30.5.11

Rules Don’t Apply?

For those of you to whom rules don’t apply, I have a question, “Why?”

• There are five empty “Handicapped Parking” spaces. You will only be taking one and it will be a quick trip inside to pick up just one item.
• You are betting that no one will ever know a prescription isn’t being picked up when you pull into the “Prescription Pick-up” spot.
• You whip into the “Reserved for Pregnant Mom’s” space. Really? No one’s going to notice that you’re a man? Just guessing, but my bet is that of the 151.4 million men in our country (give or take a few) you are not going to be a Ripley’s Believe It or Not sensation.
• You pass the car in front of you on a two lane mountain highway, crossing the double yellow line to do so. Thanks for making the driver you are passing slam on the brakes when the car you were gambling wouldn’t be there came around the curve.
• You open and empty half a package of snacks at the grocery store and then return the package to the shelf.
• You walk away and pretend you don’t recognize yourself as the rightful owner of the pile your dog just left behind.
• You heard the clearly stated guidelines for not applauding after each graduate so everyone doesn’t have to stay all night at commencement. But when your beloved graduate walks across the stage it is to loud applause and whistling.
• You own the world’s cutest toy poodle and he needs to eat a meal at a restaurant with “mommy” and “daddy.”

Yes, I meant “eat with” and I’m not referring to a service dog that sits quietly under the table keeping an eye out for its master. I’m writing here about a little dog that has been taught he is a people.

I witnessed this final rule-breaking incident while we were at an eatery where we had not previously been privileged to dine. It was the coupons rather than a drive-by that lured us into this establishment, Omelets Etc.

A very tall man dressed in cowboy garb, including the big hat, and his little lady sat in the booth next to us. Our food had arrived and Hubby and I were discussing very important issues when a whining noise caught my attention. Turning to look toward the cowboy’s table, I observed that another diner had joined them. Little Lady was now taking food from her plate and placing it on the table in front of Cute Little Poodle. Cutie Poodle quickly gobbled it down and licked the table clean before whining for more. Do people really want to watch your doggie eat and lick the table clean between each bite? I didn’t!

In my mind I pictured a recently used cleaning rag and several thoughts traveled in quick succession through my head:
 Was Cutie Poodle a regular diner?
 Were all tables cleaned by a quick swipe of a cloth that made its abode on the service counter?
 Were we at a people restaurant or had we inadvertently stumbled upon a restaurant where dogs are allowed to bring their people?
 Where is the health inspector when really needed?
 Should I finish my food or waste it?

The first half of the waffle wasn’t bad. I don’t know about the rest.

Once again, for those of you to whom rules don’t apply, I’ll ask my question, “Why?”

“Character is doing the right thing when nobody's looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that's right is to get by, and the only thing that's wrong is to get caught.”~J.C. Watts

26.5.11

Joy Comes in the Morning

Heavy clouds have hung over the Midwest during the past several days, but also over the lives of thousands of people throughout our nation. So, when I opened my computer to write my blog entry this morning, I could only think of the devastation and resulting hurt across a vast and beautiful area of our country.

Today my heart aches for residents in the great midsection of the U.S. who are feeling the painful anguish of loss, while holding desperately to hope; who have in such a sad way been reminded of the insignificance of material possessions with relationship to the lives of loved ones; who, once again, recognize how helpless is man against the wrath of nature.

While the destruction has been pictured on television and reporters have described the carnage, I have prayed: for the people of Joplin, for the people in Oklahoma, for my own loved ones in Kansas as the clouds moved close to their home, and for those in the path of the threatening storms that seemed to multiply exponentially while moving to the east to threaten and terrorize residents in their paths. I prayed not only for people I know who live in those areas, but also for those I don’t know and will never meet.

I am grateful to the many people who are able to respond by being there physically to dig through the rubble and offer comfort and help. Once again our firefighters, law enforcement officers, and the National Guard have demonstrated bravery and dedication. The Salvation Army, as in every disaster around the world, is responding with both physical and spiritual care, Heart-to-Heart International is responding with medical and hygiene supplies and a multitude of trained professionals and volunteers, and the Red Cross is doing what they prepare ahead to do with sheltering those who no longer have a place to lay their heads at night. While I can’t be in those areas to help, I can support with prayer and by sharing my resources.

For thousands of people today, joy has been seemingly crushed out of their lives and they are encompassed by clouds of despair. My prayer is that they will rest in the hope given by our great God. I think of Psalm 30:5, “… weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (KJV)

Photo taken of the storm by Danielle S. Ross as it passed mid-day over Kansas City.

(Submitted to NBC News, Kansas City)

23.5.11

A Lesson From Facebook

My friends on Facebook represent my past and the present in a variety of ways. Among them are former students, former colleagues, friends from years spent living in Colorado, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, and Kansas, relatives, and even friends with whom I attended elementary and high school. I enjoy reading friends’ posts and, in doing so, catching up on what is going on in their lives. What I’ve discovered from Facebook interactions is how connected I am with my past and how important it is to stay in touch with people who are meaningful in my life.

It was a Facebook profile post the other day that reminded me of how much gratefulness can cheer our spirits and make our hearts sing. My friend, Sara, is a teacher who has made the decision to temporarily give up her classroom to be a stay-at-home mom, guiding the lives of two little boys. I had the privilege of having Sara as a student in university classes. Friendly and cheerful, Sara always brightened the room when she arrived for class. So it was not a surprise to me when she started to enter “thankful” posts on her profile page. To date, she has entered something for which she is thankful each day of this calendar year.

The other day a post by Sara demonstrated the influence her grateful spirit has had on her older son, four-year-old Ian. While eating his egg sandwich for breakfast, he looked up at Sara and said, “Whoa, Mom. Thanks. This is awesome!”

Okay, Mrs. Reimer, your son thinks your egg sandwiches are awesome, but I think you are an awesome mom. What better lesson to teach your children than to live in an attitude of thankfulness? And, not only have you demonstrated the importance of being positive to those around you, but also to your friends on Facebook.

So, from now on, no more complaining about snow in May, the deer eating my flowers, taxes, the economy, the cost of gas, and the rising prices on groceries. I have a new plan. I’ll just think about each great thing in my life and say, “Whoa. This is awesome!”

Hey, a resolution, and this isn’t even the beginning of a new year!

*Used by permission

19.5.11

Cheerful Morning People

I have great admiration for people who are cheerful in the morning. I don’t understand them, but I do admire them. Apparently the neurons in the brains of cheerful morning people rise and shine much earlier than do the neurons in the brains of non-cheerful morning people, of which I am one. It takes at least two cups of coffee before the little neuron types occupying my cranium start to yawn and stretch and finally decide to become alert and start sending signals. At some point between my “leave me alone” phase and my “productive” phase, my more cheerful self emerges and, though not ready to party, I become the social being of others expectations.

In my opinion, the person who looked at a coffee bean and saw a drink was a genius. During my pre-coffee days (a.k.a. childhood), my dad, always cheerful in the morning, would ramp up the tension by singing or quoting a poem to me. One song he sang went something like this: “Smile a while and give your face a rest. Raise your hand to the one you love the best. Then shake hands with those near by, and give to them a smile.” Then Dad’s jovial laugh would fill the kitchen and I would say things in my mind that I would never have dared say aloud.

Truth be told, cheerful morning people feel compelled to change non-cheerful morning people into cheerful morning people by curing them of what they perceive to be some strange disorder. My news flash for cheerful changers: Nothing is wrong with me. I’m staring at the wall because that is exactly what I want to be doing. I do not need to be saved from myself.

No amount of pondering will help me understand why anyone sings in the shower before breakfast, or why one would send every cell phone contact a text message before the sun barely even has time to peek over the horizon. Therefore, I don’t expect cheerful morning people to understand me unless they have suggestions for doing so. In an effort to educate, here are some tips for cheerful morning people.

1. “Good” and “morning” are the only functional words in my
vocabulary when I first get up. Don’t expect more.
2. Never mistake this time of day for “quality time.”
3. At this point I really don’t care what your plans are for the
day. You plan to buy a new Mercedes? Whatever!
4. Don’t sing even one ditty to me. I heard them all before I was
ten. Now, as then, I’m sure that would irritate me – a lot.
5. You pretending I’m not in the room will add greatly to my peace of
mind. My pretending you are not in the room will bring even more
peace. (The latter is difficult if you insist on chattering.)
6. You really want to change me? Then bring me another cup of coffee.



I’ve had my coffee already this morning, so I’m smiling. Have a great day!





Microsoft Clipart

16.5.11

Horseback Riding

My pre-retirement life was very busy: teaching, family, involvement in church activities where Hubby pastored, and meeting my own demands on my time. Who said dinner had to be cooked from scratch every evening? That would be me!

As a result of my busyness, self-imposed or otherwise, over the years I accumulated a long list of things to do once I retired.

The first thing on my TTD list was to learn to ride a horse. Even though one of my university students had often begged me to let her teach me to ride, I never got around to doing that. I think maybe I was afraid she would assess me using a rubric I had taught her to design. Being assessed by one of my students was just too threatening for me, and I could clearly picture her ratings in my mind:

o All tack checked prior to the mount
o Failure to perform complete tack check
Responded, “What’s tack?” when asked to perform the check
o Smooth easy mount performed proficiently
o Inappropriate mounting order
o Incorrect or unsafe mounting technique
Fell on backside and required first aid

Once I had retired and was settled in Colorado, I decided to go for the horseback riding lessons. Subsequently, I found a stable and enrolled in an open-ended class. It was not until later that I learned mastering horseback riding is an ongoing process, and that becoming a proficient rider means spending hundreds of bowlegged hours in a saddle.

I was assigned a beautiful, fifteen-year-old Palomino, and my first lessons were in grooming and saddling. Actually, I hadn’t counted on that. I assumed someone would walk up to me with my horse ready to go and teach me how to get in the saddle. But mounting did not happen until lesson three, and then only after repeating the whole grooming and saddling thing again. I had not expected this fun activity to be such hard work.

In case some may doubt that horses are particular beasts, let me clear that up now. My much too tall horse apparently cared a lot about which side I mounted from and where I stood in relationship to the saddle. After much lecturing and demonstrating to our little class of four, our barely five foot tall instructor finally allowed us to watch and mimic.

Amazingly, I made it appropriately to the saddle and managed to head the horse in the direction of the corral. During the short ride down the hill, the instructor rode alongside our group of newbies insisting we hold the reins only in one hand and interjecting a special criticism just for me concerning the expensive boots the western wear store assured me would be perfect for horseback riding. At least, though not in control, I was finally on top of the horse and sitting tall in the saddle.

I continued lessons until cold weather arrived. I’m a pansy and never punish myself by being out in the cold any more than absolutely necessary. Over time, I learned that with very little effort on my part Pal would head in the direction I requested; that he would go in reverse when given the correct signal; that trotting causes soreness (for me, not Pal); that on a trail ride a horse will jump down from the top of a very large rock when all-knowing instructor accidentally leads the group off-trail, and that after each session the knees scream, “No, no, please don’t do that again!”

If this were a parable, the lesson might be interpreted by the more discerning readers as follows: “Embarking on new extreme physical activities might be more enjoyable when one is young and fit.”

Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” Thomas Jefferson

13.5.11

Wedding Hats and Other Niceties

Amid all of the jokes about hats worn to the recent royal wedding in London, I was thinking about what I might have worn had I been invited. With my level of talent and creativity, I’m quite sure I could not have designed a hat that would attract as much attention as the one worn by Princess Beatrice of York. When a young lady has much wealth, it is no doubt important to be a stand-out at any event. And, considering the fact that Catherine was the main attraction at this event, Princess B came up with a great plan for being noticed and talked about beyond the time of her arrival to attend the wedding.

I’m sure the image of the princess’s hat will live on in the minds of many for a long time to come. The last time I checked on her “ridiculous” hat, it had 136,822 fans on Facebook. Cheers for the princess! I’m thinking her hat might not be more ridiculous than these fans.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m really not a hat person unless it’s cold and I need to keep my head warm. But I can’t imagine a British royal wedding without the parade of hats.

Here in the U.S. we have, for the most part, abandoned niceties, so it’s easy for us to laugh at traditions of others. After spending an amount equivalent to a week’s grocery budget on tickets and “dressing to the nines” to attend the Philharmonic, I often find myself located near people who have shown up in jeans. So what happened to dressing for a concert? I remember when that was expected. (I’m actually for starting an indoor baseball league for the winter months so these people have a place to be on the nights I go to concerts.)

I will no doubt never be invited to any formal event. But I can dream of one day going to a black tie party where I enter on Hubby’s arm in my beautiful flowing gown, or hope to attend a symphony where I won’t be out of place in my cute little beaded black dress, or receive an engraved invitation to a wedding where arriving without a hat would mean not being fully dressed.

When I get my invitation to such a wedding, I plan to model my hat after a hat worn by a doll I have in my collection. Just put a different color of hair and eyes under this hat and you can picture me at the wedding. (With my haircut, I have to assume it will need to be stapled to my head.)

Watch out next royal wedding, here I come. Now to save for the gift! I wonder how much porcelain and silver figurines go for these days.

9.5.11

Health Care Colorado Style

According to the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Colorado is one of the healthiest states in the country. But with the booming Medical (wink, wink) Marijuana business in our state, I have to wonder if that is true. Thousands of our state residents are unable to face life unless their minds are in an altered state, while their bodies, of course, remain in Colorado. So common is the need for this now legal “drug,” that there are more than a dozen dispensaries within about four miles of where I live.

While I doubt the legitimacy of designating marijuana as a medicine, I do have to give credit to the creative people who sell MMJ, both with regard to the names they give to their facilities and the resourceful ways in which they deliver their product.

Many of the dispensaries in our area are aptly named. Some names I have seen include: Mountain High Medical Caregivers. Levity Wellness, Best Budz, and The Secret Stash Progressive Medicine. A store located just down the street from our home is named, Indispensary. I’m thinking that whoever named that one might have been sampling the stock.

Ways these pot dealers, sorry, “medical marijuana distributers,” package their product for convenience is quite resourceful. Pfizer and Eli Lily could take a few lessons from these folks. No more nasty tasting syrups and elephant-sized pills. In addition to the traditional way of ingesting the product (aka smoking weed), these people have a line of infused products that include: various drinks, brownies, cookies, cakes, rice cereal treats, chips, trail mix, popcorn, fudge, lollipops, peanut butter cups, frozen pizzas, pot pies, buffalo wings, and, for the more discerning party planner, caviar.

The MMJ business here is very competitive, and testimonials can be found on their websites. A testimonial on one dispensary website begins, “I recently visited these nice people and I must say that from the friendly service, to the top notch, high quality. . . ” Ya think? (The bolding is mine.)

I don’t know how much the hurting and sick Colorado patients will be helped, or if whatever ails them will be cured, but that probably doesn’t matter since they will no longer be aware that they have any problems.

And while all of those “hurting and sick people” seek help, (as of March of this year 123,890 “patients” possessed valid Colorado registry ID cards) state lawmakers are ecstatic about the huge increase in revenue they are receiving from sales generated by the marijuana industry. What a great way for lawmakers to continue reckless spending and avoid balancing the budget!

Someone should offer to sell the Brooklyn Bridge to Colorado state lawmakers. If they can buy the argument that pot is medicine, I’m sure the bridge would be an easy deal to close.

5.5.11

Editing, Editing, Editing

The first time I received my manuscript back from my conceptual editor, it was sent to me under the title, “First Edits.” My many months worth of writing had just undergone two months of being scrutinized and critiqued and, subsequently, transformed into a multicolored collection of pages that could contend with Joseph’s coat for the designation, “most vibrant.”

My first response was, “What?” But then I studied the pages, figured out the color-coding, and said to myself, “I can do this.”

Under the pressure of a fifteen day deadline for returning the manuscript to my editor, I parked myself in front of my computer and began to work. What I soon discovered was the truth in the warning that proofreading one’s own work is not good. This is because, for people who are proficient readers, the mind tends to read what it knows should be on the page, regardless of what is actually there.

Sentences with mixed-up words demonstrate just how much prior knowledge works for us during the act of reading. The following two sentences serve to illustrate how easy it is to ignore misspellings and read correctly despite what is on the page. “Did you konw you're a guiens? Taht you can atllacuy raed tihs porves taht fcat.”

As I proofed and made changes to my manuscript, I became more and more obsessed about accuracy. Tired of hearing my grousing, Hubby volunteered to read the manuscript aloud to me while I checked it against my original copy. Have you read a novel aloud lately? It consumed many hours each day for several days.

At the end of the proofing/changing process, I sent my now perfect manuscript back to my editor and, while waiting to hear back, I decided to read some novels I recently purchased. During my fifteen day wait I read three.

The first novel I read had been translated from Swedish to English. The story lost much in the translation and had enough back-story for three books. The second novel was by a best-selling author. At one point in the story I couldn’t help but notice that, even though the protagonist left home dressed in a navy blue gown with gray beading on the collar and cuffs, one page later, after she arrived at her destination, the gown had turned gray. (I read the section three times to be sure I had not misread.) The third novel was a “debut novel” by a writer from England. Before I reached the end of that story, I was actually keeping track of how many pages I could read before I found the next spelling or grammatical error.

So, by the time the first of May arrived and my “perfect” copy was returned, I had decided that I very much appreciate an editor who works so hard to save me from someone counting my goofs while they read. Now, on to round two.

Like the colors Lady Editor chooses! Love Hubby!

2.5.11

Less is More?

Subtitle: I’m Really, Really Old!

German architect, Mies van der Rohe, known as a pioneer in Modern Architecture, is given credit for the oft quoted aphorism, “Less is more.” Mies referred to his new style of building design as “skin and bones” architecture. Of course it could not have occurred to this great architect that the little phrases he tossed out to validate his new designs would take on a whole new meaning down the road in the form of dresses high school gals wear to proms.

During this spring prom season, I’ve seen newspaper ads for current prom fashions as well as models showing them off on television. I’ve noticed two trends. One is to have the skirts well above the knees as opposed to the traditional long gown. The other is to have long gowns made of silky fabrics that cling to whatever happens to be beneath. That would be skin.

Where is our sense of fashion and where is Edith Head when we need her? Well, Edith has been gone from this world for a while and I can’t explain what has happened to our sense of fashion.

Edith Head was a Hollywood designer for many years and she held great influence over fashion there, and in turn over fashions that were available on clothing racks across America. One of Edith’s little snippets of advice was, “Your dresses should be tight enough to show you’re a woman and loose enough to show you’re a lady.” Another of her quotes, “If it’s not pretty, don’t show it.” Good advice, both. Of course if I followed the latter advice at my age, I would probably need to shop for a burka.

I can only imagine what Edith would have thought of this year’s prom dresses, but some creative person will no doubt come up with a plan for taking bets on how many “innies” and “outies” will be spotted beneath the skin-tight gowns at a single prom.

And, yes, I am really, really old.

Check out some prom dresses being marketed to our high school girls.