Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Wordless Wednesday (Breaking Out of the Egg Edition)


A bird has built a nest in our garage (of all places):


Her baby is now with us and growing every day:


My "fledgling" isn't nearly this helpless anymore.

Today we celebrate her 16th birthday!

Happy birthday, Tenley!
"I'm youth, I'm joy, I'm a little bird that has
broken out of the egg."
- Sir James M. Barrie

Summer Daze Fun Photo Party

The Summer Daze Photo Party is the creation of Kristi from Live and Love Out Loud, Alicia from Project Alicia, and Rebecca from Bumbles and Light. The rules are pretty lax (it is summer after all!). Feel free to link up your summer images June 15 through July 20. The instructions are here.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Crazy Sweet (A Mama Kat Writing Prompt)

This week, Mama Kat prompt #4 instructed us to do this:

4.) Dig out your high school yearbook and share a message a friend wrote that stands out to you.

I didn't have many signatures in my Senior Year book, so I pulled out my Sophomore Year book as a backup in hopes of finding more material.

In general, besides the hair/clothing flashbacks from the early 80's that this project gave me, I determined that the two adjectives most used in reference to me were a) crazy and b) sweet. Yeah.


Before getting to the sweet/crazy combo, here's the glibbest and perhaps arguably most true:

"I really can't flatter you because you don't have anything to praise."* Lien

[Note - in keeping with school spirit, I have used the school colors for highlights - gold for sweet and purple for crazy.]

"You are a very nice and sweet girl. ......"The Bee Gee's and Senior 81 are Forever #1" Laura

"It's been nice knowing [you] this year in 4th period your one crazy girl and I knew you'll get what you want in life because you'll never stop till you do Good luck with Prince Charles." Leslie (Prince Charles??? Yikes)

"Well the year is almost over and its been really great. I'm so glad we finally go to know each other. You're a real sweet and crazy girl. Stay that way. Best of luck in everything you do. May God richly bless your life. Remember to always stay close to him and you'll do just fine. Behave yourself." Deneen

"Life wouldn't be complete without you. Stay sweet...." Marcie

You seem like a very nice and sweet girl. The best of luck in life and with that special guy. Anita

Stay sweet and pretty. Sharon

Stay sweet and never change. Paula

Take it easy over the summer and don't get in trouble (ha ha). Mary S (I know it doesn't specifically say "crazy" but "get in trouble" seems close enough!)

I know you thought I was CRAZY. Nita (She was referring to herself as crazy but we were best friends so it is close enough for blogging purposes!)

To a very sweet and pretty girl. Sharon (Same Sharon as above - I got two signatures from her!)

And this one, from my "vocational ed/business" teacher (after my sophomore year) is just mystifying:

"What a joy to have you in my class," ... "Best wishes and much success and happiness," ..... "wish you would permit me to teach you more" Mrs. Adicks This is such a mystery to me because I really liked these business classes -- can't remember what gave her the impression that I didn't want to learn more.

I know you'll probably forget me once you graduate. Eric

Well, Eric, truth is I don't think we ever talked again after high school. But call me next time you're in Tallahassee and I will try to show you a sweet and crazy time!


*This is an excerpt from a longer message. Of course Lien was kidding. That's why she followed that sentence up with this: (I hope you're not taking me serious - see I'm smiling :-))

Mama's



The World Without You (A Book Review)


Maybe the Jewish people have it right when they have everyone come back together a year after the death of their loved one to unveil the headstone of the deceased. (Jewish funerals themselves are typically held as soon as possible after the death, and focus on simplicity.) The year following a death is so raw, so subject to erratic and illogical changes, so horrifically demanding. The survivors attempt to return to life "as is," while routine activities (do you put the deceased's favorite soda in the shopping cart before realizing there's no one to drink it?) threaten to nudge open the barely healed wounds of grief. Perhaps, in addition to the unveiling ceremony, the family needs to be together at a different stage of the grieving process. They are not the same people they were a year before.

When Joshua Henkin paid our Holy Comforter book club the courtesy of a phone conversation back in 2008, to discuss his book Matrimony, he told us that his next book would be a focus on a three-day period of time. We knew a family would be brought together and lives would change.

Now that The World Without You has been published, we readers are given an opportunity to get to know Marilyn and David Frankel, along with their three living offspring, as they reconvene in order to unveil their son and brother Leo's headstone, a year after he was killed while reporting in Iraq. (Leo's widow, Thisbe, and son, Calder, are along for the get-together as are the four grandsons who belong to Noelle.)

At the time I received an Advance Reader's Edition of The World Without You, I was struggling mightily to read anything on paper/e-reader. Audiobooks are rolling through my ears at a fast clip, but I had failed to complete any book club assignments and, honestly, had started and re-started Pride and Prejudice more times than I can count. I was stuck.

Three days with Marilyn, David, and crew got me un-stuck. Here is why:

I wanted to know what happened with these people. David and Marilyn open the book, having arrived at their Berkshires home early to prepare for the arrival of their children. As each child (and Clarissa's and Noelle's spouses) arrive, the dynamics shift. When Amram, Noelle, and their four boys from Israel arrive, the dynamics go into hyperdrive. I have to admit being most compelled to figure out what made Noelle tick. The sexually adventurous, anything-but-modest redhead had found herself in Israel, covered herself in the restrictive clothing (and behaviors) of the Orthodox Jew, given birth to four boys, and arrived for the unveiling, struggling to find common ground with Amram, who is searching for his own kind of meaning.

So many little (and big) things sparked an "I can relate to that" thought for me. When Thisbe, living in New York City with Leo, tucks $40 into a separate fold of her wallet, as a "Plan B" should her lunch money run out, I was instantly transported back to the $10 bills I used to tuck into my shoe when I lived in New York City, so I would have a way to get home in case I got mugged. When Thisbe and Noelle are lingering within hearing range of The Tanglewood Institute, overhearing a James Taylor concert, I can't help but think of listening to James Taylor with my friend Mary Jane at Jones Beach in the early 90's. When the discussion turns to the 2000 election, the recount, and the ripple effects on this family's lives, I see the reporters here in Tallahassee, at a downtown hotel, coming into the bar and getting their own drinks rather than getting waited on, having long ago resigned themselves to being Tallahassee residents until the recount situation resolved itself. They no longer needed to be waited on. Thisbe, an only child who marries into a large family, reflects "how happy I am, as an only child, to fade into the woodwork a bit at our large family gatherings" (my husband is the oldest of six and I feel similarly). Thisbe talks about this at the unveiling, saying that one of the things that appealed to her, marrying in, was "...the tumult of you Frankels, as if in your presence I was being swallowed by a many-tentacled beast and made into a tentacle myself."

The gorgeous turns of phrase. I love beautifully written sentences the way some art connoisseurs appreciate exquisite brushstrokes. Here are some examples:

When Marilyn is describing her relationship with Nora, Leo's girlfriend prior to Thisbe: "She liked Nora. But there was always a species of compassion in the way she liked her."

At a tense moment around the family dinner table, when Thisbe and Marilyn are tenuously staking out an attempt at d├ętente and Thisbe needs backup: "...everyone else is quietly chewing their food, a bunch of ruminants, unmoving and silent, as if they've been ossified by Marilyn's words."

David's musing about his daughter Lily and her mother: "...the two of them, the reddest of the redheads, fueled by their impatience, which darts like a beam of light into every corner of the room."

This author made an effort to engage me. There's another reason I was pleased to read this book and even more pleased to report how much I liked it. In ways that may have seemed small to him but made a big impact on me, I have learned a lot from Josh Henkin about the state of writing and publishing today. He has not shied from interacting directly with his readers at a time when author outreach can make the difference between anemic sales and the success of a book. He told our book club about how he approaches his writing (and teaching), and he was gracious when our book club members patiently explained the difference between a garter and a garter belt (you kind of had to have been there!).

One last masterful turn of phrase to share with you. It may not be elaborate, but it sums up neatly, in six words, the conclusion that each individual who stays at the house in Lenox discovers over one holiday weekend:
"We all need taking care of." - Thisbe.

I encourage you to read this book to delve into the Frankel family's holiday weekend. Arguably, there wasn't much about it that spoke to "holiday" but everything spoke about humanity.

To learn more about author Joshua Henkin, here are some resources:

Website:  www.joshuahenkin.com

To order The World Without You:  Click this link.

To "like" Josh on his Facebook Author page: Click this link.

To tweet Josh: Click this link.


*A note of gratitude to Pantheon Books for the Advance Reader's Edition they provided me.






Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Wordless Wednesday (Smile of Light Edition)


This is not going to be a summer of long, complicated, expensive trips.

That doesn't mean I can't find some summer fun and relaxation in the mix.

While Tenley and the other dancers watched La Nouba at Downtown Disney recently, I chilled at a nearby restaurant and enjoyed Chilean wine and a good book.


It was a night for being in the background while the girls bonded.


This summer's moments may come in smaller increments, but I will
treasure them no matter what.



Summer Daze Fun Photo Party

The Summer Daze Photo Party is the creation of Kristi from Live and Love Out Loud, Alicia from Project Alicia, and Rebecca from Bumbles and Light. The rules are pretty lax (it is summer after all!). Feel free to link up your summer images June 15 through July 20. The instructions are here.

Monday, June 18, 2012

11 Things (The Ann's Running Commentary Version)


I have been blogging for some time now, and have done quite a few variations on the "tell us something about you" prompt. When two different bloggers I like and respect tagged me in the "11 Things" meme, I bit.

The "11 Things" post consists of a) writing 11 things about yourself b) answering 11 questions put to you by the person who tagged you c) writing 11 questions of your own and d) tagging 11 people to answer the questions you wrote in "c." I argue that this is a "44 things" post in the long run but I suppose that is splitting hairs!

The first person to tag me was Teacher Girl. This is her "11 things" post. And this is what I wrote in response to her.

The second person to tag me was Ann of Ann's Running Commentary. I had the incredible good fortune to actually meet Ann in real life this week!


June 14, 2012
Annapolis Harbor

For that reason, it seemed like the perfect week to publish the responses I wrote to her "11 things" post.

Before we get to those 11 (not-so) fascinating facts about me that I promised, here are the rules:

The Rules

You must post these rules.

Each person must post 11 things about themselves on their blog.

Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post, and create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.

You have to choose 11 people to tag and link them on the post.

Go to their page and tell them you linked him or her.

No tag backs.

No stuff in the tagging section about "you are tagged if you are reading this." You have to legitimately tag 11 people.

11 Things About Me

1.  If my Sag Harbor Jacket and Counterpart pants from Beall's outlet (among other things) wouldn't have made me the extreme outlier, I would have gone to the Tallahassee Drake Concert on February 24.

2.  Cool people I have met include former President Jimmy Carter.

3.  Great, memorable places I have been include:
a) ziplining over a former poultry farm turned into adventure course in Lula, Georgia
b) Lake Atitlan in Guatemala
c) Onstage as "part of the show" at Xanadu on Broadway

4.  The reason my "big" goal for 2012 (as it was in 2011, 2010, and 2009) is to run a 5K in less than 30 minutes is that in 1995, I ran a "novelty" run that was celebrating Florida's sesquicentennial. The run was from somewhere in Central Florida to the Capitol, Tallahassee. Groups of runners had mile segments. I attested that I could run a 10-minute mile when I registered. Whatever the actual timing was, I know that the rest of my group was a lot faster than me and I held up traffic on Highway 41, with law enforcement trailing me, while I slogged in way behind them. That did not feel good.

5.  It may be a sign that instead of immediately worrying about whether Wayne Kevin is playing too much MW3, I thought, "where can I fit that into the blog?" when my son called these palm trees with protective barriers against the construction around them "C4 trees" because they look like they have C4 explosive attached to them.




6.  My Spanish is probably a little better than I give myself credit for but I have a very long way to go. I would love to do a Spanish immersion program.

7.  I lost the county spelling bee when I was in middle school by misspelling the word "yacht" (I spelled it yaght).

8.  I am pretty much endlessly amused/mystified by signs and explanations on packaging - misspellings, weird logic, you name it. For example, why does Weight Watchers feel the need to instruct the consumer to return the 2nd tray to the freezer?


9. 
I love dancing - closest I come these days is blasting the music station on Friday nights coming home from Skate World with my son and him Shazaming the lyrics. Fun but not the same.

10. I had braces .... finally ...... when I was 41. Still glad I did it.

11. I don't talk politics on Twitter.

My responses to Ann's questions:
1. Who was your favorite teacher and why?

Mrs. Clark - she was my 3rd grade teacher, and although the reasons seem impossible to quantify, I think it is simply because she had a good heart. 

2. What were your sports of choice when you were younger?

Wow, I hated sports. Mostly because I was bad at every single one of them. I had this sad tennis ball contraption that I would put in the driveway and hit out in to the street - the ball was on an elastic tether so it would come back to me.

3. What did you want to be when you grew up?

A doctor, a missionary, and a mom.

4. What profession did you ultimately end up in and why?

Administrator for a non profit. It's not going to end here, though.

5. What is the single most important thing you think parents should teach their children?

To think for themselves, not to "go with the flow". To stand up for what is right.

6. When you run, what is the one thing your mind turns to the most often?

Getting out of debt.

7. What is your favorite book and how many times have you read it?

Diary of Anne Frank. Once on paper, once on audio.

8. If you could only pick one movie to watch for the rest of your life what would it be?

I haven't seen it in a while but I loved Beaches. Was obsessed with Top Gun. I'm not sounding very erudite here, am I?

9. Are you more comfortable in the city or the country?

Like 'em both but city.

10. If you had the option of having spending three months of the year in another place, where would you choose?

Manhattan, Manhattan, Manhattan - and here the Teacher Girl 11 things and Ann's 11 things meet their perfect confluence!

11. What is your all time favorite museum to visit?

That's a tough one. I have only been there once but I loved the Cloisters in Upper Manhattan.

My 11 questions.

1.  This Daily Good piece discusses selflessness, altruism, and perspective. As an example, it cites Tim Tebow's generosity in inviting people in need to his games in Denver, and the ways in which he extends himself off the field. The post asks, "What is your privilege?" and encourages you to share it with someone who would benefit from it, who wouldn't otherwise have access to it. What is your privilege?

2.  This Daily Good piece shares three parables that "give perspective." What parable or story gives you perspective?

3.  This Harvard Business Review article talks about the challenge of reinventing yourself, using Margaret Thatcher's career as an example. The author says, "Thatcher's story is ours as well. We might see the need to evolve, but towards what? When the formula is working, how do we determine the shifting point? How do we come to value the polar opposite of everything by which we have defined ourselves? Have you faced a shifting point in your life? Any advice from that time?

4. Another great question from the HBR article referenced above is this: What is your dark side and do you like it?

5. This iJourney.org piece by David W. Hawkins says, "High power, like high voltage, must be handled with respect." Have you seen high power abused? Had it and lost it? Tell me more.


6.  Yes, I do like Daily Good! You gotta go with what works. In this article, Richard Whittaker talks about his quest to interview architect Paolo Soleri, who reportedly did not do interviews anymore.
What was a time a door was closed to you but you decided to go for it anyway and hope "the way would open for you"? 

7.  I didn't take all of my questions from Daily Good. This post from Raising Happiness talks about body image in relationship to advertising. What are your thoughts on body image and how far would you go to change your body?

8.  Another Daily Good post talks about how teamwork can foster creativity. Talk about a time that a group you were in "felt the flow" - especially if egos "blended."

9. Some of my favorite food memories involve eating a common food in an uncommon place, such as the gyros that I ate with my niece and her friend when we were in Chicago. It was just a mall food court, and we had eaten other "nicer" places on the trip, but the conversation was so good that the gyros felt like fine cuisine. Do you have a similar memory?

10. Would you rather have someone recognize you fomally in public, or informally and in private?
11. Are tattoos right for you? If so, tell us about what you have/want to get?

My 11 Tags:
Jennifer at Run for the Boys

Arnebya at What Now and Why

Karen and Gerard at Right Where We Belong

Susan of Susan Fields

Velva of Tomatoes on the Vine

Robin of From the Ashes Yoga

Sara and Abe of Two in Tally

Amy of 365 Thru Amy's Eyes

Liesl of Mama's Log

Jessi of Breathe Easy

J from The Adventures of Boy Wonder

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Wordless Wednesday (Quarter Moon/LCHS Edition)

I don't know much about our cat, Alice Cooper's, life before we adopted her. What I know is that despite the fact she has ruined our carpets, begs incessantly for food, and is quite the diva, our life wouldn't be the same without her.



This month, Quarter Moon Imports is helping the Leon County Humane Society fulfill its mission of relieving animal suffering, preventing animal cruelty, eliminating overpopulation of animals, promoting humane education, and enhancing the human/animal bond. Here's how you can get involved:

On June 16:  Bring pet food to the Pet Food Drop Off at Quarter Moon from 10am until 6:00 pm. Pet food will be donated to low income seniors to help them meet the expenses of keeping their loving pets in their homes! 

Through June 21: Post a favorite photo of your pet to this page. The picture that gets the most "likes" will win a $50 gift card to Quarter Moon! If you don't post a picture, it's still cool to "like" your favorite - they're all so entertaining!

On June 21:  Shop and Share at Quarter Moon (1641 N Monroe St, Tallahassee) all day on Thursday June 21st. Mention that you support LCHS and 10% of your purchase will go to LCHS! Enjoy a wine and cheese reception and “after hours” shopping from 6pm-8pm. 

Every Day in June:  Contribute $1 or more at the counter to the Paws for Pets Campaign to let the community know that you love the work of the LCHS! Your name gets printed on a cute paw!



Thank you, Quarter Moon Imports, for having great merchandise and pairing that with a tangible commitment to helping the people (and animals) of our community thrive!

Here are some randomly selected pictures from the pet photo contest:





You can find Alice Cooper, the animals pictured here, and 46 more candidates, via this link.

Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's
soul remains unawakened.
Anatole France


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Intercept the Mailman? (A Mama Kat Writing Post)

This post is based on the following Mama Kat prompt:
Write a post about an argument you recently had with someone from the moment of conflict to the moment of resolution in 15 lines or less. 

Barb (my mother in law, who is blind (a fact that matters for this story)): 

Suzette [a relative who was helping out] accidentally requested the order be shipped to 721 Roseberry Street instead of 771.

When she realized the mistake and called Lands End, they said there was nothing we could do…...……..except try to intercept the postal deliverer and tell them to deliver the package to us when it arrived.
Me:

Wait a minute, Lands End, home of “Guranteed. Period.  ©” said the only option was to intercept the mailman?

They want a 77 year old blind lady to stand out on the street, catch the mailman, and explain all this?

Why didn’t they just ship an order to the correct address?

Barb:
I don’t know. Can you see what you can do?

Me:
Tweet to Lands End – "I have a consumer issue and need help." [no response received]

Email to Lands End - [it would take more than 15 lines to replicate the email]. The short version was, "why can't you just ship a duplicate order to the right address instead of asking the blind lady to stand outside at the mailbox and try to intercept the mailman?

Response from Lands End - a generic "email received" stating it could take 2 business days for a response.

Instant Message Attempts #1 and #2 to Lands End – the representative and I introduce ourselves to one another, after which I am cut off (which may have been my browser).
Lands End:

Email response back (received within an hour of being sent!), "Well, she can order a new one and we’ll send it."

Me:

Why can't you go ahead and send the duplicate order? When and if she receives the original order, we will make sure you get it back.

Lands End:
We don’t have the new address so we can’t send it out.

Me:

It is 771 Roseberry Street. Can you please resend it?

Lands End:

[Via Email] We are sorry to hear you did not receive your original order. A new one will arrive within 5 to 7 days.

Me:

[Tweet] - Kudos to @LandsEnd for great customer service.

And that, my friends, is the end (the Lands End) of the story! The package arrived as promised within 3 days. Who knows where the original package ended up?

Mama's

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Wordless Wednesday (Busy Bees Edition)

I really love running on the Miccosukee Greenway. The terrain varies from extremely "root-y," to grassy, to my favorite, crushed shell. There is a big grassy space that is probably roughly a mile around to circumnavigate. I often include it in my route.


Saturday, as I rounded a turn in my favorite grassy area, I noticed a spot that had been isolated by tape:


I thought perhaps a tree was down ... or there was a big hole in the ground ... or they had recently sprayed some toxic herbicide there or something. I did not expect this:


And (no lie) you could see all of the swarming insects buzzing around close to the tree line.

If you are one of my regular readers, you know how I love signs that make you scratch your head (well, they make me scratch my head at least!).

My thoughts about this sign:

a) Are the stinging pests supposed to stay away? It does say, "Stinging pests stay away!" As a grammar lover, I might suggest as an alternative: "Stay Away! Dangerous Stinging Pests Here!"
b) Interesting that theoretically it's okay outside of the tape but not inside the tape (I guess maybe there's a nest in the tree or something)
c) What's the deal with the phone number? Do the stinging pests have little tiny phones they are supposed to call with if they can't resist staying away?
d) Of course you know I couldn't resist calling the number. The number leads to the Leon County Division of Parks and Recreation, which tells you if it is an after hours emergency to call the Leon County Sheriff's Office. That is assuming you haven't lost all oxygen to your brain from the anaphylactic shock you may be in by this point.* 


*Important caveat. Although this post pokes a bit of fun at the Parks Division for the sign, I am a die-hard fan of the Greenway. As a runner, I never take for granted how well-maintained the greenway is, and how fortunate we are in Tallahassee to have miles and miles of safe and beautiful running areas. I frequently see the work crews out there keeping the bathrooms and other areas clean for our enjoyment. I am sure it is this care and commitment that led to the placement of the sign in the first place.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

One Year Later, A Family Walks in the Rain

Between nightfall on June 2, 2011 and dawn on June 3, 2011, Robert, Charlene, and Rebecca Spierer's lives changed forever, along with those of countless relatives and friends.

Lauren Spierer, daughter, sister, and friend, disappeared (this Indianapolis Monthly article provides a detailed timeline of events between the disappearance and now).

Prior to June 3, 2011, Robert, Charlene, Rebecca, and Lauren shared a figurative umbrella of family togetherness. Even though they may have been distant physically, there was always the phone, email, texting, all of the ways most of us remain connected these days.

Photo credit:  Free Digital Photos

After Lauren disappeared, I joined the social media community in blogging, vlogging, and tweeting in support of her family.

Lauren's story stood out to me because (among other things), she is the same age as my nieces and shares the same heart arrhythmia (Long QT Syndrome) that caused the death of my sister in law (and a condition that several of my family members have).

Why support this stranger? Why her when there are so many people missing? Of course I hope for all missing persons cases to be resolved. From the beginning, though, I have felt an uncommon connection to Lauren and her family. I am pretty sure if things were reversed, they would encourage me to keep hope alive and would pray for a resolution to this nightmare. If they wouldn't, I have seen over the past year that so many people, from every faith tradition and all walks of life, would.

When I was wracking my brain to figure out what to write about "One Year Later," our priests at Holy Comforter Episcopal church sang the song "Take All The Lost Home" at a gathering last night. Some of the lyrics spoke to me about Lauren, especially these:

"Talk all the lost home
remember their names
Their journey is yours friend..."

"Walk close by the children
and learn their refrains
and leave your umbrellas
while you learn to walk in the rain."

One year later, I still pray daily that the Spierer family will no longer have to walk in the rain, deprived of the comforting umbrella of closure, knowledge, and the Lauren-ness of Lauren.



"Looking back is incredibly sad, but going forward without answers is impossible."
                                                                                                            -Charlene Spierer