Saturday, December 31, 2005

2005 - The Year In Review

Well, another year has almost come to an end.

2005 was a fairly "difficult" year for me in many ways - -

** My co-worker, Betty, retired after 6-1/2 years of she and I working so well together. I miss her so much, but I'm happy for her. She is enjoying life "on the outside", spending time in her garden and seeing her granddaughters a lot more now. Someday it will be MY turn . . . *sigh*

** They decided not to replace Betty when she retired. We have a very busy office, and she and I were always swamped. But instead of replacing her, they gave my boss an assistant to help her out. I'm all for that, because she is a VERY busy lady in a VERY busy office. HOWEVER - - the situation now is very different; instead of ONE administrator with TWO administrative assistants, it is TWO administrators with ONE very stressed-out administrative assistant . . .

And they wonder why I'm on Prozac????? *sheesh*

** The year is ending on a sad note for me. The past week has been a very difficult one. I have two friends that have been on my mind constantly - -

One was (yes, past tense) a retired administrator from the public school district, where I used to work. After retiring in the early 90's, he came back for a short time when the personnel director (my boss), was called up to active duty and sent over to Iraq for Operation Desert Storm. He was a very kind man and wonderful to work for. He was my boss for 6 months, and it was good. Since then, I would see him around town periodically, and it was always nice to get to talk to him and catch up on things. He was very involved in community activities, and was president of the county fair board of directors. In fact, he was very instrumental in putting the fair back in the black and kept it going for many years. One of the fundraisers he helped organize was bingo, to help raise funds for the fair. Last week, he and the other volunteers were cleaning up after bingo was over. All the volunteers except him and one other man were outside putting trash in the dumpsters. A masked man came into the building, shot him in the chest, and stole the small fire safe he was carrying with the bingo proceeds in it. My friend died at the hospital 20 minutes later. No one except him and the other man saw anything. Leads are nearly non-existent at this point. Needless to say, I'm upset, and more than a little angry.

The same day this happened, I received a phone call from another friend's husband, telling me that my friend was in the hospital, and had been there for FOUR MONTHS! She is dealing with many, many problems with her health, and they are not sure when she will be able to come back home. This situation is a long story, and will probably require a post of its own. Let's just say that there is a LONG history here, that I have known my friend since I was 18, and do not want anything to do with her husband. I do not like him, and do not feel that I can trust him. I cannot bring myself to be around him, and because of this, it has been over 10 years since I have been to see my friend. We do keep in touch by phone, cards, and letters, but we have not spent any time together. I cannot say any more than that at this time. HOWEVER - - once I found out about her being in the hospital, I made a point of getting over there and seeing her. We spent a LONG time together, did a lot of catching up, and I will see her again soon. But not when her husband is around. Period. More about this later.

The whole year has not been bad, though. We have had lots of good experiences also:

** Hubby Steve and I got our house plans drawn up, finalized, and blueprints made. We are now in the process of receiving bids from the contractors we contacted. Hopefully we will be deciding on a contractor sometime in January. I have another *blog* describing this project - - check it out sometime.

** Our grandsons are growing up big and strong and healthy, keeping everyone (especially mom and dad!) on their toes. They are my little men . . . .

** After many years of wanting one and not seeing any way of obtaining one, I was able to get the vehicle of my dreams. Thanks to Dear Hubby Steve and his knowledge of vehicles, we were able to get an incredible deal on a 2005 Jeep Liberty! It's my "baby" - - drives great, gets me through anything, and I just LOVE it! :-)

** I was given the opportunity to do some more teaching this year - - Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and some other Intro courses. Each class is offered through our Non-Credit division, and each one only lasts for 2 sessions. It's good experience, and a little extra "pocket change" never hurts! I would never want to teach full-time - - I definitely do NOT have the patience level for that! - - but doing this on a part-time basis is okay.

** Made an "A" in my Webpage classes, and will (hopefully!) have my website up and running shortly after the first of the year (oh my gosh - - that's TOMORROW, isn't it??? Guess I better get busy . . . . ).

Well, there you have it - - quite an "interesting" year - - some good, some bad. But thankfully, Hubby Steve and I and our families are well and healthy, we have wonderful friends that enrich our lives, and overall, life is pretty darned good.

I hope 2006 is a good year, not just for Steve and I, but for everyone.


Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Ahhhh - - Winter Break! It's A Wonderful Thing . . . .

Don't get me wrong - - I love my job. But Winter Break is the time I get my batteries "recharged". That's a GOOD thing. I haven't even THOUGHT of my job since Campus closed at 5:00 p.m. last Thursday.

And I don't plan on thinking about it until Campus re-opens next Tuesday at 8:00 a.m. :-)

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Fa La La La La . . .

It's Christmas Eve!

It's going to be a GREAT Holiday season this year. Campus closed at 5 PM Thursday, Dec. 22nd, and we don't go back to work until Tuesday, Jan. 3rd. It could NOT come soon enough this year - - it's been kinda rough . . .

We thought Hubby Steve was going to have to work Holiday Shutdown at Cat, but he found out he doesn't have to! So we get to spend all next week together! We are both pretty happy about it. We had not made any plans because we thought he would be working, so we get to spend some "quality time" together here at home, and maybe make a day road trip somewehre next week - - IF we feel like it, that is!

AND - - I'm only wanting one day - - just ONE day - - for housecleaning. He's agreeable to that (what a sweetie!) because he knows we are having company next Friday for our annual little gathering of our group of close friends - - Judy and Curt, Jerry, Mike, Cindy, and Jan. They all have to work next week, unfortunately, but they have been told to just come on our to our house right after work on Friday, and everything would be here for them - - my Christmas treat to them. None of them are right in the head . . .
Should be fun . . . . . :-)

This afternoon we are going over to Hubby Steve's parents' house for Christmas Eve Dinner. Keith and Dawn and the Grandboys will be there, as well as Steve's brother and his family - - wife Debbie, and sons Sam, Luke, and Travis. Travis is home from Olivet Nazarene U. for Winter Break, and it will be good to spend time with him again. His girlfriend flew back home to San Deigo to be with her family, and she will be missed. I'll send her Christmas present with Travis so he can pass it on to her once they are back on campus.

I am bringing appetizers and desserts for the Dinner this evening. Tried a couple of new dip mixes to go with some crackers and fresh veggies. One is a dip called "Garlic Schmarlic" (*laugh*) and it is really good. They sell it at the Food Mart in Springfield, which is where I tried it at their Christmas Open House a couple of weeks ago. The other is a sundried tomato-pesto mix. It's got a great flavor also.

For desserts, I made a cinnamon swirl bundt cake with vanilla glaze. It smelled so good while it was baking! YUM!! I also had some mixes for pie fillings, so I made a White Chocolate Raspberry Mousse pie in an Oreo Cookie crust, and then a Lemon Mousse pie in a graham cracker crust. Unfortunately, no fudge or cookies this year. I didn't get ANY fudge made, and less than half of the cookies I usually make. Time (AND energy) was at a real premium this year. Oh well . . .

Can't wait to spend time with my Grandboys! It should be really fun this year. Alex is now 6, and just as energetic as all get-out. Jon is now 3, and just a total bundle of energy. It's gonna be fun, especially at present opening time - - bows and ribbons and papers flying everywhere - - ahhh, Christmas!!


Tomorrow we are heading down to my Dad's house to spend Christmas Day. I wanted to cook dinner and bring it down there, but he wouldn't hear of it. Instead, he made reservations at a restaurant. Said he didn't want me having to work on Christmas Day! What a sweetie.

After dinner we will be heading over to Auntie Ann's house to visit with the big ol' Italian Clan - - all the cousins and their families. Nothing like a big Italian family . . . I just love it!


Hubby Steve and I, along with our fur-kids Callie and Carmichael, wish you all a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!! Stay safe and well, and have fun with your families.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Got My Grade . . .

I am totally shocked.


I got an "A" in my Web Authoring course!

Hot Damn and Hallelujia!!

I'm hoping Faith took into account the "meltdown" I was having over the Flash program we were using, and decided to be kind and give me high marks for effort.

I will be finalizing my website and getting it online soon. I'll post the address as soon as it's finished.


Thursday, December 15, 2005


The Final Project is done.


Checked out, zipped up, uploaded, submitted, DONE.


Yesterday Faith was able to help me figure out where I was on the Flash blog, and helped me get "unlost" with my Flash slideshow. I was TOTALLY lost on that! And the things she showed me to do, I would never have thought to look in those places and at those particular things. She said Flash is pretty strong on programming, and I have NO programming background AT ALL.

But it's done. And submitted. And ready to be graded.

HALLE - DAMN - LUIA!!!! :-)

(sorry about that - - it just had to come out . . . *laugh*)

And last night? For the first time in weeks? I slept SO HARD, ALL NIGHT LONG.

It felt great!

So NOW my attention turns to finishing up the gift wrapping, starting the Christmas Cookie baking (I have none of it started! *sigh*) - - and Christmas cards. Then cleaning a very sad, very neglected house before the Holidays.

Campus closes next Thursday, Dec. 22nd, at 5:00 p.m., and we don't come back to work until Tuesday, Jan. 3rd. Ahhhh - - Winter Break - - my favorite time of the work year! It can't come soon enough this year . . .

I hope you all are having a good week!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A LITTLE MORE Progress . . . . .

Well, we met with the instructor today to work on Final Projects. I now have 2 of the four Flash requirements up and running; the other 2 will (hopefully) be taken care of tomorrow. They are not PERFECT, not by any means, but good enough to count for credit. The 2 we worked on today I will be taking great pains to get them cleaned up and running smoothly, because I want to keep them for my website. However, the 2 we will be working on tomorrow are strictly for the project, and once I get it all graded, they are coming OFF the website. One is a slideshow presentation that I do not want or need, and the other is a blog made out of Flash. And heaven knows that a Blogger blog is MUCH easier to create and update that ANYTHING in Flash!!!!!

So it's a helluva lot of work for a grade, but nothing else. Oh well - - gotta do what ya gotta do sometimes . . .

Anyway, it's all downhill from here, I hope!

And once it's done - - it is SERIOUS party time! :-)

Wish me luck tomorrow!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Some Progress Made - - FINALLY! *whew*

Well, I presented what is finished of my Final Semester Project today. Overall, it's not bad. I still do not have any of the Flash stuff working in the website, except for the clock we made in class. At least THAT worked!

After class Faith helped out Kathy and I on our projects. Flash has been giving BOTH of us fits! Kathy and I both work at Richland - - actually, right across the hall from each other. This is the second Web design class we have taken together, and it helps to have someone that close for moral support, if nothing else. But I digress - - sorry . . . . .


Faith has agreed to help both of us out on lunch hours Tuesday and Wednesday. As long as we get our project requirements finished up by Thursday, we will not get an incomplete. If we are NOT able to finish by Thursday, Faith willl give us incompletes, and we will have more time to try to finish. I'm hoping to have my Flash requirements DONE by Wednesday.

Tonight at home I worked on the things we had covered after class today - - there is a graphic on one of my pages that I want to have "fade in" to the page and then stay on the page, not looping over and over. I was FINALLY able to figure out the motion tweening and the Alpha color options needed, but the playback looping is still going on. BUT - - we will fix that tomorrow.

ALSO - - there is a small car picture that I have added animation to so that it will travel across another page in the website. That one still needs some "tweaking", but that will also get resolved tomorrow.

The only things left after that are a blog and a slideshow presentation, both built in Flash and imported into a page in the website. I have the basics built, but don't have them all pulled together so they work. Once those two things are finished and added to the website, it will be time to test out all the links, make sure everything works the way it should, zip up the website file, and submit it to the instructor.

THEN it will be serious party time!!!!! (Can't wait)

It's worth losing 2 days worth of lunch hours - - heck, I can afford to lose a little weight . . . :-)

Wish me luck - - I'll keep y'all posted!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

More Crunch "Stuff"

Spent most of the day working on my Semester Final Project.

STILL not done.

I've gone as far as I can with it until I can get together with Faith for some more one-on-one instruction in Flash. I don't know why I'm having such a "mental block" with that program!!

I'm frustrated with the program, the project, and myself at the moment . . .

SO - - enough of that for today! I'll figure it all out tomorrow - - or Tuesday - - or Wednesday - - or . . .

* * * * * * * * * *

Tomorrow morning is our office's Christmas Open House. (Or should I say "Holiday", in order to be "politically correct?" Oh hell - - it's CHRISTMAS - - don't EVEN get me started on being "P.C."!!) Anyway . . . hubby Steve and I went out this morning and hit the local Walmart, picking up holiday plates, cups, napkins, etc. Also bought orange juice. The other two people in the office are bringing muffins and breads. I'll get to the office at 7:00 a.m. tomorrow and start getting everything set up for the 9:00 a.m. start time. I hope we have a good turnout. It's the firsst day of Finals Week, so we should have most of the faculty on campus. I can't think of any of them who would turn down free food . . . :-)

* * * * * * * * * *

Went to Springfield yesterday to the Food Mart's Christmas Open House. It's a little Italian grocery/deli in downtown Springfield, just a few blocks from the Capitol Building. I used to go there all time when I worked for the State, and ever since I went to work locally (Decatur), I still make a point of stopping by anytime I'm in the downtown Springfield area. The Pirrera's are wonderful people, and they always have the best Italian foods you can find in the area. They bring in lots of things from New York City, and The Hill (the Italian neighborhood in St. Louis). It was so crowded in that little store yesterday, you could barely move! I'm glad the Open House was a huge success for them this year.

After leaving the Food Mart, I finished a little more Christmas shopping. Went to Penny Lane, a funky shop that is reminiscent of the 60's and 70's "head shops". They have all that kind of stuff, and more - - Southwest items, Dragons and Mythical figures, posters, and incense galore. Neat place. I found the perfect gift for a friend in there. Also went to Petals and Accents, and found a couple of gifts for Luann and Sara. So it was a profitable afternoon!

Then it was back home to work on my Final Project all evening . . . *sigh*

Well, it's off to bed for me. I'm getting up extra early tomorrow so I can get to work extra early.

You all have a good evening.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

End of Semester "Crunch"

This Web Design project is really getting to me . . . *sigh*

I'm doing great with the DreamWeaver and Fireworks portions part of it - - a couple of minor "glitches", but nothing I can't work out . . .

It's Flash that is getting me down.

Last semester, we didn't get into Flash, except for one small little thing that we did to see how it works, and it was TOTALLY confusing to me! THIS semester, the book we are using assumes we have basic Flash knowledge from the previous semester.


It is like spinning your wheels and not getting anywhere (like a rear-wheel drive, compact car in deep snow). I knew I can DO it, it's just figuring out HOW to get it done!

I even took a 4-day weekend, when hubby Steve was deer hunting, to take my self through the Flash portion of last semester's book. I read all the chapters, did all the step-by-step assignments,
and really learned a lot. But for some reason, I'm having problems retaining the knowledge and applying it to the project . . . this is just so damn frustrating . . .

Faith, our teacher, has given us lots of handouts with instructions on how to do different things with Flash, and shown our class how to do them, and I take good notes to go along with the handouts, but when I get home and try to recreate, I'm lost. There must be some steps here and there that I'm missing . . . . I just need more TIME, and that is something I'm almost out of!

I did email Faith late last week and asked about getting an an incomplete. With Campus closed from Dec. 23rd until Jan. 3rd, and hubby working, I would have a lot of time to spend on the ol' computer pounding out this website. She said she would be willing to do that for me, but proposed something else first - - instead of submitting my project on the 12th when it is due, would I be willing to come up and work with her next week for a few hours to see if she could help me through the rough patches? She did not have to turn in a grade of Incomplete until the 19th, so maybe by then we would have it done.


So next week I will be spending my lunch hours up in Faith's office working on this darned thing. I'll ge the whole thing loaded onto my little jump drive and bring it with me. Hopefully she can help break through this Flash "mental block" I have . . . wish me luck!

P.S. THANK YOU, Bill, for your encouraging words - - I'm giving it my best shot!

Friday, December 09, 2005


I have never owned a 4-wheel drive vehicle before. Heck, I've only been behind the wheel of one before, and that was for about 10 minutes during a brief test drive of a Jeep Liberty a few years ago.

So now I have a Jeep Liberty of my own. I just love it! But I did not know exactly how - - or more importantly, WHEN - - to kick it into 4-wheel drive.

Well - - yesterday it snowed.

And snowed.

AND snowed some more.

By the time cranky Mother Nature was through with us, we had 5.5 inches of the white stuff, with winds kicking up to 15-20 mph. So of course there was also the drifting to contend with.

5:00 p.m. finally came, and it was out to the parking lot to clean off the vehicles. Talk about a mess! At least a couple of inches of snow all over the Jeep, PLUS ice underneath that! Given the wind chill was hovering near 0 degrees, I was almost as "cranky" as Mother Nature was!

Finally in the Jeep and getting ready for my first drive home in 4-wheel drive. Popped it down into it and took off.

Why did I wait all these years to own one? That trip home was SWEET!! The Jeep handled all the roads with ease - - plowed or not.

But the real test was yet to come. Our road is a North/South road. We live on the East side of the road, facing West, with nothing across the road but an empty field and the Interstate. The wind was out of the West 15-20 mph. Needless to say, there were lots of drifts. But Lady Liberty went through those drifts like they were nothing - - barely felt a bump.

Talk about a rush!! It was great!

The Liberty is the best purchase hubby Steve and I have ever made. I'm hooked on Jeeps for life!

Y'all be careful driving out there, y'here? :-)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

GOT My "Lola" Fix!!!

Yes I did - - went to Peoria, actually FOUND the Peoria Heights district, and got to see Jessica's new shop!

The new "Hey Lola/The Moondancer" is a WONDERFUL place! Jessica, you should be very proud of what you and Julie have there!

I found some neat "treasures" during my visit. One is a beautiful Hematite bracelet, which goes very well with the Hematite necklace and earrings Jessica had made me earlier in the year. And also found a great little necklace - - the stone looks like fossilized wood or granite or - - something - - anyway, it's sort of a varigated light blue in color, and she wrapped iit and vined it in silver wire. It's hanging on a sterling silver chain. And she made it a present to me. I am in love with it! Thank you SO MUCH, Jessica!

I took hubby Steve's Aunt Pat with me on the trip. She really enjoyed herself. She has been interested in learning how to make jewelry, and Hey Lola is the place to get some inspiration. Aos, there is a shop just down the block called "Free to Bead", and they have every bead and stone imaginable for making jewelry, and all the jewelry findings, chains, and tools besides. They also give lessons. Too bad Peoria is so far away - - it would be fun to learn.

Aunt Pat and I also ate lunch at One World Cafe, and she is now a fan of the place, just like everhone I have taken there. The food there is all fresh made and delicious! (And they have "killer" desserts!!) If you are ever in Peoria, I highly recommend it.

Well, it's back to homework for me. My Semester Project for Web Design is due on Monday. Not sure if it will be ready or not. I am seriously thinking about asking for an imcomplete to give me more time to finish it. It has just been so hectic lately, and by the time I get on the computer at home in the evenings, I'm too tired to think straight. But I'm giving it my best shot . . .

Anyway, I'm outta here for now - - I'll post again soon and catch up everyone on things.