Friday, August 29, 2008

Enjoy the Holiday

We are picking up the grandgirls and headed to the beach. Have a safe and happy holiday weekend!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Dialogue In the Dark

Maybe I haven't mentioned it before but I do a lot of volunteering. Volunteering and community service is a part of my job and I love it. Today my volunteering led me to a most unusual experience. The Center for the Visually Impaired needed volunteers to help work with visually impaired tour guides in practicing going through an exhibit in total darkness. Yes, I spent 2 hours with Terence my tour guide who is legally blind. We went down several different paths in total darkness. Our first stop was a garden. We walked on a squishy path, traveled across a bridge, sat on a garden bench and listened to a waterfall. The next stop was a supermarket. We had to find a shopping basket and then locate items on the store shelves. I couldn't really figure out if we were feeling juice bottles or containers of vegetable oil. If you can't see, how do you know? We took our things to the cash register and then left the store and crossed a city street!!! We then went through a door and reached a dock. I walked up a plank and took a boat ride feeling the experience and hearing sea gulls. Our last stop took us to a cafe where we sat and discussed my experience. My role as a volunteer was to go through with my guide and then offer feedback so that when the exhibit opens this weekend, the visually impaired guides are fully trained and can lead groups through the exhibit.

Let me just say that going through the "paths" in darkness was such a challenge for me. My guide just kept reminding me to use my guide stick to help me find obstacles and to follow his voice. It worked but I also found myself sliding my feet just to be sure I didn't trip on something. The whole experience for me was amazing. When I left the exhibition hall I was wondering to myself what it is like to travel as a blind person. I love traveling but without vision, travel becomes a very different experience unless someone is willing to help paint the picture for you. If you live in the Atlanta area Dialogue in the Dark is definitely something to you won't want to miss.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Labor Day Weekend Makes Me Think of Port St. Joe

My mother grew up in Port St. Joe, Florida so when we were young we went back there often to spend Labor Day weekends on the beach. This weekend I was having dinner with my girlfriend, remembering back some of the beach adventures and she suggested that I share this one with you.

I usually spent a couple of weeks every summer with my cousins in Port St. Joe. It just so happened that my relatives lived across the street from "the monument" and just a short walk from the museum. By now you must be asking yourself what museum could possibly be in Port St. Joe. Most people don't know that Florida's constitution was signed in this small Florida town and at the time it was signed St. Joe was a bustling community. Unfortunately in the early 1800's the area was wiped out by yellow fever and a couple of hurricanes. When I was young we all believed a tidal wave had swept the town off the map but you can read more of the history here. After the hurricanes hit the surviving community, whatever was left of PSJ was washed into the bay. This is where I come in. During the summers the curator of the museum would pay me and my cousins 25 cents to walk in the bay at low tide to squish around in the muck for porcelain pieces and other items belonging to the early settlers that might have washed out to sea. Keep in mind that when I was in second and third grade, a quarter was good for 25 pieces of candy! We spent many hours in bare feet squishing around in the bay. So if you ever happen to get to PSJ, Mexico Beach or Cape San Blas, stop by and see the monument and enjoy the museum. I hope you will see some of my childhood summer footwork.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Penny of Lavender Hill Studio received the Tree of Happiness award and she shared it with her readership. It requires that I list 6 things that makes me happy. "You have just received the tree of happiness. It is scarcely a small plant, which depends on you to grow firmly and strongly. Plant it on your heart, water it with smiles and kindness, feel the aroma of its flowers, savour the sweetness of its fruits and protection under its shade whom you love."

So here are six things (though I could list a ton more):

1. Free Time - I love when I have easy days without too much to do so that there is time for daydreaming, reading, visiting with friends and family or piddling at home.

2. Traveling - Planning trips is one of my greatest joys. I love studying about travel destinations and trying to create the most unique adventures. To me even layovers are exciting in that I can spend time people watching in airports.

3. Being Outside - Nothing beats sitting outside on patios, in cafes & bistros, swinging on a front porch, napping in a hammock or sitting on the deck under a starry sky.

4. Rainy Days at home

5. Old Quilts

6. French-pressed coffee in a handmade pottery mug

What about you? By reading this posting you have just received this award. Please take it with you and post 6 things that make you happy.

Just Couldn't Do It

Do you ever stop and think about the jobs you couldn't do? For instance I know that I couldn't be a doctor or nurse. During the winter as I drive past construction sites it reminds me how lucky I am to work in a warm office. I just don't think I would get much done if I spent the work day warming my hands at the fire barrel. Sometimes when I see creepy looking crawl spaces my thoughts are that I wouldn't want to be a home inspector and have to go under a house and crawl around in a dark as scary place. What about mining? Every time we see another collapsed mine story in the news I have to remind myself to breath. Somehow just thinking about such an accident just takes my breath. Today as I went out for lunch I noticed that the window washers working at the building across the street were taking a break. I hadn't ever really looked at their "office" up close but I decided to go over and see what their work space was like. Not only are the window washers dangling 50 stories in the air but they work in a tiny space. Sometimes I have been at my desk when these loud thumps hit my window and then you see the window washer using big suction cups to help keep him or her stationary. I wonder how much a window washer makes an hour? Even if they don't get paid well, I bet the day is entertaining. My guess is that on occasion they get to see some interesting things when they look in the windows! Putting aside my fear of heights, I still couldn't be a window washer. After lunch I walked back to my office, looked out the window and felt a new appreciation for my job, clean windows and my office space.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Decorative Bandage

This morning I had to stop by the doctor's office and of course they wanted to do a little blood work. Afterwards the nurse kindly plastered me with a Garfield band-aid. I like Garfield just fine but have you ever stopped to wonder why they don't make decorative band-aids or a band-aid for adults that looks a little nicer than the standard taupe color? Through the years I have had to leave the doctor's office with band-aids such as Scooby or Hello Kitty but wouldn't you love to walk out wearing a Monet or a Renoir? Or have you ever thought about a lace trimmed or polka dot band-aid or even holiday band-aids? It seems that at one point band-aids came with stars and spots but I must have missed those year. I guess for now I will stick with the weird flesh-toned band-aid that just does the job. Somehow, though there is just not much fun in that.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Hard to Say Goodbye

I try to find joy in everything but I had to really ponder yesterday's situation to find the joy so that I could share this event. You see my oldest son leaves for Iraq next Saturday. We had carefully planned this past weekend around my son, meaning that he was in charge of plans. We ate at his favorite restaurants and eateries and we kept to his schedule doing our best to maximize our time together. The weekend was so much fun until we got to the goodbyes. Through the years during partings with my children, I have made it my practice to never cry as we say goodbye. I know that it is just as hard for my kids to say goodbye and I would never want them to carry my sadness while dealing with their own sadness. Instead I wait and cry in private. But yesterday as I hugged my son, I asked him to give me a big hug from his heart. As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I cried. He then got in his truck and drove back to South Carolina.

The rest of the evening seemed so heavy with sadness but today I got up grateful for all the good times we have had together this summer. We had a mini-vacation in June and a big family cookout in July. This weekend was the last of the celebrations and memory making.

So now I will turn my attention to preparing fun packages with goodies from home so that he will find some joy in every box.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Celebrating Yang Peiyi - A Beautiful Child

Have you been watching the Olympics? I am not really a sports fan (except for my high school football team) but I do enjoy watching the Olympics and cheering for "our team." I also get excited about the global participation in an event where, generally speaking, politics are put aside. People compete in so many arenas and then congratulate one another. Other countries win events and the world celebrates anthems from countries all over the world. I feel happy that we respect one another. But today I felt sad for one little girl. In today's news we learned that young 7-year-old Yang Peiyi sang "Ode to Motherland" beautifully on Friday during the opening ceremonies but another little girl was chosen to appear before the world. It was decided that Yang Peiyi was not adequate because the child appearing in the ceremonies should be "flawless" in the camera's eye. It makes you wonder who decided this but today I want to use my blog posting to celebrate this beautiful young singer. Maybe my bi-focal contacts need to be changed but to me this little girl is beautiful.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Friday Fun

We are having splendid weather at the moment so yesterday at lunch I decided to spend the hour outside. It just so happens that my office building is a block away from Atlanta's High Museum of Art and I thought it would be a perfect place to go for lunch and a way to enjoy an outing What a treat for me. The complex has a wonderful restaurant and a small cafe. The cafe has a has a well landscaped private patio with a peaceful gurgling fountain.

I bought a sandwich and sat outside in solitude just enjoying the flowers, butterflies and the rushing sound of the water. What a restful and enjoyable lunch. After sitting for about 30 minutes or so I enjoyed a walk around the piazza just taking in a few of the public exhibits.

For those who have never visited the High Museum the structure itself is a unique and beautiful complex. It is an all white building though in areas there are vine-covered walls that make the architecture so interesting. I thought I would share some
pictures of my fun Friday outing.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A Morning Surprise

This morning I had an early meeting in the downtown so I left my house extra early. Unfortunately I arrived 45 minutes ahead of time and found myself sitting outside on the patio of a small downtown diner. As I was reading headline news on my blackberry (bad habit those blackberries), I began to hear someone playing the flute somewhere nearby. I looked all around and noticed out on the street, two homeless individuals just enjoying the morning together. One of the them was playing a flute. The sound of the flute was beautiful and it added so much to the start of my day. As I headed off to my meeting I was reminded how rich we are if we only stop long enough to hear the music.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Do You Have a Collection of Wishes?

Last summer I decided to make a wish board or a manifestations board. It is a visual poster made up of all sorts of things that aren't in my life or maybe they are but not in big ways so I decided to make something that would keep me focused on the things I want to be doing. The idea was to visually remind me of things I can improve on, pray for, or spend more time doing. To make my board I found a piece of cardboard and covered it with pretty wrapping paper. Then I went through old magazines and cut out pictures or words that inspired me. For the past year as I would get up in the morning and while brushing my teeth, I would concentrate on the wish board. My wish board is a now a year old and needs to be refreshed so I have been saving up magazines to make a new wish board. Many of my previous items will be reappearing on the wish board but it will be a renewing exercise that will inspire me to continue to follow my dreams.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Giving Up Plastics

I think most of us are serious about taking good care of our planet and doing what we can to help with conservation but would you be willing to give up plastic for the month of August? In today's BBC a woman posted a story about her attempt to give up buying or accepting anything made from plastic for one month. After reading the article several of us at work began to discuss whether or not we could make it through a month without plastic. Just think of all the foods in the grocery store packaged in or wrapped in plastic. In my grocery, you can no longer buy a head of lettuce...salad greens are all in a bag. After we began naming all of the products that we couldn't purchase because of packaging, we shifted conversation to the things we do every day to conserve - refusing plastic shopping bags, saving shower water for plants, composting, recycling, turning the water off when you brush your teeth, turning lights off when rooms are not in use, setting thermostats on 78 in summer, 68 in winter, drying clothes outside when possible. One of the best things mentioned was the use of water from a salt-water aquarium. When changing out the water my colleague said he poured the salt water on kudzu beds! If you live in the south you are so familiar with the invasive and aggressive vine. It overtakes an area in no time flat and has been known to choke a forested areas to death! I am not sure that my colleague has been able to do much towards kudzu control but we did like the creativity of his use of salt water. A couple of us who had parents who grew up during the depression also had great stories of things we do that our parents did to conserve - recycling aluminum foil, repurposing containers of all kinds but the best was making a skeleton out of milk jugs!

It was encouraging to know that people are really thinking about how to consume less. I would love to hear what you do to conserve, recycle or repurpose.