Monday, December 31, 2007

2007: The Year In Review

It's hard to believe this is the last day of 2007! It's been quite a year . . .

2007 started out with us involved in a hassle with AmerenIP over damage they caused us after hooking our power up wrong after the ice storm in December 2006. We were sending packets of information to Ameren, their Claims company, the Lt. Governor, and every legislator I could think of. Eventually, thanks to pressure from the right legislative offices, they paid our claim.

March found me in a new job at the College, in a completely different type of work than I had ever done before. After nearly 30 years in the Administrative Clerical field, I went into Information Technology. My job now consists of supervising a Help Desk for online students, presenting Orientations and workshops for online students and faculty, and many, many other things involved with online learning. Quite challenging, to say the least.

Other things at work (aside from my new job) became very challenging, to the point where I actually found myself considering submitting my resignation. Yes, things got that bad. But instead, I decided to step back, take a deep breath, and stand up for myself. Part of the situation has been resolved, but a lot has not. My stance at the moment is just to "wait and see" what develops, in part because I have nearly 20 years built up in my retirement, and don't want to have to start over at "square one" going somewhere. Time will tell . . .

Our nephew, Travis, got married this summer. Dear Hubby and I got to travel to the Northern part of the state to attend the wedding. While up there, we had the chance to spend a lot of time with friends of ours who made the trip from St. Louis. It was fun being able to connect with them again. In fact, 2007 gave us many opportunities to spend time with dear friends. They are dear, true friends, and we have developed a support network in which we are there for each other. Steve and I are truly blessed with having some really special people in our lives.

In October, I made a 'road trip' to Peoria to the Women's Lifestyle Show, where I was able to meet a person who is a wonderful writer, and one of my personal favorite bloggers, Laurie Perry (Crazy Aunt Purl). She was on a book tour, promoting her book "Drunk, Divorced and Covered in Cat Hair" - - a fabulous read. The book tells her story about how she survived her husband leaving her, and her transition into single life and dating. Knitting was her salvation, and she attacked it with a vengeance; in fact, I'm surprised one of her four cats didn't get caught up in one of her projects!

Near the end of the year, we lost our dear little fur-baby, Callie. I cannot say any more about this; every time I try to talk about her, or think about her, the tears start up again. So enough about this . . .

Throughout the year we have been trying to get our other house sold (see my other blog here). With the market being in such bad shape, it's been difficult. But Dear Hubby and I will keep trying to do our best and try to remain positive.

Here's to 2007 - - and may 2008 be a happy and healthy year for all of us.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Party Time

We hosted our annual Holiday Party for the gang yesterday evening, and as usual, it was a success!

Jerry came over from Springfield, Curt and Judy, Cindy, and Paul came also. Jan had a conflict, so could not be there this year (and YES, she does know what she was missing!).

Since I am on Holiday Break this week and most of the others were working, I had supper all ready when then came over - - homemade Veggie Beef Soup, Sweet-n-Sour Meatballs (I used Chili Sauce and Cranberry Sauce to flavor them), and a new recipe - - Brie filled with seedless raspberry preserves, wrapped in a sheet of puff pastry and baked. I also had lots of leftover Key Lime Fudge and Peanut Butter Fudge. Cindy brought her "World Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Curt and Judy brought goodies also. But the kicker was - - Paul's Bourbon Balls, made by him and his sister, with some really fine Kentucky Bourbon in the mix. (They make your eyes water, but - - YUM!).

After food and good conversation and our gift exchange (including Jerry's "Mess With Your Heads" gift game!), we opened a bottle of wine and toasted the upcoming New Year.

It was a good time with good friends. Steve and I are so lucky to be blessed with friends such as they - - very blessed indeed.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

We Survived Christmas! *Whew*

The Holidays were hectic, but it was worth it!

There was lots of fun, good food, good people, and the kids were wild!

The Orange Sour Cream Cake was a hit, as were the Key Lime Fudge and Peanut Butter Fudge at Dear Hubby's family gathering. I also made a pan of browning with Marshmallow Creme topping for the kids (they almost taste like a S'More).

The Lasagna was a big hit with my family on Monday! I left a couple of containers with Dad for meals this week, and sent the rest of it home with my son and his family.

The kids got lots of neat presents, and they were wound up beyond belief; but the Holidays do that to little ones, don't they?

Dear Hubby went back to work today, and I am off work until January 2nd. But, it's not like I don't have anything to do - - there is cooking and cleaning the house for our Annual Holiday Party with the gang this Friday. Since everyone else is working and I'm off, I'm treating them to homemade Beef Veggie Soup, Sweet-n-Sour Meatballs, Baked Brie with Seedless Raspberry Preserves in Puff Pastry, Summer Sausage and crackers, and of course Key Lime Fudge and Peanut Butter Fudge! I'm looking forward to getting together with the gang - - we don't see each other enough, and have so much fun when we finally get the chance.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Countdown To the Holidays

Today has been a crazy one, and it's not looking to slow down anytime soon!

Dear Hubby's family Christmas get-together is tomorrow evening (Sunday), and my family gathering is Monday evening. Lots of things to prepare for each . . .

I am bringing dessert items to Steve's family tomorrow - - the Orange Sour Cream Cake is baked and cooling, and tomorrow it will get its Vanilla Pudding/Cool Whip/Mandarin Orange topping. The Key Lime Fudge is made and cooling, and will be cut up tomorrow. Next on the list is Peanut Butter Fudge, which will also cool overnight and get cut into squares tomorrow morning.

The Key Lime Fudge is YUMMY, by the way . . . I got the recipe from a coworker, after she brought it into work and I absolutely raved about it! (The Peanut Butter Fudge is awesome also . . . YUM!)

Tomorrow morning I also need to prepare a large pot of spaghetti sauce, and prepare meat filling with Italian seasonings. I have decided to follow our family's Holiday tradition and make my Dad Lasagna! I'm using my Mom's sauce recipe, so of course it has to cook slowly all day, and then cool overnight to let the flavors blend. Monday morning I will build the lasagna and have it ready to take down to Dad's and bake in his oven. We will also have Sweet Italian Garlic Bread, and salad. My son and his family are bringing a cake, and Dad has a pumpkin pie for us to bake. It's been ages since I've made Lasagna, and I'm looking forward to it.

Tuesday I plan to SLEEP . . . as if the kitty-babies will let that happen? We'll see . . .

I hope everyone has a wonderful, blessed Holiday! Spend time with your loved ones. Give your sweetie an extra kiss under the mistletoe (Hubby and I are about to wear our mistletoe out! ) Enjoy the season and all that it means - - love, togetherness, peace.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Finally - - Stage Three!

The presents are all wrapped and under the tree, which, by the way, is STILL STANDING! After just a couple of minor incidents, the furbabies have decided they have better things to do than mess with the tree. In fact, Dear Squeak has decided she likes laying under the tree, where the heat vent points out towards the tree, and take a nap. I do believe we could put a bow on her and she would just blend right in with the rest of the packages!

So here we are - - Stage Three:

Photobucket

Nothing left to do now but sit there in the loveseat, hot mug of tea in hand, nice warm kittycat on my lap, and snuggle up with Dear Hubby and enjoy! And with my Holiday Break starting after work tomorrow, and not having to go back until January 2nd, there will be plenty of time to do just that!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas Tree, Stage Two: Uh-Ohhhhh . . .

I was home all weekend.

Furbabies never ever paid a bit of attention to the tree. All day long, they acted as if there was nothing out of the ordinary in that corner of the sunroom.

"Nope, Mom, we don't see anything over there in that corner. Not a thing. You can relax!"

Uh-huh.

Today we go to work . . .

Instead of coming home at lunchtime as I usually do, we had a Holiday luncheon in my Division, so I stayed on Campus.

When Dear Hubby got home this afternoon, this is what he found:


The best we can figure is that the new little girl, who LOVES to be up high, and who LOVES to jump, launched herself from either the loveseat or the window bench into the tree.

Steve reprimanded both of them (oh yeah, I am SO sure they listened to him, and they have learned their lesson) and put the branches back in where they belonged.

I am determined to have my tree up this year, in spite of the little furry terrorists roaming the rooms of my home.

However, in the spirit of compromise, we have decided that the tree will have lights and garland (up from the bottom row of branches, of course!) but no ornaments except for some jingle bells along the bottom branches (that's our 'alarm system'!).

We also moved the loveseat back, and removed the bench from in front of the window . . . at least we have taken care of TWO of her launching points!

So, here we are - - Stage Two - - White Christmas Tree with blue lights and blue garland:

Stage Three will be adding the topper (I'm still looking for a blue one) and the tree skirt, and then piling packages underneath. We have also decided against putting bows on the packages until just before we take them somewhere - - Carmichael has a SERIOUS ribbon fetish, and our packages often arrive with bows filled with teeth marks . . . *sigh*


Sunday, December 09, 2007

Christmas Tree - Stage One

It's time - - actually, way PAST time for my liking - - to put up the Christmas Tree.

In past years, we have not had much problem with the fur-babies and the tree. We knew how each one of them would act - - Callie would just lay under the tree, among the packages, and nap. In fact, if we had stuck a bow on her head, she would have blended right in with the rest of the packages! Carmichael's main problem was that his tail is so long, he kept brushing it up along the bottom branches and knockin goff ornaments. That problem was solved by moving them all up to the nex layer of branches. (Actually, I have some jingle bells that we hang on the bottom branches - - just to mess with his little kitty-head . . . yes, we are five.)

However, now that Callie is gone and we have this new little kitty-girl Squeak (formerly named Destiny) in our lives, it is anybody's guess how she will react to the tree. So, we have decided to put it up in stages.

Stage One:
Yes, I have a white tree - - wanted one for years, and finally got it last year!

Stage One is just the tree itself, with no lights, garland, ornaments, anything. Squeak showed a bit of interest at first, and had to be reprimanded a couple of times, but she is now not evey paying any attention to it.

Stage Two will be next - - either this evening or tomorrow after work. We will attempt to string the lights and add some garland, and see how that goes!

Wish us luck . . .

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Great White Hunter

Well, another deer-hunting season is pretty well wrapped up for Dear Hubby and the rest of his hunting buddies. He had a very successful year - - had 3 tags, and filled them all. Yup, 3 deer.

Now I know a lot of people out there are totally against hunting, and under certain circumstances, I am also. I am totally against anyone who hunts strictly for the "trophy" head to hang on the wall, and lets the meat go to waste. But here are the facts for Hubby's situation:

He and his brother hunt every year on the same land that has been in their family for many generations. They spent a lot of time during their growing-up years on that land, and know every rock, tree, and shrub on it. His grandpa farmed it and raised cattle, and always had meat to feed the families.

Hubby's grandpa is gone now, but Hubby and brother still spend deer-hunting season on that same land 'grocery shopping' to feed their families. It has filled our freezers for the past 17 years with very good meat.

This year he got more deer than he usually does. Did we need 3 deer to feed the 2 of us? No. What did we do with the extra? Well, we donated A LOT of it to the Food Pantry of which my Dad is President of the Board. That will go a long way to help out some needy people who might be without otherwise.

Hubby feels really good about being able to continue to help feed his family from the same land that has done so for so many years, and we both feel good about being able to help others less fortunate.

I'm very proud of my "Great White Hunter" - - and I hope we can continue to eat good and also help out others for many more years.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

WHY I HATE WINTER . . .

Scenes from the 2006 Ice Storm, one year ago:













Any questions? (I didn't think so!)

"Deja Vu All Over Again" - - Hopefully NOT!

SO - - this morning around 9:00 AM, it started . . . sleet, mixed with some drizzle. I left campus about 9:15, and decided to get to Walmart to pick up a couple of items before heading home, in case the weather turned as nasty as they were predicting.

By the time I left Walmart and headed for the (usually) 5-minute drive home, their parking lot was an ice-skating rink. So were the streets.

Uh-oh - - this doesn't look good.

As all of crawled slowly down the streets, I saw quite a few accidents that had already occurred due to the slick conditions. People were sliding around like crazy . . . there was no traction to be had anywhere.

But if I thought THAT was bad - - I was totally unprepared for the condition of MY road! Since it is consider a country road, it is "crowned" in the middle, and drops off a bit on both sides for water drainage. This crown also made the Jeep want to keep sliding to the edge of the road, and was a VERY uncomfortable feeling! I was traveling around 25 MPH for the mile outside of town where we live. When I reached home, I slowed to almost a total stop, and slowly turned left into the drive. Even a near stop was too fast for these conditions, and I almost slid off the drive into the yard. Fortunately, I was able to stay on the asphalt, but was almost sideways as the Jeep slid down the drive towards the garage.

I am now inside, with a hot mug of tea by my side and a nice warm cat in my lap . . . and I intend to stay here for the duration!

I hate winter . . . :-(

Thursday, November 29, 2007

One Year Ago, Part II

One year ago today . . . the Great Ice Storm of 2006 hit Central Illinois

It started out innocently enough - - cloudy skies, breezy, then the wind took a turn from the North and the rain started. Then the temps started dropping - - like a rock. By the time I got off work, all the cars on the parking lot were covered with ice. We were all out there, in the blowing, freezing rain, chipping out our cars so we could get inside and get HOME.

Damn, it was cold.

I finally got the Jeep going and made it home. Dear Hubby had supper started, so I picthed in to help. We had the TV on in the Dining Room, and the local weatherman was giving out weather details in an ominous voice; that this was just the beginning of what could be a major storm.

Then the power went out, with a decisive "clunk" . . . I looked in the general direction of Dear Hubby in the dark and said, "This can't be good."

Truer words were never spoken.

You can read all about it here, here, here, and here.(that way, I don't have to retype the whole darned thing!)(and yeah, I had a lot to say about it, apparently!)

Enjoy the memories!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

"I'm So Pretty . . . "

Destiny in her favorite place in the whole entire 2,300+ sq. ft. house in which she now resides:
Admiring the awesome beauty in front of her very nose:

What are YOU looking at?

Friday, November 23, 2007

One Year Ago, Part I

One year ago today, we moved into our dream house!

It was the Friday after Thanksgiving. We chose that day because we knew family would all be together, so what better way to share the feelings of 'togetherness' than to have a MOVING PARTY, right? Right?

Dear Hubby and I got up VERY early that day - - oh, not to prepare for the impending move;instead, we went to Circut City for the Friday After Thanksgiving Sale Event.

Yes, we did.

The reason? We had been looking at an electronic phone system for quite a while, and they had it as one of their Early Bird sales.

SO - - 5:00 AM found us waiting in line in Circuit City - - which wrapped ALL AROUND the inside of the store . . .

*sigh*

We were in line for almost an hour, but we walked out with our new phone system.

We then headed to Panera's to grab a quick bagel and drink for breakfast, then to the U-Hawl dealer to pick up the truck, then home to start getting ready for all our movers to show up.

It was a hectic day - - people brought food for lunch and snacks, trucks and cars and the big U-Haul were loaded up and made many trips back and forth between the two houses. We got it all moved in, then sat around the sunroom, eating a bite, and watching the sunset. We were all exhausted, but relieved at having everything moved to the new place.

It's hard to believe that we have been here for a whole year already. It's also very difficult to understand why our other house is still on the market! It is such a nice house; it's very roomy, and we did so many things to update it; the location is good, and there is a nice big yard. The neighbors are great. But, the market has slowed, and lots of people are having difficulty selling their homes. We just have to keep hoping, and praying, and trying our best to get the job done.

So here we are - - one year later. Things are pretty much settled in, and Dear Hubby and I are are so very happy in our new home.

Here's looking forward to many, many more happy years here together!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here's wishing everyone a safe and Happy Thanksgiving Holiday!

Thursday we will be having dinner with my Dad, and then going to my aunt and uncle's house to visit with them and all my cousins and their families. (Ah, nothing like a big Italian family get-together!)

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Dear Hubby has to work . . . darn it . . . but, it's holiday pay, so it's money that will come in very handy until we get the other house sold (hurry up and SELL, dammit!).

Friday I will be going to the antique shop and setting up some holiday craft items in my booth, so that will be a fun, relaxing thing for me. Saturday and Sunday will be spent getting things done around the house . . . funny how I don't seem to get these things done when Dear Hubby is home - - guess it's just too much fun having him around, and I don't feel like working! :-) (Yeah, I'm kinda 'stuck' on him .. . . . )

Happy Turkey Day!!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Nap Time

Why is it - - every time I try to change the bedding, Carmichael decides it's NAP TIME?

Check him out - - looking at us upside-down with one eye open:
Carmichael1

Now back to sleep:
Carmichael2

Meanwhile, Destiny is asleep on the love seat in the Sunroom:
Destiny1

Destiny2

Ah, to be a cat!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Bazaar Wrap-Up

Well, our "First Annual Holiday Bazaar" was a success! People came in a steady stream all day, and we sold LOTS of things!

We learned a lot from this year's "trial run", and know what we want to do different next year - - so the "Second Annual" should be even better!

We also learned - - again - - how inconsiderate some people can be . . . someone apparently backed into my gazing ball on a concrete pedestal, knocked it over, shattered the gazing ball - - and left without saying a word. I don't know who did it, or exactly when it happened . . . I just know it happened this morning during the sale.

I just don't understand people sometimes . . .

If the person who did it had at least come in and told me, and apologized, I would have still been upset, but would have appreciated being told, because I understand that accidents happen. But to do something like this and just leave?

Inconsiderate bastards.

It's not like they wouldn't have known they did it - - heck, the pedestal is made of concrete, and is so heavy I can't lift it or carry it anywhere. I would be surprised if it didn't scrape the heck out of their bumper!

Anyway . . .

At least the rest of the day went well - - and the rest of the people were nice! :)

SO - - we are already looking forward to next year's Bazaar - - and you can be sure the new Gazing Ball will be in a different location by then!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Bazaar Time!

My friends Betty and Cindy are joining me in having our "First Annual Holiday Bazaar" this Saturday! We have all been very busy with crafting, baking, and sorting through all kinds of holiday 'stuff' getting ready for the Bazaar.

I have a lot of holiday items that we never use, and it has been sitting in boxes, just taking up vaulable storage space. A couple of months ago, Dear Hubby and I got the boxes out and sorted through all of it; one pile to "Keep", and the other to "Sell". I talked to my two 'partners in crime' and we decided a Bazaar would be a fun thing to do!

That's what I love about the house we live in now - - we live on a main county road, with LOTS of traffic. The two rummage sales we had this summer were incredibly successful - - we put up some signs, and people just poured in!

SO - - Betty and her hubby have been busy making alll kinds of wood crafts and items; Cindy has lots of holiday items she has not used in years, and is also baking her "World Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies" (which I may have to buy - - they are SO good!); I have my holiday items, plus have been baking up a storm and have lots of breads and brownies and coffee cakes ready to go. Plus, I have started getting into some crafting - - I have even learned how to use a glue gun! So I have some craft items to add to the mix.

We are even going to have holiday music playing, and have hot apple cider and cookies to munch on while people browse all the goodies we have to offer.

Dear Hubby helped out a lot by clearing out the garage and getting the tables set up, and helping get the signs ready. Tomorrow Betty and Cindy and I will be busy pulling it all together, then hanging up the signs late tomorrow afternoon. The forecast for Saturday is a good one, so we should have a beautiful day for the event.

It will be a fun day!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Strange Weekend So Far . . .

Got a phone call at 1:11 AM this morning - - Dad was not feeling well yesterday, and it was getting worse. He had severe stomach pains, to the point of almost being doubled over in pain.

So being the dutiful daughter (loves my Daddy!), I got up, got dressed, and drove the 40 miles to get him and take him to the Emergency Room.

We got there around 2:46 AM. They ran all kinds of tests, took all kinds of blood, took X-Rays, and a CAT scan. When we got the results of everything, it was apparently his acid reflux kicking up and causing severe heartburn. They got that under control, gave him a prescription for Prevacid, and sent us on our way.

By that time, it was 6:30 AM, and my day, unfortunately, was just beginning!

When I got back to Decatur, I went by the other house and kicked on the heat for the Open House this afternoon. Then it was a trip to the grocery store, then Walmart . . . and then, FINALLY, home.

It is now 12:30 PM, and I have still not been able to slow down long enough to get some sleep. I think I'm still running on pure adrenalin.

But when I DO finally crash, it's gonna be for a LONG, LONG time!

I'm relieved that Dad is doing okay. He felt bad about my coming all the way down there for 'heartburn', but he will be 83 this next Friday. I don't like to take chances when he's under the weather.

I want to keep my dear Daddy around for a lot longer!

Cat Wrap-Up

Well, that is all the posts about the Jackson Household Cats.

Writing these posts brought back lots of memories for me - - some happy, some very, very sad, but ALL of the memories included the love between us and our beloved pets.

When we lost our dear Callie, we were full of mixed emotions. We missed her, but we knew that Carmichael needed the companionship of another cat. Reactions to this by others have been mixed - - one asked if I were really sure I wanted to get another cat, because I always got so heartbroken when we lost one; another thought we may want to consider 'downsizing', and that Carmichael would adjust to being alone.

Well, I'm going to address both of these . . .

First, YES, I am ABSOLUTELY SURE that I want another cat! Regardless of the heartbreak that is sure to come at some point, there is no way I would ever want to miss out on the joy and love we and our dear pets share. Yes, I cried when Dusty passed away; and when Boo Boo Kitty got so sick and we lost her; and Callie - - well, that is still too raw and painful to think about for too long. But when I think of all the good memories we have, well - - if given the chance to go back in time, I would do it all over again, and not change a thing.

Second, NO, we do NOT think it is time to consider 'downsizing' to one cat; and NO, Carmichael would NOT adjust to being by himself, or if he did, he would never be the same as he was before - - some of his sparkling personality would be forever lost. So downsizing? NOT an option.

Dear Hubby Steve and I will probably always have cats in our lives, and we are sure to get our hearts broken again and again . . . but that is the chance you take if you ever want to find real, true love.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Carmichael

Carmichael came into our lives 7-1/2 years ago. He was an itty-bitty thing - - in fact, I could hold him in my cupped hands and still have room left over! Some friends of our had rescued him off their church's parking lot and brought him home. They already had numerous cats, and when Judy told me about him (all gray, almost a Russian Blue color), I immediately wanted to meet the little guy.

I went to Curt and Judy's house on my lunch hour the next day. Judy picked up this little bundle of dark gray fluff and placed him in my lap. He immediately purred, curled up in my lap, gave out a huge "groan", and went to sleep. And yes - - I melted. Judy said, "You're going to take him home, aren't you?" All I could do was whisper "Yes." (Didn't want to wake the little guy!)

The next day after work, I went and got him and brought him home. Callie was NOT happy with this intrusion on HER private property, and having this, this - - KITTEN - - getting attention from HER people! There were some tense moments over the next few weeks, but she finally gave in and got used to him. We think it was only his "kitten status" that saved his little hide!

We took the new kitty to the Vet to have him checked out. Although we thought he was only about 6-7 weeks old, because of his small size, it turned out he was almost 3 months old! He was so small because he was hungry! WELLLLL - - this is an Italian household - - NOBODY, not even a cat, is going to go hungry in MY house! We started packing the groceries in him, and he filled out in no time. (He's a big chunky boy now!)

We noticed right away that he had a bad habit of clawing things, so when we took him back to the Vet to get altered, we also had him front declawed. Hey, I love cats, but I also love my furniture, my drapes, and my carpet!

We were still trying to decide on a name for the little guy. I was thinking very strongly about George, for "Curious George", because he was so darned curious about everything, and getting into all of it! (I also considered "pain in the ass", becasus he was that, also!) But George just didn't fit right, and 'P.I.T.A.' was too darned long. What to name the little guy . . .

At work, I was clerical support for a team of caseworkers for Children and Family Services. One of my caseworkers, whose last name was Carmichael, real character; he was always walking up behind me, and was so soft-footed, he always wound up startling me. He didn't do it purposely (I don't think, anyway).One day, shortly after the arrival of the new kitten, Don again walked up behind me asking for something, and scared me half out of my wits! I told him that I had this new kitten who was always underfoot, always startling me, and was a general pain in the ass, just like he was, so I was going to name the little guy Carmichael! He just laughed and walked away. But I am a woman of my word. The next day, when I took the kitten to the Vet for altering, I gave his name as Carmichael!

Carmichael (or Carmie, for short), has been a trial at times, but has provided Dear Hubby and me with many hours of entertainment, and an abundance of love. He loves to run and play, and loves it when we take one of his toy mousies and throws it so he can chase it across the fllor.

Carmie adored his big sister Callie. She would always sleep during the day at the foot of our bed, on my robe, which I left there specifically for that purpose. I would come home at lunchtime, and would always find one of his toy mousies on the bed, next to the robe. He was always bringing one of them to her.

When we lost dear Callie, Carmichael became very depressed. He wouldn't run, or play. We would throw one of his favorite mousies, and he would just sit there and watch it go past him. If he did run after it, he would then just sit there and look at it. He wasn't eating like he normally did. He kept watching the doorways, looking for Callie to come into the room. The day after we lost her, I came home at lunchtime, and found one of his favorite mousies on the bed, next to my robe. I just broke down in tears. He and I were both totally heartbroken.

Steve and I had a long talk, and decided that even though we felt it was too soon for us, it was NOT too soon for Carmichael. He needed a companion, and he needed one NOW.

That is when Destiny came into our home. Carmichael hissed quite a bit the first couple of days. (Who is this? This is NOT my big sister!) We started calling him "Air Leak Kitty", and told him we needed to fix that leak before he went flat! But he got over that, and is now back to his normal, fun-loving, playful self. She is apparently just what the doctor order!

So there you have it - - the Jackson Household cats!

Callie

When we bought the house we lived in before (yes, they one we are trying to sell - - STILL), the sellers had a cat. Callie was a dark Tortiseshell, 5-1/2 years old, very petite and ladylike,. She had a sweet disposition, and a very LOUD purr; very lovable. She had been born there, and had always lived there.

I was told by the wife that they didn't really want to move her the 1,000 miles they were moving, and had not had time to try to find her a new home, so they were more than likely going to take her to the pound.

Excuse me???

You see, back then, if an animal was taken to the pound, and not claimed or adopted within 7 days (or sometimes less), they were put to sleep. And they were just going to do that? To that sweet little girl? I don't think so!

I told them to leave Callie with us, and that we would take care of her. Was I sure, the wife asked me? I already had a cat, did I really want a second one?

Yes, I was sure.

Well then, I was really going to have to watch Callie, the wife warned me. "She is an outside cat, but every time you open the door, she tries to slip inside. You really have to watch out for that!"

Then the wife told me, "She has wanted to be inside ever since last winter, when she got sick. We had her inside, in a cage covered with blankets and a vaporizer, and the vet gave us medicine for her. She was inside for 10 days, then she was better and we put her back outside."

?????????????

It was freakin' WINTER - - it was COLD, and BLEAK, and WINDY, and she had been inside the house for TEN DAYS . . . and they just threw her back outside.

I told them I was sure, and not to worry about it.

They moved away, we moved in, opened the door, said "Come on in!" to Callie . . . and she was an outside cat no more.

Oh, and? This little "outside cat" NEVER, EVER tried to get back out! She was inside, she was warm, she was loved. And that was all she wanted.

She was our constant companion - - it didn't matter what room of the house you were in, she wanted to be in the same room. Even if she was just laying there sleeping, it had to be in the same room her 'people' were in.

When she was about 10 years old, we brought home a 'rescue kitty', Carmichael. He was a little bitty thing, and even though Callie was NOT happy with the intruder, Steve and I believe what saved him was his 'kitten' status . . . but Carmichael's story will be told in the next post.

When we moved to this house a year ago, we were a little concerned about how Callie would handle the move; she was almost 17 years old, and had lived her whole live in the other place. Would she adapt? Would she totally freak out? We were worried for nothing - - she adapted to the new house beautifully. I guess as long as her 'people' were there, everything was fine! In fact, she was a lot better about it than the adventurous Carmichael . . . but that story will be told a little later.

I am not going to end this post telling how we lost our dear little girl - - that story was told a few posts back, and is still too painful and raw to go into again. Let's just say that our dear little girl will always be in our hearts, and we will always love her.

A Quick Note . . .

There is an update on my other blog about the lot closing. You can access it here . . .

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Boo Boo Kitty

After we lost Dusty, I was heartbroken - - absolutely shattered! We did have Callie, who came with the house (long story - - next post, I promise!), but I was too angry and upset to let her near me. I did not want another cat around me - - I wanted my dear girl Dusty.

A couple of months went by. Then, a lady I worked with said that her friend, who was moving out of state, had a cat who was supposed to go to another person we worked with, but the other person would not be able to take her for a month; she was leaving on a business trip and did not want to leave a new cat in new surroundings with the other 2 cats she already had. I was asked if we would be willing to be 'foster parents' for that month.

My first response was a flat "No." I was adamant. I was determined not to give any other cat a chance to grab my heart and hurt me again.

They both asked me again, and again, the answer was "No."

Then the one told me that if I didn't take the cat, the current owner was going to place her in the pound, where she would more than likely be put to sleep within a week's time.

Damn. Lay on the guilt, why doncha??

*sigh*

I agreed to take the cat. For ONE MONTH, and ONE MONTH ONLY.

Boo Boo Kitty was 2 years old, part Siamese, crossed blue eyes and all, declawed, and as sweet and lovable as any cat I have ever met. She immediately latched on to me (figures!) and decided I was 'hers' and that I had no say in the matter. I resisted as best I could, because she was going to be a part of our household for ONE MONTH, ONE MONTH ONLY! I was not about to get my heart broken again!

Well, here's what happened . . .

At the end of that ONE MONTH, ONE MONTH ONLY, the new owner came up to me and said that one of her cats was so sick, she did not feel that she could add the stress of introducing a new kitty to the household. She had changed her mind about taking her.

Oh, GREAT. NOW what??

I could not - - WOULD NOT - - take that little girl to the pound. There was no way I could live with myself if I did. The only other options I had were 1) keep her; or 2) find her a new home.

My son and daughter-in-law decided they wanted her, so Boo Boo Kitty had a new home to go to.

Now here is where it gets really weird - - when I heard that they were taking her, and she would no longer be with us . . . it hurt like hell. But I was determined not to cave - - and so Boo Boo Kitty left to go to her new home.

A few months later, they had to move, and could not take Boo Boo with them (poor kitty, seems to be a pattern going here!). So, Boo Boo came back to us.

I could not believe how HAPPY I was to have that little girl back! The minute she came back home, she latched on to me as if to tell me that she was NOT going to lose sight of me ever again!

Well, of course, I melted - - just absolutely, totally melted. That was it. I was hooked. Boo Boo was my girl.

Unfortunately, it was not to be . . . I noticed that my little girl was not eating well, and did not act as if she felt good. Then she started getting sick. We took her to the Vet, and it was not good news - - not at all.

Boo Boo Kitty had cancer. The tumors were all entwined in her intestines. There was nothing they could do to cure her.

So for the second time in one year, I lost a dear kitty-baby.

I was, if possible, even more devastated than when I lost Dusty. I couldn't sleep, I couldn't eat, I was totally inconsolable.

And through it all - - dear Callie was there, silently sitting by, waiting for me to be ready to accept her . . . but that is another post.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Jackson Household Cats

You know, I have shared little bits and pieces about our cats, but have never really gotten to how we came about acquiring them . . . or THEM acquiring US, as is probably more accurate.

So I think the next few posts will be about the cats Dear Hubby Steve and I have had over the years, and how they came to be a part of our household.

The first one will be Dusty - - she came into our home in 1986, I believe, and was a very bossy, opinionated, stubborn little girl!

I had been wanting a cat for awhile, but Steve was just not sure about it. So the topic of "Let's Get A Cat" kind of simmered on the back burner for awhile. Then Steve left for a weekend to ride along with the Chicago Fire Dept (he was a volunteer firefighter). I just happened to be scanning the "Pets" Classifieds (hey, just looking, okay?) and saw a cat listed as "Free To Good Home" - - so I called and talked to the people. Then went over there to meet her. Then brought her home.

By the time Steve got home, she was a part of our family. (I also told him to try going away for the weekend again, and see what happened!)

It was not easy at first with Dusty. She was, as I said previously, very stubborn and opinionated. She did not know who I was, or where she was, and all she wanted was to GET OUT OF THERE. In fact, she did get out one afternoon, and we could not find her. She was gone all night and into the next day. I was beside myself! Then, that afternoon, I heard the little bell she wore around her neck. I went to the front door, and there was Dusty! She ran in, laid down in the middle of the living room, exhausted. But from that day on, she was ours, and she started loving us.

We had dear Dusty for 8-1/2 years, and she was already 2 years old when we got her. We moved to our other house, which came with our next cat (Callie, who will be discussed in a future post). A couple of months after we moved, Dusty started acting like she did not feel good - - she was not eating, she would just crawl up into my Lincoln Rocker with all the stuffed animals in it and sleep all day and night. She stopped running, which she did ALL THE TIME, and loved to do. I knew there was something wrong. Steve took her to the Vet, and it turned out she had developed Fatty Liver Disease. There were things they could do for her, but it would cost thousands of dollars (which we did not have to spare), and the Vet said she would still have many health problems. We made the very hard decision to have her put to sleep.

I cried like a baby, and it took me a long time to get over losing my little girl.

By that time, we had Callie . . . but that is another post.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A New Member Of the Family

Ever since we lost our dear Callie-girl, Carmichael has been very 'mopey' and depressed. He hasn't been eating like he should, he keeps looking all over the house for her.

One of the saddest times for me was one day when I came home for lunch, and he had placed one his toy mousies on my robe at the foot of the bed - - Callie always slept on that during the day, and he would always bring her one of his toys. I stood there that day and cried like a little baby.

We would try to pay extra attention to him, and would try to play with him, but his poor little heart just wasn't in it. We would throw one of his favorite toys, and sometimes he would just sit there and watch it go by, or he would chase it, but then just sit there and look at it. He just seemed so sad, as were Steve and me.

SO - - we had a long talk, and decided that even though our hearts were not in it - - NOT AT ALL - - it would be best for our little fur-boy if we got another cat.

We went to our Vet's office, where they had a rescue kitty who was totally sweet and lovable, but I just could not 'connect' with him. He would have made a wonderful pet, but all I could do on the way home was cry . . . missing my little girl. So that dear kitty still needs a good home, and I hope they find one for him soon.

I started looking online at Petfinder.com, and researching cats in our area. None of them really caught my eye, until I got to the cats at the Springfield Animal Protective League. There were a couple there that appealed to me - - one was a black and gold named "Muffin", and the other was a Dilute Tortie named Destiny. I told Steve we needed to go to Springfield and look at kitties.

Last Sunday afternoon we headed over to Springfield. The APL has SIX ROOMS of cats! All ages, breeds, and colors. I asked about Muffin, and was told that she had been adopted out; I'm glad she has a good home. So we went into the first room - - and Destiny greeted us at the door. Actually, Destiny greeted STEVE at the door, doing figure-8's around his ankles, then loving on him when he picked her up.

I started looking at the other cats, and realized right away that the only ones I was really noticing were the dark Torties. I knew I could not get another dark Tortie, because I would constantly compare the cat to Callie, and that would not be fair.

Steve walked up and handed Destiny to me. She immediately started squirming around. I thought she wanted to get down, but no - - she wanted to turn around to face me. She then put a paw on each side of my neck, leaned in close, and HUGGED me. Her head was under my chin, she was holding on tight, and purring loudly. The tears started, and I handed her back to Steve and went out in the hall to 'mop up' . . .

We decided to head upstairs to the "Cat Loft" to check out the other felines-in-residence. There were some very nice animals, but it just seemed like Destiny would be the best fit for us. But it was still so soon, and I was still very unsure.

We went downstairs to the office and decided to fill out an adoption application - - yes, they make you apply to be parents to a pet! They ask for your Driver's License number to check that you have not been charged with animal abuse, they check with your vet to make sure you bring your pets in for regular checkups, and they ask all kinds of questions to make sure their animals will be going to a good home.

We filled out and signed the form, and headed for home. Steve and I talked a lot about it that evening and the next day. Tuesday I called Steve at work and told him that I wanted to go get Destiny and bring her home. I called the APL to check on our application status, and was told we were approved, so I told them we wanted to bring Destiny into our home.

And on Wednesday, that is what we did:

Introducing, Miss Destiny Jackson:

Who absolutely ADORES Steve:

And who is actually starting to have fun chasing around and playing with Big Brother Carmichael:

So - - we now we are back to a full family again. It's not the same - - it will NEVER be the same without our Dear Callie-girl - - but Carmichael is starting to perk up again. He runs after her, chasing her down the hall, and then she chases him right back. He has started playing with his toys again, and she is enjoying them also.

My heart is still heavy, and so is Steve's, but this little girl will helps us heal, in time. And I'm glad that we are able to give her a good home.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

My Dear Little Girl

I have been putting off writing this post, because it's so hard to do. We lost our little furbaby girl, Callie.

It's hard to believe it's been almost 2 weeks ago that this happened. She had not been acting like herself for a couple of months, but nothing I could really put my finger on. Two weekends ago, she got really sick, not able to eat, and so weak she could hardly walk. Dear Hubby went by the Vet's office that Monday morning and talked to them, and then went home to get her and bring her in. They ran some tests, and found that she was in kidney failure. There was not much they could do for her but make her comfortable. She was put to sleep the next day.


I miss her . . . she had a good life though, and would have been 18 years old in December.


That doesn't make it any easier.


We all miss her very much, and she will be in our hearts always.


I love you, sweet girl.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Laurie, You Are AWESOME!!!

I made the trip to Peoria today to attend the Women's Lifestyle Conference. There were literally hundreds of vendors there, and the place was PACKED! Looking at all the goodies, collecting free samples and other 'swag' was fun, but I was there with one particular purpose - - I was finally going to meet one of the best bloggers and authors around today - - Laurie Perry, aka "Crazy Aunt Purl". She was scheduled to briefly speak on the Empowerment Stage at 1:40 PM, and in Seminar Room 135 at 2:00 PM. Peoria was one of the stops on her whirlwind book tour, promoting her book, "Drunk, Divorced, and Covered In Cat Hair." (It's a GREAT read. You need to go buy it. You really do. Go buy it now! Go ahead - - I'll wait right here . . . )

Laurie's writing has really resonated with me. She writes candidly about her life and what she is going through, and it's so good to know that there are other women out there who feel what I feel, who have gone through (or are going through) some of the same things I have (or presently am) - - her "Year of Undieting" and how it worked for her, and that it has worked for me; 2) her budget battles, and what she has done to make her life more fiscally sound, and some of the ways she has done this has worked for me as well.

So yeah - - I was pretty pumped about getting to meet her and hear her speak!

I was just killing time looking through all the displays, scarfing up all the free food samples (great stuff!) - - I was just about ready to make my way towards the Seminar area when I walked past this caterer's booth. They were putting out samples of 'goodies', so I snagged one. Just as I was putting it in my mouth, I heard the lady next to me ask what it was. I heard the caterer reply, "Garlic Toast with Garlic Cheddar Spread", just as I crunched down on it.

Oh, great. It tastes wonderful, but now I will be knocking over Crazy Aunt Purl with garlic breath. (my timing is wonderful, isn't it?) Fortunately, I was able to snag some Trident gum, and (hopefully) it took care of the problem!

About 1:00 PM or thereabouts, I started hanging around the Empowerment Stage, looking to see if I could recognize her. We have posted on each other's blogs, and have e-mailed back and forth a couple of times, and I was really excited about meeting her. About 1:15, I saw someone that I thought might be her. As I walked toward her, I heard her talking to someone, and her sweet southern drawl gave her away. I introduced myself, and to my surprise, she immediately recognized my blog name and gave me a great big hug! She asked me to accompany her over to the stage, and we got a chance to visit for a few minutes before she went on. I can honestly say that Laurie is as nice and genuine in person as she seems on her blog. From the very first time you meet her, you feel as if you have known her for a long time. Kind of like "meeting an old friend for the first time" sort of thing . . . if that makes any sense.

Laurie told us that speaking in public was something that was extremely difficult for her to do. However, once she got over some initial 'jitters' during her brief stint on stage, she may have been nervous, but it really did not show.

Laurie did a wonderful job of speaking, both on the stage and in the seminar room. She answered all the questions thrown at her, and kept us all laughing with her wonderful sense of humor. She is just delightful to be around!

Me with Laurie at Peoria. Guess the Trident gum worked . . .

She's such a sweetie - - makes me wish Los Angeles wasn't so far away. I would love to be able to spend more time getting to know her . . . I get the feeling we could be friends.

You did a GREAT job at Peoria, Laurie! And, I am sure you will do great in Nashville, and all your other stops on your book tour - - I am so proud of you!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Good Health

Well, I had my quarterly visit with my family doctor today to check on my cholesterol, blood pressure, etc. Pretty good news all the way around!

The cholesterol is down to 189, with the good and bad cholesterol numbers right where the doctor is wanting them.

My blood pressure is 126/72. It's amazing what can happen when the work pressures diminish a bit, isn't it? Guess I really was ready for a change . . .

But - - the best news of all - - is my weight loss. There is a story behind this . . . about 3 years ago, I started having anxiety attacks. The passing of my mother the year before, combined with the stresses at work, started giving me real problems. I couldn't sleep, and if I did, there were all these horrible nightmares. The doctor put me on a medicine to help curb my anxiety, and it worked wonderfully! However, there was a possible side effect - - this medicine could make me gain weight.

Unfortunately, that is what it did . . . *sigh* . . . over 2 years, I gained almost 25 pounds. My anxiety attacks were diminished, but my weight was making me miserable.

After 2 years, the doctor and I decided it was time to try weaning me off the medicine. That was right at a year ago. I immediately rejoined Weight Watchers (I'm a lifetime member) to try to lose the weight, but for some reason, my heart just wasn't in it. It just seemed like Weight Watchers wasn't right for me anymore - - but what to do?

Well, that is when I read something in Crazy Aunt Purl's blog that really hit home - - she calls it "the year of undieting." Like me, she has tried every diet under the sun, with varying degrees of success (or failure). She finally decided that she would NEVER go on a diet again, but use common sense and exercise to achieve her weight loss goal.

Reading about this in her blog really inspired me - - it just seemed to make so much sense! So I started "undieting" also - - making good food choices, walking or working out at the College's Fitness Center, watching my food portions . . . just using plain common sense. But I refused to deprive myself. If I was craving McDonald's french fries (ambrosia from the gods, I swear they are!), sometimes I would allow myself a small order, along with a Diet Coke. And, every now and then, in every life a little chocolate must fall.

Well, guess what? "Undieting" really works! In the last year, I have now lost 16 pounds! I am only 8 pounds away from my goal weight, which is where I was before I started taking the anxiety med.

I feel great - - my blood pressure is down - - my cholesterol is where it should be.

Here's to good health! :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Booth 'Stuff'

There has been lots going on at my antique booth lately. We finally found a display case we could AFFORD (those things are expensive!) so we finally got it moved in.

THAT was a challenge! Our booth is on the second floor of the shop, and of course there are no such things as 'elevators' or such . . . so it's quite a chore to get things up there sometimes - - but with the help of a couple of good stout friends, we managed to get it moved up there.

Saturday morning I went over there early to get the case all cleaned up (it's glass on all sides, and had not been cleaned in ages, you could tell!) and got all my glassware in it. I then had to rearrange my booth space so that everything would fit in my allotted 7x7 ft. space.

2-1/2 hours later, it looks really good!

I know some people think I'm crazy for spending so much time up there, especially when my schedule is so hectic, but they have no idea how relaxing it is for me to just 'putter' around up there, and how much I enjoy it!

Next time I get up there, possibly this weekend, I will make sure to have my camera and take a picture to post here. I want to share my special place with all of you!


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

"8 Random Things" Challenge!

Well, then challenge has been thrown down.

One of my favoritest bloggers in the whole entire world, Kristy of "She Just Walks Around With It", posted an entry recently with "8 Random Things" about herself. She then said she had to tag 8 other people to do the same on their blogs.

Well, yours truly here never knows when to keep her mouth shut . . . so of course I left a comment on her blog and said I would be willing to do it if she decided to tag me.

Well, she did.

And so here I am - - racking my brain for 8 random things that most people don't already know about me, that will be funny, or unusual, or include livestock in some way (LONG story - - see Kristy's entry here)(You need to go read it.)(Go on - - go now!)(I'll wait right here . . . ). It's really kinda stressful, because she is such a great writer, and her posts are always so darned entertaining . . . I have big shoes to fill here . . .

But here goes:

Random Thing #1: I am absolutely terrified of moths.

Yes, believe it or not, if there is a moth anywhere near me, I am totally paralyzed with fear. I think it began when I was a little kid. I would be in bed, the room totally dark, and would be able to hear them flying around the room - - you know how you can hear them hitting the ceiling? I would be so scared! One night, when I was about 5 years old, I was so scared I had my head completely covered up with the blankets. Dad came into the room and turned on the light so he could find the moth and get rid of it. I got curious and peeked out from under the covers . . . and there was that damn moth, standing right there on the blankets, about an inch from my eyes. He looked HUGE!! I screamed bloody murder, scaring the heck out of my Dad, and covered my head back up. Dad got rid of the moth, and I was finally able to calm down and get to sleep.

Hey - - with some kids it's monsters in the closet (or under the bed) . . . moths are my monsters.

Stop laughing!

Random Thing #2: I was Miss Soybean Queen Runner-up when I was 18

Yeah, that's right - -Soybean Queen RUNNER-UP. Not exactly something I put on my resume!

Seemed like a good thing to do at the time . . . *sigh*

Random Thing #3: I share a birthday with Mae West

No, NOT the YEAR - - the DAY! (I can hear you smartasses out there!)

I always liked Mae West. She was beautiful, sexy, and entertaining. She was also very much ahead of her time. I like knowing that we share the same birthday.

Random Thing #4 (Okay, Kristy, here's the 'livestock' one!**): I used to help clean out a cow barn

Yup, I did. When I was married to Hubby #1, we lived on a farm in the middle of NOWHERE. I was mostly a stay-at-home mom for a couple of years, and had a big garden in the back yard. Ex-hubby was a tenant farmer, and we would shovel out the cow barn and put the manure on the garden to help the veggies grow.

All I could remember thinking was, "If my former party friends could see me now, they would never believe this." Hell, I couldn't believe I was doing it! I am SO glad that is in the PAST, and it's going to stay there!

Random Thing #5: I dated a man who lived in Brighton, England

He lived in Brighton, but came to the US a lot on business. We kept up a running correspondence for over 2 years, and saw each other whenever he could get to my part of the country. He came into my life shortly after my divorce in the early 80's, and nobody did more for my poor shattered ego and self-esteem than he did. I will always love him for that. We got out of touch about a year before I met Dear Hubby. Wonder whatever happened to him . . . he was a sweet man, and I hope he's happy.

Random Thing #6: I have been backstage with Ted Nugent. TWICE.

Oh yeah, backstage with the "Motor City Madman" himself! Dear Hubby, who is an avid deer hunter, was a member of "Ted Nugent World Bowhunters Association" for many years. One of the perks of membership was the chance to get backstage passes at concerts. Well, Christmas 1992, he got us passes at the Damn Yankees concert in Danville, Illinois. Then in August 1993, for my 40th birthday, he got me backstage for the Damn Yankees concert at the State Fair in Springfield, Illinois:Yeah, I'm happy (as if you couldn't tell!)

Random Thing #7: Don McLean (American Pie) came to my defense at Decatur Celebration

Yes, THE Don McLean of "American Pie" fame. I used to work Hospitality for Decatur Celebration (what? You never heard of it? It's only the largest street fair in the country!) One of my duties was driving a hospitality van and shuttling entertainers to and from the stage areas.

One year Don McLean was there, and I was driving him around. It was Saturday night, and the festival grounds were packed. I was trying to get this big 15-passenger van turned around (mind you, I used to drive a small car at that time, so this van felt like an 18-wheeler to me!). There was this guy standing right in front of the van, holding a full beer cup and quite a few empty ones, and he refused to move for me. I said excuse me several times, and asked him to please move, but he refused to budge; in fact, he turned around, faced the van, and basically dared me to hit him.

WELLLLL - - Don McLean was sitting in the seat behind me, and he got totally disgusted with the guy. Next thing I knew, Don leaned over me, stuck his head out the window, and said, "Hey! You heard the lady! MOVE YOUR ASS!!!"

Man, that guy booked out of there fast after that. I thanked him for his help, and he said, "I didn't like the way he was treating you. You didn't deserve that!" Don and I laughed about it for quite a while after that.

THEN - - while we were stuck in traffic, he got out his acoustic guitar, and started playing and singing to me! He played and sang all the way back to his hotel, where I dropped him off.

I heard later that Don had been a real jerk to quite a few people working in the green room area, but he was really sweet and kind to me. I'll always remember that.

Random Thing #8: I was pulled through Lambert Airport in St. Louis by a 'mad' Hispanic man

Yeah. Really. Here's the scoop:

I had never flown before, but was getting ready to go on my first flight ever out to New York City to visit family. I was sitting in the airport in Decatur, Illinois, waiting on my flight. The travel agency had booked my connecting flight in St. Louis about an hour and 10 minutes after my Decatur flight. Since it only took 25 minutes to fly from Decatur to St. Louis, that would be no problem, right?

Right?

My flight from Decatur to St. Louis was 30 minutes late in leaving.

THAT was a problem.

One of the passengers on my flight from Decatur was David, a short, stocky Hispanic man I used to work with in Springfield when I was with the Dept. of Education. While we were waiting on our flight, I told David I had never flown before, and was pretty nervous. Well, David took it upon himself to look after me. I appreciated his concern, and he really helped me throught the flight in that little 2-engine 'puddle-jumper' plane we were in.

When we landed at Lambert Airport, I had 15 minutes to make it to my connecting flight.

Lambert Airport is pretty big. I had never been to Lambert before. (Since I never flew, there was no reason to. I didn't exactly hang around airports trying to pick up pilots.)(Or skycaps)(Shut up!)

ANYWAY - - David took it as a personal challenge that I would NOT miss my flight. The next thing I knew, he grabbed ahold of my wrist, said "Come on!", and I am being literally dragged at top speed throught the terminal, my wheeled carry-on suitcase flying behind me. I'm not sure the wheels ever touched the floor.

Suddenly, David stopped, with me running into him, and the suitcase running into me. We stopped just long enough for him to check the board, see that my flight had not left yet, and then we were off again.

I can imagine the picture we made flying through that terminal!

We were still quite a ways from my gate, when David started yelling, "DON'T LET THE PLANE LEAVE! SHE HAS TO BE ON THAT PLANE!!!!!"

Well, EVERYBODY was looking at us then!

David kept yelling, "Hold that plane! HOLD THAT PLANE!" all the way up to the gate. He then gave me a hug, told me everything would be okay, and handed me off to the care of the 'gate-keepers'.

I was the last person to board that plane, and I swear everyone was laughing about David's persistence that the plane not leave without me safely tucked on board.

And you know? He was right - - everything was fine. And every time I think of the picture we must have made, him racing madly through the airport with this woman and suitcase flying along frantically behind me, I have to smile.

Well, there are my 8 Random Things. Not as entertaining as some, but I hope you got a smile or a chuckle out of some of them!

** This was the only livestock one I could think of directly related to ME. The only other one I could think of happened before I was born, or even thought of. Mom came out from New York City to visit Dad's family in Central Illinois, and they took her to a relative's dairy farm. A cow peed on her and made her cry. And she married my Dad in spite of it - - it must have been love!

Awwww - - TOO cute

Carmichael definitely knows how to relax!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Some Progress

Check out my other blog, "Escape From the Money Pit" - -

We FINALLY have some progress to report!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I! AM! SO! EXCITED!

Oh. My. God.

I can't believe it!

(trying to catch my breath)

October 27th - - just a few days away - - I get to go to Peoria to the Women's Lifestyle Show at the Peoria Convention Center.

One of the featured speakers - -

Laurie Perry, of "Crazy Aunt Purl" fame.

I am so excited! (Oh wait, I think I said that already . . . )

ANYWAY - -

Laurie has written a book:

"Crazy Aunt Purl's Drunk, Divorced, and Covered in Cat Hair: The True-Life Misadventures of a 30-Something Who Learned to Knit After He Split "

The book chronicles what Laurie goes through when her husband decides he needs to leave her in order to 'get his creativity back' . . . whatever that means. She takes up knitting mainly as a way to keep sane, and in the process, finds new friends and a new meaning to her life. Her story takes her readers into her life - - a 30-something divorced woman with 4 cats who knits - - but who manages to keep her sense of humor about her.

Her book, like her blog, is a wonderful read!

When she writes about her experiences, they really ring true with me . . . like her, I have been divorced, and just 'this side of crazy' from all the pain and hurt. She writes from the heart, and all her readers (including yours truly) adore her.

And now I get to actually MEET HER in Peoria!

I can't wait . . . :-)

P.S. You know . . . if that blasted house of mine had sold by this summer, I would have had the chance to meet BOTH of my favorite bloggers this year . . . . Kristy Sammis, whose blog "She Just Walks Around With It", was in Chicago this summer at the BlogHer Conference.

I wanted to go.

I wanted to go SO DAMN BAD.

BUT - - *sigh* - - the house did not sell this summer. So, I could not afford to go.

What a treat it would have been to meet BOTH of my favorite bloggers IN THE WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD in the span of a few short months.

Rats. Life is just SO NOT FAIR. *sigh*

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Okay

Yes, I know. I have not posted in a LONG, LONG time.

I have very good reason.

I have been going through a lot of "crap" the last few months. Major, serious crap.

I did not want this blog to turn into my personal "wailing wall". And the last thing I wanted to do was write about it. Hell, it was difficult enough LIVING through it!

So instead, I just sort of crawled into a corner and curled up into a little ball and made myself as small as possible, hoping life wouldn't notice me and just leave me alone.

Didn't happen.

SO - - I have finally crawled out of the corner, flexed my muscles, and decided to get on with life.

More later.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Congratulations, Travis!

Well, it's official - -

Dear Nephew Travis is going to a church!

A church in Pensacola, Florida, has contacted him and asked him to be their Youth Pastor. He and Leah will be leaving mid-August.

Oh, to be that age, and starting out a new life together, and the adventures that await them . . .I'm jealous! (not really - - perfectly happy where I am, thankyouverymuch!)

I'm happy, I'm excited - - and I'm sad.

I'm gonna miss that boy . . .

LOVE YOU, NEPHEW!!! (Oh, and of course you too, Leah!)

God Bless both of you!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Music, Friends, and Fun

Dear Hubby Steve went to the Lakeside Arts and Music Festival at Nelson Park on Lake Decatur last night. The festival has a lot of arts vendors and demos, food and drinks, and entertainment. Our friends, the Chicago Blues band Deluxury, were the entertainment on the main stage that evening, and we were looking forward to seeing Dave and Mike and the guys put on a good show.

We got down there a little late, and most of the arts vendors were closing up shop, so we decided to grab a bite to eat and then go check out the stage area and maybe have a few moments to visit with our friends.

It was an excellent show, and the weather was absolutely perfect - - sky was clear, stars were shining brightly, and the music was, of course, fantastic.

Once the show was over, Steve and I walked along the waterfront, making our way back to the the truck. It was dark, with very few lights on in the area. There was just a small breeze, and as we walked, you could hear the water lapping against the shore. It reminded us both of the time - - gosh, 23 years ago now - -

Steve and I had just met and started dating when he lost his job. He was pretty nervous that since he didn't have the money to actually take me out on dates, I would not want to see him. Well, he didn't have to worry about that - - we spent many evenings over the next few weeks down at the lakefront at Nelson Park, walking and talking, and really getting to know each other. We became close friends and confidants, and - - well, that gave us a good solid foundation to build on.

And look where we are now - - all these years later.

Steve and I have had our ups and downs, good times and bad. Sometimes the going gets rough, like at the present time, when our other house still has not sold and money is SO tight . . .

But walking the lakefront with Steve last night brought back so many good memories - - of when it was all brand new and exciting and scary, all at the same time.

And you know what? Even if I had known back than what I know now, and knew how hard it was going to be sometimes, and the difficulties we would have to overcome . . .

I wouldn't change a thing.

I took a chance way back then on a new boyfriend who was newly unemployed - - and I will take that chance now. It WILL get better for us. We WILL weather this latest storm, just like we did way back when.

"For better or for worse" - - THAT is what it's all about!


Rummage, Rummage, and MORE Rummage . . .

Ever had a Rummage Sale? Well - - we had a DANDY one this past weekend!

As Dear Hubby and I were unpacking over the last few months, we also did a lot of "sorting", and everything that was not being kept went to the basement in boxes labeled "Sale". Over time, this pile of 'stuff' has grown and grown, and nearly threatened to take over the basement! (I'm exaggerating, but not much . . . )

Anyway - - It came time to have the sale.

Steve and I spent the better part of a week making sure the barn was all cleared out and clean. My friend Cindy came over a couple of days and helped me price everything. (She also had lots of things for the sale). My friend Betty, another sale participant, made arrangements with her church to borrow some long tables to use for the sale. We had things from my Dad and my in-laws, and even Steve managed to let go of some items.

Finally, the time came to get it all set up. I took last Thursday afternoon off, and Cindy and I started in getting things out of the basement and into the barn.

Of course, it was raining. OF COURSE. So we had to back Steve's truck into the garage, cart everything up from the basement and into the garage, load up the truck, and then drive it to the barn to unload and put on tables.

*sigh*

Add to that having no power (read: no LIGHTS) in the barn, and that made time a real premium.

Finally, everything was out of the basement and into the barn. It was PACKED! Every table was full - - every wall had things lined up against it. Boxes and storage crates were being used for display space. We had SO MUCH STUFF! But it was getting late, and the sale started at 7 the next morning. So it was time for some sleep.

We got up at 4:45 AM. Steve went out and put up our bright pink poster-size signs, and then had to come home and get ready for work. I went out to the barn at 6:30 and opened the doors to start moving some larger items out into the driveway.

At 6:35, my first customer showed up. (Early sales? Sure! Bring 'em on!) Then another one showed up - - and another, and another, and another . . .

We did not have a break in customers until after 4:00 that afternoon.

It was a beautiful day, and people came out in droves! Cars were lined up on both sides of the road, and stuff was flying out the barn door in truckloads (seriously - - one person came in their car, left and got their pickup, and made TWO trips with that!).

Saturday the weather was just as beautiful, and sales were just as good.

We made some serious cash, and even better, we got rid of most of our 'stuff'!

We are already going through more 'stuff' and preparing for the next sale . . . :-)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Sad Thing

Damn.


I hate it when this happens.


Dammit!


I have lost another dear friend.


Ever since - - oh, 1982 or so - - I have followed the music of a Chicago Blues band called Deluxury. Over the years, I got to know the band members - - "EZ" Dave, the lead singer/sax/harmonica player; Gil, the guitarist extraordinaire; Mike ("Aldo"), the bass player; Kent ("Coop") on drums, and "Sweet Daddy" Denny on the keys. When I started dating Steve, he became a big fan of the band also, and we went to many, many shows together.

Over the years some of the members have come and gone, but Steve and I have remained friends with Dave, Mike, and Denny. A few years ago, Denny left Deluxury and struck out on his own. But, he still played at times with Mike and Dave as the "Hired Gunz", usually at the Mill Race Inn in St. Charles, Illinois.

NO ONE played the keys like Denny. No matter where he performed, he gave his all, and more. It didn't matter if it was Von Maur, the Mill Race, or anywhere else. When he played, his face would light up - - it was so obvious that he truly loved what he did, making music to make people smile and feel good about themselves.

Denny recorded 2 CD's, "Songs In Black and White" and "Tornadoes and Dreams." Of course I have both of them, and Denny was kind enough to sign them for me one night before a performance. I will keep them and cherish them always.

About 3 years ago, Denny was diagnosed with a brain dementia, which turned out to be a hereditary thing. Dave kept us updated on Denny's condition over the years. Things progressed from bad to worse, and he was eventually placed in a home.

Dennis A. Daniels, "Sweet Daddy", passed away last Thursday. The Memorial Service is this evening, and unfortunately, there was no way I could get up there to attend. That is really bothering me right now. I wanted to be there for his family and friends, to give my condolences and best wishes. And I can't be there.

Dammit.

Rest in Peace, My Dear Friend. I will miss you, your music, and your million-dollar smile. But the memory of you and your friendship will be with me always.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Wedding Bells!

Well, Dear Nephew Travis and the love of his life, Beautiful Leah, are now husband and wife.

Congratulations! :-)

Dear Hubby Steve and I made the trip up to Quad Cities this past weekend for the wedding. We left early Saturday morning so that we could take our time going, and also have some time to spend at South Park Mall before the wedding that evening.

It was a BEAUTIFUL day for the trip! The temp was in the low 80's, a nice breeze, blue skys . . . gorgeous.

It was a beautiful wedding. Leah was radiant in her gown, and Travis was so handsome - - it was like a fairytale wedding.

(Am I sounding a bit proud here? Yeah - - just a little . . . )

The reception was held at the Moline Club, in downtown Moline. It's an old, stately looking building, over 100 years old. The 3rd floor ballroom was packed to overflowing with family and friends. It was a very good time for all.

Best wishes, you two. I hope you are as happy in your life together and your Uncle Steve and I are!



Monday, June 04, 2007

Circling the Wagons

Dear Hubby and I have come to a decision.

It's time to "circle the wagons" and practice a bit of "isolationism".

There have been some things happening in our lives recently that have brought on this behavior, and the self-preservation instinct has kicked in full throttle.

Why are there people in this world who think nothing of being hurtful to others? And it doesn't seem to bother them in the least. They just pick up and carry on with the rest of their day and their week and their lives like everything was just fine and dandy and normal and all that.

But it's not.

I have watched Dear Hubby change in the last few weeks, and especially in this past week. I have seen this sweet, open, honest man turn inward and become more and more reclusive. He is becoming more and more reticent about himself, his feelings, and what is going on in our lives.

Oh, he's not becoming reclusive and reticent with ME - - he does talk to me, because he knows that I am the only one who is totally with him, and will watch his back at all times.

Some people just don't seem to "get it", or maybe I should say, "get us"- - Dear Hubby and I are more than just husband and wife, we are soul mates, we are best friends, we are a very strong TEAM. We are together in this life, and plan to stay that way.

If other people don't approve of us, that's fine. If other people don't approve of our lifestyle, even though they really don't know what our lifestyle is, that's fine too. They don't need to know.

Dear Hubby and I know who we are and what we are all about. We are good people. We try very hard to do the right thing and treat people the right way. We both work VERY hard for our money and try very hard to be fiscally responsible and not waste it. We work together to make this life the best it can be, because we are a strong team.

But no matter what we do - - no matter how hard we try - - it is just never good enough for some people. They will disapprove regardless, because our way of living our life is different than the way they live theirs.

But that's okay. I may have "issues" with some people and they way they live, but it's their business, not mine. So I stay out of it.

Dear Hubby and I have been very lucky and managed to get the home of our dreams, even though the road has been paved with more potholes than any Interstate in Illinois could ever have. My house is not always as clean as I would like, but when you work one full-time job, and have 2, sometimes 3, part-time gigs going, it's hard to find the time AND ENERGY to get the house they way I would like. Dear Hubby pitches in when he can, but when he works all this overtime to get extra money, it just drains him.

BUT - - we will deal. We will manage to get through the rough spots. You know why? Because we are a team. We are strong. We are together.

Period.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Work

I have made a decision.
I will NOT be posting about work on here - - at least not for a LONG, LONG time.
I am upset, I am frustrated, I am disgusted.
That is ALL I am going to say about work.

Anyone wants to know what is happening at my job, will have to e-mail me and ask me personally, because it will NOT show up on this blog.

Period.

'nuff said.

UPDATE: Just to clear up one thing - - the problems are NOT with the new position I now have at the College. THAT is going VERY well. There are other things that are so very, very wrong, on so many different levels, and I will not discuss them here. It is too raw and painful right now. Maybe someday, but not now.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Celebrate Good Times, C'mon!

Well, they have announced the acts for this year's Decatur Celebration, and it sounds like a good time will be had by all! :-)

We have Dennis DeYoung, former lead singer of Styx.

We have Sheena Easton.

We have the SUGAR HILL GANG!! (WAY cool!)

We have The Tubes (WITH the original lead singer, Fee Waybill!)

We have Points of Grace, who just won some big Christian Music Award.

And much, much more.

Should be a good time! Let's just hope Dear Hubby and I don't fall victim to food poisoning like we did last year. I do NOT want to miss a moment of this!

If anyone is going to be around Central Illinois the first weekend in August (3-5), make a point of coming downtown to "The World's Fair of the Prairie". It's 22 blocks of food, fun, and unending entertainment.

And yes, I do STILL intend to start my series of posts on past entertainers Dear Hubby and I have worked with and activities we have personally experienced over the past 20 or so years. Coming soon - - honest!