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.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Construction Zone

For as long as they've been old enough to form their own opinion about design elements, our kids have hated our master bedroom. Oh, they liked the bedroom itself well-enough, but the color? The "decor"? Blech. Gag. And when they discovered that Paula and Ben agreed with them, all the better. Randy and I have never really understood what they object to. I mean, EVERYBODY has a four-foot by three-foot Coca-Cola Santa advertisement on one of their bedroom walls, right?!? Maybe not. But it works for us. And we are the ones who sleep there. Besides Sammie, but she hasn't expressed an opinion one way or the other. Since we redid the bathroom - which EVERYBODY agrees is wonderful - they've been all over us to redo the bedroom.

So, what the heck. We haven't had a really major home improvement project going for a while now. I painted that room when we moved in, 14 years ago, and we really haven't done anything in there since then. And the bed...let's just say that in 1983, when we bought it, it was a right stylin' waterbed. We replaced the water mattress with a real one when we moved into this house, but still.

We've decided on a style that can probably best be described as Frank Lloyd Wright Goes to Tuscany. We ordered furniture from Stacy Furniture in Allen (where the motto is "If you're not shoppin' with're burnin' money!"). A whole, honest-to-goodness bedroom suite! We've never had bedroom furniture that matches! It will be delivered on February 5th, so we have a definite date to be finished with everything else.

Randy is taking all the popcorn off the ceiling in the bedroom and bathroom, and I'm cleaning up after him. He's got a couple of thoughts about a ceiling treatment, but that hasn't come together yet for him. I'm not worried. He always comes up with terrific ideas. On the bedroom walls, I'm going to do a paint treatment from Behr called "Bellagio Faux" in a kind of deep-golden color combination that blends with the bathroom, but has its own particular style. The wall behind the bed presents a unique challenge. It had grasscloth when we moved in - real grasscloth, not the vinyl fake stuff. I painted it, and always thought it looked fine. But it's gonna have to go, and it won't come down without a stinkin' messy fight. We thought about just drywalling over it, but have instead decided to put up a faux stacked stone wall. Unusual? Perhaps. But, AGAIN. It works for us. And I think it'll look just doggone awesome.

We bought several neat prints and some vintage advertising posters in Greece and Italy, and I'll frame those for the walls. Can't get away from the ads. Nope. Can't do it. It's just who we are and what we like.

With a definitive date to be done, we've got a lot of work in front of us! We've got to find somebody to haul this bed away (anybody want a vintage 1980s SOLID oak waterbed frame? It would make good firewood.), and a lot of other stuff to move, sell, and/or donate. But the end result will be well-worth it, I think. And it oughta keep the kids and Paula satisfied for a while!

Santa may not make it back into this room when it's finished, but he'll find a home here somewhere. Count on it.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

New Routines

Miss Sammie seems to be settling in nicely around here. She's been a very easy dog. She's obviously a creature of habit, and since I do like my routines, it works well for both of us!

The absolute funniest thing is this: she's learned that every morning, I do pretty much the same thing. I get up, get dressed, eat breakfast while I read the newspaper and watch/listen to Mike and Mike on ESPN2, and when I am finished with that, I take her for a walk.

So she just kind of hangs out, either in the kitchen or downstairs in the den, until I get up and either give the rest of the paper to Randy, if he's home, or put it in the recycle basket. Then Sammie goes into overdrive! She just knows that her walk is FINALLY about to happen, and she runs and jumps and looks about as happy as a dog can look. And when I get the leash off the hook, she jumps and jumps until she finally remembers that I won't put the leash on her until she's still, so she sits and lets me snap on the leash, and then we're off!!

It was too, too funny on Sunday - her internal clock must've been telling her that it was about time for me to be done, because she started getting kind of restless and pawing and nosing at me. I tried to explain that on Sunday, we get TWO papers, and they're both a good bit bigger than normal! I'm not sure she quite got my point, but we went for a little bit longer walk to make up for it.

We walk most of Morningside now, and I keep extending it a little further each week, until I hope for us to be able to walk up 42nd St. to Lamar, then back down at least to Brandyn and back up 38th St. to home. That ought to be a mile and a half or two miles.

This is great for me. I've been wanting to walk more, and since Sammie so obviously loves it, it's quite the motivation to get on out there and go! So far, we've walked in the rain (it didn't start to rain until we were more than halfway through, so there wasn't anything else to do but keep on going!) and in really cold and windy weather. I hate to disappoint her, but I'm telling you - my face was freezing this morning when we got back home! I'm not sure what I will do when the day comes that the weather is really too bad to go out. I don't believe Sammie will accept "Sorry, Pup, Mom just doesn't want to go out today!"

Thursday, January 10, 2008


The kids and I gave Randy an iPod Touch for Christmas. After a tutorial from James, along with helpful hints from Amanda and me...looks like he's settling in to the Wired World nicely!!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Best Available

We went to the Independence Bowl on Sunday to see Bama play the Colorado Buffaloes. As people around us found their seats, one of our neighbors was most displeased with his seats: "I ordered these tickets online within 15 minutes of the time they went on sale, and the website said I'd get the best available!! THIS was the best available that soon after tickets went on sale?!?" Everyone around us laughed and agreed that we had all done the same thing - gotten the Best Available.

They weren't the greatest seats, to be sure, near the top of the stadium, and at the far end of the upper tier of seats. Randy teased that he'd start using that as his excuse... sorry these flowers are wilted, honey, but they were the best available! Heh-heh.

But you know what? The weather was good, the people around us were all friendly and enthusiastic Bama fans, and Bama won the game, so I think there wasn't anything any of us would have changed by the end of the evening. The Best Available really wasn't that bad at all.

So that got me thinking, here on the first day of this new year: How would our outlook on life change if we adopted Best Available as our philosophy of life?

Think about it: for most of our lives, we make choices without ever really knowing if we're making the correct ones. Choices both big and small. Paper or plastic? Democrat or Republican? Do I...pick this major, quit that job, marry this person, move to that city, eat this box of chocolates, take that trip? Sometimes we know right away if we made the right choice (I can't believe I ate the whole thing!), but oftentimes we don't know until months or even years later whether or not we've chosen wisely.

We can worry, second-guess ourselves, worry, fret, then worry some more - but frequently, the passage of time is the only judge.

How does Best Available fit into all this worrying? It doesn't, and that's the point.

When we make a choice, a decision, the Best Available philosophy tells us we need to examine the situation, weigh our options, then make the best decision we can, based on everything we know at that moment.

And then let it go, and see where it takes us. That's the hard part!

When we moved to Paris in 1990, it was with every intention of reopening the Wendy's in Paris. We examined, researched, weighed options, and made our choice. Our Best Available decision was to pack up the babies, the schnauzer, and everything we owned that would fit into a 25 foot Ryder rent truck, and hit the road back to Texas. When the Wendy's thing didn't work out quite like we planned, we swallowed hard, then looked around to see where our decision was taking us.

It took us to a really nice life. Certainly, there have been bumps and bruises, and even some pretty deep cuts, along the way, but ultimately, we can look back and see how well it all worked out.

Best Available doesn't mean settling. It doesn't mean just not making any decision and lollygagging around, waiting to see how it all works out.

It DOES mean doing your research. Your due-diligence. Asking for advice. Seeking a mentor. Praying.

Can a Best Available decision turn out badly? Surely it can. A bad job. A harmful relationship. The of chocolates. But in just about every situation, even if the choice is a bad one, if we can LEARN from it, then nothing that happened was in vain.

So. Best Available. Do your homework, swallow hard, and make your decision.

Because even if your seats aren't all that good, you'll still be in the arena for a terrific show.