaroni. Yum!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

And the hits just keep on coming...

In addition to being on travel, being the note-taker for all presentations for the week, and preparing for my presentation tomorrow, I am dealing with Jeff's ticket from Saturday night.

Today, I got a call from Jeff, letting me know that two different people from State Farm called. So, I called Christina from our home office first. She needed specific information from the citation that Jeff received. I provided that. She said that we'd be receiving something from her in the mail that needed to be signed and dated by Jeff and put back in the mail immediately. I passed the information on to Jeff.

I then called Yvonne (and Beth) at the State Farm Corporate offices. They wanted a detailed explanation of what happened Saturday night. I told them that I could only relay what Jeff had told me as I wasn't there. But I passed on Jeff's cell number and told them they were welcome to contact him directly...which they did. Jeff later said that conversation went really well.

Then tonight, I got a call from Christina at our home office again. She just wanted to let me know that there was no longer any reason for Jeff to work on the 'Clear Start' program as he was no longer qualified. In fact, because he got a reckless driving ticket within 30 days of getting his driver's license, he wasn't eligible for any discounts. But that may not matter because it's quite possible that State Farm will refuse to insure him at all. She said she'd let me know as soon as she could. I've chosen not to allow Jeff to drive my car until we find out for sure.

What does that mean? In order for Jeff to drive, he's going to have to get his own vehicle and a separate insurance policy...NOT from State Farm. OR I can choose to leave State Farm after being insured by them for 18 years, in search of an insurance company that will insure Jeff on my '08 Pontiac...and pay HANDSOMELY for it. Ummm, option B is NOT going to happen.

Jeff feels like the world is out to get him. He feels like he can't get a break. He doesn't feel that he deserves what he's getting. And I'm not sure how to counsel him. So, I'm back to praying before EVERY conversation with Jeff. I don't want to say something that will add to his discouragement. But I don't want to lie to him either.

He's asking questions like, "How am I supposed to get to work if I can't drive?" The first thought that comes to my head is, "Get a job and then we'll worry about transportation." But I don't say it out loud. I suggest carpooling or walking or perhaps me driving him if our work hours don't overlap. But he doesn't really want to hear any of it. He's just feeling a little beat up right now.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Winter in Cleveland

I'm on travel this Cleveland. And it is COLD here! Wind, freezing rain, even thunder and lightning. 'And me without my muff'. (That's a Robin Williams line from "Good Morning, Vietnam".)

Nine hours after leaving home, I was checked into the Embassy Suites in downtown Cleveland. And I have to admit, I love it here. My room is great!

I'm here with four other people from our office. Tonight, we went to dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. It was pretty good. Good food, good company. Now, I'm ready for bed.

But before I go, I have to tell you...I went to see "Fireproof" yesterday afternoon with some of my girlfriends. I LOVED it!! I can't wait to see the book "The Love Dare." What a neat idea. Kinda makes me wish I was married. But only kinda. : )

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Two Weeks and One Day

That's how long Jeff had a driver's license before getting his first ticket.

Speeding? No.

Failure to wear a seatbelt? No.

His ticket is for Reckless Driving - Passing on a Hill.

Jeff attempted to go around a horse and buggy while going up a hill. As he crested the hill, he was nose-to-nose with a Ford Bronco. In order to avoid harming the Amish family, they both veared off the same side of the road. Jeff did no damange to my car, but the other guy ran his vehicle into a fence post.

Needless to say, it was all Jeff's fault for going left of center into on-coming traffic on a hill. Reckless driving.

I'm supposed to get a copy of the citation and police report to my insurance agent on Monday. I'll call them, but I'll be in a car for 7+ hours on my way to Cleveland for work. So, it might be difficult to get them the paperwork. It's likely Jeff will have a court date in the near future...that I'll have to take off work to attend. And I'm sure my insurance rates will go up even more than they did when I added Jeff as a driver on my policy.

All in all, I'm not a happy camper. And Jeff doesn't understand why he's grounded.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

In Remembrance

Twenty-five years ago today, at approximately 0620 local time in Beirut, suicide bombers attacked American peacekeepers in their barracks at Beirut International Airport. 241 American servicemen were killed in the attach, including 220 marines. Today we pause to remember the service of those taken from us on 23 October 1983, and honor the spirit of those who stood in harms way.

After the attack on our brave Marines, the American people mourned the loss of our heroes, but we did not lose our resolve. On this solemn day of remembrance, let us pay tribute to the brave Marines who lost their lives on that tragic day, those who have served since, and in particular, all those who serve in harms way today - in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and in hot spots around the world. Let the spirit of our Marines define our resolve as we meet the challenges before us - Semper Fi.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Two Things I Observed Today

First, Jeff's driving is much like swimming. You should wait at least an hour after eating before taking part in either activity.

Second, Hwy 150 between I-64 and Shoals reminds me a lot of the Israelites' exodus from Egypt. Keep in mind, this analogy may have only crossed my mind because I'm reading the Book of Exodus right now. Yeah, probably. Nevertheless...

I've heard it said that the distance covered by the Israelites could have been accomplished in a small fraction of the 40 years they actually spent in the desert. Likewise, with all the twists and turns on Hwy 150, I'm pretty sure we only traveled about 5 miles, but it took us an hour and a half.

Granted there are a few differences.
  • We were in a Pontiac.
  • There were only just the two of us...not the 600,000 men PLUS women and children.
  • Jeff is no Moses...for one, he DOESN'T have an older brother and two, he would have no problem making demands of Pharaoh.
  • We had signs...some yellow, some white, some give us direction, not to mention that paved road with the yellow line down the middle. That pretty much guaranteed that we stayed on track.
  • We got no manna...not literally, that is. But discussing the Book of Exodus with my 17-year-old on a Monday night was fulfilling in its own way.

I could go on, but I'm tired. I didn't get to sleep until about 3am this morning...I don't know why. Apparently my body needed the exercise that comes with tossing and turning for hours! Then I worked all day. Then I spent three hours on the road...half of that with Jeff behind the wheel. I am now officially exhausted! Time for bed.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


HOUSE, an innovative take on the medical drama, solves mysteries where the villain is a medical malady and the hero is an irreverent, controversial doctor who trusts no one, least of all his patients.

DR. GREGORY HOUSE (Hugh Laurie), devoid of bedside manner and dealing with his own constant physical pain, uses a cane that seems to punctuate his acerbic, brutally honest demeanor. While his behavior can border on antisocial, House is a brilliant diagnostician whose unconventional thinking and flawless instincts afford him a great deal of respect. An infectious disease specialist, he thrives on the challenge of solving medical puzzles in order to save lives.

I LOVE this television show!

I'm not usually interested in men who are jerks, and this guy can definitely be a jerk. He's bitter, lonely, rude, crude, mean, and obviously unhappy most of the time. Yet I LOVE him. He's smart. He's funny. He's not bad to look at. But mostly, I like him because he loves his job.

I know, I know. People think it's strange...that is when they even believe me. But it's a fact... The number one thing that attracts me to a man is how much he loves his job, how good he is at it.

It shows me that he desires to meet the needs of both his boss and his customers. He is compelled to earn his salary. He's constantly striving to learn more about his field. He feels a sense of pride in doing a good job, using the gifts God gave him. And he isn't threatened by new co-workers or overwhelmed by challenging customers. He goes out of his way to 'teach' them, to convince them that he has their best interests at heart.

That's probably why I develop crushes on my co-workers. Nothing serious...usually. But definitely a temporary infatuation. In the past, I've dated co-workers and customers. These days, I try to avoid it. It's not that anything horrible came from any of these relationships. But I think most professionals would agree that dating between co-workers isn't the best idea. The chances of it having an adverse affect on the workplace is just too high.

Mike, Bill, Pete, Darren, John, and Thom. I worked with all of these men. (Man, that seems like a lot, but we are talking about the course of 11 years.) Anyway, they were good at what they did. And I not only had a crush on them, I dated them...some more successfully than others. And in none of these examples did our work, our customers, or our co-workers suffer because of these relationships...that I remember. Still, I haven't dated a co-worker or a customer since I lived in Colorado in '99.

Nevertheless, if I worked with Dr. House, I'd DEFINITELY have a crush on him. And if he wanted to date, I'd say yes in a heartbeat!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Tribute to Mother

(read at my grandmother's funeral)

Your gentle guidance has immeasurably influenced
all that I have done,
all that I do,
and all that I will ever do.

Your sweet spirit is indelibly imprinted

on all that I have been,
all that I am,
and all that I will ever be.

Thus, you are a part

of all that I accomplish
and all that I become.

And so it is that when I help my neighbor,
your helping hand is there also.

When I ease the pain of a friend,
they owe a debt to you.

When I show a child a better way,
either by word or by example,
you are the teacher once removed.

Because everything I do

reflects values learned from you...
any wrong that I right,
any heart I may brighten,
any gift that I share,
or burden I may lighten...
is in its own small way a tribute to you.

Because you gave me life,

and more importantly,
lessons in how to live,

you are the wellspring from which flows
all good I may achieve in my time on earth.

For all that you are and for all that I am,

thank you, Mom.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Lunch at Denny's

One of my silly pleasures is to have a meal at Denny's all by myself. Not just any meal, I get the same thing every time... a veggie omelet, hash browns, wheat toast, and a Coke. And when I leave, I leave a big tip.

I KNOW! It's silly. But I enjoy it. I eat and read usually. But yesterday, after reading a couple of chapters of my James Patterson book (Sundays at Tiffany's), I decided to write. I actually got the writing idea from the book.

In the book, two of the characters play the Michael and Jane Game. They played the game at a restaurant. Jane points at a table and Michael has to come up with an interesting story describing the people sitting there. If Jane likes it, she gives Michael a point. Then Michael points to a different table and Jane has to come up with an equally interesting story that fits the people sitting there. They go back and forth that way. Well, you get the idea.

So, this is who I had lunch with!

Who I saw: three middle-aged men, two in smart suits, one in wrinkled khakis and a white polo.
Their story: at first, I assumed the 'suits' were ganging up on the less experienced, non-business-minded man who obviously knew nothing about insurance. But I soon realized that the man in the rumpled clothes was a self-made success. One of the men in a suit was his personal lawyer, ensuring all insurance avenues were covered with respect to his clients life and livelihood.

Who I saw: a young, overweight couple with a toddler.
Their story: this meal was a treat for them. This family was definitely not accustomed to being out on the town. My guess is that they found a $20 bill on the ground and decided to go to a sit-down restaurant for the first time in forever. They seemed to really enjoy being there, though they also looked like they were self-conscious. (I considered paying for their meal myself, but they were gone before I figured out how to pull that off gracefully...and anonymously.)

Who I saw: an elderly couple, him with a walker, her with a purse and a big hat.
Their story: this was the only couple that was at the restaurant longer than me. Everything they did was slow and deliberate. I'm sure they were moving slower simply due to aches and pains. But I also got the distinct impression that they were going out of their way not to rush, to simply enjoy every minute together. She read the menu to him and reminded him of what he liked and didn't like. It was all very sweet.

I saw others there as well. But between eating and reading, I didn't get words down for everyone. But I enjoyed the exercise. And I look forward to doing it again.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Catching Up

I've really been slacking on blogging lately. All writing actually. I've just had so much on my mind that I couldn't really clear my head enough to be objective or polite or brief or positive or whatever. After enough time goes by, I just have so much to say that I don't know where to start. So today, I'm catching up.

Jeff/School - After my really bad meeting with the principal and the guidance counselor, I wrote a letter to the superintendent. I have not heard anything from that. I'm disappointed, though not surprised. I also got copies to three of the five school board members. I think they intend to discuss it at their Executive Session Monday. I don't really know what I want to come from this; I feel the damage has already been done. Jeff stays up all hours of the night, sleeps in until shortly before he has to be at school, still rarely does his homework, and hasn't gotten another job. So, the only thing that has changed is that Jeff has a ton of time on his hands and nothing productive to do.

My take on Jeff is that he's simply too afraid to be an adult. If he could stay in high school for another three years, I think he would. He doesn't want to be 18. He doesn't want to move away. He doesn't want to grow up. I mean he does, but he's scared of all of it. I tried to tell him that it's not a one-man club, but he doesn't want to hear it from me.

Grandma - Grandma passed away Sunday at 4:15pm. She seemed to be pain-free all weekend. A couple of times near the end, she seemed to be listening to someone that we couldn't hear. She has so many family members who went before her. I'm sure there was quite a reception for her at the Pearly Gates.

So many friends and family stopped by during visitation. It was very nice to share hugs and memories. And then the funeral was just beautiful. The entire week was just such a blessing. Emotionally exhausting, but definitely a blessing.

Work - While on that subject, I didn't travel this week. So, I totally felt like I abandoned Bev. Things went pretty well Tuesday and Wednesday, but not so much today. We learned about a couple of major issues...that we couldn't have known from here. I hope we can get it all worked out. And I hope that Bev survives the week okay.

Fireproof - Fireproof is showing in Washington starting tomorrow! I can't wait to go see it. Maybe Saturday. Jeff will be at his dad's. This is the latest movie done by the makers of 'Facing the Giants' and 'Flywheel'.

Writing - I have a new book idea and a new writing forum. November is National Novel Writing Month. There is a website called where folks write with abandon for 30 days. The goal is to write 50,000 words in one month. I am going to write about two women nearing 40, single, independent, employed, full of spirit. The difference between the two women is that one of them has a teenager; the other has no children. One woman is completely frustrated by her teenager and her inability to control his behavior, thinking she's a complete failure as a mother. The other woman is jealous even of that. She wants a child so badly, she can taste it. I'm not sure how the book will end though. I need to put a lot of thought into that prior to November.

Becky - Becky was one of my customers. She lived in the Maryland area. She supported the users of our system at her site. She'd been battling cancer for quite some time. We learned this week that she passed away. She took a turn for the worse this past weekend and didn't make it through the week. So sad. God bless Becky and her family.

Lacy's Pregnant - Prayers answered! Lacy is pregnant!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Grandma's House

I spent much of the day at Grandma's house. Grandma lives in the nursing home...has for 5 1/2 years. But I call the nursing home "Grandma's house".

I got a call from my mom at 9:30 this morning, letting me know that Grandma wasn't doing well and the staff at the nursing home suggested that they call the family in. They were fairly certain that death was imminent. So, I contacted a couple of relatives that my parents didn't have numbers for (on them, anyway). Then I headed over to Grandma's house.

I got there around 10am and didn't leave until close to 8:30pm. Grandma was resting peacefully when I left. Her blood pressure is really low; her heart rate is really high. She's taking very shallow breaths, but doesn't appear to be in any pain. So, several of us just sat with her today, telling old stories and laughing and reminiscing and getting choked up. It was a good day.

But Grandma is tough...and stubborn. She's still with us. It's obvious that death is coming. But it wasn't imminent. But that's okay. In God's time. Also, one of Grandma's sons is in Italy, trying desperately to get back. No matter when she passes, the funeral will wait until Joe gets back to the States.

My dilemma is this...I'm supposed to be on travel this coming week. My flight is at 10:40am Monday, to Seattle. I'm not supposed to be home until Friday afternoon. But I missed my other grandmother's funeral because I was seven months pregnant, 1100 miles away, and active duty in the Air Force. This is my last living grandparent and I really want to be at her funeral.

So, I'm leaning towards canceling my trip. That leaves my co-worker to travel alone and deal with our customers on her own. And I have to touch base with someone at work to see about cancelling all of my travel arrangements. But I still think the right thing to do is to stay home. I wonder if my bosses will feel the same way.

But what if Grandma is still with us in a week? I could have traveled...making my company happy, my customers happy, and being there for my co-worker. Ugh! I'm so torn. What to do! I told my co-worker, the one I'm traveling with, that I'd call her tomorrow. Hopefully the situation is a little clearer by then. I just want to do the right thing by everyone. Family first, work second. But I really don't want to put my co-worker in an uncomfortable position.

God, bless all aspects of this grandma and my family, my decision about traveling, my co-worker's possible trip alone, my customers' understanding, and my company's ability to change my travel arrangements.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I've Been Tagged

I have been tagged by my friend Christy to tell you six random facts about myself. Most people who know me well, probably know these things.

1. I can solve a Rubik's Cube. I learned when I was about 12 by reading a little paperback book. And for some strange reason, I've never forgotten. It makes for interesting entertainment at really boring parties.

2. I can sing. I sing alto. I love being an alto. I can harmonize to almost anything. And once I learn the alto part to something, I rarely ever forget it. Hmmm, two in a row that have to do with memory.

3. I have never been drunk. Ever. I didn't even try an alcoholic beverage before I was 21. And I've never tried an illegal drug. You know what that means? I haven't unnecessarily killed off any brain cells. : ) Maybe that explains my really good memory.

4. I have a fear of swinging. I used to love to swing when I was a kid. I don't know what changed...or even when it changed. But I absolutely, positively HATE to hear swings creaking, metal on metal, rubbing back and forth and back and forth. I just think that eventually any material would wear thin and break after that kind of constant pressure. So, I avoid it. Always.

5. I am a daughter, a sister to two brothers and two sisters, a single-mother to one son, an aunt to one niece and two nephews, a veteran of 6 1/2 years, a Christian for life, an aspiring writer, a cat person, an impatient driver, a bad sleeper, and an intelligent, independent woman...not necessarily in that order.

6. And lastly, my hair and nails grow really fast...whether I like it or not.

I'm supposed to tag six people that blog, to ask them to do this same thing. Unfortunately, I don't know six people that blog. Most of the blogs I follow aren't personal blogs. But I'll tag Lacy and Sara. One of which MAY do this, though she's really busy. The other one probably won't even know she's been mentioned.
PS - Thanks to Christy and Lauren for introducing me to my homemade signature.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

I think God wants me to take the day off.

I needed to go to work today to work on the Interface Changes document that normally goes out with our application's monthly sub-release. It usually takes me a week to knock out that document while keeping up with the other things I do, the phone ringing, people stopping by my desk, etc. So, I was hoping that being at the office all by myself, I could knock it out in a few hours.

Well... the server is still down. (Actually, the graphic I put on yesterday's post - which didn't get posted until today as I 'saved' it instead of 'published' it - would be perfect on today's post.) So, I'm watching the Colts game...which was absolutely ugly and even sad until Gary Brackett just a minute ago, recovered a fumble and returned it for a touchdown. We scored the first ten points. Houston scored the next 27! Now we've scored 14 in practically no time at all. Wow, we actually have a chance to win.

I'm not holding my breath. Our offense hasn't looked great. And our rush defense has been SO bad. SOOO bad! It's been difficult to watch.

Holy wow, we just recovered ANOTHER fumble! And now we're on THEIR 6-yard line, first and goal at the two-minute warning. What a turn-around!!!

TOUCHDOWN!!! 21 points in the last 2:10! Colts are up 31 - 27. Man, this is unbelievable!

I almost totally forgot that my documentation isn't getting done
The Colts win it!
I am SO GLAD I didn't have to work today.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Server Is Down

I went to work today for five hours. And I took Jeff with me. The plan was for him to test all scanners and then pack them for shipment, while I worked on the documentation that's associated to this month's sub-release.

Unfortunately, our test server was down. So, I didn't get to work on that at all. Jeff still helped test the scanners. I connected them into the system, ensured that the data uploaded okay, and then packaged them up. So, it's not like the day was a total bust. But my main reason for going in was to work on a document that I expected to take 4-6 hours. I didn't get to do that.

Even more unfortunate, this documentation needs to be done by Monday. So, I'll likely be working tomorrow as well. That means I'll be missing yet another Colts game. I know they're not having a great season, but I still like watching them play.

Anyway... On the way home from work, I had this very strange, very STRONG feeling of fear come over me. It was so strong, it brought me to tears. Jeff was driving and thinks I just fell asleep and had a bad dream. I don't think I was sleeping. But I'm telling you, I had this heavy sense of foreboding that really upset me. I felt like something bad had happened. Finally, Jeff suggested that I call my parents to see if anything happened that might justify my feelings. But no, nothing.

I still can't explain it. I have no idea what initiated that feeling OR what made it ultimately go away. But I feel much better today. I honestly hope the feeling didn't mean anything. And I hope it doesn't happen again any time soon.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

What type of writer should you be?

I read several writers' blogs for inspiration and education. One of them had a link to this little quiz. Makes me wonder if I should consider changing my writing focus.

You Should Be a Film Writer

You don't just create compelling stories, you see them as clearly as a movie in your mind.

You have a knack for details and dialogue. You can really make a character come to life.

Chances are, you enjoy creating all types of stories. The joy is in the storytelling.

And nothing would please you more than millions of people seeing your story on the big screen!