Thursday, September 29, 2011

Death+Death+Death=A Whole Lot Of Life!

Sometimes it feels like you just can't take anymore.  

At about 10:45 p.m. on Wednesday, September 28th, my wonderful friend, Darlene Anderson, went home to be with Jesus.

She had physically suffered, but spiritually excelled for the past 2 years with her earthly battle with cancer.  Her body lost on Wednesday.  Her spirit won.  

For the past few years, she had been a pretty amazing warrior with her faith.  Because she knew what it was like to go through chemo, that was one of her things - going and encouraging people in their battle while they were at chemo.  She would talk, she would pray, she would encourage.  She was part of a group of woman who were trying to raise awareness about ovarian cancer.  She also would be called regularly by her surgeon when he had a similar case in another patient so that she could call and encourage that fellow cancer patient.  Instead of using her illness to mourn, she used it as a source to rejoice in God's goodness.  I know even at the end, she was sorrowful to leave her 5 children and her 3 grandchildren, but she was confident in God and His mercy and she was ready to see God's face.

I can't say more.  That was her life.  She was amazing.  I remember one time, she had a tree in the front yard (their house is surrounded by a kind of "forest") that she wanted removed and, as she didn't have the time to wait for anyone else, she grabbed a chainsaw and took it down herself.  She got me to do tri-atholons with her (I do not do marathons, but she could convince me to do anything!).  She taught me how to waterski.  There was almost nothing more she loved than our yearly trips down to Wears Valley with the youth group and you could always hear the muted excitement in her voice when we needed to grab one of the old ranch pick-ups to haul something.  She was one of those fierce warrior-woman.... 

But, I can always see her back mudroom in her house which had, and still has, a border of little handprints all around the top that she had hoisted each kid up to participate in.  Her kids are all grown now, a few with kids of their own, but she could never bring herself to paint over those little handprints.  

She went gaga over her grandkids.  

However, the whole center of her life was Christ.  She talked about him with such passion.  She lived Him with such passion.  She wasn't perfect and she would admit it, but she truly loved and knew love because of Christ.

Skiing at a youth group winter retreat

Bowling at a senior dinner for youth group

Here's one of the pick ups that Dar loved!  Although I think she was partial to the little stick shift Datsun because it was definitely more of a challenge!

Spelunking!  It does exist in the mountains of Tennessee!

With youth group at Wears Valley Ranch in Tennesse

The 3 Amigos - we spent a lot of time together -- Me, Dar and Michelle

 Ted and Darlene
 During our trip to Kazakhstan

I love you Darlene and I will always think of you every time I put on ANY pair of skis!

I also wanted to say that having my aunt pass and then Darlene and then looking back, on October 2nd, at the 2nd year since my dad passed..... I look at my coming trip to Budapest in a different light.  
I know who these three people were and I know what their hearts were.  I know what they would say now and I know what they were saying when they died.  I want their lives to be a testimony to my girls over in Budapest and I want so badly for them to know the joy that dad, Aunt June and Darlene had and have now.  They didn't have their comfort in a religion or in good things that they had done (which, though they were flawed, they all did many good things), the children they had raised or the grandchildren they had spoiled.  They didn't have their peace and comfort in the memories they had or the families and friends they left behind - I know that the last thing in their heads was Jesus and I know that the first thing in their heads when they "woke up" was Jesus.  Everything else fades, but Jesus lasts.

Much love to all the Andersons!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Dedication - New Blog

Over the weekend I found myself inspired in various different aspects and modes.

My aunt passed away last week and so we attended the funeral in South Carolina, having to drive down for the Saturday viewing and service.  We left on Thursday and tried to find ways to occupy ourselves in the car during the 12 hour ride.  One way that I always find enjoyment in long drives is via satellite radio and NPR - any show will do.

One show that was airing while on the way was Diane Rehm who very often interviews authors.  This is how I frequently come up with my book list and my large "TO READ" pile on my bedside table.  One author that was interviewed, I'm not so much interested in her book, but she did intrigue me with a thought that flexed her creative talents.  I was inspired and I decided to copy her idea but kind of in my own respects.

I've been itching for about the past 2 months to really delve more into the writing that I've always wanted to do.  Ok, I admit, I can see myself quitting my job and sitting at a desk for hours a day, tapping away on the keyboard of my Mac.... And then I come back to reality and realize that:  1.  I don't even write anymore except in my blog - doesn't count.  2.  Because I don't write that often anymore I'm not that good.  3.  The chances of me being published in the attempts to support myself outside of my current profession are dim and very near non-existent.

But, being a little on the hard-headed stubborn side, I decided to maybe make myself dip my big toe of writing into the pool of wordsmithing.  This scares me.  Anything that I do, once I start putting it out there for people to see I'm terrified of failure and, I'll admit it, imperfection.  Things that sound amazing in my head, all of a sudden look juvenile in print.

My solution to this problem is to give myself small achievable goals based on something that sparks my mind.  One link that I have with writing, thanks to my college Creative Writing teacher, Mrs Yvonne Rumsey, are pictures.  We had several assignments in school where we were given pictures and had to create a story off of the picture.  I loved that!  Some pictures just make your mind whirl because you see so many little hints and innuendos of what might be that you start questioning everything that you do see.

My new brainchild to keep those creative cogs whirring is something I like to call: Stories From A Snapshot.

Every Monday evening, I plan on publishing a small story based on a photo that I've caught someplace.  Most of the time, I have no clue who is in the photo or what is going on around them, sometimes I do.  Either way, you mind can come up with so many different options for what might be.  And oftentimes, what might be is better than what actually is.

The final piece of my Snapshots is that, these stories will all be ten sentence-short.  I love the idea of compacting a story into such a short snippet that you can read it within a few moments.  And then your mind can twist and turn through all the places that that springboard of a story can take you.

I've opened another blog on Wordpress and I'll give you the new address at the end of this post.  I'll also create a link on my post for you to go to the new blog.  I'll also remind you with a link every Monday.

For my first post, I was inspired by my Aunt June.  I was contemplating on her life and who she is and who she was to me and the times we've shared together and I come back, quite often, to one of our last trips to the UK.  I know that that trip was pretty special to her as she has a huge collage of photos she put together on her kitchen wall showcasing different places we visited while on our "grand tour".

I started browsing through our photos from England and there's one photo that struck me and unfolded itself in front of my eyes.

We were coming down from Scotland to England, headed to see Terence Askew, a cousin, in Grandpa's home of Bolton-On-Dearne.  I had been wanting to see Hadrian's Wall and so I convinced everyone that we should go a little off track and stop along the way.  Since the wall runs between the border of England and Scotland and is very expansive, just about any place will do.  We ended up stopping in a field where little white puffs of sheep were grazing.  We crossed a little brook and then Aunt June and I decided to go a little farther in the field.  I can still hear her little cries of "Bah!" with that little scream she did as she dodged around the little gifts left by the sheep.  We stayed for a while and poked around and then headed on to our evening hotel in Bolton On Dearne and a nice warm pub dinner.

This very first post, the opening to StoriesFromASnapshot, is dedicated to my Aunt June and the amazing and beautiful person that she was and, through God, is!  I know that she left an amazing (but highly flawed) family and life but is in an even more amazing place with the MOST amazing God ever!

Please join my new venture and check where my mind is every week on StoriesFromASnapshot.  Give me your comments and critiques.  Enjoy where my imagination can go and let your imagination start its own journey as well.

With all my love to Dawn, Tammy, Shelley and Lisa -- and many thanks to Aunt June for inspiring me in so many different ways!  I love you ASKEWS!

Friday, September 23, 2011


I hate saying goodbyes.  I think everyone does.  But the goodbyes are even worse when its the absolute last time you'll ever ever be able to say goodbye.

It turns out that this was one of those last times for me to say my goodbye to my Aunt June.

On September 19th, around 3:30 a.m., my lovely Aunt June went home to be with Jesus.  It was a sad day,  It was a happy day.

Aunt June had had her bladder removed due to bladder cancer.  She then went through a lot that she was on the road to recovery from, but a few weeks back, she started taking a turn for the worse and ended up in the hospital for pretty much the last days of her life.  She passed away in a supposedly wonderful hospice care facility with 3 of her 4 daughters around her and the 4th with her in heart and spirit.  She was at peace when she passed and she was ready to go and had let all her girls know that she was wanting to go.

There is so much that I'll miss about Aunt June - I'll miss her little laugh, I'll miss her ear that was always ready to listen,  I'll miss her silly side and the way she would ask you questions about your life, but not too probing, just enough to get you talking and then she'd just listen.  She always had this way of just making you want to talk, even if you weren't a talker-about-your-lifer....  You just somehow wanted to tell her stuff and she just listened and somehow things just seemed right and better.  She was a gentle sweet woman (most of the time - until she had a point to be spunky :)) and she really really just loved God and wanted to know more about Him.  She was one of those people who would learn more about God and just become a more loving, gentle person because of it.  Thats true growth and she was the best example of that!

Thanks for all the laughs, the trips, the shared rooms, the dinners/lunches/breakfasts out, shopping, advice -- thanks for being the most fun and loving aunt ever!  I know you're better off, but you'll still be missed!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Nutella-in You, I'm Hooked On Nutella!

I had the taste of Nutella in my mouth since last week....

Its funny, but if you stay at the same place enough times, you become acquainted with the surroundings more.  This last week in San Francisco, I stay where I always stay in Millbrae.  Theres a Walgreens and a shopping area down the road from the hotel that I've frequented before, but I guess I never probed this little cafe that much.  I always thought this place was an Italian restaurant and this time, I chanced to go in and find out that its a coffee shop!  Whats more, its a coffee shop that does this special latte - a NUTELLA LATTE!  I LOVE Nutella and so I tried this treat and found that I absolutely adored it.  I wound up going down during my remaining 3 days in Millbrae and I got almost two of these things a day.  I figured that I would stock up on it while I could as I don't know anyplace here thats creative enough to thing of a Nutella Latte.

So, with the taste of Nutella in my mouth, I've entered the weekend....

I can't remember if I posted it a week or so ago, but I did a Nutella cupcake recipe and I must say, I was sorely disappointed with the whole thing.  It was a vanilla cupcake (which I've not really found a good recipe for vanilla cupcakes - I've found one that I'm going to try sooner or later) with swirl of Nutella baked in and then topped with a Nutella buttercream frosting.  Yuck.... The cake was dry and the Nutella swirl was just heavy and gloppy and the buttercream was too textured and sweet.  Yuck yuck yuck.  And again - yuck.

I figured that it would be best to stick with a chocolate cupcake and maybe add Nutella.  I ended up doing my favorite chocolate cake recipe, only instead of the dark cocoa that I usually add, I did regular cocoa.  Then, once baked, I took a little glop of cake out of the middle and piped in some straight Nutella.  I topped it with this fabulous Nutrella frosting recipe that I found.  This one is NUTELLA-ICIOUS!


Blend these two together until completely mixed

Add these ingredients to the mixture above.
Will frost 12-15 cupcakes

Walking On A Rainy Afternoon

"Yes sir, yes sir, two bags full" echoed through my mind as I followed Calvin home from our rainy, Sunday afternoon walk.  It was dreary and drizzly and dark and I was doing what I could to keep my mind occupied - today, literature seemed to be my theme!

As we walked along with our heads down to avoid torrents of rain from blinding our view, I looked down on the road to find a partially smooshed frog.  Poor thing - brought to mind some of my most favorite lines from Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens...

'"Can I view thee panting, lying 
     On thy stomach, without sighing; 
     Can I unmoved see thee dying 
     On a log 
     Expiring frog!"' 

'Beautiful!' said Mr. Pickwick. 

'Fine,' said Mr. Leo Hunter; 'so simple.' 

'Very,' said Mr. Pickwick. 

'The next verse is still more touching. Shall I repeat it?' 

'If you please,' said Mr. Pickwick. 

'It runs thus,' said the grave man, still more gravely. 

     '"Say, have fiends in shape of boys, 
     With wild halloo, and brutal noise, 
     Hunted thee from marshy joys, 
     With a dog, 
     Expiring frog!"' 

'Finely expressed,' said Mr. Pickwick. 

Can you beat a good Dickens quote on a fine rainy afternoon?

Before we walked, I had just finished talking to my BFF, Melissa, and her son, Jack, who has just started really going to school full time.  He's been in a special needs class previously that hasn't really challenged him and so now, he's in a new place and a new school and he's been going full day and has been challenged academically.  I asked him today what he liked to do best at school and Melissa told me that his teachers have said that he really excels in, and likes, reading.  Melissa and I both sigh with delight - a child after our own hearts.  I ask him what kind of books he likes to read and (technically he says "why?" but the final answer is) he likes adventure.  Melissa says he loves for her to read books to him about boys who are in the woods or the wilderness and have to survive.  My first thought is - how these boys getting left in the woods so that they have to survive?!  My second thought is - I'm a girl - I don't know off hand of books that boys get left in the woods and have to survive.  I know books about boys, but not about surviving, wilderness boys.  I know The Boxcar Children - thats kind of survival, right?  Where you don't have a rolling pin so you have to use a green glass bottle -- the shear horror!

Anyone else out there know of adolescent books for boys about the wilderness and survival?  Open for suggestions as I'd like to get him a few books!


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Adorable Airedale - Calvin!

I just delivered Chancellor to his new owner's in TX and they've given me a call asking me some questions so - I went on line to see if I could find answers because I'm curious myself.  I went to a couple websites and ended up back at Calvin's breeder's website, Stoneridge.  On her site, she had another site posted for a woman in NY who has a photography business and owns two airedales.  She had a blog connected and she has a ton of posts of her airedales, one she got about a year ago so she was posting as they went along with their puppy.  It made me reminiscent of my puppy and his awesome photos - he's such a good poser.....

So I went back and dug up some of the photos I had in my photo album just to reminisce.... a lot of his baby pictures are on discs at home, I might have to dig through and find some of those picts....

But for now....

 Could he BE more relaxed!  I'm jealous!

 Dad and Cal when they used to read the paper together on the back porch....

 Curious Calvin explores the tree that was just taken down...
And comes out with some schmoot on his face...

 Calvin is ready to take Bailey for her walk


 Furry, warm and comfy...

 Silly Calvin and his monkey - that sounds bad, but its not... :)

 Pitiful Calvin-face and his bunny - again - sounds bad, but its not :)

 Mama and Calvin enjoying some snowtime - not ready for it again this year, but we'll enjoy it!

 Stubborn Calvin says - not walks, or love or treats can get me to the bathtub!

 Good baby - such an awesome traveller!  This trip was 12 hours and this was what he did almost the whole time!

And just to get you in the fall mood!

Thats my baby!

Those Old Oregonians!

One more post for the night....

Here's a little something to make you chuckle!  At least my mom doesn't even try with the computer!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Book Review(s)

I grabbed this book when I was in the Cleveland airport killing time.  I had just finished another book and this one caught my eye.  Who can resist anything Russian.  Music, poetry, art, books - if its Russian, its tortured and just so emotionally clutching.  You hear Russian music and you're like - ah - I feel like I'm a peasant in some field and I feel anguish and -- well, anyways, you get the idea - TORTURED....  I love Russian literature - its so dramatic.

So anyways, I picked this book up because I'm just so taken and haunted by Russian stuff.  Elif Batuman is the author.  She's Turkish and she's a professor at Stanford.  In fact, I've been working at Stanford and I've sworn that one of these times I'm going to email her and try to meet up with her.  I am so intrigued by her.

Possessed is her story of her possession, like mine, with all things Russian.  She takes most of the major Russian authors and then creates her story that intermeshes with them.  Its about her travels in different countries for study and for teaching.  She introduces a lot of different authors including one or two that I'd never really heard of.  I'm still trying to track down some lit from Isaac Babel - I'm getting ready to Amazon it.

Its definitely a fun read and informative, but a little too much personal stuff about her life sometimes, my thought.  Oh, there's one part where she talks about the Ice Palace that Anna Ivonaova had built in St Petersburg... again, those Russians...

Axis Sally - The American Voice of Nazi Germany.  Written by Richard Lucas.  Picked up from a Borders clearance sale by Alison Behn.  This was literally one of those "LOOK!  CHEAP BOOKS!"  purchases which turned out to be a pleasant surprise.  I think everyone has heard the name Axis Sally and many people may even know a little bit about her.  Well, now I know a lot about her!   The author states in the beginning that, basically, he knows she did a bad thing but he was trying to be a very unpartisan party and give her a "fair trial" by showing what her life really was.  He goes from her birth to her death and everything in between including her whole history in Germany and the only thing that I really drew out of it all was that, until the day she died, she protested her guilty conviction of treason and - she was an extremely stupidly self-centered person.  She cared so much about clothes and nice things and fame that she would literally have starved herself.

This was definitely an interesting book as the author made it so and I, swallowed it up within a few days.  Its a pretty easy read, at least, considering I liked the subject matter.

I love love love anything written by Erik Larsen!  Two of my favorites being "Devil In the White City" and "Isaac's Storm" -- you'll have to check these out on line or at your local bookstore (which after this Saturday, there will be one less in your neighborhood :(   ).

Larsen has a really approachable way of writing so even people who aren't into history (I'm not saying I'm not) are intrigued.  He knows how to mesh history with "dirt" and comes out with a wonderfully intriguing story.  All is historical but pasted together to give a big picture of a family that was sent to Berlin as the US Amabassador during the beginning of the Hitler-regime.  This is the view of the amabassador himself as well as his daughter who was momentarily taken in by all the robust German lifestyle, the rosy cheeks and the country's "team" spirit.  

As always, Erik Larsen can takes little points that most other authors would overlook and paint a big picture of a time and place that is completely tied together.

Definitely read this one!  Its about 300 pages and I flew through it in about 4 days!

And I am now currently caught up on my reading list.  I've got one in my bag right now that is an exceptionally interesting topic - but I won't spoil the surprise for a future post!

Happy reading!


My apologies for the fuzzy downloaded pictured, but its the best I could do in light of my extreme emotional yogurt-less pain.  About five or six years ago when I first landed on the shores of my mother's family's motherland (aka England), I popped into a Tesco (which is like their Target/SuperTarget) for groceries and I discovered eternal bliss!  I discovered Tesco Finest Yogurt!  That day, in Bolton on Dearne, my yogurt expectations were forever changed.  Before, I ate yogurt because its supposed to be good for you and its a quick breakfast, blah blah blah.  After that day, I stockpiled my Tesco Finest Yogurt and ate it on EVERY occasion.  Dinner, Lunch, Breakfast (twice there).  Its the MOST AMAZING YOGURT ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH!  Of course, because its England, they use like cream and all this decadent stuff so its really not even like eating yogurt.  I can't even explain the taste, but its heaven!  

So, the next time I went back to England I at once stockpiled again and then I did my day countdown based on how much longer I had to eat Tesco Finest Yogurt - yes - its THAT good!

I went to Hungary, to Japan and Germany and rushed to their Tesco to find Finest Yogurt - it doesn't exist outside of England :(

But, last night, I made a trek from my hotel in Millbrae down to the Safeway a few blocks away.  I have a mini fridge in my room so I picked up some food to do breakfasts and such.  I usually get Chobani Greek Yogurt as I'm obsessed with that (but thanks to my friend Cathy, I have to buy the fruit stuff, but I no longer mix the fruit up into the yogurt but just eat the top -- mom says "just get vanilla", but its different - the sweet from the fruit carries up and makes the plain old yogurt just delicious).  Anyways - I reached for the Chobani and then I noticed a sales on Danon Oikos Greek Yogurt.  I've eaten it before but not been that impressed.  But the sale yogurt that said Oikos looked a little different than the containers that I'd usually eaten out of.  So I grabbed 4 (as the sale was 4 for $5) - the only flavor available being raspberry and that made me a little sad because I usually only do strawberry.  

This morning, I was getting ready to go and I grabbed a yogurt, popped it open and noticed right away that it was like premixed fruit flavor.  The fruit is usually on the bottom and the yogurt on top is white, but this yogurt was a light pink and you could see some of the raspberries.  Right away I thought, hmm, I've seen this before - in the Tesco yogurt.  I dug my spoon in and put a bite into my innocent mouth - AND I DIED!  AH!!!!  It tasted just like the Tesco Finest Yogurt!  Ok - not exactly - but pretty dog gone close!

I've found it!  Eureka!  Honestly - you don't know how often I think about that yogurt!  And I've found it!  So - if you want to get a little taste of England's Tesco Finest Yogurt - go out and grab a container of Dannon Oikos Greek Yogurt...  Its a solid blue container that says "traditional", not the fruit on the bottom one.  The blue container shape looks kind of like the Chobani container.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Strange Bird Of San Francisco

I'm in San Francisco for the week.  Actually, staying in Millbrae at my usual "home" at the Fairfield Inn off of El Camino Real but working in the city.

The reps I'm working with live in East Bay and so they had asked me to rent a car and I dumbly went on-line to book, not even thinking of arguing.  For some odd reason, every rental car place from the aiport to here was booked and there was nothing available except a 12 passenger van, which I didn't much feel like tooling around in.  So, my original option was to rent a car near the BART as my Millbrae hotel is about a block from the Millbrae station.  So I hopped the BART out to Civic Center and then got the message from my rep tomorrow that I'm meeting her by Fremont and I'll be dog gone if the BART there isn't right across from the hospital.  I was all the way to Enterprise and I thought - why am I wasting the money and the time and hassle its going to be to have a car?  I'm going city!

This is what I love about public transit, you totally get to know a city not only logistically but holistically -- how do you like that alliteration... :)  Truly, you have to figure out the grid of the city and then as you travel, you see all kinds of people on public transit, not to mention when you get out and have to walk to your final destination.

Taking the BART today as I did, I was reminded how eclectic and crazy San Francsico is.  Its so diverse - and so strange.

I boarded my first train at Fruitvale to go to Civic Center.  Fruitvale is primarily latino and so that was the mass of people boarding there.  I believe I was the only white person on the train that I could see.  But then we went down a stop or two and a lot of black people started getting on.  And then I started noticing that there was a a pretty good group of Asian people sitting in a pocket by themselves.  The thing that everyone had in common was - young and old - they all had out some type of media.  Some laptops, a few Ipads and a majority of cell phones which were being used as internet and game devices.  I saw one Asian girl with an actual book and a highlighter -- I liked her best... :)

Then I get off the train at Civic Center and I'm walking through an area that looked a little questionable.  A lot of homeless, or at least people who looked stereotypically homeless.  At one point, I was walking past a little alcove in a building and there was a small jut out ledge that a man was sitting on.  He was rocking back and forth and he was doing something with his nose that I couldn't quite make out, until I got closer and saw that he literally had the nozzle of an aerosol can stuck up his nose.  I've heard you can do that, but call me naive, I've never actually seen anyone doing that!

And then there were the goth-dreadlocked people hanging out at the corner of Market and 8th.  She had on red and black striped tights and everything else was black including her massive head of dread locks. Which, she must have shared her dread-lock potion with her boyfriend who had the same mass of matted hair plus enough piercings to sink a steamer.  There were vegans and transvestites and pajama clad latino women running down the sidewalk yelling at their fleeing boyfriend.  Its all normal and everyday here in San Francisco.

After my decision to ditch the car and go local, I walked back to Civic Center to take the train to Millbrae.  Our second stop on this train brought a rather large blind man with his cane who entered the car and swung his cane around at every seat while people shrank back trying to avoid sure injury until one kind man finally stood and just took the blind man's arm and directed him to a seat.  I might have done so, but he and his cane were still a few rows in front of my seat.

The bay area brings a lot cooler weather.  The fog will still be creeping over the city at noon and then the sun will finally get the strength to break through in the late afternoon and then the air starts to warm up.  In the meantime, drive 5 minutes west and you immediately go from 60F to 90F with bright blue skies and piercing rays of sun blinding your unprepared eyes.  Its such a drastic difference.  As I took the train from the city to Millbrae, the track rises up quite a ways above the road and overlooks the bay area.  You could see the pockets of fog that were still lingering around 1:30.

Millbrae itself, off of El Camino Real, is highly Asian, primarily Japanese, but interspersed with other races.  There are about 10 Japanese restaurants in walking distance and about as many Thai.  I'm sitting at Thai Stick right now, one of my favorite places to go because its very near my hotel and has good food.  Its funny that last week I was eating Mexican in San Antonio until it was coming out my ears, but here, I'm sitting on El Camino Real and eating Thai food.

I've never had a lot of extra time in Millbrae, but this week I've got 4 days that I'll be here and am primarily working mornings so, I'll have a little extra time to spend on running or blogging or catching up on email.  I figure I'll go out running a little later on and get to know the back streets of Millbrae a little better.  I'm out to find a good coffee shop that I can pop into in the mornings before I head to the BART to see some more of wild and crazy San Francisco.  Its always an adventure when you're in the Bay area!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering Who We Are On Sept 11th

10 years ago today, I was waking up in Bismarck, ND with my friend and colleague Karla.  We had travelled in late the night before from Minneapolis to do some work on the Dakota planes and so we were getting ready a little later than usual.  As I got out of the shower,  I came out to find Karla standing in front of the tv with her mouth open watching as the one of the twin towers in NY exploded into flames.  As she was explaining to me what had happened, we watched as a second plane went into tower 2.

And ever since then, our lives have been different.  I'm reminded of that every time I go to the airport to get on a plane.  I'm reminded of that every time you turn on the news and they're reporting from the middle east.  I'm reminded of that every time I work in DC and drive past the Pentagon where you can still see the shiny new addition to the missing Pentagon section.  Have we continued to go on with life - yes - do we hurt - yes - will we one day not hurt as much - yes.

But in the meantime, as I travel I-65 from Indianapolis this fine Sunday morning and looked up at almost every overpass over the highway, I see firefighters waving flags down at the traffic below and I think, its definitely reminded us about how much we treasure our flag and who we are and I thank God for the many things He has given us.

Namely, I'm thankful that, even though the world thinks we oftentimes look stupid and sometimes it goes a little too far, I'm glad that we can still be a generous people in spite of our pride and our strength.  That we'll go the extra mile to help right a wrong or someone in need.  Again, I suppose you have to take the good with the bad, but I'm sure there are a lot of families today who have benefitted from the love and outpouring and compassion and care they received 10 years ago as they underwent one of the most traumatic periods of their lives.

On this Sunday, I thank God for the freedom that I had to sit in the church of my choice and listen to a sermon from the Bible without any fears of being arrested or having people harm us.  I'm thankful that we have that right to share our beliefs that, as strong as we think we are, God is the one that is in charge of ultimately righting wrongs and He has it all in His control.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Leaving San Antonio

Its early.  I have a flight at 6:55 that goes back through Charlotte and then to Chicago.  I think I get in noonish which is nice because it leaves the rest of the day for me to get some work done.

As I left the hotel early this morning, I could smell smoke in the air.  The wildfires are about 2 hours outside of San Antonio but there are warnings all over that there is a danger of fires.  The blinking highway signs warn of the danger and of smoke that may obstruct your view.  I've not really experienced any signs until this morning.  The smell was pretty strong.  Everything is dry and brown down here - I must admit that I feel bad leaving Chance since he had been running around in our lush green grass of Chicago....  No lush here!

Another oddity that I saw at the airport.  This is a huge airport for military.  Some places you go you see the occasional solider, but then other places, its swarming with military because of a base or a hub for transport or something.  There are military all over here - in their dress uniforms and in their camouflage and then there are ones who are just in their shorts going somewhere but they're marked by their big camouflage duffle bags.  This morning, waiting to get into the security line - I've never seen this before - it was a military guy in his camouflage, a Muslim.  He was very definitely Muslim as he had headgear on, but he also had his wife and kids with him and you can never mistake them.  They weren't Seik or anything else, they were very definitely Muslim.  I don't have a problem with it - I'm just saying it because its so so odd.  I've never seen it before, at least someone who was just out there and wore his usual religious garb with the uniform.  I wonder if he is given a really hard time places or in the service.  I mean I know that can't technically give him a hard time, but it doesn't stop fellow soliders from giving him a hard time.

I had another blonde moment this morning when I strutted down to "my" gate and put my ticket at the counter and demanded to be moved to an aisle seat due to my gold status, only to be informed "um, this is United, you're flying US Air".  Oh - hahahaha.... excuse - turn and walk away quickly....  I did get my aisle seat down at US Air - something in their system never allows me to move myself on-line so I have to do it in person.  And, just so I don't look TOTALLY stupid (shut up Karl, and Pat...) US Air is affiliated with United so my status will apply.  I was in the right area, just the wrong counter:)

Stay tuned later today when I finish catching up by posting my updated BOOK REVIEW(S).  Its been a while and I actually do read so I have a few books to catch everyone up on!  Some good ones too!  One of them I just finished reading in about 3 days!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Flying Puppies In San Antonio

So here's the quickie story....

I worked with a rep in San Antonio at the beginning of the year.  During the day, Marion told Katie (who was the other rep who was with us as well) and me about her daughter, Abbi.  Abbi was crazy obsessed with animals and, more specifically, dogs.  She had been begging for a dog since like kindergarten and she's now 11.  She loves animals so much that she always begs to go with friends or anyone who is taking their dog to the vet - she just wants to be by those doggies.  

Katie showed Marion a picture of her westies and I showed her picts of Calvin, the wonder Airedale.... She LOVED my baby and she asked me to send the picts to her.  I did, and she showed Abbi just because she thought she'd think he was so cute.  She was not thinking about getting the dog, but Abbi absolutely fell in love with my Cal Cal - who could blame her.  She begged and begged and - she even went so far as to study up on Airedales and she put a power point presentation together.  She put a ppt presentation together to "sell" Marion on getting an Airedale.  Ah - Marion has taught her well... :)  Marion actually made a copy of the presentation for me and Abbi has all these facts and stuff about them - and then she has the "credits" page with all of her resources and - I'm at the end "special thanks to Alison Behn".  Isn't that HILARIOUS!  This little 11 year old puts a sales presentation together!

Long and short, one day Marion calls me and asks me if I could go and take a look at some puppies and pick one out for them.  I ended up saying that if she gets some work together for me then I'd just bring the puppy down for them so they don't have to ship it down by itself.

The only issue was that, the puppy was supposed to be picked up last Friday and I couldn't leave until Tuesday so - for a few days, I got to be thankful that I don't have a puppy... :)  I'm very happy with my CC and all of his wonderful good boy behavior.  Don't get me wrong, Chance was a wonderful puppy - he didn't really have any accidents in the house and as soon as you put him out he'd pee.  He slept most of the nights, but he was still a puppy and you had to watch him.  It was overall just busy and tiring.

When I got to the breeders house to pick up the puppy, there were three little boys, two different families, who were also waiting to pick up their puppies.  They were adorable.  The two boys were Russian or something and they were a really cute family - very smart and quiet but you could tell they were so excited to get their first puppy.  The little boy here below was about 6 and they didn't tell him until they came into Janet's (the breeders) house that he was getting a puppy.  Oh my word - you should have seen the look on his face.  He was just so so excited!  We all had to sit around waiting for the people to come with the puppies - they were coming from OH so they ended up being late.  This little boy kept on going to the front door and looking out and when he saw them coming he was just screaming and jumping up and down "they're here they're here - the puppies are here!"  His mom had to go over and say "be calm" and then he was just trying to stand still while he screamed "ok, ok, ok...."  It was so adorable!  I wanted to cry!  Here he is trying to find the puppy that he wants - he and the other boys were getting girls.  Abbi wanted a boy so I had three to pick from.
These are the three little boys....
After I picked my boy out, I brought him over by my office because I had a bunch of people wanting to see the puppy.  They all fell in love and some of them almost didn't give him back :)

 On Saturday, we took the dogs to the dog park at the beach at Lake MI.   Chance loved the water and he ended up being a real little swimmer.  Pat brought him in and he started doggy paddling right away...
Calvin took a little walk along the beach and then we actually got him to go in and wade around in the water  - it was a pretty hot day so he was actually okay with going in.

 Chance also got a bunch of walks at the dog park.  Well, at least he'd walk for about 5 minutes and then he'd just lay down on the ground and curl up..... That meant it was time to pick him up and walk with him.  When he did walk, he liked to either walk with Cal or gallup along behind him.  It was pretty cute.
 When he was at home - he just liked to "bother" Calvin.  But then, being in the same room with him constituted "bothering" Calvin... Can you see the look in Cal's eyes "WHY?"
 Another walk at the dog park on a cooler day found Randy stuffing the little guy in his shirt to keep him warm.
 Chance gets yelled at by Bailey.  But she was pretty tolerant of him and even started playing with him at the end.
 Here's Chance again in his packing bag -ready for the plane.  He was so so good on the plane that no one even knew I had a dog until we'd go to get off and he'd pop his head out.  We had two flights - one from O'hare to Charlotte and then Charlotte to San Antonio.  He was so good both times.  SUCH a good boy!
 This is Abbi with her puppy....
 This is her brother Robbie who is a senior in high school this year.

 This was the adorable thank you card that Abbi wrote to me - she wrote one to Janet too.  I love it.  Oh - and she's sent Calvin a thank you card too... :)
I was sad to leave little Chance, but I'm happy to go back to my puppy and I'm happy to leave a little girl in San Antonio all smiles with a new puppy!