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Hair
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Daina
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July 18th, 2007

Solsbury Hill

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Hair
Okay, another post that has NOTHING to do with boxing, but this was just...yay!

Last night (July 17th) was the Highlander's and my 8th anniversary. Even though we ain't got money (there's a song in there somewhere), we've sort of developed a tradition over the past 5 years that I really enjoy that doesn't cost us a thing.

Back on our 3rd anniversary, I put together a list of songs that really represented our entire relationship history up to that point (the high tech version of the tape of songs couples used to make for each other back in high school!). I put them into a playlist on my Musicmatch program, then, in the Notes section, I wrote a little blurb about each one. For example, the first song is "Boy From New York City" (since the Highlander lived in New York and I was in Dallas when we met). I wrote:

Kevin Burke, bachelor farmer, super uncle and generally laid back guy. He works all day, goes out on weekend nights, hunts during the season and sleeps when his body tells him to. He's out of the race for the right girl and has decided to enjoy life the way it is.

Poor bastard...doesn't even know how miserable he is! ;-)


When I first did this, there were 10 songs for the first part of our relationship, where we met online and really fell for each other. I used songs like "Take A Chance on Me" by ABBA and "I Just Want to Hang Around You" by George Benson. Then there's another 10 for when we met in person and things initially went sour because SOME dumb sprite was too afraid of commitment. I had some pretty sad songs there like "I Don't Know How To Love Him" by Helen Reddy (from Jesus Christ Superstar) and Please Mister Please" from Olivia Newton-John (on that one, I began with "Once you've reached the country music phase, you're missing someone too much!") and the last 10 for our amazing reunion and the two more separations afterward, all the way to our finally being together permanently. That part ends with "At Last" by Etta James and "Our House" by CSNY.

Anyway, it's become habit to listen to this set of songs on each anniversary. We read the blurbs all over again and sit and talk about where we were, how we were, and even WHO we at that time (plus we usually dance to our favorite ones). It had sort of become a musical timeline of our lives between 1997 and 2002, so for our 5th anniversary, I decided to go back and add a song for each year we'd been married. I already had songs up to the 3rd anniversary, so for the 4th, I added "You Just Can't Smile It Away" by Bill Withers (the song we danced to our first night in our new and VERY empty house) and the 5th was "As" by Stevie Wonder (where I began the blurb with "Our 5th anniversary...and now we're old enough to find meaning in obscure Stevie Wonder songs!") The blurbs have become longer each year so that I'm now writing short letters to go with each song and just adding it to the list. The list itself I've finally put into a Word Document so we can read it while we listen to the songs.

Which brings me to out 8th year...

This year's song was" Solsbury Hill" by Peter Gabriel. It was the song playing when I drove him home from the hospital a few weeks ago (he had a myelogram done to see what was wrong with his neck), and we were REALLY scared about it. Everyone told him how bad the pain could be and he put it off for months. So, as I looked over at him looking all worn out and tired, with the sun shining in on him, I was so overwhelmed that I suddenly had to just thank God for letting my hubby come home safe and sound. The song just wouldn't leave my head, thought, so after researching it a bit, I found out it's a song about changing your life and being ready to lose what you have for what you might get and just letting go in general.

That's been a HUGE thing for us this year...we had to choose to give up our home, most certainly gave up our pride, our personal and physical comfort and many other things, only to find out that fate had other things in mind. We gave up the house, only to find a last minute option that let us keep it and got us back on track financially again. The Highlander gave up working at the lab to sink everything into trying to become a teacher and we discovered that, even though he made less, we actually saved some money in not having him drive clear to Buffalo, plus he was SO much happier that we spent LESS time at the doctor's in pain. Because of the pain, we both gave in and decided to do this myelogram in the first place, knowing it meant he'd be in horrible pain for a solid week, but found out it wasn't as bad as we thought. We gave up any hope of having a child, only to discover how important the kids we teach have now become to us, as well as each other. And about 10 years ago for the Highlander and 6 for me, we both chose to leave our homes and families to live with the one we committed out lives to (he moved down to Texas where I was and we both moved back up to Western New York where he was from).

Sometimes you just have to give up your comfort zone to move on to the next big thing in your life.

And through all that, we've had each other. He's been my silent, stalwart companion in the storm, keeping me calm and centered when I thought I might crash on the rocks, while I've gone and STARTED storms for him, being his lightning and thunder when he needed someone to speak up on his behalf or to get him motivated. Each of us has been there to protect and care for the other.

So, what have we learned in 8 years? Life isn't always what we planned, but when you
feel like you're "in a rut" or "part of the machinery" and you have to let fate take over, I hope each of YOU has a person like I do that can come to you, give you a hug and say:

"Grab your things, I've come to take you home."

The (thankful for 8 happy years) Sprite & the (hoping for many more) Highlander

June 27th, 2007

Wild Kingdom After Dark

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So, the other morning before work, I'm looking out out big picture window and admiring the view when all of the sudden, I see these 3 squirrels going nuts in the yard (and not the "food gathering" nuts, either!). They're going crazy all over the yard, so I start describing things to the Highlander:

"Oh, honey, you gotta see this! These squirrels are jumping all over each other...they're all rollin' around and then they get up and chase each other to another tree...oh, man, that one nearly pile-drove that other into the dirt! (laughter) Okay, they're running past the oak now...that one keeps trying to jump on the other...actually, both of those ones are...well, that's not exactly...huh...(tilting my head sideways)...okay, not sure this is just playtime now...ohhhh...okay, if Snoop Squirrelly Dogg comes out of the other tree and asks anyone to show their fur, that would just complete this whole scenario."

Just as I'm realizing I'm actually watching Wild Kingdom After Dawn, I look over and and see the most bizzare thing I've ever seen. A long time ago, the folks who used to live here put a stump upside down near our little patio area and it overgrew with tiny vines and such so that it's a natural seat (although in past years, the termites have about worn it away). It's about 2 feet high so you can imagine my surprise when I see a full grown groundhog sitting ON TOP of it. His back is to me (about 8 feet away) and he's WATCHING THE SQUIRRELS!!!

Seriously, I did NOT want to know what else that groundhog was doing.

Later on, I saw this video on Yahoo. http://video.yahoo.com/video/play?vid=687851&fr=&cache=1  Honestly, if that groundhog had turned around and looked at me like this (with the music and everything), it would have just made the entire MOMENT!

Which reminds me of another animal tale that I gotta share!

Back when I was doing the GT program in my district, I had my kids doing a research project with a PowerPoint presentation. The 4th and 5th graders had to research their dream job, including the college to go to, the classes, the volunteer opportunities, etc., while my 3rd graders got to do their favorite animals. It was a combination of learning computer usage and research skills, so it was a fabulous higher level activity. Anyway, one of the 3rd graders chose to do her project on whales. After doing the research and all the typing, I let the kids surf the net and look for pictures to add to their presentations. This little girl came up with the picture from this article: http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/bl_blue_whale.htm

She NEVER noticed it, but had it in her presentation. I came by the DAY BEFORE we were supposed to be showing these at the district open house and had to swallow my heart when I saw it. I think I said something along the lines of: "So how's it gooo-ohhh-uh-oh...ing, hon?" Since she didn't notice and no other kid was paying attention, I just said, "That's a GREAT pic, but I think we can find one less grainy, don't you?" Then I QUICKLY opened the Explorer screen, found a pic she loved even better and told everyone to take their bathroom break while I cut and pasted the new shot, thus saving my life and career in one fell swoop.

Hmm...maybe all these animals are just trying to show off for ME! I'm the Animal Copulation Whisperer! :-O

May 12th, 2007

Gox Box Sox Revisited

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Well, I just went out and got the mail today and lo, there in our box were gox box sox from dbltall, along with the brand new Gox Box Sox HH (here's a pic of them at the Woolrich catalogue http://www.woolrich.com/CGI-BIN/LANSAWEB?WEBEVENT+L3D74537A45138000EA4303U+PRD+ENG)!

I was laughing like an idiot until I actually put them ON!

Oh...
...my...
...GOD!!!

These sox...I mean, SOCKS are AMAZING! They are SOOO on my list for boxing wear (and daily wear, really...after all, we're in upstate NY, where Winter goes for the winter...and summer...and spring break...and the vernal equinox...!). First, they're the right color (I LOVE blue and those wintry sweater type patterns). Second, they're merino wool, so they're warm AND soft and have this delightfully cushy feel to them everywhere I walk. I'm walking around barefoot in them now and making sounds that the Highlander normally associates with a different room of the house! And finally, they're MINE! Muhahahahahahhaaaaaaa!

I'm telling you, I'm going online to get more of these because I will TOTALLY PAY for this kinda sex...I mean, SOCKS! :-)

April 5th, 2007

School Daze & True Love

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I just gotta tell everyone what an awesome day Kevin and I had at my school. He's been subbing for folks in my building (including me...gotta love having the inside track on your kids when you're gone!), so we've been getting to hang out with each other at different points during the day. It's great because he's finally happy doing something he enjoys and I get to see the glow on his face all the time!

But today was a full day of pretty much everything I do that makes me proud to be a teacher. This morning we did our simulation of the Underground Railroad, where my 4th graders act as runaway slaves and every classroom in the building agrees to act as "stations" to harbor them (the cafeteria is Canada). We do a ton of journal entries on it and they have to answer a question from our chapter on the Underground Railroad to even get into the stations. I made this game up in the car on the way to school four years ago and now all the buildings in our district have done it at least once.

After lunch, we did our 1st Annual Retro Talent Show (thought that one up after listening to JACK FM on the way home a few months ago!). All the people that wanted to did a dance, lipsync or some other act to a song from the 70's or before. We had a bunch of kid acts, a group of parents who sang Movin' On Up for our 5th graders, the whole 5th grade doing Ain't No Mountain High Enough, me in the lion mascot costume as my class sang "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" and nearly all the teachers did the Locomotion, which we did twice to get everyone out of the auditorium and back to class in time to pack up and leave at the end of the day.

Meanwhile, the kindergarten had their Easter parade right before the show; our principal, who was the MC, couldn't make it from his meeting at the board office until literally the last possible second before the show started, so the school band played Louie, Louie like 6 times waiting for him to start the show (thought the horn section was going to pass out!) and every class in the building was attempting to have some brand of Easter party at once, so kids were walking around the school handing out cupcakes and stuff while being all hopped up on sugar and general excitement before a week long Easter break.

And you know the best part? My hubby got to see it ALL. He had a half day in the afternoon for the 2nd grade class, so he helped be a "bounty hunter" for the slaves in the morning and taped the whole thing while sitting with his class in the audience that afternoon. Everything I do that I love and he finally had a day to be part of it.

They say that when you marry someone, they really don't become your WHOLE life. You merge your lives and share them with each other. Kevin means the world to me, but we both have things that make us who we are independent of each other. Getting married just means you get to share that with each other, which is the real blessing. :-)

March 18th, 2007

This actually happened back in 2005 when I first started My Space, but I forgot to post it here...seems like something quite a few folks need to think about!

Here's the one downside to My Space...watching totally normally people go completely to the mental zoo just because they're connected to you online and you can't see them in person.

So one of these goofy kids (that only picked my profile AFTER I changed my pic from the maroon coat one to this one) has the nerve to ask me why a "blk" woman as fine as me is wasting her time on a white guy! Okay, first of all, you have to go check out young Jason's profile (not the one I still have on my friends' list, but the one kid from Ohio). How does any kid dressed like Tupac the Musical have ANY right to tell me what is and what isn't a waste of my time??? Here was my reply:

Oh, honey...I hate to ask you, but who do you think you ARE??? :-)

 

Have you any idea how insulting this question is? How would you feel if some white guy asked the girls you've got listed as friends the same question? Is their association with you a waste of THEIR fine whiteness or something?

 

You post some pic lookin' like Thug Lite, then pop in and tell me how good I look, THEN you want to tell me how I'm wasting MY life??? Seems to me I read in YOUR profile that you HAD no racial preference...plus, the only black girl on your profile IS me, so what's the deal? It's obvious from your pic that you aren't looking for much more than a warm wet hole, so why does it matter to you where I get my real love from?

 

I really had hoped for a little better from you and was giving you a chance to show you were a young brother with a mind, but I guess I should have known you had a shallow streak when you added me to your friends list because I was "fine". What my husband and I have had for the past 9 years is something beautiful that I don't expect you could understand, despite your claims to be educated in your profile. Has it occured to you that that kind of "playa" talk is EXACTLY what's turning young men like yourself into soon to be lonely OLD men? There's not a black woman in the world that'll put up with that kinda talk...I mean, does your OWN mother appreciate hearing that's she's fine and that sort of thing?

 

Furthermore, it's a LOVE thing that he and I have, not a lust thing. I didn't know WHAT he looked liked when we first began talking and I'm glad I didn't now. I would have missed one helluva a man (in more ways than one, playa) if I had gone on mere looks.

 

In this day and age, you need to ask yourself are you really concerned about racial integrity, or are you just playing the same game that old men of all colors seem to play...the "they can't fuck OUR women, but we can fuck THEIRS" game. Neither one makes you look too bright, just bigoted.

 

Take me off your friends list, hon...I gotta play deeper than looks, okay?

 

D.

Now, Kevin thought this was pretty funny, 'cause he knew I was going to give this boy an earful (plus for him, the comment was too stupid to even take notice, like someone calling you Lucy from across the room in a really mean voice), but I'm not sure which is sadder, the fact that the poor kid thinks I'm somehow diluting our race or the fact that there's a LOT of guys who think the same thing. They can't do OUR women! Now, I'll hit any skins that run by, but those OTHER guys...THEY can only do their OWN race. The more things change, the more they stay the same...

Forgive me, but I'm blown away by what passes for depth on these sites, I swear. Does everyone come to these sites to hide who they really are or to make themselves feel better than everyone else? It's like high school all over again!

Politcal Chain Mail???

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So I recently got this as one of those chain mail things:

A lady wrote the best letter in the editorials in ages!!! It explains things better than all the baloney you hear on TV.

Her point:

Recently large demonstrations have taken place across the country protesting the fact that Congress is finally addressing the issue of illegal immigration.

Certain people are angry that the US might protect its own borders, might make it harder to sneak into this country and, once here, to stay indefinitely.

Let me see if I correctly understand the thinking behind these protests.
Let's say I break into your ho use.
Let's say that when you discover me in your house, you insist that I leave.
But I say, "I've made all the beds and washed the dishes and did the laundry and swept the floors.
I've done all the things you don't like to do.
I'm hard-working and honest (except for when I broke into your house).
According to the protesters:


You are Required to let me stay in your house
You are Required to add me to your family's insurance plan
You are Required to Educate my kids
You are Required to Provide other benefits to me and to my family
(my husband will do all of your yard work because he is also hard-working and honest, except for that breaking in part).

If you try to call the police or force me out, I will call my friends who will picket your house carrying signs that proclaim my RIGHT to be there.

It's only fair, after all, because you have a nicer house than I do, and I'm just trying to better myself.

I'm a hard-working and honest, person, except for well, you know, I did break into your house.

And what a deal it is for me!!!

I live in your house, contributing only a fraction of the cost of my keep, and there is nothing you can do about it without being accused of cold, uncaring, selfish, prejudiced, and bigoted behavior.

Oh yeah, I DEMAND that you learn MY LANGUAGE!!! so you can communicate with me.

Why can't people see how ridiculous this is?! Only in America ...if you agree, pass it on (in English). Share it if you see the value of it.
If not blow it off......... along with your future Social Security funds, and a lot of other things


    This is the kind of stuff that just makes me sad. Americans really have no clue sometimes. We just think everything is just ours and we have no sense of responsibility to anyone but ourselves (and not even always ourselves…how well do we take care of those suffering in THIS country?). We think of ourselves as decent God fearing Christians and then we say stuff like this, forgetting that God did NOT just create us, he created a whole world of people around us that he loves just as much.

    Rants like these are basically the pot calling the kettle black. You gotta remember, at some point, we ALL broke into this particular house, which originally belonged to Native Americans (with the exception of Africans, who basically got dragged along for the break-in and told to stay put!) :-) If we go by this editorial, then what we've done is broken in to the front room of the house, then slowly but surely moved into all parts of the house, forcing the owners into the basement. We slowly killed off most of the members of the owners family and got upset when they fought back, then rewrote the rules to exclude others from breaking in, too. We took ALL the benefits and all the opportunities and didn't leave the owners anything but our leftovers. Sound fair? I think if we were willing to essentially recreate the rules for our ancestors, then we have no choice but to do the same for our children. Otherwise, we need to go all the way back and correct the original problem and ALL go home to whatever country of origin we had and let the Native Americans deal with how their Mexican neighbors react.

    Plus, it's always amazing to me that we're willing to help people in other countries escape starvation and tyranny (heck, we'll fight for them and bring them food free of charge and EVERYTHING), but we're not willing to let people right next door come over and actually WORK for the same benefit. If we're going to play pick and choose, why not pick and choose to the greater benefit?

    By the way, a recent news article mentioned that the KKK was getting all new membership because of people who agreed with this sort of stuff (http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/stories/2007/03/12/daily25.html?from_rss=1)

    Always nice to hear that evil’s benefiting from our natural greed and stupidity…

March 14th, 2007

Herobia

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WHAT THE HAPPY HARPY HADES is THAT ABOUT??? WE GOTTA WAIT UNTIL APRIL FOR MORE HEROES???

SERIOUSLY!!!!!!

The Highlander was immediately like "They're gonna lose viewers like this. Who the heck is gonna watch it THEN???"

That's when I sighed and said, "We are and you KNOW it."

God, we're so hooked...I swear we're going to need rehab after this...

The CLAIRE Center ad:

Do you religiously watch Heroes?
Do you suffer from anxiety whether the show is on or not?
Do you experience moderate or severe depression when the show goes off?
Do you worry about whether New York City will be blown up by a man that no one can see?
Do you unconsciously shy away from cheerleaders, Japanese tourists, clock repairmen and Haitians?

If so, you are one of the millions of people who suffer from Herobia. However, there IS hope...

At the Clinic for Longterm Anxiety Issues Related to Excitement (CLAIRE), we help you take back your Monday nights and survive the week long torture associated with waiting for the next episode of Heroes to come on. Our teams of experts will work with you to find out what makes you tick so you don't feel explosive or suicidal after yet another amazing plot twist. Then, with just a simple injection, you will never feel those anxious moments again.

Don't just wait for special powers to make it all go away...come see us at CLAIRE and turn Herobia back into just another Monday night TV show. CLAIRE is located in the back of the Primatech Building. Just ask for Mr. Bennet or call 1-800-CHARLIE to make an appointment. If you can't come to us, call 1-800-HEY-SYLR for a quick and easy house call!

Disclaimer: Side effects may include forgetfulness, inability to keep metal objects solid, difficulty being seen, inability to maintain normal gravity, sensitivity to sound, extreme heat, sudden internet access, fear of Frenchmen, golden retriever headed children, fear of horned-rimmed glasses, a desire to investigate paper mills, a desire to rescue cheerleaders, inability to maintain cranial consistency, and a strange equal sign shaped birthmark after first visit. CLAIRE is not responsible for any possible birth defects or mutations that may occur. See your doctor before attempting to visit CLAIRE.

January 19th, 2007

Connection...

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I'm delighted to say I have talked to my grandmother more times in the past two months than I have talked to her in the previous 37 years.

Alright, that's probably a major exaggeration, but I really am happy about it. My dad's mother is the one family member of that generation that I could turn to and say, for better or worse, that I am VERY much like. I have her ability to tell a story as well as her ability to stretch the honest truth. I possess her desire to take care of people, which also leads into that secret desire for others to return the same sort of affection. She and I both talk a good game and don't ever seem to STOP talking. I could go on and on, but when I look at her, I see all my heritage, the craziness, the love of those long wild trips to the coast, the need for social interaction and the sudden need to be alone with a good book (and the need to be alone so that someone can say, "Come be with me instead of hanging around here alone!") I'm all those things wrapped up in a shorter, darker skinned package (except the hair that I added on, which I did take off later, but I REALLY still like the picture!).

This all started when my mother's mother Lucy (the one we called Granny) passed. Granny was the serious one, the grandmother that made you listen to her and made you behave and didn't give you everything you wanted, so you grew to love her later in life. My other grandmother, Lula (Shug, as we called her) was the "fun" grandma that bought you things and gave you money and never really spanked you until she'd just lost it. Between the two of them, we had a full parent when we went to visit. Shug would play with you and Granny would do the disciplining.

As we got older, we started to really understand Granny more and heard less from Shug, who was doing a lot with other family members that were ill or needed support. We began to appreciate the effort that Granny had put into us as much as the fun that Shug had had with us. My parents (who were in better shape financially as my brother and I got older) started having Granny fly in for visits more often while Shug was out of town with her brothers and sisters. I created a different, but equal strong bond with Granny that stemmed from her connection with her daughter and my understanding of that circle. But Granny had emphysema and was in and out of hospice for quite a while in 2006 until she finally stopped eating and slipped away at the end of August. I think a little piece of all of us went with her. My mother, of course, lost her mother, but my father lost a close friend in Lucy, and I lost a connection to quite a few things, not the least of which was understanding the place I hold in the continuing mother-daughter cycle.

Meanwhile, Shug, who had always been in supremely good health (walking miles was never an issue for her) was losing her independence after having fallen and hurt herself some months before. When the younger Granny passed, Shug suddenly realized that time was slipping away from HER, too. The family members she'd nutured and taken care of had began to pass on or, in the case of the younger generation, leave her behind the way we tend to do with our older relatives. We stop listening, stop coming and then stop caring.

Living farther away, I was able to appreciate both women and what they meant in my life, so I was constantly inviting them to my home and visiting when I could afford it. Granny could never have made it to my place (she was VERY allergic to cats and her emphysema wouldn't have let her do more than stand outside this home) but Shug always had reasons. They usually consisted of someone else that she had to go help or be with and it took me quite a while before I realized why. She spent her whole life doing for others in the vague hope that they would someday do for her. It made her feel good to help other family members and people, but it also made her feel needed and therefore loved. I don't think she really knew what to do with a grandchild that only wanted to have her come so she could enjoy her company and take care of her, not force her to cook or watch children or even get out of bed if she didn't want to. Kevin and I were more than willing to let Shug just BE here and share with her the places we loved. Even when we went to see HER in Florida, I think it was a shock to have us washing dishes and feeding ourselves and even buying her a new car battery and changing it out when it died.

Anyway, she came to stay with us for the Christmas holiday and we had a ball. We didn't even do something every day...there were days when we all three just sat in the house and read books to ourselves, but didn't say a word to each other. We hauled her all over creation when we DID go out...took her to the wildlife refuge (where she and Kevin just about married each other in their love of the outdoors and the wildlands!), we took her to Toronto for a two day trip and we even drove her around town to some of the closer places to look at (being Native American herself, she marveled at the two refuges within driving distance of us). She REALLY wanted to see snow, but in a bizarre twist, the Buffalo area had no snow the last few weeks of December.

And now she's calling us about twice a month. It's really nice hearing from her, actually. It's this connection to my past that I really am starting to treasure more and more now that I live so far from my family of origin. She did show me one thing while she was here that I found incredibly upsetting. Because of her health issues (bad vertigo, major hearing loss and even some memory issues) she'd made up a little card that she was very proud of. It said "My name is Lula (last name omitted here) and I live at (address omitted). If I am found, please contact my granddaughter in New York at..." and then she had listed our names and addresses, as well as my cousins in our hometown and all the other pertinent info needed to make sure she didn't end up lost somewhere. At 5'8", my grandmother had always been this imposing, yet friendly Amazon of a Native American princess to me. To see her suddenly reduced to...well, a senior citizen, was nearly more than I could stand. She wanted me to tell her if it all looked good and would make sense to a stranger that might read it and I had to tell her a story about something in my eye while Kevin read the card for me.

I had a tough time for a little while after that...I FINALLY had her, only to realize I was that much close to losing her. Funny how just when you think you've got all the pieces of the puzzle in place, you suddenly look under the rug and find some TOTALLY different piece that obviously fits into the same puzzle and you have to readjust...

Still, I'm glad to have her back in my life and I hope we get her back up here once more. Nothing in the world is funnier than a grandmother who can tell terrible stories with your husband...not sure which was worse, his dried apricot story or her fresh coconut story (for the general jist of both stories, try eating your fill of either of these and see what happens)!

January 6th, 2007

Glurge is what the Urban Legends website calls any of those heart wrenching stories that people stuff your e-mail box with. Each story usually ends with something like "and that little handicapped boy grew up to be...Winston Churchill" or "and that small act of kindness saved his life all those years ago" or "So cherish these moments with your loved ones...you might not get another chance"!

This would all be well and good if not for two problems. First, these always end with some huge guilt trip, like "You can keep this and pretend it meant nothing to you or send it on to others and make a difference", or "I love you enough to send it to you....will you send it back to me?" It almost FORCES you to send it back to someone like your boss or someone you really might NOT be that close with (not unlike Christmas cards!). Worse yet is the ones that flat out TELL you that it's a chain mail, completely destroying ANY attempt at being a life changing, sentimental note. Real affection would be shown by you calling me up and telling me this story, not by forwarding it on and on to other e-mail addresses. Trust me, I won't think less of you for keeping this gem until we get together personally! :-)

The second thing that makes these hard to stomach is the fact that EVERYONE sends them over and over as forwards to tons of friends instead of copying it into a more personal individual e-mail or at least adding a personal note to me to explain why you sent it. This falls into the category of Christmas cards, too. I don't mind when folks actually WRITE in their cards, but when you just send me a card with nothing more than a quick signature, especially when I have heard from you in months or more, then I know that I'm just another one of the folks on your card list. I don't mind the family picture cards ('cause those update me visually on how you are) and general holiday newsletters (because those give me info, too, even though it's for everyone and not just me). Heck, I can even take e-mail cards, as long as you SAY a little something in them. But Christmas cards with a quick "Love, the Franklin Family" just end up in the garbage later. They're like chain e-mails...I'm on your list, so I get one, but other than that, there's no real thought in them at all

So, how do you get around this? Don't send me the whole story. E-mail me (or call) with your summarized version of the story so I know what YOU got out of it. When my students bring me a book report that pretty much just has the exact Cliff Notes version of the book, I give them an F. When they personally tell me what they thought of the book and what they got out of it, they get A's. It shows they took the time to really understand the story and that's what make other kids learn from it and want to find out more. As adults, we could do the same. If you really want someone to benefit from an uplifting story, don't chain mail it. Relate it to that person you care about and they'll relate a LOT better to you.

December 28th, 2006

Well, we went clean up to Toronto this week and TOTALLY skipped the 6 letterboxes in town, as well as didn't plant one while we were there! Argghhh!

We have a good reason, though. My dad sent us my grandmother from Florida and money to show her a good time and we've been doing just that She's been up here visiting us for a few days now and just having a ball. She's 83 years old and recovering from a spill she had in February, so she's moving slower than usual, but she's keeping up the pace pretty well, with the exception of stairs. While we were in Toronto heading to the subway, she was coming down stairs and going one step, one step, one step, etc. when all the sudden, this OTHER old lady, shorter than her and older, comes flying down the steps past her! She gave this lady a look so crooked as to be mistaken for a jealous 5 year old! I look back at her and, like a mom, tell her in a gentle voice, "It's NOT a race, honey," before we both crack up laughing.

She's also where I (the Sprite) get my goofy sense of humor from. We were sitting on the sofa all relaxed after that long trip to Toronto when Foggy (our youngest cat) jumps up on her lap. She tries to pet her, but Foggy can't sit still when you pet her unless you MAKE her, so she's doing her little ADD dance all over her while Shug (my grandmother) tries to make her happy. Finally, she goes "What is WRONG with you, cat? What do you WANT?" in her little soft Southern accent.

I pipe up with "She likes it when you scratch her more than just petting her."

She says "Well, now why didn't you just SAY all that, cat?" and starts doing it.

Meanwhile, Kevin (the Highlander) goes, "You know what she DOESN'T like?" With a totally straight face he goes, "She doesn't like it when you attach jumper cables up to her ears and attach her to a battery. She doesn't like that at ALL." I laugh to beat the band, but Shug looks at him all serious and we're thinking "D'oh, we went too far."

Finally after looking at him for an uncomfortably long moment, she says, "Exactly when was the last time you TRIED something like this?" Kevin is about to say he was just kidding or something and she adds, with an equally straight face "She might LIKE it now!" as if enough time has passed that our cat might ENJOY being electrocuted!

Man, I LOVE the way the nuts just float to the top in my little gene pool! Apples really don't fall too far from the tree! :-D

Anyway, at some point we really WILL get back to boxing, but for now, I think I'll hang out a bit more with the granny and get back to you all after the holidays. In case we don't hear from any of you, have a great New Year and enjoy those shirts!

The (tainted apple) Sprite & (honorary apple) Highlander
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