Friday, December 29, 2006

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Stillness of the Heart

Some days it just doesn't pay to chew through the leather restraints.

As vacations go, my last one sucked.  It began with a very busy day selling and cutting Christmas trees, and ended with a visit from the city police.  I'm sitting here in my family room filled with boxes of holiday decor needing my attention; problem is I'm lacking the spirit and cheer to enjoy the task.  I'm just too angry and sad.  My heart is broken and my head is reeling.

Yesterday Sam faced the very difficult task of taking Allie to the vet to put her down.  She was neither ill nor injured but we had to do it having been served a second vicious dog citation after our neighbor filed a complaint stating that Allie attacked him.  It happened while Sam and I were in Spokane last Monday and being a hundred miles away complicated the situation, but fortunately friends and family stepped up to assist us until we could return home.

Side by side, 2 x 2
Rumbeau (top) and Allie (bottom), April 2001

Allie came to us in the spring of 2001 as a four month old puppy and in the five years since she never jumped the fence of our back yard.  But a couple of weeks ago she started and why is anyone's guess; I suspect it was because a new dog in the neighborhood is allowed to run loose and when it came on our property Allie's pack mentality kicked in and she went into territorial mode.  On a couple of afternoons this month Sam came home to be greeted by Allie on the wrong side of the fence. 

The events that took place last week are complicated, all we know is what the police and several friends told us.  Allie was loose, our asshole next door neighbor claimed she attacked him on his porch, the police were summoned and they pepper sprayed her, at which point she jumped back over the fence and returned to the back yard.  Lucky for us she did, we later learned the responding officer was preparing to shoot her.  As all this took place another city officer we personally know called Sam's cell phone after hearing our address over the dispatch radio.  He wanted to let us know about the situation but didn't know we were out of town; he later told Sam the responding officer had shot a dog the week before and our friend was concerned Allie's fate was sealed.  In the end it was.

Right.

Allie Waits
Allie waits while Rumbeau swims, Clearwater River, July 2006

Sunday when the police served Sam, I found it quite interesting how the responding officer kept referring to Allie as 'he.'  He cornered the neighbor.  He jumped the fence.  Sam and I expressed our confusion and politely pointed out that Allie is a female and the officer's reply was, "I couldn't tell."  He couldn't tell the difference between a male dog from a female dog?  Right.  When Sam and I pointed out there is another male black lab who is never penned up the officer brushed our comments aside, and squarely stated after he sprayed the dog with pepper spray he watched the dog jump over our fence to the back yard.  Allie is a labrador and yeah, everyone knows how vicious that breed is!  I'm so angry right now I just don't know if anything I write from this point on will make sense.  A friend who was also summoned to our home told us both dogs were in the back yard when he arrived and neither showed any signs of being maced or sprayed in the face with pepper spray.

In a river of gold...
Allie (left) and Rumbeau (right) swim in a river of gold, Clearwater River, July 2004

This whole thing just reeks and makes me sick.  I can't understand how a timid dog can suddenly turn aggressive, without provocation.  Provocation being the operative word.  My gut tells there's more to what happened that we may never know, but there is a lot we do know.  The neighbor in question is pissed at us over a petty matter and we suspect this is his way of getting even.  The difference being that our problem with him involved a broken down vehicle he parked on our property without first asking us.  Since the day Sam finally called the city to complain after repeated requests to the neighbor to move the car failed to produce action the neighbor and his wife have given us the cold shoulder.  All the neighbor lost was a parking space that was never his to begin with, but I have lost a beloved companion.

At the office yesterday I struggled to keep my emotions in check, without success.  My stomach felt like a battlefield of swinging swords and knives.  I worked through lunch, the time Sam had set to take Allie to the vet, and I left at 4, an hour early.  Coming home from work and seeing Rumbeau alone just tore me apart.  He sensed something was wrong and wouldn't leave my side.  I sat here on the couch waiting for Sam, sobbing and Rum just leaned against me and kept nuzzling my hand, softly moaning as I slowly stroked his head and scratched his chest.  When Sam arrived home he sat with me and minutes passed by in silence.  I cried for so long my sinuses hurt.  All this over a dog, a stupid zuccinni bread stealing, cat food eating, hole digging, bed hogging, fur ball shadow I was always tripping over; how could I let myself get so attached to her I said to Sam.  He softly replied we humans are stupid that way.


Allie after an early morning dig, April 2005.

I can't help but notice Allie's behavior lately showed signs of stress, two years ago she started digging.  Ironically that was about the time our neighbor retired.  Rumbeau and Allie stay in the back yard while Sam and I work during the day.  Our yard is large with four terraced levels on just under 3/4 of an acre of land surrounded by a five foot chain link fence.  We have a dog run with an eight foot fence located on the side of our house, but its the same side as the neighbor and we can't keep the dogs there because they bark everytime they see him.  The city called us on that awhile ago, and suggested we not keep the dogs there during the day.   With the colder temps we kept both inside on the days we worked and at lunch I drove all the way home to let them out for potty breaks. Allie slept with us every night but last night I couldn't sleep.  I tried to express what I was feeling in my journal but everything came out jumbled up and I cancelled the entry.  I ought to go to work but I'm a mess.  In my mind I hear the words of the Christmas song I've embedded in my journal...Hallelujah, noel, be it heaven or hell, at Christmas we get what we deserve.

Tell me what did we do to deserve this?  I believe in karma, I believe what goes around comes around.  I believe what you put out comes back to you ten fold.  I suppose I should find peace in my beliefs, but at this moment I don't.  Last night Sam said someday Spencer will stand in judgement for his actions.  The guy used to gather cats in the neighborhood to use as bait for training his hunting dogs.  Yeah, he's a real nice guy, an upstanding model citizen.  I want justice and I want it now.  We obeyed the rules, fenced in our yard to keep our pets contained, while two other dogs, one a male black lab, the other a male Chow-Sharpei mix are allowed to run loose every day in the neighborhood.  The chow mix is always in our yard and bothering customers at our tree farm.  Sunday a family was at the lot with a toddler who saw the dog and began to cry.  The grandmother told me the child had been bitten by a dog and is afraid of them.  I've thought about calling the city and complaining about the two dogs, but given what our last complaints to the city produced, who can say what that will lead to.  No point having two more neighbors pissed at us.  We are surrounded by losers. 

My soul tells me justice will be served, but my heart wants someone to explain why.  If dogs at large is against the law then why are two other dogs allowed to roam the neighborhood everyday without complaint, and the minute one of our labs slips over our fence she immediately becomes a threat to one neighbor and the police are summoned.  Next month Sam will appear in court before the judge for the second time this year.  The first time Sam forgot to lock the gate and Spence claimed he had to beat Allie off with a stick, so based on his word the police issued Sam a vicious dog citation.  Rumbeau won't leave the yard unless we are with him, even if the gate is open.  But Allie had two strikes against her, so we did what we knew the court would order us to do, while two other dogs are allowed to run loose in the neighborhood.

I want to understand, but I can't.

  Yes Allie, you may.  Yes Allie, you did.

Allie's been featured as the subject of several journal entries which can be found by clicking on the links below:

Little Allie Mac

Someone's been very naughty

Someone's in the kitchen...dog house

It's 3 a.m.--Do you know where your zucinni bread is?

Adventure Idaho

Friday, December 15, 2006

Do you hear what I hear?

A song, a song, playing in the night, it will bring me goodness and smiles.

 

I can hear it.  Thank you Jimmy & Joe.  Turns out Internet Explorer 7 is the reason I couldn't hear the music playing.  And apparently I wasn't the only journaler frustrated with the situation.  I followed editor Joe's directions and viola!  Click >here< for Joe's solution.

I'm so happy!!!

 

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Of dreams realized and silent songs

This is me making good on a promise I made last week to my sister.  I wanted to share her fantastic news but got waylaid in another direction (something about a chainsaw Christmas).  So without furter ado....I have exciting news to share about my sister Chris in Georgia.

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris
To: Dad; Dona; Lyn
Sent: Tue, 28 Nov 2006 9:43 AM
Subject: class update
Hi!

 
I passed the class!  I passed the [real estate license] class!  I got an 82% on my final last night and I passed the first time!  When he handed me my exam results and I saw the "wrong answers 28, score 82%", I had to look at the name to see if it was my name.  It was my name!  I about fell over and had to keep looking at it.  That test was so hard!  About half way thru I told myself I could come back next week and take it again.  But, the whole weekend I kept positive about it all and studied studied studied.  I didn't touch my books Monday at all, I just let it all absorb and it worked!  After the shock of passing subsided enough for me to walk, I ran out to my car and called Vic.  He was so happy!  I had to sit there and talk to him for a few minutes while I calmed down enough to drive.  I was so happy and so shocked that I just broke down and cried.  It was such a weight lifted off my shoulders.  Now, I take the state exam in Atlanta.  That should be within the next week.  This afternoon, I'll register for that online.  I have to give Beth (the lady who puts all the info into the computer) enough time to get it all recorded to AMP.  Out of 29 people who took the test last night, only 8 people passed and I was one of them!   Vic will be coming with me for that.  I don't want to stay in Atlanta by myself.  We'll drive up the night before since the test is in the morning. 
 
Take care.  I just wanted to share my excitement with you.
 
Love ya,
 
Chris
 
Yeah, she was just a wee bit excited.  :)   I should mention she's been a SAHM/military wife for the last fifteen years and is just returning to the workforce.  And yes, she passed the State Exam, too!!!  ^5 Chris, that's a major accomplishment and I am so very proud of you.  You my dear sister, can do anything you set your mind to...and yeah, in many ways you are just like me ;).   Here's to all your future successful closings.  I think I'm going to like having a licensed real estate agent in the family!!!!
 
Now, a bit of a favor to ask.  Jimmy (StupidSheetGuy) was kind and generous enough to host and upload a Christmas song for me so I have music playing in the background of my journal.  Problem is, I can't hear it.  He can, I can't.  I've gone to seven different computers, three with AOL and four without, opened my journal and waited up to five minutes...listening...to the sounds of silence.  From every angle I've approached this, wanting so badly to hear the opening chords eminating from the speakers.  I'm so bummed.  :(  Can anyone hear 'I Believe in Father Christmas' by Emerson, Lake and Palmer playing when they open my journal?  It will take a minute or two for the song to load.  Someone...anyone?
 

All I want for Christmas is my favorite Christmas song to play in my journal.

Life on the farm...




























If last week at the Christmas tree farm is any indication of what we can expect for the rest of the month, we are in for a wild ride! It started out on a warm fuzzy note, then went in a totally different direction. Last year being our first year we kicked it off with a give-away. For every tree we sold we entered the name and phone # of the customer into a drawing for a free tree this year. Friday after Thanksgiving we drew the name from about 90 people, then I made the call to inform the winner. I felt oddly like Bob Barker. I dialed the number, a child answered, I asked for his mother or father, the mother took the call and the second I told her who I was she immediately knew why I was calling and began screaming (with much joyful enthusiasm) into the phone. I wasn't giving her a million dollars, just a free Christmas tree but she carried on for several minutes, unable to contain her excitement. I think I can safely say we made that family's day...maybe even more. It was great fun doing so, and then to see their faces the next day when they came to pick a tree just capped it off. The winners are a young family with two boys (about 4 and 6) and a girl (maybe 1 y/o). Something tells me this will be a Christmas they'll long remember. :) Sunday just before dark, the father came by to pick up the tree. He could barely contain his excitement and wore an ear to ear grin on his face the entire time. Have I mentioned we have a custom cut farm...meaning we don't cut the trees in advance, they remain in the ground until selected by a customer. I know there is a huge...okay...big debate between live versus artificial trees and I've had both; somewhere in my past is a photo of me circa 1966 standing next to an aluminum tree. And we thought we were cool then. Ha ha!!!

Tuesday night after work we got a call from a prospective customer who wanted to look for a tree. It was dark, but she was undeterred, so we met her outside. With her were two boys, about six or seven y/o; one with Harry Potter style glasses complete with a polite, mild mannered demeanor to go with it and the other was the total opposite. By the time they found a tree I concluded the opposite boy was a walking talking Damien. Let me tell you about this child. He hated every tree the woman picked. Not so bad really, coz there are some very questionable trees on the lot. Finally, she found one and asked both boys if they liked it. Harry Potter said yes with a nod, but Damien (seriously...you'll see what I mean) says no with animated gusto and then he picks up handfuls of snow and begins throwing snow at the tree. Okay, boys will be boys. Harry Potter stands quietly in front of me, the woman can't decide if she likes the tree, and a few seconds later I heard her tell Damien to 'Stop that!' So I turn and see Damien has a strangle hold on one of our Charlie Brown trees (if you've ever seen the tv special It's a Charlie Brown Christmas, you'll know what I mean), and is shaking it quite vigorously while screaming 'Kill the trees! Kill all the trees!' Unaffected Mom turns her attention back to the other tree. Damien doesn't stop so I ask him to stop too. 'Honey, please don't do that to our trees.' I'm being way too nice. Damien steps away from the tree, I turn my attention back to the mother.  Next thing Harry Potter asks me if we own all these trees, which is interrupted by the sound of the woman saying, '(Insert Damien's first, middle and last name here), put down that chain saw!!!' What?!?! I turn in time to see the child wildly swinging Sam's chain saw (it's off) around right behind me, chanting his 'Kill the trees,' song. That does it!!! I take a step toward him, he puts the saw down, and I position myself over the top of the saw while he runs back over to the selected family tree and picks up his thow the snow at the tree act while repeating the words, 'I hate this tree,' over and over. Note to self: Do not, under any circumstances, let the chain saw out of your sight. It's dark, it's cold, my patience is running out and I can't help but notice the woman still isn't even affected by his behavior. Is this normal? She continues like nothing happened!!!! Does young Damien always help himself to other people's property, especially chain saws? About the time I'm wondering what other tricks Damien has up his sleeve the mother decides she wants the tree, and Sam cuts it for her, at which point Damien wants to know if the tree will hit anyone on the head when it falls. What a charming young boy. Is he her son, or a family member, maybe Harry's friend?  Poor Harry, he seems totally desensitized to the behavior as well.  Damien's animated antics continued the entire time (Iwon't share all my thoughts, just use your imagination), and the woman carried on completely oblivious in contrast to the wide-eye reactions and repeated exchange of looks between Sam and I. We couldn't get the tree and the family loaded fast enough for me. I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown before they finally left. OMG!!!!!!!

Two nights later on Thursday Sam and I foiled a couple of late night Christmas tree thieves. There's nothing like running around a tree farm in your jammies chasing would be thieves under the cover of darkness to put you in the holiday spirit.

That was last week. We're on vacation next week and so far this week things have been 'normal'...but the week ain't over yet. We'll see.

On another note Sam got offered a job in Alabama; seems his former boss is in head hunting mode and looking to recruit some of his former employees. Will he take it? Not likely, he's less than four years away from retiring and moving across the country right now is not part of the plan.


The background on this entry is from Pat's Web Graphics.

 

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Ideas from elsewhere

"All day I think about it, then at night I say it.

Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing?

I have no idea.

My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that, and I intend to end up there."

    ---Rumi

Bolman, Lee G., & Deal, Terrence E.  (1994).   Leading with soul: an uncommon journey of spirit.   San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

One of the best damn leadership books I ever read.  I wonder if any of those 14k gold Ivy League colleges ever heard of it.  Soul.  It's out there, we've all heard of it, and yet...it seems so strange to everyday people.  Leading...with soul.

There are days when I feel like a deep well in shallow ground. 

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thanks givings

"The delights of self-discovery are always available."
        ~Gail Sheehy


This entry's been buzzing around in my mind for the past couple of days, and finally my thoughts are centered enough that I can sit and write without the bother of distraction.

First, I'd like to personally thank each of my J-Land friends who shared thoughts and support about my frustrations with a personal situation.

Robin - you hit that proverbial nail on the head.

Annie - thank you for stopping by and jumping in.  Your points are true and well-taken.

Kbear - the box does hold a bit of an analogy for this situation and you caught on to that (pardon the pun).

Jimmy - setting and keeping boundaries is something I really need to work on, and I am touched by your insight and honesty.

Charley - as long as there is a balance, I won't.

Cheryl - your right, she won't go away.  Just yesterday her husband came by the house for a quick visit, but more on that later.

Sam - your right and I needed it.  I did my best in the name of friendship for so long, but I have stepped back.

Thank you all for your friendship, love and for being there for me.  It really means a lot and each of you helped me immensely.


+----------------------+

Thanksgiving was at our daughter's home again this year.  Among the highlights were:
*Upon seeing Sam walk through the front door, Baby D's face lit up.  "Gampa!" she greeted us while she ran into Sam's arms.  But later she called a Santa on the television Gampa, too.
*First complete sentence by Baby D: Read the book. :)  She repeated those words like a mantra, all day long.  Read the book.  Read the book.  It sounded vaguely like the chorus of a song I love.  And yes, several of us did read the book (Thanks Mary, I omitted that important point).
*Sam's Mom sliced her finger open while cutting potatoes with Amy's new Pampered Chef knife.
*Dona cut her finger while slicing green onions with Amy's new Pampered Chef knife.
And of course there was plenty of food and I ate too much!!  I know I did because I was awakened early Friday morning by the sound of my stomach growling.  LOL!


+---------------------+

Yesterday B#2's husband stopped by for a visit; he often comes by at least once a month.  He always comes alone, but at some point he'll bring B#2 into the conversation and this time we learned he has to take her all the way to Portland to receive medical care.  I don't know how he does it, balancing the demands of owning a business and taking care of her, but every now and then he has to touch base with us.  I distanced myself from B#2 last summer and I've had no contact with her since.  Sam understands why and supports me.  Every now and then his friend will drop a subtle hint with the hope that I will call her, which is always followed by an awkward silence coz I won't take the bait.  Then someone changes the subject and the moment passes.

While visiting Leavenworth last summer with another couple we began plans to rent a house boat on Lake Roosevelt for a week next summer.  I am so excited about this and can't wait!!!  The house boat we have in mind will sleep ten (six in three different staterooms and four on two living room sofa beds) but we've decided to limit the number of people to six so everyone has a stateroom and therefore, privacy.  The house boat is new, and therefore spendy, but splitting the cost three ways makes it feasible for all of us.  Man oh man, we are talking some serious kickin' back fun and calming relaxation on the water, complete with a Jacuzzi.  ::::smile:::: 

The tree farm kept us busy all weekend with a steady flow of customers arriving to either tag or pickup a tree.  My craft room/office has a wonderful view of the farm so I worked on making Christmas cards and other projects in between customers.  Yesterday I only got ten cards completed, today I upped the number of cards to thirty-four.  Finally. I'm getting the creative juices flowing again.  There are times when I think the pressure of my day job sucks all the creativity out of me.  That, in and of itself, is frustrating, and the accomplishment of getting so many cards finished really helped to counterbalance all that negative work energy.  When I mentioned the audit wasn't going well in a previous entry it was in reference to technical difficulties I was experiencing.  Seems every file I sent electronically to the auditor was rejected by the server of our ISP; in the end a two minute task turned into a day long ordeal.  I could feel the adrenaline rising and arrived at the conclusion that 99.9 percent of my stress is caused by computers, or more accurately, software problems.  In other words, by something over which I have no control.


"Conquering others, requires force.
Conquering oneself, requires strength."

      ~ Lao Tzu

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Blessings to my J-Land friends...

Just call me Yoda

In reference to my last entry.

 

Don't ask me to point it out.

 

So, Dona, you say you have ambitions to be a writer someday.

 

Ever hear of proof-reading?

 

 

 

Nah!  I'll just blame my evil assistant and call it good.

 

And while we're at it this calls for another potential t-shirt slogan.

I wanna new t-shirt

I have a Board member at work who provides me with an endless supply of jokes via e-mail and there are days when I wonder if he actually works at his day job.  But, more often than not appreciate I his sense of humor and I know the jokes are his way of putting a smile on my face.  And perhaps to remind me to lighten up...we all need a release.  Here's a sampling of a recent message about potential slogans for t-shirts.

    

All this, from a Board member.   There's some food for thought before Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Who's got your back...

Over 30 days of life has passed since I wrote this entry.  I have seldom hesitated to post any entry, save this one.    


They say a friend in need is a friend indeed.  And sometimes people cross lines and getting back to the other side brings great levels of frustration for those around them.

When it comes to people my first inclination is to be open-minded and accept those I know as is, at face value; a trait which hasn't always been in my best interest.  But it's who I am and so in recent years I've honed the cautious side of my nature as a measure of protection.  I still believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt because we all need a break at times.  Then there are the other times...

I have a friend, a very dear friend, "B #2" who I am seeing with new eyes.  And when I look back over the years in retrospect I wonder how I could have missed so much of what is obvious to me now.

They also say history repeats itself.  And those who do not learn from the past are destined to repeat it.  Two different statements with different and yet similar meanings.

My friend has a bad back and endured every type of spinal surgery practiced in the medical world, with limited success.  I fully understand what a bad back can do to a person; my Mom had one and coping with her problems was part of my teenage rite of passage.  I'm all too familiar with the pain killers, braces, and new fandangled medical gizmos created in the name of pain management...and the lingering effects such cures bring to the surface.  I remember the pain in my mother's eyes and watching the muscles in her face tense as yet another back spasm immobilized her body.  I remember how she changed.  I hated it...the feeling of absolute helplessness, watching her cringe while the memories of the person she once was slowly faded into the recesses of my mind.  That was then with Mom, as it is now with my friend.  I remember when she was vibrant, fun loving, and full of laughter but those qualities no longer shine.  Her life has handed her a few hard blows, but she has been blessed on so many wonderful levels.  I feel she is so focused on her health she has lost sight of life, and the people around her.  I know that feeling well having traveled the same road before, many years ago, with my mother.

Finding myself on this road again has affected me in ways I never imagined, leaving me feeling cold and at times, uncaring.  Me.  Cold.  Uncaring.

At least five times a year my friend is admitted to the hospital, either because she fell or the muscle spasms are unbearable.  To stop the pain, doctors put her into a coma, usually for at least two weeks.  Previous pain management efforts included the insertion of an internal pump under the skin of her abdomen (which made going through airport security an interesting experience), but after three years of her body rejecting the pump (and the medical complications that went with it) the doctor's gave up and removed the equipment.  Before that they tried morphine administered in mass quantities.  But still she complained about the pain.  Nothing seems to work and many times I have listened to her complaints about the pain and the doctors while she disregarded their advise and recommendations.  Wanting to ease her suffering I struggled to find the right words to say, yet in my mind I heard a voice within telling me, "This all sounds strangely familiar." 

De ja vue is a strange thing.

At least a dozen times over the years I've asked myself one question, Why am I going through this again...first with Mom, now with my friend?  I see what's happening, just as I saw it back then.  And when my friend starts talking about her back, I shut down.  I do it every time anyone says something about their back pain.  Never did it before, but I do now.

Many years ago I was drawn to holistic medicine and studied hands on healing; at that time I had another friend, "M" with severe back problems (I'm seeing a definite pattern here).  Her prescribed pain management was like the others, surgery followed by pain meds and during one troubling episode I offered to lay my hands on her...without hesitation she accepted.  The session brought relief, as did repeated sessions and over the course of time she was taking fewer pills and able to spend more time with her two toddler daughters, less time flat on her back.  Seeing the relief on her face held it's own reward for me, but it came with a price; working with that type of energy drains the healer and one has to take steps to keep things in balance.  The other down side was our friendship soon focused on her back and my hands.  I encouraged her to help herself but in the end my words fell on deaf ears; over time I had that sinking feeling that I was being used.  The imbalance reared its ugly head on several different occasions and finally I walked away with the realization that the words we and us no longer came up in our conversations; they had long since been replaced by two other words...I need.  Each time I expressed my concern about where our friendship was heading, she responded with pointed ridicule about my shortcomings...finally I walked away and closed the door.  Another lesson learned.

But I was always struck by the dynamic parallel of my relationship with her and the one I had with my Mom.  I felt hurt, betrayed and confused.

And now, I find myself encompassed by the same thoughts, once again.  When I spend time with my friend "B #2," the focus of our time is spent on her health and she is plagued with many issues; her back, diabetes, congestive heart failure...all have significantly reduced her quality of life.  She can't work...sitting for more than an hour is torture.  She can't drive...her last venture behind the wheel ended in a fatal accident.  All of this has...well, do I really need to spell it out?  I've tried taking her places...shopping...to lunch, but being in public brings on panic attacks.  I've taken time off from work to be with her, but at the last minute she'll call and tell me not to come; giving her the benefit of the doubt I take it all in stride...she's having a bad day. 

During a camping trip last summer with friends, the intensity of the midday heat literally drove us to the river.  We found a nice, accessible beach and parked our pickups on the dirt road.  The guys went fishing and the gals sat in the water, except for "B #2."  She used to come to the water with us, but now she insists on sitting in the pickup, with the engine running and the air conditioner on.  She says she can't handle the heat, and we all quit trying to persuade her otherwise.  When she started doing this I gave up my time on the beach to keep her company, wondering about the sudden change in behavior but understanding that she could easily slip on a rock, fall again, and further damage her spine.  But this time I went to the water and stayed there, hoping that maybe the need to be with her friends would be greater than her need to stay in thepickup; she never made it to the beach.  Two hours later, the rest of us returned to our pickups, then back to our camp.  Within minutes of our return as she and I relaxed in the shade of an old cedar tree, she turned to me and with a deep sigh observed, "Camping just isn't the same anymore.  The girls used to go fishing and do things together."   I turned to her, hardly believing what she just said.  Had she really forgotten that only hours ago she made the decision to sit in a pickup parked on a road while the girls were down playing in the water?  I measured several responses to her statement, but in the end remained silent, knowing full well that previous attempts on my part to redirect her attention to what really happened put a strain on our friendship.  The girls were down in the river, B, where were you?  It was a major turning point in our relationship; that single moment defined so much about her.  Either all those years of medicated pain management has totally fried her brain, or she always had a narcissistic personality.  But she was right, things had changed and the girls who always stood by her side in the dirt road enduring the heat and dust kicked up by passing vehicles while she sat in the comfort of an air conditioned vehicle had decided this time to participate in the group activity.

In order to have a friend you first need to be one.  I feel for her and I've spent countless hours lending my ear as she vocalized frustration with family members and friends who she feels abandoned her.  How could they?  Well, I think I know.  In everything there has to be a balance and over the years I never kept track of the gives and takes with her.  It was after a long awaited honeymoon cruise with Sam, and four other couples, that I began to take stock of our friendship.  And I quickly realized many things...but most of all I realized she was playing a role in order to manipulate sympathy.  And I was one of her biggest sympathizers.  Things she did and said during and after the cruise put a nice big frame around the picture for me.  And I began to wonder if her health issues were actually real or something else.  After all when it comes to caring for the sick many people have a big heart...and who, besides a medical doctor, can question the severity of any health condition?

Suddenly, the cues were obvious to me and when Istepped back down memory lane the colors in the picture began to take clear, definite shapes...and a pattern emerged.  The real eye-opener came during a phone call as she cried in my ear because she felt I ignored her on my honeymoon.  Apparently she forgot I had waited ten years to take that honeymoon with Sam.  Apparently every day when Sam and I saw her husband walking alone on the ship I was supposed to leave Sam, go to her stateroom and spend my time with her.  Apparently all the dialogues we had over dinner--the only time she came out of her stateroom--were my imagination.  Apparently she forgot I was the one who surprised her with birthday decorations for her stateroom, even though the cruise began a week after her birthday.

I felt like I was dealing with my mother...again.  A friendship is not supposed to bring out those kind of feelings...well, at least not a healthy one.  She needs help, professional help, and I've suggested it to her several times.  She doesn't want to hear it, and is so put out by the suggestion that she becomes offended.  After so many years, I quit trying to help her.  But her husband and mine are long-time best friends.

In constrast there is my father, who from the moment he was diagnosed with prostate cancer never once wanted to or ever thought of burdening anyone with his disease.  He held his own through it all, even the chemo.  Until the bitter end he stood in valant determination to fight for his life.  He wanted to live and he had so much to live for.  When it came to dealing with illness, he raised the bar pretty high.

Last month when I started this entry I found myself oddly transported back in time by the wheels of my life today, asking myself why.  Why this, why now, why again.  To everything there is a season, and a time, and a purpose...   

On a side note I must point out that I live with spinal pain as well.  Five years ago I was a patient at the local pain clinic and once a month I received an injection to numb the pain.  My last visit involved a procedure called a discogram (no, not that kind) which enabled the doctor to accurately identify the problem discs.  A necessary step if surgery is recommended down the road.  So far I've been lucky--the pain has been minimal--and I've avoided going under the knife, a goal both my doctor and I set all those years ago.  He fully understands my position on this, andmy friend "B#2" is a former patient of his.  Former patient.  You don't know how many times I've listened to her bad mouth the physician who worked unselffishly to help her.  He's a quack according to her.  She's been a patient of almost every doctor in town--truth is, no one will touch her now.  Within in the medical community she is persona non grata.  And yet through it all my friend reminds me that whatever I may be feeling, it is nothing compared to her pain.

In truth, it all just breaks my heart.  "B#2" sustained her back injury on the job over twenty years ago when she worked as a buyer for a local chain of clothing stores.  She was counting cases of jeans, and while pulling a cumbersome cardboard box of jeans from a high shelf, another box fell.  Instinctly "B#2" twisted her body to stop the second box from hitting the ground.  Now, she wishes she would have let it fall.  There's a lesson to be learned in all this.  If a box of clothing, or anything, falls from a shelf, step aside and let it fall.  Whatever is inside that box can be replaced, but your back can not.  Nothing is worth the cost of ruining your spine, or your life.

Nothing.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Kickin' Butt...

Your Quit Date is:Saturday, November 20, 2004 at 6:00:00 PM
Time Smoke-Free:729 days, 12 hours, 49 minutes and 51 seconds
Cigarettes NOT smoked:18238
Lifetime Saved:4 months, 19 days, 7 hours

Money Saved:$4,106.25

 

Two years!   Oh yeah!!!!!!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Sammy, Sammy, Sammy...

Will he ever learn?

He's been on vacation this week, I've been working (due to the audit).  Monday I ask him if a trip to the cabin this weekend is on the agenda.  This is the last weekend we can go, as the Christmas tree farm will keep our weekends busy through the holidays.  The hubster won't commit and just shrugs his shoulders; it's a game of his...keep Dona guessing until the last minute.   Over the years I've learned so I keep this thought in the back of my mind for future reference.

Last night he asks me if we can go to the cabin this weekend.  Since Monday he's learned the audit isn't going well; he knows I'm swamped and this is just my slammin' time of year...lots of work, little fun.  In the hopes of swaying my mind he tells me our friends, F & B, are going up to their cabin (which we share a common property corner with).  We haven't seen much of our friends as they are in the throes of a major home redo (new flooring, paint, furniture) and we all know how time consuming home improvement jobs are.  Anyway, I say yes, I need a cabin break but I'll have to take my laptop and some work with me so I'll need to run the generator (our only source of power...did I mention the cabin is in a very remote location).  We are set.

So, a few minutes ago my friend B calls me to see if we'd like to go out for dinner tonight.

At the cabin? I ask.

Silence followed by her puzzled voice.  No...are you going to the cabin?

Cut to the chase...she knows nothing about a trip to the cabin this weekend.  F didn't say anything to her.

Re-e-e-e-ally.  How interesting.  Sam told me you two were heading up.

We break communication to respectively call our husbands, and she promises to call me back.

Sam answers the phone with a very chipper voice for someone who's in the process of paying bills and has no idea I have called to collect on another obligation.  He, upon hearing the news that 1) B called me to ask about going out to dinner tonight and 2) going to the cabin this weekend was not in their plans, ends the call speaking in a very sheepish voice tinted with the hushed tones of "I am so busted!"  From chipper to sheepish in less than 20 seconds...and who said I can't speak to the animals?

B calls back.  No plans for the cabin as they will be busy tearing out their old carpet because the carpet installer will be visiting their home bright and early Monday morning.

I'm am so not letting him forget this. 

Monday, November 13, 2006

My morning routine...




Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but she did it backwards and in high heels.

~Faith Whittlesey

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Another countdown :)

Been playing these past few days.  Need a creative release in preparation for the annual audit which begins this Wednesday.  I'm not as ready this year as in past years and that has me really stressed out; self-imposed StRess it is but lacking an assistant I'm on my own.  Suffice it to say my plate is heaping full, spilling over and may just break.  Five more years I keep telling myself; I'll retire in five years.  Kiss those one track minds good-bye.  Five years.  Ah yes.  <grin>  But back to the present.  So as a counter balance I've been playing; too much work and stress makes Dona a not-so-happy camper.

Sitting here watching the Travel Channel, with Florida as the topic...specifically Tampa Bay and the annual Gasperilla Festival.  Looks like a blast.  One guy just said this festival makes the Mardi Gras look like a wake.  Whoa.  I'm seeing lots of floats, families, beads, colors and pirates.  Pirates, everywhere.  Great costumes...hmmm, me thinks next year I'm dressing up as a pirate for Halloween.  LOL!  Oh yeah.  Now there's some fun to be had.

So I've been playin'...and now I'm sharin'.  The tags below are snaggable.  :)

 

 

"Life is a great big canvas and you should throw all the paint on it you can."

~ Danny Kaye ~

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

M. O. M. (My Own Mem)

Ten years ago I toyed with the idea writing a book about my mom, and in honor of her quirky sense of humor I thought about using a play on words and calling it M. E. M's (Mom's Eternal Memories).   The idea being that her ideas, thoughts and persona would be brought out through me.  Mom was really into the whole play on words thing.

It was just an idea, I had, that never saw the light of day.

Ten years later the word meme has come up again, in a different way, and has really taken off.  Memes are quite common place, turning up everywhere, everyday.  I find the whole thing rather amusing, really.

Meme as defined by Wikipedia

Thanks to Charley for reminding me.

 

Sunday, November 5, 2006

And...the curious little cow

Now for a couple of pics of my little Taurus granddaughter dressed up as, what else, a little cow.  While I had no influence on her costume this year, I was smiling inside and out from the moment I saw her.  I just loved this costume, even though Amy said all the other girls at the day care were dressed as princesses and such.  In my mind, this costume is perfect and there will be plenty of time for dressing up as a little princess in the coming years.


Chatting with her grampy Sam. You can just barely make out the little bovine horns and ears on top of her hoodie.  :)

 Sorry, photo removed by blog author.


Ah-ha! I spy a kitty under the table.

Sorry, photo removed by blog author.

No frontal pics of the baby.  I hesitate to post pictures of children to the internet, and do so only after asking for and receiving permission from the parents.  After a few days, I'll delete the pics, for safety's sake.

Sam and I spent this weekend working in the tree farm, mostly.  He was on call and had to go to the office each morning, but when he returned we immediately began working outside.  The air is cool, and I always dress warmly, in layers.  But within a matter of minutes, I'm wishing I hadn't added so many layers as I feel a little overheated.

We cleared the vegetable garden and that was a nasty mess.  There were cherry tomatoes everywhere, but Rum and Allie took on the task eating those on the ground.  They love tomatoes...heck they eat just about everything.  After clearing the garden we drove out to the metal recycling center to turn in our aluminum cans ($24 worth), and then to the city dump to take cardboard boxes and other items to their recycling bins.  Took my camera with me and got a couple of interesting shots on the way.  I've learned a technique using Paint Shop Pro which allows me to make my color photos look like something Ansel Adams might have taken.  Well, just a little bit, maybe.

Looking down river

Hayfield 

Today we cut down all the diseased and dead trees much to my relief.  During that time I spotted three trees tagged by our customers.  Yes, the season is under way.

 

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Fathers and daughters...

Cruising through photos at Flickr.com and came across a photo from a Tears For Fears concert with the following caption...

 

My favorite. Best concert ever. You don't even understand. Summer of 2005, first time I ever saw my daddy dance. 

See for yourself...<click me>

Now that's awesome. 

Confessions of a film writer...moi?

You Should Be a Film Writer
You don't just create compelling stories, you see them as clearly as a movie in your mind.
You have a knack for details and dialogue. You can really make a character come to life.
Chances are, you enjoy creating all types of stories. The joy is in the storytelling.
And nothing would please you more than millions of people seeing your story on the big screen!



Came across this while reading Gem's journal.

Seems there are a lot of possible film writer's out there.  :)

 

Thing is, I learned a long time ago not to should on myself.

 

 

I really like this black background.

Friday, November 3, 2006

The pumpkin, the princess and the hippie



Sorry, photo removed by blog author.


What? Did you think this was a fairy tale? It's just three of our treaters Tuesday night.

Take a walk...on air...literally

If you could walk on air, 4000 feet over the Colorado River, would you?

Got plans to visit the Grand Canyon in the near future?  If so you are in for a real treat.  Today I learned a skywalk is under construction at the Grand Canyon and is nearly complete.  The skywalk is glass and steel horseshoe shaped cantilever design.  It's designers claim it passed  engineering requirements by 400 percent and can withstand the weight of 71 fully loaded Boeing 747 airplanes (that's over 71 million pounds).

I'm intrigued.  But I'm sitting here asking myself, if given the chance would I walk out to the opposite edge of the skywalk?  Across all  that glass...

            feeling the wind blowing on my face...

 

                                                  like a bird...                                

hmmmm. 

I could take two steps, to start with...but I'm not sure I could take the whole walk.  But it would be cool to feel just like a bird, if for just a short moment or two.  Yeah, maybe I would find it in myself to take that walk.

So, would you do it?

Check it out for yourself...<click here>

 

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Petals in the wind...

Great art picks up where nature ends.

~Marc Chagall

Subdued in spring...

It was 20 degrees yesterday morning when I left for work.  B-r-r-r.  Last night all the kids arrived at the door with bright rosy cheeks from the cold night air.  Dilynn was a little cow, LOL!  She was soooo cute.  We had a cheer leader, dalmation, pumpkin, hippie, princess, and two ghouls.

Had a Christmas tree shopper wandering the farm yesterday when I came home from work; last year customers started tagging trees the day after Halloween.  The season is already starting.  

I came across the above photo last night while waiting for trick or treaters.  It was taken with my Ricoh 35mm SLR.  I sure miss that camera.

It's funny how answers to questions are often presented when we least expect it.  Been searching for a solution to an interpersonal work related problem.  How to deal with a super ego who destroys what he can't create. 

The ultimate choice man makes is to either create or destroy...to love or to hate.

   ~Erich Fromm

Break it down.  It's that simple.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Child of the Night

So, with Halloween only days away I've a story to share fitting of the season.  I heard it years ago from my Dad, and he relayed it to me a few days after it happened to him.

Dad and his wife Rita had spent an evening watching television as they often did.  Shortly after nine o'clock Rita went to bed while Dad stayed up to watch a couple of his favorite shows before calling it a night.  Sometime later he fell asleep in his chair and was awakened by Rita around two in the morning.  He opened his eyes and saw her standing in front of him, dressed in her long night gown.  Convinced he was now awake, she turned and began walking back to their bedroom.  Dad sat in his chair and watched her, eyes open, seeing and yet disbelieving.  Walking next to Rita was a little girl also dressed in a long night gown.  With one hand the child was holding Rita's left hand and with the other she held a teddy bear.  Thinking he was still asleep, Dad rubbed his eyes and shook his head.  The girl was still there.  He called out to Rita and she stopped.  The little girl stopped as well, and peered at my father around Rita's body.  Dad asked Rita who the little girl was and Rita asked him what he was talking about.  He pointed to her and said she was standing at Rita's side. 

Now, my father was a bit of a prankster and naturally Rita passed this off as one of those moments, told him to stop trying to scare her and walked away, disappearing into the hallway that led to their bedroom.  She didn't see any child.  Dad sat there momentarily, wondering.  Asking himself many questions.  Had he imagined the child?  Maybe it was just a trick of the light from the television screen.  Maybe he was still asleep.  He rose from the chair, turned off the television, and followed Rita to bed.

Over coffee that morning, Dad brought up the subject of the little girl with Rita.  She didn't believe him, and voiced her displeasure at this attempt to scare her.  She waved him away...until she saw something in his eyes.  There was a seriousness she recognized, and at that moment she realized this wasn't one of his jokes.

I treated him with the same certainty that he was toying with me in the retelling of what had happened.  But within minutes, his seriousness and conviction had me wondering if maybe he really did see something in the living room that night.  Especially after he told me he checked the property records and learned a family had lived in the house before Rita.  Prompted by curiosity he did some research and also learned the family had built the home for themselves but moved out within a few years after a child died from an illness; the child was a six year old girl.

In talking with my sisters about the experience, we were mixed about what Dad had seen.  Whether it was just his imagination or his sleepy mind playing tricks with his eyes, or something else...we didn't agree.  But each of us agreed on one thing; Rita was a warm, loving person, the kind of person children connect with and are drawn to.  If Dad really had seen the little girl it was easy to see why she was drawn to Rita.

Last year I asked Rita about that story and whether she still believed my father.  She does, and she admitted that every so often when she walks through the living room she feels a little cold in the place where Dad says he saw the girl.  She feels a little cold, even during the hottest day of summer.  And her home doesn't even have air conditioning.

Just Days Away

 

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Trick or Treat Through J-Land

Want to play? Title an entry "Trick or Treat Through J-Land", then copy & paste these instuctions so others can play.

Visit as many journals as you can that have a "Trick or Treat" entry & leave comments with your links.





  













Sunday, October 22, 2006

Location...location...location

Earlier this summer (July 5) I experienced a spectacular sunset.  With dinner on the stove I couldn't hop in my Jeep and drive off to the place I go to photograph such events.  I was bummed because it was the most jaw-dropping sunset ever, but most of it was blocked by the trees in the canyon behind our home.

Turns out someone else in my fair city was taking photos at the same exact time I was...but they had a much better view.  Hope they don't mind my linking to their photo.

My shot

Wow!

A different shot taken by someone else <click me>

It's rather interesting to find that someone with a different perspective has taken the very same photograph at the very same time as my own.  Side by side the two pics can't be more than a couple of seconds apart.  Same scene and yet so very different.

 

"Imagination is the beginning of creation.

You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last - you create what you will."

~ George Bernard Shaw ~

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Count down

Down for the count

The house is quiet.  I have the blanket covering me and my trusty laptop balanced on my knees.  The cat is sleeping on my legs, curled into a purring striped furry bundle of assuring warmth.  Below my feet Rumbeau is softly snoring and the sound makes me smile.  And Allie is having a fitful sleep again, flipping her paws in sync with her whistling tea kettle whimper.  I debate on whether to wake her if for no other reason than to save my ears from being stuffed with either cotton or my fingers to muffle the sound.

Sam is away this week, gone on his annual hunting trip.  I have the house to myself and I am blissfully aware of just how much I do enjoy this time.  My time.  I've been sick all week, fighting another bout of walking pneumonia since last Thursday.  Spent five days flat on my back, giving my body the rest it needs...bored out of my mind.  Daytime television programming can be tolerated only so long.  Returned to work Wednesday morning and felt okay until I started fading around 1 p.m.  I lasted until 3 p.m. before calling it a day.  Board meeting last night so I didn't go to the office until Noon yesterday, but my boss sent me home at 3 so I could get a quick nap before the meeting.  Presented the new budget for Board approval so I needed to be available in case of questions.  None came up, but I feel I just stumbled through my financial report.  Not happy with that.  Felt disconnected...probably from fatigue and medication.

Haven't written much about baby D; it seems each time I see her she's learned a new word or animal sound, although she's perfectly content chatting in her own personal babble.  That's what I enjoy the most, those moments when she's engaged in some carefree dialogue with herself, speaking, moving, tilting her head this way and that, then stopping to cast those deep baby blues right through my heart and soul.  Her present vocabulary includes Dada (her favorite word), Mama, bunny, and another word that might be her attempt to say her Mom's given name...hard to tell. 

D experienced the fair last month with her Mom and Dad, who reported she fears nothing.  Without hesitation she headed straight for the petting zoo and in no time had a goat by the horns.  I've got a few pictures and there's one of her standing next to a little white pony about her size...such sweetness.  She loves books and having someone read to her.  Last time Sam and I visited, I spent the entire time interacting with her.  The sense of peace I found sitting on the floor with my back against the couch watching her travel back and forth between me and her book shelf is immeasurable.  Several trips later, satisfied with her amassed literary findings, she crawled onto my lap and unceremoniously thrust one book after another in my face.  Priceless.

Wonder what she's going to be for Halloween this year; last year she was a soft white bunny with long floppy ears.  :)

I've been craving Italian food lately and maybe tonight I'll treat myself to something special.  Sam should be home tomorrow morning and if the guys got something everyone will gather at Bill's home to cut, package and divide the meat between all the families.  Never was much of a supporter of hunting, having grown up in LA where hunting was as much a part of daily life as a quiet walk in secluded woods.  I grew up on Bambi and associated hunters with the scene where Bambi's Mom is shot, a way of thinking that stayed with me throughout my adult years...until I met Sam.  He didn't fit the stereotypical hunter out for the sake of bagging a prize trophy; hunting is a means to feed his family.  The first time I accompanied him on a hunt it was obvious to both of us by the end of the day that hunting was not my thing.  90% of the time was spent hiking the rocky mountain terrain and I complained the entire time: my feet hurt, this rifle's too heavy, I have to stop for a break.  Just before dusk we jumped two does and within seconds Sam had the stock of his rifle pressed against his cheek and bamm!  All I could do was stand there, frozen, mouth agape; I don't have the killer instinct...no surprise there.  The only shooting I'll do is with a camera.  At the cabin later that night, I stood outside on the porch, filled with a sense of eerie unrest, gazing at the doe's carcass hanging from a nearby tree.  I felt compelled to thank her spirit for providing the family with another year of food, and only after doing so did I feel balanced again.  It's something I do every year when the guys return with an animal that will soon be served on my table.  About half the meat is ground into burger, some is set aside for jerky, some becomes steak and we always can a couple dozen jars with beef bouillon and onion flakes.  Canned deer meat loses that gamy taste, is similar to canned tuna in texture and it makes an awesome stroganoff.  The burger and jerky are great, but the steaks require extra measures to combat the toughness and gamy taste.  The few years we had deer or elk we saved hundreds of dollars at the local grocer meat counter.

Spent the evening playing and creating tags and graphics for Halloween.  Seems I rarely have time for such pursuits anymore, but the time I do spend I so thoroughly enjoy.  With each project I get a little better.   The tag below is snaggable.
 



 


Thursday, October 19, 2006

A bookish tag

Picked this up from Linda's journal: Linda's World



1. Grab the nearest book. If you are currently reading something, that'll be fine too.

2. Open the book to page 123.

3. Find the fifth sentence.

4. Post the text of the next 4 sentences on your Blog along with these instructions.

5. Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet I know that is what you were thinking!

6. Tag 5 people



"Sometimes I hear the whistle at night, and I've had to stop more than once at the crossing to let the train pass, but it's not as if I could tell you for certain.  I do know that they make a lot of shipments from the mill, though.  That's where the train actually stops."

Jeremy nodded as he stared at the trestle.

True Believer by Nicholas Sparks



Breaking the rule and not assigning the tag to anyone.  Participate if the spirit so moves you.

Not Gone Phishing...



>At least once a week I receive an e-mail message warning me about recent suspicious activity on an account I have somewhere.  I am then advised to click on a link to verify my account information.  This is always followed by a threat to suspend my account if I fail to immediately act on the request.

Please, I think whist rolling my eyes.

We've all heard about this criminal activity and I believe it's called phishing.  Each time I receive one, after the ceremoneous rolling of my eyes I wonder how many people are fooled into believing these messages are legit.  Worried, they click on the supplied link to address the problem.

Based on what I know (research) messages of this nature do not originate from the company named within.  Criminal intent is the name of the game and someone is banking (pardon the pun) on hitting an uninformed individual who will open the door to their personal and financial information.  Education is the best protection against these thieves, and as long as they believe people will respond to their messages they will continue to persue their next victim.

What to do. 

Never click on the link provided.  Ever.  Because it will not take you to the company's website.  Anyone can have a website these days and that link is pointing to a very bad place to be avoided.  Period.  The URL behind that link never points to the company's website.  Best thing to do is to forward the message to the company it claims to be from.  Any reputable company doing business on the internet will have resources available to their customers for combating this type of activity.  Take a few minutes, after you close the message, to visit the company's website so you can determine the best course of action.  Most will provide an e-mail address and instruct you to forward the message to them.  After you forward the message, delete it from your e-mail.  The company will reply, confirm the message is a scam, and provide you with further information on their policies and practices for addressing this problem. 

Trust me, if there really was suspicious activity on your account, the company will likely contact you by phone.  They need to talk to you and the telephone is the tool they will use.



This type of activity can also be reported to the FBI at a special website they have set up to combat this type of criminal activity. <Click me> to visit the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center.



Don't be fooled or taken in by criminals.  Arm yourself with information and stay aware.  These are easy steps to take toward your future.  We all have worked hard to get where we are, and we will not allow any one to mess with our lives or our plans.

 

** Education is the best provision for old age.**
                   ~Aristotle