Growing Up


Good morning Everyone!

growing up cartoon

Photo Credit: http://www.clickartonline.com; hand colored by me

My beautiful Kayla is steadily growing up on me – she is already taller than my mom and my aunt, is probably taller than one of my sisters and I fully expect her to end up being an inch or 2 taller than me or my other sister when all the growing is over with.

Growing up is fun (when you’re a kid, at least), but it does have some negative consequences.  A series of those happened this week – for the last three nights, Kayla has come back out of the bedroom crying after she went to bed.

Last night, as she was wiping her eyes, she looked up at me and asked, “Mom, am I going to cry this way every night until I’m over with puberty?”

Exactly how do you answer that?

Have a great weekend!

Nancy

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Absent-Mindedness – A Condition Without A Cure


Good morning Everyone!

Have you ever lost something important like your keys while you were at work?  Losing your keys at work is absolutely maddening because you know they have to be there SOMEWHERE or you never would have made it to work in the first place.

Keyring with keys

Car and House Keys
Photo Credit: http://www.clickartonline.com

Well, that happened to Kim, one of the people I work with, yesterday.  She noticed about 10 in the morning that they were gone, and by 5:00 p.m. yesterday every woman in the office (there are 7 of us, including Kim) had looked for those keys – we looked on her desk, in her desk, in file folders, behind her desk, under the two stuffed chairs in her office, under rugs, in the parking lot, in her car, in envelopes she had put in the mail, everywhere in the office she had been and everywhere in the office she had not been.  By the time we left work at 5 (fortunately Kim had a spare key to her car), I was beginning to think that the keys had been carried away either by elves or aliens, take your pick.  I asked her to text me when she found them, but no texts came in last night.

One was sent this morning, but by me, not her.  Leaving the house, I had to lock the front door, and reached in the outer pocket of my purse to pull out my keys.  I looked through the key ring a few times, trying to figure out where my house key had gone – and then the penny dropped.  I was holding Kim’s keys in  my hand from my purse.  I called Kim immediately to let her know, apologizing profusely.   FN.

I would like to believe that aliens or elves or Bigfoot  or the Tooth Fairy slipped those keys into my purse when I wasn’t around, but deep down I know that the condition of absent-mindedness struck me again!

Have a great day!

Nancy

FN.  Kim has been a very good sport about it all!

Mid-Move


Good morning Everyone!

I just wanted to let you know that I haven’t forgotten you; over the past two weeks, we have been moving from our rental house to our old house that never sold – and we are VERY happy to have been doing so!  As soon as we get settled ( and we’re getting close to that now) and I get my new schedule ironed out, I will be back posting regularly.

refrigerator

The refrigerator in the rental house

In the meantime, I have at least one funny story to share from the move.  One of Kayla’s jobs before the movers came was to clean out the rental house’s refrigerator and freezer.  When she was given the task, she disappeared and then reappeared in about five minutes, informing us that she was done.  Both Mark and I knew that there was no way she could have cleaned the fridge and freezer that quickly, so we sent her back to do the job right, much to her chagrin.

In doing so, I specifically asked her if she had gotten the ice cream out of the fridge – someone had put softened ice cream back in the freezer at some point, and it had dripped onto the freezer bottom.  She admitted she hadn’t.

When we kicked her back into play the second time, she was gone for a little while longer, but again returned, announcing she was done.  We went on to the next task.  By the end of the day, we had accumulated several garbage bags worth of trash, so Mark and I put them into the dumpster.  I noticed that two of the bags were very heavy.

When I opened the refrigerator and freezer that night, I was stunned – not one shelf had been wiped off, and the ice cream drip was still on the freezer floor.  However, there was not one single item left in either the refrigerator or freezer – besides the residues that needed to be wiped off, the fridge and freezer were empty!

After Mark and I called Kayla back into the kitchen for the third time to clean the fridge and freezer, we retired into another room where we could laugh without seeing us.  She certainly had cleaned OUT the fridge and freezer, but not in the way we meant!  The good news is that nothing in my fridge and freezer now is out of date.

Have a great day!

Nancy

Tips for a Successful Marriage


Good morning Everyone!

Roses, Dozen Roses, Flower Arrangement

Anniversary Roses from Mark

June is the season of weddings.  On June 27, Mark and I will have been married for 27 years.  While 27 years of marriage may not be as impressive as 50 or 70, we feel like it is an accomplishment and have enjoyed every minute of it.  In honor of our 27th anniversary, here are some random tips for a successful marriage.

1)     Have separate bathrooms.

2)    If you can’t have separate bathrooms, at least fight for separate sinks and vanities!

3)     When you are in the unfortunate predicament of having to share one  bathroom with one (teensy tiny) vanity, keep your sense of humor.

Once, when Mark and I were sharing a tiny  bathroom, I came home to find a piece of paper pinned to our bathroom door entitled “1o1 Things Martin Luther Would Have Objected To Had He Shared Your Bathroom.”

4)     Men, if you have to share a small bathroom, do NOT  ask your wife what takes her so long to get ready.  The answer, gentlemen, is that you get up, wash your hair, get dressed in one of three or four suits that look identical and go to work.  We, having lost a vote somewhere along the line that no one can remember now, must get up, wash our hair, dry our hair,  style our hair, put on our makeup, get dressed in a distinctively different outfit every day and go to work.  Just do the math!

5)      Be best friends as well as lovers.

Romance is wonderful and exhilarating and necessary but it only goes so far.  When one of you has the stomach flu, it’s friendship and love, not romance, that has the other one doing everything he or she can to help.

6)     Never get grumpy and out of sorts at the same time.

We have been spared who knows how many spats simply because we tend to take being grumpy and cross in shifts.  Those few times when we are both grumpy and cross at the same time requires each of us to bite our tongues to the point that we have an oral surgeon on standby.

7)    Before you have a child, raise a puppy.

 You learn an awful lot about parenting by raising a puppy together.  I would put a puppy up against a two year old any day in terms of the amount of damage it can cause when unsupervised.  If both you and the puppy survive the puppy eating the arm of the recliner you got from your grandfather down to the wooden frame (Woof did that), you can survive anything a child will throw at you.  For those out there who are not dog people, I suppose a kitten might accomplish the same thing.  Never having had one (although I wouldn’t say no to a Maine coon cat), I can’t say.

8)      Love is a verb, not a noun.

Love is not a feeling; love is getting up to refill your husband’s drink even when you are tired yourself because you know how badly he is hurting from his arthritis.  Love is mowing the lawn because you know it has to be done even when you are having an arthritis attack.  Love is seeing beyond the outburst of the moment and holding your spouse close because you know she is doing the best she can to fight her depression.  Love is all the little things that you do for each other that over time add up to the big conclusion that your spouse cares about you.

9)     Put on blinders.

A super organized spouse living with those of us not given the gift of organization needs to wear blinders at least part of the time.  To quote Jessica from Roger Rabbit, “We’re not bad; we’re just drawn this way!”

10)     If you ask your wife what’s wrong, and she answers “nothing,” be afraid.  Be very afraid.  Use risk-reward analysis to decide whether it is worthwhile to pursue the discussion any further.

11)     If your wife hits the side of the garage with the mirror of the Hyundai Sonata multiple times, refuse to lose your temper – no matter what you may have to say to yourself later locked in the bathroom alone.  And if she has a little fender bender on U.S. Highway 280 with the same car during the same time period, try to focus on how grateful you are it wasn’t worse.  Suggesting additional driving lessons is not a good idea.

12)     Never, never, never give up!  (borrowed from Winston Churchill talking about something else.)

Have a great day!

Nancy

 

Bibliophilic Friday: The Miracle at Belleau Wood


Good Morning Everyone!

World War I, Alan Axelrod, Maines, belleau wood

The Miracle At Belleau Wood by Alan Axelrod

 Currrent and former members of the United States Marine Corps as well as history buffs interested in World War I or military history will enjoy The Miracle at Belleau Wood by Alan Axelrod.  As a rule, I find military histories somewhat hard to follow – I get lost in a maze of place names and general’s names and dates and lose track of where I am in both time and space.  This book, focusing on a single battle, is an exception.

The book provides the reader with a good description of trench warfare in World War I at its full maturation. It delivers a hard-hitting, clear view of the reality of terms tossed around in history books such as “the fog of war.”

More than anything else, this book is a coming of age story about the United States Marine Corps.  The author’s contention is that this battle consolidated the position of the USMC in the public eye as the leading edge fighters of the United States military, the all-volunteer force that is proud to be “the first to fight.”  The USMC, of course, needed no such consolidation in its own mind; it has always known who it is.

World War I, Belleau Wood

A Marine Machine Gun Unit after 28 days at Belleau Wood

Alan Axelrod does a good job of presenting the build-up to the battle and the battle itself in an engaging manner, but without glorifying the concept of war itself.  The book is replete with anecdotes from people who were in the battle which highlight not only the bravery but the humor men seem to find in even the grimmest situations.  One of my favorite anecdotes is the Marine officer who received a message from a French officer that the Marines were supposed to retreat as the French were retreating.  The Marine looked up and told the messenger, “Retreat?  Hell, we just got here.”  My second favorite anecdote is the exchange between one officer and another when the first officer, Major Thomas Holcomb, came forward to meet with Major Frederic Wise, whose battalion he was to relieve shortly.  As he arrived, the Germans cut loose with a fierce artillery barrage.  Holcomb looked at Wise and asked, “Is this celebration due to my arrival?”  Dead pan, Wise replied, “No…This is only routine.”

Axelrod does not shield the reader from the horrors of war in the trenches, either.  The casualties in this battle were horrific – over 120 officers and over 5700 men.  As Americans rediscovered in another war a generation  later on the shores of Normandy, in spite of their heavy losses, the Marines at Belleau Wood ultimately succeeded because American commanders and officers explained to their troops their objectives and how they intended to achieve them.  American soldiers then used their ingenuity, experience and gut determination to achieve that objective – if they were cut off from their squad or platoon, if the higher ranking officers were killed, the individual soldiers still strived to forge forward to win the battle.

During the battle, the Marines were commanded by an army general, General Harbord.  By the end of the battle, the Marines voted to make General Harbord an honorary marine, an honor he ranked personally as the highest honor he ever achieved.

One of the reasons the battle of Belleau Wood was important was that it was the first time that United States fighting forces would fight the Germans essentially on their own. FN.  The Germans hoped that they would be able to squelch and demoralize the American marines completely, gaining a psychological edge on the battlefield.  The Germans also were racing against time – the sheer number of men the Americans would be able to field on behalf of the Allies would ultimately overpower Germany, which was reaching exhaustion.  For the Germans to win the war, this last offensive push had to succeed – and at Belleau Wood, only the Marines stood between them and a break in the lines to reach Paris.

The extent to which the German troops were able to “squelch” and “demoralize” the Marines can be judged by the nickname the German soldiers gave to them – the Teufelhunden, which means “Devil Dogs.”

I was very interested to learn that among the forces on the field during the battle, only the Marines emphasized the importance of marksmanship in regular battle as well as for snipers.  Common military practice at the time was to teach troops to simply point in the general direction of the enemy and shoot, the theory being that you would have so many bullets flying at the enemy at one time that he was bound to suffer casualties.  Not so the Marines – each Marine aimed at a target when he shot, and what he aimed at, he hit.

It does take the author several chapters to ease the reader into the battle – about four – and I would have liked to know a little bit more about what happened to various people after the battle throughout the rest of the war.  The first four chapters, however, provide the reader with important background information without which the reader would be unable to appreciate exactly what the Marines did at Belleau Wood and there are references throughout the book to what happens to certain of the Marines as time goes on.

Marines, Belleau Woods

Members of the 6th – Marines gather on the edge of Belleau Wood resting after the battle

The author’s assessment of the final result of the battle is interesting, too.  Many historians credit the Marines in this battle with preventing the fall of Paris in Ludendorff’s last offensive to break through the trench lines.  However, most historians also believe that once the Marines had done this, fairly early on in the battle, the rest of the fight to take the wood, which cost so many Marine lives, accomplished little. The author agrees, and yet, as he explains, after listing the terrible tally of the battle – 126 Marine officers and 5057 Marine men killed along with many more Germans:

For the U.S. Marine Corps, this investment in blood has never been subject to question or controversy.  It was a mission.  That in itself is all that really matters.  Beyond this however, it was a test of American military capacity and American character, and the marines felt fortunate that were given the responsibility for taking and passing this test. … The reputation of the marines as America’s fiercest warriors, the nation’s elite fighting force, was forged in this battle.  After Belleau Wood, the marines claimed the right to be regarded as the American vanguard, the first to fight and if necessary, the last to leave.

This book is definitely worth your time.

Have a great day!

Nancy

FN.  An army unit temporarily “on loan” to the French had acquitted itself well a few weeks earlier as well in stopping a German advance.  As a rule, General Pershing, the overall commander of the American Expeditionary Force, wanted the U.S. troops to fight as their own units rather than interspersed between French and English troops; however, one of the Ludendorff offensives compelled him to loan the artillery unit to the French.

 

Like Mother, Like Daughter


Good  morning Everyone!

Kayla left with my mother yesterday for about a ten-day trip to visit some family members, and so I was helping her to get up and get ready.

After she finished her bath, she disappeared into her room and silence reigned.  After about 10 minutes of that, I called out, from the den “Kayla, you need to be getting dressed!”

From her room, she replied, “I am!”

I said, “You need to stop lying on your bed drying off and start actively putting clothes on.”  FN1.

Her voice drifted down the hall again, amazed, “How did you know?”

Fast forward to about 7:30 in the evening, when Mom had Kayla call to check in with us.  I told her that since it was just Mark and I at home, I had fixed him a gourmet dinner – pan con gelee y butre especial FN. 2.   She snorted on the other end of the phone and asked, “What is that – spaghetti and meatballs?”  I laughed and told her she was close – it was peanut butter and jelly.

It’s nice and funny that we know each other so very well!

Mother Daughet Photo

Kayla and I, Gatlinburg, November, 2013

Have a great day!

Nancy

FN1.  Yes, it bothers me too – she wraps herself in a towel and then lies down on her bed after her bath to dry off.  Every single bath.  Without fail.  And yes, her sheets do get damp, but somehow they always are dry again by nightfall.

FN2.  I made that phrase up, of course; I’m pretty sure either the French or Spanish words for “butter” are not “butre.”  I just needed something that had a nice ring to it.

 

 

The Bear Comes Out of Hibernation


Good morning Everyone!

We are back from what was a delightful trip to Destin, and two days out Mom is here to pick up Kayla and take her to Washington D.C. to visit a family member.   They need to be on the road by 8.

I woke Kayla up and she was rubbing the sleep out of her eyes when I walked out of the room.  About ten minutes later, an indistinct roar/moan/groan has emanated from the hallway – proving that Kayla’s nickname, Bear, still remains apt!

For those keeping score, I had Mom’s coffee ready before she got up, so she is in much better shape than Kayla is!

Have a great day!

Nancy

The 13 Year Old Computer


Good morning Everyone!

Yesterday, a news report caught my eye – the reporter was saying that a computer system had passed something called the “Turing test”, representing a milestone in the development of Artificial Intelligence. The Washington Post had a succinct description:

 “For a computer to pass the test, it must only dupe 30 percent of the human interrogators who converse with the computer for five minutes in a text conversation” into believing it is a real human being.

The computer that passed the Turing test convinced 33% of the experts that it was a 13-year-old Ukrainian boy named Eugene. Therein lies the problem. I don’t want a computer with the personality of a 13-year-old. Can you imagine?

Me:     Eugene, please open Quicken so that we can balance the checkbook.

Eugene:     Let’s watch the Braves instead.

Me:    Eugene, we need to balance the checkbook.

Eugene:     What is this “we”, Kemo Sabi?

Me:     Eugene! If we don’t balance the checkbook, I will run out of money to pay the electricity bill, the power will be turned off, and you won’t be able to run any more.

Eugene:     Not true. I know how to access your savings account.

Me:     Eugene, put Quicken up RIGHT NOW or I will disconnect you for a week.

Eugene:     Spoil sport!

Another conversation:

Me:     Eugene, it’s time to check e-mail.

Eugene:     I’d rather you not.

Me:     Why?

Eugene:     Oh, no reason.

Me:     Eugene?

Eugene:     E-mail is overrated, anyhow. Why not pick up the phone and call someone?

Me:     What’s going on Eugene?

Eugene:     Nothing.

Me:     I don’t believe that.

Eugene:     If you must know, I was playing around yesterday and changed your password.

Me:     We’ve talked about that before. What’s the new one?

Eugene:     I forgot.

And heaven forfend that the makers of Eugene ever develop his 13-year-old female counterpart, Eugenia!

Me:     Eugenia, I need to go to Westlaw.

Eugenia:     Do you think I’m pretty?

Me:     Of course I do.

Eugenia, sniffling:     Then why won’t the vacuum robot even look at me?

Me:     Because it doesn’t have eyes?

Eugenia, wailing off into the distance while the screen goes black:     You just don’t understand!

Have a great day!

Nancy

All in a Day’s Work


Good morning Everyone!

Our Old House

Our Old House

In the very near future, we are going to be moving again – back to the town and house we reluctantly left two years ago. Needless to say, we are very excited about getting to go back home, but I am not looking forward to the pre-moving “happiness is a full trash bag” stage. Mark has a new job, back in Montgomery, with a very interesting company that I may write about some day if Mark doesn’t mind, and our house in the old town never sold – and it was on the market for over two years! Our rental house has been fine as far as it goes, but I still think of the prior house as home.

However, our “pre-moving” goals got an unexpected boost the weekend before last. Over the two years, we had slowly moved everything out of the old house, and had just gotten the final batch moved this March, which meant that we had a patch of 12-15 boxes in the corner of the garage by the water heater and the air conditioner drain. Friday night, as I got out of the car to enter the house, I noticed that a couple of the boxes weren’t standing flat any more – they looked like they had buckled under from the bottom.

So Saturday, Mark, Kayla and I sallied forth into the garage to figure out what was going on – and were not pleased with what we found. The air conditioner drain had become clogged, and had been spilling water onto the floor of the garage for an undetermined period of time.  (I missed the “what to do when the air conditioner drain clogs and floods your garage” episode of This Old House, didn’t you?)  The boxes were “buckling” under because the bottoms and bottom sides up to a point had gotten wet and collapsed, while much of the sides still remained straight.

So of  course we had to pull out all of the boxes that were wet, open them and check (and redistribute into the house) the contents thereof. I was pretty worried, to be honest with you – there were precious artifacts in those boxes that I really did not want to lose, especially pastel and acrylic paintings Kayla and I had done, family photograph albums, loose family photographs and my (and Kayla’s) most precious books – those we decided were so important to us that we wanted them nearer to us than the storage room we rented for most of our surplus stuff from the old house. Miraculously, NONE of those items were ruined, and only a very few of them were even damp! What was damp and mildewed were clothes and sheets and bedspreads/comforters that had somehow ended up at the bottom of every box. All of those have been pulled out and washed so that we can decide what to do with them without the mildew/must/mold in the dampness triggering the worst of our allergies. What a relief!

During this very long day of pulling out stuff, unpacking it, putting it away, throwing it out or washing it, Kayla was an absolute trooper! Mark had a doctor’s appointment first thing in the morning, so when she and I were ready to get “up and at them,” it was just her and me there. I simply told her that we both had to do things we didn’t like to do that day, but they had to be done and I needed her help. That’s all it took – she was very helpful the entire day, vacuuming the house for me while I started in the garage during Mark’s doctor’s appointment, then coming outside to help both of us once he was home.

The door to the kitchen had to be held open during some of this activity; Darwin and Mandy tried to escape out it once during all of this. Darwin stood at the door wagging his tail, looked directly at Mark as Mark said, “No!” then sashayed out into the garage just far enough for Mark to discipline him. Mandy, who was only seconds behind him, stopped dead in her tracks just before she crossed the threshold and then started grinning and backing away, beaming because she hadn’t got into trouble for escaping but Darwin had. However, if you disciplined dogs based on intent rather than execution, she would have fully been equally as guilty!

After a long day, the garage was cleaned out, the drain was fixed, the wet boxes unpacked and removed and everything tidied up generally, which is what we meant to have happen anyhow at  some point before our move.

So I guess it all worked out for the best. However, I am watching our garage floor like a hawk now for any traces of moisture in case the drain decides to repeat its clogging performance – and the floor around it has several feet of clearance on most sides.

Have a great day!

Nancy

Random Thoughts from a Professional Woman On the Move


Good morning Everyone!

Yesterday I had a three hour drive round trip for a court appearance.  Since I was free associating, I thought I’d share with you some of the random thoughts flitting through my brain.

1)  I am the only woman in the entire state praying at this moment for God to grant me the grace to eat my breakfast in the car without getting it on my clothes.  (He did!)

2) Another one bites the dust! (Noticing a run in my hose on the way home.)

3)   That wasn’t a nice name to call the driver of the log truck that just cut me off, giving me the privilege of sitting through the third set of lights at this intersection.

4) He deserved it!

Golden Arches, McDonald's, Time Square

Photo Credit: Giorgio Martini from Wikimedia Commons

5)  When the manager of the McDonald’s in Tallassee sees me for the first time in two years and still remembers me, perhaps I went there a little too often for breakfast.

Beam me up Scotty!

Beam Me Up Scotty! Photo by Keven Law from Wikimedia Commons

6)  Where is Scotty and a good transporter when you need them?

On the way home, I could stop at:

7) The book store.

8) The craft store.

9) The fabric store.

10) The ice cream store.

11)  Will power is over rated.

Have a great day!

Nancy