Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Time Passages

So here we are at the end of another year. Good thing I never got used to writing 2008.

I suppose I could get all deep and philosophical about wisdom earned or squandered, and the passing of time, but instead? This is what I've got:

I've been noticing that people are holding doors for me more now than they did this time last year. Younger people, I mean. Doing their good deed for the day.

And sometimes now, I'll look at somebody I don't know and think oh they're probably about my age, only to find that they're actually somewhere in their thirties. And the ones I look at and think they're somewhat...elderly...are actually about my age.

There's your time passages, right there.

Ah, well. Age is only a number, right? Happy New Year anyway!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

That You May Know the Warmth of Love

Having always been a much better writer than speaker, I've found many times in my life that there are things I'd like to be able to SAY, but have to write instead. When I talk about things that are emotional, well, I just get ugly. My face screws up, my voice goes away, I get all soupy and snotty and sappy, and...trust me. It's just not a good thing. So this year, you get to watch John Denver sing a song that expresses my Christmas hopes and prayers much better than I ever could.

For my children, who light up my life and take my breath away; for Randy, whom I love more than anything; for the family of my heart - Paula and Ben, Denise and all of hers; for my brother, my sisters-in-law, my nieces, nephews, and the awesome husbands and wives they have brought into our family; for the children whom I am blessed to have in my life: Jackson; Jack & Lola; Sam, Colin & Cody; Grace & Luke; Will & Pierson; Parker, Angie & Emily: here are the words of John Denver that are also my Christmas wish for each of you:

A Saviour-King was born that day,
A baby, just like you.
And as the Magi came with gifts,
I come with my wish, too.

That peace on earth fills up your time.
That brotherhood surrounds you.
That you may know the warmth of love,
And wrap it all around you.


Merry Christmas. I love you all.



Click if the video doesn't load.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hall of Fame!

Randy and I just got back from snowy Denver, where Randy was inducted into the Quiznos Hall of Fame as the 2008 Franchisee of the Year! I'm SO proud of him.



With us in the picture is Casey Lindsey, our Operating Partner in Lubbock.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Just a Dog



In my neighborhood, there is a backyard where a dog lives. This dog is chained to a tree seemingly at all hours of the day and night. I can only think of a time or two since these people moved to this house when I haven't seen the dog in the yard. When the tropical storm that had been Hurricane Ike passed through town? Even then, this dog was in that yard.

This yard is on the normal path that Sammie and I take every morning. Sweet Doggie (as I have come to call her) doesn't bark much, but she keeps a close eye on us as we walk by every morning, and it gets ever harder for me to just keep on going. My neighbor, Judy, used to take Sweet Doggie a treat every morning as she walked her two dogs. She bought a new collar and put it on S.D. once when she felt like her collar was too tight. The next morning, the old collar was back on, and the new one, cut into pieces, was on the curb when Judy walked by.

Judy has called Animal Control about this dog. I have called Animal Control. I believe other people have called also. Did you know that in the state of Texas, the only ordinance regarding dogs being tethered is this:

821.077. UNLAWFUL RESTRAINT OF DOG. (a) An owner may
not leave a dog outside and unattended by use of a restraint that
unreasonably limits the dog's movement:
(1) between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.;
(2) within 500 feet of the premises of a school; or
(3) in the case of extreme weather conditions,
including conditions in which:
(A) the actual or effective outdoor temperature
is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit;
(B) a heat advisory has been issued by a local or
state authority or jurisdiction; or
(C) a hurricane, tropical storm, or tornado
warning has been issued for the jurisdiction by the National
Weather Service.


But unless a member of law enforcement actually sees a dog being restrained in violation of any of these conditions, nothing can be done to enforce it. Nothing. So, what do we do? Call Animal Control every morning? It was 25 degrees here this morning.

A month or so ago, I saw a city truck at the house, and the next morning there was a large "NO TRESPASSING" sign posted on a tree next to the street. It might as well have said Screw you for caring.

Judy doesn't walk her pups down that street anymore. Sammie and I don't go that way much anymore, either.

I look at all the ways our pets have contributed to and enhanced our lives, and I cannot imagine life without them. It's been more than a year, and still, I can hardly stand to talk about Cinnamon.

Honestly? I never thought I could love another dog the way I loved Cinnamon. We are approaching the first anniversary of Sammie coming into our family, and now it seems as if she's been with us forever. She has wiggled her goofy little way into my heart, and the thought of not having her with us is inconceivable. Sammie is NOT just a dog. She is a member of our family.

Now, I know that my family is perhaps more sappy about our pets than many people, but jeez louise...why have a dog if all you're going to do is chain it to a tree and forget about it?? Sweet Doggie - and every dog - ought to have a chance to become as much a part of some family as Sammie - our very own Pound Puppy - has become.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Now It's South Beach or Bust, Baby!!


I wish I could link to Amanda's Rammer Jammer Facebook video from the Iron Bowl on Saturday. She and Randy had just a terrific time at the game!!

But, instead,here's a YouTube video. Try to ignore all the comments left by idiots. Yes, it's rather...ummm...crude, perhaps? But ding-dang, y'all! They earned the right to sing it. Six times!

Oh, Bama - this makes up for 1972. I didn't hardly ever get over that. Until now. All is forgiven.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Red and Rover

Red and Rover is one of my favorite comic strips.

Unfortunately, The Dallas Morning News decided to stop carrying it.

Fortunately, I have found a gadget for my iGoogle page that shows the current Red and Rover for me every morning!

I thought the comic today was SO cute - it's a play on all those strips that have the mom bundling up the kids to go out and play in the snow, only to have one of them say "I gotta go-o-o-o! as soon as the last snap is snapped and zipper zipped. Only this time it's Rover, all wrapped up in his Halloween costume.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Homecoming.

Our community has been rocked in the last week by the deaths of two of our teenagers. Both high school seniors, one at P-High, the other at NLHS, and both victims of single-car accidents. By all accounts, both of these kids, Hannah and Charles, were top-notch, quality young people with the brightest of bright futures ahead of them.

It's when things like this happen that I only imagine that their parents want to shout STOP!! REWIND!! Let's take this last 24 hours again, only this time I'll say, "why don't you stay home tonight?" or "hey - how about if I drive you there?" or "wait - let me have one more hug before you go..."

And it breaks my heart to think of parents, looking at the door, at the phone, wondering when the door will open, or when the phone will ring...and it never will.

From the time our babies are born, we teach them to do things for themselves. Eat. Talk. Walk. Read. We plan our lives around it: "I cannot WAIT until they can fill-in-the-blank, so I'll have a little bit of time to myself." But that's only as it should be. That's what we're supposed to do. That's what they're supposed to do.

They go off to their first day of school, and we cry. They come home at the end of the first day - just thrilled with their new independence, and our hearts are eased.

They drive off for the first time, and we don't take a complete breath until we know they've made it safely to their destination. They come home after their first trip - just thrilled with their newest independence, and our hearts stop pounding.

They go off to college, and we wonder if anything will ever be the same. They call home for the first time, bubbling over with stories of triumph and sorrow, and our hearts hope that they will always want to come home.

Live your life. Do what God intends. Go places. Have fun. Learn stuff. Do good things.

Just, please. Come home.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Superstitious, Much?!?

"If you want to walk the heavenly streets of gold, you gotta know the password: "Roll Tide Roll!"
--Bear Bryant

I witnessed this exchange in the ladies' room at the Alabama watch party in Grapevine last Saturday. Bama was ahead 31 - 0 at halftime against Georgia. The mom had just bought a new Tide in Texas t-shirt for her daughter, who looked to be probably 12 -14 years old.

Daughter, looking in the mirror & holding up the shirt: This is cute! Hang on a sec and I'll change into it.

Mom, horrified: No way! You can't change what you're wearing! You'll jinx us!

Daughter, rolling eyes: What? You're kidding, right??

Mom, looking more and more panicked: No! Seriously! You can NOT change clothes at halftime when we're ahead!

I'm just standing there, washing my hands.
Mom, hoping for help, looks at me. Daughter, shaking head in disbelief, looks at me.

Me, wearing my lucky Bama shirt, as I do on every game day: She's absolutely right, sweetie. If we're winning, then what EVER you were wearing at kickoff, you HAVE to keep wearing. I think it's a law or something.

Mom, relieved: If it's not, it should be.


Whaddaya say, Alabama?? Go Bama!! Roll Tide!!






Friday, September 26, 2008

Look to the Right!

You'll see a widget for a CD called "Throwing Punches in the Dark" by Matthew Perryman Jones. Aside from the fact that it's a wonderful collection of songs by a wonderful artist, Matthew is also my cousin. My Daddy and his Granddaddy were brothers, so I THINK that makes us first cousins once removed. I think.

Anyway, Matthew and his wife, Meghan, and their gorgeous baby daughter Canaan live in Nashville. His music is increasingly being featured on current TV shows, like One Tree Hill and Eli Stone.

Clicking on the widget will let you hear samples of his music, and also take you to a website where you can download the songs directly. Or you can go to iTunes and buy this CD, and also his latest one "Swallow the Sea."

Enjoy!!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Encore! Encore!




We ripped out all of our landscaping in the front yard this year, and planted lots of Encore Azaleas. The neat thing about these is that they bloom several times during the year - not just in the spring. They are blooming now, and they are just gorgeous!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Startle Reflex

As Sammie and I were walking this morning, she got all caught up in a scent trail, which led her a good way up into a neighbor's yard. She wasn't paying much attention to where she was going, and she bumped pretty hard into one of the political yard signs that are quite prevalent in the neighborhood now. It startled her, the sign did, and she jumped away and got a little bit bowed up - the hair along the ridge of her spine stands up at varying degrees, based on how startled/scared/angry she is.

I understand how she feels - they ALL scare me, too, these days.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

...and will you also be sending along a key to the building so I can get in and make my own?!?

Okay, I know what I said yesterday, but this was just too good to not pass along.

The response I received from Starbucks Customer Care:

I was very sorry to hear about your recent experience at the Lamar & Loop 286 Starbucks store. I appreciate you taking the time to bring this matter to our attention. I will share your comments with the management team responsible for the store in order to address the issue properly.

In order to invite you back into this store, I have arranged for a couple of beverage coupons to be sent to you. You should receive them soon.

If you have any further questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact us at...


Randy and I have learned a large portion of what we know about managing our business by watching other companies mismanage theirs.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Parting Double-Shot

Before I get started with this, I just want to say that I do understand that a Starbucks closing is not the worst thing in the world that can happen. I am not that shallow. There are tragedies large and small taking place all around the world every moment of the day, and billions of people would love to have no bigger problem than a coffee shop closing.

I get that. Truly I do.

And this will be my last post about it.

That being said, I've also come to realize that I can only control what I can control. I can't make everyone in Paris recycle, but I can recycle here at home, then talk to people about what I do, and encourage them to start. I can't feed the world, but I can take a bag of groceries to Christians in Action. I can't stop war, but I can encourage people to vote.

I can't keep Wendy's from being taken over by Arby's, but I can vote my measly 52 shares against the merger. And I can't keep our Starbucks open, but I can make a little bit of noise when I think they treated their employees shabbily on their last day of business. I posted the following as a customer comment on the Starbucks website on Saturday morning:

Yesterday was the final day of business for the Paris, Texas, location. I am most disappointed in the way the closing was handled. Instead of giving Starbucks’ loyal customers and friends one last chance to stop in and receive our normal legendary service in the customary, wonderful environment the Paris store has always provided, some bright light made the decision to send in people from another store to start packing everything up DURING BUSINESS HOURS. You couldn’t have waited until the store had actually closed to do all this? Unbelievable.

What this meant for customers trying to say goodbye, was that our favorite baristas, shifts, and managers had to try their hardest to work around strangers who were running around with power tools, taking fixtures off the walls, removing product from the serving line, and generally making nuisances of themselves. It also meant that we customers had to sidestep piles of boxes and packing materials in the lobby. Rather dangerous and extremely irritating. One of the people who came in was, I believe, the store manager from your Texarkana location. Besides the fact that she had a visible tattoo and a pink stripe in her hair (when did that become acceptable?), she was rather loud and obnoxious as she yelled directions at the people she had brought with her. “Take this! Pack that! Don’t leave that behind – we can use that!” They took so much product off the line, that the last few customers in the store at 5:30, there for the 6:00 close, had to wait while one of the Paris baristas had to go look in one of the Texarkana crew’s truck to get STRAWS for the drinks that were still being sold.

To their credit, and despite all the mayhem, the Paris staff still managed to work with smiles on their faces, putting out terrific products, taking time out for hugs, or pictures, or answering questions about where they’d be working next from their longtime regular customers. They have stayed positive and upbeat, even as they knew that their store would be closing. We customers never heard a single, negative word from them about your ill-considered and idiotic decision to close this store.

Since you're closing 600 of your stores, one would think that you ought to be getting pretty good at it, but it's apparent that you have a long way to go to figure out how to close a store. Quite obviously, The Starbucks Corporation doesn’t give a rat’s ass about your now-former Paris customers, but your partners in this store deserved much, MUCH better from you.


That is all.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Changing Habits

So it seems lately that many of the things that I have come to depend on are changing. This is causing me, a girl who likes her routines, a good bit of consternation.

I've already covered the whole thing with $tarbuck$. Their last day is September 19th. I have a new espresso maker, a source for the correct beans, and Roger has promised me a box of green straws, so I can make do. And while it still won't be the same, it'll be acceptable. Still ticks me off, though.

Now there's also a thing with Ocean Spray. I've been drinking their 100% Pure Natural Unsweetened Cranberry Juice for well over a year now. Twice a day. 3-4 64 oz. bottles a week. I hold it largely responsible for my 100 point DEcrease in cholesterol. Suddenly, I wasn't finding it on the shelves at Wall-E, so I figured they were just out. Days turned into weeks, and I asked, but nobody knew anything. I had Randy looking in Lubbock, and every time we went anywhere, I'd stop at all Wall-E stores we passed, and they were out also. I found a few bottles in Tuscaloosa when we took the kids, but that was the last I could find. Finally, I sent an email to Ocean Spray, and got a nice email back from them saying, in so many words, "so YOU were The One who was buying it!" They're not bottling it any more, because sales were so low. Well, crud. I like the tartness of the unsweetened. The other sixty million kinds of cranberry juice they sell just don't do it for me.

Then, there's this steak marinade that we've been using for EVER. My parents first brought us a bottle way back when we lived in Boone, North Carolina, and we've loved it ever since. Wall-E doesn't carry it anymore, and Kr0ger only has it every once in a while. What the heck?!? We can get it online, or anytime we travel back to Alabama, but STILL.

AND...for a couple of unpleasant weeks, all my local grocery stores were also out of my favorite breakfast cereal. Scary, but it was only temporary. It's back now. Whew!

And not that I'm one of those post-nuclear hoarders or anything, but I've got six boxes in my cabinets, and I'm wondering if that's enough. It's not like they'll go bad or anything. The cereal might get kind of stale...but once you pour milk over it, who'd be able to tell?!?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Nothing New Under the Sun

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
--Ecclesiastes 1:9 (New International Version)


A million years ago (actually? 1971), there was a TV series called Rollin' on the River, hosted by a group called The First Edition. The lead singer was this hippie-lookin' guy named Kenny Rogers. With long brown hair and granny glasses, a gold earring and a full beard, who knew that he'd turn into The Gambler dude with a ska-zillion hit singles and a really botched plastic surgery job?!?

One thing that I saw on that show that has stuck with me for lo, these many, many years came (I believe) on the last show of the series. In 1971 (listen up, youngsters), we were smack in the middle of the muddle that was Vietnam, and it was a tough, tough time in the country. People were horribly, violently, polarized - everyone had an opinion, and most people thought that everyone ELSE was wrong.

Remind you of anything you've seen lately? Nothing new under the sun.

Anyway, Kenny came out at the end of the show - just him, a stool and a spotlight, and he read a poem. The only poem ever written by Mark Twain, it was written in 1904 (during the Philippine-American War), but was not published until well after his death - at his own request, but due to his family's urging, as they felt it might be considered by some to be sacrilegious. "I have told the truth in that..." Twain is reported to have said, "and only dead men can tell the truth in this world. It can be published after I am dead."

I have been reminded of The War Prayer recently, after hearing the quote from one of our national candidates about praying for "our national leaders...sending [U.S. soldiers] out on a task that is from God." At the risk of offending some of my friends, and some of my family, I wonder: is this, really, what we think we are praying for??

The War Prayer
Mark Twain
written in 1904, first published in Harper's Monthly in November, 1916

It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener. It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety's sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.

Sunday morning came – next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their young faces alight with martial dreams – visions of the stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender! Then home from the war, bronzed heroes, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag, or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation

God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest! Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!

Then came the "long" prayer. None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was, that an ever-merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers, and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in the day of battle and the hour of peril, bear them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them to crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory –

An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher's side and stood there waiting. With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued with his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal, "Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!"

The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside – which the startled minister did – and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes, in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said:

"I come from the Throne – bearing a message from Almighty God!" The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. "He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if such shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import – that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of – except he pause and think.

"God's servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two – one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him Who heareth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this – keep it in mind. If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor's crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.

"You have heard your servant's prayer – the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it – that part which the pastor – and also you in your hearts – fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. the whole of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory – must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle – be Thou near them! With them – in spirit – we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it – for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

(After a pause.) "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits!"

It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Blackjack!!



It hardly seems possible, but Amanda Jayne was born twenty-one years ago today! My, how time flies.


Randy and I both had dark hair. Wow.


I told her this morning when I called that the day she was born was one of the three best days of my life. But it was really oh-so-much more than just a good day.

Because, when she was born, everything changed. Instead of just being two married people with a couple of dogs, she turned us into parents...and we became a family. A noisy, messy, funny, loving, irritating family, made complete 20 months later when James was born.

And so, on this momentous day, I'd just like to say that everything I ever hoped for in a daughter, I found in Amanda. I could not have asked for a sweeter, funnier, smarter, happier baby girl. And to have the privilege of watching her grow up into a sweet, funny, smart, happy woman has been one of the great gifts of my life.


So much of me is made of what I learned from you...you'll be with me like a handprint on my heart.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Breathe In, Breathe Out...

Contrary to popular belief, I have not dropped off the face of the earth. July was just a really busy month. We got Amanda home from Italy (yes, she thought it was spectacular), had an awesome almost-the-whole-family reunion (see picture below), got the Hot Springs condo spruced up and on the market, got almost finished with the den remodel (just working on the doors and trim now), I did Wii Fit every day in July except the days in Gulf Shores, and did the best I could to keep our $tarbuck$ open by consuming as many Iced Lattes and Blended Lemonades as I possibly could!


This awesome picture is the whole family, except for Hal,and Tom and his family, and Amy, and they just couldn't make it this year. Next time, for sure! From back left, there's Mark and Eve with Cody Lynn, Adam and Susan, James, Amanda, Laura and Walt, and Barry and Kim. Front row - Sam and Colin, Grace and Luke, me, Randy, Lola and Jack, Will, Donna, and Pierson. The first picture we took was the best one - can you believe it?!?

August is shaping up to be pretty full also. The kids are going back to Tuscaloosa next week, even though they just got here. Or so it seems. James is going to be able to transfer to the $tarbuck$ in Tuscaloosa, and is pleased about that. He's still thinking about changing his major to MIS. Amanda will finish up all her Art History hours this semester, and is starting to look into graduate schools and programs.

So until we get back from T-town, I just have a few random thoughts to share:

- Sammie declined her walk this morning. It was the funniest thing I've seen lately. It was raining, and I know she's not accustomed to seeing that. But, me? I was ready to suck it up and get on out there. I got her leash on, we went out through the garage, and when we got to the door, she stopped, peered out at the driveway, took a couple of steps and paused...took a couple more steps, shook, then came back in the garage and sat down! I stood there with her for probably five minutes, talking to her and sort of trying to move out toward the driveway. When she decided she'd had enough of THAT, she stood up, turned around and walked back toward the door to the house. What. A. Wimp.

- If you order four shots of espresso often enough in your latte, three shots is kind of flavorless.

- Brett Favre has gotten on my last sports nerve. Spoiled brat. I do, however, hope he helps the Jets, for Greeny's sake.



============================
This doesn't really go here, but I just need to say something. John Edwards has both broken my heart and pissed me off. What a clueless, idiotic jackass. Lord, please be with Elizabeth and her kids.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Sending Out an SOS...

...as in "Save Our Starbucks!"

Several folks have asked me if there's anything we can do to convince Starbucks to let us hang on to our store. I know that corporate seems to at least be willing to listen. Here's what I know for sure:

The Seattle Times quotes Brad Stevens, Starbucks' vice president of customer-relations management, in this article about store closings: "customers could make a difference but added he (Stevens) has not heard much reaction from them. 'That's such an amazing thing, that customers would actually take up that cause,' he said. 'How lucky we are that we as a brand have that kind of relationship with customers. I think we would listen carefully.'"

So, what that says to me is they might not change their minds, but they'd maybe be willing to consider it. If any of you IT wizards out there can go to the Starbucks website and find an email address for Brad Stevens, PLEASE post it in a comment. I have poked around there myself, to no avail. They don't seem to want to give out individual emails. Go figure.

Here is the phone number for Starbucks Retail Customer Relations:
(800) 235-2883
Mon – Fri 5 AM – 6 PM (PST)
Sat – Sun 6 AM – 3 PM (PST)

Call 'em up. Tell 'em why they need to keep Paris open.

You might also go to their website at http://www.starbucks.com/customer/contact_forms.asp?nav=3e and fill out their comment form.

Obviously, you should also be buying stuff at our Starbucks as often as you can! If you don't like coffee, but you like the idea of Paris continuing to have a Starbucks here in town, they are going to be offering "Coffee for Troops" again starting this coming week. You can buy a pound or twenty of ground coffee, and they will get it to our troops for you.

Also, in a kill-two-birds-with-one-stone kind of thing, the Red Cross is collecting items to make available to the 600++ troops who will be training this month at Camp Maxey. Go to Starbucks, buy non-perishable stuff like bottled water, trail mix, CDs, books, etc., then take it to the Red Cross drop-off point at Ramseur Baptist Church this Friday, July 18th, between 9 and 12.

Remember to be positive and encouraging to the partners in the store! They're holding up pretty well, most of them, but it's a bummer to think that they might be out of a job soon. Many of them have been there since Day One, and this is a tough road. Tell them what you've done - if you've called, or emailed, or whatever. Tell them to keep their chins up - that you're not giving up, and neither should they!

And, finally, REPRESENT!! Carry your Starbucks cup with you when you shop, show the logo, talk about the store to people you know, and people you don't. Talk to the movers and shakers in town that you know (like Chip Harper, who loves Starbucks) and get them to call, email, write letters.

If we try, and they still close, at least we will know that we've done what we can.

Monday, July 07, 2008

How Starbucks Broke My Heart

Or: When Numbers on a Corporate Spreadsheet Don’t Tell the Whole Story

I love Starbucks.

I’ve never made any apology for that. I like their products, the personality of the stores, the friendliness of the baristas. I’ve had Starbucks iced lattes from far west Texas to downtown Chicago, from south Alabama to Istanbul, in airports, malls, and on opening day at brand-new stores, and they’ve all been consistently wonderful.

Welcome to Paris, Texas.

A small-ish city of 25,000 in northeast Texas, we Parisians like to think of ourselves as more than a typical small town. Rumors frequently find root here about new businesses that are looking for locations. More often than not, the rumors are quickly debunked (Old Navy? Target? HAH.), but occasionally one turns into reality. Such was the case about two years ago, when the rumor began to spread that Starbucks was coming to town.

When that rumor did turn into reality – well, it was a happy day in Paris! Finally, something measurable that says that Paris is, indeed, more than just another small town. A Starbucks!! We have hit the Big Time, baby! We all watched eagerly as construction began and the store took shape. And when it opened, it didn’t take long for Starbucks to become THE place to meet friends.

No one was more excited than I when the often-dreamed of Starbucks became a reality for us. I’ve been there from Day One. Not daily, but close to it - and since James started working there this summer, it’s been more like a couple of times a day! They know my favorites – my morning Iced Quad Venti Non-fat Latte, my afternoon Venti Shaken Passion Tea Lemonade, or my new favorite, the Venti Blended Lemonade with Passion Tea. They tsk-tsk when I forget to bring my cup from home, because they know that I’m trying to consume less plastic. They remind me to pick up the iTunes pick of the week.

Many of the baristas remember me from Aikin, or they were in class with one of my kids. They call me Mrs. Reed, even though I’ve tried to get them to call me Frances, but now with James working there, they’re starting to call me Momma Reed. I like that. But what I really like the most, is that I’m not the only customer that they know so well. It’s amazing to me to see the number of people come in that the baristas automatically start working their drink as soon as they hit the door.

I’ve been reading with interest all the press Starbucks has been getting lately, as they’ve started to make some decisions about changing the trend that they have found themselves on – declining sales, unprofitable locations, all the corporate things that so often affect the folks on the front lines far more than the folks in the corporate offices.

As multi-store Quiznos franchisees for nearly ten years, Randy and I have seen many changes take place within our own corporate structure. Quiznos, like Starbucks, has suffered greatly from opening way too many stores in too short a period of time and with (in many cases) puzzling real estate choices. Many of our fellow franchisees have been unable to keep up with the changing requirements of a corporation taking sometimes drastic measures to steer Quiznos back onto a profitable path, and have closed or sold their restaurants. This is never an easy choice for a franchisee. No one goes into business thinking they will fail. So we are not unfamiliar with turmoil within a corporation as those in charge try to affect change that will strengthen the corporation as a whole.

How this manifests, unfortunately, is that decisions are made that affect not only the employees of a company, but also the communities involved.

Much to our dismay, we hear that OUR Starbucks is one of those 600 stores currently on the chopping block. At the risk of sounding a tad melodramatic, this is heartbreaking in many ways. As a business owner, I fully understand the need to streamline operations, to cull out the locations that are not profitable, and to reduce overhead. But I would hope that someone, somewhere in the corporate structure of Starbucks might stop looking at the balance sheet for just a moment and see what we – the customers of the store in Paris - see.

All of the things which Starbucks has always been about are present in the store in Paris. Partners who provide quality products, made to correct specifications (which I do not always find in other Starbucks I visit), in a clean and welcoming store. Partners who know their customers, by name and by beverage, frequently starting a drink when they see a familiar car pull into the lot. Partners who are involved in their community. From the store manager, Roger Courson, who seems to be everywhere in town talking about coffee and inviting folks to stop by, to the shift managers and partners who provided coffee and water at the recent Relay for Life – and didn’t leave the stadium until 4:30 a.m., Starbucks employees here in Paris embody the traits I believe that the corporation aspires for all their partners to display.

I know that this location is probably not currently profitable. Sales are probably not what they had originally hoped for. One of the things that should be taken into consideration is that for the entire time the store has been open, the highway directly in front of the store has been undergoing a major construction project. Access to the parking lot is weird right now, and commonly, a visitor to Paris has a hard time figuring out how to get there, and then get back to where they were headed. Even people who live in town try to avoid the area when they can. Many neighboring businesses have been deeply hurt by this project, and the whole city is ready for it to be done. When access is better, I am certain there’d be improved sales. Another thing to consider is that, even if sales are not what they had hoped for, what sales they do have here aren’t going to transfer to another location. Nobody’s going to drive for an hour just to get a Frappuccino.

Randy and I know from experience that sales and profits can come the longer a store has been open. Our store in Hot Springs was not profitable for the first three years it was open. The vast financial resources which Starbucks has at its disposal? The best we had was a MasterCard with enough available credit on it to keep the landlord and our food suppliers happy. It was a challenge to decide whether to keep going there, but we stuck it out, and now it’s doing very well – and getting stronger all the time. That, I believe, will be the case with Starbucks in Paris.

Plus, then there’s the whole goodwill and bad publicity thing. We in Paris don’t need another closed-up building to remind us that Oops! Just kidding! You’re really NOT the big small town you thought you were! PLEASE - close a location where you’ve got three in the same block, or a free-standing store across the driveway from the one in Target, but leave us our one store here in Paris.

IF (and I’m still holding out hope that someone will come to their senses and change their minds) this store closes, I will not feel the same way about Starbucks that I would have felt had they never come to town.

Because now?

Now, they’ve been here, and if they close, they will have screwed over people I have come to know and care about.

HOWARD SCHULTZ, ARE YOU LISTENING?!? Look up from your spreadsheet for just a moment and see what we’re looking at. This Starbucks has barely been open a year. We aren’t giving up on it. It’s far too early for you to give up on it.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Often Rumored but Seldom Seen


I had heard that some people were able to actually get two cars in their two-car garage, but I had often thought that must be one of those urban myths.

However...after getting mostly finished with our large-scale remodeling projects, and being very selective about what items were allowed back in the house, and having a pretty awesome garage sale yesterday...after all was said and done, we are now capable of keeping two cars in the two-car side of our garage!!

Neat-o!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Fame and Dignity

I like Bill Clinton. I always have. As president? I thought he was awesome. I don't, however, like some of the things he has done, or how he has handled much of his personal life. But I can compartmentalize. His personal life is pretty much his business, and should remain between him, Hillary, Chelsea and God. In my opinion.

Having said that, this little blurb in The Arkansas Times (scroll down to "Girls Gone Wild") about the pay-per-view business that Paula Jones and Gennifer Flowers have created in order to milk a little more...whatever...for themselves has a quote from G. Flowers that I had not read before.

"Flowers says her infamy was no ticket to riches and adds, 'What is fame without dignity?'”

Indeed.

I can't figure out quite what point she's trying to make here. This is a question that it seems to me should be asked OF her, not BY her.

What IS fame without dignity? Gennifer can't answer that, because she has neither.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

FIRST PICTURES!!




Pictures up on Amanda's Picasa!

She climbed to the TOP of the Duomo in the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, the cathedral of Florence. 463 steps!! Whoa.

Monday, June 02, 2008

You Say Arrivederci, I Say Goodbye...

Saturday was an interesting day for me. I put my baby girl on a plane bound for a month-long stay in Italy, and I didn't even get teary eyed!

Actually, it all began on Friday, when Amanda and I drove to the metroplex to spend the night so we could make our early flight. We met Randy (who was coming home from Lubbock) in Rockwall for dinner at our favorite St. Louis-based burger joint. Our waiter had a name tag that said "Bilbo", and he actually did resemble Bilbo Baggins. Then Amanda and I drove on to Euless, where we spent the night. I pointed out to her the W3ndy's on Main Street, where Randy and I first met ("right there...by the front Frosty machine!"). Then we checked into the LQ, and had a nice room overlooking a new $tarbuck$, which we took advantage of before grabbing a quick breakfast and heading to the airport.

We had a 7:45 flight to Atlanta, and got there right on time. So that meant we had about 5 hours to kill before she was to meet her group. We ate, wandered around, then snagged a couch in the main terminal area, where we could people-watch, read, and snooze. In a nice turn, Amanda saw her Florence roommate, Braegan (isn't that a lovely name?), and her mom, who came and sat with us until it was time to go. So we had a nice visit, and I think both Braegan's mom and I felt better for having the chance to meet the roommates and see them together before they left.

So finally 4:00 came, and we went to meet the group at the Lufthansa counter. The group leader was there, with someone holding a Bama windsock aloft, so we knew we were in the right place. Amanda had gotten all her eye-rolling out of the way on the drive to the airport (as I was trying to get in all my last little admonishments: be careful, but don't be afraid to get out of your comfort zone), so that when I said goodbye, she let me get a little mushy without being too terribly embarrassed!

I was able to get on an earlier flight back to DFW, so I got home about an hour and a half before I had expected. And when I got home, the oddest thing happened.

First of all, you have to know that anytime anyone comes into the house who is new, or who hasn't been there in a while, Sammie tends to go nuts. We're working on being a little calmer, but she wants to jump and lick and dance and celebrate when someone arrives.

Usually.

When I came in, she was lying on the floor in the den near the garage door, and SHE DID NOT EVEN LIFT HER HEAD TO SAY HELLO. I put my things down, leaned over to pet her, and if she even thumped her tail, I didn't notice it. I think she was ticked off at me for leaving her.

It was the first time that she's spent a night in the house that I wasn't there. Randy and James both had stories about how she acted that at least let me know that she had noticed that I was gone, but for the rest of the night, she hardly gave me a second glance. As I went to bed, I was trying to figure out how I could get back in her good graces - maybe an extra-long walk the next morning, a new tennis ball, or a cup of the $tarbuck$ ice that she loves so much. Then in the middle of the night, I woke up to find her using my legs as a pillow, which she NEVER does, so apparently she decided to forgive me!

Amanda called on Sunday morning our time/afternoon her time, to say that she and her suitcase were on the same plane into Florence, so that was one big concern out of the way. She said their apartment is a nice, small, two bedroom, one bath flat that they are sharing with a couple of other Bama girls in their group. They are close to the Arno River, and they had found a couple of likely places to grab dinner before going back home and collapsing! Their schedule started today, with meetings and planning and stuff before classes begin tomorrow. She sounded tired AND happy AND ready to get on with exploring and learning and experiencing everything she can.

She promises to TRY to blog and post pictures, so when she does, I'll be sure and post links for y'all to see!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Thought for the Day

"I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult."

E.B. White
US author & humorist (1899 - 1985)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

WOOT!!!!!!!!!!

It's David Cook!!!



Click if it doesn't load.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

VOTE TONIGHT: This is Really Important....

OKAY, so it's not important in a this-is-the-most-important-election-of-your-lifetime, pick-your-government kind of way, but important nevertheless, in a pop-music-needs-this-guy-BAD kind of way:



Click if it doesn't load.

David Cook. American Idol. Tonight. 1-866-IDOLS-01. Vote early and often.

Seriously.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Rules to Live By

Since Amanda's going to be studying in Italy this summer, I've been poking around on the internet to see what I could find about students, and Italy, and studying. I've happened on several interesting blogs by Americans who, for various reasons, have taken up residence in Italy. One of them, Allora, Aspetta! is by a young American woman living in Macerata, on Italy's Adriatic coast. She is teaching English to a group of young Italians, and they have their own blog, English No (Know) More, as a way of practicing the English they are learning. They have written a post entitled "Rules to Live By" with the list that their class has decided on, and they have asked for readers to come up with their own set, and then let the class know what they are. I have long had a set of guidelines I've thought everyone should follow, so I thought I'd write them down. Now, many of these are things I have adapted or stolen from my friends and other stuff I have read or seen, so please don't hang me on the copyright gallows, but here's what I think, in written form.

cruisermom's Rules for a Happy Life:

1. Flexibility is the key. Attitude is everything.

2. Read everything you can, whether it's the back of the cereal box, a cheap novel, or the New York Times. There is always something to learn.

3. Flush. Turn out the light when you leave the room. Clean up your own messes.

4. Don't eat junk.

5. Chocolate is NOT junk.

6. (a) No decision is irrevocable. (b) Don't marry a jerk. (c) If you do marry a jerk, remember - no decision is irrevocable. (credit Marilyn and Robert for that one!)

7. Travel as much as you can, to as many places as you can. You can't gain perspective if you never get off your beaten path.

8. Remember that everyone has a point of view. Just because it's not the same as yours doesn't mean it's wrong, it just means it's different.

9. Never say "it's too late," or "I'm too old." Even if you have only one more day, there's still time. Start somewhere.

10. You should always look for an opportunity to say "I love you."

So - that's my list. What's on yours?

Friday, May 02, 2008

The House Is Perfect. What Should We Change Next?

Every time I go to downtown Paris to shop or take care of business, I think how much fun it would be to live there. I think Randy and I would be good downtown loft-dwellers. I could ride my bike every day, to the post office, the farmer's market, the bank, the grocery store, the library, the wine bar.

But then I realize I'd be farther away from $tarbuck$. Oops.

And then I think about how much I love this house. And how we - and Sammie - would miss having a yard. And I'm growing vegetables this year! And I have a compost bin! And we just redid our bedroom, and the windows, and most of the front yard landscaping. And now we're about to start on the downstairs den.

Yep, the Summer Project is about to begin!

We're taking up the carpet and laying bamboo flooring. This will be our first time to lay flooring. We've done just about everything else I can think of - tile, wallpaper, plumbing, paint, drywall, faux stone, wiring, but we've never laid wood floors. Will be interesting. We...well, Randy...will scrape the ceiling, which will be a challenge, since it's so FAR FROM THE FLOOR. Then we'll paint, replace the French doors with a slider to match the one in the kitchen, rearrange the room to make it better for the new TV, and MAYBE replace the wood railing between the den and the kitchen with something a little more Mission style. That's still in discussion.

Randy said once that it's so odd that we keep saying how much we love this house, even as we have changed just about everything in it since we've lived here. Sometimes more than once.

I prefer to call it fine-tuning.

Because next? I want to stain the back patio, probably tile the front porch and stain the front walk, replace the trellis over the back deck, turn the greenhouse into a garden shed, build some raised planting beds for more vegetables, do that rain garden/dry creek bed thing Randy's been talking about for the marshy spots in the backyard...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Lucky Thirteen









Randy and I were married on April 13, 1984.

It was a Friday.



Many people looked cross-ways at us when we set the date, but neither of us suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia, and it was the only weekend night in April that was available at the place we wanted to use for the ceremony (Thistle Hill in Fort Worth). So we threw caution to the wind, cackled in the face of superstition, and set off on our journey. This means that last Sunday was our 24th anniversary.

Or as Randy put it, "8,766 days of pure...bliss. Counting leap years."

No, but really. There were so many things that could have kept these last 24 years from happening. Early on, when I said Carter, he could have said Reagan. When I said dogs, he could have said cats. When I said beach, he could have said mountains. When I said kids, he could have said you have nieces and nephews, don't you?

But he didn't say any of those things.

And while ALL those days maybe haven't been total bliss, the one thing we could count on is that we were in it together. From Texas to Virginia, to North Carolina, and back to Texas, we've been a team. And when the kids came, we were still a tight little group. And now that the kids are starting to stretch their wings, and our nest is a little closer to emptying, we're still in it together.

When the going was tough, we didn't give up on each other. On the balance sheet that is the last 24 years, there are millions more entries written in black ink than in red. I couldn't be prouder of the life we have built and the family we created. Together.

No one makes me laugh more, have to think faster, or want to work harder to learn new things to TRY to keep up. And there's no other hand I'd rather hold on to as we head in to the second half of our lives.


Happy anniversary, sweetie. I love you.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Milestones



We spent the weekend in Tuscaloosa. It was A Day weekend (always a fine excuse for a visit) so we got to go to the spring training game (we won!!) plus the campus is a fun, fun place to be on a game weekend.

Then, in a happy turn of events, we also got to stay on Sunday for the spring 2008 Ring Ceremony, where Amanda received her University of Alabama Class of 2009 class ring!


I am so proud of her. After some initial missteps, she has found the field of study where she feels comfortable and can excel. She didn't let her early troubles and setbacks garbage up her mind and hold her back. She learned the value of perseverance, and discovered that she is much stronger than she had perhaps thought. What a bright future she has waiting for her.

James is approaching the last year of teenage-hood, and is finishing up his freshman year in fine fashion. He's learned a lot this year, both academically and on a personal level. He's expanded his culinary horizons (he ordered salmon at dinner the other night!) and he's benefited a good deal from the vast diversity that is dorm life at Alabama. There's not a wiser, funnier, more quick-witted kid in the world than he is. He's a cool guy to know.

There are a lot of things that I hope my kids have learned from us, but the one single thing that I hope they both will always remember and never forget is that their father and I are continually awed to see the people they have become. How blessed we are that two doofuses like us could have played a part in creating two so amazing human beings.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Size Matters

Randy's been working diligently at losing weight, and so far he's lost 28 pounds! I'm very proud of him. He came downstairs this morning and started showing me how baggy his jeans are.

Me: Looks like you need to hike in your belt!
Him: But these are my new jeans!
Me: Really? Those are your Tommy Hilfigers? What size are they?
Him: 36, I think. A quick check verified this. But I think they're probably vanity sized.
Me: I never though of men's clothes as being vanity sized. Since they're sized by inches. I mean, a 36 is a 36.
Him: HONEY. When it comes to inches, all men have vanity.

Boy, I walked right into that one.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Dear Mark Cuban:

Please consider this blog post as my request for press credentials to any upcoming Dallas Mavericks game. Per your own blog post of March 29th, you are throwing the whole experience wide open to any and all bloggers. Good for you! I love to watch the way you can take a directive from the NBA and tweak and turn it to make a point.

Am I qualified for this? Maybe. Please consider the following:

My writing qualifications? Well, I briefly considered a major in journalism when I was in college a million years ago, but came to my senses quickly. But I have had letters to the editor published in my local newspaper from time to time, and I've been writing this blog for a few years now. It’s no great shakes, but my family and friends seem to enjoy it.

My technology credentials? I spent the last eight years of my teaching career as a technology coordinator in the Paris Independent School District, where I repaired computers, taught other teachers to not be afraid of email, and showed 1st graders how to publish a picture to a website, among many other things. I even taught elementary school kids how to use spell check, which is more than many of your frequent commenters seem to have learned. I subscribe to your blog, and look forward to a new posting from you with much anticipation.

My sports qualifications? My husband and I lived in Charlotte in the late eighties, and we were charter season ticket holders with the Charlotte Hornets. Man, those were the good years, before George Shinn got WAY too full of himself. When the games were fun, even if we didn’t win. When 23,698 people booed Michael Jordan the first time the Bulls came to the Charlotte Coliseum.

Michael Jordan. In North Carolina. Because he wasn’t part of the home team anymore. It was AWESOME.

We took our 18 month old daughter to almost every freakin’ home game that first season. Pregnant with her brother during the whole season, I carried her up the stairs to our nosebleed seats, put her up on my shoulders for every national anthem, taught her to cheer for Muggsy Bogues, for Robert Reid, for Dell Curry – who I could not be any more tickled for, watching him watch his son Stephen take the NCAAs by storm in this year’s tournament. I gave Kurt Rambis a high five during an autograph event, after he pulled a pacifier out of a three-year-old’s mouth and told the embarrassed dad in line in front of me: “it’s just so gross to see one of those things hanging out of a kid’s mouth.”

We missed the final home game of the year that first season because I gave birth to our son that May. But on our first night in the hospital, I sat in my room with my newborn son and watched the Hornets on TV, telling him all about the players we would take him to see during the next season. And we did.

Now, can either of my kids talk to you about basketball these days? Not so much, but they’re both students at the University of Alabama, and they can sure talk some Crimson Tide football.

We were only season ticket holders for one more year in Charlotte, because we moved back to Texas, where we picked back up with our enthusiasm for the Mavericks. My husband was actually in attendance for the first Mavericks home game – we still have the medallion he got at that first game. But we weren’t dating then, and he took another girl, so we don’t talk about that much. But he did get to boo Kiki Vandewehge.

But we’ve been Mavs fans ever since, most especially so since you bought the team. I winced when you traded Steve Nash and Jason Kidd, but realized why you did. I cheered when you made Avery Johnson your Head Coach. I get tickled reading about your problems with the league, and your clever and creative ways of dealing with them. I roll my eyes frequently at David Stern and his pompous pronouncements. I learned to hate the Miami Heat when we were in Charlotte (since they came into the league the same year as the Hornets), and I hate them still. I groaned in disbelief when the Dallas city government announced - and the Dallas Morning News published - the route for the stinking victory parade after game 2 in 2006. They jinxed y’all. I still hold them solely responsible for the Mavs losing the Finals.

So what could my blogging do for the Mavericks? In a literal sense, nothing. I have never been able to tell a pick-and-roll from a zone defense, though God knows I have tried to make sense of it all. I can’t brown-nose you, because I know very few important people, except my husband and my kids. I don’t know anyone you know, unless your wife happens to be from the Paris area. Hey - it could happen. Troy Aikman’s wife grew up around here. I don’t know your brother, haven’t met anyone at the Indy Convention Center, and I don’t have a business plan to present to you that is sure to be the Next Big Thing since broadcast.com.

What I do have is a genuine interest in the Mavericks, and you, and other people who pursue professional sports as a way of life, whether as players, or owners, or in some other kind of a support role. Not in a “wow, how awesome you are!” kind of a way, but in how you conduct your lives, and how you interact with people who can ultimately do nothing for you.

I can write effectively, usually (I hope) with some semblance of humor. I could perhaps interpret the experience of being at a Mavs game from a different perspective for those who may not get the mechanics of what happens on the court, but who are still impressed and amazed at the drive and dedication of the people who choose to play.

I look forward to hearing from you.
Love,
cruisermom

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Under the Boardwalk


Well, okay, so there's not actually a boardwalk in Gulf Shores - YET, but we are heading to the sugar-white sands of lovely LA (that would be Lower Alabama, if you have not been lucky enough to make your way there) for tons of Spring Break fun. Got to wrap up the Aikin basket auction first (which has already proven NOT to be drama-free. Yippee.), then Friday morning, Randy and I will head east, and after their last classes are over, Amanda and James will head south, then we'll all get to spend a few fun in the sun days together. YAY!!!!!!!

So, no blogging for a little while, but you should check back for Twitter updates in the column to your right.....=======>>>>>>>

WHAT?!? You don't Twitter?!? Why ever not?!?

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Counting Calories?? WOOF!



Check this out - a new twist in doggie treats - the 50-calorie pack o'pupperoni.

Oh, please.

I do see the value in all the 100-calorie packs of snacks that are becoming prevalent on our grocery shelves, because they are handy and an easy way to sort of control a dieter's daily snack intake...but doggie treats?? Really? I should expect Sammie to start keeping a calorie journal? Because that lack of opposable thumbs is really gonna make those little bags tough for her to open.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Snow Day!

In the weather wonderland that is Texas, we went from put-the-top-down-here-comes-spring weather on Saturday to what-the-heck-is-that-SLEET? weather on Monday evening. Sammie and I awoke to a couple of inches of snow on the ground this morning, so I was most interested in how she would react to snow.

She had a blast!



Click here for the whole album.

Oh, and GO VOTE!! And if you voted for a Democratic candidate and live in Texas, go back to your polling place tonight at 7 pm to caucus. It ain't over till it's over, and it won't be over until you caucus.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Courage and Convictions

I hate confrontation. Seriously. There are few things in the world which I dislike more than I dislike confrontation.

That being said, it is perhaps also true that I have been known to do things that might possibly be perceived as mildly...provocative...but really with only the hope that somebody might find it amusing rather than offensive. But sometimes folks just find it - or me - plainly offensive.

I've had a rather difficult time this year deciding whom to support in the presidential race. I shall refer to my two choices as the Rock Star and the Queen Bee, because I don't want anyone who might have a Google Alert set up for either of them to flood my comments box with invective, as I have read that some of the Rock Star's fans tend to do. I don't normally find myself in a quandary, because I generally find only one person who has the qualities I can support - but since Elizabeth's husband has dropped out, and the former vice-president doesn't seem to want to run, I had to find someone else.

So I voted Monday for the Queen Bee in the Texas primary. And then, I put an "H-2008" sticker on the back window of my car.

Now, last election, I had a "J squared" sticker (get it? Kerry-Edwards? John and John? Heh.) on my car, and I got flipped off a few times, mostly by soccer moms with North Lamar stickers on their SUVs, but that's pretty much par for the course here in town. That's kind of a non-confrontational confrontation, and I was okay with that.

Today, however, I went to Walmart and parked in kind of the far corner of the lot, as I usually do (so I can get more steps in for the day), and as I got out of the car, there was a big ol' dually pickup that came up my lane. I noticed that it kind of slowed down as it passed my car. I kept walking toward the store when I heard this voice yelling "Lady! Hey lady!" I looked back, and the driver of the truck was yelling at me. I stopped, thinking maybe he'd noticed a problem with one of my tires or something, when he pulled up beside me and said, "what does that H2008 thing mean on that car? You ain't gon' vote fer that b**ch, are ya?"

Understand, now, in my mind I'm going HelpMeJesusHelpMeJesusHelpMeJesus, and I just kind of smile and keep on walking, but he keeps on talking: "HEY! You ain't gon' vote fer her, are ya? Cause that's just plain g*d-d**mned un-American."

And, frankly, that just kind of p*ssed me off. Because, on the short list of things I hate MORE than confrontation? Questioning my patriotism because I'm not a right-wing zealot is right there in the number one spot.

Personal aside: for Randy, my kids, and my friends, who are reading this and thinking I have gone completely nuts, it was 2:00 on a bright, sunny afternoon. I was pretty close to the store by this time, I could see other people around, and my cell phone was open, ready to dial for help if I needed to. AND I'm still going HelpMeJesusHelpMeJesusHelpMeJesus. No worries.

So I stopped, looked at him, and said: "no, sir, I'm not PLANNING to vote for her. I actually already have."

And he responded with a short string of profanities, followed by this sort of sneering question: "I bet you don't even believe in Jesus, do ya?"

And I kind of snickered, because me and Jesus, we'd been talking - a LOT - in those past few minutes.

"Why, yes, sir, I DO believe in Jesus," I replied. "Do you?"

Then I realized that that might have gotten me in trouble, so I started walking again. He sort of spewed more profanities, then sputtered, "h*ll yeah, I believe in Jesus." Those six words? Made Jesus so proud.

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see a kid out collecting carts, who was kind of looking towards us, like he might think I was in trouble, so - hoping that I could just end this - I said: "well then, the good thing for both of us is that when we get to heaven, Jesus isn't gonna ask us who we voted for, is He? He's just gonna say, 'come on in, I've been expecting you!'" And I turned and grabbed a stray cart (because I needed something to help support my by-then rubbery legs) and walked on toward the store. The guy floored his engine, went on to the end of the row and turned to head out to Lamar Avenue.

ThankYouJesusThankYouJesusThankYouJesus.

As I walked past the cart kid, he said, "everything all right today, ma'am?"

I took a deep breath and smiled. "Yes," I said, "I believe that it is."

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

How to Look Good: Ignoring the Voices in Your Head

One of my favorite shows this year is How to Look Good Naked on Lifetime. I think Carson Kressley is a HOOT, and the show really brings an honest look at body image, and how women truly do not see themselves the way others see them. This has really struck home with me, in a pretty personal way.

All my life, I have struggled with my weight. When I was a kid, I was the "skinny" one. My mother used to make me chocolate milk every night before I went to bed, and she would stir about a half cup of Nestles Quik into the milk (I know this because I used to eat the undissolved Quik from the bottom of the glass), and she'd also stir an egg in there. A. Raw. Egg.

Because I was, you know, too skinny. And apparently, also resistant to salmonella.

But the thing was, I loved vegetables. And salad. When Daddy was sent to Miami to work, in late 1962, Mama and I went to stay with him for a little while. Long story, involving the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis, but that's a story for another day. ANYWAY, Daddy had found this restaurant he knew I'd just love, because it had the first salad bar we'd ever seen. And he was right- I did love that place. It had lettuce and carrots and cucumbers and celery and radishes, all in huge silver bowls that YOU COULD GO BACK AND GET MORE FROM! AS MUCH AS YOU WANTED! ANYTIME YOU WANTED! FOR AS LONG AS YOUR PARENTS WOULD LET YOU STAY! I was in heaven.

And I was a pretty active kid. Those were the days when you'd ride your bike home from school, change clothes and go directly outside, where you stayed until somebody called you in for supper. In the summertime, Mama would send me outside after breakfast, and that would be about it until suppertime. There were always neighbor kids around, and nobody's mother would let us come in the house. I mean, we must have been FILTHY, and all the mothers had Just mopped the floor! Don't you dare come in this house!

Want a drink of water? There's the hose. A snack? Here's a sandwich - eat at the picnic table. Bathroom? Is it an emergency? Put on these flipflops and don't touch anything! I just mopped the floor!

When we moved to Naples, it was pretty much the same. We all walked to school, and after school, we'd play in the stairwells in our building all afternoon, until one of our mothers would open their door and yell (in English or Italian, depending on whose mother) at us to Be quiet, for crying out loud! Ai-yi-yi, la mia testa facente male! My aching head! Still, I was the skinny one.

Then came my sixth grade year, and I went to live with my aunts. Another long story, for another time. They were determined to put some weight on me, and boy, did they work hard at it. After school snacks of whole milk or Coca-Cola or both, with fig newtons toasted in a skillet with butter all over them. Cream cheese sandwiches. The vegetables I still loved, only cooked with bacon grease or butter, or salads drenched in mayonnaise-y dressings. And playing outside was a no-no, because young ladies don't get dirty. Sure enough, I pudged right on up, and they thought I was adorable.

Then that year of hog heaven ended, and Mama and Daddy and I moved to Enterprise and the farm. And I was active again, on the farm, and at school. I jogged regularly. I helped on the farm. I went back to eating raw vegetables. I was a healthy girl. But my mother, for various reasons, most of which (I know now) had nothing at all to do with me, but mostly to do with her own unhappiness, devoted a good bit of time to telling me how fat I was. And how she'd love me more if I'd just lose some of that weight. And wouldn't it be nice if I was thin like her friend's daughters - their mothers were so proud of them, and she'd love to be proud of me like that.

All through high school, that's the message I heard more than any other. That I wasn't...enough, somehow. That the good grades, or the stuff I did at church, or anything else that I did, just wasn't enough for my mother. And I believed it. I wondered how in the world would I ever find somebody to love me when I looked like I did. I'd end up an old maid schoolteacher, dried up and hopeless, and all because I was so fat.

Stay with me here...I know this is depressing, but I'm getting to my point. I was going through some old picture albums last weekend, and I found some pictures that I probably haven't looked at since before Randy and I married. I found one that just floored me. This picture was taken at Christmas during my senior year - 1972.



I know - some of you have never seen me with hair that dark!

But here's my point: I weighed 125 pounds. All through high school. And I wonder how much of my weight struggle - the blimping up and the thinning down I have done through the years - could have been avoided if I'd had a mental picture then of what I actually looked liked, rather than what my mother's voice in my head was telling me.

I wish I'd been able to watch Carson Kressley back then.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Interesting Things Sammie & I See on Our Walks

Today was trash day. Sammie loves Tuesdays and Fridays, because there are so many more interesting smells than usual. I enjoy them because I get to see what my neighbors throw away. Today we saw one home throwing away four empty 24 packs of Bud Light, and an empty, Sam's-sized case of Depends. Must have been a large weekend at that house.

Randy thinks I can find a conspiracy under every rock. But I can't help but wonder: Could these two things be related, somehow?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Resting on Our Laurels

Literally. Resting.

We have finished the Big Bedroom Makeover, except for the last little details - filling and painting the nail holes in the baseboards, a couple of prints that need to be professionally framed, and a recliner that needs to be picked up and brought home - and our latest project will be done. It has turned out even better than we had hoped. Paula and Denise came by tonight to pick me up for dinner, and agreed that it finally looks like us.

Frank Lloyd Wright has arrived safely in Tuscany.







La stanza รจ molto bella e stiamo godendo felicemente "riposarsi" sui nostri allori. The room is very beautiful, and we are happily enjoying "resting" on our laurels.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Giving, Squared.

So I used up my whole year's allotment of exclamation points in my post about my XO computer....so sorry. In my defense, it was late, I was tired, and it really is just the coolest little thing.

And while the computer itself IS neat, Denise is right....the actual GIVING part is even neater. I like thinking that somewhere in the world, some little kid is opening his or her computer for the first time (she'll probably figure out how a little more quickly than I did), and turning it on with as much excitement as I had when I opened mine.

I hope that one of the things he learns with it, is that somebody else, somewhere in the world, cares.

Friday, February 01, 2008

I Gave One...and I GOT ONE!!!!!!


I am posting this from my new XO laptop!!! I have pictures, but I'm going to have to post them from my desktop in just a second. Later, I will figure out how to do that from here, but it's nearly midnight, and I want to get this up and go to bed! We just drove in from Lubbock...and this was on the front porch!! I have my Moto Q to thank for my ability to type on this itty-bitty keyboard!

Oh my goodness, it is just unbelievably cool!




Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"I Like Taking Credit for Things!"

Amanda is taking a history class this year called "New Right, New Left" (or it's "New Left, New Right." I get it mixed up.) that is a study of the political parties in the US since the beginning of the 20th century. She finds it quite interesting, I think, particularly in light of the fact that this will be the first presidential election she will be able to vote in. To a large extent, it's a discussion class with a LOT of writing, and they've been discussing LBJ and Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement lately.

She called today and asked if I had seen The Colbert Report last night. I had not, but it was on the DVR. She said I should be sure and watch it, because Andrew Young was Stephen's guest, and that he (Stephen) kind of broke character during the interview. I was curious, so I made sure to watch it tonight.

If you know me, you know that I have long loved Stephen Colbert. I have always admired not only his quick wit, and his outlook on the world, but I have also loved to see what happens when his STEPHEN COLBERT persona slips, and you get a glimpse of the real Stephen Colbert.

I think we saw that on last night's episode. Stephen and Andrew Young have quite an interesting link.




And then he interviews Andrew Young. His wit comes through in the interview, along with his obvious respect for Mr. Young, but there's also an honest earnestness there:




It was all summed up for me with this one question: "Do you remember my father?" Just imagine - being able to speak with a man who is one of the icons of the American Civil Rights movement, and hearing this response to your question: "Yes, I do. I remember him very, very well."

Stephen is the youngest of 11(!) children, and he actually was born during the time period in which his father and Andrew Young were negotiating the strike settlement. When Stephen was only 10, his father and two of his brothers were killed in a plane crash just outside Charlotte. What a gift it must have been for Stephen to be able to hear someone like Andrew Young speak so admiringly of his father.

And then, in a singularly Colbert-ian touch, he ended the show with a musical tribute that was certainly funny, but also surprising, and touching as he paid tribute to the writing staff he surely misses.




It is SO time for the writers to return. I really miss Tonight's Word.