The Oral Report

Standing up in front of the class was never so much fun!

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Location: River City, United States

The rantings and ravings of a mom of three wonderful girls as she finds new love while working like a dog and shaking her fist at the system. You know. Pretty much like everybody else.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Previous posts on this may have clued you in that a coworker named Lexus frequents my cubicle for advice on nearly any topic imaginable. Another week and a half and I'll only have to worry about drop-ins at home. She's found another position and is delighted to be leaving a work environment she's found unbearably stressful. I suppose I'll be back to Life Before Lexus, which won't be so bad, either.

In an effort to leave me wanting more (I guess), Lexus and I had the following exchange yesterday:

LEXUS: I know you're busy, but if you have just a minute I needed some advice.

ME: Sure. What's up?

LEXUS: I have been so constipated and I took two Correctol's last night and OMG, I woke up in the middle of the night sweating and cramping so bad and had to sit on the toilet for hours.

[Oh, I am too serious.]

ME: That sounds terrible. I'm glad you're feeling better. You should probably try to find a more 'natural' way to try to work that problem out. Sometimes those medications are pretty hard on your body.

LEXUS: Yeah, but the pill form was really convenient and it had been a while, if you know what I mean.

[I so badly DO NOT want to know what you mean.]

ME: Do you drink much water?

LEXUS: Not really. I have to make myself. I don't really like it.

ME: Try drinking more water. It will help with that problem, but it's also good for your kidneys, for your skin, for lots of things. Also, maybe adding some dietary things that will help. Like prunes. Do you like prunes?

LEXUS: Yeah, I like prunes. Should I eat like a whole bag of 'em each day?

[I swear this girl graduated from college, with a degree and everything.]

ME: PLEASE do not go home and eat an entire bag of prunes! Try adding two or three a day...or even every other day...and if that doesn't seem to help, add one more. Go slowly. Don't be so rough on your body.

LEXUS: Okay. Thanks a lot. I'll try that and let you know how it works.

[Yeah, let's don't, but say we did.]

Ah, yes, it's just another day at Rupert and McElroy...ARCHITECTS.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Stupidity on Parade

Cue the drum major!

Call out the clowns!

Strike up the band!

And don't forget the floats!

That's right Oral Report fans, it's a parade!! (And it's not even St. Stupid's Day!) I've been inundated with ignorance, shrouded in senselessness, and removed from the reasonable! Lucky you, too, because now I shall share my adventures so that you may be stupified as well!

I've never been a fan of John Stossel. If you have, you should likely leave now. Today, I saw a story that nearly made my brain explode.

Known for his hard-hitting investigative style (please note the irony there) John Stossel (of ABC's 20/20) doesn't see the problem with 'global warming'. Okay, okay, he'll admit that there likely is global warming, but isn't ready to acknowledge that it's a "bad thing", or...get this...that we have to turn our freedom over to Al Gore.

::blink:: ::blink::

What the hell is he talking about? Does he think that if he agrees that there is global warming that, because Al Gore tried to bring this information to the public that he's only doing it to be the secret police or something? Al Gore will sit in some tower somewhere and decide who shall be worthy to receive fossil fuels?

Is this really who ABC wants fronting for them? Seriously?

I hate it when Americans (or anyone else in the world, actually) need to have their news watered down and spoonfed to them like pablum. Why is analytical thought...intelligence...a stigma?

It all makes my brain hurt!

Then there's this new quiz show that starts tonight. You've all seen the commercials, but none of you is talking about it. (I'm not blaming you. I'm trying to ignore it, too.) ARE YOU SMARTER THAN A FIFTH GRADER? is clearly setting the bar even lower than Black. White. And that's really going some.

Are adults supposed to feel vindicated if they can beat 10 year olds in a match of wits? Have we really sunk that low?

The new show premieres tonight, but I'm pretty sure I have a root canal or a tax audit that I'd rather be doing, so I'll be missing it.

Now, I'm not the FORREST GUMP hater that my fiance' is, but maybe...just maybe...he's on to something. When I watch FORREST GUMP, I don't so much see the idolization of the unintelligent that he sees. I see a mentally handicapped man mastering life's challenges and making the best of what comes. Those are life lessons that we can all use. Certainly, the fictional character gets more breaks and opportunities than most of us do, and he has a heaping helping of luck, as well.

Are we, as a culture, willing to just accept that smart really isn't impressive? I hope not. I hope this is just a phase. Or a bad dream. Because smart is all that and a bag of chips. Smart is cool and sexy and has FAR more oomph than a set of 12-pack abs sitting in a ferrari with a bag of cash on the seat. That is said with no irony whatsoever. Smart can imagine and invent things. Smart has a biting sense of humor and a sense of wit that makes you think, too. Smart can tackle problems and resolve issues. Smart is creative and lyrical. Smart is an engaging conversationalist and a talented thinker. Smart is full of discoveries and interesting explorations.

Are we, as a people, so insecure that we are threatened by intellectualism? So much so that we want the world around us to be dumbed down so that we can feel superior in it? I have no difficulty living with the fact that I hit somewhere in the middle. I'd rather live in a world that strives toward the high end of that scale, instead of catering to the low end of it. I'm not saying that I (or anyone else) should expect that every single person is capable of the same results. That's never gonna be the case. But that doesn't mean that we can't reward the efforts.

Ironically, John Stossel did a segment on 20/20 last year called "Stupid in America" outlining problems with public schools in America and how our children were suffering because of it.

Government bureaucracy, student behavioral problems disrupting learning and incompetent teachers (...Klein [head of the New York City public school system] said he employs dozens of teachers who he's afraid to let near the kids, so he has them sit in what are called rubber rooms. This year he will spend $20 million dollars to warehouse teachers in five rubber rooms. It's an alternative to firing them. In the last four years, only two teachers out of 80,000 were fired for incompetence...) are only part of the problem. We continue to cultivate a society that denegrates people like Stephen Hawking, while exalting the Paris Hilton's.

Star athletes feel the love. Celebrities feel the love. But Al Gore? Well, he's clearly trying to take over the world with his histrionics and can't be taken seriously. (I'm curious, though. Does that make Tippy "Pinky"?) Sure there's global warming, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, right?

Maybe you're right, John.

It must be all in how you look at it.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Apples and Oranges

Okay, I haven't much time, but wanted to touch on about a million things. I hear 'lists' are big. Let's see if I can make them work for me.

#1) The Gibsons and the Colletts have survived another harrowing weekend in our company. Send them your cards and letters. I'm sure it dragged interminably for them (especially for the lone teen in our midst who had to have been DYING to get away from the old people), but it flew by for me. A cavalcade of geek shops and pizza, it took on an almost carnival feel. I would say "all we needed was a clown", but well...I won't...;)

As for highlights, Mark did NOT lock himself in the bathroom, Tony and Kathy smacked the rest of us at a game of Scene It! (which does not sit well with me and Highlander...that is OUR specialty), and Lisa became addicted to Apples. Apples to Apples that is. A pretty fun card game that became pretty raucous long about 1AM on Sunday.

Just because they were so funny, I must share...even if you don't know the game. Each player is dealt (7) red apple cards, each featuring the name of a person, place, thing or event. Then the dealer (this responsibility rotates with every turn) turns a green apple card (which lists the characteristic of a person, place, thing or event. When the green apple card is turned up, each player reviews his own cards to find the best "match" to the characteristic card played. Once the "match" is selected, the card is played, face down, and the dealer then turns the red cards face up and selects which one(without knowing which player played the card) best matches the green card played that turn. I know. I know. It was cruel of me to put you through that. But I had to. And I'll tell you why.

Mrs. Collett cracked me up (and I was far from alone) when she played Flipper on a green card that read "chewy". It cracked me up! Clearly, tuna that was not "dolphin safe", but there were other hysterical matches. Like Mark playing a red card that said "My Body" on a card that said "Sweet". There were so many (as we played SEVERAL games of Apples to Apples) that I cannot remember very many specifics. But I do recall one that I played. It had Mark doubling over with laughter. I hesitated, but finally the late hour and the silliness from being tired won out and I played "A Cheap Motel" on a green card that said "spunky". I couldn't help myself, but honestly, I'm still snickering.

#2) We appear to have somehow caught Opus' Electronics Curse! Hundreds of miles between us and still the germs have spread. I probably should have used lysol on the keyboard! We've lost not one, but TWO DVD players in the last month. Having already replaced one, the other will have to get in line with a few other bills before the new one shows up.

#3) We're piled floor to ceiling with Girl Scout Cookies! As if taking the orders weren't enough, we're actually supposed to deliver them and collect the money. Where will it all end? Next they'll be wanting us to eat them for them. Okay, I know a few folks who would be okay with that. And they live at my house. Anyway, deliveries are making some headway, but given my busy weekend, I haven't gotten all the cookies sorted yet. I'm sure I'll be up late dealing with that!!

I owe a few folks email. I'm trying to work on a few wedding projects. And, oh yeah, I'm working, too. So, sorry for the brevity of the post and will hope to catch a moment soon to chatter on more. I've actually got a few links I wanted to post, but it doesn't look like that will be today...

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Saturday, February 24, 2007


Most of you already know I'm a fan of American Idol. Not so much with the early part of the show, but we're past that now and have had my first week of the better singers.

The first show(s) were this past week and most of the 24 singers showed how inexperienced they were and the nerves were showing big time. But not Lakisha Jones.

Unless the others improve VASTLY between now and the end of the show, this girl is gonna walk away with it. Or if the voting proves otherwise (and the prettier people pull ahead of her), she will still be recording with someone. I have no doubt of it. Her voice is something else.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Flashback Friday!

Sometimes, the oddest things start me on a Flashback Friday! topic. The smell of lilacs. The sound of a kitten purring. My mind wanders through the maze and comes out in the most interesting places sometimes.

I say this because this Flashback Friday! starts out with "My watch died this week". Boring news, I realize. It was a cheap little watch I'd picked up to replace a much loved watch, which I'd gotten as a gift to replace one that was even more treasured. In any event, as I was sitting in the dentist's office earlier this week, waiting for a couple holes in my kids' heads to be filled, I started thinking about watches and decided that this week's Flash would be about just that.

As it went through my head, so, too, shall I recount it to you. (My apologies in advance.)

More than two years ago, I was involved in a car accident. I was driving to work one morning, and while checking for oncoming traffic, failed to notice that the rest of the traffic in front of me on the on-ramp had slowed dramatically. Sad to say, my Ford Taurus station wagon and I rear-ended a mini-van and hit it hard enough that it rear-ended an SUV in front of it. Not one of my shinier moments, I will tell you.

It was my first personal experience with the deployment of airbags. While they likely saved me from significant injury in this particular case, those things scare the HELL out of you when they open up. Another fact I didn't know until the time, they are filled with some kind of particulate that had me thinking the damned car was on fire after the accident.

That was not the case, however. There was simply a dust cloud rising inside the car. Now, bear in mind I'd just been in an accident, was a little disoriented and thought my vehicle was on fire. I made it out (and I'd grabbed my purse as well), so I was okay. I looked down and noticed my watch was missing. A much loved piece of jewelry, indeed.

I waited a second, mulling over whether I should risk getting back into a burning car to try to rescue the watch. Then, I did just that. I ran around to the driver's side door, threw it open and began frantically searching. Instinctively, I'd raised my left arm to protect my face at the moment of impact, and that must have been when I'd lost the watch. The cloud of "smoke" had become so thick that it was difficult to see inside the car, but somehow, I found the watch on the floorboard. It was in pieces and I scooped up all of them that I could find, intending to have it repaired at some point in the future, should I survive the car explosion I just KNEW was coming.

The watch had been a gift from my mother. Something I'd wanted for many months (since my last watch finally died). After my sister had been on a trip to Rochester, she'd returned and was wearing it. It was a lovely bracelet watch and I'd never seen anything so pretty. It was love at first sight, and I RARELY get that excited over anything. Especially jewelry.

She'd purchased me a dress on her trip and delivered it to me, but I wanted the watch, and in completely uncharacteristic fashion, I began begging her for it. Offering to buy it from her or trade her something else for it. She let me know that she'd only paid $15 for it and that she liked it, too. And she wasn't going to part with it (despite the fact that she had THREE other watches and I had none...oh cruel fate, thou art foul, indeed!). Which made me sad, let me tell you.

I began looking all over town for one. Never doubting that if there was one in this city, I'd find it. It would be mine...[insert maniacal laugh here].

The last laugh was not to be mine, though, as there simply was not another one to be had, even at double (or triple) the price. The delicate and simple little silver bracelet watch that I so coveted would remain on my sister's wrist and I was to forever live in envy. So, it was, for the next many months.

Until my birthday. When my mother presented me with a small box and upon opening it, I discovered that my mother had the capacity to be one of the more thoughtful and generous (and competent) people in the world. Yes, of course, it was "the watch". Not my sister's, as she was not parting with hers, but one of my very own.

Mom had contacted the store in Rochester, where she'd learned the item had been discontinued, and then she began a laborious search at each location of the store, nationwide, until she found one that had not yet sold. She'd had it shipped to River City and it became one of my more special birthday gifts. I wore it daily for years.

Until that fateful accident had destroyed it.

I may not have been so interested in my sister's watch in the first place, had my previous one not elected to croak around the same time.

My previous watch had been a beautiful silver Bulova watch that had been a wedding gift from my (then) husband. I helped him pick it out just days before our wedding. I loved it and wore it for about fifteen years, through several battery changes and temporary misplacements. It came with me to work every day and was equally at home on my wrist when I dressed up. It was with me through every important milestone, including when my children were born. Every time I looked at it, I felt like royalty. A little guilty, thinking I didn't deserve something so beautiful and expensive.

It was not ornate in it's composition, but it was elegant and stylish and I always loved the way it made me feel and the way it looked.

I was sad when it was accidentally dropped into the (empty) sink and became damaged beyond reasonable repair costs.

Both of these (non-functioning) watches are still in my jewelry box. Yes, even the one that is in pieces. (In fact, my Cinderella watch that I had as a little girl is in there, too.) They are important to me. They are special to me even in their condition.

You won't see me wearing a lot of jewelry. That's just not who I am. But I do love a pretty watch. And now that my little cheapie replacement one has given up the ghost, I'm thinking it's just about time for another very special one to enter my life...(Does anyone think he's gotten the hint, yet?)

Now, despite the fact that I have no idea what time it is, I can say without hesitation that I am deeply looking forward to spending some time with friends this weekend. In addition to our weekend plans, I have been notified that Girl Scout Cookies are coming in today. I've volunteered to help sort cookies for the troop this afternoon, so I'll be tied up with that. My girls are going for a visit with their Dad this weekend, and I will, of course, miss them terribly. But I'm sure the time will fly until they are back with me.

I hope all of you have a great one, too. (Especially those of you coming to visit!! See ya soon!!)


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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A Tuesday Point of View

Thought I'd drop in and chat a bit. Hadn't done it lately and figured it was about time, huh?

Visitors from the north will be coming to River City this weekend. In addition to our friends the Colletts and Mr. and Mrs. Gibson, Barak Obama is supposed to be in town to campaign for the democratic nomination for president in 2008. I heard the news on our local station this morning, but cannot find any online corroboration. I did, however, see that he is supposed to be in Cincinnati (just a hop and a skip from here) on Monday.

While I haven't had much time to research his stand on all the issues, I've found that he and I share a few things in common. He wants to end the war. He wants to do more energy research. He wants to hold politicians accountable for corruption. He wants a national healthcare system. I'm not saying I agree with his stance on every issue, but he's got my attention. And, apparently, he's got Hilary running a little more than she thought she'd have to, too.

I'd love to think that this country was ready to look the other way on issues of sexuality and color when it came to who was running the country, but I just don't. Please, America, prove me wrong. I'm not necessarily saying you need to prove it with these folks, but I'd love to see a president elected strictly on their abilities and talents, specifically disregarding gender or ethnicity, and without benefit of connections of slick political manuevering. Yeah, I'm a dreamer. What of it?

I'll tell you this, though, Obama's getting plenty of media. That can't hurt. Though I imagine Mrs. Clinton and Britney Spears would disagree.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Presidential Sweet

I remember seeing this on television years ago. I realize this is a little late in the day, but wanted to hang this You Tube vid up here in honor of this (what Mike Norton would call) nominal holiday.

For those of you who were lucky enough to have the day off, I hope it was a good one.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Flashback Friday!

Some of you were feeling a little cheated since you didn’t get a Flashback Friday! last week. (Sadly, you'll probably still feel a little cheated after reading this one.) You’re all probably getting as tired of the "drama is interfering with my plans" excuse, as I am.

Whew. Every time they drag us through the sewer I have to get one of those SILKWOOD showers to wash off the karmic stench. Life would be so much easier if they would just be happy with their own lives, not mistreat my kids, and leave us alone. You'd think that wouldn't be so much to ask. But...

That behind me, I thought I’d lighten things up a little.

There are likely a few of you out there that know I have a relatively kind and generous nature. (I’ll ignore the dissenting snickerers, because I know better.) Most of you are similarly inclined. Over the years there have been a great many gifts and gestures extended towards family, friends and complete strangers with the hope that I could bring a smile to someone's face. If only a fleeting one. Like you guys, I don't do it with any expectation of repayment. I honestly never even think about that.

Many years ago, when I was a newlywed (the last time), my ex had several friends that we "hung around with". They were "The Guys".

Some of them he'd known for years. One since high school. ONE since grade school! Only one of the guys (besides my ex) had been married at the time (this was about 1988), but he divorced less than a year later. So, for all intents and purposes, they were a bunch of bachelors. At this story's point in history, I'd known them for about five years.

At 25, I found myself married to a man who worked on the road. He worked in the telecommunications business and travelled throughout the midwest to install equipment at various phone company buildings. The impact to my life, was that I had an at-home husband, at max, two days out of seven each week. To say I was lonely would be a vast understatement. I didn't dwell on that, though. I'm sure it was hard on him, too. We made the best of it.

I had friends and family and I worked full time and, most of the time, I was okay. Oh, and my phone bill was often pretty close the same as my rent payment. Which sucked, but I was in love, so it wasn't a big thing.

"The Guys" would check in with me every few days. To make sure I was okay and invite me along on various outings. They were very sweet and worried about me, I think. They had a sense of loyalty to Baron, but don't get me wrong, I know they liked me in my own right, too. When I was having a bad day, they were always there with a shoulder for me to cry on. If I had a problem, they were eager to help in his absence.

I won't name their names, except to say that there were three of them, usually, with an additional couple that would be more sporadic in their attachment to our little group. All of them were older than me (as is Baron), and I suppose I was something of a little sister to them. At least that's how it felt at first.

During that time, I did very little cooking. Not that I didn't know how or like to, just that living, for the most part, alone, I didn't see much sense in it. I'd eat carryout, or something quick, most nights. Then do my cooking when Baron was in town. (Don't touch it, Mr. Norton!)

At some point, I decided that an excellent way to pay "The Guys" back for being such good friends to me was to have them all over for a home-cooked meal. And so was born, the "bachelor dinner party".

The first time I did it, I wasn't fully aware what an impact it would have for me to offer home-cooking to single guys. I thought they'd appreciate it, sure, but I was to learn that single guys don't get much in the way of home-cooking. So, feet-kissing and rose-throwing should not be an entirely unanticipated response.

Try as I might, I can't remember what I fixed the first time. I remember the three of them sitting down and eating voraciously and praising me as if I'd painted the Sistine Chapel.

And it was wonderful. I'd done it for them, but I'd enjoyed having the opportunity to do something I love doing (cooking) and then to have been showered so richly with praise and appreciation, was simply icing on the cake. It was something very rare for me and I ate it up. And I wanted more. LOTS more.

"The Guys" were always receptive when I'd invite them over. Usually, it would be in the middle of the week (once or twice a month) and I'd send them home with leftovers. We'd talk for hours about anything and everything, and laugh, and I just had so much fun with them. And I never felt lonely.

Every single bachelor dinner I cooked was met with rave reviews and they were so very special to me. The times and "The Guys".

I remember on one occasion that they all showed up dressed up (instead of the more casual attire we usually opted for) and brought a bottle of wine and a bouquet of roses. It made me smile. They were all such sweethearts and treated me like a princess. All for such a tiny little (very selfish) gesture on my part.

One of the guys asked if he could bring a date to one of the dinners, telling me that he "really liked her, but wanted me to sign off on her before things went any farther between them". I don't think he was being completely serious, but I know he valued my opinions.

Over the period of a year, I think I hosted about fifteen or twenty bachelor dinner parties for "The Guys". Cooking anything from an Italian pasta casserole to chicken thighs sauteed in butter and chicken boullion. There was never much money, but I could be creative and always wanted to do something different and special for them.

When the babies started coming for us, it made it more difficult to work out a social schedule, and then Baron and I moved out of town for a while. We'd still see "The Guys" (none of whom have married to this day, btw) from time to time, but not often. Certainly, not like it was in the early days. When we moved back to town, Baron didn't enjoy their company as much anymore, and we always had something going on with the kids, and we didn't live very close to "The Guys" anymore. People growing apart, I suppose.

I've seen them less still since the divorce. In fact, I've only seen one of them in the last few years (on a couple of different occasions). He was as glad to see me as I was him.

I suppose inviting them all for dinner, now that I'm with someone else, would be a little weird for them. But I'd very much like to catch up with them and maybe share a little home-cooking with some guys I know would appreciate it. Though, I won't deny a little selfish motivation there...;)

Hope all of you have a most excellent weekend. My girls come home tomorrow and we have some plans with the older two to go see HANNIBAL RISING while the littlest one attends a birthday party. Other than that, Highlander is planning to take us all out to dinner at a restaurant that the kids have long wanted to patronize, but never have. I'm greatly looking forward to it. If I can squeeze in a couple wedding related projects, I'd very much like to, but we'll have to see how that goes.

Lastly, thanks to all of you for your support here (and elsewhere) as we attempt, once again, to move my baggage from center stage. I really appreciate the resounding voice of sanity in the chaos. I can't tell you how much!!


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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Tainted Love

Fellas, you'll be making a critical error if you show up with this today.


Don't do it. In fact, don't do ANY of these terrible gifts. It's a marketing trap that will turn out badly for you, should you fall for it.

Of course, I'm sure you guys would never buy any of those things anyway.

Happy Valentines Day, Gang!! Hope it's a good one!

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Somebody Should Be Minding the Store

Everyone (and I've taken an exhaustive poll and it is everyone...really) in this area has allergy issues. Mostly, sinus stuff, but there are the "others", too. I'm not exempt. I could be. But, I fervently refuse to get rid of my down pillows. I just can't sleep on that foam rubber stuff. It's...I don't know...UNNATURAL!!

So, each morning I wake with a stuffy nose. Not a huge ordeal, I know. And, since, I know what meds will alleviate the problem, not much of an ordeal at all. I'd gladly call it NO ordeal, except for one thing.

My over-the-counter medication has become a Class A Narcotic or something. Crazed junkies have taken my beloved Sudafeds and turned them into something sordid and now, NOW, the pharmacy makes me show my license and fill out a form and take my photo and fingerprint me and all this hoopla, everytime I go to buy an...wait for it...OVER THE FUCKING COUNTER MEDICATION.

Because I'm nearly out of them, I stopped at our neighborhood grocery on the way home from work tonight. I wanted to pick up some caffeine, too, so I grabbed a 20 oz. Mountain Dew and headed to the pharmacy to get the dope. Passing, on the way, the security guard posted at the store's rear exit, which happens to be adjacent to the pharmacy.

Now, when I say the words "security guard", it will conjure up a few images. Big, burly bodyguards, or Barney Fife types perhaps. Had this security guard not been wearing a uniform, I'd have never guessed she fit the bill.

There was a familiarity about her. And then it hit me. She looked just like the chick on the right.

Except for the blue uniform and badge.

Granny Clampett on a power trip.

Frightening thought, isn't it? This woman is the only thing standing between strung out meth-heads and the Sudafeds they need.

I couldn't help but laugh thinking that diminuitive Granny Clampett couldn't stop me from taking my Sudafeds outta there without signing the book OR showing my license, if I'd really wanted to. In fact, I don't think she could have stopped my seven year old from doing it either (especially since she's got some new karate moves), let alone crazed drug addicts.

All this time, I thought the old gal was dead and there she was guarding the Sudafeds at my local grocery. Nice to know she's still getting some work. She must be a hell of a lot tougher than she looks. Or maybe, though I didn't notice it, she's keeping her shotgun handy.

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News and Views

Lately, my sphygmomanometer's been pegging a bit, if you know what I mean. Outside sources interfering with our happy little wedding plans and our harmonious household. It's sad, really, that people can't just move on and get on with their own lives.

These outside sources keep loading up the karma cannon and every time they fire it, they seem to get blasted in the face. This time will be no different. ::sigh:: They never learn.


My youngest ex brother-in-law had a profound difficulty understanding that there were consequences for his actions. I'd wager it's still a lesson he hasn't quite mastered. It would appear that others are having similar difficulties.

It's a shame that it's so difficult for Christians to see the value of honesty and respect. Moreso, that parents who devalue those things are modeling that behavior for children and propogating the uglier side of humanity. Christian parents, who are taking extra steps to instill the teachings of Christ to those same children, when clearly, they have not grasped the lessons themselves.

Now that I've gotten that out of my system, let's see if I can bore you with something else.

Wedding stuff is moving along well. The biggest checkmark on the list of late is that wedding invitations have been put in the mail. Highlander did an EXCELLENT job with them and I am delighted in how they turned out!

My homemade cake topper is coming along well, too. I'm pretty excited about it and can't wait for everyone to see it!!

All in all, everything in that regard is coming along nicely. Those of you in the know have recently gotten some cool information that I hope is both fun and helpful for you!

We're prepping for some out of town guests who are coming for a visit in about a week and a half! The Colletts and the Gibsons have agreed to make the trek southward again and we plan to go see GHOST RIDER some time over the weekend and everyone seems to want to hit up some of the local restaurants. There's sure to be a little gaming going on as well. Highlander and I are greatly looking forward to a fun time! I don't think any of us are holding out hope that GHOST RIDER will be a great film, though. If MJ or AaA have the time off and a little extra cash, you're both certainly welcome to tag along as well.

Highlander was lucky enough to have tomorrow off as his regular floating day this week. It has opened up the opportunity of a romantic date for us on Valentine's Day! You should have seen how excited he was about it. Truth be told, I was pretty happy, too. Soooo, we have plans to go to a little neighborhood restaurant that we both really like that also has some romantic history for us. I made the reservation yesterday and have picked up a little something to give him. (No, I will not divulge it here.)

All in all, it should be a nice day!

My girls come home on Saturday and it won't be a minute too soon. I'm missing them something awful. Plus, the trash totally needs to be taken out.

No. No. It's not that I'm missing them because they are slave labor. Cross my heart.

Really busy at work, but am hoping to get a couple things up here before the weekend. Sorry 'bout your luck.

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Flashback Friday!

Taking the easy way out today, Gang. Those of you with no You Tube access can thank me later. Nate, be EXTRA careful with today's post. Time for working on a Flashback for today has completely gotten away from me.

It would appear that some dangerous idiots' wreckless disregard for my children has forced me to spend my energies elsewise. So, instead of tripping down memory lane, my focus has been on my kids' safety (and investigating legal responses). I've had to sit my daughters down and discuss what's going on, so that they can make a more concerted effort to protect themselves. Because my older two girls come home from school and are here for a few hours before any of us get home from work, well, it's prudent, to say the least.

Anyway, as I have been somewhat preoccupied (and, hey, let me say that it's been a pretty good week as far as wedding progress, too), Flashback Friday! takes the hit.

Ran across a You Tube vid (just so you'll know how "Martha" it's been this week, it was while setting up a playlist of all the reception music on You Tube) that I wanted to share, and I think I can tie it in. Extra points because of the romantic tie-in to the wedding, too!

I've mentioned it to some of you before, but for the uninitiated, I'm named after a song that my mother adored. It's a terrible, terrible song,(Nate, see note above) and yet, so you'll see the birthmark I carry, I'm revealing it here. The shame is heavy upon me.

I can't count how many times I've watched this series of movies. (Rarely of my own volition.) All four of them share one thing.

This song. (And, no, it didn't make the cut on the reception playlist. Btw, I couldn't find videos for four of the songs I want, and probably need to back out about five songs. Any suggestions?)


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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Abjectly Conjecturing

I'm impersonating Mark Gibson today. Yeah, I'm lousy at it (locked bathrooms got nothin' on me) and frogs kinda freak me out, but you'll just have to deal...for a little while, anyway.

Heard about an obit today and instead of routing them his way like I usually do (he IS the purveyor of such things after all), I decided to do a little something myself.

Tige Andrews died of cardiac arrest on January 27th. (Does it strike anyone else as odd that the announcement follows his death by like a week? 'Cause honestly, my first thought was that they hadn't found him for a week, which is all ookie and stuff.)

Anyway, not a huge fan of the actor, but MOD SQUAD was a childhood favorite and just like Peggy Lipton and Clarence Williams III and Michael Cole, Tige Andrews is a part of those memories. Like most actors, I imagine he got incredibly wearied at being associated with one show and one show only, but I can't help it. This is how I remember him...

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Monday, February 05, 2007

**Poof** Another Weekend Gone!

A good weekend.

Well, let me clarify just a bit. Any weekend in which Highlander is not killed these days should be considered a good weekend. (Anyone living with me during wedding planning should be getting Hazardous Martha Pay. Seriously.) Consequently, as he's predominantly upright and virtually unscathed, we’re considering the previous one a “good weekend”. Here's the haps.

Friday afternoon was spent doing errands. The DVD player in our bedroom gave up the ghost, so we ran out to Best Buy to pick one up. We also looked at some dresses for the kids, some wedding decorations and cake toppers. I don’t think we actually bought much of anything for the wedding.

Highlander helped implement an idea I had (equate that to “put in hours of work making something I wanted happen”) on the invitations and I think we have the graphics and text the way we want them. So, of course, the printer is acting up now. We’re checking on a couple options, but as we have stamps in hand, we’re hoping to have invitations ready to go in the mail this coming weekend.

Saturday morning, my eldest daughter (and the rest of her team) competed in the Governor’s Cup challenge for her Academic Team. While the team didn’t win, she did well enough in the written assessment portion of the competition to have earned her FOURTH medal this year and they were notified that (because other team members also did well on the written portion) they are going to City Regionals, too. So, kudos for my girl.

After running her over to the competition on Saturday morning, I knocked out the grocery shopping (before 9AM, while the grocery was still mostly empty) for the week and then returned home. Did a little housework until she finished up and then I took all my girls out shopping for dresses to wear in the wedding.

This project has been holding up other wedding plans and I’ve needed to get it marked off my list, but truly I’ve been dreading it. Trying to find dresses for them all that are something they like, similar in nature and appropriate for the occasion…oh yeah, and priced in my budget…has been something I’ve been deeply afraid to start. I’ve looked around a little online and H and I hit a store or two on Friday afternoon, to do some preliminary work on this.

However, on Saturday afternoon, I had knocked all of it out in two hours, hitting only four stores. Now that the colors are finalized, I can get on with decorations, finalize things with the cake, etc., etc., etc. What a HUGE relief!!

I was hoping to stay with a blue/periwinkle/silver color scheme and, believe it or not, I’m still there! The older girls found some blue dresses (with some black lace) that they like and I found a gorgeous periwinkle dress for The Baby. The Baby’s dress was on sale and I got it for $31, but the deal of the CENTURY was the price I got for the other two dresses. These are cocktail dresses and I hadn’t even looked at the prices when the girls tried them on.

When I did, I was pleased with what they were going to cost me, but when I got to the checkout, I learned that they were 65% off.

Oh, Baby!!

So instead of the $135 I was going to have to pay for TWO dresses, I got them for $47. I could have kissed the sales clerk on the mouth. Three dresses that work AND that they like for a TOTAL of $78…in TWO HOURS OF SHOPPING???? I gotta say it again…

Oh, Baby!!

Highlander was finishing up the invitations while we were gone and when we got back, I just didn’t have time to bake the chicken I’d intended to fix for supper. Soooooo, we went to the Applebee’s in our neighborhood, and had a very nice meal.

The kids were having some friends over on Sunday, so we finished up housework before people started showing up at noon. A couple friends of mine had planned to come over and talk wedding plans with me and do a cheesecake tasting (one of the girls will be making cheesecakes for the dessert at my rehearsal dinner), so when they showed up, we took a ride to the wedding venue to talk about staging and decorating and various WONDERFUL ideas that they had.

Then we came back and sampled some VERY yummy white chocolate raspberry cheesecake and some key lime cheesecake. I gotta tell ya, the choice was incredibly tough. Had I not been planning to make a couple derby pies myself, I think I’d have taken them both, but, in the end, the key lime won out. It’ll be a nice contrast to the rich, chocolaty derby pie.

The girls also advised me that, even though I hadn’t asked (nor had I intended to), they had already requested the Friday before the wedding off from their respective jobs, to come help me with cooking and decorations. They told me that they were completely at my disposal Friday (and Saturday morning) and I can’t tell you the relief that came with THAT particular gift! They are two of the most incredible ladies and have been there for me through the last painful years of my marriage, the unbearable divorce, and have delighted in watching me fall in love again. They have known I would marry Highlander from the beginning and have (like he has, like the kids have, like so many others have) been waiting for me to “catch up”. They are the ones that tease me about “never marrying again”, and, right now, I don’t know what I’d do without them.

Like an idiot I argued with them about how they couldn’t do that. It was just too big a gesture. (One of them is the CFO of a hospital and has gone back to school to get her Masters, the other works for a non-profit organization and has elderly parents and inlaws that keep her EXTREMELY busy when she’s not at work. Yeah, neither of them has this kind of time to give me. That’s my point.)

I was told that it had taken so long for me to accept that my own happiness was valid (and then to do what it took to make that happen), that they didn’t have the “time to argue” with me about what they were going to do to help facilitate the wedding. They just completely ignored me, began listing out what they could help with and told me to send them a list to let them know what I needed. When I tried to pay the Cheesecake Diva for the cheesecakes she’d made (as well as the ones she would be making in April), she refused to take my money.

Sometimes, I really don’t understand how I’ve gotten as lucky as I have to have such wonderful, considerate, GENEROUS people in my life. But you better believe I’m very grateful!!

After they left, I slathered the chicken I hadn’t cooked the night before (under the skin, over the skin, and in the cavity) with garlic and various Italian herbs (rosemary, basil and a little oregano) and some olive oil and started it slow roasting in the oven for the next hour and a half. That was at about 5:30 and I wanted to throw together some SuperBowl snacks for Highlander (and whomever else around there wanted to watch the game and root for Chicago...Colts fans couldn’t even get a cracker…;) so I set about that task.

Some corn chips and salsa, some potato chips and onion dip, and some pepperoni and cubed cheese with various snack crackers. I also threw some mini candy bars out there and some homemade chocolate chip pecan cookies fresh from the oven. The rousing start of the game by the bears (after they won the toss) brought a great sense of elation, but into the second half, it was fading pretty fast. I was in and out as dinner and cookies were demanding my attention, but Highlander wasn’t having nearly as good a time as it appears Tony Collett was having. Plus, he had no pizza bites.

We had a little roast chicken, stuffing and corn just before halftime and then started gearing the kids towards showers and getting ready for school today, as another weekend did that thing they always do.

Vanished into the cosmos.

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Friday, February 02, 2007

Predicting an Early Spring

I understand that Punxsutawney Phil didn't see his shadow this year. With a spring wedding in the offing, I'm okay with the shorter winter this year.

A Bill Murray fan from way back, I HAD to include this clip today. Plus, it really works with the whole Flashback Friday! thing anyway. (Both for me and for Bill.)

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Flashback Friday!

This is the Flashback Friday! that almost wasn't (when I lost it last week). I’m not sure it’s better or worse than the last time I wrote it all down, but here it is. For what it’s worth...

It began (last week), as an homage, of sorts, because Highlander and I were both having pretty crappy work weeks. Consequently, it prompted me to recall another Tale of Previous Employment. And so (even though it’s attempt #2), let’s set about getting a few things 'reported'.

I’d only been working for Yunger Construction for a couple weeks when the receptionist quit. She didn’t give any notice. She just didn’t show up one morning. Over the next few months and years, I’d get a much better understanding for just what a consistent issue that was. At the time, all it meant was that I was moved to the front desk to "fill in" until some new girl showed up. It was the first of many such engagements while I worked there.

Being new myself, I wasn’t terribly familiar with the field personnel. So, as the guys would call in to speak with someone, or ask a question, it gave me the opportunity to get to know them a little better.

I have found that most construction guys flirt at every opportunity. George was certainly no exception there. The first time I talked to him on the phone, he was very friendly and let me know that I’d be hearing a lot from him. He was the most experienced superintendent we had. Though he was thirty years my senior, he was likeable and knew his business.

For the next several weeks, I found myself answering the phones and each day when George called, we’d exchange pleasantries long distance. He was building a gymnasium at a high school in the far eastern part of the state. Having just started the project, he was getting the appropriate permitting arranged and setting up a trailer and then ordering materials.

It got to the point where George would get himself a cup of coffee each morning and then he’d call me. We’d go over his progress from the previous day and discuss what he’d be doing that day. I’d issue him any purchase orders he’d need or look up phone numbers for him or send him paperwork.

With December looming, George’s mission was to get concrete poured, framing up and the roof on before the snow came. It was a push, but not impossible. He’d scheduled an early concrete pour, for footers, so, I didn’t think anything of it when he didn’t call one morning. I’d assumed he was busy with the concrete pour and would catch up with me later. No biggie.

About 9AM that morning, I got a call from a woman who refused to identify herself. She asked if George had called in that morning, or if I knew where he was. Not knowing who she was, I was reluctant to give her any information. The panic in her voice was unmistakable, however. "Something had happened," she alluded, but gave me no details.

This was the early nineties, so our guys had pagers, not cell phones. The caller was insistent that I page George, and advised me that she’d “call back” momentarily.

Becoming a little nervous myself, I paged George, and then, while I waited for him to call back, I went to my boss and let him know about the call. He told me to keep him apprised, but he wasn't terribly worried. Like me, he assumed George was busy pouring concrete and didn’t want to be bothered. It made perfect sense, of course. But something inside me wouldn’t accept it.

I found myself torn between watching the clock and watching the switchboard lights…waiting for some information that would allow me to move beyond my anxious state.

It was nearly two hours later when she called back. The panic was no longer evident in her voice. It had been replaced by a numb calm. I remember thinking it was the same sound of defeat I’d sometimes get after I’d “cried it all out”. She asked if George had called back and didn’t seem particularly surprised when I told her he had not.

She gave me only the sketchiest of details about how her husband had found out, the night before, about a relationship that she and George had been having. Her husband had threatened to hurt George and, well, she couldn’t find George and her husband had never come home either. It had, apparently, been a pretty sleepless night for her.

I never did get her name, but she did give me her husband’s name and the type of vehicle he drove and where he worked. I’m sure she was as afraid for herself as she was for George. At the time, given the way she was reporting the information, it seemed as though she was getting ready to go away for an extended trip. Since I never heard from her again, I couldn’t say whether that feeling was founded or not.

When she hung up I briefly spoke with my boss and then called the state police to give them the information I had. (The information I’d received about ‘Mr. Pendleton’, as well as information about where George had been staying and where the jobsite was located.)

None of us in the office got a great deal of work done that day. Each time the phone rang it filled us with dread. It was just after three when the state police called back. Despite the fact that I’d been the one to originally contact them, they wanted to speak only to my boss. So while he spoke to them, a couple of us in the office were waiting nervously for the call to be concluded.

The look on his face as he emerged from the office was pretty clear. He asked me to call everyone together in the conference room. And then he told us all how the police had found George’s body.

He’d been dead since the early morning. His death caused (presumably at that point, though it would later be confirmed) by three gunshot wounds to the upper back. They suspected, given clues at the scene, that George had just started getting things going on his concrete pour when he’d been surprised by the murderer. They couldn’t say whether he’d slumped into the footer of the building as he’d been shot, or if his body had been put there after the fact, but that they'd found him there, covered in wet cement. They might not have found him at all, had his pager not gone off while they were there looking for clues about his whereabouts.

Despite the voice I’d been hearing all day, I, like everyone else in the room, sat there in shock. My boss said he’d have to find someone else to go down and finish the job, and that he wanted George’s personnel file so that he could call his ex-wife (who would be charged with the unenviable task of notifying George’s teenaged son of his father’s murder). In the meantime, he, himself, was going there to collect George’s things and make sure things were being handled appropriately.

For weeks afterwards, little things would remind me of George. There’d be a delivery ticket that would have his signature on it, or someone would call and say they hadn’t been able to reach him, and I’d tear up a little, missing the morning banter I’d grown so accustomed to.

I’d start thinking about all kinds of crazy things. Wondering whether George had loved Mrs. Pendleton...or whether she’d been a convenient piece of tail in a temporary town. Curious about whether Mr. Pendleton had announced himself and told George why he was killing him...or if he never saw it coming at all. I’d think about what would have come next for him in life had he not been killed. Sometimes, I’d even wonder if Mrs. Pendleton had run away somewhere.

Your mind can find all sorts of mazes sometimes. And, yes, trying to resolve questions to which you will never find answers is definitely in that category. As someone who’s been known to overthink things from time to time, I’m not sure how to keep myself from heading down those paths. But time and distance have helped.

It’s been more than a dozen years since George died. I hardly think of him at all anymore. In fact, before I started this Flashback, I don’t think I’d thought about him in several years. But I don’t think, even though I never saw his face and only "knew" him for a few months, that I’ll ever completely forget him.

Now, finish up what you must and head off into your weekend. I hope it’s a most excellent one. For my own, I have a few things on tap. Dress shopping with my girls on Saturday afternoon and then a cheesecake tasting and decorating meeting with a couple friends on Sunday. In between there somewhere, the kids are having some friends over and there is likely some laundry and grocery shopping that will beg my attention. Oh yeah, I think there’s football on sometime on Sunday, too...;)


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Thursday, February 01, 2007

He is the King!

This guy freaks me out!

I know I'm not alone, either. There are HORDES of people out there that feel the same way.

But listen, I just ran across this You Tube video and I've got a whole new appreciation for the dude.


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