Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Reflections ... On ... What?

While frittering away another day (don't ask) I've been musing and mulling and thinking on --

Things. Big things. Little things. All things in between things.

My latest acquisition of basic knowledge came in a moment of clarity while posting summer type photos on my other blog. I've known this for a long time but had been ignoring what I already knew.

I looked at the title, 'Unedited Me. Finally' and I realized for the first time in many years I truly am ... unedited ... in my writing, painting, cooking, photography, conversations. Life!
It's a good feeling to know that I don't have to keep information about my life from someone because I will be harangued or harassed if that person has knowledge about me and does not approve.

Sometimes frittering a day away is a good thing. For me, a clarifying moment will often show up when I'm working on a painting project, and arts & craft-y item, even while reading a book. The more involved my brain is away from the day-to-day art of living, the more I am open to hearing my inner workings.

My Dear Friend Barb recently presented me with a small campaign button. This button reads,

Like I need your approval?

Cool. Huh? I think Barb was in my head that day. It's okay. Good friends should be in your head with you. Occasionally.

I am no longer edited. Unless, of course, I choose to do my own editing. There are times when we should edit ourselves. But we really ought not let others edit for us.

Thanks for reminding me Barb.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Resting Easy

As I entered the lecture hall for this one class I noticed the obvious absence of students. "Curious." Finding a seat with an exit nearby, I plopped into it quickly and quietly because of the silly fear I would suffer embarrassment when Amy asked the prof for permission for my attendance on this day and he said, "NO!"

She approached the front of the lecture hall where he eagerly agreed to let me attend. This I could tell from the up and down bobbing of his noggin with a grin a mile wide.

Amy found me hunkered down and suggested we move closer to the front and so we did.

Suddenly I found myself the center of attention when Mr. Prof announced to the class that I would be singing a solo with the chorus "right there on the stage" and as he turned to ask me what I would sing, I protested saying, "Hey! This is a political science class, is it not?!"


"Then why are we singing?"

"It's a dream. We can do anything we want in dreams."

Oh, so that explains it.

I walked to the stage, nerves tingling, legs trembling, wondering just what song I could sing in a political science class that would make any sense at all.

We gathered, the chorus and I and they began to hum ... and I began to sing:

You think I'm an ignorant savage
And you've been so many places I guess it must be so
But still I cannot see If the savage one is me
How can there be so much that you don't know?
You don't know
You think you own whatever land you land on
The earth is just a dead thing you can claim
But I know ev'ry rock and tree and creature
Has a life, has a spirit, has a name
You think the only people who are people
Are the people who look and think like you
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger
You'll learn things you never knew, you never knew
Have you ever heard the wolf cry to the blue corn moon?
Or asked the grinning bobcat why he grinned?
Can you sing with all the voices of a mountain?
Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?
Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?
Come run the hidden pine trails of the forest
Come taste the sun-sweet berries of the earth
Come roll in all the riches all around you
And for once, never wonder what they're worth
The rainstorm and the river are my brothers
The heron and the otter are my friends
And we are all connected to each other
In a circle, in a hoop that never ends
How high does the sycamore grow?
If you cut it down then you'll never know
And you' ll never hear the wolf cry to the blue corn moon
For whether we are white or copper-skinned
We need to sing with all the voices of the mountain
Need to paint with all the colors of the wind
You can own the earth and still
All you'll own is earth until
You can paint with all the colors of the wind

Then the lecture hall emptied and I found myself in Florida with Dear Old Friend Ann, and she had these gigantic boobs that stood straight out in front of her and we couldn't find a thing for her to wear. We walked and walked and walked through the mall, she with her gigantic boobs sticking straight out in front of her covered in a tight, red sweater, me with my sunglasses on ...


I think I need to get some real rest.

Colors of The Wind/Disney's Pocahontas

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Paperwork Reduction Act

I seem to recall somewhere there was a 'paperwork reduction act'.

May have been here in Massachusetts. Or not.

May have been a Federal Government thought process. Or not.

Either way, I have just spent two and one-half hours working on line at the Social Security site.

I gotta tell ya' ... I'd rather be shuffling the papers about on my desk.


It's exhausting. Don't hit enter. Don't use the back button. Save now. Continue. Did you want to add more? Delete?

Bleh ...

... but it's done!

December 2008

Here in the Northeast, December brought two early storms, back-to-back. The first, a 10" storm in our area, also brought an ice storm to areas just north and west of us. The second, a 9" storm left this beautiful scene just down the road.
Auntie Raine held her anual Family Christmas party during the second storm and so here are David and Mark, brothers happy to be together. Mark works overseas and so we get to see him when we get to see him.
My little landscape trees don't mind the snow ... and they had their little twinkle lights to keep them warm.
At Helen's house there are four new Pekingnese puppies. One week old in this shot, their eyes were still closed and they were squeaking like mice or mewling like kittens.
Happy Birthday David!
Blow out those candles, if you can, 'old man'.
The Chief had a birthday too and now it's official -- only four more years 'til retirement -- for he and I!
A new digital camera and a smiling face.
The cat who thought the tree was just for him. Silly boy.
Girl cousins on Christmas day. Jamie, Jazmine, Emily and Amy.
Lights but no ornaments. Yet.

And so, it's been a busy month of many events to prepare for, get to and enjoy. We have.
I do so hope your December held good things for all of you.
Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

So, Here's The Thing

Emily has a new CD of Disney 'princess' songs. They have all been updated to a modern music style with new artists and when I first heard the CD, frankly, I was disappointed. I was expecting to hear the songs by the original artist in the original style, if you will.

Then, as Amy and I were walking through the floral department of a local grocery store I spied a cute pink Christmas tree balloon with all the Disney princesses pictured. I commented something along the lines of 'oh, Jazmine would just love that balloon' to which Amy replied, "What? Is she going to be programmed too?"


We chatted about this for a moment and I let my thoughts go after that because, first we were interrupted and second, I've been busy with work, holiday preparations (small, but nice) and Emily's hectic but fun schedule.

Back to the CD.

Yesterday Emily and I were driving to Maine to meet my sister and brother-in-law half-way between our homes. It's only an hour or drive and although we don't do this every year, it is kind of different on the years we do. We meet at the rest area in Kennebunk, share our holiday meal of Burger King or Popeye Chicken, maybe a cup of Starbucks and then transfer gifts from car to car out in the parking lot. The entire holiday lasts about an hour!

I digress.

I am driving, Emily is choosing a CD. She chooses the Disney princess CD. Pops it in the player and the first song begins to fill the car. I know you. I've waltzed with you once upon a dream. I know you. The gleam in your eye is so familiar a gleam. Well, my brain got going again and I began to have these rambling thoughts about Disney ... and then dreams ... and well, they've been circling my mind now for about twenty-four hours.

Dreams really can (and do) come true. How?

Everyone should dream. If you can't dream about your future life, your desires, what do you have to look forward to?

At what age do dreams become attainable goals? And what allows us to make the change from dream to attainable goal or perhaps even challenge?

When we stop to realize we are living our dream, is it the same dream we started out with? Or has it changed to meet our daily lives, our finances, our values?

Is there a point when we study ourselves closely enough that we choose to feel life is a disappointment because we didn't reach the goal our dreams presented or worse, do we think of ourselves as failures because we didn't meet our own expectations to get to our dream?

Are women really dependent on men in part, because of Disney movies that present female characters as weaker than men? Vapid and fluttery? Unable to reach a goal on their own?

Yeah, I know. Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Last Birthday Celebration -- Texas Roadhouse Style

We called ahead -- call ahead seating -- and couldn't. There were seven in our party. They 'do' call ahead for up to six.

Arriving at 6:20 we stood in line for ten minutes to obtain a number, at which point I called my SIL and suggested she go do an errand because we would have a one hour and twenty to forty minute wait. "What?"

Dave turns to look at me, "I have never waited more than an hour at a restaurant." "Yes, you have." "When we were young we would put our name in and go sit in the bar and drink."

"We were young?"

Dave made a bar run while Emily, Steven and I headed in to the corral to wait. And wait. And wait.

And wait.

We chatted and watched football and ate peanuts until Dave started tossing peanuts at the kids across the way and they started tossing them back and then got 'into trouble' with their mother who had already had enough to drink on an empty stomach.

A scolding or two later Dave and the kids across the way were still tossing peanuts at each other all the while thinking they were going unnoticed. I turned my back. It was easier.

Amy and my SIL arrived and joined the wait. T wasn't going to join us so David changed our reservation from seven people to six. And we waited some more.

When at long last we were called to our table, after not one, but three other groups of six were seated ahead of us, even though they didn't arrive fifteen minutes before the time given on the phone and in fact were late for the time ... grrrr ....

The six of us snuggled into a large booth which became small rather quickly with jackets and purses and presents and people. No matter. SIL and I ran off to the ladies room and were shocked when we walked in to a three-staller at such a large and busy restaurant. But hey, most patrons don't spend all their time in the ladies room.

I enter a stall and hear another door open and then my SIL exclaim, "Jeezzzzus! Doesn't anyone wash their hands anymore?" "What?" "That waitress! She just came out of the stall, pushed by me and didn't wash her hands!!!" "Oh Gross!!!!" And our conversation continued on like that for a moment.

As I walk out of the stall to the sink I am saying, "Well, I guess this is the first and last time I come to this restaurant." And look up to see another employee (who had exited the third stall) washing her hands. Yeah, good thing sister.

SIL washed her hands and we headed back to the table, disgusted, hoping that the young lady who didn't wash her hands was not going to wait our table. Or work in the kitchen. Or be anywhere near our dinnerware, napkins, peanuts or ... you know, us.

The waitress came to the table and SIL immediately told her what had transpired in the ladies room. She was disgusted too. She took our drink order and the next thing you know the Service Manager is at the table following up. "Do you know who it was?" SIL tells her that she thinks she might recognize her, but she didn't see her name tag. Well, if you see her, please read her name tag and let me know. SIL assured her she would.

It was actually sort of funny because after the SM had been to the table two or three times to chat with us the waitstaff were all looking at us as they would rush by. In the end, SIL decided it was Rachel or Shelby or Kelsey (I honestly can't remember the girls name) with 80% accuracy. Problem was there were five or six young women with dark hair in pony tails who happend to be short of stature and quite small. Whodda thunk?

For our germ policing we garnered two free appetizers which were delish but unnecessary. We were happy to just know that the waitstaff, if not wait person, would be reminded to wash their hands before leaving the restroom.

The meals were great -- except that watching another waitress play with her long tresses and keep redoing her pony tail was driving me crazy and another kept putting her hands into her pants ... I don't know why ... and again, I was grateful that our little blond haired waitress appeared to be neat, tidy and clean without any difficulty at all. Maybe I'm dreaming.

Amy's meal of prime rib with little fat, arrived with the wrong type of baked potato, easily remedied when my SIL's rib eye arrived with Amy's potato but her rib eye was a prime rib loaded with fat. That went back to the kitchen and SIL ate Amy's original baked potato while she waited for her steak. David found a hair on his steak and at long last when SIL's meal came out it was raw instead of medium well and was sent back again.

In the meanwhile, Blond waitress continued to apologize for everything that had gone wrong through dinner.

David quipped, "There's dinner. Then there's dinner with the Zolla's."

Best line of the night.

Texas Roadhouse.

Emily sits in the saddle.

Emily & Amy share a tease.

Emily & Steven.

Emily gets her Yee Haw! Please ignore the fact that the film is horizontal ... there's no way to rotate it and well, I once again forgot to turn the camera to horizontal for filming.

Would we go back? You betcha!

Friday, December 5, 2008


Imagine the shock and surprise of many residents as they left town for work first thing Thursday morning!

After Thursday's surprise they find the barricades moved on Friday morning!

Small Republican town takes on Massachusetts. Small Republican town loses all hope of grant money for the foreseeable future.

I'm sure we're paying plenty to town counsel for this ... just like we did when the town stalled the Maritime's pipeline for one year. Inevitable, federally mandated, that pipeline was going in regardless the town's wishes or those of the residents affected.

The Salt Shed? Well, I keep wondering to myself, "Where was the Board of Health fifteen years ago (or more) when it was put in place? Or the Conservation Commission? Or the neighbors for that matter?" This has been ongoing and unpleasant.

That brings me to wondering why they, the neighbors aren't filing a class action suit on their own and why we, the taxpayers are footing the bill. I feel for them. I do. Property values are down, some folks are suffering health issues and the salt has spread even further since the state decided to take some remedial action. The new wells the state has put in for some have done nothing but produce more brine ...

I'd like to see some picketers out there carrying signs. Don't block the entrance. The judge has issued an injunction against the town. (I guess it was okay for Mass Highway to ignore the Cease & Desist Order though) Blocking access or entrance after the injunction would be illegal.

Still, I can't help but think that thirty-seven homes ... and all their residents plus a few friends can make quite a scene and garner some sympathy. Peacefully of course.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Here I am, again, with the old lament, "I'm way behind on my reading."

My usual suspects (readers) know me well enough to know that I eventually catch up on all that's going on in their blogs and lives.

Nothing's changed.

I'm just at bowling on Tuesday night, basketball on Wednesday night, hip hop on Thursday night (that's a class Emily & I take together), Friday is for the gym, Saturday morning is for the gym and then errands (or maybe reversed), Sunday is for hikes or house cleaning (which is not the same as going to church and should never be confused with worship) Monday is reserved for the gym and groceries and somehow I have to fit in twenty-five hours of work a week, you know, at work!

I have my own office work to do here and then of course there are the household bills -- which still refuse to write their own checks no matter how I beg ...

... you get the idea.

I'm reading, and commenting, but if I haven't been by in a while, please, please, don't take it personally.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Happy Birthday Emily!

Wake up sleepy head! It's your birthday!

This birthday was twenty years in the making. The making of twenty years in a special life can be at once exhausting and exhilarating, sad and joyful, frustrating and rewarding. I lean to the latter of each descriptor.

Not that I haven't had my moments. Yes. I have.

But the joy and the sunshine ... no one can experience it quite the way I do. You have your own joy, your own sunshine, your own special lives within your own. But you cannot experience mine just the way I do.
And so I try to share with you the ups, the downs, the all-arounds of Emily's special life and my life, which is so much brighter and special because of her.

She arrived here as planned with unexpected accessories ... requiring a rather large suitcase with many compartments for the purpose of putting things 'where they belong' and a whole heck of a lot of muscle. Anyone who has ever tried to change what God has given had better understand that there is no suitcase large enough to put things where they belong.
Because the perception of things belonging or not is as individual as the babies born ... of the adults they become.
I've spent many years worrying myself sick over school, friends, abilities. Who wouldn't? Who couldn't?
In fact, if I were to tell a new parent of a special child one thing, it would be: Do not worry. It will all work out. Honest. Somehow, from somewhere, the strength comes.
But the worry doesn't need to come. It only causes wrinkles in your belly, anyway.
The anticipation for this twentieth birthday began 365 days ago. December 3, 2007. The day after her nineteenth birthday. She woke to say, "Mom! Guess What!" What Emily? "I'm going to be twenty my next birthday! Eeee!" Oh, yes, you are. But how about if you just enjoy being nineteen for a while? It's the same conversation she and I have held every year since she learned to count and anticipate.
:::sigh::: I try to explain it this way ... a birthday is something to look forward to. She cannot drive herself anywhere. She cannot invite a friend over or go to a friend's whenever she chooses. She can't just go to the mall. She is at the mercy of her family for transportation and her social life -- she has no control over any of it.
Ah. But her birthday. She can think about it, plan it, dream on it, wish on it, love it, live it ... three hundred and sixty-five days of the year. I applaud her tenacity. I applaud her ability to keep the faith and know that it will arrive. That birthday of hers.
This morning I went to wake her with camera in hand. Sleeping the sleep of the very tired because I had her out late at the gym last night, she eventually rolled over and woke with a big smile on her face.
Happy Birthday Emily! "Yep! It's my birthday!" "I'm twenty!!" "eeeee!!!!"

A trip to the hair salon after school for a much needed trim and,
"Red, Mom." Okay Emily, red it is.

She & C choose the color. Mind you, Emily has had blond, pink, light red, frosted and blond hair. Just wait 'til you see the red she chose!
In the chair having the goo applied.
While the color is processing, a little eye brow touch up with J.
Voila! The hair is colored and ready for the blow drier.
The finished 'do'. (and she's had enough of my photo taking)
Home for dinner and cake with ice cream!
Saying thanks to Sis with a hug.
A quiet birthday doing the activities that Emily loves ... a hair appointment, dinner with her cousins here, cake and ice cream.
Simple, but happy.

Thank You Astaryth!

A hearty "Hello!" and thanks to Astaryth of for the Marie Antoinette Award posted right here ---->

It's not an easy job to choose seven blogs who qualify as Real Blogs by Real People simply because there are so many wonderful people out here who share their daily lives: work, play, family, joys, tears, fears.

Right now I should be getting ready for work and so I won't take the time (right now) to choose seven from the extensive list of blogs I do follow ... because it's going to be a tough, but good challenge to send this award along to anyone without feeling like ... I don't know, I'm leaving someone out!

Many thanks JJ for the award and for your kindness in describing my blog.

Today is the big Two Oh! for Emily and I'm certain that over the next day or two you'll be reading all about the big day.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Old But Not Moldy

I'm popping in two Thanksgiving posts. But I'm struggling with missing Thanksgiving posts. I wrote one for this year, 2008, but not on Thanksgiving day, and I wrote one for last year, 2007, and I wrote one in 2003, the year from hell in my life, but there are no Thanksgiving posts for 2004, 2005 or 2006. Strange? Maybe. But in all likely hood the shade of depression was slowing descending and I was struggling to just think about the holidays. At. All.

Thursday, November 27, 2003
Giving Thanks
Happy Thanksgiving! It's been a bit since I've written, but with all the ills going through the house; flu, colds, sinus infections it's been a stretch to get much on-line time.

Giving thanks today for many things: my family, home, friends, work. The pets too. We lost one last night. Our cute little grey tiger was hit on the road out front. For her the good thing was she was killed immediately, for us, it was bad. How do you tell your little girl that her favorite pet has been hit by a car and killed?

She handled herself well I have to say and although it was a bit of a rough day for her with crying jags now and again, I am proud of her. She tells me now that she will miss Pyewackette. I tell her I will too.

Giving thanks for having that cat in our life too. She was a pest, but an adorable pest. One of those cats that followed you everywhere and meowed all day!

Thursday, November 29, 2007
Great Expectations
My great expectations for the holiday did not include: Cheddar ... the really cute, sweet, adorable Brittany ... rescued by my nephew-in-law last spring. Still not completely trained for visiting other people's homes, but hey! NIL is working on it and by this time next year, voila! A wonderful dog!!! ... What's a family gathering without a little, er, extra dog thrown in, just for fun? He's a bird dog. He acts like a bird dog. He watches, points, stands. Points some more. Bounces up and down in front of the French doors in the dining room. And in fairness to Cheddar (and NIL) once he acclimated, he was fine. He is a very sweet personality. Oh yeah, and he peed on the kitchen cabinet, but hey ... no biggie.

No, that wasn't expected at all.

Trust me to get things under control. I can shop, clean, prep, cook and kick a dog's butt all in one exhausting day. But I didn't. I let NIL take care of the dog and that worked out quite well.
Did I tell you we had fun? We did. So here's the fun part and the post I've been writing in my head for days:

I was expecting HIM! (there was a picture here) That's our darling Evan who had plenty of time to be spoiled by cousins and Auntie. And he got to play with Landon who is, of course, as big a love to us as ever. They shared, they played, the talked gibberish to each other and were not only the hit of the day, they were our entertainment! We had new toys for them to play with, an old rocking chair and lots and lots of patience and hugs!

Did I tell you there was some bad stuff? No? Well, I'm not gonna mention it here. But there was. Into every holiday a little rain must fall. Or not. I prefer or not. I'll get over it.

I think, we, in the general sense of we as human beings, place expectations that far exceed what our intelligent brain knows will occur. Our emotional brain, the brain that gives virtual hugs and kisses and visions of the perfect holiday seems to push rational thought aside and we plod on, march forward, burst onto the scene with ....


Oh. Expectations!

To be absolutely honest, I had only the expectation that I would do the lion's share of the work. Which is exactly what occurred. Oh, I had help as needed -- I won't take that away from my helpers -- but I take on the challenge of the perfect holiday for myself. Each year 'the perfect holiday' changes in my mind.

Do not let me complain because that would be like taking the holiday away from not only myself, but my family and guests.

Thanksgiving has always been and will always be, my favorite holiday. My favorite family and friend gathering. My favorite meal to cook -- which includes the shopping (with my canvas shopping bags in tow) lugging, prepping, cooking and putting it all on the table. I love to prepare for this holiday and I thoroughly enjoy each moment of the day. [even if I do have to train a dog while I'm cooking! :) ]

Getting out my grandmother's china, some of my mother's and some of my own gives me a sense of belonging and longing ... for childhood Thanksgivings at my aunt and uncles New Hampshire camp ... long tables set end to end. Lots of food, relatives, extended family, friends and noise. Men cooking the turkeys, women preparing veggies, kids unfolding chairs and placing dishes, silverware and the like on the tables. Wood smoke and dark blue water of the lake. Cold, crisp air. After meal walks in the woods where we would gather the greens and berries to adorn Christmas gifts and wreaths.

Yes. Sometimes I long for those days again. I would like to impart them to my own children. I know that those days, of belonging and being a part of a large, happy crowd are what made me grow to love Thanksgiving. And all that goes with it.

So what am I talking about? Expectations. Visions. Dreams. Years ago I learned that surer than shoot, if I placed an expectation upon anyone other than myself, I would be dearly disappointed. Sorely disappointed. Arguments would occur. Bickering would happen. Tears would be shed and doors would be slammed. Why? Well, simple ... we each had our own expectations of what the holiday would be.

One year I ...
... made an actual grown up, mature decision. I promised myself that I would have Thanksgiving every year and I would enjoy it the way I had as a child. Not because I expect others to see the holiday the way I do. Not because I expect others to have the same happy memories that I do. I decided that I would enjoy the holiday and I promised myself that I would not expect anything from anyone other than myself because I love Thanksgiving and I love the people that share it with me.

(Well, let's leave out the expecting people to arrive on time, enjoy their meal and you know, say 'thanks, that was good.' I still expect that)

That promise to myself has allowed me to really enjoy every aspect of Thanksgiving. I shop ahead of time for those items that I can and keep a list at the ready. As the day draws near I try to keep ahead of housework so that I'm not running about like a mad woman the day before or the morning of. Some years I'm successful at that -- others not so much, but it's all okay. In the end I don't think anyone really cares how dusty my house is or is not.

That promise to myself has allowed me to look forward to prepping and cooking and enjoying each guest who joins us for Thanksgiving. Some years it's the four or us with the five of them and others, like this one, we add a few more to the mix.

That promise has allowed me to wake on Thanksgiving morning and regardless what needs to be done throughout the morning, give thanks for my life, my family, my friends.

That promise has allowed me to accept that not everyone moves through the holiday the same way I do. They too have their childhood memories and some may be happier than mine -- others may not.

Is there anything at all I would change about this Thanksgiving just past? Sure there is. But the changes have nothing to do with the number of people, the prep work, the cooking or even the dog that peed on my kitchen cabinet (lucky for him (and me) Dave was in the basement).

There is the matter of the yams and brown sugar and pecans and coconut. YUK! Oh, and the frozen squash! What was I thinking?!?!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. I'm a bit late with the wishes, but the thoughts were with you all for the days leading up to and throughout the day. I offered thanks to God for all of you too.

And now I'm heading into Christmas.

With absolutely no expectations....

Ever Felt This Way?

Or this way?

Yeah. Me too.

What does this say about me?!

Resting comfortably ...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Prep Work

This Thanksgiving found me in an unusual spot. Two very willing helpers! And a third who helped with setting the table although that might have been under some duress.
Amy & Jamie.
I have been giving a niece cooking lessons on Tuesday evenings so I wasn't surprised when she offered to help with Thanksgiving dinner this year.
Yes, I even let her use an electric mixer!
Secretly, I was pleased that I wasn't going to be alone in the kitchen. For me it's not about the work involved. I love to cook. It's something of a hobby and a passion. My hips can attest to that -- and at this stage in life I'm actually okay with a little more weight than less.
What I love about the kitchen and holidays is the relationships that exist in the kitchen. Mother/daughter. Husband/wife. Aunt/niece. Sister/sister. You get the idea. Usually I am alone in my kitchen, dicing, slicing, chopping and while I enjoy the process and the peace of the quiet, the process, I miss the conversations that occur when a group of like-minded individuals get together, in this case -- getting a holiday dinner on the table.
Both my daughter and my niece went through those years when they were too young to really be of help, and then they moved right along into the 'it's lame to be in the kitchen' phase of life. But now, oh yes! I am a happy woman because not only did my niece ask to help out, 'because I really want to learn this Auntie' but Amy asked too ... and admitted she was a bit annoyed that Jamie was going to help out and I hadn't asked her to help. Which is rather quite funny from where I'm sitting.
On Wednesday Amy arrived home from school and we went to work baking apple pie, berry pie and dipping strawberries in chocolate with coconut & nuts and just plain chocolate! It was nice spending time in the kitchen with her and just having that round about conversation that women are famous for ... start here, go there, end up over there and eventually back to the first topic ... which completes the cycle of the conversation. It was indeed quality time with her and I am so glad we had that time together.

Amy working on the strawberries!

Her apple pie out of the oven and cooling. Yes. She's done dipping the fruit and is now licking the spoon.

Thursday morning dawned cold and crisp with Jamie at the door ready to take on Thanksgiving dinner. We started with the turkey ... and she did it all ... from opening the package to getting him into the pan and into the oven. I taught her my secret Turkey ritual: Wash the bird gently, pat him dry gently, put him into the roasting pan and then massage him all over with light olive oil, give him one last pat on the backside with a sincere 'thank you' and then put him in the oven.

We did eventually have time to clean up ourselves and does she look happy with the outcome? Yes she does! This bird, her first, came out just perfect. I told her it's all about the ritual. ;)

You might not want to kiss this fresh cook who helped to make that pumpkin pie ... which was delish!
I do hope that your Thanksgiving day found you having time to reflect on what you are thankful for in your daily life and that you enjoyed the day however you spent it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Emily's Thanksgiving Gift

Thanksgiving is just around the corner! As always, I am pleased that we are having guests to our house for the day. We are a pretty casual group for Thanksgiving. I learned many years ago to relax, dress comfortably and enjoy the day with the folks we care most about.

Re-reading that sentence has me thinking of how many other friends I would love to have spend the day with us, but honestly, cannot fit in. I've thought every year how nice it would be to rent a large hall and invite all these friends and family members to a potluck Thanksgiving dinner.

There is a summer camp here in town that has a beautiful rustic great hall with a large field stone fireplace and a full kitchen. The deck overlooks a beautiful pond. Maybe one year I will actually organize it.

In the meanwhile, I'll be happy and thankful to have our traditional small gathering here at the house.

Emily arrived home from school the other day with a flower arrangement for me!

"Look Mom!" "I made it!" "For you. For Thanksgiving!"

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Done! My Creative Muse Is Back To Typing

Although my creative muse is back to using my fingers on a keyboard (at least I hope so) I have completely enjoyed the painting of the sleds. It's been a couple of weeks of no computer time for the most part, no housework ( Oh! I do like that part!) and a lot of de-stressing because of the painting.

Here they are, four of the six I managed to finish. There weren't nine, there were eight and so, with little time to accomplish the task, I think six was a good job done.

Happy Weekend All! Hoping to be back here soon with some writing I've been puttering around with. And well, maybe some fodder that's actually interesting!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Turning These Into This With Old Brushes And Paints

My friend Barb recently lost a friend quite unexpectedly. These two women have known each other for many years through church, children, ceremics, cooking, crafts and they had matured into their sixties together.

Barbara has been so sad since Margaret died. But she is trying hard to carry on with the church fair and all that entails as well as pick up the pieces of it that Margaret always handled. Not an easy task.

This church has a woman's craft group that meets once a week and they work together on group crafts and then individually at home on their own. Anyone who has ever organized a craft fair knows how much time and energy goes into the process. Needless to say, Barbara is wiped out.

And then she brought home a number of craft items to complete for the craft fair on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, in addition to signing up to help out in the kitchen that day; on top of her annual, yearly job of enticing crafters to purchase space, organize and plan out the spaces and pretty much set up the hall with some elves along as helpers.

I do not belong to this church and I do not help out at the fair. I do attend the fair though. Each year I find one or two items I can't live without and I love the White Elephant Table (which is really an entire room).

Barbara freaking out on the phone, "I am so tired. I don't know where to start. What to do. How to get it all done."

Kathy, "Barb, load the stuff in the car and get over here. I'll unload it all, and I will get those sleds painted for you well in advance of the fair. That'll be one less job for you to worry about."

Barbara, "I know. But I just can't ask you to do that."

Kathy, "You aren't asking. I'm telling. I am telling you to do it. And you will."

Barbara, "Okay, you're right. I'll bring them over. Are you sure?"

Kathy, "Yes!"

While waiting for Barb to arrive I run down to the basement (dangerous for a woman my age, I know) and start routing around for my acrylic paints and my brushes. I haven't painted in years and I'm wondering if I still can. Locating the items in an old plastic tub, tightly sealed and covered in dust I wonder if that dent in the lid is actually a cat body shape.

I lug the tub upstairs, pull out paints, brushes and other items I had no idea were stored there. Honestly I don't think I need them any more either. Yet another failure on my part. You know the one where you clean out, but you don't? Still, you talk about it enough that you actually think you've done it?

The brushes look like heck, after all they were well loved and well used and the bristles are still in excellent condition so I know I won't have to borrow or invest in any.

Anyway. Barbara arrives and I go out to meet her. The back of her little car is crammed with sleds. Yes! Old sleds. They have been painted red and green with a bit of white where I will add the snowmen.

I am to turn these old sleds into ...


There are only nine sleds. Only nine. Just nine. That's all. And that is what friends are all about. Turing These Into This ...

On A Lighter Note

Today I was off to have two cars inspected ... both failed. Miserably. One for emissions. The other for safety. Geeze Louise, can I catch a break?

The emissions fail/rejection will be okay. The 'service engine soon' light lit up about a week ago and the man was able to run the diagnostics, tell me what the problem is (or was) and turn off the light. My van has been rejected and I have to drive for 200 miles and then go back again. If the light stays off the car will pass, if it comes on again. Well. Repairs will be in order. I guess. Bleh.

The safety fail is another story on another car. And one might wonder why I am bringing two cars for inspections on a Saturday morning? Just 'cause I'm nice.

Four tires. FOUR. TIRES. One more bill to add to the pile which does get paid but makes me just a little nutty. "I'm real sorry, ma'am." "I have to put a rejection sticker on the car." Do what you have to do ... it's not his fault after all.

It seems the two front tires have lost the inside edge ... and the two rear tires are, well, worn out from all that spinning. Yippee!

"You aren't supposed to drive the car at all after a safety fail." "I know that's not realistic because you have sixty days to make the repair." "Do not let your daughter go on any long trips."

How to feel safe in one easy sentence. :::sigh:::

But here is the lighter note. On the way home from the second car inspection, in a round-a-bout way Emily & I were driving past a craft fair. It so happens that this is also a fund raiser for The American Lung Association (I think) run by two young women, one of whom we know and suffers from fibrosis in her lungs. She's had a rough year or two with this disease but keeps plugging along doing the best she can.

While there I came across a young man and woman -- and I'm not sure which is the artist, but they obviously work together and darn, if there items weren't whimsical and just a teeny bit feisty in some cases.

Go check them out. Monkey Chow.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Is It Enough?

Have you ever sat and observed a roomful of Special Olympians?

Colin approaches me as I enter wearing a generous smile and with a solid thud on my shoulder (meant to be a pat), “Hello Mum!” Of course, Colin is not my son, I am not his mother, but I am there with Emily, my daughter.

We are at the Fall Dinner Dance for Special Olympians sponsored by the same charitable group that sponsors all the sports for the athletes in this area.

The music is loud and dance-y. Some sway to the music on the dance floor. Others sit and mark the beat. All are smiling.

Pockets of conversation surround me: hushed, heads together in order to be heard, loud, above the noise voices, in order to be heard. “Are you playing basketball this season?” “My mother dropped me off.” “I’m hungry! When are we eating?”

Their physical ages do not matter because they are all eighteen to twenty-four or so socially. It’s a good group in size, more men than women -- the primary reason I sit in the back of the hall, notebook and pen in hand, reading book at the ready -- boundaries are not always known or remembered.

The sheer joy of life in the room keeps me from my book, but does help me to make a few notations.

Mike doesn’t like to dance, but he enjoys showing others how to use his I-phone. James likes Gabby and wants to dance with her, but he is too shy to ask. A little help from a parent gets the two onto the dance floor. Scott and Lauren sit with each other holding hands under the table in order that no one sees. Greg and Will sit with their backs to the dance floor, playing a finger game on the table. Corey, Albert, Dennis, three men with a purpose dance together. There are no rules of social graces in this hall. You dance with who likes to dance. Or you don’t.

Emily sits quietly, a serious expression on her face. There are interesting exclusions and cliques in the group and she is trying to discern which group she belongs with. Jen and Olivia are good buddies and hang out together. Abby and Emily C are best friends and they are together. Kristen and Marcia. Matthew and Everyone. Taylor and Himself. Mark and His Caregiver. Harry sits with Tim. Susan is with Janice. Mae is with Her Housemates. Emily’s best friend was unable to attend this evening and she is a bit lost.

I walk past Harry who looks up at me and asks, “Is something wrong with Princess?” I stop and respond, “She’s waiting to dance. Maybe you could ask Princess to dance?”

Harry is up and out of his seat and asking Emily for a dance before I can count to ten. She accepts, which is what got Corey and Albert up and out of their seats! She officially has a full dance card. They wait patiently and then begin the process of cutting in and it’s all very cute and funny from where I am sitting, way back in the room.

I am amazed at Harry. He is new to this group and already he is as entrenched in the social scene as any of the others. He is observant and thoughtful -- a welcome new addition to my way of thinking.

As I sit and watch my mind wanders to what my dreams were when I was young and carrying Emily within me. I thought of how she would look, who she would become as an adult. Isn’t that what pregnant mothers do? My mind goes over, once again, the surprise and shock after her birth, of this disability and how many times I’ve asked myself the same question. Again and again and again:

If I could change Emily, would I?

The answer is as complex as the life we have lived if I think about it too long. There is a little bit of leftover grief for the baby I was expecting who did not arrive. But there is far more joy in my life over the baby who was delivered instead and who has enriched my life more than I could have thought possible.

I feel honored and privileged to be the mother of this woman-child. I am blessed beyond anything I have ever deserved and I am sure that I am, like other mothers, doing the best I can, but wondering always, is it enough? Have I given her everything I can to ensure her life is full and meaningful and joyous?

I stop making my notes and I look up to the front of the room where they all are donning red and green tee shirts and Santa hats. It’s time for the annual Christmas card photo. They are not that much different than others their age. Well, yes they are. But they aren't.

And surer than shoot, I see the look on my daughter’s face and I know that all is at it should be. That her life will be full and rich and interesting and that yes, it is enough.

cross posted @

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Voting Excitement In Smallville!

I was up early and off to the polls before work.

As I approached the polling place a steady stream of vehicles were in front of and behind me.

The biggest worry of the process was getting beyond all those electioneering fools, who do not have the right to wear a pin, hat, shirt, bumper sticker or other article with a candidates name on it IN to the polls, but they do have the right to stand just 150 feet from the entrance doors and, you know, electioneer.

I have to admit it was an impressive group of people; lively, noisy and dangerously close to the moving vehicles. Dangerously. The good news is for the first time in the history of this town, school children and carpool lines were not in the mix. We closed the elementary schools for the day. Yeah, I know. Novel idea.

Just as I was turning into the parking lot one of these dedicated souls stepped off the curb and into the direct path of my moving car. Geeze Louise! Buddy, just in case you didn't know I am already wondering if those very young children holding signs that are way too tall and heavy for them, are going to drop one into the path of oncoming traffic or worse, onto a car going by. But never mind that. What in the name of gawd are you thinking?! We are driving here and all of you are distracting us.

And while I'm on the subject of you dedicated fools ... why are all of your cars parked in the front row of the parking lot, making a longer walk for the old folks in town? Oh, yes! We have electioneering to do!!!

I respectfully suggest that at the next dammed election for anything ... there should be barricades up for you fools to stand behind ... about three or four feet from the curb. That way, the motorists won't be worried about the falling signs or running one of you over.

I made it passed the dammed fool and into a parking space in the far reaches of the lot and sat for a minute collecting my thoughts before I headed in.

Question 1: No.
Question 2: Yes.
Question 3: No.

I followed the blue line to precinct three and walked up to checker-in-people, all retirees who have the time and the dedication to work from 6:30 AM until after 8:00 PM at night. Gave my street, the house number and first name and I was off to the voting booth where I completed my voting in record time.

There wasn't a whole lot on the ballot ... you know?

I heard tales of backed up traffic, overflow parking not well labeled and lines within the polling place. Such a small town ... only 5700 registered voters ... and an unofficial count of the number of folks going in per hour was 'roughly 400'. Amazing. They are coming out of the woodwork.

So. Now it is time to sit back, watch the tube and wait. Wait. Wait. Wait.

But this wait is just so much shorter than the entire campaign!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Saturday Stuff

It's been a busy week. Brain surgery, a trip to Maine, hand surgery. My sister did well with her surgery but she is just 'not right'. That being said, I'm sure it's due to my BIL still being in Boston recovering from his surgery. She's anxious to see him and to have him home.

The bad news is he's still feeling crappy with palsy and vertigo. The good news is, he will be sent back to Maine on Monday and will do a stint at a rehab spot in Maine, at least unti he is able walk further and without assistance.

My sister's dogs were full of fun and giggles the twenty-four hours or so I was there. One even chewed a chapter out of a book. Fortunately for her, it was my sister's book, not mine. I would have had to, oh I don't know ... I love animals too much to hurt one, but I'd have been really, really, really angry. My sister just said, "Well, I'm missing a chapter, but I have the end of the book!"

While I was gone Emily and Dave decided they would get all the Halloween decorations out and surprise me.

It was a surprise -- half pleasant one, although I had specifically told David, when he queried, 'are you going to decorate for Halloween?', that I was too busy to worry about getting it all out, up and then put away.

So now, I guess, I just have to worry about getting it all put away.

Let me pose a question. Why is it, in life, that when someone is helping you out, it tends to turn into more work for you?

Tomorrow is Special Olympics fall finals for soccer. It will be very cold starting out and then improve as the day wears on. The facitility for the final games of the season is beautiful and wonderful photo ops present themselves each year. I'm hoping this year to take advantage of the location in between games and get some nice fall shots of the salt water marshes.

I'm missing all my AOL alerts -- they were about the only mail I got!!! It's a bit quieter on the Buddy List too. I believe things happen for a reason and so here we all are. The reason may never be known, but we are where we are supposed to be.

I have created a gmail account, but since I am clueless as to what 'everything' is for, the address won't be linked here until there is some time to figure it out. I am eventually going to just make AOL disappear from my PC and will access it only through the www method.

Do any of you know, off hand, why is it that some commenter's alerts come to me in their own e-mail address and others come via 'noreply'. And just where-oh-where do I make it so it's commenters e-mail addresses ... or do I do that for myself and you do that for yourself?

That's my one other big question of the day? I'm fairly certain it's as clear as mud.

Happy Weekend All!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Well, You Did Have Brain Surgery

I had mentioned the other day that my bil and my sister would both be having surgery this week. bil, Tom had his surgery on Monday. Eight hours on an operating table. Yikes! I don't know if you'd have gotten me there, but I guess if I really needed to have surgery, I would. Eeuuuwww.

I may have trust issues.

He's doing as well as can be expected I suppose. He has no hearing in one ear, he can barely walk, his ear hurts and he has Bell's palsy. In short, he's still a mess. But this is only Wednesday. Tomorrow is a new day.

Since he is closer to here than home he has my number to reach me for anything he might need and so we had a brief conversation: How are you? Barely hear-able -- "Okay" and then he lists the same complaints he listed for my sister. "It's hard to talk when your face is drooping." Yes it is. I have experienced Bell's palsy myself -- twice. "I can barely walk." "My ear hurts." "I feel like crap." "I'm dizzy." "I'm nauseous."



You did have brain surgery.


I am heading north tomorrow to pick up my sister from the hospital there after she has her surgery. She will be on the operating table for an hour or so. Well, that's what she said. And although she's not having surgery on her brain, it's got to be better than Tom's.

An extra good wish in their direction would be appreciated. I'm hoping he is allowed to come home on Friday so that the two of them can settle into their routine for the next two to three weeks: sitting. More sitting. And more sitting.

Life Is Here -- Thank You!

Life On Flamingo Row has made it to blogger. At least in that I was able to do the transfer after I said to myself, 'one last time' and after having downloaded it to my hard drive with Spadix' Backstreet Browser.

Not a big fan of additional software being added to the PC; it did perform as the description suggested it would. Yippee!

Now the dilemma is to get the posts to actually show up in the blog. They are on the dashboard in the 'edit posts' area, but no matter the number of icons I click, nothing else happens. Since I immediately made the blog private I guess it doesn't really matter.

It only matters that it is here. I can now sift & sort, copy & paste and print entries to my hearts content, if I choose to. Phew. That's over.

And I thank each of you for your suggestions and assistance and help. I thought I'd never get this done in time.

Friend Walt's 'The Diatom Project' has been copied to my hard drive too. The plan for that one is to load it to a CD or print it out for Bonnie, his widow and then send it along to her. I had hoped to transfer it here to blogger as he has an account, but I'd need two passwords to accomplish that, so I've done the best I can for now.

Happy Day Ladies & Gentlemen! Happy Day!

My next project will be AOL pictures and those lovely shoebox albums. Who knew? (I guess we all did, actually) First thing this morning I went to follow the instructions in the official AOL e-mail with the links, etc. Guess what? Uh-huh. If you said to yourself, "they don't work.", you'd be correct.

Shaking my head, having a chuckle. If there is a technical thing I can mess up, I do.

**Update** I've had AOL open, but shrunken all morning while I waltz my way through Quickbooks to another monthly tax bill. Suddenly I hear click, click, click, click and voila! I had just over 100 e-mails notifying me of entries to Life. I guess it either takes a really, really long time for them to post or AOL is helping me out just as I was told they would. Gee. Only 741 posts to go. It's going to be a long e-mail day, but I am grinning from ear to ear. :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Frustration & The Art of Migration

Frustrated. Grrr.

Is there an art to migration of an AOL journal to a Google-blogspot-blogger blog?

'Cause I have tried all the tricks and nothing. Nada. Zip.

The process starts and sometimes stalls while reading posts. But if it gets to the very first entry in the journal, I am prompted to name it, check the address I want and a template. I may have the order of the process incorrect -- you'd think after nine times I'd have it down.

Following those steps closely I am gently surprised to find an additional blog listed on my dashboard and a link to finish the process of transferring the posts. I click there, I am prompted to publish the posts and I do.

Voila! Nothing. Nothing but the template with my profile. :::sigh:::

As I write this, try number ten is in process. We'll see where it goes. I've even had some help from a friend or two and from AOL and the blogger help pages. Lisa I know you didn't mean to break your promise ...

I claim I work better under pressure. That has always been the case, but I'm beginning to realize I'm aging out of working under pressure. You know?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Officially I'm Crazy. Off The Record, I'm Nuts

It's been an unusually long week. And it's just starting.
Today my sister and brother-in-law arrived so that I could drive them into Boston to deliver him to the hospital for a surgery tomorrow. He will be in the hospital until later in the week. He will ride back to Maine on a VA Shuttle Van Service.
She has driver herself back to Maine and I will drive to Maine on Thursday to retrieve her from the Maine hospital where she is having her surgery.
This was not the original plan, but everyone knows that things change; consequently plans change.
Throw a little Halloween into the mix and HSM 3 Senior Year! and there are going to be, bound to be some logistical problems. Argh!
To change the start of this unusually long week I asked Mackey ... just what he thought of the busy week coming up.

I'm officially crazy and off the record nuts because this weekend, in addition to prepping some meals for the week ahead and laundry and taxi-ing to Boston ... I've attempted no less than five times to transfer my AOL journal here to Blogger. And guess what? I go to my dashboard and see I have not one, two or three blogs, but a slew of them ... all with names I've given them, but not one dammed post in them. NOT ONE.

I'm madder than a wet hen! Does anyone know what that refers to?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Helicopter, Dervish, Hop, Skip & Jump Method of Dancing

I had the opportunity last night to go out with Dear Friend Barb to, a place. Which shall remain nameless because even though the place might deserve to be made public, I don't want to offend anyone. Mostly the people who were there. I might want to mock them a bit (new side of her? you think) They are probably there again tonight doing pretty much what they did last night, last weekend and the weekend before that and will do on weekends for the next how ever many years. Suffice to say it's an Elk, Moose, KofC, AOH or other type of private venue.

Let me be clear on this. I have no problem with private clubs of any ilk or purpose. No, I don't belong to one and last night may be the short of why.

So. Barb wanted to go see her hear throb Siggy. I wanted to stay home and watch 'Life'. But it was not to be. My conscience got the better of me and I told her I'd pick her up at 6:00 pm.

We drove north to the next state and were duly impressed by all the campaign signs along the roadway. In NH campaign signs are a way of life. Life Free or Die. What's that saying, 'New Hampshire leads the nation'? or something like that.

I can tell you I now know why we are in such a mess.

We arrived at the hall, paid our $10.00 entry fee for a light buffet and entertainment and an additional donation to the 50/50 drawing which at the end of the evening was $165.00. We met up with friends of Barb's from the private 'French Club' she belongs too (shaking my head here) and all had a hello, nice to see you, anyone like a drink moment or two. It was roughly an hour until entertainment time and I found myself drinking not one, but two Corona Light beers with lime. I rarely drink and when I do it isn't beer, so I'm fairly certain there was something in the air last night.

The tables began to fill up with people of all ages and fashion sense. From 'old hippies' with tie-dyed tees to country hunks to trucker types and middle aged school teacher looks ... fashion of every type and sadly size was there. Long hair, straggly hair, pony tails and racing insignia caps, beards, no beards, John Deer RULES! Key chains ... the kind that go from there to here or here to there. I have to admit I was dressed down for me. Neatly pressed jeans with a tailored shirt, earrings, necklace and low black heels ... and my friends were somewhere in the same ball park.

We, of course, were totally in the wrong ball park and it was pretty obvious to all in the room.

Not one to miss out on a good time, when the entertainment started I sat back and enjoyed what I could see of the show after having enjoyed the light buffet which consisted of standard buffet fare, but very good. Siggy started singing and the young crowd started whining. Where's the country music? No Aerosmith? I think we took a step back in time and space.

Eventually the crowd had tossed back enough booze the kill a cow, elephant and donkey and they began to hit the dance floor. Unfortunately it was during the performance rather than the dance set and one guy actually hit the floor. Fell right off his chair. Weirder than weird ... he hopped right back up and ask some woman to dance.

I commented to Barb that one of the bad things about drinking and dancing is that the booze makes you think a) you can dance and b) think that you're as young as you used to be.

The woman who headed to the floor with the old hippie in the purple tie-dyed shirt that didn't quite make it down over his rather sizable beer gut taught us all how to do The Helicopter. What you do is have enough to drink so that when you start dancing and you can't get the beat all you have to do is put both arms up and out to the sides and spin slowly in circles while angling up and then down in an alternating fashion. Interesting step I'll tell ya'.

The Dervish was displayed by the man in the striped shirt who made me positively dizzy as he whirled by and whirled by and whirled by all the while dragging some poor girl as if she were at the end of a whip.

Hop, Skip & Jump Lady was so darned cute I wanted to go hop, skip and jump with her, but Barbara put her hand on my arm and shook her head, 'no'. Damn!

Our other friends are ballroom dancers and they were just having the hardest time getting any floor space. Due to age and physical limitations they opted to sit out after one dance. "Too scary", he said. He was being nice.

As the evening wore on the drunken men did what drunken men do ... they developed delusions of sexy and it was not a pretty sight. And to be fair to both sexes, the drunken women somehow thought their stumbly sashays looked, um, appealing. Not from where I was sittin'.

There was one couple dancing whom I thought would be perfect for a Cialis commercial ... and he knew he was gonna get lucky, but I think, honestly, he probably passed out soon as his ass hit the bed last night.

After an interesting and entertaining evening, what I'm now going to call, Two For One Night In Strangeville, I stood up, put on my jacket and started walking to the door. A song with a lively beat was playing and I found myself sort of walking, dancing ... Oh NO! I'm like them ... to the door ... No! No! No! ... and when I turned back to locate Barb ... Sweet Peas! There was a man dancing along behind me reaching out for my ... tail feathers!

I cracked up laughing because this guy was young and I'm pretty sure he must have thought I was his aunt or someone he knew ... or he was too drunk to see just how old I am. I shot back around the table, urged Barb to hurry up and we headed home.

Laughing all the way.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Reverse 911

"911. This line is recorded. What is your emergency?"

These are the first words a citizen in our town hears when they dial 911. Said with confidence, presence and authority, they are the words that let you know you have reached help. With ... whatever it is you need help with.

Reverse 911 is the flip side. You won't hear "911. This line is recorded ..." because you are not dialing. We are. We are dialing your number from a data base of phone numbers on an automated dialing system.

Your phone rings and you ... answer it.

Your phone rings and you ... ignore it.

Your phone rings and you check caller ID, see it is 'The Town of ____" and ignore it.

Your phone rings and you check caller ID, see it is 'The Town of ____" and you shrug and wonder why. Still, you don't answer the call.

Your phone rings and the call goes to voice mail where the automated dialer leaves a message. You may or may not check your voice mail.

"This is So & So of Such & Such Department with an important message."

The messages are varied and many. Road closings & detours, school closings, missing children, missing elderly folks. Name it, it's been put out there on auto dial by one agency or another in many cities and towns.

Last night while having dinner at a bit of a late hour, I heard the office phone ring. I Let it go, because I knew it would go to voice mail. Then the house phone rang. By the time I got there after just two rings, no one was there. I checked the caller ID and saw that it was The Town of ____ calling. I dialed back.

"_____ Police. Line recorded. Can you hold?" Sure. Why not. I work there. I know how hellish things can get.

"Hello? Can I help you?" Yeah, Hi J! It's Kathy. Did you call me?

"No. The Lt. sent out a reverse 911 about the road closings tomorrow and now every one is calling wondering why we called!" "I gotta go."

I waited a couple of hours and then called back.

Hey J. This is Kathy. I called you earlier because I thought you might need my help with a busy shift or a major call. And then I wondered if I forgot to show up for work. Sorry about that.

"No problem. The reverse 911 calls had 'everyone' calling in to see why we were calling! You'd think people would answer their phone or you know, check their voice mail."

Yeah, you'd think.

There's good and bad in everything. No system is totally perfect.

The good part of reverse 911 calls is that an important or urgent message can get to the citizens of town very quickly.

The bad part of reverse 911 calls is when folks don't answer the call or check their voice mail, but call back based on caller ID ... they swamp the dispatch center lines and the lonely dispatcher with calls ... which pulls the dispatcher away from real work.