Wednesday, August 31, 2005

From the Weird Coincidences File

Carl works for Rockwell Collins, an avionics company. Every year they go to a major trade show, the NBAA, that moves from city to city across the southern U.S. The show was supposed to be in New Orleans this year. I doubt that will happen now. The last time the show was supposed to be in New Orleans was the third week in September of 2001. They need to stop scheduling the trade show in New Orleans so that major super-disasters stop happening.

Carl wasn't scheduled to go to the NBAA this year, mainly because he's in school. But he was supposed to go to New Orleans in 2001, specifically to fly out on September 12. I was supposed to join him ten days later, so I could see the show, and then we were going to spend the weekend in the Big Easy doing the tourist boogie for my birthday. Well, as you know, because of the September 11 attacks, all flights were cancelled and so was the show. And thus, our plans for my birthday were upended. But only temporarily. Carl and I began to investigate other things we could do, and we ended up renting a little cabin on the shores of Lake Michigan in Door County, Wisconsin. I don't have room here to go into detail about that trip, but it was really, really nice. Quiet, peaceful, romantic...and we managed to get tickets to see the Green Bay Packers play in Lambeau Field on Monday Night. That was quite a weekend. And this year, Carl is taking time off the week before my birthday so he and I can spend time alone together again. What sweet, romantic plans have we made? None. We're going to paint the foyer of our house.

Ain't love grand?

How to help

I love to visit Dave Barry's blog. It's a great place to go for a humorous escape from the sometimes horrible realities of life. However, today, one of the blog entries challenges readers to donate money to Hurricane Katrina relief funds, mainly the Red Cross. The "blogits" (people who leave comments) are also listing places where money and donations can go. There's places where you can donate living space to refugees, places to donate money for homeless animals, you name it, they have it. To see this list, go to

All the major charities listed are worthwhile, but I know a great, yet small one: This is the International Disaster Emergency Service (I think that's the name) and they're a Christian organization that works through Christian and Church of Christ churches to give disaster relief all over the world. They're working right now to help out those affected by Katrina, and if you want to make a donation, go to their website for contact information. Your money donated here will not only provide physical relief, but spiritual relief as well. And I think they really need both kinds of relief.


Sunday, August 28, 2005


I've been watching the news reports on Katrina, and here are some random thoughts:

1) I hope everyone who can get out gets out.
2) I hope everyone who's stuck in New Orleans can find shelter before its too late, and I hope the people staying in the Super Dome don't suffer. Officials are predicting that conditions in the Dome could become miserable once the lights and AC go out. Of course, conditions in the Dome are pretty miserable when the Saints play, but that's another story, entirely.
3) I hope that the shutdown of refineries in the area finally gives Congress incentive to lift the over excessive regulations that tie the hands of the oil industry. The rules forced on us by environmentalists (like no drilling in the Pacific or Alaska, and the multiple formulations of fuels) are part of the reason gas prices are skyrocketing. But I'll get on my soapbox about that later. Maybe.
4) Not everyone is being sensible about this storm. NBC news ran a story about a bunch of people in the coastal town of Houma, LA who are not leaving, even though they're in the path of a direct hit. One woman is going to ride out the storm on a SHRIMP BOAT with her boyfriend and her THREE YEAR OLD DAUGHTER. I hope that, once the hurricane is over, if she survives, she's arrested for child endangerment. Unless, of course, she comes to her senses in time and gets the heck out of there.
5) These people are desperately in need of prayer. God created the hurricane as a way to release the energy that the Sun generates on the Earth, and this hurricane is, in a way, a beautiful display of God's power. However, it's very, very sad that people are in this storm's path, so we need to pray that God will have mercy and protect the people He created from the hurricane He created. There's no conflict, paradox or oxymoron here. This is just the way of God's nature, and its up to us to pray for those in the hurricane's path.

That is all.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Better Luck Next Time

A week ago Thursday, the Creative Colony board (in Amana) reviewed my portfolio and voted on whether or not my work should be juried. I waited, and finally I called the lady to whom I'd sent the portfolio. Well, I didn't get in. Not because of the quality of my work, but because 75% of the work they have in the shop right now is painted, and they wanted something other than painted items. Even though the stuff I had was nothing like what they had in the shop, because I'm a painter I didn't get in. The vote was close: a 3-3 split, broken by the board president. The three that voted for me thought my stuff unique enough, but the rest didn't. Oh, well. Now I just have to find another outlet for my stuff. Somewhere.

Any suggestions?

Friday, August 26, 2005

Heart Warming Story

Last night I watched PrimeTime on ABC, and they had a story about an eight year old boy named Anthony Sukto. This poor little kid watched his father murder his mother, and then the father came after him. However, the boy lived and called 911 with the help (he said) of angels. The link to the story is: The surprisingly neat thing about this story is not Anthony's survival, although it is wonderful and miraculous. What's neat is at the end of the story, Anthony sang Open The Eyes Of My Heart, Lord to anchorman John Quiñones. Anthony has a nice voice for an eight year old, and he knew the words of the song perfectly. Quiñones was really impressed by this, and I was impressed by the open, unfearing faith of this child. I guess I shouldn't be surprised - after all, Jesus said "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matt. 19:14) I smiled as Anthony sang. I guess what surprised me is that ABC actually aired that part of the story. Maybe the left-wing, commie-lib media is coming to their senses after all.

Wouldn't THAT be nice?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Blatherskite on a Thursday

It's 10:25 a.m. CDT, and so far this morning I haven't had to break up one fight between my girls. That's because they're in school. Today was their first day back to class, and the house is really quiet. I'd say too quiet, but then I don't want to sound like I'm griping or anything. I mean, on the one hand, it's nice to be able to go down to the shop and work without the girls begging me for something every 15 seconds. On the other hand, I miss my girls. (smiffle)

Hannah got off to school just fine. She hardly ever gives me any trouble. She was up at 6:00 and went right to the shower. She was dressed and had eaten breakfast before I even got out of bed. Mary, on the other hand, staggered into my room at 6:59 and asked, "How much longer can I sleep?" "You can sleep in until 7:00" I said. So she went into her room, looked at the clock and said, "Oh, drat. It's 7:00." So Mary staggered downstairs and sat at the kitchen table. She took her kids' multivitamin and drank a cup of juice, and that was the extent of her breakfast. (I'm working on a plot to "encourage" her to eat breakfast.) After "breakfast" she used the bathroom and got dressed, then went upstairs to play a little before her bus came. However, when it was time to walk to the bus stop, Mary just had to finish dressing her Barbie, the result of which is she almost missed the bus. On the first day!!! It's gonna be a long year.

But now the girls are gone, Mary to second grade and Hannah to sixth. When we went to register for school I pointed to the Jr./Sr. High building and said, "See, Hannah? That's where you go to school next year!" Sheesh, is it possible? As fast as last year flew by, in no time my oldest will be in The Big School, finishing the last half of her mandatory education. It hardly seems possible. Will someone please explain to me why I hear the soundtrack to Fiddler On The Roof?

Is this the little girl I carried...

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Of Mice and Mutts

It should come as no surprise to anyone that I have a mouse living in my garden. He (I'm assuming the gender here) lives under the giant, flat plastic plate-ring thingy that's underneath my bird feeder. (The plate thingy is under the feeder to catch dropped seed so that the seed won't sprout.) Anyway, at night the mouse comes out to do mouse chores, and this drives the dog nuts. He can see and smell that mouse, but he can't get inside the 4' high fence to get the mouse. If I let Judah in to the garden to hunt, he'd trample my tomato plants, and the tomato plants are still bearing fruit at an approximate rate of 1,000,000,000,000 tomatoes per day, so I can't let the dog go mouse hunting. What the dog does do, however, is run back and forth along the fence, barking like mad. The first time Carl and I observed this, Carl said, "Good night, what is with that dog! He's out there going postal!" And I said, "Of course he's going postal - he's male." (rim shot) So Judah has to wait until the end of the growing season to go after the mouse, at which time I'll just open the gate right up and let the dog have free run.

Mice are not the only things that make Judah go crazy. He hates hot air balloons. People will bring their balloons to the Atkins soccer fields and launch them, and the soccer fields are two blocks straight west of my house, so we get to watch the balloons rise over the houses when they first take off. And when the balloons take off, so does the dog. The hair stands up on his back, and he's out there growling and barking and carrying on, running back and forth. I wonder what the people in the balloon think, if they can see and/or hear him.

People out walking their dogs is another thing that makes Judah bonkers. This really isn't surprising: dogs tend to bark at other dogs. But it's kind of funny watching people walk their dogs past our place, because the people who don't know us tend to freak out a little when they see Judah's head and paws up over the fence. The people who do know us just smile and wave when I come out to tell Judah to be quiet. Most folks are pretty forgiving of our dog.

To keep Judah from barking at night, we put a "barking" collar on him. This collar has a little box on it, and the box has a sprayer loaded with citronella oil in it. The box also has a voice recognition switch, so that when Judah barks, the switch kicks in and the box sprays Judah with citronella oil right up his big fat schnorg. Usually he'll only bark once, then he'll spend the next 10 minutes or so sneezing out the oil, then he's done for the night. And he never fights me when it's time to put on the collar, because he knows that treats always follow the collar. Judah's a pushover for a couple of dog biscuits.

So now it's evening: the collar's on the dog, the shed door is closed, the garage is shut up tight, and the kids are in bed. Time to blog a little, have a snack, and then turn in and dream sweet dreams. I'll probably dream about chocolate.

Judah's dreaming about trouncing that mouse.

Playing Pirate

I get alot of unique (read strange, weird, unusual) ideas from the Dave Barry blogsite. Today I found and decided to use their links to find out what my "pirate" names are. These are the ones I found:

From - Captain Jenny Cash

From - Dread Pirate Vane

From - Flora the Mad

From - Captain Jezebel Blackbeard

From - Swashy Constance

Of the five, I like the first one best. Somehow I don't see myself as Flora the Mad, except on those occasions when I have to mediate disputes between my girls. Then I either get mad or go mad. AARRRRR.

That be all for now, matey.

Monday, August 22, 2005

LIfe's A Ball Update

Just when I thought I had enough to do, up pops another opportunity for me to overload my schedule. I got a call from the AYSO local coordinator (Shelley) asking me if I'd like to coach a soccer team in Atkins. Now, I know almost nothing about soccer rules and strategy, and I know even less about coaching. But according to the coordinator, the alternative was to take all the six and seven year old girls from Atkins and Newhall down to Blairstown (about 20 miles away) and have a guy down there coach them. Well, I couldn't see the logic in driving all that way when some sort of solution could be reached, so I agreed to go to the coaches meeting in Van Horne last night. And I prayed about this. I had no idea of how I was going to handle this, so I asked God to handle it. I figured He'd come up with a solution if I was available to help.

And of course, things worked out beautifully. As I was sorting through player names with the coach from Keystone, Shelley's cell phone rang. It was Matt Brown, a guy from Atkins who was interested in coaching. He has coaching experience, and loves to coach, so I worked it out with him and Shelley that Matt would be the Head Coach in Charge of Actually Coaching Children, and I would be the Assistant Coach in Charge of Paperwork, Organization and Scheduling. I'm already putting together a Parents and Coaches Get To Know Each Other meeting at my house on the 28th, and Matt was thrilled. Quite frankly, so was I. The first thing I did after I got off the phone with Matt was look up at the ceiling and say "Thank you, God!" Wow, what a relief.

So after the coaches meeting I went to Matt's and talked with him for a few minutes. He's a really nice guy. He coached kindergarten boys' t-ball this year, and is looking forward to coaching soccer. He knows some older girls who play, and he hopes to get them to help show some of the basic skills stuff to the little kids. He thinks that the little girls will look up to the older ones and I agree with him. He has some great ideas. This should be a fun season. I also hope to learn some stuff from Matt so I can help Mary practice. I hope she develops a desire to play soccer for many years. After all, it is in her genes, somewhere.

I think Grandpa Chilla would be pleased.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Poor Mom

OK, everyone. Stop what you're doing and take a minute to feel sorry for my Mom. Poor lady. Hannah, Mary, Judah and I spent three days down there visiting, and while the visit was extremely nice, Mom always seemed to come out on the worst end of it. Wednesday we went to the pool, and Mom got a slight sunburn. Wednesday night I took her to Crow Creek park so she could practice on her roller skates, and she fell. She scraped her right elbow up, and she also hit her head, but she said she was fine. Then tonight she went and got Judah from the back yard so I could load him in his crate, and the dog ran her over and she slammed her head into the doorframe. That stunned her for a second, and I about went hysterical. She says she's OK, but I'm gonna call her in the morning to make sure.

Speaking of the dog, I'm not taking the big idiot to Mom's anymore. He dug a bunch of holes in her nice backyard, so now he's banished.

And speaking of idiots, while I was at Mom's I hyper-extended the ligament in the lower knuckle of my left thumb, and now I have to wear a brace for two weeks until it heals. Do you know how hard it is to type with a brace on your wrist? If you do, I feel sorry for you.

But the girls had lots of fun at Grandma's. She took them to the library, and to the video store, and we both took them to the aquatic center at the Abbie Whittenmayr complex. The girls sat and watched movies with Grandma, and Mary played with the little girl who lives across the street. We all went to Kohl's and did some shopping, which was cool, too, because they had a bunch of tropical decor 50% off and I got the girls stuff for their rooms. Tres chic.

I gotta go. It's late and my hand hurts. Goodnight.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Life's A Ball

This past week Carl and I sponsored two coaches from Brittania Soccer at our home: Lizi Hamer and John Bunn. They were working with AYSO conducting soccer camps, and since your kid gets free tuition if you host a coach, Carl and I figured "why not?". But I'll tell you what: John and Lizi were two of the nicest college kids you'd ever want to meet. Polite, well-mannered, neat, clean, organized, helpful - they were wonderful. I really hope they get to do the camps again next year, because I'd love to have them back.

Mary was the daughter who got free tuition to soccer camp. Hannah's not into sports, so she and I just kinda hung around while Mary learned soccer for three hours a day. She was in the morning camp from 9 to noon, so she wasn't out in the worst heat of the day. Plus, her camp was at the Middle Amana soccer fields, with lots of nice shade trees and a couple of picnic shelters. Unfortunately, the afternoon camp was at the Belle Plaine High School, and Lizi and John had to suffer in the afternoon sun and humidity with only a little shade provided by some buildings that surround the football field. I felt bad for them, but they borrowed my big water cooler tank-thingy, so they and the kids had plenty of water.

When they first got here last Sunday, I took them for a driving tour to teach them the best way to get to the camps' sites, and also to show them where they could get snacks and fuel and stuff. I also pointed out a few of the more interesting sites since I knew that area pretty well. Friday night I took them to the stock car races at Hawkeye Downs because they'd never seen a stock car race before. I also treated them to that unique American cuisine experience, race track food. Lizi and John got to meet Uncle Hep, Aunt LaReatha, Greg, and their friend Richard Blessing. We watched Greg race (super stocks class) but he didn't fare too well. Poor guy. However the two Atkins drivers, Kevin Korsmo (sportsmen's class) and Arlo Becker (modifieds class) won their races, so the night wasn't a total wash.

The weird incident of the night happened during the Modifieds feature. Arlo (the Ageless Wonder - he's in his late 60's) had just taken over first place with a spectacular manuever, and I was (of course) jumping up and down and cheering (and making a total jackass of myself) when a guy from Arlo's group came over and started talking to me. (I think he'd had a few too many beers.) I finally managed to get him to go away, but I was embarrassed. Lizi and John took it really well, though. I mean really well. They were so nice! Anyway, after the races were over I took John and Lizi down into the pit area (which is open after the races are completed) to show them around. Some kid was giving out plastic checkered flags, and I procured one each for the coaches. (Lizi got hers autographed by Arlo!) The Humor Moment of the night (earlier, between races) was when John met the C.R. Spirits Dance Team. They'd performed during one of the breaks, and afterward John and Lizi went down to get pictures. John told them he'd come all the way from England just to watch them dance, and the next thing you know all these scantily clad cheerleader/dancers were piled around John, smiling perky smiles and having their pictures taken with him. I was laughing so hard I almost fell out of the grandstand.

But it was a great week. Mary learned alot and, according to the coaches, progressed quite well. (Getting personal updates on your daughter's progress is another perk of hosting the coaches. ) This week Carl is in Ames for his Dual Degree residency week, and I have to register the girls for school on Monday. However, Monday afternoon us girls are heading to Bettendorf to spend the week with my Mom (look out, here we come!) and I'm looking forward to that. My girls start school a week from Thursday. Where has the summer gone?

I think it went that way----------->

Saturday, August 06, 2005

A Day's Worth of Blatherskite

I went to another antique auction today. I went with my friend Linda (from our church) and while we had fun, we didn't buy much. This auction was totally unlike the last auction I went to. Last time, at Buch's, there was hardly any crowd and there were bargains everywhere. This time there were at least 300 bidders (no, not all at the same time) plus a crowd of onlookers, and a bunch of people from local churches selling food. And there were no bargains. Not one. This auction was of items from the old Garrison Mercantile, and I went to try and get some display racks that I could use at craft shows. I got a couple small ones, and a whole bunch of wooden fruit crates, but the larger ones that I thought to bid $25 for went for around $70 apiece. Linda and I were in shock. I'd never seen such high prices at an auction before. A Red Wing crock from the late 1800's went for $625. Advertising clocks sold for around $150. A galvanized steel watering can, bucket, and some other stuff went for $50. Linda and I stayed outside the whole time: most of the stuff for sale was outside. But inside the Mercantile itself were other antique items and I would've had to mortgage the house to buy. They had three old-fashoined brass cash registers with marble trim, eighty year old thread cases with full spools of thread still in them (and the spools were wooden) B.F. Goodrich canvas-topped sneakers, roll-top desks, oak display cases, and a bunch more stuff that I can't even remember. Linda and I were so overwhelmed by the high prices being paid for stuff that we didn't feel like going into the Mercantile when the auctioneer moved the action inside. We just took the stuff I bought and left. I felt bad for Linda. She said she had fun, but the poor lady didn't get to buy anything. However, she and I spent alot of time talking, and it was all good talk. That was probably the best part of the whole auction.

Meanwhile, back in Atkins, it was Watermelon Day. Carl and the girls went to the parade, then the girls went and played the kids' games while Carl helped in the PTA's bingo tent. The girls were very, very good and stayed in touch with Carl while he worked, and they didn't run off or give him any trouble. I feel so proud of them! The only problem, however, is that both girls won goldfish at one of the games, and now those poor suffering fish are in ivy bowls in the girls' rooms waiting to die. Carl refuses to let the girls get any sort of aquariums or fish food or anything because he doesn't want to delay the fishies' demise. We tried to convince the girls that the humane thing to do was take the fish to the creek and let them go, but the girls want to keep their fish as long as possible, and then take them to the creek and watch them float away. I doubt I'll do that. I'll probably give the fish a "swirly funeral". But I know Mary will cry, and when she does, it will be all Carl's fault. And I've let Carl know that I'm not taking the rap for this one. No way, Jose!

So now Carl and I are preparing for the arrival of two AYSO soccer coaches. We're hosting them for the coming week while they conduct soccer camps in Amana and Belle Plaine. For hosting the coaches, Mary gets to go to camp for free, which is neat because camp costs almost $100. They'll get in tomorrow, then leave the next Sunday, which is the same Sunday that Carl leaves for his residency week in Ames. So far I've cleaned the bathrooms, and Carl has done the dusting and vacuuming, and tomorrow I'll mop the floor, after we get home from church but before the coaches arrive. I'm really hoping Mary will enjoy camp and learn alot from it. I also hope she behaves and doesn't try to monopolize the coaches' time. I'll be praying for my little Booper. Will you too, also? Thank you.

Now I need to get my girls ready for bed. Good night, everyone!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Can I Rant?

Thank you. I am not having what you could call a good day. I got outbid on eBay: on two hard-to-find items for my John Deere tractor, a rototiller attachment and a snow blade. I can't afford to bid any higher as we are currently experiencing a money crunch, so I'll have to wait until next time. I hate waiting.

That, plus the girls have been in Full Nag-and-Pout Mode all day. If I go downstairs to try to get some work done in my studio, they're down there begging me to give them stuff to paint with. If I go upstairs to work on the computer they're begging me for something else. And if I'm not up on my feet the split second they call me, they're screaming from whatever room they're in, "Mom! Can't you please hurry?" I scream back at them to wait a minute, then they get all mad because I screamed at them. Sheesh!

Also, I took some stuff out to the garage and when I did I stepped on something sharp, and now my right foot hurts. Top it all off with this week being the week (you ladies know what I mean) and I'm just one big knot of uptight human being. I just know that the next thing that goes wrong is going to set me off, postal-style. I need to relax. I need to release and unwind. I need, I need....


Monday, August 01, 2005


I play the Powerball lottery occasionally, usually when the jackpot climbs up over $40 million. I had a ticket for last Saturday, and I won $7! Yeah, I know, I've spent more than that over the years buying tickets, but hey, seven bucks is seven bucks. My first response to winning was, "Wow! I can get seven tickets for the next drawing!" but then I thought hey, what's the fun of getting a windfall if you don't share the wealth? So this morning I took the girls up to the Ampride, cashed in my ticket, and bought the girls each a candy bar and a bottle of juice. I bought myself a Wild Cherry Pepsi, and after all was rung up, I had exactly $1 left. So what did I do? I bought another Powerball ticket. Maybe this time instead of $7, I'll win $70 million.

You never know.