Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Some catching up to do

So the holidays are finally past us, or will be after Friday. Time to play end of the year catch up.

First on the agenda. I keep getting samples from the Febreeze company to test and discuss. The latest the Febreeze on the go version. It's in a spritz bottle, and I got a chips bowl, some cute football paper plates and napkins and a canned drink holder. I gave the Febreeze to one of my testers,.ie one of the kids as my smeller is still MIA and likely will be forever. She tested it on a container that had some clothes that her husband had used when he was doing ROTC training. According to her they clothes were a whole lot of stinky. She sprayed the clothes and the container with the Febreeze, waited a week then opened the container. The smell was still reduced in pungency a week later.  Even if I can't smell the stuff, it apparently works.

Second on the agenda. I do know what I want for my birthday this year...besides the full copy of Windows 7. I am using an evaluation copy right now. Son promised full version for my b-day. I want a Wii Fit. My son in law got his wife a Wii and it currently resides at my house. Talk about a whole lot of fun. Tennis is a blast, bowling can be a lot of fun, and then there is boxing. I did two opponents last night, and won both matches, but was completely winded by the end. It is more of a workout then one would expect. I also did the fitness test, and according to it, I should be using a walker and wearing Depends as I await my turn at the Bingo table at the Nursing Home. I know I'm flabby, but PLEASE.

Next is the juice consumption at our house. Because of the toy strewing toddler in residence, her mom, and her aunt MeyMey, we go through a lot of juice. We have a wide variety of sippy cups, including a kind that has Disney princesses on the top. Helene' love those. Today we got a sippy cup from the Juicy Juice company in the mail. Helene's mommy likes the Harvest Blend, and I do as well.  That is when I get an occasional glass. It mixes some veggies into the juice and it doesn't have that v-8 feel or taste. Nice way to sneak in veggies into a little kids diet. I need to start buying that stuff by the 50 gallon drum, we go through it so fast.

The last is the fact that we have very much enjoyed my son-in-law being home on leave. He has finished his basic training, and has moved on to his secondary training. He will be flying back on Sunday to finish that training and then will be reporting to his duty station.  Please keep Derek in your thoughts and prayers as for all our men and women in uniform. It is hard for them to be away from their families for long periods of time. I am very proud of this young man. He is a wonderful daddy to his little girl and will expand his daddy awesomeness to his son to be, who arrives in April. He is also a fine husband to my daughter, something I am very thankful for.

I wish everyone a very happy 2010.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Some Pre-Christmas gifts.

Tonight I am sitting in my warmest, most unattractive jammies, in a quiet house all by myself, if you don't count two cats. There are bills waiting to get paid, food to be purchased for next Friday's holiday meal, wrapping paper and boxes to go back up to my frigid attic, laundry to do, and the weather outside is a rather nasty shade of nasty, but I can't help but be thankful for a few things that happened today.

The first is that my son in law made it home from his army training safely. The flight wasn't delayed and the weather held off long enough for everyone to get home. Ashley and her friend made the trip up to pick up their soldiering men dressed in specially made t-shirts for the occasion. Even Helene' had one to wear. They all made it home just in time for the sleet and slush to start falling. These two couples had requested that the reunion just be them alone. No one shared the moment of these two couples first sight of each other after several months but passer bys at the airport. Yet that didn't take anything away from that special moment. Their families got their turn later on this afternoon and will enjoy catching up over then next couple of weeks before our young men head back to finish up the last of their training.

The second was the kindness of a stranger. This little group stopped by a fast food restaurant for lunch, the way home and a complete stranger bought their food. This was food for two men, one of which has, I know, a healthy appetite, their sweeties and one toddler. As the men were still in uniform, this stranger was touched by the scene of these two little families and gave a gift that will not be forgotten soon.

The third was the weather allowing me to go home from work early, and just have some long awaited, "no one but me" time. Yes I totally wasted it doing nothing of actual value, but it was still worth every moment. The weather kept Ashley, Derek and Helene' at his parents and Megan at a friend's close to where she works, so I know they are safe, and not braving the slippery roads. Most of our clients wisely stayed home as the weather worsened, and as far as I know all my co-workers made it home without incident as well. Tomorrow things will warm up and melt, and things will be back to normal. I don't get too many times like tonight, I so do enjoy them.

The last is sitting right behind me, a bed with blankets, pillows and two cats who act as feet warmers. I think I'll get into it now, and say a little prayer of thanks for these simple gifts that were handed out today.

Monday, December 14, 2009

a day without kids

You know you are in need of a break when you look forward to a day to clean the house, knowing that there will be no little person around undoing all your work. That will be the case today. Helene', the toy strewing toddler, will be spending the day at her other grandparents, and her mommy and I will be celebrating that brief freedom by going grocery shopping, and cleaning the house. I will also take some time to do Ashley's hair, something she's asked me to do. Yippee!

One forgets how much time and energy it takes to do anything around the house with a toddler constantly underfoot. You pick up a room, turn around and see things strewn throughout. It is like living in a vortex of toys that magically appear continually. Shopping is even harder, as one has to take the kid out of a car seat, find the grocery cart with the little car in front and the steering capacity of an ocean liner, try to avoid any section of that store that may contain something that she just have to have, deal with the temper tantrum when you tell her, that no, she doesn't need whatever it is she has spied, check out, then load everything back into a car. It's exhausting I tell you.

We've made out our list, planned our agendas and are ready to call Ashley's in laws to inform them of Helene's arrival time. We just can't seem to be able to get out of our pajamas yet.

Monday, December 7, 2009

scandals and why should we care?

So this morning I decide to run a couple of errands with the toy strewing toddler in tow and then meet a couple of friends for brunch at Papa's Breakfast Nook. While I was walking into the resturaunt I noticed a New channel 7 truck and a reporter and a camera guy interviewing someone outside.

I sat down and ordered coffee and juice while I waited for my friends to arrive. Within a few minutes the camera crew was inside asking a question to patrons. "Oh crap, I am thinking, I decided to go  "au natura"l this morning, meaning no make-up and my hair in a semi-neat ponytail, and I am wearing an ancient pink tshirt and horizontal striped sweater. GUARANTEED to make me look even wider then reality. Of course the darling toddler drew their attention and I was asked my opinion of the "question of the day"

Now a smart woman would have said "no comment" because I knew that I didn't look camera worthy. Heck, I never look camera worthy. But I stamped down my inner introvert and gave them a answer.

The question was "what do you think about the Tiger Woods scandal?" I think the golfer is making an appearance some time soon, and I guess they wanted local flavor on what the average person thought. So here are mine, as I am certain that I likely broke their camera.

I will admit to having People.Com on my home page, and do on occasion look at headlines of the rich and famous. Celebrity fascination is nothing new, but it has never taken the tone and flavor that it has lately. I said that I thought that the media has spent far too much time speculating on what happened with this individual and his family, when there are some more interesting and relevant news stories that are getting little to no coverage. There is a lot of speculation, supposed mistresses coming out of the woodwork, whom I suspect are actually hunting their own set of paparazzi to follow them around, rather then have actually have been a actual love interest of Mr. Woods. The did he, didn't he, did she didn't she, shouldn't be making national headlines as it is.

I was asked that because he is someone who makes more money a week then I make in a year that it should matter that he may have had an affair and everyone should know about it. I said no. They have just as much a right to privacy as I do, or the reporter does. Too many assume that just because we see them on tv or in a magazine that they have given up the right to have a private life, and deal with things without everyone butting in to things that are simply not anyone's business. Does they having financial success mean that we can now delve into their private lies, and if we don't know exactly what is happening we can just make stuff up and then call it factual? Would we want that happening to us?

I do hope that the Woods family can deal with whatever is going on in their lives and move on, with as much wisdom and guidance as they can, and with the same privacy that we all deserve. It is quite sad that the media and those of us who are addicted to celebrity-itis feel compelled to follow their every move real or supposed, and give time and attention to those who just want to add fuel to the fire.

Of course I cannot give complete fault to our local television station for wanting to cover this. After all the gossip is running free and people are talking about it, and they are hoping for viewers. But it is rather sad that we'd rather be watching, reading and talking about a celebrity marriage that may or may not be in trouble instead of something actually relevant to our community

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thinking Environmentally

The environment has been very much in the news these days, or rather stories about people's opinion on environmental issues and whether they have validity. There is a recent article about a radical group that objects to fossil fuels of any kind and wants us to return to a individualistic agrarian society. They made headlines for getting arrested while attempting to halt the delivery of a coal generator destined for a energy plant in NC. Then you get the supposed Climate-gate news about leaked e-mails. These e-mails supposedly say that evidence submitted about climate change and the greenhouse effect is not as solid as has been largely accepted. Then there is the upcoming Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen where leaders and scientist from around the world are planning to attend. I have issues with all three of these.

The first.

While I understand that we need to work at using cleaner sources of energy and that renewable sources such as solar, wind and others are hopefully the wave of the energy future, the infrastructure isn't here yet, and the rest of the world is likely far behind those nations who are beginning to implement them. While I also understand that small farms often produce high quality products, they cannot meet the needs of the billions of people on our planet that need to eat every day. On both there are solutions that people are trying very hard to research and implement while at the same time working to help our current system work better. What bothers me about such groups as Rising Tide is that they spend a lot of time and energy, protesting the very thing that allows them to do what they do. They use  electricity provided from coal or nuclear sources to access the internet for their websites, they need to travel, and most likely need to use automobiles to get to their locations. It is quite likely that many cannot produce all their own food, fibers for clothing or even household items like toilet paper and must visit a grocery store. If they are against all the things like they say, then stop using them.

The second

Then there is Climate-gate and those emails. Climatology is an interesting science. It is a bit like fortune telling, you make guesses based on things or trends in the past. Yet one cannot be quite sure things will turn out that way, because we really cannot foresee the future. So again time and energy, is going to be literally wasted as this gets hashed out in the press and the news. Imagine the kilowatt hours that are going to be burned up just "getting to the bottom" of this supposed scandal. Anyone else see the irony?

The third

Then there is the upcoming conference. There is already criticism about this as people fly, often on private planes to gather together. Here is a conference on saving energy, and the reduction of carbon emissions, and yet so much is going to be used just getting to and from Copenhagen, not to mention traveling around the city, using lights in motel rooms, meeting rooms and the conference hall, preparing all that food, cleaning up afterwards, etc. Again, anyone else see the irony?

I am very willing to try to be less of a polluter and try to take small steps to lessen my environmental footprint.  I know that I am not alone as more and more people try to find practical ways to save energy, and use more efficient sources of using that energy, as well as taking simple steps such as composting and recycling. Yet I do wonder at the waste that is being caused and the mixed messages being sent. Not by businesses, power plants, or manufacturing plants. Many of these entities are already working to implement things to reduce their energy footprint and be better stewards of our natural resources. I am thinking of the people who protest so mightily against these entities while still readily using them. I find it rather hypocritical.

Friday, November 27, 2009

After the turkey and a Rebel Yell

I just got home from time spent with my sister and two of my four brothers in Tennessee where I grew up. We ate, visited, ate, visited, ate, watched some football, and ate some more. My brother in law deep fried the turkey, my first experience with that, and it was seriously delicious. I took some RJ Rockers Eagle Ale for him to try out, and he had me sample some of Highland's Gaelic Ale which is brewed in Asheville. I preferred the J Rockers, it had hardly any after taste, and had a much smoother flavor. The Highland reminded me more of Guiness, but in the end I much preferred RJ's Eagle Ale. Now to see if they will start carrying it in stores in Tennessee, they have a new fan.

One of the highlights of my trip was the send off given to my nephew who plays high school football at my old alma mater, Sullivan South High School, home of the Rebels. Jake is a sophomore there and back up Center and as I write this blog he and his family are in Middle Tennessee braving the chilly weather while he plays with his team for the state semi finals in football.

Thursday afternoon after we all stuffed ourselves silly and before we went back for round two, we loaded Jake onto the bus then lined the main street of Colonial Heights with other friends and family and gave them a true South High send off..



My brother in law Craig, sister Melodie, other nephew Blake, little brother Steve in the background and my brother Jimmy's daughter Shelby shivering by her aunt Mel.




You can't be a true South High fan without a few Rebel flags. Yeehaw.




Waiting for the buses to drive by, and dang the wind was chilly




Proud Daddy and Momma.

Go Rebels, win your game tonight, win the state champion, make this member of the first graduating class of the South High Rebels have reason to give a good hearty Rebel yell.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

clotheslines: a green option or symbol of poverty?

A recent news article recounted the story of a woman who decided to to string up a clothesline in her backyard to hang sheets out to dry. There was only one problem, her neighborhood had a ban on outdoor clotheslines without a screen to block the view from neighbors. She fought the ordinance and soon found herself making national headlines over her battle with her home owner's association. http://www.hofstrachronicle.com/2.1155/asinine-clothesline-ban-causes-national-uproar-1.54611

What shocked Mrs. Taylor was the reasoning behind the complaints from her neighbors. Her neighbors complained because they said that they felt that her clothesline reminded them of urban slums.

Surprisingly Mrs. Taylor is not alone in her fight. People across the nation are coming up against property associations and even city or town ordinances who use aesthetics as a primary reasoning against such items. The reasoning behind such bans is always under the assumption that having a clothesline on a property equates to poverty. Sadly that reasoning is false and rather hypocritical.

Not too many years ago, most homes had a clothesline of some sort despite the income level. As electric dryers became popular more households opted for the more time efficient way of doing their laundry. While it is true that poorer urban neighborhoods had more clotheslines, one could still find them in more rural settings, and income was usually not that large a factor.

In the past couple of decades Clothes dryers have improved in dry time and energy use as technology has developed. Yet despite all the improvements to the design and energy usage, they are still second in line to energy usage after refrigerators when it comes to home appliances. All models, despite features, use about the same amount of energy and none of them qualify for Energy Star ratings. Gas models are slightly less costly to operate then electric one, at a savings between .15 to .20 a load.

Still the best way to save energy is to use less of it. Simple methods such as hybrid vehicles, solar and wind powered high efficient lighting and appliances do help keep a home's energy cost lower, but even better is to just use them less often or not at all. Keeping lights off in rooms not used can save a homeowner several dollars a month, as can turning off small appliances and electronics not in use or just having less gadgetry that requires electricity.

The battle over the clothesline should be about finding simple cost effective ways to help consumers make informed choices on how best to take care of their homes and families. It should not be about whether or not it sends an assumed message on curb appeal. What is so ironic about this battle is that it is highly likely that the very ones fighting against the humble clothesline are environmentally conscious themselves, but in this case are more concerned about how things look rather then how one is helping helping our environment by using a simple time proven method.

Everyone wants to portray a certain image, and it is understandable to have restrictions so that neighborhoods look like vibrant successful places. But if we are to truly make improvements in the way we use energy, and to embrace long proven methods if one chooses to do so, then we need to be willing to set how it may look aside. For many a clothesline as a laundry option is not feasible, but why restrict those who's lifestyle allows for such a thing?

Monday, November 16, 2009

If I only had her publisher

There is a self titled memoir fixing to hit the book stands tomorrow that is penned by a certain former vice presidential candidate. Promotional advertising for this book has been fierce and frequent appearing on google ads on the web, news media outlets, book websites and more. The publisher pulled out all the stops in hopes that the book would be a run away best seller. Apparently the plan is working because the book is already a best seller on some lists and it hasn't even been released to readers yet..

The true test will be when people actually read the book of a woman who rose from obscurity to sudden national fame.  However fame didn't seem to equate popularity and the republican party's choice for a VP proved to be as problematic as their choice for president. It didn't help that it looked like this new famous person's life was of the sort that editors at The National Enquirer dream longingly for. Even a year later the tabloids lap up stories about her and her family. Will this book give better insight to the woman and her thoughts? Is it well written, and something that initial readers would want to recommend to a friend? Or is this book a curiosity being taken advantage of by a shrewd publishing company that recognized a way to make some money?

Granted the author and the book company will sell copies and both will go home a bit richer. After all people write books to sell them and publishers work to ensure sellable books get onto store shelves. It must be nice to have your first attempt at mass marketing something, have such a lucrative start before anyone really gets a chance to read your work.

Yeah I admit I am a bit jealous. I will just have to work harder to actually sit down to write my book, edit it, and try to sell it.  But I really shouldn't be. I have a small but loyal fan base with my column and here with my itty bitty blog. I also on occasion get sent free things to test market and write about. I will keep that and let others deal with all that media feeding frenzy. I get the feeling that I make lousy fish bait.

Friday, November 6, 2009

funny math

I just got my property tax bill for my house. It went up...again.

Here's the thing. When we bought the house back in 2005 the county or state, or whomever determines such things gave a value on the property, and we paid into an escrow account towards that property tax with our mortgage payment.

Then last year someone decided to do two things, give a property tax break, and reassess the value of properties for tax gathering purposes. We have this thanks to the wonderful people at the state legislature, who's wisdom in all things financial are legion. Immediately my property gained 11.5k in value, and I didn't see a drop in what we paid in taxes. We were actually fortunate, we saw only a slight increase in our property tax bill, (under a hundred dollars) some saw their tax rates double or triple. Then the credit bubble popped and the bottom dropped out of the real estate market. Everyone's property's lost value on the real estate market. People were deep discounting sales on properties all over the county. Taxes apparently haven't wobbled downward one bit.

I know that we are in a recession, or depression, ok whatever it is the economy sucks. I am very grateful I have a job. I also know that my taxes help pay for public schools, our water and sewer systems, our public safety, our excellent library, etc. Apparently the raise in my taxes is helping to offset all those properties sitting vacent right now. Maybe next year things will improve, and we'll get a real break in our property taxes.

Selling my house is an option that may occur down the road, maybe, maybe not. However if I were to put my house on the market today I would love to get what the county says my home's value is. But I know better. I couldn't get what the county assesses on my home's value if I stood naked on the lawn for added curb appeal.

Granted this year's increase is less then $100 but I do have to wonder where they get their figures, especially when it is highly unlikely that anyone actually walked onto my property to check it's value. I know if they had come inside and seen my icky carpeting I could have gotten a discount, and I know good and well that homes in my neighborhood haven't been selling for what the county says the value is, at least for tax gathering purposes.

I guess I will just suck it up and pay like everyone else.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Back Into Test Mode

A few weeks ago I was sent a package in the mail from a marketing firm. This is the second time I have been asked to test a product, and then review it. The first time it was a particular brand of toilet paper, and along with it I was sent a sample of a room deodorizer as a thank you and try me gift. I mentioned the deodorizer in my review blog and lo and behold, I am asked to test market another product in that brand of deodorizers.

There is only one problem with that, Sylvie lacks a sense of smell. My odorizer is non-existent. I work as a hairdresser and can't smell the most aromatic of perm solutions, or the hair sprays or the perfumes a client may be wearing. That can be a bad thing because perfumes have been known to trigger an asthma attack without warning. I have a good friend who sells Party-Lite candles and everyone raves about the scent they produce, except me. I just think they are pretty.

I love coffee, and I can't smell whether I am brewing my normal Maxwell House's dark roast or the indulgent local beans from Little River Roasting Company. Thankfully I can still taste the flavor.

I could walk by a garbage truck blindfolded and not be able to tell that the contents have been sitting in there about a week too long. For the bad smell cases my broken olfactory system is an advantage, but for when I want to smell things, I am out of luck.

So what is smelling deficient girl to do when asked to see how well Febreeze Sport spray works on my family's stinky gym shoes? Bring in my "team of experts" or in simpler terms, the kids who's noses work quite well. They tested it and discovered that it did work as advertised. They even decided to try it on non-gym related items, like the area around my cats' litter box and the trashcan where someone had just placed a poop-filled diaper. In both cases the odors were reduced. Based on just those two tests, I would suggest that this product could work quite adequately for what it was designed for.

Now I hope that the next products I am asked to test does not require the use of a sense that hasn't worked in a very long time.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A little Self Improvement

So I want to be a better writer, and am exploring ways to do so. I went to the library today to see about a book that had been suggested to me. Of course they didn't have a copy on hand, so I reserved one. But in the meantime I found several others on writing styles for a few different genres, including my current one.

One of my dreams is to be published more broadly or to write a book. The longest thing I've ever written was a term paper way back in high school and it was just about eight pages long. Writing a longer format would be a whole new adventure for me.

I wouldn't mind looking into freelance writing but I realize that I likely need more practice and insight on different writing formats, as well as trying to finally defeat the run on sentence monster. One thing writing a weekly column has done has taught me to be a better self editor and to work at thinking a bit more creatively when putting sentences or phrases together. I am learning, albeit slowly, to find new ways to say something, without having to use the same sort of phrasing in every piece I write. I have looked back at some of my earlier writings before I started Miss Mom and in the year since Miss Mom's debut and I have seen improvement, but I can always do better.

One thing I find a fun challenge is to use a word that I haven't used before, or don't use that often and have it relevant to the topic. It isn't always possible to do so, but I can try.

Taking a class on writing isn't in my financial or time budget right now, but I'd like to find more input somewhere to gaining stronger writing skills. I'll start with these books by my bed and work from there.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

When Continuing Ed Doesn't Suck

As is true for many professions I have to earn continuing ed hours in order to keep my cosmetology license. When I lived in North Carolina, I could either go to some approved individual classes or attend a large hair show where a variety of classes we offered along with trend classes and shows and displays. We could earn all our hours at a show in a single weekend, but not all the classes offered at a show were qualified for state board hours.

I was warned that when I moved to South Carolina that what I was used to for earning those all important hours would not be near the same. How true that was.

In South Carolina, State Board requires 6 hours a year for keeping your professional license in my field. Classes are offered throughout the year so that we hairdressers can earn hours. They are always one day events, at least in my experience. The first two years lived up to billing.

I personally do not like my time wasted. If I have to sit in a class for six hours I would really like to walk way with something besides a bad mood and a lingering headache. At the first year, I felt that we were being patronized as the presenter figured she was so gifted and that it was an honor for us to be basking in her presence. Now granted the lady knows her craft, at least in doing hair, it was in presentation skills that she had no talent. However she didn't have a clue. The planned curriculum barely made it to the halfway point by the end of the day.

The second year, new location, same presenter. A new snag to suffer through. Too many people stuffed into a too small room. The presenter couldn't stay on the topic of hair longer then about 10 minutes before she is running down a rabbit trail of some personal little snippet of her life. I had wised up and snuck in a paper back to read. After lunch, they posted, and I am not making this up, shushers to keep us all quiet. The moment a feed back question was asked, naturally people started discussing amongst themselves, and then the shushers would start. They also had made it clear that no "outside" reading was allowed, like my book. We were supposed to pay attention. I felt like we were being treated like third graders. I still read whenever I was sure the shushers weren't looking. The planned curriculum maintained its not quite to halfway status like the previous year.

After that class, a couple of us decided that no more, we had to find another presenter to get our ed. hours. And thankfully we did, in the form of one Mary Rock. Mrs. Rock did such a good job of staying on target, giving clear concise explanations, used power point presentations, and we even managed a bit of hands on time with volunteer models. My friend Ted and I were thrilled and vowed to return this year.

This year was even better. Mary had brought models from Greenville Tech where she teaches and did hair cuts and color on both, she had great power point presentations, and also showed us several websites that offered tutorials, videos and other tools. She got through the entire agenda on time, and her two young models got to go home with some cool new looks.

We had a few ladies there that were there only to get in their time. They openly flipped through a magazine or talked a bit amongst themselves now and then. Our presenter didn't mind. She was there to teach us who were interested, and to allow others just to get in their time if that is what they chose. I still believe that everyone in the room went home with something new that they hadn't thought of before.

Guess where who's class I'm going to next year? Thanks Mary, you Rock!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Stuff! Stuff! Gimme!

Ah the latest chapter in the saga of freebies to Sylvie that began innocuously enough with a product brand name being mentioned in my weekly column over at the http://www.spartanburgspark.com/. To catch you guys up, here is what has happened thus far.

I mentioned that product, a famous brand of toilet paper, one time in a story I had written about toilet paper and the fact that I suspect my kids of using it for nefarious reasons. Why did I think that? Because it disappeared from my house so quickly. Several months later I was contacted by a marketing firm representing this particular product asking me if I would be interested in test trying a new version of the brand. Sure, I replied, its free tp.

So I get the free stuff, test it, generally like it, and sent my responses back including the asked for blog review. I also got a bonus product as a "gift" for trying. Part of that gift was a room freshener thingie that my daughter Megan really liked. It too got a mention in that review blog.

So a couple of weeks ago, I am yet again contacted from a marketing firm asking if I would like to test out a new version of the freshener stuff. More free stuff for me. Today it came via the people in brown shorts. Inside the box was a bottle of the product with a nifty gym bag and water bottle. Yeah this stuff is sports/exercise related. I guess they haven't seen the dust gathering on my pilates DVD.

So...this got me to thinking. If by a random mention of a certain product in a blog that has, that I know of NINE regular readers, what can happen if I mention stuff I'd really like to try, like Godiva chocolate? Prada? MAC make-up? Tiffany's? BMW? OOO...think of the possibilities.

Now to find some really smelly sneakers. That should be a challenge since I have no sense of smell.

Monday, October 5, 2009

It's pajama day!!!

Yep, I have declared it pajama day! I am really really tired, have been fighting a losing battle with fall allergies and just want to vegetate for a day or a year. I may or may not get anything useful accomplished except the next declaration.

Today is officially pajama day. That means I plan on staying in mine all day long no matter what. So sorry mailman if you need to deliver something to my door, sorry youngest child's boyfriend who will likely be at my house for dinner, sorry nice Jehovah's witness lady if you decide to knock on my door. My hair is uncombed, I only brushed my teeth once so far, I'm wearing over-sized sweats and a coffee stained tank top, and slightly smelly slippers, and I don't really care.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Renovation Update

Now that the painters are done, my house is no longer a continual shade of boring beige, that is if you ignore the carpet. I am well pleased with the results, and am slowly beginning the step of putting the pictures back on the walls.

We hung one of those large mirror/medicine cabinets in the master bathroom, and that was an adventure in it self. As large as the trunk of my Intrepid is, it is not large enough for the box that unit came in. Bill had to go home and get the pick-up to bring that monster home. It took a couple more trips to Lowes but it was installed and looks wonderful. A huge bonus is the increased amount of lighting in that bathroom, as the cabinet has six lights. We got the florescent bulbs, being the energy savvy peeps that we are. The only problem was finding the proper size as our unit takes the kind with skinny screw in parts. And they are not exactly cheap.

Yesterday I had my new microwave installed. Again my Intrepid almost failed me. But the new unit did squeeze into the back seat when I went to pick it up. It took the guys from Above and Beyond about an hour to install, and I was ready to nuke frozen burritos. Yes that is what I had for dinner last night.

Bill had researched microwaves and had picked this particular LG model. One of my favorite features so far is the light, that has a high and low setting. The low setting is almost like a night light. I will enjoy figuring out all the features.

When Bill gets home next time I hope to have him help me hang all the pictures and get all the paint cans out of my dining room. I just can't bring myself to brave Spider Central which is my crawl space and where we store stuff like extra paint.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Take care of your back

That simple little statement "take care of your back" is so important. Why? Because in my younger days I wasn't all that careful. Well it isn't completely my fault. I am not the most agile person on the planet, dexterity is not my forte...ok, I'm completely clumsy. As a result I have been plagued by reccurent back pain for years.

Thank goodness for a great Chiropractor who patiently works to get me in as decent shape as possible until my back betrays me again.

This time it was because of a small box weighing about 5 pounds. My lack of agility and dexterity showed up in fine form the other day at work.

Now I am waiting for insurance so I can once again set my back on the straight and narrow path again. Until then I muster on, with some over the counter pain meds and taking as much time off my feet as possible.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The great renovation phase 1.5

Ok, once I give a go-ahead, things go ahead at a fast pace. I went yesterday to the Sherwin Williams store on Asheville highway and spent an hour with the guy ordering the paint. He was most helpful as I was STILL having a hard time narrowing down the choices. I am satisfied, very much so with my choices.

Last night Megan and I removed the towel racks and the little small cabinets in her bathroom and the few things I had left in mine, and took down some of the things on the walls in the rest of the house.

This morning bright and early (8:09 AM) the crew showed up. Within a half hour the light fixture that I had needed moving since I moved in was moved. I no longer have to use a paint stick to turn on my kitchen light. The switch is now ea sily accessible instead of between the fridge and the wall with maybe 3 inches to spare. They then removed the cabinet over my stove to refit it. That will enable me to put in an undercounter microwave/vent system. More counter space for me YAY!

The sheetrock guy got right to work in the master bathroom. Already it looks better.

I need to go today and pick up the paint. Either on my lunch break or leaving early, if possible. Tomorrow painting will commence. Another YAY! I took some before pictures before the guys got here, and will post those and progress photos tonight.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The great renovation phase 1

So we have decided on doing a bit of upgrading around here. After much deliberation, a pile of phone calls and a few visits to home improvement type places we are ready to begin.

So I have offically picked out the paint colors that I will be giving to the painters for the inside of the house...at least I think so. I have been using one of those on-line tools to help you see what a color actually looks like on the walls. I have picked and rejected a paint store's worth until I narrowed it down to one color for both bathrooms, the living/dining/kitchen area color and the three bedroom colors. Trim will be pure white of course. What looks good on a paint chip may not look good on broad surfaces, or with existing things like bedding. It has taken me several weeks just narrowing down my choices to ones I think we can all live with. WHEW!

I tried to pick colors that can go with a variety of accent colors, and that will blend well with the hardwood floors that will be our final and most expensive phase of this project. Now all I have to do is wait for the painting contractor to return my call for getting things started.

Phase 2 will, for us at least, involve moving all our furniture so the people can access all the walls, and taking down the window and wall treatments. The only big pieces I need to have help with will be the entertainment center and my massive bookshelf style headboard. That headboard will need to be disassembled for moving. I won't do that until absolutely necessary but hopefully soon.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I've written in another place

As I have written earlier, we celebrated my paternal grandmother's 95th birthday a few weeks ago. As part of the festivities I wrote a few words in her honor which appeared a few days on my Miss Mom column over at http://www.spartanburgspark.com/ What I wrote was well recieved by the guests gathered and I was asked by one to write a few words in the local paper about the birthday girl. So I did.

Today I got a copy of the article and a nice thank you note in the mail from my Mama'. They didn't give me credit for the piece and there were a few changes made on some details I wasn't clear about. Everything else was verbatim what I had submitted. The paper had called Mama' and she had made those small corrections that needed to be made.

I looked at the Mitchell News-Journal's website to see if I could access the article there but their website is not that comprehensive. At least I got a hard copy.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

This is a test, this is only a test

A few months ago I wrote about toilet paper in my weekly Miss Mom column. A few weeks ago I was contacted by a marketing company asking if I would test a new version of the brand that I just so happened to mention in my column. I agreed and they sent it. They also wanted me to write a follow-up on this so here it is.

I was sent a package of Charmin's Ultra Soft toilet paper. It claims that it one will use much less of this product then the other brands, and that it is also softer then other brands. So my youngest and I decided to test it.

The reason I had written the original column was because we tended to go through tp at a rapid rate, at least when the kids used it. The promise of using less to get the same results as what my family was used to had appeal. After a week Megan and I compared notes.

We both agreed that the new toilet paper was softer. Megan gave it a hearty thumbs up for using less to get the job done. As I don't tend to use large segements of toilet paper squares to begin with, and yes I still leave the bathroom clean, I didn't notice as huge a difference as my daughter, but there was a small one.

We had also recieved a sample of a Febreeze product. This product acted like a burnless candle. IT is pretty, takes up little space, and again Megan LOVES it. I can't smell a thing so I have to take her word for it. I will probably buy another refill for her bathroom.

Would I buy this particular toilet paper on my own? Maybe if it is on sale and I am out of my regular stuff that I buy in bulk from Sam's. I know this is a quality product and I would recommend it, especially to people who's skin tends to be sensitive as the softness of the product is quite nice. I would have to do a price versus longivity study to see if switching would be good for my budget. I am a bit on the frugal side afterall.

For more on the experience of how and why I ended up being a product tester, visit http://www.spartanburgspark.com/ MyMiss Mom column on that should be posted some time today.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

buying used cars at $4500 a pop

Six days after the program started the federal Cash for Clunkers program ran out of funding. Some are calling it a huge success, but only a little over 22,000 cars were sold during that time. 22,000 people got new cars, some dealerships got some business, and the US Government purchased 22,000+ used vehicles at several times their actual value.

Yet again, those who deem it best at how to spend out tax dollars at making savvy useful purchases have proven once again their skill at finding a bargain. This "tax credit" to boost the economy and help the auto industry is a prime example of this. While congress is trying to come up with more fundings for this spectacular deal on used cars, and new car buyers are anxiously awaiting the chance to buy a car at prices closer to "after depreciation" prices, and dealerships are hoping to get rid of some inventory, while the government is in such a spending mood, I am still wondering what the feds are going to be doing with all those late model Buicks they now own?

I am not seeing any answers yet, but here are a couple of ideas.

Recycle the components of the cars, selling off the parts to help cover the cost of the program. That should net the US a few mil, and China will get more raw material to sell back to us.

Add those used cars to the real estate the feds have aquired from the banking bailout. Offer these properties with a free used car with every purchase.

Make every member of congress who travels more then 500 miles a year for fund raising efforts drive these vehicles to said fund raising efforts. Make them pump their own gas out of their personal incomes if they do so on an election year.

We'll see how all this pans out, but sheesh what a stupid idea this was. At least I think it was.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Family reunion

I have a couple of photos from the family reunion/birthday party for my Grandmother. I read a version of what will appear in tomorrow's Miss Mom as my contribution for the entertainment. One of my brothers read an original poem. Despite his disclaimer, his prose was quite nice. My sister sang, and another brother and one of my nephews did a fantabulous drum duet.

We estimated 66 people in attendance with either 39 or 40 who were just family. One of my cousins and her younger son had traveled from Utah. There were only 10 in the large King clan who were unable to attend, if I counted it correctly, and it had been five years since we'd had a gathering of that size. That had been for Mama's 90th.

So without further ado, a few photos.












The birthday girl








All five generations of King.

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Not So Fun Day.

So, I've been an allergy sufferer for years. I've taken step to limit my access to the things Im allergic to, but not completely. Hard to avoid dust mites and grass here in the south. To add to the fun, I developed asthma symptoms about a year ago.

This summer has been "fun" in the asthma realm. I never know when an episode is going to show up. I keep a rescue inhaler nearby all the time, as I've needed it about once a week. I have had some changes made to my medication in an attempt to control the symptoms, with some success until last week.

I don't know exactly what started the downhill spiral that led to today, but about a week and a half ago I started feeling lousy, wheezy, and just tired all the time. By this past Tuesday, I left work early and was at my family doc, who prescribed me a z-pack, another inhaler, and prednisone. (I LOATHE prednisone)

I opted to hold of a few days on the steroids to see if the z-pack and the new inhaler would work. By this morning I knew that was a "no" so I picked up the new meds, ran a couple errands and headed off to work.

I walked into the building and new immediately that my rescue inhaler was going to be needed before I started my shift. I grabbed a cup of coffee knowing that it often helps, used my inhaler, and then the mother of all asthma attacks hit.

For those of you who don't have asthma, let me tell you it is scary, when you can't catch your breath, and then you get dizzy, then you get scared which causes you to hyperventilate, worsening your breathing ability. My co-workers wanted to call 911. I had them call my husband, and then I managed to call my allergist who told me they'd be waiting my arrival.

By the time Bill got there, I was so dizzy I was afraid to try to walk outside, so they stuck me in a wheelchair, which just scared me all over again, and wheeled me to Bill's truck.

May I mention that the folks at Allergy Partners of the Foothills off of Skyland Drive are phenomenal? They were waiting and ready for me, had me in a room and on a nebulizer in less then ten minutes. It would have been faster but I'd been drinking so much water that morning, that I had to pee about as bad as I had to breathe. Within about 20 minutes, things had calmed down greatly and I could actually speak in sentences again. They sent me home with a new toy, my very own nebulizer which I used again this evening. The entire staff was very kind and supportive. Thank you so much.

Much gratitude also goes to my boss and my co-workers who helped where they could to help me feel better until my knight in shining armor arrived. They are awesome people to work with, and it was great to know they were there to help, especially as I was quite frightened. Bill, well he was so calm throughout. He tucked me into bed afterwards, picked up my new prescription, went to the grocery and even cooked me dinner.

I am still tired, somewhat wheezy, but that should ease off as the Prednisone does its job of reducing the inflammation in my lungs, while puffing me up like an irritable blow fish. The nebulizer will likely get a few more uses until this all blows over, then it will be my handy back-up plan for those really tough days.

Hopefully, I'll get this thing under control. I don't like being out of control, so its been somewhat frustrating.. We are looking into more ways to to trigger avoidance on the things we know bother me. And I'll be diligent with my medicines. I am also working to try to eat much healthier. I want to resume exercise again, but I got to stop needing my inhaler when I do a yoga pose. I am still needing a work-out nazi. You know the person who makes you get on that exercise bike and not get off until you've pedaled at least three miles? Any takers for the position??

I'm still navigating uncharted waters with this, so I'll be asking lots of questions, learning along the way, and continuing to fight this. I told Bill last night, that even when I don't feel great, I try to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Its just nice to know I have people helping me along.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Big weekend ahead

Tomorrow starts a big weekend for us here at the Galloway house. First will be my son, his girlfriend and her little boy coming for a week long visit. Yep we'll be a bit crowded around the place but it will be wonderful to spend time with my eldest and his little family.

Then there will be Sunday when the King clan all gathers in Spruce Pine, NC for the purpose of celebrating the birthday of one of our members. My grandmother, who will be 95 years young on that day. We will be celebrating with food, BBQ style and King induced entertainment. Meaning we will be doing goofy skits, singing and playing songs, and watching what the younger generation of our clan does at the shores of the small lake were we will be meeting.

I wish I had managed to sneak in a week off during all of this, but I didn't find out Mike's plans until too late and by then vacation slots for my department were already grabbed up.

I'll be putting up pictures of the birthday party next week, and there will be a tribute to my Mama' that will appear in next week's Miss Mom column. I am reading a version of it as my contribution to the entertainment. That is if my dad doesn't rope me into doing a silly skit.

Stay tuned.

Friday, July 10, 2009

What Price Fame?

I have been writing my Miss Column for several months now. It is a project I find highly rewarding on a personal, creative level, and Steve Shanafelt, my esteemed editor at where my rambling are found deems my work worthy enough to pay me for what I submit. Granted its just a stipend, but HEY, I'm a published and compensated writer.

Being somewhat neurotic and concerned that I am taking up print space, I wonder often if anyone even reads my stuff. I have recently been assured by friends and family that at least they do and actually enjoy the goings on I tell about at the Galloway abode. Plus my editor told me that the site does get a healthy supply of visitors on Tuesdays when the articles come out.

This week I got a bit of a surprise. Out of the blue I get an email about a piece I had written way back in March. The column in question was entitled The Great TP war. It was about our struggles to keep toilet paper on the holder in the bathrooms in our house. I mentioned a famous brand of toilet paper once during the story, knowing that it is often synonymous with toilet paper in general, not that at the time, I'd been using that particular brand.

The email was from a marketing firm. Apparently someone had seen the article and the fact that brand X was mentioned. They offered to send me a sample kit of a new product line they carried. I emailed my editor, and as usual, he didn't reply. (I know Steve, you are a busy dude), . So I asked a few friends one of whom is in publishing herself. Everyone said, "Hey, its free toilet paper, you know how expensive that stuff is." So I emailed the person back and accepted the offer. Little squares wrapped around a tube will likely be arriving at my house in a few weeks.

So, is there more to come? Will my next column catch the attention of a cereal company and they send a years supply of sugar bomb cereal? Will a cruise ship company think that I am in dire need of a free vacation? Will a Hollywood producer be so enamored by my story of my long embittered fight with head lice in my children's hair that he sees the strong possibility of a tv series? (I do need to post that story someday)


Who knows, but at least that my fame has garnered me free stuff...uhm, that you flush....and that is safe for septic tanks.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Love them Anyway

I have been taking part in an online discussion that followed an article about the local Gay pride rally that was recently held here in Spartanburg. As was reported the event was a peaceful one, and protesters were civil and restrained, as were the marchers.

Where things got heated was in this particular discussion.

I found it quite interesting how some people, who claim to be people of honor and integrity will throw those ideals right out the window when the encounter people who's views differ from theirs.

I really shouldn't be surprised, as I have been part of discussion boards for years and have even taken a stint as a chat room monitor (yeah I am a glutton for punishment)

As was the case with this discussion there were a variety of views on the subject surrounding the march and gay rights in particular. Most people were very respectful about the topic, even those that were not supporters. I for one was very happy that the event was a peaceful one, and that hopefully people would realize that, although one may not agree with someone's lifestyle, respect for each other as individuals, friends, co-workers, family members etc. could be had. One doesn't have to agree with the lifestyle of a person to recognize the value they hold as members of our community, that really has little to do with that lifestyle.

One individual in this discussion took a totally different approach. He or she was strongly anti-gay rights, in fact very anti-gay people. I can understand his views, as it is a life choice that still doesn't make me all that comfortable, despite knowing and befriending people who have chosen that way of life. However I couldn't begin to agree with him on any level at all. Where this individual and I sharply parted ways is his refusal to accept these folks as people, and of having any value whatsoever.

I found that quite tragic. To him having a relative, or a friend who just happened to be gay was just as bad as being gay...Huh?? As I have both and respect these folks highly for all sorts of reasons that have nothing to do with their sexual orientation, I couldn't fathom the vehemence thrown. I believe what my pastor is fond of saying. "To God, everyone matters." I just couldn't understand why this person couldn't see that. I believe that God loves everyone utterly and completely, its some of the decisions we make that he is much less then fond of.

As I said before, I shouldn't be surprised that there are people out there who's view of the world simply won't allow for people that don't line up to what they want. Bigotry and hatred have been around a very long time, and unfortunately it ain't going away soon. My views on gay rights will remain private for the most part as I prefer trying to find common ground with the people I encounter. Personal lifestyle choices are often very personal and private. I try not to let those choices get in the way of trying to treat other with kindness and dignity.

I have learned that often God places people and situations before us to teach us. One of these vital lessons, I believe is how to be a better lover of people. There are lot of things that people do that I feel they shouldn't, or that I believe are harmful or foolish, and I am sure that others may find the same in me. But it shouldn't matter. Scripture commands me to love my neighbor, period. It ain't easy, but it so worthwhile. If a former Jewish carpenter could love a planet full of people enough to give up his life for us, then why should I think I'm too good to at least try to accomplish a fraction of the love he exuded?

A favorite poem comes to mind with these thoughts. Mother Theresa is credited with these words, and they are words I try and often fail at yet keep trying to live by.

People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Be good anyway.

Honesty and frankness will make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People need help, but may attack you if you try to help them.
Help them anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

My weekend with some politics tossed in

Well usually my weekend is fairly boring. Work on Saturday, Church Sunday morning then having the kids over for laziness and food, and on Monday catching up on chores and laundry preparing for my work week.

This weekend was a bit different. I took Saturday off. Something rare. Caught up around the house then headed to Brevard NC for a planning dinner with my husband's classmates. We went to The Twin Dragon. Its about the best Chinese Buffet in the south. The dinner was for preliminary planning for Bill's and his classmates 30th high school reunion.

Then we went to his folks for the night.

Sunday we got up and went to church with them, and got to see people I hadn't seen since I moved away three years ago. Then back to the in laws for too much awesome Mom-in-law cooking and relaxing on the front porch.

In the back of my mind were thoughts political. On the way up to NC I had been discussing with Bill about the local political scene and how I just wanted to do something to help make things better. I blurted out, "heck, I've even considered running for local office." To which Bill replied, "well you should." The more I think about it, the scarier that concept seems.

I know nothing of the process of running for office or what it would take to have that responsibility. Or even if I would make for a good school board or county commissioner member. It's just a thought. My talents may be better served elsewhere, but I am certain that I want to work, however I can, to help make my home and my community a better one. If it ultimately means tossing my hat in the ring, so be it.

I will have to give it some consideration, research and a whole heap of prayer. In the meantime. I will be burning up my keyboard sharing my opinions on local matters over at http://www.spartanburgspark.com.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

a new writing venture

As some of you know I do a bit of writing outside the occasional blog. I have even been paid minuscule amounts for my work, and I do have about five fans who follow my weekly column over at the Spartanburg Spark. Recently I delved into the realm of playwright.

Every year my church puts on an event for the kids. It's kind of like VBS with slime and slippy slides. We do a stage production with music and drama, some lesson time then the kids go outside to play games involving getting wet and dirty. I have been part of the drama team for four years now.

Usually we buy scripts from a place for this. IT is the same company we use for our children's services during the school year. However it was decided to use more original material. All well and good as the concepts were sound. What was lacking as we neared the event was actual scripts for several of the segments. That is where yours truly came in.

I've been editing existing scripts for over a year, making them work with our cast and individual audience needs. This was the first time that I had ever attempted to write a skit from scratch. I ended up writing three in just over a week, with a little editing help from a friend who has a theater background. I must say it was quite the experience seeing what I had envisioned and put to paper being demonstrated for all to see. No one booed at the end, or had fallen asleep so I guess my playwriting skills are ok, of course the actors did quite well too.

I just may have to try writing an original drama again some day soon

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

busy busy busy

Yes, once again, I have a bad case of the busies. I got a lot to do and not enough time to get to it all. What I'd like to do is run away with a stack of books from the library and not come up for air for about a week. Of course that isn't possible right now, I got too much to do.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

rain rain go away, someone needs to mow the grass today

Today's forecast again calls for rain. Now I know we shouldn't complain too much about the abundance of rainfall as our area has been in a severe drought for the past few years. It is heartening to see our lakes and streams begin to return to normal water levels, and I am sure farmers are delighted that their crops are enjoying the benefits of this mild and wet spring.

Secretly I am kind of happy it is raining every day, for one reason. I can't mow the grass, a chore I very much do NOT enjoy. However if it doesn't let up soon, I will need to hire a bushhog as my weed infested yard is growing taller and taller by the day. Bill just mowed it last week and already the grass is taller then before he took a mower to it.

Maybe it won't rain today and I can tackle the lawn in the morning, but then maybe I will be "forced"' to have to wait till Saturday. I just need to remind myself as I drag out the mower that I am burning calories, getting in shape, toning those muscles, breathing in pollen, wanting a drink, wishing I had self cutting grass...

You know what I mean.

Friday, May 8, 2009

allergy rant....again

Ok, I knew allergies were kicking my tail, but not how bad. I failed an asthma test today, the doc refused to give me my allergy shots because I was wheezing, and he changed all my medicine because apparently my intermittent asthma has now progressed, or downgraded to more persistent symptomatic asthma...crap, was afraid of that. I have to wait until Monday to get my allergy shots and then go back to see the doc in three weeks to see if the meds are doing their job.

No wonder I have been so damned exhausted all the time, and have the energy of a turnip that has sat in the fridge too long. I apologize for my increased grumpiness and decreased brain clarity.

On the plus side these new medications should be a bit easier on my wallet, and hopefully open up my lungs so I can do what so many take for granted..breath freely. I want to be Supergirl, able to toss back, with a laugh, all those things that puny frail humans have to endure, being immune to any ailments. But no, I am one of those puny humans...really puny...curses!

Now where's that inhaler?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

how fast they grow.

My granddaughter was over this morning, and I was amazed at how much more she can do. It seems that every week, she is learning a new word or skill. She knows exactly where toddler appropriate foods are stored, where all her toys are kept, that Pappy is who she gets to talk to on my cell phone, and that the little drawer on the tv stand in my office is where we keep her play jewelry. Also her hugs have developed to "guaranteed to melt your heart" status.

Little Helene' is becoming quite the mimic. She very much enjoyed "helping" me apply eyeshadow and know just where it goes, it is only in the actual application that she hasn't mastered. But my forehead did get some pretty colors on it. She will sit and let you paint her fingernails and toe nails, and loves my blush brush. Yes, she's becoming quite the girly girl.

What made me laugh today was her discovery of a travel size bottle of Ban deodorant left over from my recent trip to Charleston (side note, GO to that city, take the sailboat tour, you won't regret it) Anyway, as I watched, that kid was trying to figure out how to get the roll-on under her shirt in the general direction of her armpit.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Andromeda

My daughter Ashley, the new bride, called me today. She is somewhat frustrated, and I can sympathize. She is trying to adjust to life on her own, go to school work, take care of a child, adjust to married life, try to keep her apartment in a state they can at least walk through, and keep up with one small cat.


The cat broke Ashley's last straw. Andromeda is not the neatest little cat in the world. She scatters her litter, she jumps up on stuff and breaks things, wakes you up in the middle of the night by using your nose as a scratching post, and today her messy toilet habits prompted the immediate need for a kitty bath.


Feeling completely overwhelmed, Ashly asked me if I would be willing to take Andromeda back home. She felt bad about it, but I didn't mind. I am used to kids, to messes, to less then helpful around the house spouses, and I am used to pets, and I long ago got used the fact that my house rarely sees completely clean status.


Little Drama was a rescue brought home by my youngest child. She was the second rescue we had adopted, the first being Chernobyll. This cat was a scruffy disaster, ear mites, fleas, dirt and skinny to boot. It didn't take long for the gorgeous cat she was destined to be to become apparent, however, and soon she was ruling the nest despite being half the size of my other two.


When Ashley and Derek found their townhouse, Derek wanted to take a cat over to the place. As he was there for a couple of months before Ashley and Helene's moved in, he thought having a kitty would help him feel less lonely. Well it didn't, as he spent most of his time here with us. Of my three cats, he picked Andromeda. They tried taking Chernobyll as well, but poor Nobyll takes to any life adjustments badly very badly. She lasted 4 hours away, before I had to go fetch her home.


Andromeda stayed in the town house just three months. Long enough to gain weight and get used to being the top cat around the place. Now we all have to adjust. I had just gotten used to a three cat home, so I adjusted once again to a two cat house, now its three again. At least I gained a new kitty condo, more food and litter and a better litter box out of the deal. The newlyweds gained one less entity to clean up after. Helene' will have one more kitty to chase and harrass when she comes and visits. The felines in question? Well after they stop posturing and snarling at each other they will proceed to steal all the covers off my bed when I sleep. Andromeda will soon learn how to be an effective alarm clock, and changing the litter box will be done more frequently now



Sunday, April 19, 2009

She keeps staring at my plate

Ok, I have two cats, Luna-tic aka, jabba the Kitty, aka the White slug, the cat that is famous in my house for the ability to shed her body weight in hair in a single week, and Chernobyll, aka, dammitcat the third, who's pungeunt litterbox deposits are the reasons for her namesake.

Luna the older and wiser kitty only want my attention to be petted or to help pin me to my bed in the middle of the night. Chernobyll is much more attentive, especially when I am eating. It doesn't matter if it is something remotely appealing to a feline palette, she is interested in what is on my plate, and will stare at it, while trying to inch in closer, in hopes I don't notice so she can jump up and sneak in a bite. I've even caught her trying to dip her whiskers into my morning coffee.

Now this cat is hardly hurting for kibbles. I fill the bowl daily, and each greedy puss gets a spoonful of gooshy food every morning. Nobyll, just things what's on my plate is far more interested then salmon flavored tidbits. She knows well that the only plates that she is allowed to eat off are ones I have placed on the floor. Maybe that was a bad idea, cause I think that she isn't quite satisfied with just licking off the taste of my dinner. She'd just rather have my dinner.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sylvie Delves into the world of fiction

A couple of years ago I wrote the following short story. I was going through some old files and found it again. I wonder if I should try more of this or stick with my usual writing style, enjoy.

Alter Ego
A short story by Sylvie Galloway

Standing under the lights with a slight breeze blowing my hair, I raise my hand and wave at my fans before going inside. Life as a best selling author/supermodel/crime fighter maybe exhausting, but moments like this make it all worthwhile. However this was a working day. Even though it was, by all appearances my attending an after premier party for the movie that was made from my latest novel. I was also on the trail of a thief, a person who was known to steal things of great value and resell them to people of even more nefarious reputations.

The thief’s target, my sources told me was the Kalamazoo emerald, being worn this evening by the star of the movie. The skinny was that an international arms dealer had expressed a desire for the necklace, and was willing to exchange some very nasty missiles in exchange. I had etched into my memory two things, pictures of a village one of those missiles had destroyed with horrific results, and a picture of the suspected thief.

My job was to attempt to keep the necklace from being stolen. Sigh, babysitting jewelry, I’d much prefer catching the thief, and seeing him locked up for good. There was only one problem, the man everyone suspected of being the thief was a dead ringer for Hugh Jackman, yummy biceps and all. Part of me wanted to catch him to see his thieving butt rot in jail, part of me just wanted to catch him…

Giving my head a small shake, I went back to concentrating on the task at hand. Although I wasn’t fond of the necklace-wearing movie star, I had to try to keep close, that is if I could get past her entourage. Smiling and greeting people as I made my way gracefully into the ballroom I looked to see I could see the thief, as well as keeping one eye on the actress. The actress, whom I could overhear, talking about how her role in the movie was such an improvement over what I had written about the character. She forgets who also wrote the damned screenplay. The same actress who’s last four movies had been blockbuster flops. The studio did her a favor giving her the role, and they got her cheap to boot.

Just then I caught a glimpse of the thief, leaning up against a wall, handsome as the day is long, looking like he hadn’t a care in the world. “Why couldn’t he be an ugly thief?” I thought to myself. I also noticed that he was watching the actress keenly, watching every move she made. “Aha, you just think you are going to get that necklace.” I thought, knowing I had him. I turned and noticed that the actress had finally separated herself from her entourage and was heading to one of the outer room with her leading man/current lover. I excused myself and started to follow, noticing out of the corner of my eye, that the thief was doing the same.

I was just about to follow the couple into a courtyard when my arm was grabbed from behind, and I found myself not only pulled into another room, but in the arms of that oh so handsome thief. “Don’t you think you can steal that necklace,” He said, “I can’t let you do that.” It took me a moment to get over the double shock. The first, being in the arms of the thief, and then him accusing ME of being the thief. Recovering, I replied, “Me? Steal that necklace? Hardly. My intention is to keep you from taking it.” Right about then he traced one finger along my jaw-line, smiled at me and said “meow.”

Meow??

My eyes flew open, and there on my chest sat my cat! She was naturally, wanting breakfast. A dream! It was all a dream. I’m not a supermodel/crime fighter. I am an author, but best selling? Hardly. I am 43, not fat, but quite fluffy, a mom, a wife of a wonderful man, and I couldn’t move gracefully across a room if my life depended on it. Grumbling, I stumbled out of bed, grumpily trudging to the food bowl, then trying not to trip over the cat went to make my first cup of coffee for the day.


Friday, April 10, 2009

Sylvie does a bit of sermonizing

I've been reading a lot lately about religion and politics, especially in light of the latest round of elections. These articles and commentaries about have me convinced that when it comes to certain topics, we as a nation are more polarized then ever, and I find it quite sad.

I wonder if faith should have a place in the political arena at all. Well not exactly, faith does belong there, but not in the vein one has seen it lately. I am of the mind that some have missed the point of what it is we Christians are supposed to do when we see things we think should be different. It looks like we've become a people of accusing, name calling finger pointers instead of people of respectful, graciousness with a strong desire to help.

Maybe it is because of the time of year. But I always take the time to reflect as where I am as a person and as a Christian. How have I done this past year? Have I lived up to the true principles of my faith, or have I been a detriment to the purpose I've been given? Likely a little of both. However I know it is best to follow that simple command from a former Jewish carpenter. "Love God with every fiber of your being, and love everyone around you as much as you love you." That second part is the stickler for me and I'm sure for many others, but it is so important.

I read the other day where some in the religious right think that their movement has been a failure. It sounds almost like they are taking their toys and going home in a snit. I happen to agree with the article actually. The movement by Dr. Dobson and others have been, in my opinion focusing on the wrong things, and compromising in places just so "The other guys" don't get elected. I wish instead they had focused on more relevent topics, like working to help keep christian marriages strong so the divorce rates amongst Christians don't equal or exceed secular rates. Or, encouraging parental involvement in the schools, asking them to volunteer to sit on PTO's or to help kids with homework, or to make schools work because we parents want them to. Or focusing on teaching and championing healthy sexual relationships, teaching that sex is part of a relationship, NOT just the relationship; and showing compassion, respect and love, so that a girl, when faced with an unexpected pregnancy, has support from others and then makes abortion the last choice, not the first.

For the other side? Willingess to help others on the social spectrum is an awesome things, but teaching them to stand on their own so they too can help others is even better. Also that they remember that personal choice does have a cost. Every action has an effect, so lets minimize any long term negative effects just so one can have their freedom. Personal freedoms do come with personal reponsibility, one must never forget that. We may be individuals, but so is your neighbor. You love our enviroment, so lets be practicle about getting to solutions, and demonstrate better your willingness to use those solutions.


For both sides? Please just stop looking badly at each other and instead find ways to work together, if possible on finding real solutions to real problems, like ensuring great education for our schools, like teaching better financial practices to people so the current situation doesn't make a repeat, like encouraging and implementing smart, realistic solutions to local enviromental issues, like championing volunteerism in every spectrum, and helping people so that they can soon not need so much help so that the government can ease its burdens to help those in need.

Whether you are a Christian or not, being kind and respectful to those around us, being stewards of the land we find ourselves in, being willing to engage in pro-active dialoge and action to help our communities benefits all, and has a much greater impact then some political or religious pundit stating their opinions.

I'll leave you with this, from my favorite bible translation. It is what I will try to follow the upcoming year.

1 Peter 2:17 (The Message)

13-17Make the Master proud of you by being good citizens. Respect the authorities, whatever their level; they are God's emissaries for keeping order. It is God's will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think you're a danger to society. Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government.

Yeah it's a tough one, but imagine if more people did this?

Ok, my sermon is done. Have a great Easter everyone.

Monday, March 30, 2009

just an hour at the park

Today I ran a few errands then took little Helene to Cleveland Park. I'd never been there myself, but she has, as some of the photos I've been given show. I was pleasantly surprised what a pretty place it is, and look forward to doing a bit of exploring minus someone with extremely short legs. It is very well maintained and has a lot to offer from what I see.

The play area was quite neat and clean. There were two sections, one for larger children and one for smaller tykes complete with the biggest sandbox I'd ever seen. Seriously cool. If only I was a kid again.....There was also plenty of grassy area for kids to run, and little creek along one edge. What a great setting.

Helene watched the other kids play for awhile, then I put her on the swing. That is where she spent the rest of our time, as she didn't want to get off the thing. After about 45 minutes of swinging walking around, looking hard at the slide but not being quite brave enough to try going down one, swinging her little heart out,Helene' was starting to get tired. Sure enough, she didn't protest being picked up and set back into her car seat. In fact as soon as we pulled out of the parking lot, that certain droopy eyed look was present. By the time we passed Spartan Regional Hospital she was in lala nap land.

Someone told me there was another playground in Converse Heights. I will take her there soon, and this time I'll remember to pack a picnic lunch for the two of us.













Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ask the President

I read this morning where the White House has opened up a Q & A for the public. You can ask the president questions on a variety of topic and vote on already submitted questions as to whether you like them or not.

There are the usual "legalize marijuanna" questions, which would do little, in my opinion to benefit the average taxpayer, the economy or our farms. However there are some sound questions about education, the economy, health care, and other topics that people have submitted. I asked two myself

The first was a question I have yet to hear an answer to. Where is the funding coming from for all the spending on these stimulus packages? AND, if the president pushes a greener more frugal lifestyle, what is the White House doing to practice what they preach, such as turning off lights, lowering thermostats, watching office supply use, etc?

Check it out.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/openforquestions/

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Fun with zip files.

I shot some video using a borrowed camera last weekend of my daughter Ashley's wedding. There wasn't much footage as the ceremony was quite brief, but there was enough that it was enough to work with.

After talking it over with Michael, my eldest we decided to send him the video files so he could edit it into something worth having and sharing. There was a small problem, the three files, or three scenes were too large to email normally. That meant I needed to condense them. He suggested the software to download and I was off...or so I thought. The first try just made a same sized copy of the sizes, so another session with Michael, who by the way does this sort of thing daily for a living.

He then suggested some parameters to use which would make those files work just perfectly. There was only one small problem. Do you realize when you are looking at condensing kilobytes a couple of zeros on your parameter setting can make a huge difference in your outcome? Well now my new copy of those three original video files has been fragmented into 69,000 files. Yes you read it right, a six followed by a nine nine followed by three zeros! He messed up on the conversion and told me the wrong parameters. OOPS!

Do you know how long it takes to delete 69,000 unwanted fragmented video files? When I find out, I'll let you know. Then I'll try to zip those original files again.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

My new office

My daughter hasn't even been gone a week and already her former bedroom is now my new office. Yes, as soon as the "I Do's" were said and we all went home, I was making the space once occupied by Ashley's and Helene's stuff mine...all mine.

The nearly empty closet will soon house much of the stuff that was crowding my closet. Stuff like storage boxes full of paper records that my husband just refuses to let me throw out, and other various sundry junk so I can actually have room to store my shoes in my own closet.

I am also on the hunt for a nice file cabinet and a bookshelf, and maybe even a combination of both, so I can upgrade from the crappy plastic file box and beat up metal bookshelf I possess now.

My bedroom now has more space and looks more like a bedroom instead of the family stuff catch all. I still have things to do but I see progress. My youngest gave me a couple of frame photos for my birthday, I'll figure out where to put them later.

All this activity is helping me not miss the two people who no longer live here as much. It sure is quiet without them here so much.

Friday, March 13, 2009

I is a Mommy In Law

Today my daughter and her fiance stood before a probate judge in a tiny courtroom and said their vows while their family stood by snapping photos as quick as the batteries would let the cameras recharge.

We all dressed up some, the bride, groom and their little daughter the most to celebrate this momentous occasion. The ceremony only took a few moments, there was no music or fanfare, just two people obviously in love declaring their love and commitment to each other. It was perfect.

My daughter was decidedly nervous before the event, as she realized that she was jumping headfirst into the world with out the mommy/daddy net, but once she stood by her new husband it was obvious she was sure she made the right choice. In fact neither of them could stop grinning at each other.

I am now sitting in her former bedroom, gathering up what few items remain to be packed up to move to her new home, as I sit at my computer. Yes, not even married a day and her old room is now my new office. It is still a work in process, but once done this room will be a nice guestroom/office space. At least I beat her daddy to the room, he'll just have less of a space to turn into his man cave.

Congratulations Derek and Ashley, Mom and dad are proud of your both.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Wait just a minute here

Was I dreaming or did we have four inches of snow on the ground just last week? Did my power then go out for 48 hours and my house get on the frosty side of chilly that evening? Did I struggle to keep a kerosene heater at a high enough level to add some warmth to the house, but not so high that it set of my smoke detector?

I wonder that because today it is 84 absolutely gorgeous degrees outside. My air conditioner is running, and I put a short sleeve t-shirt and shorts on my granddaughter so she could play outside.

I hope that I don't wake up next Monday to a completely different weather scenario, but I won't be surprised if I do. After all that is Spring here in the south.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

8 days and counting

We are now officially in the homestretch towards W day. Again its a simple affair with a get together the next day, but there is still so much to do.

The bridal shower was a success. Despite the horrific weather we had a nice turnout and everyone had a good time. The bride got some nice gifts and are things she will need for her new home.

She is decidedly nervous about stepping out from under Mom and Dad's wings, but at the same time excited of this new stage of her life.

So what is next on the agenda? This weekend, they will be moving most of the contents out of Ashley's room to the townhouse they are renting, and turning the place from a bachelor pad to a family abode. I still have nothing to wear as all the dresses I see are either ugly, not my size, in black or just plain old don't fit my rather fluffy frame. Hopefully I'll find something this weekend.

It still hasn't quite hit me that change is afoot, even though I see the makings of that change all around me. I am sure it will soon enough.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Technology rockS!

So, we had lots of rain, followed by four inches of snow. Now for here in the south four inches of snow is a big deal. Last evening our power flickered off and on for several hours before giving up for good about 12:30.

This morning I got out our old kerosene heater, and proceeded to wake up the entire family as it kept setting off the smoke detector. Snarly looks greeted me soon after. I then called Duke Power and was informed that I should have power about 5pm.

So now what to do? We have no internet, no heat, no electricity. I needed to do laundry, turn in a project, and really needed to muck out the fridge. Instead we took the toddler outside for a brief snow laden foray. Then we later moved cars from the back yard. They were placed there yesterday to make room for some guests. After making the backyard a mush pit, we decided to build a snowman.

Close to five, I called Duke Power again. Now they said, "The time your power will be restored is undetermined". Oh oh. So we loaded up the little one and went to Ashley's fiancee's townhouse for showers and so mommy and baby could stay somewhere warm. When we were almost there, we got the call, that the lights were back on.

So now I am catching up on all the things I missed, like heat (toes still frozen), what is going on at Facebook and the other sites I frequent. I'd be doing laundry, but the youngest beat me to the washing machine. I am just glad I don't have to use that kerosene heater anymore. Those things scare me, and I wasn't looking forward to having to leave it on all night.

So I went 18 hours with a few things I take for granted. Please don't ask me to do it again anytime soon.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

14 days and counting

In just two weeks, well actually less as today is nearly over, so lets say 13 and a half, one of my kids will be saying "I do" as she marries her sweetie. It is just a very simple civil ceremony but MAN do we have so much to do, like get all her stuff packed up as well as the toy strewing toddler's.

Tomorrow is her bridal shower. We have 15 confirmed people planning on showing up, to enjoy punch, treats and watching Ashley open up presents. My living room is small, so it will be a tight fit. However I think a good time will be had by all.

Tonight we are going to do some food prep, and work to get the house company ready. The bride to be has a horrible cold, and we have dosed her up with healthy doses of medicine, and she is commanded to rest and only do minor picking up.

If I am distracted, grumpy or irritable in the next few weeks, forgive me. Life is rather busy at the moment.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I gots a purpose

My church is doing a study on the book The Purpose Driven Life. I had read through most of it a few years ago, but had gotten bogged down about halfway through it. This time however it is easier. Maybe it is because I have other people reading through it with me.

The study facilitator also sends us all an email every day with commentary and thoughts on each day's reading. Several of us have also submitted our own comments as well, and every week we break into smaller groups to discuss what we have read the past week. I had to miss last week, and will this one as well due to family events.

The first time through I also followed each day with a journal entry, that I had gotten as a companion to the PDL book. Rereading those entries has also been a help as I can see that what I wrote 4 years ago is still relevant today.

One of the things this book has taught me is personal focus in how I conduct my life. It made me think of how I treat others, How I view faith, and how I handle adversity. I know I must treat others exceedingly well, even if I don't feel like it or want to. I need to remember that they have hopes, dreams, feelings, and are as deserving of love and respect as I am. It's a tough challenge to do that to each person every single day, and I fail often at the treat people well thing, but, I know God is patient with me. He's got to be, as I mess up all the time.

My faith? Well it is quite personal and very unique to me. I have learned that faith comes in all shapes and sizes. Some folks need strong structure, traditional settings and more restrictive rules to live faith by, others need the opposite, and even more others fall somewhere in between. I need to respect that, and not expect others to view faith and religion as I do. All I can do is gently share it and use my actions to demonstrate what I believe.

Lastly, facing adversity. Yeah I worry, and fret, and play "what if?" when things don't go as I'd like, but I've noticed that I tend to do that more with the little things, then the big things. Like my surgery last year and my daughter Ashley's a few months later? Somehow I just knew that no matter what we'd be ok, that God had things planned out way ahead of time for our recovery. That assurance was just what I needed, and I am certain I didn't come to that conclusion all by myself. Thanks God!

I look forward to reading the rest of this book as tomorrow's reading will make the point where I gave up last time around. It has been a refreshing experience to my soul, and has helped me refocus where I have unwittingly slacked off.

Friday, February 20, 2009

I need to turn the blowtorch onto low

Yes, I've been burning both ends of my candle with a blowtorch again. But let me explain. I have work, I have a column to write, I have lines to learn for a drama thing, I have a toy strewing toddler underfoot, I have a house in desperate need of cleaning, and I have a child getting married in two weeks. That means that next Sunday my house needs to be company ready for a bridal shower, and that we need to help Ashley get her and Helene's things all packed and moved, as well as finish getting Helene's room painted before hand.

My bod gave me a warning last week, by throwing out my back. It enforced a temporary slowdown physically. I gave myself three days, to recoup. Yeah I know its not enough, but it will have to do for a couple of weeks. At least my chiropractor is definately added to my go visit list more frequently then usual right now.

Oh wait, gotta go. I just discovered that the toddler has happily emptied the contents of my purse.