Monday, December 27, 2010

My Band of Angels - Christmas, 24 Years Ago

I wasn't going to write this story but in following a holiday writing prompt from Mama Kat over at SITS, that uber blogging support site,  it seemed that maybe it's time. [Warning: This is a long post, but something I couldn't break up into parts, and for that, I apologize.]

Christmas, 24 years ago, would be the last one my youngest daughter would share with us before Ewing's Sarcoma would take her at the tender age of twenty. Although it was never spoken aloud, we both knew, and I spent a fortune making photo memories because this was before the miracle of digital cameras. Saving our forests should have been the noble high road, but truth is, our little artificial tree replaced a live one that had dropped all its needles two days before Christmas! My husband bought it when the girls were toddlers, I was in the hospital, and he was in charge of everything. Little did we know, then, that it would become a way of keeping him part of our future seasons, too. (He had succumbed to a different cancer six years earlier.) Although the little tree had served us well, it was time to let it go -- too many wiry limbs, too few needles. When given a chance to buy a beautiful new artificial tree for almost next to nothing, I jumped at the chance to make my daughter's last Christmas special.

And, the new tree was beautiful. Seven feet tall and looking very much like the fir tree it represented. For the first time, all our handmade ornaments could be displayed at the same time. It was going to be a surprise and I was pretty caught up with the memories associated with each ornament as I took my time getting it decorated. Waiting for my girls to see our beautiful new tree with all the decorations was torture; but, it was worth it. They oohed and aahed -- pointing, laughing, and sharing forgotten moments. But, a little later, I noticed that my youngest had become very quiet and, when I asked what was wrong, she said it was nothing, she didn't want to upset me. After some gentle prodding, my beautiful young daughter finally admitted that she really missed our old tree because it was more like Christmas to her. "Mom," she said, "I think this is my last Christmas and I guess I was really looking forward to seeing that old pitiful tree with all the Christmas memories of when Dad was with us. Please don't be mad; but, could we use it, again, one more time?"

I couldn't be mad because I knew exactly how she felt and the three of us began the process of undressing the new seven-foot artificial fir tree now filled with a mixture of old and new memories and replaced it with our scraggly but dearly loved five-foot sparsely-needled old artificial tree. Our real Christmas was back, just as it always had been. Well, it was almost "just as it had always been." Some of the ornaments had to be put away and, more importantly, we didn't have our beloved father and husband with us. I had wanted the tree to be extra special because I had some bad news to give my girls -- news I had been putting off telling them for weeks. There literally was no money to spend on Christmas -- no money for presents; no money for a special holiday dinner. Nothing -- simply, nothing.

Even with insurance, cash requirements for drugs, gas, hospital parking fees, and incidentals for caring for my daughter were staggering. Money is usually tight when you have teenagers, and this was my reality. We weren't starving but I definitely knew how to get every ridge off a dime. There was no getting around it. I had to tell them and I was dreading it because, like every parent, I wanted to be a hero in my children's eyes. And, if possible, you want to at least maintain the illusion of Santa for your older children, in some way or another. I felt like a failure, that I had really let them down. I knew the ball had been passed into my court after their father died and I simply couldn't get it back over the net. Not only did I not have enough money for presents, I was working 15-hour days, which left little time for handcrafting.

When explaining the situation, I suggested that, if they wanted to enjoy a real holiday dinner, they could accept their friends' invitations and I could find something else to do for the holiday. The most we could hope for was peanut butter sandwiches with raisin faces (something we rather enjoyed, on any other occasion). Without a second's hesitation, they both hugged me and said it was all right, at least we were all together. We could go to the candlelight service at church, come home for hot cocoa and cinnamon toast, and just enjoy each other's company.

There was this one thing I could do. My youngest had been filling her time learning how to crochet and had only the edging to complete before her afghan was finished. As her cancer had progressed, she lost feeling in her fingertips and it was hard for her to hold both the crochet hook and yarn. I decided I could complete the afghan for her and have it ready by Christmas morning.

One of my three jobs was singing in a country-western band. In my part of the country, clubs paid more for that kind of music than rock and I wasn't working four hours a night for the experience. We usually worked every weekend and were paid in cash. Cash that was spent the minute it hit my hand. Unfortunately, this was one year we were not booked for Christmas Eve. But, at 1:30pm, the afternoon of Christmas Eve, the phone rang. It was a local club owner wondering if our band couldn't come in on short notice to play at his club, that night. The band they had scheduled backed out when they received a better offer. (Now, this is a real no-no in the band business, but there's very little a club owner can do about it when it happens besides hope he can find another one to fill in for the night.) I gave him our price, saying we would only work if he promised we would be paid in cash and that I would have to contact the guys in the band before I could really commit to anything, but would get back to him within the hour.

Christmas Eve is a difficult night to get anyone to change plans and the guys had really been looking forward to spending time with their families. The only advantage I could offer was the promise of a cash payment and we only had to do two sets for an early closing. I didn't know what their situations were, but that money would save the day for me. Within the hour, they had all returned my call and agreed to do the gig. I was going to be able to give my girls a Christmas, after all. I couldn't believe it. I thanked God, my guardian angel, and everyone else I knew on the other side. I even threw in a thank-you to Wal-Mart and their open-all-night policy.

Since I wouldn't be able to get back home in time, I arranged for the girls to attend midnight candlelight services with friends. We performed our sets, the club owner made good his promise, and I decided to head to Wal-Mart before heading home to unload the van. I was a little surprised to see the other band members pulling in beside me, but figured they wanted to get some last-minute gifts. I ran around desperately trying to figure out how to cover two teen-aged girls, gas and parking fees, and still manage a little extra for a Christmas dinner on $75.

Shopping finished, I rushed to the registers in time to find the guys just standing there, waiting for me on the other side. Just a brief glance at their baskets made me wonder who would be receiving their presents. I knew their wives and the gifts were definitely too young for them. Of course, they saw me checking out their carts and with great big grins, told me how they had already discussed it with their wives, only agreeing to perform so that their share could be used for my girls' Christmas. That was their present to me. Their wives had come up with the list of presents for them to buy my girls and I just had to do the wrapping and place them under the tree. How do you say thank-you when your eyes are filled with tears and your throat is constricted with love? All I could do was hug them tight in gratitude and wish them and their families a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

It was 3:30am by the time the van was emptied and the presents wrapped. I checked to make sure the girls were asleep and sat in my chair to reflect on my day and the special blessings that filled my life. As I gazed at the little tree, I noticed an envelope perched on an upper branch, addressed to "Mom." Officially, this was Christmas morning. I decided it was okay to read it. I had to sit down as I read, "Dear Mom, Please don't feel bad about not having any money for presents this year. We all know the reason. What's important is that we have each other and are able to be together for this Christmas. We love you and want to spend Christmas Day with you. And we love peanut butter sandwiches with raisin faces. All our love, ________"

Okay. There was no way I was going to sleep that Christmas Eve, but I could put one more round of edging on my youngest's afghan. And, I did, finishing at 6:35am, just in time to hear the alarms go off in their rooms. They walked out, slowly, not expecting to find anything under our little tree and were stunned to discover that Santa had been there, after all. I couldn't keep the secret and shared what the guys in the band had done for our Christmas -- and, that I had read their note. Then, came the explosion of hugs, tears and kisses because, underneath it all, we knew this really was our last Christmas together. The little tree with more metal on its branches than needles would have to go; but, for just a moment, when I looked at the angel on top of that little bedraggled tree full of memories, I could have sworn I saw her smile.

Do you have a special Christmas memory where angels touched your life? Link in and share, won't you?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

It's Snowing in Willow Spring

Snow to the Left!

Snow to the Right!

Let's Have Tea Inside!

Definitely a day for a lazy read and calling friends! Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

BFF?! You'll Need to Know This About Me

Ashley at LittleMissMomma is having a BFF Linkup and I thought it would be a great time to plunge into one. Just a few things to know if you want to be my BFF.

I'm very tall inside because my 4'10" Mother used to have me get things for her off the top shelf, saying, "You're the tallest!"

I hate when people with obviously more than 10 items try to look innocent standing in the Express Lane.  

No bag of potato chips is ever allowed to develop a sense of isolation in my house. Because I am truly a kind person, I consume them all at one sitting, for their own good.

If you have anything bad, at all, to say (even with your facial muscles) about Elvis, don't even go there -- no, I'm serious, don't.

I can pretty much relate almost everything to a song -- and, will probably sing a few verses for you, as well.

Some folks may say I'm a pretty good cook but I cannot, cannot, make a decent original pizza.

It doesn't matter who you are or what you do or where you come from, I have absolutely no interest in changing you or making you into something other than who you are -- I love the uniqueness of you and what I can learn from you.

When I go out to eat, I can't stand being interrupted every few minutes by someone asking if everything's all right. I came to share the meal with the person I'm with and would love to be able to do so.

Unless you can prove to me that you're the litmus test of what's right and good in the world, I'm going to do what I've learned works for me.

I have para-sailed and hang-glided, without fear; but, I'm terrified in glass elevators.

I don't know what it means to be bored.
I think that will do -- for now!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Miracle - 27 Puppies and Teddies

The holidays are a time when we want all children to have something special waiting for them on Christmas morning. It's impossible to take care of them all but we can each do something that could make a difference for at least one child.  For years, I have used up my calico scraps to make puppies and teddy bears to give to Toys for Tots. Once stuffed and detailed, I would bring them to the local police station or fire house for distribution.

These stuffed puppies and teddy bears are easy to put together and make great take-alongs to keep busy while waiting for this and that. The bodies would remain unstuffed through the year until the week after Thanksgiving.  Facial features and other details were added during the first few weeks of December. An easy task while watching TV, and easy to deliver. Well, easy to do; check. Easy to deliver; different story. This was my first Christmas in NC and I was but a five-month resident in 1990. It was a snap to locate our little six-man police station and I happily arrived at around four p.m. on the 23rd of December with my holiday box of 27 puppies and teddy bears.

The policeman on duty was probably in his 40s and listened kindly to my story and, yet, he had no idea what I was doing there or what I was talking about. Nobody had ever brought stuffed toys to his station in all the years he'd been there. What did I expect him to do? He was sorry but there just wasn't anything to be done.

Well, did he know of any place where I could take the toys, myself, for distribution? I explained that I was very new in town and wasn't familiar enough with the roads to chance driving around on icy streets whilst looking at street signs. There was absolutely nothing going on in the station. He looked helpless and we just sort of stared at each other, hoping either of us would come up with a solution. I even looked down at the puppies and teddies, hoping they had a solution. We were all brain dead --  nothing but empty air and disappointment.

I thanked him, donned my scarf and coat, drew on my mittens and picked up the box of puppies and teddy bears, turned and began the long walk towards the door. (It was really only a few feet but my heavy heart just wasn't in the mood for light stepping.) The phone rang and within a few seconds, I heard, "Hey, wait, lady! Don't go!" The officer signaled that he had to finish the call but he didn't want me to leave.

"You'll never guess who that was," he said.

"I can't imagine."

"That was __________ Hospital -- the head nurse from the children's floor. The local charity had come by with their annual gifts for the patients but, somehow, the children's box couldn't be found. They were desperate. There was nothing for the children on her floor. They had called all the charities they could think of but everything had been distributed and they needed at least 27 toys for the children... 27 toys for the children... wasn't there something, some place, someone, he knew that might be able to help at this late date?"

We stared at each other because we couldn't speak. Something bigger than either of us had entered the room and answered our prayers. My 27 little calico puppies and teddy bears would have someone to love them on Christmas morning, after all.


If you would like to fill your empty time with making stuffed puppies and teddy bears, either buy a simple pattern with just a few parts for a true 3-dimentional look or get a child's coloring book that gives you a nice dark outline of a full side view of a puppy or face view of the teddy. I've included simple drawings here that you can print out on 8.5"x11" paper.

The puppies are welcomed at all drop-off centers but only teddy bears are accepted by Emergency Medical Services. They like to keep the teddy bears on their ambulances to give to children after an accident. Check with your local ambulance service. You can also make them patchwork, using material scraps. Find an easy stuffed teddy or dog pattern and either make your patchwork* first, lay pattern pieces down, cut out and sew -- or, if the pattern has separate body pieces, use a different material for each section, keeping the smallest prints for the face, since you'll be adding eyes, nose, and mouth details.

   *These are small stuffed animals. Keep patchworking small so that it doesn't overwhelm the toy!

* Cotton fabric (calico, gingham, broadcloth, denim, etc.): For patchwork puppy, when using a pattern for the body parts, four or more different fabric scraps; For one-color puppy, 44" wide, 3/4 yard.
* Satin ribbon, 1/2" wide, 1 yard.
* Black shank buttons (for eyes), 1/2", two.
* Black animal nose, 21mm. (Optional: Black embroidery floss.)
* Fiberfill stuffing, 16 oz.
* Needle. Thread in matching colors. Straight pins. Scissors. Iron.
* Tracing paper. Pencil.
(Note: Sew with 1/4" seams and right sides facing throughout. Leave 1.5" opening for stuffing. Turn right side out; stuff gently easing toward seams, stitch, opening, and add facial details and ribbon!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Aunt Clara and Uncle Oscar - Power Over Toddlers!

Kukla, Fran & Ollie
A thousand years ago in my childhood, there was a fantastic thing that arrived in my house -- a television! It had a five-inch (yes, five-inch!) screen in a full-sized floor cabinet. We were enthralled with the shows and with the countdown pattern that would signal the start of the few shows available at the time. Gathered together, we young'uns would all do the countdown as the patterns changed and the number "1" finally appeared. Magic was about to happen!

Late afternoon meant kids programming and one of my favorites was the Kukla, Fran & Ollie Show. I was enthralled at all the characters, how clever they were, and amazed that Kukla and Ollie could drink with a straw! You can share this early TV Show with your own children, check out their holiday DVD special. It was a much simpler time. But, I digress...

I'm here to tell you about Uncle Oscar and Aunt Clara and this requires a leap into the future
 (well, MY future, anyway) and life as a young mommy. 

By the time my daughters were growing up, television had become more sophisticated, color TVs were more prevalent in homes, and cartoons had become well-established -- although, I never understood how Hanna Barbera just looped the same tree and/or window in the background of the cartoons and kept the kids interested, when Disney offered so much more. Again, I digress...

I can't tell you how much I LOVED Kukla, Fran & Ollie and the wonderful characters that filled that half hour, every day. They became my friends. So, I decided to share some of that joy with my own girls. Using Kukla as a guide, I made two hand characters (just can't bring myself to call them puppets, albeit, that's what they were) from papier-mache; painted them, and gave them hair and cloth bodies. Uncle Oscar was fairly close to Kukla and Aunt Clara was of the same family but decidedly dressier.

Uncle Oscar and Aunt Clara were introduced to my girls, one evening, after their bath. I had a wonderful French Provincial high-backed chair that would hide me and give my babes (3-yrs and 5-yrs) a soft cushion to kneel (I insisted) on, while O&C used the top edge of the chair for a stage. OMG! They were a hit!

From that night on, for the next year or so, the bedtime routine included a visit with Uncle Oscar and Aunt Clara. The girls simply refused to go to bed without sharing their day with their 'best aunt and uncle'  and a most unexpected result was that Mommy (capital M, because it's being used as my serious title, at this time) reaped the biggest reward. (All's fair in raising young'uns)

What reward, you might ask? Well, imagine being the voice(s) of your childrens' new 'best friends.' Wouldn't you share your day? Wouldn't you want to share your secrets? Like who stepped on the toothpaste tube and, well, for instance, a typical evening's visit:

Oscar: (Partner in crime - toddler style): How was your day, girls?
D#1: Oh, it was fun. We did lots of things.
Oscar: Like what?
D#2: Well, we dropped the toothpaste.
D#1: I stepped on it and toothpaste came way out onto the floor. Pierrot (family pet) started licking it.
Oscar: Does your mommy know?
D#1 & D#2: NO! Don't tell her, okay? I wiped it with the towel, so she doesn't know...
D#2: She'll get mad. Don't tell her. Promise?
Oscar: I promise; I won't tell. Because, you cleaned it up and that's what you should do. 
Clara (PI and Conscience): I won't tell but you should, because that would be helping your mommy make sure everything is clean. Remember when she told you that everyone has accidents and the most important thing is to clean it up before it stains or gets worse -- like when you spilled the paint? So, you should tell her. Will you do that, for me?
D#1: Oh, yeah, that's right.  Okay, I'll tell her, tonight, when we go to bed.
D#2: Me, too.
D#1: But, it was fun and made us laugh -- a lot!

... well, you get the idea. Giggles throughout and lots of fun for about ten minutes. Of course, my voice changed for both characters and it was a wonderful time. Finding out who spread lipstick over the bottom carpeted stair was a special night for Mommy, too, if you know what I mean.

NO, before you ask, I don't have pictures because our dog Pierrot was insanely jealous of the girls' new friends and he found them alone one day and, well, it's best to not walk through that door...

Recently, I reminded my eldest about those days. She told me how special they were to both she and her sister and how they thought of them as real life friends that they looked forward to sharing their day with at bedtime. What I didn't realize was how upset they were when that time was over. Our lives had gotten busier, the girls were older, and how do you replace a favorite uncle and aunt?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Summer Birth and Death of a Whirlybird Helicopter

Was watching Pawn Stars on A&E the other day and the guy actually bought a damaged helicopter! Then, he added about $110,000 in repairs to resell it at around $150,000! Wow. Well, that brought me back to the time when I was just a young girl of 19 and helped build a Bell helicopter, from scratch. It was a Whirlybird-type similar to the one you can see on the M.A.S.H. series. Big bubble cab, skinny tail, horizontal rotors on top and ski-thin skids. Don't remember how much it cost my buddies, way back then, but I know it was nowhere near $100,000!

To the left is a current picture of a 'kit' helicopter. Ours looked more like a dragonfly with a blunter, higher, face. We were going to use it for beach rides.

Yes, I say "we," because "we" were The Three Musketeers that summer: Jim, Tom, and me. Can't remember how we got together. We just did. And they needed me, really needed me, they said, because someone (SOMEONE, as it was so gallantly put) had to tear open and count the little plastic bags of parts that came every week and then place them in just the right order on the big sheet we had spread out on the floor of the rented steel quonset hut at the Opa-Locka (opa tisha waka laka) Air Base. In other words, I was a girl and that was the only job open.

So, there I was, in the summer, in Florida, in a steel building, away from trees -- forget balmy breezes -- 'glowing' (men sweat; women glow) profusely in the heat. It was fun.

We were a perfect team and really did work well, together. Jim had the know-how and a life-long desire to build his own helicopter, played the guitar and sang the beejeebies out of Nat King Cole's Route 66, too! He was a pilot with his own two-seater Piper Cub that he used for aerial advertising. Tom was his best buddy, an engineer between jobs with an open summer, who thoroughly understood diagrams, engines, etc. My contribution was sorting, pre-assembly of parts (widgets, in the catalogs), keeping track of parts, reading instructions aloud, swapping out tools, and making coffee and sandwich runs, as needed. It took almost the whole summer to finish.
This Safari looks like our Helicopter, pontoons and no doors!
Jim decided he didn't have enough money for doors, by the time the pontoons had arrived, and we really didn't need them, after all. But, we did need the pontoons because we would not only be giving short rides up and down Miami Beach, we'd be flying over and landing on the Intracoastal Waterway, too.

It's almost impossible to describe the excitement of that first time the engine started up and that old helicopter just hummed, waiting to get up into the air.  Suzy (christened by Jim) had entered our lives in little plastic bags, sent by the vendor in an orderly fashion meant to make the kit easier to construct. The propellers and side sections came full-sized, but everything else was built up out of those little packets. And, now, Suzy was going to take us up, way up, into the air!

Belted in, Jim at the controls, me riding shotgun, we rose off the pavement and began to soar over the trees towards the beach. Don't know why Tom didn't want to fly that day, but he didn't; and I didn't push. I wanted to go! I was young enough, then, to believe I would live forever -- me and my vertigo. I didn't care because Tom's reluctance meant I got a first-flight ride -- and, it was awesome. The pontoons weren't attached and visibility was, well, very, very, clear -- like, there-really-is-nothing-under-you-but-air clear! I fell in love -- not with Jim -- with helicopters. They can still turn my head.

Success! Business was brisk and reservations backed up for days. The little helicopter was beginning to pay for itself. As summer began to close, my own schedule got very busy, Tom got a job, and our little trio broke up. Jim kept giving rides and, then, disaster struck. He never understood why he let it happen. We rehashed it to death, trying to figure out how he could have been so taken in, but there it was -- he believed some fast-talking guy who convinced him that he had flown helicopters in the army. He made Jim an offer he couldn't refuse to let him take the helicopter up, by himself; but, not before he signed a waiver of liability. Jim said it was obvious from take-off, the fellow didn't really know what he was doing and wasn't in the air fifteen minutes before he was plummeting into the ocean. He wasn't hurt; but, the helicopter -- our Suzy -- was destroyed. Rebuilding it would have cost more than Jim had and his heart just wasn't in it, anymore.

Think you might want to build your own? Check out this faq at Safari Helicopters.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ah, Sweet Smell of Success - Decorated Sugar Cubes

My philosophy has always been that you can sell anything. All you had to do was find something you wanted to sell for more than it cost to make it. So, let me tell you about my first home-based business.

I decorated sugar cubes. Yes, you heard me, I decorated sugar cubes. I wanted a business that could be done from my home.  And, with caring for a 15-month-old toddler, taking care of hubby and home, and, another baby on the way, there was a limit to how much energy could be devoted to a business.

A Cup of Tea, A Lump of Sugar,  and Inspiration

I had had some success decorating birthday cakes for family and friends. Some were so pretty, it was hard to eat them! My friends were constantly asking me when I was going to start a real business decorating cakes at home. Then, one day during a visit with my next-door neighbor, as she added a small sugar cube to her tea, inspiration hit. 

Everyone enjoys having pretty tables for luncheons, parties, and weddings, I thought. Almost everyone can decorate a cake. I would have to be different and offer something unique to the ladies of my town. Instead of just one design on small petit fours found in bakeries, I would offer seven designs per box, using holidays, special occasions, or a client’s theme. Choosing square cubes rather than rectangular, each box would contain exactly 25 exquisitely decorated sugar cubes.

Decorated Sugar Cubes, a Craft Fair, and Publicity

My most expensive home business purchases included a set of miniature decorator tips, boxes for packaging, and professional business cards. (This was pre-computer days!) I sketched several thematic designs, created a flyer explaining my new home business, and stuck them under windshields at the malls. The designs were not only unique, they were realistically executed and, before long, my little business began to generate a small but nice income.

One day, during a visit, my pushy neighbor said I should exhibit at an upcoming local craft fair. (Am I not swollen with child?, I thought...) "Well, why not", I said. So, that is exactly what I did. This resulted in two very interesting follow-up visitations.

In the first instance, because my craft was so unusual and the Craft Fair people were overheard discussing a category for me by the local reporter/editor/Avon Lady (this was a very small town), I was interviewed about my home business for the Sunday edition of our local paper.

Imagine my surprise that Sunday morning to find a picture of my toddler watching me decorate sugar cubes at my kitchen table, with an accompanying article that covered the ENTIRE front page of the Sunday’s Food Section. (My husband, in passing by, less-than-graciously offered that he had seen a synopsis of WWII in less space; but, it could have been that he hadn’t had his coffee, yet.) Serendipitous advertising, for sure, that brought me a solid high-end clientele.

Second Visitors More Ominous in Sugar Cube Business

The second instance provided visitors that were a little more formal and ominous – and (I quickly ascertained from their proffered cards), that they were from the, uh, Vice Squad. Did I mention this took place in the late sixties?  Or, that I offered a variety of flavors, in addition to my beautiful decorations? This option, they informed me, was the focus of their surprise visit, and could we have a little talk...

Busy raising my family, I gave little thought to the dark side of the sixties -- psychedelic drugs, colorful vans, or, for instance, the part sugar cubes played in that scenario. Let's just say, as it turned out, these Vice Squad gentlemen held a more au courant view. Point of fact, they had come for random sample boxes of my packaged sugar cubes to take back to forensics for a “flavor” breakdown. I told them that they’d have to pay for anything they wanted to take.

Oh, my! Well, ever thirsty for knowledge, imagine my joy when I was gratuitously instructed on the powers of local law enforcement. Free of charge! They were able to clear up my misconception about what does and does not have to be paid for when you’re under the spotlight, so to speak. But, holding my heavy-with-second-child tummy whilst declaring my innocence and explaining all the hard work I'd been through, they proved the better person (in spite of their superior position) -- and graciously paid for their two sample boxes.

Within two days, I was cleared of all suspicion and my little niche business flourished for another four years before my husband was transferred. Decorated sugar cubes! Whodda thunk it...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hotpants from Handbags and Handguns Responds!

Hotpants(tm) has responded to my eight questions from The Mom Chef's Pay-It-Forward-Tagging Just take a look at that lovely lady and son -- tell me that's not someone you would love to have living right, next door.

She has a really cool site and a great way of presenting celebrities (Tinseltown Takes) for the week. Her pictures and fantastic commentary will have you coming back for more, so you might as well follow her, too. While you're there, please give her some comment love!

Here are her answers:

1. If you could change places with anyone in the world, who would that be, and why?
I want to be a female version of Ryan Seacrest. He seems to lead a full life and get by with only a couple of hours of sleep. He gets to travel a lot, too.

   2. How has your packing for travel changed over the years?

I make a list. I check it twice. I don’t worry about carrying too much stuff because that just saves more room in my luggage for the new stuff I buy. 
   3. Did you have a favorite pet when you were growing up? Why this one?
I had various cats and dogs over the years. My  favorite pet would have to be my finch, Chipper. Those birds aren’t supposed to live very long, but I had that thing from first or second grade until my senior year of high school. I got quite attached to that little stinker.
4. What was the hardest subject for you to study in school, and why?
Algebra; numbers and letters should not go together to solve a math problem.

5. Did your first love become the person you thought they would or did they totally surprise you? How?

I think he turned out to be exactly what I thought he’d be. He’s a divorced police officer and a great dad. I could have predicted the divorce, the job and the love of his kids. Ha!
6. Would you marry your first crush, if given the chance? Why or why not?

Well, that’d probably be Bret Michaels so I’m glad I didn’t.

7. If you were asked to speak before a roomful of seniors, what would you tell them?

I’d tell them that their parents are right about almost
everything so listen to them. I’d also tell them to live every day like it’s their last because people aren’t kidding when they say time flies after graduation.

8. Have you written down favorite memories to share with the next generations? Why not?

I guess my blog counts in a way, but nothing really on paper.

Oh, did I tell you that she also loves vampires?! Go, have some fun, come back, and let us know what you like the most about her blog -- and, don't forget the comment love...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Christmas Music Before Thanksgiving, Now!

I heard Christmas music at the Caribou, last night! Yes! Christmas music! Do you want me to sing it, for you? Ahem, lalalalala "...Chestnuts roasting on an..." I was so disoriented, I just handed my list to my gentleman caller and said, "You're late!"

I love holidays -- all holidays! And, I definitely know that my neighbors love them, too, because they start celebrating them so early! I'm all for lawn ornaments and pretty trees festooned with garlands of this month's special event. I really am. I swear it. But...

Is it really necessary to set out Halloween decorations the week before September ends? Do they have to stay up through Thanksgiving Day, only to be replaced with Christmas
decorations? What does this mean to us less than johnny-on-the-spot neighbors? Does it show a lack of love of the holiday to not add our own display of this year's new caricatures? I don't know; I really don't know.

What I do know is:
  • It irritates me, no end, to see how commercial each holiday has become, and, then, not putting up my own Easter tree.
  • I'm not always in agreement with choices made for publicly expressing the joy of that particular season.
  • There's always one neighbor who goes w-a-a-a-y overboard, covering every nook and cranny of their roof, yard, and car.
  • I hate feeling GUILTY about not following suit.
That's it, in a nutshell. I'm guilty over not putting up my own
display with the same fervor as my neighbors -- especially, when every visitor to our neighborhood is drawn to my lawn by the brilliant display of... no wooden creatures, no air-filled greetings, no sparkling decorations... just, lots of empty.

Have I created a "them-against-me" situation? Do I need to watch out for tp-ing next year? Should I move? All of these thoughts are racing through my head whilst I try to resolve my own feelings about caving in and festooning.

My personal decorating pattern means the tree goes up on December 15th and comes down January 15th. It's an eco-conscious artificial tree, filled with the memories of every Christmas before.  

I love sitting by my tree with all its lights and personal decorations created by my family through the years. At the end of the day, when all the gifts have been opened and visitors have gone, it's my special time to enjoy a hot cup of cocoa, rocking and savoring newly created memories along with those of family and friends who are no longer with me, except on memorial ornaments. I want to enjoy it as long as possible.

But, I did wait until the same month as the holiday to decorate. Is that too much to ask of my neighbors? To wait until the same month? to keep the voltage under a million watts? To be, well, more like me! Alas, I fear I ask too much. Oh, Lordy-lordy-lordy, where did the time go? It's getting late; I have shopping to do. Where are my dark glasses?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Craft Shop Starting to Look -- Well, Like a Craft Shop!

Sterilite Cabinets People Mean What They Say

Just so you know that I don't spend all my time venting, there are good things happening in my world, too, and I wanted to share my most current.  My Craft Shop has been the last on my list for getting a facelift since moving in a couple of years ago. I had quickly thrown up some home-made shelving to get some items out of my way! and it was time to get started. I do have lots of crafting materials and equipment but I don't necessarily want the world to see it all when they stop by.  Besides, with solar cooking (click on button at right, if you haven't followed me from there) taking more of a front seat, it was time to attack the storage and display problem.  This is an ongoing project, until it totally works for me.

The shop isn't really that big, so I needed something that was higher but not too deep. Something that would hold other plastic containers, etc. By buying one a month, until I had enough, I've been acquiring those Sterilite buff-colored cabinets that will lock (unless you want to open them with a kitchen blowtorch!) and hold LOTS of stuff...

You can put these Sterilite cabinets together in ten minutes...Yes! You can, because they show a clock on the side of the carton with ten minutes shaded out!... Must have been a different clock or time zone because mine didn't get done in ten minutes. Oh, there's a real good reason (there always is) and it's that little cloud that follows me, everywhere, to make things a little more... well... challenging. Moved more items around shop to give me plenty of room for assembling the cabinets.

Opened first box - checked pieces -- ? Two (2) TWO left doors! Uh, oh...
Opened second box - checked pieces - Yay, full count off; ready to go!
Opened third box - checked pieces - Yay, full count off; ready to go! 
Assembled cabinets two and three. Vey happy camper. This is going to end up being a very nice shop. But, first things, first. Back to box one, the one that contained two, count them, TWO, left doors. But, wait! Let's look on the side of the carton. There's a number to call Customer Service for instant replacement should the unthinkable happen!  (Two left doors qualified as unthinkable, in my book.) I called the number and got -- oh, yeah, a recording. Recording promised Customer Service would do their part, if I did mine. Having an interest in achieving a good result, I did my part at 3:12 p.m. Shared my name etc. and Part Number as listed on the assembly instruction sheet. Stuffed some of my, uh, stuff, into the finished cabinets (so that I could turn around!), dusted my hands and went back into the house for a cup of tea and a new calendar to mark off just how long it was going to take for the "instant replacement."

This was too good to be true (and, I strongly suspect it was because I had the forethought to have a calendar at the ready). Those Sterilite people are cool. Called me first thing Monday morning and said they would send me the missing part, that day! What is that all about? Real INSTANT REPLACEMENT. No questions asked. "No; no, keep the part. More trouble than it's worth!" What were they trying to do! Would I be ready for this challenge? I mean, geez, I was counting on a few days off to just kind of gripe about lousy-service-this and lousy-service-that. Well, thank you, very much, Sterilite, for living up to your promises and ruining one of my few opportunities  to post a blogging tantrum.

 But, I did want you to know that there are still some companies where customer service is a priority, and Sterilite is one of them. 

P.S. No, they don't know about this post, at all. Just wanted you folks to know, that's all.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Clean Game After Only 40 Years of Bowling!

Don't know how it happened, except, I wasn't really paying attention to the score.  My mind was, as usual, on a hundred other different things and so I would just go up and roll the old bowling ball when it was my turn. Not until the score was tallied did they tell me it was a clean game! A clean game! A CLEAN game of bowling -- which means, no opens, just spares or strikes. Me! I actually threw that danged ball and either got a strike or a spare.

I think there's an award for that.  There must be, right? Used to be, but things have changed mightily since combining men and women into the USBC. Let's see if I can find out.  Oh, no! This is not good. Not good, at all.

What I found was that they have instituted a new program where you can print out your very own Certificate! Yes, it doesn't matter if you were sanctioned, or not, you can print out your certificate in the privacy of your home, without having to prove that you've actually performed the feat with witnesses. Just type in your name and a date and there it is, ready for framing and hanging on your wall.

This is very depressing. After all these years, what used to be quite an accomplishment has now been reduced to what anybody (with or without scruples) can say they did -- just print it out, frame it, and hang it on the wall. It's supposed to make things easier, but, I feel cheated.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Mom Chef's Pay It Forward Tagging Did Me In

Better late than never.  This all started when Chrisiane, The Mom Chef, got tagged with her list of eight questions to then turn around and torture others.  Apparently, I'm one of the first eight bloggers on her list that she wanted to torture! (Isn't there an award for that, somewhere?)

Well, here I go, and let that be the end of it...  Here are my eight questions:
1. What's the best live event (concert, comedian, etc.) that you've ever attended and when/why?
The best live concert was back in 1982. Desperately wanted to see a live George Jones concert and finally had enough coins put together to do it.  Well, surprise of surprises, I didn't have to pay a dime because that concert lineup was George Jones, John Anderson, and -- are you ready? -- ME! Yup, I was the final act for the concert and it was thrilling. Memorable because, that night, it was the first time my daughters were able to see their Mom in concert and it was the last time because, that night, was when I got the news that my youngest daughter had the big C. A definite refocusing time. Funniest part was when things went a little awry, Mr. No-Show-Jones had to do a make-up concert in Texas at 11PM, so he ended up being MY opening act! Is that too cool, or what...
2. If you were given the opportunity to cook alongside any one professional chef, who would it be?
Oh, that would have to be Gordon Ramsay. Love his passion and straightforwardness. I know he would be giving me the best advice with no sugar-coating -- but, I would definitely have that 'bad word' jar handy and it wouldn't be at just a quarter per word, either!
3.  When you were growing up, what did you want to be? Are you doing that? If not, what?
I'm one of the few very lucky people on this earth who have been able to try almost every dream I've ever imagined. Some turned out to be good and I enjoyed them during their duration; others, turned out to be nothing like what I thought they would be... But, I got to try them.
4. If your house was on fire, what one item would you grab from the kitchen to save?
I would have to go all the way into the kitchen?! Aaarrgh.  Okay, that would be the plate above my entry way of the church where I was married. They've built a new larger church on the other side of the road, but this was one of those little country churches that I just loved and means the world to me.
5.  Coke or Pepsi?
Coke; hands down. Can't stand the sweet taste of Pepsi. Bletch. Ptui, aarrcchhhh!
6. How many years have you been friends with the person you've known the longest?
There's no question we've been friends longer than the age I admit to, but, just for you guys, forty-one, and still going strong.
7. What food dish do you consider the most daunting and have not yet gotten up the courage to attempt it yet?
A solar souffle.
8. If you were an animal, what would you be?
I used to think it would be the noble horse, but now, having seen how well my little Chihuahua Angel is treated, I'd rather be a lap dog!
So, that's pretty much it.  I'm supposed to pick 8 more blogging friends to torture with 8 questions, and they, in turn ... well, you know.  However, I'm not going to put any pressure on you. Feel free to follow through and share your answers, or not. It's a fun exercise and does give you something to post about!

Here are 8 bloggers I have not previously picked to torture. (Spreading the joy, so to speak!)
    Adventures of an English Mum
    A Stone's Throw From Insanity
    Be Awesome Instead
    Frugal Tractor Mom
    Handbags and Handguns
    Little Blog in the Big Woods
    Mommy of a Monster (I Mean Toddler) and Infant
    My Hebrew Name is Cinderella

And, my 8 questions:
   1. If you could change places with anyone in the world, who would that be, and why?
   2. How has your packing for travel changed over the years?
   3. Did you have a favorite pet when you were growing up? Why this one?
   4. What was the hardest subject for you to study in school, and why?
   5. Did your first love become the person you thought they would or did they totally surprise you? How?
   6. Would you marry your first crush, if given the chance? Why or why not?
   7. If you were asked to speak before a roomful of seniors, what would you tell them?
   8. Have you written down favorite memories to share with the next generations? Why not?

Well, there it is.  Have fun.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Blogging by Hand Started Long Ago With My Childhood Friend

I think blogging was started by my childhood friend. When she passed away, her daughters were left a shelf full of bulging three-ring binders of her life. She had kept every memory alive by journaling -- ribbons, invitations, pictures, and commentary, were all preserved for them, as they occurred. At leisure, her daughters could watch her become a woman -- and then their mother and their own lives -- through the pages...

We were both eleven when my best friend moved clear across the country. Little did we know that we would be best friends until her death at age 58. We were heartbroken at being separated and promised to write each other every day! And we did write, not every day but weekly, from that moment on. We literally sent the same Christmas card back and forth to each other for more than 20 years, until it became too worn to survive the journeys.
In the first few years, we wrote at least three times a week and then, as we became more involved with... well, boys!... the writing was reduced to just once a week, but the letters were thick and full of girl talk. We shared dreams, thoughts, activities, love interests, family life, disappointments, joys -- as I said, we knew each other and were best friends. It was a safe way to share because we lived so far apart from each other. There was little chance of running into the people in each other's lives, so secrets were safe. As we grew up, we began to truly treasure the other being there for venting or helping to work through problems and important decisions.
We could count on each other because we shared the truth, although we weren't as brutal as today's young people. We didn't sugar-coat but we found supportive ways of helping each other through our problems.  It would never have occurred to either one of us to share that privileged privacy with the world. That would be a true betrayal and not something you would do to a real friend. And hand writing everything down helped clarify problems. Sometimes, the mountains really were only molehills. It's said but I think the Internet has just about done away with young people being able to trust a friend. How sad. Everyone needs someone they can confide in without fear of being exposed to ridicule. We stumble. It happens. A friend gets you through it. The Internet has taken that freedom away from our children, it seems.

Our families met only once during that lifetime and our children couldn't understand that our bond was still so strong -- stronger than anything I have shared with my own sisters. She was a dancer instructor who spent ten years trying to figure out why she was eating so much but not putting on weight. One day, when she asked her doctor if he had ever given her a blood-sugar test, he said no and promptly administered one. She was a Class III Diabetic. Diabetes lead to other problems. She lost her battle to Lupus in '93 and her letters were put away with all the memories.

I can only imagine what my beautiful lifelong friend would have done as a blogger! Upon her death, her daughters inherited their mother's history and journaling. Every special event had its own page with mementos and their story written by her hand. When not attending something special, she would simply share her days and life with her daughters, along with any pictures taken on that day. The beauty of it all is that there were no computer crashes or lost files because it was all done by hand on hard copy.

There were 33 binders filled with this remarkable woman's life. A beautiful legacy from a woman who worked tirelessly for her family, church and community, and never complained -- not once. I know she was in pain but she only saw the beauty in her world. She humbled me. She was happily married and adored her family -- especially, the grandchildren -- and it hurts that she was taken from them -- from me -- so early. I hate that. This was a lady who would be the reigning queen of Bloggerville, Facebook, and Skype. It's hard to believe she never got the chance. Today is simply the anniversary of her passing but I've never stopped thinking of my very special childhood friend.

Do you have one, too?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

VICPs Are Like Digital Two-Year-Olds

What is a VICP?

A VICP is a Very Important Cellphone Person. They are on their cell phones almost nonstop. It doesn't matter that they're having dinner with friends, on a vacation tour bus, or walking down the street. They are almost never with the people they are with because they're on the cell phone with anyone else.

Now, those who really know me know that I'm not a phone person. Never was. Even as a teenager. Couldn't stand to be on the phone longer than it took to give or receive information. Don't know why, but there it is... so, you can just imagine how excited I was when cell phones took over the world.

Everyone walking around like a homeless person, talking to themselves... wait, no, they're talking to someone else, but now you can hear everything on their end of the line. Stuff you don't want to hear, don't want to know about -- but, can't get away from. TMI at its peak.

It seems there are people, today, who literally can't get from point A to point B without talking to someone else about what their next step should be. What is wrong with them, I wonder. Are they so insecure that they can't make their own decisions, or, more frightening, are they so controlled by someone else that they are not allowed to make a decision for fear of serious repercussions. People terrified of having an independent thought. And, we're raising our children to think they can't function without group think -- a very scary thought, indeed.

We are not discussing teenagers. I know that's how they get oxygen. They did it with land lines. They do it with cell phones. They'll do it with implants. And it is kind of funny to watch them walking down the street together -- each of them talking to someone else on their cell phone.

It's Not All About You VICPs; We're Here, Too

But, there is a point when it has to stop.
  • I can understand parents and children checking in with each other.
  • I can understand getting a clarification on something you might be doing for someone else.
  • I can understand calling for more specific directions when lost.
But, I have a real hard time with marathon cellphone conversations in public. If it's something that requires more than five minutes for clarification, your butt should be right in the same room with the person. I don't want to know where your files are or how to build the next rocket ship. I want to be able to focus on the job at hand. But, I can't, because the VICP insists on sharing every detail of their life with me and anyone else in the vicinity.

So, you're in the line at __________, and the VICP is second in line ahead of you and six to eight people behind. The cellphone will play its merry tune, the VICP takes the call, and everyone gets to listen as they circle in and out of their place in line. No one closes the gap because they have manners and don't want to make a scene. But, people are irritated -- no question about that -- because this side of the call does not reflect that the caller needs instruction on how to apply a tourniquet or where to dispose of a body just run over with a lawnmower -- they're just chatting because they have the time.

The clerk signals that they're ready to take the VICP next, but, no, the VICP just keeps talking, while the rest of the line begins that subtle ominous low grumbling... Finally, the frustrated clerk calls on the next person in line -- and the VICP gets mad! They're not hanging up, they're not ready to conduct their business, but they're not willing to give up what they thought was their place in line, either. WTF! No one owns a place in line and, if you're not ready when it's your turn, it's the next one in line's turn.

The sad truth is VICPs do not:
  • give the impression world events need their intervention
  • need all the hours in a day to keep up with all their friends
  • have businesses that can't function without ongoing instruction
  • brighten up your life by letting you in on theirs 
The VICPs do:
  • give the impression that they are rude
  • suggest they couldn't care less about the rights of other people
  • care more for the person on the phone than the person having a meal with them
Why should everyone else be held up until a VCIP's call is finished? When in public, why not use the 'vibrate' feature to announce a call so that the caller can be contacted, later. And, if the call is going to take some time, a considerate VCIP would step out of line and find a quiet corner to discuss their private life.

Two-year-olds are taught not to interrupt us without a good reason, why are callers -- who happen to be free to make the call -- allowed to demand immediate attention? Is it really asking too much for common courtesy?

And, texting...  aargh...

Monday, September 13, 2010

When A Devil's Advocate Becomes Just Plain Mule-Headed

I raised my children to always consider the source of any information they are given. Why? Because so many people will simply give an opinion whether they have knowledge about the subject, or not, and it's usually negative. When, "I'm playing the devil's advocate," is overused, this is where you have to draw the line with that person. It may be that they simply cannot accept a new idea.

What is a Devil's Advocate?

From Wikipedia:
In common parlance, a devil's advocate is someone who, given a certain argument, takes a position he or she does not necessarily agree with, just for the sake of argument. In taking such position,the individual taking on the devil's advocate role seeks to engage others in an argumentative discussion process. The purpose of such process is typically to test the quality of the original argument and identify weaknesses in its structure, and to use such information to either improve or abandon the original, opposing position.
You see? It's something used to help clear up any problems with the original idea or project. As an example, your friend has decided to build Fido a tree house next to Billie's tree house. It would be inconceivable to almost anyone that this would work -- but, not to your friend holding the hammer and saw! Someone (that's you) has to act as the devil's advocate. To protect the dog, if nothing else!

Playing the devil's advocate is similar to using counter-arguments in theses or debates. It's really quite neutral and meant to help complete or modify the idea to a workable conclusion. The first logical argument for the dog's tree house is that dogs can't climb. This is too obvious and practically impossible to say without either raising one's voice or smirking. So, the approach is more supportive and you may ask your friend in a soft, low tone --
  • Is that apple tree going to be low enough for Fido to see his house at the top of the crossbars?
  • Will that slide be highly-polished so Fido doesn't get splinters in his paws?
  • Is that window frame strong enough for the 5000 BTU a/c?
  • Where can you get Fido trained to raise and lower that food basket?
You get the point, questions that will make your friend think about possible problems in the hope that it will spark their idea-center into realizing this plan needs to be tabled for awhile.  But, questions that are always supportive and not personal attacks.

Now, if, when your friend is able to blow holes through your arguments with breathtaking clarification as regards his particular Fido's deep love for climbing trees and napping on broad limbs, you continue to press your case, you could be guilty of being just plain mule-headed. You could become a naysayer!

Naysayers Can Really Bring You Down

Naysayers deny or take a pessimistic view of anything, regardless of how much information is given to support the idea they are opposing. They could be either afraid or jealous of your new idea and, in either case, you cannot let them bring you down. It isn't that you just want people who support your idea and let you make a major mistake; but, when someone consistently puts down your ideas without any positive feedback that will help you work to correct a problem, it's time to reevaluate how often you seek the opinion of this person.

New ideas are fragile and must be nurtured or they die under too much negative feedback. Your best sources for honest feedback are those people familiar with your subject. Their arguments will be focused on what generally works in that area and they can be trusted to help you. The less they know, the higher the probability that their arguments will be less effective and far more personal.
  • What makes you think you can do that?
  • Are you out of your mind?
  • What a stupid idea!
  • Oh, no, not another one. 
How Do You Respond to New Ideas?

It's hard to monitor ourselves but we can watch other's reactions to our words. Are you one of those people above? If you keep attacking the ideas and projects of your friends or family, you may find that you are left out of the loop because it's the easiest thing to do to avoid being crushed by your naysaying.

It's not your job to tear someone else down simply because they asked you for an opinion. It doesn't mean you have to tear them apart so that you will sound as if you know what you're talking about. The old rule still holds true:
For every negative thing you say, you have to say three positive things. It's best to start with two positive things, slip in one negative, and end with a positive.
Especially, if you are not an expert in the field.
  • You have one smart dog.
  • This is a perfect location for Fido's tree house.
  • Can Fido climb crossbars?
  • I love the paint color -- it's so Frank Lloyd Wright.
Believe me, there will be enough critiquing at the time your friend's idea or project is ready for the expert's review. Life is too short to get beaten down by people who are not willing to take chances, themselves, but are very quick to judge others. As a friend or family member, it is your job to be supportive. The wolves are supposed to be outside your circle, not within. Play the devil's advocate, with love. Without new ideas, you'd be reading this on paper.

Monday, September 6, 2010

My Name Spelled Any Other Way is Disrespecting Me

What's in a Name?  My name is Jane Doe. That has been my name since birth. It's the name I answer to when called. It's the name I put on
  • applications
  • badges
  • hello tags
  • legal documents,
  • raffle tickets,
  • paintings,
  • and, so on
While it might not be the most important name to you, it is how I identify myself to the world and how the world identifies me. So, why are you so careless when retyping my name? I understand that you're busy (who isn't?) and that it is possible to forget the spelling when my name is just spoken and then I've moved on and you need to get a list made. Chances are, you refer to previous documents on file with my misspelled name to include me on your list.

But, when I have taken the time to print out my name, there is no excuse for you not to take it down as written. I don't care how busy you are, this is just an affront. Even more irritating is when I have given you my name on my own printed cards, pictures and/or on banners, only to find out later that you have decided it's wrong and changed the spelling. I don't care if you have a cousin or a friend with the same name and that they spell it different from the way I spell mine -- it is not your cousin or friend who is going on your list.

If I try to correct you, I'm the one that gets treated as if I'm a petulant child, stamping my foot because the name isn't right in your publication. If it's a one-time thing, I'm probably not going to do anything more than mention it, once -- and, of course, every time I meet someone new at the event! But, if it has been misspelled in a publication, for the rest of the life of that publication, my name is misspelled. The end result of that is, somewhere down the line, I'll be involved in another situation that requires my name being shown and someone will decide that the way my name is spelled must be as it is in that erroneous publication they have kept – because, that is how it was printed!

A Mountain Out of a Molehill - Or, Can You Prove It

Imagine this scenario: You or your child has won an award and it includes a beautiful printed certificate or ribbon for the winner. It's a memento, something to cherish for the rest of your life and put in a scrapbook for the next generation. Would you want to have to add an explanation that the award is real, even though the name is wrong? Of course not. It takes away from what the award is and turns it into a misspelled name story. This is simply a matter of giving credit where credit is due and you would want the same for yourself or your child. It only takes a second to check a name, but a lifetime to correct the mistake.

By the same token, if you are in charge of displaying awards to the public, please see to it that the winners' names are visible so that they can be recognized. There is nothing more disheartening than watching the light go out of your child's eye because no one will know they won an award for all their hard work because the tag has been turned, covered, or crumpled, and no one has taken the few seconds it takes to make it right. This is all a part of the event coordinator's job and the crafter should not be made to feel bad because they point out that their name can't be seen. Simply saying, "Well, you know you won the award," doesn't cut it, here. That doesn't make it go away and it is usually said by someone who didn't get an award.

My Name Spelled Any Other Way is Disrespecting Me

My name is Jane Doe – it is spelled J-a-n-e -- not J-a-y-n-e, J-a-i-n-e, J-e-h-n-e, J-a-n, or, any other combination you can imagine, my name is spelled exactly the way I have written it down for you. To look on the bright side, at least, I have finally found a purpose for the one word I loathe in common usage today, 'disrespecting.' Please stop disrespecting me and allow me the dignity to go through my life with the one thing that totally belongs to me – my name – and I will do the same for you.