Wednesday, December 31, 2008

and the new year will begin

E and I worked it out so that I can spend a few extra hours w/ my daughter (hmmm, special NYE dinner should be in the works), and us still get to the NYEceili later on. She decided not to go up to my mom's after all. She loves to visit my mom, and my stepfather, but M's been away for a bit on Christmas/holiday break. We'll see my mom tomorrow, then. Today, it is good to be home.

Even I've enjoyed being home today, the intimacies of the cats lives (so that explains the demise of the basil plant E's mother lovingly gave me for Christmas), Daisy so happy to have her mommy (M) home, just being. I've spent much of my time busy with Christmas or working, and/or at E's. Perhaps I should take off NYE more often.

The new year brings about hope. Anything we could wish for is possible, right, like a new day, or a new week, or a new date. New challenges, too, of course, but hope for good possibilities and improving myself.

I go into this about to come new year knowing I should have enough money each month to pay my mortgage (not always a certainty in the past), w/ my dad's estate (or, well, lack of, really) still to run through the court for them to close out and hope perhaps I can still get my piano from Dad's place. Hope my mother's health will stay improving, and M's asthma will get an even better working management plan. Hope that wow, am I well, after having been sick with one thing after another straight through since August, sans one week only so I got my flu shot then. That I'll spend more time with my fluffy warm cats even if it snow squalls again outside. Hope perhaps I'll get a car, finally, and no more buses and sometimes using E's car, and seeing more of my friends again. I look forward to M's continued growth into a young woman, such as these couple days of asking for time to talk, and presenting a plan for a vacation this summer w/ friends, not family, and even asking her dad. And, then tears I won't be home w/ her tonight (I wish I was, too, honey), even though she nixed grandma visit. Hope for her to stay enjoying her teachers (really), doing well and learning at school, and in her activities. Hope I can get more exercise in (E thinks he'll get me running, um, that'd require sneakers and I'm paying off other bills and things first, albeit he promises he'll cut down on his smoking some if I start running some, hmmmmm, well, I can't only walk Daisy and dance). Hope for better environmental laws and regulations, and financial world to not dip too muchdeeper and for us to maybe start recovering, hope my own financial life will continue the slow trend towards better health.

The sun is in those last couple full hours before starting to set on this last day of 2008. Three kitties are with me now, albeit I've gotten time with all five today, and Daisy and the hermit crab, and M as she showed me her various friends on facebook, all whom she knows in real life, too, and most I know as well. It's a continium, time lapsing and moving on, yet we separate it so that we can do things like taxes and work hours and all that coordinates our lives with one another.

I'll spend this separation / continium with M, with E, and seeing my mother and stepfather (not sure what my brother's up to but we did talk last week). I suppose, really, those are who matter most to me right now, closer by. Chatting w/ my aunt, wishing I'd see my goddaughter again soon, etc. But, it's good to have a warm home base to move on from and return to. It's good to have possibilities, and hope.

Martin Luther King, Jr., birthday marks the anniversary of my grandmother's passing (or at least, whatever day it was honored 8 years ago -- I'm better at remembering the holiday name than the date). She was buried the day before our current President was first Inaugurated, so she who worked on Capitol Hill in her heydey presumably after her college years but I'm not certain, got to miss 9/11 there in her town of Arlington that her neighbors were part of, she got to miss the 8 years of Presidency under, sigh, "Dubya." She missed her youngest son's death last year, my father, and her youngest grandson, Ian's, wedding and marriage. She missed this winter so far as one of the warmest on record. Born Quaker in Georgia, her main flaw, oft disguised, was trying to overcome her prejudice for blacks, as she was a good Christian and all, dying a devout Methodist, and Democrat. I wonder if she'd ever imagine the day when a half-black, half-white man would be inaugurated as 44th? President of this united States. There is hope for more reconciliation for our country, too, not limited to blacks and whites.

Today is the anniversary of her husband's death, my granddad, from County Meath, Ireland, entering the U.S.A., via Venezuela, from Ireland. I remember him, and think what all he's missed, too, and us of him. My aunt and her husband are spending a quiet evening in, journaling, reflecting, including the passage of time and people such as my grandma and grandad, her parents, and my father / her brother, and his family, too.

It's a new day dawning within about 16 hours. A continium, yet fresh and new. What shall we fill our days with, what will our priorities be, our hopes and dreams worked on? Lord willing, may there be peace to all, including those servingour country who I really hopecan all come homesafe and sound, those who grieved this year for the loss of a loved one, too many have lost loved ones this past year or so, and while it gets easier no one says it gets easy.

Happy new year; enjoy some of your life. (The Eagles say, "some dance to remember, some dance to forget -- I've been doingboth this past 14 months and will again tonight.) I am grateful that I can dance, and hear the music and feel the beat, and it'll be fun.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

talk about chilling.......

A large water main broke down-county of me, earlier today. As in, huge amounts of water pouring out so much one person said it reminded him of the Potomac River itself. I know when M went to school this a.m., the temps had crawled up to approximately 15-17 F degrees outside, I think. This report said "in the 20's," um, they hope it was that warm. It's been downright frigid lately (but, phew, much less windy today, vice 'gusts up to 46 mph" yesterday).

While M is thrilled to get out of school 2.5 hours early, as too many schools had insufficient / no water levels and some heating problems, and "I'm finally really focused," on her English essay she really wants to be perfect even if that means sacrificing a deadling (sigh), to work on said essay, I'm very thankful that my cranky home heater does still heat (just not happily in THIS cold of weather), and that wow, I wasn't being washed away in torrents of frigid water.

Please see this Associated Press "raw" video, or maybe it's aol video. I can't seem to "save" it to imbed:

Thankfully, it should be in the mid-30's F later this afternoon, so it won't all be ice all day after it stops flowing (and my home heater will work with less protest). However, I'm not surprised to hear that many were treated for serious hypothermia, with water going over people's cars, while they waited their turn to be rescued in temperatures in the high teens perhaps low 20's. Brrrrrrr. I wish them all safe and healthy holidays, and quick responses on car insurance claims, et al.

I think I'll skip the idea of a Christmas Eve hike on the C&O Canal, this year. (Note for non-locals, the C&O Canal borders the Potomac River, as does River Road which is where this water main break occurred. The C&O Canal is I think 186.5 miles long? so I could pick an alternate spot along the canal, but I'll wait, anyway.)

Friday, December 19, 2008

my version of peppermint bark and attempt at Christmas

My version of peppermint bark is below.

Because it's easy, and it's really good, and it doesn't have to be perfect, and it's pretty in Christmas colors. I'm told it also goes REALLY well with Smithwick's, which I didn't combine that particular evening as I thought I had a stomach bug, but I plan to next time I can. And they kept eating it the next morning, along w/ their daughters, and I'm to bring it to the next party, and M gave me that big toothy smile when she asked me PLEASE make some for her show choir school potluck party, and E kept going back and nibbling on it at the "big" ceili last January when I was noticing he really was single but we hadn't gotten together yet....... And I have to have some holiday spirit going on, I love Christmas spirit, I loved seeing Winter Lights with M again this year which is one of our traditions since it first opened up, and listening to the Christmas carols and songs, and laughing w/ M that the creche she received has little holly on the robes of most of the people, even the pink robe of the blonde-headed Wise Man, as if there was holly in the Middle East, and blonde-headed pink-robe wearing men, and some other giggliness we shared. Even if, well, I just cannot stop thinking of my dad. He got a Christmas card, or M saying yes, let's still have Christmas Crackers this year (in his honor), and finding his old sweater...... cuz, of course, Dad's still dead. And not seeing my mom even on her birthday this week as M and I were both just too sick and Mom can't risk catching a thing, nor could we see her last weekend when M and I were REALLY really sick, so we never got up Grandma's (Mom's) Christmas stuff for her, nor much of ours. And, yet if not for a stress test, Mom'd have had a heart attack, so 3 days in the hospital and heart work done, she's weak but missed, well, perhaps the heart attack and related risks, herself..... and thank you, Lord, that I'll see M on Christmas Eve (and Mom and my stepfather, Bob), but I still don't have a response from M's dad if it'll include time for a service or not, which is important to us, even if I've been warmly welcomed to E's large family gathering I'm excited for. And peppermint bark's easy and I really like it. And it can be helpful to go banging and hitting something, sometimes.

And I was asked for my recipe, um, it's not that hard, all, just melt chocolate, and add crushed peppermint, oh, and real peppermint extract. But, they wanted it written all day. Kay?

Robin's Peppermint Bark Recipe

12 oz. of high-quality white chocolate chips (or just get a bag, get the better quality kind if getting from a craft store; if someone wants cocoa-chocolate, go for it, I just don't like that kind myself)
box of regular sized peppermint candy canes, crushed up (approx. 8-10 candy canes, preferably the traditional red and white striped, or the red, green, and white striped)
1/2 - 1 teaspoon of 100% pure peppermint extract (I use 1 teaspoon; I like my peppermint)

1. Break up peppermint candy into little pieces. Suggestion: Remove plastic wrapping from candy canes, and place them into a strong / freezer worthy (larger sized) plastic bag. Put the bag on top of a cutting board or other non-damageable hard surface. Whack the candy with the back side of a spoon, or another hard object such as a hammer.

I just find a spoon easy to handle quickly, and that unnamed tool I used of E's that started breaking, um, I put that back... Whack, whack. Hmmm, maybe a Smithwick's would go well with this process. :)

2. Melt the chocolate according to the manufacturer's instructions. The type I have used this winter has me put the unmelted white chocolate chunks/chips into a microwaveable (smooth, as in glass is ideal) bowl for about 1 minute. Stir.

3. Add peppermint extract (I need to verify the amount -- I think on the box of peppermint it says 1 tsp, but this recipe I saw said only 1/2, hmmmm, I prefer to TASTE it). Stir. Reheat if needed until everything's JUST melted. Sometimes if a few chips aren't fully melted, stirring will blend the heat in and melt everything else. It loses good texture if overheated or heated too often.

4. Pour the melted chocolate out onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Spread out with a spatula or spoon. Sprinkle the peppermint candy chunks on to the chocolate and gently press them in either with clean hands or the spoon. It's okay if they get "buried" in the melted chocolate.

5. If desired, drop a couple drops of either red or green food coloring, and swirl the color into the chocolate with the spoon. If you want, stay sprinkling more crushed peppermint candies on top (swirl or press in).

6. Place in the refrigerator freezer for several (approximately 5) minutes or until hardened.

7. Break into pieces, and serve, or store in the refridgerator supposedly in an airtight container, but it gets eaten too quickly to have the airtight idea really matter that I've noticed.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

basically, M did really well

"We are so proud of you," said M's TCRG, and "Figures Teacher," aka, FT, after M had danced her Round 2 (reel).

Yes, me, too:) No matter how M placed, or even if she recalled, I was so proud of her for having danced so well for herself.

For the dancing competitions part, M had to dance a hardshoe, Round 1 hornpipe, which she was nervous for, then a softshoe, Round 2 reel. She recalled!!!!! the last competitor # called for recalls, which means that she had to go on to Round 3, or I should say, she got the honor of going on to Round 3. That took forever; she danced third to last out of the 62 dancers who recalled and now danced their set dance one at a time. Unfortunately, her good dance friend, L, did NOT recall. So often, their place very close together in their competitions, so this was not expected that one girl would place / recall, and the other would not.

Ultimately, M placed 43rd out of 124 competitors (134 dancers were registered, but, for example, one of their dance friends had a stress fracture and could not compete). This is fantastic for a first time solo Oireachtas competitor.

Their 8-hand team, well, it looked real good and was danced cleanly. No recall.

Their 4-hand team, WOW! the four girls were so excited, bouncing up and down, arms linked, while team numbers were being called, and theirs was not. They danced up in age group as one girl is older, with a total of I guess 44 teams (I think 46 were registered). They actually got 4th place. That is awesome:)

Their dance drama accomplished what TCRG hoped for -- a great team feeling to end the Oireachtas with, and good show entertainment for the audience. It was good, and fun, for the audience and all of the dancers. Unfortunately, a technicality had them place third out of three, but oh well. They all proudly and happily went onstage for their earned third place medals.

Ultimately, it's all good (except wishing L had recalled, also).

Thursday, December 4, 2008

What does terpsichorean mean again?

I plagiarized. Well, not sure if counts as plagiarism if one is given carte blanche approval to use it, verbatim if appropriate. My friend, Zebadiah Beaugard wrote a fake "excuse letter" in his blog, for aid in getting Irish stepdancers excused out of school for competitions. Being my child's name isn't Bridget, and she doesn't attend Piscayune School, I did modify it some.

Z&B's sample focused more on a feis, which isn't so applicable for M as hers are primarily more local. She also didn't require one in previous years for attending the Southern Region Oireachtas (SRO). Two years ago, the SRO was held in Arlington, Virginia, closer to us than her dance studio is. Alright, awards run really late Sunday night so I think I let her sleep in and miss some of class that Monday. Last year, when SRO was in Atlanta, she didn't miss much school, either, as we mostly flew down and back. Hmmmm, she was in her wonderful private Montessori school back then, where an absence is assumed excused just don't take too many and please do inform the teacher in advance whenever possible. Perhaps we should have taken more time of last year.

This year, M is attending school at a local county high school. Montgomery County, Maryland, is a county with an overly strict attendance policy, with few things counting towards excusable absences. Like a death in the immediate family, or illness of the student him or herself (doctor's note can be required), or college visits. Even horrid traffic does not count (for being tardy), like it does in another Maryland county. I figured that with M being a freshman, and us not actually visiting any college campuses on this trip (SeaWorld doesn't really count as a college no matter how career-oriented the visit truly is for M, and goddaughter, LEL, will come up from her Miami college campus to visit us, not us visiting her), I couldn't quite say it's a college visit. If traveling with a sports team representing the school, that's an excused absence. Um, not workable for M. The choreography for an Irish stepdancer is specific to his or her particular Irish stepdance school. Even other Irish stepdancers, if any, in her high school, couldn't be on a team with M unless they attended the same Irish dance school. Unfortunately, any unexcused absence means a teacher does not need to allow a student to make up any work missed (ouza on the grade drop potential in THAT), and too many unexcused absences also means a loss of credit. Too many times walking in at the last bell counts as tardy and can also mean a loss of credit. Sigh, as M's dad continues to get her to school late from his home, different issue in a way, but I can't risk M's attending this year's SRO have her unexcused absences add up to, yikes, loss of credit.

I'm not faking a doctor's note, nope, no way, besides, M wanted to be upfront. Seems many others in MCPS will say they're sick, eh, let's try honesty and hope it works. Our first time trying this, I pulled out all the stops, just in case. I heard after the fact that M's GPA alone will likely give her a fully-excused pass. That's good for M, but I wish that others with, say, a C average, would get an excused absence for their well-rounding experience, too.

Seems the attendance officer didn't care to read it, just took my word that it's for a sports competition out of town, and gave M an excused pass to leave school early this Friday. However, the principal, who'd been away, was to review my letter this a.m., and hopefully, give her stamp of approvel, and get it passed to each teacher to sign off on M's assignments or something. Think the principal'll think I'm laying it on a mite thick? It IS all true......

Note I happened to fail to mention the 2 extra days, for SeaWorld, and Disney. Yep, this is our Christmas, and our summer vacation, it's our one big time all year I've been saving and scrimping for...... but I don't need to relay that.

"Dear [principal name]:

This is to inform you, and whomever else it may concern, that 9th grader, [name, should have included student #] will be absent from school from (time) this Friday, December 5th, through Wednesday, December 10th, 2008. She will be traveling to compete at the Southern Region Oireachtas in Orlando, Florida.

An Oireachtas is, essentially, regionals for Irish stepdancing. The Southern Region includes Mexico and Texas, to Florida, and north to Maryland. It's an ethno-cultural, educational event for the highest level of competitive Irish stepdancers. It is a great honor for her to be chosen to represent Maryland, and of course our county and high school, while carrying on and experiencing her cultural heritage.

The primary purpose of this event is to advance the understanding and appreciation of Irish cultural identity, heritage, and traditions, through the use of various media. There will be enrichment-based activities such as art displays, live musicians playing traditional Irish music, foreign language, costumed dance, and drama competitions.

M[name] herself will be competing in traditional costumes to hornpipes, and reels, and a traditional handed-down-for-centures set dance [decided not to say her set is called Drunken Gauger]. She is also scheduled to compete on three teams; two teams are to dance to very traditional choreography, and the third team competition is a dance drams. They will use traditional steps and music to dance out a story related to a traditional Irish theme. M[name] will be demonstrating her competency and interpretation of certain terpsichorean aspects of Irish folk traditions. A panel of adjudicators (usually three at a time), will evaluate these presentations and provide guidance and feedback to our [name], as regards to her demonstrated expertise and proficiency.

our aim is that this absence from class does not affect [name]'s academic performance (which currently is at the 4.0 GPA [name of honors program] level). We also hope it'll expand her knowledge and what she can bring to her involvement in the [name of International club at her high school which sponsors the diversity show] at [HS name]. Please let me know if she will need to complete any assignments before she leaves. I'll make every effort to ensure that [name] completes her schoolwork while she's away, and as appropriate, after her return.

Please e-mail me at [two e-mails given for me], with any of [name]'s assignments, or with any other information. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.

[my name and signature]"

It really is, primarily, an athletic competition, a "major," as the Irish stepdance world refers to it as. But, it is also an educational and cultural experience. Some people don't see dance as a sport, somehow, but this is the only sport M's ever done, other than running, which requires her to use her inhaler when she's working really hard. It's dance, it's cultural, it's heritage and ethnic, it's beautiful, and it's a sport.

Of course, she has a performance tonight, as she auditioned for and yeah got in to her high school's Show Choir. They'll dance and sing to "Circle of Life" for the Winter Choral Concert. Very lovely, just, gosh. At least she's kept up her grades, and rehearsals and practices (she's worked really hard), and other than an illness earlier this week that she's re-gaining her strength from, that I now have (ironically, I share symptons with both M, and with E's ex-wife, um, did we catch it from his adorable 1-year old grandson?), her tailbone isn't too much of a bother even after having kicked it again, she could use more sleep, but I think she'll be okay. Just wish her first competition wasn't at check-in 7:00 a.m. Saturday!

I'm hoping it's a really good time:) and hope to get computer access for updates on my Irish dance blog, i.e., Yeah, okay, so her particular solo costume is not as traditional any more, her new school dress still is!

p.s.: terpsichorean means of or related/relating to dance.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Fill-In

1. The last band I saw live was: Jesse Winch, his talented brother, and another really good Irish-music musician, at a fundraiser where Pat Garvey also played, and bagpipers, I should look up which group.

2. What I look forward to most on Thanksgiving is it being over (albeit, I'm thankful for E and his family welcoming me so; M will be away, maybe I'll see her in her running race, however).

3. My Christmas/holiday shopping is postponed, per usual, until the paycheck closest to Christmas, most likely, with some of it in the after-Christmas sales, really, as sigh, M's not with me this year.

4. Thoughts of Oireachtas practice schedules and related details fill my head.

5. I wish I could wear a bikini again (not since I was 42 oh well sigh).

6. Bagpipes are awesome, sometimes haunting, sometimes celebratory, the large kind or the small kind, uillean pipes I *think* those are called. Oh, yeah, and best when played by guys with kilts on ;)

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to no set plans yeah, tomorrow my plans include a ceili that E and I will take two of his grandsons to, and Sunday, I want to see M's half-sister, Si, in her play but who knows if I'll be able to or not!

This is the post with the original inspiration for Friday Fill-In's: but I found it on CW@sMom's blog here:

Faith Factor

Faith Factor, live on tour in Germany, November 2008, with the song, Deliver Us From Evil. Look for their cd, Against the Darkened Sky, at

Go to this link here for the video (ah, it'll be loud): YouTube - Faith Factor - Deliver Us From Evil (live '08)


Trying again to imbed this:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

She kicked (her) butt.

"Irish dancers kick butt." It's not just a bumpersticker; it's the truth. Usually, it's a good thing when Irish stepdancers kick their butts. The aim of most good Irish stepdancers it to literally kick their behinds while executing certain dance steps.

(Some Irish ceil and set dancers may kick rather high, most don't but some do, and some dancers do both styles of Irish dancing, but for the most part, kicking ones backside is NOT a goal nor aim for most of us ceili / set dancers. Thankfully!)

Last night, OHBoy was told that he needed to kick his, hmm, feet, heels, ?, up higher, at his butt, not down low, when he does a particular turn in his dance. I'm sure that there's a fancy name for it.

The other week, I was watching the dance class that my daughter, M, assists in. One of her friends was wearing a long, yellow t-shirt over her shorts. there was a greyish-black mark on the back of her shirt. Then I notice, that every time she danced certain steps, her hardshoes kicked her backside, and left a mark. Ha, proof to the teacher that this girl really was kicking her butt!

So, of course, M kicks her feet up behind her, and hits her backside. Except last night, somehow, M kicked herself right in the center on her tailbone. In her hardshoes. The tip of her hardshoes smacked her tailbone.

E called me as M and I were coming home. We commented on how wicked cold it had gotten suddenly (19F where he was traveling, and 29F at home, to drop more as night wore on), and how warm Florida sounds. "Of course, but how come you're comparing this to Florida?" I had to remind him, "The Oireachtas is in Florida this year."

Anyway, "How'd practice go?" "Oh, good, well, except that M kicked her tailbone." E, laughing, "I can see how that could happen." M looked over at me, trying to move herself up and out of the car, wincing, "OWWW!"

M told me this a.m. that normally she'd just see how it goes, but "with Oireachtas 3 weeks away...." Her face showed enough worry, that I didn't correct her, that the SRO is really just over 2 weeks away now. She can walk, but she's still in pain this morning, and poor kid, she'd really hoped to get her in to see the doctor today. Tomorrow is the first orthopaedic appointment I could get for her. This is with the same wonderful doctor she was referred to when she kicked her own ankle, and bruised her ankle bone. I didn't even know a person could bruise a bone. The doctor estimated 3 months to heal, no restrictions but DO keep it protected from further kicks. Yeah, it should be done healing in time for the Oireachtas, if she didn't kick it again Monday evening, "just" doing drills so she hadn't put on her protective brace yet. And now, potentially bruising a tail bone. Agh.

No more horseback riding for a while, M.

UPDATE: The bone is actually bruised. It hurts her a bit less, she's to try to avoid things that aggravate it (like sitting on hard chairs, um, 6 hours in school 5 days a week), and she can ice it after activity such as dancing. Oh, and he was happy I'd canceled her riding lessons for several weeks. Hopefully, she won't be too much more sore after a dance rehearsal this evening, but somehow, unless she re-kicks it in that incorrect spot, I think she'll be fine. Ouch!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tagged, part two (I'm real, really)

Thanks, Sheria, for honoring me with the "Let them eat cake" Marie Antionette, a Real person, a Real award, award. Wow, very cool, and I love the great company. The Examined Life: Thank You, Indigo

Here are the Rules for the Award:

1. Please put the logo on your blog (I tried, really. My computer wouldn't allow that.)

2. Place a link to the person from whom you received the award

3. Nominate at least 7 or more blogs

4. Put the links of those blogs on your blog

5. Leave a message on their blogs to tell them.

The hardest things are copying over that photo/visual, and chosing (new) people! So, pretend I copied over the photo, kay? My pc won't let me do that.

Ah, I love highlighting others -- so -- great writers who are oh so real, include:

Merujo, a fellow Montgomery Countian with so much inside of her: Church of the Big Sky ;

Fred (because this doesn't have to be just women, does it?) -- catch his new blog on blogger and fascinating stories here: Drunk in the Shadows of Reflections;

Emily who seems to be re-emerging and re-creating her identity, while has likely always been a great writer: Two Write Hands (and two left feet);

Helen, another intelligent single mom, career woman, trying to do it all with an ailing parent to boot (okay, so I like to think of myself as intelligent, amuse me by agreeing, thanks): Life, thoughts. Yeah, life thoughts.;

Winievere who is about as real and warm and positive as they come, with great tags, too: Woman in the Glass Box;

Dan, yep another man, who lends his camera lens and random amusings from the mid-west, to help make it through the day, The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind (he's busy working on his blog, so go bug him and make him work ha);

my dear friend, Amy, yet another intelligent single mom, career woman, trying to do it all with three young boys, including a quite differently abled kid (not sure if hers is private?), talk about real, Odd Mom Out.

This went quickly -- I reserve the right to add more later -- Rebecca and Indigo and Sheria have been bestowed already, where did I put Lisa's blog link, Kathi's, Guido's, oh heck.....?, etc. Yes, I am enjoying this continued and evolving blogging / journaling community, even while I miss a few. Thanks for the prod, and nomination, Sheria.

also Tagged, part one

I needed a push of motivation myself, so am taking Emily up on her "anyone who wishes to be tagged, is," meme. Two Write Hands (and two left feet): Tagged. Hey, I can come up with random thoughts with the best of them (you can stop laughing and nodding now).

1) The frost this morning looked quite feathery, like feathered paisley etchings, on some of the cars. Adding -- it's snowing, it's snowing! Okay, flurries, but that counts.

2) I have to get a note to M's school, by today, saying she was sick last week and hence please excuse her for being "tardy" one day. She was sick last week, but more so the week previous, and enough to have her struggling to stay on top of all that blasted homework, but that's not why she was late. Her dad got her there late, again; she was in tears telling me. Argh. Too many times, and it's an excused absence which leads to "loss of credit." She can't lose credit because of him getting her there late, so I'll say, "M was sick on date x. Please excuse her for being late to school." They can imply that the two sentences correlate if they so desire. I dislike lying. I dislike her being penalized for something out of her control, more. Adding -- I blogged and hence didn't get to her school dagnabbit.

3) My latest favorite song is Plain White T's, One thing I need, To do, Three little words, For you, I love you (one, two, three, four). It's perceived simplicity is a bit Beatlesque, sans when PWT's harmonizes as I don't recall the Beatle's ever doing barbershop. I hope I'm as delighted with this song 6, 8, 12 months from now and not sick of it.

4) Off and on, I consider making my boyfriend, E, a cd of songs I think of him when I hear. I have a couple definite's I'd include, and some I don't think are a style he'd like. I'm not quite sure how to go about making one, and debated enlisting help from his one daughter, but I'm thinking she'd think it weird and icky to know the romantic love songs her dad's girlfriend wanted to give to her dad.

5) I'm not actually farsighted. My eyesight is changing, but not sufficiently to read logos on planes, usually. I can't read the big signs on the aisles in grocery stores if they're hung in the middle of the aisle, and not on the ends (even with my eyeglasses on). I didn't write that entry very clearly, apparently. No airplane of that size has ever been that low to the ground above my buildings that I've seen.

6) I'm starting to enjoy this new version of blogging community. So, thanks, Emily, and, thanks to Sheria for my next entry..... and Kathi for my next to next entry when I get that far. And, did I mention -- it's SNOWING!

Friday, November 7, 2008

if I can read the logo, is that plane too close?

How come I can't read the bottle of pain reliever, but I can read the logo on the airplane?

Yeah, I know I'm middle-aged now, even turned another year older this week (I teased E that now I'm only 14 years younger than he is -- he knows, finally, that I don't care about that).

Yes, I have bifocals on order. They've been waiting until I have the additional $166. to pick them up, while my DD has her various needed medical appointments (okay, and I did have a couple). Yes, my current eyeglass prescription is actually fairly close. Yes, I'm keeping the same frames, as it's cheaper and they're a bit wide but otherwise good. Sigh, even if I've had a few people remark how similar they are to a particular Alaskan governor's eyewear.

I can't see a clock on the bedside table unless the numbers are of sufficient size, i.e., large. I keep my cell phone handy, and use that to check the time (and, as an alarm. Someday I'll figure out how to use it as an Mp3 player, too, which it also is).

I can, normally, until this week, read most anything if it's close enough to my face. WithOUT eyeglasses even. I may require more lighting then I cared about in my younger days of say, my 30's. I just retested, yep, get it in my face and I can read anything legible in a language I know. Most of my life, since elementary school, I've been nearsighted.

So, how come even with my glasses on, I cannot quite read much of anything on the bottle of Aleve that E gave me. (I'm out of ibuprofen, and sick. Again. Okay, more like chronically sick but it's swung to worse levels again. Taking ibuprofen has really helped my pains and fever so I can sleep.) I'm not sure if it's the tiny print, the bright blue on white contrast with a sloping (curved bottle) label, or what. I took just one last night, and none yet today because I just can't tell, i.e., fully read the information. I just tried it again, nope. Is it the bright flourescent lighting, or the itsy-bitsy print? (Thankfully, the bottle is openable. I used to hand over my "childproof" capped bottles to my then young daughter, for her to open easily for me whenever I couldn't, and I usually couldn't. We both struggled recently over a Scope travel-size bottle.) Adding: later today, it was easier, somehow. But on the front where it says noproxen sodium, has got to be some of the tiniest font I've seen. Isn't this bit of information important? I thought Aleve was ibuprofen; obviously, it's not. Only as it said "strength to last all day," did I decide one might be enough. That font's legible (and larger). Oy. (I'm buying ibuprofen again, today!)

So on this gorgeous fall day, just brisk enough to feel really good on my warm skin this morning, I was walking Daisy. The leaves brilliant and coloring the grass, the air still a bit moist from recent rains, the plane shining a bit pink in the early light. Wait, how come I can see this plane so well. Hmmm, it's a FedEx plane, an orange and purple logo, etc. I can read this fairly easily albeit it was partially as I recognized the logo, partially as I could make out the letters. Daisy stayed sniffing about, certainly gathering information as to which dog had done what where, and if rabbits or deer or Joshua the cat had wandered by. I thought of the dawning sun tinting things rose-colored while watching this airplane fly slowly by.

Wait. How come I can read that? It's THIS close to me?! Slowly by at a very low, way too low, altitude for where it likely came from.

It'd be nice, but I know my eyesight isn't getting quite THAT good. At one point in my life, apparently shortly before the need for bifocals, ones eyesight can improve before switching again..... I just know I've hit 47 years old, the same age as our President-elect, Senator Barack Obama. I never see him wearing eyeglasses. Hmmm.

FYI -- it could reach 74 F degrees today, here. I pity South Dakota, with over 4 feet of snow and high winds (I heard 60 mph, the mail courier heard up to 100 mph wind). Then mail courier and I got discussing the pros and cons of snow. I don't want it YET, but I do love it.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Glen Echo: summer and other memories (repost)

I was Sir E's guest at a lovely summer wedding. This is a reposting from my "unedited" (private I'm thee only reader not ready for prime time) journal. Except the daggone photo isn't working.

On a dentzel carousel horse ride at Glen Echo at a wedding the end of June. Naturally as the ride ended, and E got off of his horse to come by me for the photo, my horse went up and up and up again. That's why he looks so much shorter on here. I'd like to photoshop this or something and move him up beside me more in the photo.

My father used to go to Glen Echo Amusement park often as a youth, even integrating the crystal pool (swimming pool) when he covered briefly for his friend who had to step away from taking tickets or whatever. (It was not allowed at that time, but was later.) Dad would take my brother and me there when we were children. The place has been renovated over time, and by the time my daughter, M, was little, we'd take her there, the playground and theatre and artists yurts. Then I'd take her. We saw Cinderella puppet plays repeatedly; she took calligraphy camp; we'd play in and alongside the creek. It felt really fitting to be there at this wedding as E's guest, waltzing with him (in the bumper car pavilion, as contra dancing was going on in the renovated Spanish ballroom), and then riding one of the few remaining original dentzel carousels, THIS carousel, Dad's carousel, with the player piano music and repainted ceilings and animals. On my brother Doug's birthday, albeit he never did respond to my birthday card I'd sent him, with notes. Oh, plus this picture turned out, so good (i.e., we both look good, I like how my outfit of pink and silverish turned out). And E liked my pink flirty shoes I actually waltzed in before I changed shoes for more Irish dancing, the lovely bride being a musician in the Irish dance world, it was FANTASTIC music). lol.


They're gone.

Maybe it happened at noon, Eastern (U.S.) time. I don't know.

After midnight, I checked; my AOL journal was still there. As if I was staying up late with a friend you know isn't going to make it the next 24 hours (except, to be honest, I'd MUCH rather have this go, than an actual friend / family member, et al, and there isn't anywhere near the same emotional angst and all that; I still find that somewhat analogous, kay).

I checked this a.m. -- normal. Some comfort in that, some "when will the foot drop?" Now, it has. (Tune in the dirge; I recommend Laura Byrne Egan's air entitled "Och nan Och.")

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Billy may never come "home," after all (we'll stay waiting and hoping)

My mother and my aunt Vesta spent a few days in D.C. last week, for a conference where they spent time learning a lot about those who served and died in the Korean War. As Vesta came down from Maine, where my mother and her family are from, her plane fare was paid for.

That first night, my daughter M, boyfriend E, and I joined Vesta and Mom for dinner and socializing. Interestingly, the Cafe Italia was only a few streets away from my late (paternal) grandmother's house in Arlington. If I can figure out how, I may add a photo later. We went to the upper tower of their hotel to view the D.C. skyline before we left.

The next day, their conference settled in for business, including a meeting just with Mom and Vesta on Billy's case. Previously, Mom (and her two surviving siblings, both sisters), provided DNA samples, per request, in hopes of making a match with his remains. My mother said that the overall conference was a lot of information to take in, a lot of good information, just a lot to absorb.

I *think* I have this info correct, from information she relayed last Sunday:

My late Uncle Billy, aka, William Edward Douglas (he listed himself, and his two youngest sisters i.e., Mom and Vesta, with the family name of Douglass), died as a teenaged POW in the Korean War in 1951. He was apparently in Camp 5. My mother said that there were 512 cemetaries in Camp 5. That's a LOT. That the U.S. Government has received 218 boxes. I'm not clear how large these boxes are, and they sounded as if they were not from the area where Billy had been. They do, however, contain many body parts. Jumbled together body parts. The DNA experts could take up to a year (or longer) to know more, having to piece together skeletons. A leg bone may or may not belong with a hip bone.

After all these years, it's encouraging to have any information, any hope. It also gets my mother talking a little bit more about him which has been so difficult over the years. Just, well, it's a slim hope.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

1 year

I don't know how many others remember that October 8th was the date we "observed" Columbus Day last year.  Beth and I did.  Maybe my brother Doug did; he actually called me but I just couldn't bear to answer.

It was late morning.  I'd seen him earlier, then helped at M's school for several hours.  I'd just missed him, it seems, albeit I'm told there was about a 95% chance of not surviving, anyway (and then, well, not exactly quality).

E took his two local grandboys and me tubing late summer.  I didn't connect until we were there that we were headed to Harper's Ferry, my father's favorite location of favorites.  Okay, I felt ready, and was glad I was sharing it with him, and even then.  Continuity of life, open up this part of the world, historically, geographically, etc., to new eyes.  Until I saw the postcard, the photo of Jefferson Rock.  It was in the small restaurant where we had a great lunch.  THAT rock, that's Jefferson Rock, and it's HERE?  One of my good memories was of Dad and I camping, and he'd taken photos of me with my then very long hair, at that rock.  I would recognize that rock anywhere, just didn't realize it was at Harper's Ferry.  After my moments, we toured some more, including to that rock.  Jefferson was correct that the view from there was worth the voyage over the Atlantic (paraphrasing).

I did talk "with" Dad this morning, as apparently did my aunt Beth, too.  He's still in his beautiful wooden box, on our table.  Maybe it's time for him to fly, be released......  maybe this 3-day weekend, fall and all.

I miss him.

update:  I did edit this to say October 8th, from October 7th.  Somehow it's letting me edit this NOW, but not previously.  It was nice to see E for about 10 minutes at lunchtime, him asking how my day was going, I looked forward to that.  It still is hard to NOT have my dad around.  And, now I know in advance the very very sweet thoughts and actions of Mary and Amelia, which I quite appreciate:)


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

a new year

A new year. 

A school year still new, with only just over a month into it.  With two new clubs (Equestrian Club which focuses too much on competition for M's strong interest as she likes to ride and train and be with horses for the fun of it, too, and Show Choir, which she had to audition for -- the dancing portion she choreographed while waiting in line to go in lol -- and she made it), and tons of students at a school so large, she got lost on the wrong floor by mistake even today (quickly figured out).  Meaning, also,

a new dance-school year, and new schedules and friends and such.

A Rosh Hashanah (sp).

Almost a year since my father's passing.

Which means not too much longer until a new year of my life, with a new season.  I love autumn, which is beginning with the mini red leaf on green grass, and tinges of yellow in the trees.  It always seems like the real start of a new year to me.  Maybe the Jewish are on to something here.

A new fiscal year.

A new half-year for E and me.  Hey, I can count half-years, too. :)  It's almost all good, and that's great.

Stocks market crash and attempt to rebound; AOL gives away it's journals.  Shaking my head.  (I can't even read blogger blogs from my main computer, so this isn't going to work so well for me.)  And yet while I stay both reflective and absorbed in the midst of my IRL life and M's and E's, and also having been sick for about a month I suppose, etc., I didn't wish AOL to think this journal of mine was inactive so I had to post SOMETHING!  I may as well not try to post an image, eh?  AOL photos is going away, too.

A new year.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

what remains, perhaps maybe can finally come home?

My mother wrote me this morning.  She and her sisters (the surviving siblings of my uncle Billy) "have been contacted by a man who works for the Army.  His job is to contact next of kin of those who died in Korea.  After talking to each of us, he will send his report to the Army and they, in turn will send us DNA kits, which we return to the Army.  The Army is trying to match DNA's with soldiers' remains from Korea.
This man was interesting, he had really done his research, knew most of our history and even had a picture of me from the (name of school Mom attended) school.  Didn't have pictures of (two sisters), since my name was on some of Billy's paperwork he concentrated his serve on me, mostly.
Anyway, it exciting to think we could possibly have some of Billy's remains to bury.  In almost every letter he wrote, he mentioned that all he wanted to do was come home.  I pray that will happen."
I pray that, also. 
For those who don't know, my Uncle Billy signed up to serve in the Korean War when he was actually underage (which I believe is part of why some of his official paperwork has his last name slightly misspelled).  He was trying to keep enough money coming in to pay the foster home people to keep my mother and her youngest sister from being adopted out (they also stayed with their maternal aunt Anais for a bit).  I think.  Their mother had died of a chronic disease when my mother was just 9 years old; their father was able to get himself back on financial track, et al, sufficiently to bring the girls back home (and at some point he remarried). 
My Uncle Billy, William Edward Douglas, was captured and kept as a Prisoner of War (POW), and died as a POW.  I believe he died in 1951.  His tour in Korea may have been the only time he was ever out of the state of Maine, or the neighboring states and Canada. 
Mom says that, "I talked with the guy this morning and mentioned that on Billy's birth certificate his name is spelled Douglas.  He told me that he had already mentioned to the Army that Douglas could be spelled two ways.  So, it shouldbe ok.  And, we can ask that the records show the correct spelling."  Last time I visited the Korean War Memorial on "the" Mall (Washington, D.C.), Billy's last name had an extra "s" in it, and that's how it shows currently in the online records.  Just NOW they've added, in red, a DOD alert requesting family DNA samples.
Can Billy really possibly ever come home?  Is there still real honest hope that his remains even be identified?  It seems as if North Korea is so closed off from allowing return of soldiers remains, and the years get longer.  Time passes by.  This would be great. 
I waved to the Korean War veterans on Monday, towards the end of the Labor Day parade I'd also been in.  I lost my POW/MIA pin over a year ago; I used to wear it in Billy's honor anytime I was in a parade.
May all who serve, or who have served, come home, preferably alive and whole, of course.

Friday, August 29, 2008

"hot" Governors

So the presumed Republican candidate for U.S.A. President has chosen his running mate for the position of Vice President, the current Governor of Alaska.  One thing I've read about Governor Pilan is that Alaska has a bumper sticker that says "cold state, hot Gov," with some saying that they have thee hottest Governor.  

Hmmm, I don't know about that -- perhaps it depends which way someone swings; I can see how people could find her physically appealling.  Just saying, I've covered this previously --   our Governor is cool:)  (link to my post from LAST September about Governor O'Malley).  Yep, I think MY state Governor Martin O'Malley is "hot," in his own way.  She fishes and hunts moose, nicknamed barracudda (sp); he plays guitar in a Celtic rock band.  Hmmm.  Then again, Mr. Pilan is quite the looker himself, half Eskimo and all  ;)

I can't talk politics here, so sue me (for not talking seriously about politics and this latest momentous occasion in this years amazing Presidential race, besides, my political thrill is really Senator Obama's policies and prose right now, and Senator Barack Obama, and also Vice Presidential candidate Joe Biden (Delaware) seem a good ticket for me). 


Monday, August 11, 2008

survey from Win

I have so many thoughts perculating in my mind right now and over the past couple weeks.  Perhaps I'll even get them coordinated sufficiently to jot them down:)  In the meantime, I was catching up on a couple of my favorite journals, with many others to go, and came across this survey in Winievere's.  Taste LIFE  While we're at it, I'm thinking of her at "camp" this week -- I do believe that God has a purpose for her to be there, working with youth which is a speciality of hers, I hope she and they have a fantastic time, and I hope she is able to find employment again shortly after.

Who was the last person or object you shared beds with?  E, naturally, and Daisy (the beagle dog).  Wait, or object?  Ha, um, no.  Unless you count pillows and sheets and a blanket as objects.  My cell phone's nearby as it's my alarm clock, but I don't share a bed with it.
What was your last fight about and with who?  I can't stand fighting.  E is so nicely NOT dysfunctional, compared to most others, that we'll talk things through (wow), and we're both respectful and laid back so not too much even bothers either of us.  But I am trying real hard not to fight with M's father and his long-term girlfriend, Sh, right now, trying to work things out and just be civil and normal. 
Do you consider yourself a neat freak?  No.  I like to be organized, I rather need things to be to help me function, and I do like things to be clean, but actually BEING organized?  No. 
Do you have anyone's clothes?  Yes.  I saved a couple of my dad's t-shirts that were my favorites when I gave away the rest of his give-awayable clothes, a t-shirt of E's I accidently brought home that I mean to return, the wedding dress of my mother's, and the dress my late grandmother wore to my mother and father's wedding. (THAT one I have worn, too, but I'll never fit into my mother's wedding dress, being she was 90ish pounds at the time.)  Well, and Grandma's bathrobe, too, which I'd saved to buy for her and I really liked. 
What's your relationship with the person you last texted? I'm her mother.  :)  
Do you have a fish tank?  Yes, two.
Last place you took a plane to? Atlanta, last December for the Southern Region Oireachtas, with my daughter, M.
Would you tell a stranger if they had spinach in their teeth? Depends if I thought that they could do something about it "privately" or not.
If you found out you couldn't have kids, would you adopt?  If I wanted more kids, and was with a partner who did, also, I wouldn't rule it out. Mostly, I suspect having E's grandkids will fill my need for a while, or if not E's, still someone else's, until my own daughter is MUCH older and has a child or two of her own.  It's not so likely for me to have any more children of my own, biologically, adopted, or step-parented; even while I do like kids, I feel "done."
What is your preferred method of birth control?  That's not really up for public discussion now, is it.  The important thing is to utilize something if having sexual relations and not wanting to become pregnant (or if a male, not wanting to impregnate).
Have you ever lied about your age? Not when it matter, i.e., if it's some online survey thing, I always fudge it slightly, as that's personally-identifying information, but in real life or, say, dating someone new type thing, who cares?  I am who I am, so no, why lie about something like that.  (Seems I'm a rarity for not lying about my weight on my driver's license, either, except last time but only as the guy looked at me like I wasnuts for wanting to change it to be more accurate, as well, I've gained, and he wouldn't let me change it.) 
Ever had an encounter with the police?  I feel like writing, "Define encounter."  LOL.  Hey, haven't most of us who've ever driven gotten a speeding ticket or a warning, gone through a sobriety checkpoint (proven sober, mind, I do not drink and drive)?  Actually, I've had neighbors and friends who are police officers, so shrug, yes, depending upon ones definition of "encounter."  I've never dated one.
Last time you went out of town?  Yesterday.  Oh, explain it?  Delaware for a feis -- with great trophies and really good stages for grade levels and champion level competitions, btw.  M was very happy to have placed, 13th and L was 14th, also happy.   I'm glad they both enjoyed it so, supporting not only each other but their "feis friends" from other schools, too, and of course Si and other dance school friends. 
Whose car were you in last?  E's.
Who do you most look like in your family?  My brother, just the female version, and I've used sunscreen and moisturizer over the decades and he hasn't type differences.
Have you kissed someone with braces?   Not for a really REALLY long time!  Or, was I the one in braces, and the guy wasn't?  I don't even remember.
Do you have a hard time admitting you're wrong?  Not usually.  I don't like to if I really care about how someone thinks and feels about me and I'm afraid he won't like it so much, but otherwise, not usually, no.
Do you like to travel by plane?  Yes, except for the packing and luggage bit -- worried about traveling with M's solo dress this December with all the new regulations for carry-on baggage, and that has to be carried on.
Did you get enough sleep last night?  No, but more than the previous night.
Have you ever made out in a bathroom?  Sure.  ADDING A NOTE: to alleviate Ravenjuiced's mind, I pointed out in an e-mail that showers can be wonderful places, when of sufficient size:)
Has anyone ever hung up on you?  Yes.  The most annoying was when M used to try to call me, and she'd used her dad's girlfriend's (Sh's) cell phone -- and Sh hung it up on M and I in mid-conversation.  M's dad, C, has, also but I can't even recall last time we've talked on the phone with each other, so that's been years.
Looking forward to something this weekend?  M coming back home from her final summer week at her dad's, and us maybe going to "the" fair, and maybe on E's boat.  It seems a whole week away.
Has anyone smoked in your car?  No, at least not with me as its owner.
Do you have any bruises?  No.
Do you find piercings attractive?  Completely depends.  Analogous to Christmas decorations -- some are tacky and way overdone, some are really lovely to look at, and tasteful,some just are. 
Who was the last person you sat next to?  A stranger (at the feis), but I did sit with Daisy to watch Olympics, E nearby, and I did stand often with L's mother, or with M and L, at the feis, and Si was there, etc.
What is the worst subject they teach at school?  Argh, ask me again in about a month when M's entrenched in her new high school.  She just got her registration back, and a fourth of it is completely wrong (but hey, so 75% of it's good).  I like most subjects personally.
If you had 100 dollars to spend on clothes, where would you go to shop?  Currently at Old Navy as there's a blue blouse with some flowers on it that I really like.  And I can fit into their pants that look decent enough and not teenybopperish on me.
Do long distance relationships work?  They can. 
How do you earn money?  Legally.
Where were you raised?  Primarily in Maryland, briefly also in Maine and in Washington, D.C..
When was the last time you talked to your number 1?  Who is that?  God?  A bit earlier today.  My daughter, M?  Yesterday (albeit I tried texting her this a.m., but she only texted back once).  E?  This a.m.
What is on your bed right now?  In addition to bedding, my TTY/TDY (phone), and probably at least one cat and possibly our dog who may have brought along a dog toy or "bone."
Do you name your stuffed animals?  I used to, but haven't had any new ones in years.
What's the last sporting event you watched?  Olympics last night, swimming and gymnastics, and the Irish stepdancing yesterday day. 

Ever collected unemployment?  No. 

Your parents tell you they're moving to Mexico:  HAHAHAHAHA.  My father did not like taking Spanish, and of course, if he started telling me anything right now, I'd start checking out who placed a speaker next to his urn.  Now, my mother and stepfather?  Nah, even if they actually vacationed, I think they'd pick other places first, never mind MOVE there.
Do you think you are an argumentative person?  No. 
Would you rather have a poodle or a rottweiler?  Neither.  My beagle is more than enough dog for me as it is right now.
What jewelry do you wear all the time?  Mine.  :) 
Have you ever had a difficult relationship?  Yes.
Ever driven into the ghetto to buy drugs?  This is actually a question here?  Wow, and NO.  Never.
Are your ears gauged?  I've had my hearing gauged, but I don't believe I've ever had my ears gauged.  Do people normally?  Odd question.
How did you feel when you woke up today?  Like it was too daggone early, and it was.
Where did you buy the shirt you're wearing now?  I didn't.  (It's a hand-me-down.)
Ever kissed someone who smokes?  Yes.  I plan to kiss him again tonight, too.  :)
What do you usually do first in the morning?  Feed Daisy, or Daisy and the cats, give them water.  I'll eat and/or drink something small and quick myself, and put on clothes I can walk Daisy in.  Then I take her out.
What are you doing tonight?  Read a few journals and filling this out.  Walk in a park with E, and likely Daisy, too, just because.  Try calling M, and likely watch more Olympics coverage.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

let's not forget the Forgotten War

The Korean War has long been known and referred to by it's nickname, The Forgotten War.  Do an internet search on the Forgotten War and all sorts of Korean War references and links show up.  Quoting from both Content and from the National Park Service, Korean War Veterans Memorial: Korean War , the Korean War was "historically overshadowed" by World War II and the Vietnam War (albeit the Korean War was sandwiched between those two other wars).  Heck, originally, the Korean War was called a conflict, officially speaking, and not a war.

The war in Afghanistan is receiving more media coverage again, which I believe it should be receiving.  Today's The Washington Post had an article on the top right-hand corner of the front page, with a box indicating further, related articles inside (see if you can under the photo of the soldier, under the Obama visits Iraq article).  Every single soldier who has been involved in the war in Afghanistan, whether he or she served and returned home safely and soundly, is still there, or who lost his or her life or limbs, needs to be remembered and not forgotten.  I believe that about any soldier for any war or "conflict." 

Just that the author or an editor headlined one of these subarticles today on the war in Afghanistan, as "The Forgotten War."

I've had family (and/or) friends serving in most of the wars that this nation has been involved in since the Europeans came over (or, invaded).  The Korean War isn't all that long ago -- my parents generation.  While my father's tour of duty was comparatively enjoyable in Alaska, my Uncle Billy, William "Billy" Douglas, died as a teenaged Prisoner of War (POW) in Korea.  He'd signed up to help support his family, lying about his age.  Tens of thousands of others also lost their lives there within just a few years, with even more losing their lives as they knew them to be previous to their participation, and affecting the lives of their loved ones.  I will not forget even if I never got the chance to meet my Uncle Billy myself.

The nickname for the war in Afghanistan should be something else. 

Let us not be so quick to forget the original The Forgotten War.

After Visit, Obama Defends Iraq Plan -

A Wake-Up Call From Afghanistan -

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

what's the deal with cash deposits, anyway?

A bit over a week ago, Thursday night I made an online payment to my credit card.  Friday, it had not credited yet.  Okay, fine, for some reason that seems obscure, they are not grabbing their money immediately from my checking account even though I authorized that, and it can take a couple days.  So, I borrowed money from M, and made a CASH payment right at the bank that Friday over an hour before their "must deposit by" hour.  Phew, I could rent a car for the weekend, as the car rental place puts a hold of approximately $200. on a major credit card and I needed that credit limit so that could be done.  Um, no, the cash payment still wasn't showing as a credit.  Odd.  I waited over an hour, still nothing.  Calling them, they said that the bank would ahve to call them and tell them it was cash, so it'd get credited.  The bank said I had to come in person with my receipt, even though I offered to fax it, and did let them know I'd have to walk almost a mile to get to them.  I got a ride, waited, and the bank, after verifying it was a cash deposit, was on hold, then disconnected, then got through and it took a WHILE, but I was told that my actual limit was counting that cash payment.  I walked back.  The online version of my credit card account didn't show that until Saturday, when it showed the cash payment retroactive to Friday, and I forget which day the online payment was credited.  But, they accepted the "hold" charge from the car rental company, so it worked out (the rental was a weekend special of a lot less than $200., but it's standard to put a hold).  I don't understand why all the hassle, however.

So, last night, I withdrew money from one account at one bank.  I had wanted to withdraw more, however, the (weeks late finally came yeah) child support check hadn't cleared fully.  THIS bank, nicely, lets me withdraw on a deposit immediately, even a check deposit, just only up to a few hundred dollars.  Okay, fine.  It definitely beats having to wait until the entire check deposit clears his bank account and gets into mine, plus there was a weekend in there.  So, I took the lessened amount of cash, and put it into my checking account last night.  I have two things I wish to pay by Pay pal today online, plus something else.  My checking account is primary with Pay pal, so it just makes it easier to do it this way.  Except, for somereason, my cash deposit made last night, admittedly via ATM but still, is not showing in my account even as of today right now!  ARGH.  It should acknowledge even pending deposits (it usually does, or is that only if I deposit via a teller?). 

I don't get why paying with cash isn't reflected on an account immediately after a person is able to do the data entry processing of the payment.  I also don't understand why some companies can withdraw from my checking account seemingly as soon as I press the button to confirm payment, and others take days (I would think they'd want it!).

And, yes, I can appreciate that wow, I had money to rent a car with for a couple days?! and wow, I can pay for two feiseanna, now?, as typically speaking no way in heck w/out budgeting that in, in advance.  It doesn't leave me with money, but at least I can cover these.  Just want the cash credited once deposited.

Update:  My cash deposit via ATM last evening, is now (late afternoon) credited to my checking account.  I am guessing that this is their normal timeframe for that, as my request/comment about it hasn't yet elicited a response (so I sent another saying thanks for getting it credited).  So, I made the two feiseanna registrations.  Anything else I'll take care of later on.


Monday, July 21, 2008

so I ate M's ice cream for lunch, not that it's the same thing

Left in the car, okay, E's car that I drove him to "the" metro station this morning in, is his coffee cup.  It's a reminder of him, his lips.  He was hesitate about what to do with his orange juice bottle after he finished downing the remainder and needing to get the portable playpen and his baggage; "Yes, I'll take care of this, you have to be going."  Gosh he looked so cute this morning in his jeans and a black polo shirt.  "Those are your cute jeans."  He turned his head around slightly and gave me that smile I like as he stepped back into his home to get some other item, oh, his metro card.  I also have a couple coins now that he can no longer use as they were pre-Euro coins, and he knows I like coins and stamps.  (My father had, also, but somehow my brother got all the stampbooks argh some are due to M.)   E was racing to get to "the" train, to get to his daughter's.  E and his oldest daughter, and youngest grandson (baby E turns 1 this week), depart for Europe in a couple hours.  For 10 days.  I'm really happy for him.  E sang a song in German this morning, from his childhood, when his father had been stationed in Germany for Voice of America.

Also left in the car are M's dirty socks, from last time she danced at the studio.  I'd taken them out of her dance shoe bag, as she needs the dance shoes with her but not her dirty socks.  Heck, she should be dancing right NOW.  And her Delia's magazine with some desired school clothing items circled and her pen.  She took her school books, The Uglies, and a book titled something like Romette and Julio.  She's enjoying The Uglies.  M left me her photo of "Al" and her, from graduation.  She'd asked Grandma (my mom) to print it out for her when we visited yesterday.  Gosh, was that just yesterday?  I've put that in my purse; it's really good and I like it.  M's big smile, and his, both dressed up.  M's gone with her dad, C, his long-term girlfriend, Sh, and their 6 year old, Si.  For 2 weeks.  Except I'll see her this weekend as there's a feis.  I'm more excited for it this year.  Dad was in the ICU a year ago this coming weekend / this feis last year. 

Boss is back from his 2 week vacation.  I'm actually glad.  I get to interact and work more.  And, E is right, I can get some things done in my life (and more of Dad's affairs),while both he and M are away.


Oh, I did see E some these past 2 weeks with M being home, just really when she was busy with her own plans.  Not extended time.  It was important for M and I to spend some time together; I don't regret that, I treasure that.  Sometimes, just talking with her is good.  She and I had our "date night" Friday night.  Just just.  Then some sunny time on the top of his boat Saturday which M insisted on not joining for (we thought she'd like it), but spending with "Al" instead as he moves states away soon, so still just a few hours in.  Delightful but few. 

Last night got started late for us, catching the last hour of Titanic which I'd not seen previously.  (AND OTHER THINGS I"M DELETING HERE -- E is a gentleman, and may not feel comfortable with public details.)

I already emailed E this morning.  And texted M something I thought she may need to know.  I'll keep busy, they'll keep busy. 

Daisy loved rolling in the grass in the sunlight.  Inside, feeding her and the cats, what would I eat?  M's current favorite flavor of Ben and Jerry's ice cream is really good.  I'll get her a replacement pint.  Not that it truly replaces time with E or with M, different sorts of time obviously, but it helps:)  And, who needs an excuse to eat ice cream?  Ugh, it's still 10 more days.

p.s. -- He's calling me now:)  Soon they'll be off.  Little E is napping with E, while daughter (mother) is searching for food in the airport.  Distracting me from deleting this entry (which I instead deleted portions of).  I'm glad he touched base.  Glad to hear that his brother's okay, too (had been a scare).  Presumably, M is doing well, also.





Tuesday, July 15, 2008

to Stephanie and John

My cousin, Stephanie, got married last Friday.  She and her first husband (now deceased), have two wonderful children, one being my Goddaughter, LEL.


John, I don't know you, but I know LEL and her brother like you.  I know that Stephanie, who is the closest I have to a sister, is happy with you, and you must be in love with her.  The three of them all deserve the very best.  Stay treating her well, and welcome to the family, Jon.

Stephanie, I'm so happy for you.  I think [your late brother] Dougie, [who would have turned 47 this month] would be very happy for you, and your [late] father, too.  We all just want you to be happy, to have the best life can offer to you.

I really wish I could have been there.  May all of you have many happy blessed years together.  Cheers.  Love ya. 

Monday, June 30, 2008

1 week 2 go -.-

M texted me that this a.m., "1 week 2 go -.- "  I'm not sure yet what she's doing at her dad's house this week, but it made me sad to see this.  I do wish her to be happy there, to have a good relationship with her dad, and yes, I've told her that I wish her to enjoy her time while there.  At least they no longer take her cell phone, so that she can text.

And, once her dad's g/f and I and the radiology center can coordinate a time for a followup test for M, I'll see M then, too.  (It's "female" related, so a) I'm not discussing it on a public forum but she's okay, and b) she wanted me to be the one to take her, along with C never expressing an interest in taking her for ANY medical appointment ever.)  That was her first text, i.e., that I'd woken her up (ha, um, sorry), then a wait a minute type moment, and then a text that if it's about her appointment, call the house phone, which I'd intended, anyway.

I also saw her on Saturday at an outdoors feis.  A fun feis, co-run along with a good Celtic Festival, just hot, muggy, and thunderstorms (which did cool things off when they came through).  E was good to take me there to see M, awhich she seemed to need, yanno, just mom's support, that mom came to watch and be there, like any kid with a parent, and yes, we enjoyed some of the festival as well.  I even relaxed some ha, briefly (I have SO much that needs taking care of right now in my life).  Note -- Gaelic Storm, and Enter the Haggis are both AWESOME!

I have and do keep myself busy, I truly do want her to have a good time there, but gosh I also do miss M.......  Daisy will go nuts, too.

And, on this Sunday coming up, she'll be home.  Oh, she wanted fireworks, again, for her birthday; Independence Day is her favorite holiday.  We'll still do something fun.


Monday, June 23, 2008

3 new prelim dancers

Three new preliminary champion Irish stepdancers, one in a new (for her) solo dress that fits her style and looks great on her!!! and two in borrowed (new for them) solo dresses that look great on them.

On the way to the feis Saturday morning, M was putting on her makeup.  She'd had a few um, "moments" getting her hair fixed.  Her nervousness gets translated into frustration with her hair that she wants PERFECT, then, she's over it.  Saturday, she was nervous and cranky, this first time competing as a preliminary champion dancer was apparently exciting and quite nervewracking.  Hey, I let HER do her own hair now, but sometimes a girl still needs her mom, and I was there for her, not that I could get it perfectly, either of course.  Hence, by the time we were driving, her wig and tiara were on, and she was putting on her makeup in a much better mood.  "Are you becoming a princess?"  Pause.  "Yes." 

Her iPOD has several Irish stepdance songs on it and she soon had that plugged into her ears, hand-dancing and other reviewing of her steps.  I was happy I got a good breakfast into her -- she likes when I make biscuits and put pretend (soy) sausage in them, and fortified juice.  We brought healthy snacks, too, as she can get too nervous to eat so we need smaller portioned, easy to eat foods I can put in front of her, "EAT!"

M and her two good friends pictured here had an Oireachtas camp this past week, for 3 hours a day.  They didn't dance straight through for 3 hours per day; that'd be insane.  They also had pilates (tailored to the Irish step dancer), and focused both on their solo dances and set for the Oireachtas in December (all new), and their figures dances.  These dancers were ready.  Figures Dancer commented on how really good M has become, and details why.  M said a while back that she's gotten more serious about her competitive dancing, and is focusing more during classes.  It helped that this is one of the best feiseanna, and is a local one meaning we didn't have a long drive, nor a hotel required, and that she'd know a lot of dancers there.

It was a fun feis, a whole new ballgame at prelim vice "the grades" (meaning levels from first feis, if offered, and beginner, up through open prizewinner).  Some of the dancers M has always looked up to is at this level.  A lot of questions, a lot of watching.  Heck, it was a lot of waiting, too.  We got there early just to be certain, early enough we could have looked at the new hardshoes she needs but M never dared take the time.  I was happy to see SO's daughter dance, for example -- a great hornpipe which ended up 2nd in prizewinner yeah!, and I missed her others but I looked up the results for her dance, then asked her what her competitor # was -- yeah, she one first and got her treble jig out of novice!  A real goal for her, so we were happy.

The champions dance each dance for longer at this level, than when in prizewinner level, and I kept thinking they were done (or should be), then they'd stay dancing either their last half step, or another whole step, for either 2.5 steps total, or 3.  I kept ending in my head at 2 ha. 

They don't dance separate dances, sometimes four, sometimes five or six.  Their main competition is both one hardshoe and one softshoe, which they chose in advance when registering for the feis.  M and L competed in hornpipe (hardshoe), and reel (softshoe), as that's what the U14 girls will dance at the Southern Region Oireachtas this December.  Their friend here is U13, and danced treble jig and slip jig.  Sometimes, age groups are combined, so the P U13 was combined with the P U14 at this feis, for 30 registered dancers.  There were six dancers from M's ID school in this one competition, which is not typical when the competitions are separated by ages. 

The champion dancer competitions have larger stages, sometimes in auditoriums.  For this feis, their competition was held in the regular stage room, with a larger stage, and their treble reel was in the auditorium.  M was excited about dancing on an auditorium stage for the first time.  L corrected her, that it was their first time COMPETING on an auditorium stage.  Ha, quite true.  They are both seasoned dancers when it comes to a dancing on a variety of stages, including a few different auditoriums.   It was good that they danced two at a time, and not three at a time.  With the larger stages, sometimes dancers will compete 3 at a time, and it was scheduled to be for them but was changed with the competition just before theirs, with the next younger age groups, kept dancing almost into each other.

M felt her thighs cramp after the hardshoe (hornpipe) round, which looked really good just, well, she's up against stiff competition now.  About the cramping, huh?  Friends helped her out while I asked TCRG Ma for advice, who recommend two stretches.  "Stay moving."  "Massage your thighs."  "Eat a banana."  "Drink water."  "She's not getting enough oxygen."  Ugh, my fear, as she has asthma, and sometimes dancing THIS hard and aerobically, exabberates it.  M declined her inhaler, however, saying it decreased her stamina.  Hmmm, we're going to talk w/ her pediatrician about that.  Closer to when the soft-shoe round (reel for her) was beginning, she said her arches were hurting.  I know those daggone flip flips don't help, but the arches are just starting to hurt NOW?  FiguresTeacher said M danced a very clean and good reel, very cautiously.  When M's at her best, wow, and this was very very good but not her very best.  It's okay.  This is her first time at this level.  I'd love her to do well, but primarily, I wish her to do well compared with herself, to feel good about it, and, of course, to have fun and enjoy it.

Results.   There are awards on podiums for the top three placers, and typically 50% of a competition get placed instead of, say, the top 3-6 max.  We watched some others, between checking on when her treble reel would go.  Finally her competition was announced.  Out of the 30 registered, 24 danced (I hear there are more no-shows for prelims but it still surprised me, is it b/c it's summer? this is a good feis), meaning 12 dancers were placed.  Two of M's friends (from her school) got 11th and 12th place.  Then they called competitor # x and name and Irish Dance school name for 10th place, then 9th place, in descending order.  It's a big deal to place, and her friends did great by placing.  As a first-time prelim dancer, we completely expected M to not place (that'd be normal).  "And in 6th place, competitor # 249, M[full name] of the [ID school name]."  WOW.  M was SO SO happy, asked where to stand, etc., and the main TC of the hosting school gave M her trophy, "And in 5th place......"  Yes, M danced well, but this was not expected.  She beamed over at me, standing there while the others got their trophies and bowl, clapping, bowing. 

They get their individual score sheet immediately afterwards.  It's a rule, and a good one, that three judges must judge the champion competitions at a feis.  Each judge writes down her or his score for each dancer for the hardshoe round, and then again for the softshoe round.  Nicely, each of these three also wrote comments.  The one put M down as 13th for her hardshoe, and 5th for her softshoe, while the other two had M between 2nd and 4th place, wow, 2nd.  The overall scores are averaged and is how M ended up in 6th place.  

M then called TCRG Ma who had had to leave after watching their dancing, and later calling FiguresTeacher.  We watched the rest of the results, LCGirl placed, too, yeah!, and L and others won between 1st and 3rd in Treble Reel and got to stand on the podium for those. 

M is, deservedly, thrilled.  She said she can't wait now for the Oireachtas.  It will be in Orlando this year.  I laughed, can we at least wait until it's not HOT down there?  I reminded her to stay practicing this week, and we talked about how much and how often.

L felt she'd be a lot more comfortable now dancing prelim.  She did look really good.  They deserved to have moved up, getting challenged again.  Supporting each other while working on their personal bests, working really hard.

Of course, I let M join with friends after at a local restaurant, and even get dessert.  LCGirl and M still had their wigs and tiaras on, albeit the 80's dressed folk lent "difference" to the place as well.  That night, it was social time.  A musician ended up playing The Unicorn song even ha.  Sunday, M had a lot of fun dancing for the fun of dancing, at a small parade and performance in front of a historical city, us enjoying the camaderie and the outing.  And, having fun, is, ultimately, what it's all about, whether competing, performing for an audience, for oneself.  Heck, it's a continuation of a heritage, and a good sport.  And, yes, I am also proud.  I told her she can get her trophy engraved.




Monday, June 2, 2008

Boating with Daisy, Chapter 2

Chapter 2:  Drop anchor.

E had been thinking all week long of potentially "going boating" yesterday.  Saturday, he would go down and tinker about things that didn't run perfectly on his several day with kayaks outing with his visiting sister, et al.  I even called him Saturday afternoon, but his cell phone was in his car, and he was stuck on the houseboat, for a few hours straight, while it stormed hard.  Sunday, yesterday, would have light winds in directions that'd work for us, and perhaps an occasional scattered shower.

It'd be a day trip.  "You're bringing Daisy along, right?"  She's gotten a lot more comfortable about going to E's house, and with us together.  We opted to have dinner on the boat this time, stopping at a farmer's market for fresh tomatos and ears of corn, and then a fish market for steamed blue crabs, with an Old Bay-like spice, of course.  (I am so not up for dumping live creatures into pots of boiling water.  Even if I suggested eating them, being in season and all, and I know that's how they're, well, boiled and steamed.)

Daisy seemed excited to go with me and even to see the boat and the marina there, "Boat, Daisy, want to go to the BOAT?"  Daisy does learn words, so I try to repeat them.  She learned "bacon" quite quickly at E's house one morning and yes, E fed her.

Anyway, at the boat, E lifted Daisy onto the deck, and she was a lot less anxious, hanging out primarily with me but not necessarily.  She looked out the windows and figured out, wait, this time, we're moving.  A tentative okay, then a more assured this is okay, sniff sniff, the estaurine air still smells good.  Sometimes she'd settle onto the couch, even almost sleeping, sometimes she'd come out on deck with me, sniffing through the door at the water and air.  It was really beautiful marshy waterlines, occasionally drizzling a bit, occasionally sunny.  I had my legs up, contemplating a pink summer (I decided that pink is my toenail color this summer), as if I don't have a trillion critical things to worry about, and watching the osprey through E's excellent binoculars.  The osprey prefer to nest on the pilings.  One had a large piling area, but scant nesting materials of twigs and such.  We figured it may have blown away some in Saturdays heavy storm, while the other pilings had nests slightly more protected from the wind.

A speedboat went by, and we rocked slightly in its wake.  Daisy was always on alert, and came up to peek out the doors on the front deck, watching the very mild waves, and went back warily to the safety of the couch inside. 

After a while, E got things ready for anchoring, having me steer now that we were long out of a channel and it was easy going.  Then, he dropped anchor.  I watched the chain go overboard with it.

"Oh, damn."  Pause.  "That's the stupidest thing I've ever done."  He seemed incredulous.  "That's a four-hundred dollar anchor."  Which wasn't the point and even he knew that.

"Did you not tie it to something?"

At the time, E's mind was racing through alternatives to us finding the now-lost anchor (such as landing on the sandy shore not too far away, etc.).  Later, he teased me that I must have distracted him, explaining how it's so very basic to tie the anchor to something (the line, the boat? something, anyway), that he'd never forgotten to do so, previously. 

This time, he stripped down to his underwear before diving in.  I used the depth gauge to help us figure out where he dropped the anchor compared with where the houseboat may have drifted.  E could stand easily in the shallow water yet not see a thing, especially without his eyeglasses.  The tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay are almost always murky with low visibility, and we'd just stirred them up further as had the storms Saturday.  He found it!  E found the anchor!  Relief as he held it up for me, then E climbed up the ladder in the back (after I turned off the idling engine of course).

Daisy seemed entirely unaffected by the lost and found anchor, and was simply pleased we were pleased and were starting dinner.  Then the storm came, a scattered thunderstorm having us bring in all chairs but not the table up top that sounded like an upstairs neighbor.  Somehow, Daisy didn't comment, not even vocally yet at home, she'd bark and bark at such noises.

Calm.  Shiny waters, pink in the cleared air. We moved the rest of our dinner upstairs.  Delicious.  There is nothing quite like fresh blue crab.  Birds returning, frogs or something speaking loudly in the marsh.  Daisy enjoyed that. 

One set of birds seemed to be in a bit of a tither.  "Look, E, that one'sturning its head away from the other."  "Must be the female," he says with a smirk.  The markings could indicate that it is a female.  "She" then slid further down the railing, away from her mate.  He didn't visually take notice.  Then she flew off, and he followed, in parallel. 

Daisy did once ask to be let out the door, as if to go for a walk.  I'd timed things, and knew she could last longer. Worst case, such as if the anchor stayed lost and we really had drifted, we'd put out a towel upstairs for her to use.  Daisy didn't quite get the concept that a traveling boat moves across water; there was no land outside that door like there would be if we were in a car.  I picked her up, and let her see over the edge at all the water.  She stopped asking to "go out," and was fine when we got back into dock along with a beautiful pink evening sky.

I still joked with E that perhaps he should just bring an extra change of clothing with him every time he goes boating with us.  He knows I'd brought a bathing suit, just in case, and joked that maybe I should have gone in instead of him.  Laughing, "I don't feel badly any longer for having lost your car keys (and boat key)."  Pause.  "You're never going to let me live this down, are you?"  Ha.  "No."  :)

We both agreed that Daisy is doing a lot better, and how she was bodes well for any upcoming multi-day boating trips we may take.  While we were all tired, Daisy was the one snoring the loudest this morning, on a bed that doesn't move about with the water.