Monday, November 06, 2006

I've Been Everywhere....

Well, definitely not everywhere! I do see a definite southern-trending pattern in my US visits. I just wish these showed up as blue and not red states...


create your own visited states map

And I counted Hong Kong as part of China, even though it wasn't when I was there.


create your own visited countries map

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Band: The Last Waltz



Here they are on the field in Mt. Pleasant at UIL marching contest for the last time.

First Division all the way around. Cheers to all involved. What a grand experience this band thing has been for all of us.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Even I Am Surprised

We have a signed, cash contract on 21st Street! Eight days on the market before the offer came in. Goodness - even I, The Usually Optimistic, am surprised by that.

Hopefully, a harbinger of Things to Come.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Clive? Lisa? Hallooo-o-o-o???

Them "Designed to Sell" folks got nuthin' on us! We just got finished Designing to Sell the house on 21st Street, and it is officially on the market. I'm pretty proud of what we did for very little money that has made a big difference in the house.

We painted the wainscoting in the dining area, tiled both bathrooms, changed out a ceiling fan, a light fixture, and - in a VERY bold move - got rid of the extremely maroon Texas A&M mural in the front bedroom. That mural was a mess. Apparently they used an oil-based paint to make it, because when I went to KILZ it, the paint started bubbling up, then just came off in these big, giant SHEETS of slime. It was one of the more bizarre things I've seen lately. Kinda like stripping wallpaper, except much more...elastic.

So now, in addition to the two Gulf Shores condos, 21st Street is on the market, where the others will also be as they become tenant-less, and maybe (Lord willing, and no risen creeks nor hurricanes) someday soon we'll be out of the landlord business altogether!!!!!!!!

What a day of rejoicing that will be...

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Easily Amused






I know I'm easily amused, but I have found the coolest website!!

Try it: Motivator

I made others...wanna see?!?



Friday, August 18, 2006

Young whippersnappers...

I'm getting old.

This week, I've been helping my new aide, Jimmie Nash, with her first grade lunch duty in the Aikin cafeteria. Frankly, I have never cared much for first graders - as a group - because collectively, they are harder to herd than cats, and much less friendly. Getting a group of first graders to all end up in the same location? It's kind of like kicking an ant hill, then trying to get the ants to all go back into that one little hole.

I tremendously admire teachers who do it successfully, because I know there's no way on God's green earth that I could.

But the reason I say I'm getting old? Watching these first graders in the lunchroom, I'm just amazed at the attitudes already on display. I saw so many kids this week, only five or six years old, already coming into school with this unattractive little swagger, a little toss of their head, purse of their lips, or roll of their eyes when an adult spoke to them that shouts to the world, "You aren't the boss of me! You can't tell me what to do!!" And it hurts my heart to see that unwillingness ALREADY to act cooperatively or respectfully or unselfishly.

I had the cutest little kid sass me - a teacher he had never seen before - when I told him to stop hitting - hard - the kid in line in front of him. And I mean sass me in a way that if it had been a five year old Amanda or James, I'd have yanked them out of there so fast on their way to a spanking that their feet would have barely touched the ground.

But you know what? At five years old, Amanda and James already knew better than to pull that kind of crap with ANY adult.

And I guess that's what hurts my heart the most...that these kids show by their actions that they don't have adults in their lives who love them enough to teach them how to act.

Friday, July 14, 2006

One Family's Junk...

We're gearing up for our sorta-annual garage sale. It's been a couple of years, probably, since we've had one, and this one's sure to be a Big One. We've always been good at accumulating...stuff...and I think we're about to get to a place where we're ready to start letting said stuff go.

I find myself looking at things now in one of three ways: Is it something one of the kids might want someday (i.e., a family treasure kind of thing)? or: Is it something we want to take with us into our retirement? or: Is it something we just need for everyday life or conducting business? If it doesn't fall into one of those categories, it's going to the garage. Most of it, anyway. There are still a few things that I'm just not ready to give up yet, but I will be. One of these days.

We're not going to get its total worth, most likely, for some of it - the Fiesta, the Depression glass, that kind of stuff - but it's not doing anything for us just sitting in a cabinet, either, so it's going. Bargains will be found by some lucky shoppers.

Amanda's selling some stuff, and she's throwing some stuff away. I told her that she'll probably do more of that every time she comes home from now on. Stuff she wanted to hang on to after high school will come to mean less to her the more she is away from it. Naturally. She's moving toward a new life, as she should be.

James is also selling some stuff, but his is with a purpose: he wants new stuff. He's buying new furniture with the money he makes. He painted his room (with a lot of help from his sister) and did a great job picking out the colors and all. I told him he should be the next generation's Ty Pennington - cute, handy and soft-hearted.

Sale's coming up Saturday, July 22nd. Get here early, before all the good stuff's gone!!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Death By Plastic

My friend Tony Lewis, who is the father of the cutest child born in 2004, has created a new blog, "Death By Plastic."

He's using this blog to discuss the perils of today's easy-credit, instant gratification society, in an easy to read and follow format. Speaking as one who has fought plenty of credit battles in her life, and who (with the help of some common sense, a good marriage, and a little bit of Paxil there for a while) has emerged on the other side sane, whole, and debt-free, let me encourage you to read what Tony has to say and take it to heart.

Debt and credit are probably among the most important issues facing American society today.

Well, sure, there's the war, and drugs, and environmental decay,and a few other issues...but economically speaking, personal debt affects every single citizen every single day. I see this in so many ways.

Fortunately, my friends are the smart ones who know how to act with credit. I don't think any of my really good friends are careless with credit. Hopefully, they've listened to enough of my cautionary tales to make a difference in what they do. But there are so many others...

People I see who live above their means, then apply for yet another credit card to try to keep the whole house of cards standing, to hold on the SUV, or the country club membership, or the HOUSE, for another month. The ones who are regulars at the check-cashing stores, or the payday loan companies, or the pawn shops to try to hold it all together. The ones who go out of town to file bankruptcy so it doesn't show up on the Lamar County Court Recorder.

We check credit on everyone who wants to live in one of our rent houses. What an eye-opener. MUCH of what we see is medical debt...but my feelings on health care in America are for another post. But we also see plenty of collections or judgements from places like Friedman's Jewelers...Household Finance...various auto financers...Sears...JC Penney...shoot, if Dollar General had a private credit card, we'd probably see collections from them too. We don't disqualify someone simply because of bad credit, but we do look at time since their more recent problems, how extensive the problems are, and things like that, before we trust them with one of our houses.

And when someone applies for a Quiznos franchise, their credit is checked. If their FICO score is below 670, they aren't qualified. That means, if they really want a franchise, there will be some pretty substantial hoops through which they must jump. They could - and in many cases, do - have a half million dollars in the bank, but if their credit score is low, we make 'em prove how much they want to work with us. It is always surprising to see the number of people who meet all the other financial qualifications - $250,000 net worth, $70,000 cash to invest - and yet their FICO score is in the weeds.

And if they've ever declared bankruptcy? Forget it. They will not be awarded a Quiznos franchise.

Donald Trump? Not qualified, sorry.

I honestly believe that consumer finance ought to be a required course in every high school in the United States. No kid should graduate from high school without knowing how to create a useable budget, keep a check register, balance a checkbook, how and when to apply for credit, and then...how to use that credit wisely.

I think that's one of the most valuable tools we can pass on to our children.

Friday, June 09, 2006

The DaVinci...Conundrum

We went to see The DaVinci Code while we were in Gulf Shores. I didn't like it quite so much as I liked the book, but I did enjoy it. Tom Hanks needs a new hairstylist.

What I don't understand is this: what's all the fuss about?!?

In the first place, it's a novel. I guess one might categorize it as an historical novel, based on things that either happened, or might have happened, or were rumored to have happened. But still and all, it's a novel.

But if there were truth to it...why would that necessarily be so bad?

If Jesus and Mary Magdalene HAD been married, and if they HAD had children together, what, exactly, would that change? I don't understand all the controversy, all the...drama. Why would this be a secret that would change the world?

I'm sure I'm just so religiously unsophisticated that I'm not seeing the main picture here, but if we accept that Jesus was both human AND divine, how would his being married or fathering children compromise his divinity? How could He be more human and less divine, if we already accept that He was both?

If His mission was indeed to live among us as a human, to experience all the joy and heartache, delight and frustration that comes with being human, then it seems to me to be a logical extension that He did, in fact, fall in love...as a human might, marry...as a human might, father a child...as a human might.

To me, it makes it all the more poignant and breath-taking that He might have had what I, at least, consider to be a happy and fulfilling life - companionship, children, love - and yet, He was willing to give it all up. To sacrifice Himself on our behalf. To leave behind all the happiness His human life contained, for all of us to be able to achieve eternal life.

Wow.

Now if someone were to posit that Jesus didn't actually die on the cross and wasn't resurrected, well...THAT I'd have a problem with, because that WOULD, in fact, change everything. But if Jesus, the One who said "suffer the little children to come unto me" was actually a Daddy, that makes not a whit of difference to me.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Sand Between My Toes


We just got back from a few days in Gulf Shores. Perfect weather - not too hot, nice and cool in the mornings, no rain.

Rumors abounded that there were sharks in the water, but we never saw any.

We went to the zoo this time - never been there before this trip. This is the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo. What fun!

If you've been watching "The Little Zoo That Could" on Animal Planet, then you already know Patti Hall, and Cyndi Johnson, and all the folks who evacuated all 300+ animals...THREE times in the past year to protect them from hurricanes. Their story is amazing, and their zoo is terrific!

They are hand-raising three Bengal tiger cubs this summer, and the cubs come out to play twice a day. These kittens are just too cute. Patti and Cyndi take them home every night to bottle-feed. The cubs are on loan from a private breeding facility, and they'll be in Gulf Shores until the end of August.

It is worth a trip to Alabama just to see them!

And, plus...there's the beach...

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Son of a Son of a Son...

One of these days, I'm certain that James will email me the pictures he took at the AWESOME Jimmy Buffett concert, and I'll share them, and all the details...

Thursday, April 13, 2006

"Ding Dong, Avon calling!"...no, wait, that's the wrong company!!!



So...I'm a Tupperware Lady now. Hold your snarky comments, please. This is NOT the Tupperware of old. Nay, nay, let me assure you that there is some cool stuff in Today's Tupperware!!


Check out my own personal website. Click the logo above, or visit http//www.mytupperware.com/freed . You can place online orders or schedule an online Tupperware party. At online parties, you won't have to do any of the silly little icebreaker thingys.

Or call me and I'll come to your house and throw a party! We'll Tup Tup Tup the day away...


Saturday, March 25, 2006

At least (s)he got to The Promised Land


Jethro the Black Goldfish was pronounced dead today at 12:48 p.m. CST. Cause of death is undetermined, but is not believed to have been related to the ridiculously unseasonable snow shower earlier in the week. Place of death was the lovely new pond at Stately Reed Manor.

(S)he had just recently relocated there from her/his previous residence in the five-gallon Homer bucket (right) in the garage, to which (s)he was relocated after the Pond Formerly Known as Lovely was destroyed in a fit of remodeling fever.

(S)he is survived by her/his good friend (who may also have been her/his mother/father (or sister/brother)) Homer, as well as a host of new friends, the 17 recently relocated Brannan's Bass Shop evacuees.

When asked if (s)he would miss Jethro, Homer flipped her/his fin, and dove to the bottom of the pond.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

One ring-y ding-y...

Received via voicemail on Friday, February 10th:

"This is the Dallas Morning News. You may have received a message from us yesterday. This message was in error. Home delivery to your location is not being ended. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you."

HALLELUJAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Life As We Know It...

...is coming to an end. Got a call yesterday from the folks at the Dallas Morning News saying that, effective April 1st, they will stop providing the Paris area with both home delivery and paper box delivery.

I cannot believe this. This is going to change our lives.

Every morning of my life, that's what I do first thing. I retrieve the paper from the driveway (and it's always there. Our paper carrier is wonderful.), and read from page 1 to the classifieds. Every morning. Rain or shine, ice or heat. Back in December, we had an ice storm. Schools were closed. Soup and K-C postponed their first shifts. The paper was in the driveway at 5:15 a.m. Every morning.

When we go out of town, first thing we do when we come home is put the papers in chronological order, then read through them. Of course, we can skim over some of the wire service stories and national/international news, because no matter where we've been, we've read the newspapers. The local papers, where they're available. USA Today for absolute sure.

But we gotta get back to the Morning News for all the other stuff. Steve Blow, James Ragland, Scott Burns. The never-ending travails of the Dallas Independent School District. Laura Miller and the Dallas City Council.

The COMICS, for cryin' out loud. These are our soap operas, our daily fixes. Will Ralph become Sally Forth's boss again? Will B.D. and Boopsie be able to deal with all his issues? Will Elly really sell the bookstore? Will Satchel ever tell Bucky to sit on it? Will those blasted crocodiles ever give up trying to eat their "zeeba neighbas?!?" Will I ever NOT laugh at the "The Boondocks"?

Will "Non Sequitur" EVER make sense or be funny? I never give up hoping.

We are newpaper people, Randy and I. From our earliest days together, first with the the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, to The Roanoke Times, The Charlotte Observer, and now the Morning News and the Paris News, practically the first thing we do when we move to a new city or a new house is to call the paper.

Sure, we can get the online version. But we already keep up with online news on CNN or MSNBC.

Or on TV. Can't wait to hear Gloria Campos say "you can find out more about it in today's edition of the Dallas Morning News." Um-m-m...no. We can't.

And, as the nice girl at the DMN customer service desk said yesterday, we can sign up for mail delivery. Yeah, boy...that's what I'm talkin' about...three to five days after it happens, we'll be able to read about it. Woo hoo. Let's hear it for current events.

There's just something about sitting at the kitchen table with my glass of iced tea and the morning newspaper. I know that, to some people, this sounds preposterous, but this is just heartbreaking news to us.

Too bad we won't be able to read about it in the newspaper.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Stately Reed Manor


We've been doing a little more work on the old homeplace this weekend. Randy started working on a landscaping project around the new deck, using some of the old slate stones he dug out of the ground around the old deck. Looks GREAT! He's always so good at that kind of stuff. I think I'll go out to the pond place this weekend and see about some water plants. And it's about time to make a trip up to Brannan's Bass Shop to rescue a few little goldfish from a prematurely shortened life as bait.

And he scraped all the cottage cheese junk off of the ceilings in the downstairs bath, laundry and entry from the garage, and I started painting the walls a lovely blue. I'll paint the ceilings once he's satisfied with their smoothness. Bumpy ceilings = yucky. Smooth ceilings = good.

I will never want to move from here.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Never Send to Know for Whom the Bell Tolls

According to the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count: in January, 2006, there were at least 89, and possibly as many as 142 U.S. Military troops reported as wounded in Iraq, and 62 U.S. military fatalities.

I just wonder why only Bob Woodruff's injuries are worthy of a front page headline and a statement of sympathy from the White House.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Gainful Employment...

James has a job!! He starts work today at the GameStop here in town. Yep...my boy is growing up.

I can't wait until he gets his first paycheck and sees what's left for him after all the deductions!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Look THAT up in your Funk & Wagnalls!


knuck·le·head Audio pronunciation of "knucklehead" (
n. Informal A stupid person; a blockhead.
n : these words are used to express a low opinion of someone's intelligence [syn: dunce, dunderhead, numskull, blockhead, bonehead, lunkhead, hammerhead, loggerhead, muttonhead]

Monday, January 16, 2006

Come Gather 'Round, People...

I've been lamenting to my kids that they are just not going to have the golden oldies when they are grown up like I do. It cracks them up that we can be playing name that tune on 70s on 7 on the XM radio, and even if I don't know the song...I can usually name the artist.

That's because "back in the day," there was an actual emphasis on voice...and on talent...not on the Look, or the Dance Move, or the Lack of Clothing.

What's funny is to look at the playlists on Amanda's or James' DJ. They have as many old songs as they do new ones. I like taking some credit for that, but the reality is...it's just good music.

Bob Dylan. Janis Joplin. The Eagles. Neil Diamond. Elvis. The Beatles. Chicago. Don McLean. The Temptations. Johnny Cash. John Denver. Dolly Parton. Jimmy Buffett. I can identify the artist, because I can hear his or her (or their, in the case of a group) actual voice, and the voice is most always distinctive enough to stand out from others. The song has a lyric that actually makes sense and means something. Not a lot of synthesizer, no god-awful drum beat that drowns out everything. Instead - a unique style, and a vocal and instrumental sound that, even if you've never heard the particular SONG, still lets you determine the particular ARTIST.

There's good music out there today, don't get me wrong, and I enjoy listening to some of it with the kids. Rob Thomas. Green Day. That "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" song. I love that song, even though it makes me sad - "my shadow is the only one who walks beside me" - how heart-breaking is that?!?

But twenty years later, I hear the first note sung by Karen Carpenter's gorgeous voice, and I know immediately who it is.

Twenty years from now...are my kids going to be able to tell their kids the difference between Brittney Spears or Jessica Simpson or Ashlee Simpson or Pink or Gwen Stefani with just a line from a song?

Nah...but they can't do it today, either. And it's no big loss.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Thanks, Y'all

Saw this on westbound Interstate 20, just east of Meridian. The words to the right of "Thanks, Y'all" pretty much say what it is:

"Mississippi: Proud. Strong. United."

Very cool state.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Back to Business

Well, things are getting back to the New Normal around here. I just got back from Tuscaloosa, where I dropped Amanda off for the spring semester. Just when we were getting used to having her around again...there she goes!

It was a good first visit home for her, I think. She got to meet back up with some old friends, and realized that many of them are growing away from the group, now that they're out in the college world. I guess that's kind of a sad realization for many of them - that the group they were sure were going to be "BFF"...really aren't.

But Amanda has a good head. I think she knows that her core friends will always be there, and the others...were really just friends by virtue of proximity: they shared classes and had commonalities that way, but weren't really the Friends of a Lifetime. I think she's hopefully making some of those friends now, because college is more about choosing friends because of shared interests and experiences rather than just who you grew up around.

And I think she enjoyed being with us, too! I know Randy and I had a great time with her.

GO BAMA!! ROLL TIDE!! (and take care of my baby girl...)

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Hook 'em Horns!

The eyes of Texas are upon you...

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

I Miss Jon Stewart

I realized when I got home tonight and checked the TV schedule that "The Daily Show" is STILL on hiatus this week. Dang, I hate that. Here we've only had Comedy Central since maybe September, and I'm hooked.

I miss Jon Stewart. I miss his unique way of skewering idiocy, no matter the party affiliation (have you heard him riff on John Kerry? Hysterical). I miss what he can say with just a slight squint and a raised eyebrow. I miss his technique of actually listening to the person he's interviewing before he asks another question. Sure, sometimes he goes for the easy laugh, but still...

I miss the correspondent who's the Stephen Colbert wannabe...keep forgetting his name. Ed Helms. That's it. Do I miss dopey little Samantha Bee? Her...not so much.

I have seen the interview with Jake Gyllenhaal 47 and 14/15 times (missed the toss to The Colbert Report one time. MERRY CHRISTMAS, JON.), because that's at least how many times it seems that episode has been rerun.

And while we're at it, I miss The Colbert Report. Haven't had Tonight's Word in over TWO WEEKS. I love a TV show that you have to read as well as listen to. I love that he has what seems to be a sincerely sweet little smile when he realizes he's been bested by a guest, like Cokie Roberts, or the Walking the Bible guy, Bruce Feiler.

One more week. I can hold on until then.

Hey! I kinda remember this blog thing now!

Yeah, I know. It's been since what? AUGUST? that I've blogged.

It's been a busy Fall.

But we were visiting with my sister-in-law and her family on Sunday, and my niece-in-law, Kim, mentioned that she's been blogging. Cool! So I log on - http://www.icoulduseanap.blogspot.com - and I notice that she blogs REGULARLY!! And she has a 3 year old and a 10 month old at home!!

I have no excuse.

So I'm back. Regularly? Who knows.

To update from August - the hinky mammogram turned out fine. Nothing to worry about. The radiologist who took and read my second films was incredible. She was warm and reassuring. She showed me both sets of pictures, pointing out what they had been concerned about the first time, and then pointing out all the different views they took the second time, and what it was about them that made them think that everything is fine.

And she had warm hands. If you've ever had a mammogram, you know how important that is.

Amanda had a successful first semester at The University of Alabama. They're even letting her come back!! YAY! And she's made some good friends, and found a good church. Her roommate, Lex, is a jewel. I told Amanda that the day she got her acceptance letter from Bama, that I started praying for her roommate - whoever she was going to be. I think she thought I was nuts...but it's worked out well, I think. She goes back in a week.

My New Year's resolution...aside from the usual "lose 30 pounds, go to Curves every day, spend money more wisely, yadda yadda yadda"...is to blog more often. Umm-hmm...