Saturday, January 31, 2009

It was a long time ago

There are things that happen in our lives that shape who we are. Things that overcome our genetic code, our DNA. Maybe behavior is trained into our make-up by our parents. Reactions we formulate after repetitive actions and conditioned responses. How we become who we are today is complicated, surely.

I've been vastly moved by some blogs that I read. One is written by a woman who was seriously injured in her young 20's. Badly burned. Both legs amputated below the knees. Another is written by a woman who was abused by her step-mother. Another is written by a woman who was raped. Another is written by a woman who was (I believe) abused and who is now an advocate for abused women.

These women are articulate and compelling in their telling of history and lessons and trials they still endure. They touch my heart. They move my soul. I pray for them. I know what it is like to be tormented by demons. Do we all have a story?

I was a victim of statutory rape when I was 16. My case was prosecuted. After I testified on the stand, the perpetrator changed his plea to guilty. Apparently my testimony was...compelling. He was 18. Good looking. Hard to imagine why he felt the need to force himself on anyone, much less me. The weird thing was that he forced an act without penetration, and that omission messed with my head as much as the rest of it.

How much did that shape me? Would I be different today if I'd refrained from flirting on that sultry summer evening almost 30 years ago? The chain of events that followed had a life of their own. Everything happens for a reason, even if understanding eludes us.

I don't think about it much. It was a long time ago.

Friday, January 30, 2009

I can stop wondering now...

The mystery of why 2008 seemed like such a long year may be explained. Apparently it was 16 months long.
Also, I may need to accept the fact that my office is not an Island Paradise.
My backyard, however.....
This weekend will *hopefully* bring weather conducive to critical Winter activity to ensure the backyard oasis is ready for Spring.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bringing a little of the oasis into the office

On November 1st I began working for a new employer. For my old employer. In the same old building. In a new lab. Things have been....interesting, to say the least. We're still trying to figure it all out.

On the plus side, we're different and we don't mind showing it. We've spruced up the place a bit. We've created a sitting/lounge area. And we've brought in plants. And pictures. Take a gander, if you will.

Monday, January 26, 2009

What do "lifestyle changes" and "faith" have in common?

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." (Hebrews 11:1)

Three weeks ago I made changes in my life:
1) I quit weighing myself (2-3 times per day!)
2) I quit drinking red wine (I know it's supposed to be good for you, but calories are calories)
3) I started taking the stairs (4 flights) at work - several times a day

A week ago I doubled my work-out routine. I'm now doing a 30-minute aerobic work-out with Richard:
(Stop. Giggling.)

This weekend I picked up a cough that has settled in my chest, but I'm still pushing forward in faith. I don't want to break my new routine. I am not measuring my progress on the scale, but with the intangible of how I feel. At the moment, I feel kinda crappy.

In faith, I pray. I trust God, even when answers are not obvious. Even when changes are not measurable. Even when it would be easier to feel discouraged. I push forward in faith. I pray. I desire to make my faith part of my lifestyle. Faith intertwined, let me live a prayer - in communication with God. Let my life be a testimony of my faith.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Pluck Wagon

I am now a devoted camera-carrier. I would not want to miss capturing the occasional oddity such as this.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

It's a gift, and a curse

I am the first to confess, I am not perfect. As much as typos irk me, I know that I am often guilty of leaving behind evidence of my rush to the finish. Occasionally I neglect to hit the "ABC" spell check before I publish a post, or hit "send" on an e-mail. I cringe when I catch my own typos after they've been published. I feel strongly that the English language should be common if we are to be effective in our communication. We cannot each have our own way of spelling things.

Some words, like "judgment," are so often misspelled that I think the wrong spelling should be adopted. I would go so far as to argue that the correct spelling is wrong because it offends my sensibility that there's no "e" between the "g" and the "m" ... but there's not an "e" and I'm not in charge, so I live with the phonetic aberration. Occasionally, to amuse myself, I pronounce things phonetically so for judgment, the "g" should be hard. But I digress.

This evening, my hubby and I attended a meeting of our home-owner's association. There is a new development going in right behind us. On the other side of our 6-foot (inadequate) privacy fence a road will be going in to support the new development. Part of the new development will be Medical Offices, Condos or something similar.

At the start of the meeting, a big 3'x4' professionally mounted poster showing the land was set up in the front of the room. Spiral bound sets of maps and info were passed out to the dozen+ home-owners in attendance. The cover page matched the poster. We were able to take our time reviewing the information provided. The developers were very helpful and clearly interested in our support.

After a brief presentation they fielded questions. Lots of questions. The meeting lasted about 45 minutes. After they had wrapped up, I asked the head developer the only question I'd pondered for most of the meeting. What does "Comerical" mean? I'm not familiar with that term. His response? Embarrassed confession to a typo they hadn't caught. I'd say that's one heck of a typo. Comerical = Commercial. I'd thought it might, but my certainly lends credence to the following claim, even if there aren't enough letters in the jumbled version!

Aoccdrnig to a rsecheearr at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is that frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by itslef but the wrod as a wlohe.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Is it just me or... there something wrong with this picture?
It's a "Weekly Pack," yes?
Marketing "Get a Full Serving of Vegetables Every Day," yes?
There are only 6 cans of V8 in the pack.....
How does this work???

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Curse the cedar!

It has begun. The ailment commonly known as cedar fever. I won't bother to describe it myself. Here's a quote "From December through February, many people experience an itchy, runny nose, sneezing, nasal blockage, excess tearing and itchy eyes. Others complain of itching of the palate, throat, or ears, and postnasal drainage. Some have fatigue, mild headache, facial discomfort, sore throat, partial loss of sense of smell, and sensation of ear plugging. If you experience the above symptoms every year during these months, the chance is great that you have Mountain Cedar allergy. "

Articles abound: 1, 2, 3, ... If you're not familiar with this "scourge" all I can say is - it's truly a beating. I woke up from a bad dream at ~4:30a.m. and I could tell immediate there is something in the air and it's not the scent of roses. The antihistamine that keeps the symptoms relatively at bay keeps me up so I take something else at night. The something else only lasts 4 hours. I had put additional doses by the bed for just this situation. I popped a pill and lay back down for some additional shut-eye. Ten minutes later, my brain is in high gear. In part trying to shake the images from my bad dream, in part because I have 999,954 things left on my to-do list and in part because the medicine doesn't offer immediate relief from the maddening sinus-itchiness of this plague.

So I shouted (in my mind) "Curse the cedar!" And it is so. Our house backs onto acres of undeveloped land that is COVERED in cedar trees (when the sun finishes coming up I'll add "Take a picture of cedar," "download picture of cedar from camera," "upload picture of cedar onto 'Curse the cedar!' post" to my list of things to do, bringing the total up to 999,957). An "upscale" development is going in behind our "not so upscale" development and the cedar in my immediate vicinity will be eradicated.

I will miss the trees during the 9 months they don't irritate the snot out of me (literally), but I won't miss them during the December-February trial of powdery pollen. And for the tree-huggers out there - this is NOT a native tree. It is a weed that has come in and caused problems for natives like Live Oaks. It is a water hog - exacerbating our periodic drought conditions. It chokes out flora and fauna alike. It should be eradicated. But I'm sad that with them will go the oaks and other assorted survivors from the acres behind us. My view from my office will be forever altered. Somehow, I suspect my future holds a smaller home, back in Xurbia, back in the woods, surrounded by more of the cursed weed. {sigh}


Thursday, January 15, 2009

A bloggers gathering

At the end of a fabulous meal - not just the food, but the company. What a delight to get together with friends and share the nourishment of common interests, mutual support, love.

Thank you, my friends, for today's experience.

Fran, Barbara, Jeanette (with J's precious children) at Red Lobster.

UPDATE: I found a better picture than the one in the original post, but since the first picture captures Little Sydney in the act of doing something we talked about (clutching/scratching her mama's throat) I thought I'd leave it up. At least until I have a chance to see Jeanette tomorrow.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Prayer Vigil

I have been praying for a young lady, A, who was injured in a head-on collision ~mid-December. I've been tracking her progress, privileged to be included in the Caring Bridge updates. Initially the site was open to all, but apparently someone left some unkind remarks in his comments and the bridge was closed. Gated and guarded. A's father sent me an e-mail (I'm assuming he poked on anyone who was leaving kind comments) asking "friend or foe." I explained that I only knew of A through her cousin's blog. Thankfully I was let in.

Last night there was a prayer vigil for A, led by an uncle on the west coast. I prayed for A up until bed time and was praying for her when I awoke. What I didn't realize until later was that my waking coincided with her uncle logging off. Praise God for the 2 hour time difference. My 5am was their 3am. God has been listening to our songs of praise and pleas for intervention and healing, words lifted throughout the night without missing a beat.

During the course of the last month I have found my prayer life evolving. Not my one-on-one prayers between myself and God, but my "evangelical" out-there prayers that other people can hear and read. What I now think of as "extroverted prayers." Not so private. I started here, but I can feel this growing within me.

Yesterday I attended "Eucharistic Visitor" training. I'm already trained as a Eucharistic Minister, but now I'm licensed to go to hospitals, homes, wherever I'm needed to visit those who are sick or infirm, to include them in the blessing of Communion. A natural part of this role is praying aloud with people. For people.

It's humbling to know that God has a purpose for me and He is intent on helping me fulfill His purpose even when I'm clueless. I pray for my own obedience. His will be done.


This post is dedicated to A and her family.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Rubens' South Beach

I forgot to include Rubens' South Beach. It is worthy of a separate post.

South Beach

I love South Beach Miami. It's a beautiful spot. Fun people. Great weather. The beaches are fabulous! The people are beautiful, exotic, sexy.What's not to like about a place so grand? A place so peaceful and serene..... These are the scenes I'll be keeping in mind. We're back on the South Beach Diet Lifestyle. The first 2 weeks are a strict regimen of no carbs, no fruit, no alcohol. Because we were off to a bumpy start, the marvelous chef I married has decided we should live a hybrid version this week (where he and youngest are not strict) and we'll begin in earnest this coming Monday. When all is said and done, I'll have tee totaled for 3 weeks. Tomorrow ends week 1.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

I am honored

Yesterday I was blessed several times, in several ways, but for the sake of brevity I will only mention those blessings that are relevant. First, in compliance with my Obsessive/Compulsive ways I checked my blog first thing in the morning to see if any of the world's blog-fairies had stopped by and left a comment. Lo and behold, I had been blessed. Cha Cha, a lady I truly admire for her positive and resilient attitude, had not only commented, but left me "a little something" at her blog.

I am so honored ... I was rendered speechless. I had to run to get ready for Church but I was sailing on high spirits.

My next blessing was at Church. During announcements our priest asked me stand up and he told the congregation about my Guidepost article. I blushed to my roots and my spirit soared. The double-whammy of recognition. The irony is that I'm blessed all over and I know it. Top to bottom, side to side.

Now...back to the award. This is the important part, so pay attention. The principle is "pay it forward." I'm now responsible for recognizing the bloggers I read regularly and admire for their superior scribbling. I can't give it back to Cha Cha, as much as she deserves it (such as her last post which reminds me that I too share a love of stationary and am obliged to write thank you notes).

So without further ado, or rambling or random comment (too late!) I'd like to acknowledge and reward these bloggers who (whom?) I love:

My lovely sister ADallasDiva, who prompted my initial blogging forays several years ago, then prompted me again back in September when I was whining mentioning my desire to get into the writing habit. As my younger sister she has always been mini-me so it's great to role-reverse. I read her blog regularly, even if she posts irregularly. And, she was published before I was.

My dear friend Jeanette, Mom and advocate - she inspires many. Maybe because I'm not living with a toddler and incredibly energetic pre-schooler, I'm able to laugh and laugh at her children's antics.

And the marvelous Barbara, who shares her knowledge, training, experience and wisdom on life and parenting (not meaning to imply they're separate concepts, but sometimes parenting precludes life, right?).

Barbara has been educating us on Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) and I'd venture to say that bestowing this award is akin to delivering each of the winners a gold star. Kudos to you, my friends. Pass this forward to those scribblers you love and let them know you care.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

A blast to the past

A long, long time ago, in a land on the south side of Lake Travis and on the North Shore of Lake Austin, there lived a young couple. Newlyweds. So proud of their independence. So proud of their first home. A mobile home. A double-wide. Sitting on almost an acre of land. They lived there for many years. Ten years, in fact. Then one day they released that their home sat in a seedy neighborhood filled will illegal aliens (50 were picked up in an INS raid) of low morals and poor hygiene. A creek bed near their home was used as their communal toilet. Their back yard was the commuter trail to the "dumping grounds".

Their home was broken into on several occasions. Not because they had anything worth stealing, although what little they had was taken but because they had air conditioning and cable - a great place to hang out on a hot summer day.

Meanwhile, a pack of stray dogs added to the apparent threat to the safety and well being of their fair-haired children.

The compelling reasons to move compounded and so they were compelled to move. Alas, the home could not be sold at a bargain and it seemed more worthwhile to join the ranks of rental properties in the area. And it was so.

The first tenants lasted about a year, then they moved on. The 2nd tenants lasted about 11 1/2 years. Their occupancy ended with 2008.

Today, my loving hubby and I ventured out to our old stomping grounds. He'd actually gone by yesterday, but dragged me out today to photo-document the condition of our old homestead. Any flash of nostalgia was killed by the horrendous reek of cat urine. It was bazaar to see the curtains I'd sewn over a dozen years ago hanging in a home that seemed vaguely familiar but stank so badly all I wanted was OUT! The pet damage was extensive but admittedly, the home was built in the 70's so its lasted well past its prime (mobile home, remember).

Walking the grounds, I passed the paved walkway that hubby built. I "rediscovered" the ring of rocks from the bonfire celebrating my graduation. I was delighted to see my grandmother's irises (flowers, not creepy eye parts) have survived. My only request is that we salvage those. I know just where I'll plant them.

I don't mourn the pets that were buried there. I don't mourn the memories. I celebrate our growth and maturation that has brought us from those rugged roots. Irises are a fine way to commemorate.


Thursday, January 01, 2009

Guideposts, continued....

We had just returned from a trip with my parents. I was sitting in my parents' living room when my Dad decided to check their messages. Imagine my surprise when one of the messages was from an old friend (and neighbor) of theirs. Someone who knew me during my teen years. Someone who had just read my Guideposts article and wanted to confirm that the author was, in fact, who she thought it was (moi). I'm moved to tears. Thank you, LORD, that I was here to hear that message first hand. My Dad called her back and we were able to chat. I feel so blessed and so affirmed!