Sunday, December 31, 2006

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Happy Birthday

Happy birthday, daddy! Hope you have a terrific day!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas, one and all

To all of our friends and family we cannot see, a very Merry Christmas! We enjoyed a very busy weekend visiting with everyone. Saturday I drove to Sulphur Springs to see my mom's side of the family. Got to see my twin cousins whom I hadn't seen in at least eight months or so. They're now busy fifteen-month-olds and cute as buttons. Sunday was a marathon of church services and a day I hope never to repeat. Never again will I think singing five services is a good idea! I was both physically and vocally exhausted by the time I finished the fifth service. But all in all, the music was beautiful and I felt I contributed in some small way in making someone else's Christmas Eve extra special, and in the end, that's the most important. Today we got to see the parents. We had lunch with my family and an afternoon get-together with Derek's parents. In theory, tomorrow is a much-needed rest for the weary. But Derek will be working and I will be attending a funeral. So instead, we'll get an evening of much-needed vegetation in front of the "bube tube," as Granny calls it.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

WHOOHOO!

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Brief explanation:
Derek works for Stryker Orthopedics in the trauma division as a sales rep. This is the first full year Derek has been a rep. He set two goals in Jan. 06: 1) to make his number and 2) to sell at least $100,000 in product in a month. As of today, he has met both of his goals. In short, he blew those goals out of the water.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

T Minus 5

Is it just me or does it just not seem possible that Christmas is only five days away? Given the fact that it was 80 degrees here in Dallas just a few days ago, it really doesn't feel like Christmas either. But thankfully some cooler weather has blown in, along with some much-needed rain, and it will be winter-like by the time Christmas arrives. We might even get some white stuff...but I'm not counting any chickens just yet.

Well, we survived last week. It was busy, to say the least. This week is no better really. With only five days to get my house in order, I'm running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to get everything done. Did part of the grocery shopping last night. Finished up all but two of the gifts that needed wrapping. Still lack a trip to Sam's and a trip to the post office for stamps. And then it will be time to settle in to get the house clean & the table set. Have two rehearsals and a church service to sing tonight. Have a family Christmas dinner to attend on Saturday. Have five services to sing on Christmas Eve. And then it will be time for the Christmas Day marathon--lunch at our house with my family & dinner across town with the in-laws.

And in 11 days...we'll know for sure if Derek made his year-end sales number. We're relatively certain he's already made the magic monthly number to put him over the top for the year, but the reporting system is slow. If he makes it, there will be a big, flashy post not to mention a big party at our house!!!!

Friday, December 15, 2006

What a Week

Ever wish you could have lived a week under a rock? Yeah, this was one of those weeks. Started out with a big foohrah about Christmas and ended with a hospital visit. So Monday Derek and I had a big "discussion" about where we're having Christmas and when. Ultimately, I think we have it all figured out. Can't speak for everyone about whether they're happy with the arrangements, but I'm just glad to have everything sorted out. Wednesday we had a major flood at work. A large pipe on the floor above us ruptured and poured hundreds of gallons of water through the ceiling. Our network room experienced the brunt of the flooding. We spent half a day trying to save things from the water. While we lost a lot of equipment, thankfully the major loss was network hubs rather than network drives. Surprisingly, we were back online the next business day thanks to our amazing computer guru who stayed here until 5 a.m. replacing and rewiring. And yesterday, after David & Olga closed on their new house, they spent the rest of the evening in the emergency room. Olga had severe abdominal pain, which they thought was appendicitis. After several tests, the doctors determined it wasn't appendicitis but aren't really sure what is/was causing the pain. She's supposed to see her primary care today and possibly a GI doctor. Tonight I have to finish a long-overdue project for someone at work, pay some bills, do some house cleaning, get some gifts wrapped, and make shopping lists. Tomorrow we have Derek's company Christmas party at the Omni Mandalay in Las Colinas and Sunday I sing the program at John Calvin and maybe have a holiday gathering with the neighbors. Whew, what a week!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Need Mozart?

You might find this article interesting.

Monday, December 11, 2006

T Minus 14

The speed at which the days flip on my calendar seems to be increasing at record pace. 'Tis the season for lots of reminders from the Palm. This weekend was no exception. I attended a rehearsal, went to dinner and the opera, sang at church, sang a concert, wrapped gifts, did laundry, and finished up the Christmas shopping, in no particular order. Whew, I need a weekend from my weekend. The next few weeks leave little time for rest, so I'll take advantage of what little respites that come my way. Like tonight, for instance, I'm making a cake and wrapping gifts all in the comfort of my living room--one night this week when I don't have to venture out. The outdoor lights should go up this week, too. It was too cold this weekend for this little task. So I have lights and clips to find and organize and shrubs to prune all in preparation for the house lighting. The table centerpiece is on order, so I'll be assembling that when it arrives. And there's still the little issue of settling the arrangements for our family Christmas gathering. I thought we had it together until last night when plans were announced and all was not love and hugs in my household. This little verse from today's calendar seems befitting:

Each and every one of us is deserving of a kind word, a gentle thought, and the gift of understanding.

Perhaps there will be more kind words, gentle thoughts, and understanding at home today. If we avoid the subject altogether, that could be guaranteed. However, at some point, a discussion must be had and a decision must be made. For today, I'll settle for peace and quiet.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Several Updates

I realized it's been quite a while since I've given updates on several prayer requests for family and friends.

My uncle, Gregg Hammargren, received an excellent report at his last appointment at MD Anderson. Thanks to the experimental drug Gleevic, the tumors in my uncle's abdomen have continued to shrink, and according to the doctors, the results are nothing short of miraculous. Surgery to remove the tumor has been delayed at least another two months to allow the Gleevic to continue to shrink the mass. The good news is that when the tumor is finally removed, Gregg will lose very little of his stomach. At this point, the attachment site is only about the size of a fifty-cent piece. The attachment to the liver is a bit more serious, but the doctors are hoping the extra time on Gleevic will allow them to perform total removal in one surgery rather than several. Please continue to pray for the Hammargren family as there is still a long road to recovery ahead.

My voice teacher's husband, Justin Tull, has received an excellent report from his doctors. After having several months of severe muscle pain and a brief stay in the hospital, the initial prognosis was quite grim. However, with extensive testing, his doctors were able to rule out bone cancer and have since come to discover the source of his extreme pain and fatigue is Lipitor. Having been off Lipitor for about a month, his symptoms have begun to subside and he is on the mend. Apparently, in some patients, Lipitor can cause serious life-threatening side effects. Thankfully, Justin did not wait too long and he is expected to make a full recovery. He is now on alternative medications for his cholesterol and is having great success with them and no side effects. Continue to pray for a full recovery.

Welcome Home, Truman

The long wait is finally over. Truman Borden Price was dismissed from the NICU at Baylor on Tuesday, December 5th. This will indeed be a very Merry Christmas for Ben, Kara, and Truman as they settle in to life as a normal family. May God continue to bless you as you grow!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Note to Self: About Oatmeal

If you allow your cooked oatmeal to get cold, the consistency does in fact resemble what you imagine in your mind snotty boogers would feel like if you ate them. *makes grimace as she finishes her bowl b/c it's that healthy stuff that's too expensive to throw out* GROSS! Recommendation: eat the oatmeal when it's hot & don't doddle about it!

Congrats!

Congratulations to Ross & Chrissy (Passons) Woodley on the birth of their daughter, Zoe Elizabeth. Zoe was born on December 5th at 5:23 p.m. She weighed 5 lbs 11 oz and is 18 1/4" long. Mom & Zoe are doing great, and dad is tickled pink!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Ixnay the Jingle Toys


They inevitably think the best time to play with them is in the middle of the night!

Irving Chorale Concert

Monday, December 04, 2006

Concert Opportunity

This Sunday, December 10th at 6 p.m. Lake Highlands United Methodist Church will present its annual holiday program "A Christmas Gathering of Voices and Instruments," featuring Rutter's Gloria and several holiday selections. The chorus of more than forty voices will be accompanied by brass ensemble and timpani. The concert is free. If you would like to attend the pre-concert dinner, reservations may be made by calling the church office (214-348-6600). Tickets are $7 for adults & $4 for children.

T minus 21 days

The countdown has begun. It's hard to believe Christmas is only 21 short days away (well, 20 if you get into all the hours & minutes & seconds). Are you ready?

This weekend, I really got into Christmas mode as I dragged out all the decorations & began putting everything in its place. The tree is trimmed, the mantle is festooned, and the stockings are hung. I'm not quite ready to call it quits. A trip to Michael's is definitely in order. The family Christmas is at our house after all. The exterior of the house, aside from the front door, is still bare, so this week's task is to make it twinkle (like the rest of the ho-ho-ho block). By the weekend, I should be just about ready to declare the decorating complete.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Survey says: BRRRRRRRR

Okay, the weathermen weren't kidding when they said it was going to get cold. Yesterday, it didn't get above freezing & it was windy as all get-out, meaning the windchill was in the teens. Today it's not any warmer & it's still breezy. For a girl who's perpetually cold even in the summer, it's like being in the tundra! But...(strike up the music) it's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!

It did precipitate yesterday as the forecasters predicted. In Rowlett, we mostly got a wintry mix of sleet, freezing drizzle, and snow. I stayed home yesterday--not because my office closed but because I was preparing for my evening event. Unfortunately, as the morning went on, the conditions in my area worsened and I made the difficult decision to call the people with whom I was booked to sing and cancelled my appearance. In the end, I think I made a good decision. The roadways were clear, but the bridges and overpasses were quite treacherous areawide by mid-afternoon.

So, I enjoyed a relatively quiet day at home with the dog, who is ecstatic that winter blew in and brought with it some white stuff. After quite the romp outside, she came in and took a long nap...curled up in her daddy's favorite chair in the gameroom. I did a little practicing and made a big pot of baked potato soup.


(Thinking mom's not looking, she crawled in & curled up for a long winter's nap.)




(Realizing she's been caught, Dori gives the "did I do something wrong" face.)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Old Man Winter

The weather forecasts all call for plummeting temperatures tomorrow and freezing precipitation for Thursday. Never ye mind that today the forecasted high is almost 80! Assuming the forecasts are correct for the latter part of the week, this will be our first real dose of winter all year. And wouldn't you know that I plan to be out & about on Thursday since I have to sing that ASQ fundraiser in the evening. I'm not getting too excited. They predicted rain yesterday and we saw nary a drop. Texas...don't like the weather? Wait a few minutes.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday, mom! Hope you have a terrific day.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Family Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving hasn't been the biggest of holidays in my family. When you grow up in a hunting family, you learn to let many of the fall holidays come second to a big hunt. For the first in many years, the boys weren't off hunting. Both Derek and David drew short straws this year--they had to work. So today, we were able to celebrate together as a family a year of many blessings. We are thankful for each other, our friends, our good health, our good jobs, our many talents, and homes to call our own. It has indeed been another good year.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Thanksgivings

translated by Harriet Maxwell Converse
from a traditional Iroquois prayer


We who are here present thank the Great Spirit that we are here to praise Him.
We thank Him that He has created men and women, and ordered that these beings shall always be living to multiply the earth.
We thank Him for making the earth and giving these beings its products to live on.
We thank Him for the water that comes out of the earth and runs for our lands.
We thank Him for all the animals on the earth.
We thank Him for certain timbers that grow and have fluids coming from them for us all.
We thank Him for the branches of the trees that grow shadows for our shelter.
We thank Him for the beings that come from the west, the thunder and lightning that water the earth.
We thank Him for the light which we call our oldest brother, the sun that works for our good.
We thank Him for all the fruits that grow on the trees and vines.
We thank Him for his goodness in making the forests, and thank all its trees.
We thank Him for the darkness that gives us rest, and for the kind Being of the darkness that gives us light, the moon.
We thank Him for the bright spots in the skies that give us signs, the stars.
We give Him thanks for our supporters, who had charge of our harvests.
We give thanks that the voice of the Great Spirit can still be heard through the words of Ga-ne-o-di-o.
We thank the Great Spirit that we have the privilege of this pleasant occasion.
We give thanks for the persons who can sing the Great Spirit's music, and hope they will be privileged to continue in his faith.
We thank the Great Spirit for all the persons who perform the ceremonies on this occasion.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Another Singing Engagement

I have the unique opportunity to join the chancel choir of Lake Highlands United Methodist Church for their production of Rutter's Gloria on Sunday, December 10th at 6 p.m. This concert is open to the public.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

In Other News

And since I'm a little behind in my posting, you're a little behind in your news. Congrats to my brother & his wife who will be closing on their first house on December 28th. The 2100 sq ft, 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath house is in Forney. I haven't seen it, but mom says it's really nice. I'm jealous b/c he gets hardwood floors in his first house!

Not Forgotten

Contrary to popular belief, I really haven't forgotten about the ol' Foxhole. No, really. I haven't. Actually, I've been working on the post about New York. It's been in draft since last week. Haven't taken the time to get the pictures off the camera, so the post hasn't made it from draft to publish yet. Instead, I've been preparing the house for company.

The holiday season is a busy one. Now that David lives so close to me, it got a little busier. I volunteered to host Thanksgiving and Christmas at our house. I'm actually pretty excited about it. It does mean a little work for me--I actually have to decorate. And it means I have to put my house in order. But it also means we won't have to juggle schedules to make the drive home. Actually, part of the reason we're making a new tradition to have the parents come our way is that David and Derek both drew short straws this year--they have to work both holidays. (For David, this will likely be the case for several years until he gets a little seniority in his office.) Since their jobs require them to remain in the area, it just made sense to have everyone over to our house.

So this weekend I started getting ready--went grocery shopping and started cleaning house. I had fun buying table decorations--suitable for both occasions, of course. All that changes is the centerpiece and tableware. We decided on a Thanksgiving menu and divvied up who'll bring what. And we've also made our plans for our annual day-after-Thanksgiving early-morning shopping trip.

Throw in an evening at the opera and an evening concert and you understand why I didn't have time to finish up the long-promised post about our trip to the Big Apple. But it's coming. I promise.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A Nibble of the Big Apple

Manhattan is one of many places that cannot be seen in one trip. We didn't even begin to scratch the surface in our four short days there. What we did do was get a taste of the Big Apple and began the list of things to do on the next trip. So here's the Reader's Digest version of our trip:

Thursday, November 9
In his many business trips, Derek has learned to use the self check-in kiosks at the airport and has found he's more often offered inexpensive upgrades. Flying to JFK was no exception. We were both able to upgrade to first class for the flight, which for a guy of 6'4" makes for a much more comfortable ride. Once in New York, I talked Derek into taking the SuperShuttle to the hotel instead of a cab. While it was cheaper, I think it ultimately cost us in precious time--not to mention it was a very crowded ride. We had to wait for over an hour for the shuttle to arrive and then spent about 90 minutes in traffic between the airport and Manhattan. Once in Manhattan, traffic was crazy (and our driver was crazier) & we had a million and one stops to make before ours. Four hours after landing, we were finally at the hotel. We rested for a bit before venturing to Times Square for a look at the lights and a bite to eat at Junior's.

Friday, November 10
We walked from our hotel at 32nd & Broadway all the way to Central Park. Once in Central Park, it's very easy to forget that you're in a big city. It's really a lovely place to spend a morning. We headed back in the direction of the hotel, grabbing lunch on the way. Then it was time to catch a ride for our guided tour of the city. Our guide actually worked for Frommer's, so he had an exceptional knowledge of the history of the city and its architecture. Our 5.5 hour tour included stops at all of the places you'd expect plus a ride on the Long Island Ferry with spectacular nighttime views of Manhattan and Lady Liberty. After our tour, we met my college friends Eric & LaNita for a night out in Brooklyn. It was quite an adventure getting there and through some pretty shady areas, but we did eventually make it and had a great time. I got to meet a childhood friend of LaNita's whose in New York "making it" on the vocal scene. We had a great time "talking shop."

Saturday, November 11
Today was a lazy day for us. We did some more walking in Times Square, touring the world's largest Macy's. Derek had a great time riding the escalators--well, they were old-fashioned, hand-carved escalators from the turn-of-the-century. We grabbed lunch and then went to see Spamalot on Broadway. Hilarious! If ever you have the chance to see it (it's coming to Dallas Summer Musicals this season!), you really should...assuming you like Monty Python. We then went back to the hotel to change for dinner and then rode the subway to Del Frisco's. By far the best steak I've ever eaten!

Sunday, November 12
Today we decided to go to the Empire State Building Observation Deck. Boo! Silly me, I heard the weather forecast on Saturday which called for rain on Sunday. It never dawned on me that that would mean cloud cover. Duh. So, there was absolutely no visibility on the observation deck. But we went up anyway. It was cold & windy but a neat place. I can only imagine what views you must get from up there. Afterward, we had breakfast and then caught the subway to Rockefeller Plaza where they were preparing the Christmas tree for decorating. We enjoyed shopping at Saks (who pays that much for stuff?!), amongst many other high-end stores in that area. Had lunch at Blue Fin because I hadn't gotten my fill of sushi. Then we met up with Eric & LaNita in their neighborhood--the Financial District. Got a better look at Ground Zero (just around the corner from their apartment) and then set off for Greenwich Village for Eric's terrific mini-tour. Had dinner at the world-famous Little Italy establishment called Lombardi's. By far the best pizza on the trip!

Monday, November 13
Time to bid adieu to the Big Apple. Got up early to catch the hotel's suggested shuttle. A much better return to the airport. It actually turned out to be a sightseeing shuttle, and to avoid traffic, we snaked around Manhattan and the boroughs to return to the airport getting little tidbits of info from our driver along the way. We got to JFK in plenty of time. Derek was disappointed that we couldn't upgrade on this flight. We later found out why. Apparently, several flights from the day before had been seriously delayed because of weather and all of Monday's outbound flights from LaGuardia had been cancelled and the passengers bussed to JFK. That meant a bigger plane--we flew home on a 777 instead of a 757. Anyway, that meant the plane was pretty full and the first class cabin was not available to we lowly in coach. But Derek did ultimately get a front-row seat in our section and had plenty of legroom.

All in all, it was a fabulous trip. We had great weather almost the entire time we were in Manhattan. And it was great to see old friends. We look forward to our next trip to the Big Apple!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Singing Engagements

While I thought the end of the year was going to a vocally quiet one, I'm happy to say that I've recently been employed by two separate groups. On November 30th, I will be part of the entertainment for the American Society for Quality annual fundraiser. This event is open to the public, and tickets can be purchased through the ASQ website. For the month of December, I will be the paid soprano at John Calvin Presbyterian Church in Dallas. This is a small congregation with an equally small choir. The music minister is trying to build his program and will be hiring singers until his program is off the ground. I have signed on until the end of the year and do have the opportunity to sing well into the spring if I am able.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Happy Veterans Day (albeit belated)

One cool thing about being in New York City this weekend...we were there for the annual Veterans Day Parade. Derek and I wondered why we were seeing SO many guys in uniform. While I realize New York does play host to many sailors, it seemed odd to see many other military men and women walking the streets. And then we saw the sign...join us in honoring our veterans at Saturday's parade. It was so awesome to see how many people came to cheer on these young men and women as they marched down Fifth Avenue. Again, while many Americans do not agree with the war, they do come out to say "thank you" to all of those who so generously give of themselves for God and country.

Are you thankful for your servicemen? Why not send one a card. There's a really cool website dedicated to sending notes of thanks to men and women serving all over the world. The coolest part? It's totally free. AND the cards are all designed by children. So take a minute to tell a troop thanks. It really does make a difference!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Only in New York

We're having a great time in New York. This city is so amazing and so vastly different from any other big city I've visited. Traffic is insane, the drivers are even worse, the streets are crowded, and I'm surprised by something at every turn. We'll have lots of stories to tell, but for now, I think this photo says a lot.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Start Spreadin' the News

So just a few short days before we're on our way to the Big Apple. And I'm so excited that I can hardly contain myself. It's been a long-held dream of mine to go to New York. Granted, my plan was to sing at Carnegie or the Met. But I'll take what I can get at the moment. Seriously, we're very excited about this vacation. Derek goes to the Big City a lot on business since Stryker's headquarters is only about a half hour away in New Jersey. And while he usually gets at least one night on the town while there on business, he has yet to get to sightsee. So naturally, we intend to see as many of the New York City landmarks as is humanly possible in five days. And along the way, we hope we're able to meet up with several friends who live in the area. The next few days will be hectic as we prepare for the trip, but we look forward to sharing some great stories sometime next week.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

For My Friends With Four-Legged Children

For those of you whose furry children are members of the family, enjoy!

Just a dog
-Anonymous

From time to time, people tell me,
"lighten up, it's just a dog"
or "that's a lot of money for just a dog."
They don't understand the distance traveled,
the time spent, or the costs involved for "just a dog."

Some of my proudest moments have come about with "just a dog."
Many hours have passed and my only company was "just a dog,"
but I did not once feel slighted.
Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by "just a dog,"
and in those days of darkness,
the gentle touch of "just a dog" gave me comfort and reason to overcome the day.

If you, too, think it's "just a dog,"
then you will probably understand phases like
"just a friend," "just a sunrise," or "just a promise."

"Just a dog" brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure unbridled joy.
"Just a dog" brings out the compassion and patience that make me a better person.
Because of "just a dog" I will rise early, take long walks, and look longingly to the future.

So for me and folks like me, it's not "just a dog"
but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future,
the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment.
"Just a dog" brings out what's good in me and
diverts my thoughts away from myself and the worries of the day.

I hope that someday they can understand that it's not "just a dog"
but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being "just a man."
So the next time you hear the phrase "just a dog,"
just smile because they "just don't understand."

Friday, November 03, 2006

Bits of Good News

I heard from my girlfriend Jen yesterday who called to tell me that she & Jacob came home from the NICU on Wednesday. Jacob is doing fabulously well, obviously, and is a very happy & healthy baby. The little scare they had last week turned out to be a whole lot of nothing. But his doctors are still requiring some follow-ups just to be on the safe side. Naturally, because he's a preemie, he has lots of doctor appointments over the next several weeks. But they're all routine. Thank you for all of your prayers for the Pike/Willingham family.

And I'm excited because my car is ready to be picked up from the dealer's body shop. So I'm due to sign paperwork tomorrow morning. I could have picked it up either yesterday or today, but there was just no way to fit it in the schedule. While it did take a little longer than anticipated, it still wasn't all that long to wait in the grand scheme of car repairs.

Otherwise, the weekend will be full of things I want to do. Have a trivia party to go to tonight, my car to pick up tomorrow, some light house cleaning to do. But otherwise, I plan to spend the weekend getting ready for our trip. Have some odds-n-ends to buy, like new shoes and easy-to-pack toiletries. Yeah for fun weekends!

Concert Invitation

One of my good friends is a member of this chorus. Since I know I have many readers who are interested in area arts events, I thought I would post this on her behalf. So if you're interested, mark your calendar for November 19th.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

This and That

Had to go for a regular check-up this week. It was time again to evaluate the blood pressure. I'm not sure I've ever mentioned that I even have a blood pressure problem. Unfortunately, I got the flawed set of genes in that department. Dad was kind enough to pass those along. Actually, I should feel fortunate. Several, if not all, of my dad's sisters have been medicated since their early 20s. So to put it off until my late 20s is saying something. Anywho, I've been on baseline meds for 18 mos now. And in the last month, I've seen my readings really start creeping. I knew I wouldn't be able to stay on the baseline stuff forever. When you're dealing with a genetic issue rather than environmental, you expect to have to make adjustments to meds along the way. After running some tests, the doctor decided to switch me to a beta blocker. I'm not all that thrilled with the switch; it can pose issues down the road. But those issues certainly beat any alternatives to being unmedicated altogether! Hopefully, the new med will work and I'll see my readings come back into the normal range and stay there for a while.

My brother had his first bit of excitement on the job. He was involved in a multi-agency nighttime manhunt. This was a particularly dangerous situation since the suspect was considered armed & dangerous. So David was on the case with weapon drawn. That'll keep you awake on a night shift!

Still don't have my car back. It was only supposed to have taken 6 business days to repair...at least, if you believe what the insurance company tells you. I've called the dealership to see how much longer they'll have the car. If all goes well, I'll have it this Friday.

So just one short week until Derek & I head off to the big city. We're very excited and already have a game plan for our four-day vacation. We have several friends we plan to see. And we'll do the usual sight-seeing. We hope to make a show or two and have a nice dinner somewhere. I must admit that I've been a little floored by how expensive NYC is! If you want to stay in the city, expect to pay handsomely. And while you can eat on the cheap, a nice meal will also cost you. But...when you're on vacation, you can't always be budget-conscious (a/k/a tightwad/cheapskate/penny-pincher). Naturally, I'll give all the trip details sometime after we get back.

Close Race to Finish

Congrats to Derek who had a very good month of sales in October! And after the very slow sales in September, it's just the boost he needs to finish the year strong. I'm not exactly sure how far off his yearly number he is, but it's going to be a very close race to the finish. And that could mean an extra bonus. I know you can do it!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Today marks one of my favorite holidays. There's just something about dressing up, getting candy, and crisp, cool weather that make me smile with glee. And today is particularly wonderful because a cold front is supposed to blow in, bringing with it the weather that makes fall my favorite season. So Happy Halloween to one & all. May you enjoy the day as much as I do!

And happy anniversary to my grandparents, who celebrate 50+ years today.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Two Prayer Requests

I have two dear friends who are in need of your prayers. You may recall me telling you about baby Jacob Pike, who was born at 30 1/2 weeks. He's had a little set-back in the past week. He had been upgraded from the NICU to a private room on the neonatal floor but experienced abdominal swelling and was readmitted to the NICU for observation and testing. I have not heard anything from Jen about the results of those tests. I'm hoping that no news is good news. But in the meantime, please keep the Pike/Willingham families in your prayers.

Also, my voice teacher is experiencing some tough times right now. She is a recent newlywed. And her husband has had some health problems since returning from some late summer vacationing. Initially, he believed he had a ruptured disc in his back. But an MRI showed this was not the case. The pain has since moved around quite a bit. He was admitted to the hospital last week for severe pain. While an official diagnosis has not been made, the doctors have mentioned the possibility of bone cancer. Facing cancer is particularly difficult for them as both of them have lost spouses to cancer. Please pray for the Tull family.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Peace and Quiet

What a great weekend we've had. Although Derek has been on call, it was a relatively uneventful weekend, which means we actually got to see each other for more than five minutes! But with a quiet schedule for me until the end of the year, that should be the case for a while. Aside from getting to spend some quiet, quality time together, I spent a better part of the weekend cleaning house. Finally...the house is back up to my standard of clean. For six weeks, I wasn't able to do much in the way of cleaning. You take for granted every day the ability to lift and/or push/pull things that weigh more than 10 lbs. At least, I know that I did. So while I was on post-op restrictions, I wasn't able to run the vacuum cleaner. While I wouldn't ordinarily complain about this, after a while, the metropolises of dust bunnies really start to get to you--well, they do if you're a neat/clean freak like I am. Derek was kind enough to "clean" a few times, but it's just not quite the same. And now the house is all nice & clean again. You know, there really is nothing like that feeling of having a clean house. At least, for me anyway.

Now that that's done, I can finally get to the around-the-house to-do list, which has grown quite long. I am already able to cross one thing off the list--I temporarily organized my rehearsal corner in the craft room (see photo left). Ah, accomplishment! If we tackle one to two projects a week, I think we can actually get everything else accomplished before the end of the year. Here's the list:

  • Install new toilet flapper in master bath
  • Install task lighting in craft room
  • Install tile backsplash in kitchen
  • Paint interior walls
  • Clean out closets in extra bedroom/offices
  • Organize Derek's office
  • Clean/organize garage
  • File the mountain of paperwork
  • Take clothes to Goodwill
I'm sure we've missed a few things on the to-do list. But just these few items should keep us busy from now until the end of the year. And what a terrific feeling to have all of these things accomplished!

So for the next few months, we'll be enjoying the peace and quiet of house projects. I find all of these things very relaxing. Perhaps because the ability to cross them off the to-do list is cathartic. But that's probably because it feeds the neat freak in me. And that's okay.

I'll keep you posted on our progress.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Fall Signals Change

Just as the season is changing here in Texas, it seems appropriate that my blog layout have a little makeover, as well. I cannot guarantee I'll stay with the new layout. I'm honestly not sure whether I'm all that fond of it, but it will do for now until I have more time to do some more searching. Meanwhile, feel free to let me know what you think.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Audition Announcement

On behalf of my friend:

I need actors. Kaufman County Civic Theatre (I know, I know, it's a silly name) is producing the Radio Show version of It's a Wonderful Life for our Christmas show this year. I am Directing. The rehearsal schedule will be REALLY light. Tuesdays and Thursdays starting Nov. 7 through the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, and then Mon, Tue, Wed (if needed), and Thur. the following week leading up to opening December 1.

Shows are December 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, & 17.

Fridays & Saturdays at 8:00pm. Sundays at 2pm.

I'm having open auditions tonight at the theatre in the Old City Hall in Terrell, 115 N Adelaide. Hope to see you there.

Marty

Monday, October 23, 2006

Ahhhh...

Finally...I have a much-anticipated break from the go-go that has been my life the last several months. All of my singing engagements have come to a close. I might have a random job here and there, but long commitments are done for the year. And honestly, I'm looking forward to the break.

Lots of other updates to give, so I'll do it this way:


Car stuff - my car is now in the shop. If all goes well, it should be home by the weekend. Yeah! My insurance company has been so fabulous. In the end, a clause in our collision policy allowed a waiver in deductible. So even though I'm without my car for a few weeks, we are not out any money. And the insurance company is left to fight the battle of cost recovery without us. Yeah!

Audition results - I got my official "you didn't get anything" notice from the opera this week. Honestly, I'm a lot more disappointed than I thought I would be. I felt confident there would be something for me this season, but obviously there was talent well beyond mine. So...it's on to another audition but not until January. I have much to keep me busy between now and then, though I'm not ready to tell you about it just yet.

Concert - Last night's Chorale was concert was fabulous and very well-attended. I'm anxious to hear the recording. Thanks to everyone who came to hear us. I think we did you all proud.

Anniversary - all in all, it was a very nice weekend. Derek and I enjoyed an evening in on Saturday. I cooked for the first time in a very long time. And we actually lit the candle on the table. With the two of us always on the go, romance has kinda gone too...no time, you see. But it was nice to be able to take a moment and not have any interruptions. And, as usual, he completely went against the gift-giving plan and went completely overboard. But he wouldn't be Derek if he didn't!

See you in the funny papers

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Anniversary Reflections

It's hard to believe that six years ago today we said "I do." It's safe to say that we didn't believe everyone who said "marriage is hard work." But over the last six years, we've learned, as every couple does, that they were right--marriage is very hard work. As the years fly by, you realize that it's a lot harder to be that cute newlywed couple that everyone talked about. Romance often gives way to reality. There are days when you wonder why on earth you thought marriage was a good idea. Then there are other days when you wonder how you got so lucky to have such a wonderful spouse. I think this poem sums it up best:

You know we've been married a while
because we speak more of home repairs than romance.

When we talk about being hot,
it's usually something to do with the thermostat.

Candlelight means there's a power failure,
and a great night in bed usually means
we managed to get some good sleep.

But in the midst of the humdrum,
I catch a look at your eyes
and see the eyes of the one I fell in love with.
And in your voice, I still hear the whispers
of someone newly in love.
And in your hands, I feel the caress
that has always made me melt.

Life isn't always fun or exciting or wonderful...
but you always are.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Free Concert on Sunday

In honor of Mozart's 250th birthday, the Irving Chorale will present a stirring concert of reflection, including "Laudate Dominum" from his Vesperae Solennes De Confessore, K. 339 and the entirety of his Requiem. The Chorale will be joined by the voices of the Plymouth Park United Methodist Church Chancel Choir. The choruses will be accompanied by professional orchestra and under the direction of Jason Chavarria, music minister of PPUMC, and Harry Wooten, artistic director of the Chorale.

This free concert will be presented on Sunday, October 22, 2006, at 7 p.m. at Plymouth Park U.M.C. in Irving. Click for Map

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Ha-ha for the Day

With all the sadness and trauma going on in the world at the moment, it is worth reflecting on the death of a very important person, which almost went unnoticed last week.

Larry LaPrise, the man who wrote "The Hokey Pokey," died peacefully at the age of 93. The most traumatic part for his family was getting him into the coffin.

They put his left leg in . . . and then the trouble started.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I Heart My Insurance Company

Well, it's been a week since the little fender bender with the underage driver. So I figure it's about time for an update. I filed a claim with their insurance company, who had a hard time reaching the policy holder. Apparently, there was some kind of coverage issue to be discussed. After several days, they were finally able to speak to the couple about their son's accident and their coverage. Ultimately, my rep with their company told me to file on my uninsured motorist policy. While the claim had not been denied by them, he believed it ultimately would be. So I called my agent on Monday and subsequently my carrier. By yesterday morning, my company had prepared a full accident report, damage estimate, and repair estimate. And by yesterday afternoon, they had contacted my garage of choice, also one of their preferred shops, who called me to make arrangements to tow the car. Wow, talk about fast. So while the whole accident & having to file on my UID policy is a pain (since I'll have to pay a deductible & wait for who knows how many ions to recover it), I've been very impressed with the service I've received from The Hartford. I only hope the shop is as quick about repairing my car as my insurance company has been about getting everything in order!

It's the Little Things

The most interesting thing happened to me on Sunday while shopping at Sam's. Derek and I were in line to check out. This lady approached me and said, "I just want to thank you for wearing that." She gave me a big hug and continued, "I just heard from my son in Iraq. It means a lot for you to wear that shirt."

My aunt Robin sent this shirt to me while my cousin Matt was serving his second tour of duty in Iraq in the Green Zone. On the front is the caption "Support Our Local Troops," while on the back is a list of everyone in the company who participated in the tour. While Matt is now home, Derek's cousin Isaac is now in Iraq. Thus, I continue to wear the shirt because I firmly believe our support of the troops is important. We may not all agree about the war. In fact, it's safe to say that a majority of the US thinks we should come home. However, whether or not I agree with our troops being stationed in Iraq (or anywhere else in the world) does not affect my support of their service. Wearing a shirt telling others is certainly the very least that I can do.

So please, do your part. Show your support for US Servicemen (and women). I cannot think of one who is not proud to serve, to protect, and to defend. We should be thankful for their undying support of this country and of the rights and freedoms their service affords us.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

All's Well That Ends Well

Had my audition with The Living Opera on Sunday. Yep, I have a story. Ultimately decided to sing the Vivaldi "Alleluia" and Sondheim's "One More Kiss" from Follies. Since I knew I would sing the Sondheim piece and I was given the option to do so, I hired my own accompanist. It's such a crap shoot to go to an audition and depend on the hired gun. Most of the time, it works out alright, but I have those stories where it didn't. Anywho. On with the story.

So I start with the Vivaldi b/c I really want to do the best on the Sondheim piece. While the Vivaldi is showy in that it's all technique with the runs, the Sondheim really shows off the singer's ability to interpret and sing a very lyric line with lots of vocal control. If you know anything about the Baroque time period, you know that most of the pieces are AB sometimes ABA. Anyway, I got to the B section of the piece & completely forgot how it went. Ultimately, I repeat the A, which works for about two bars before it becomes plainly obvious that someone has screwed up. I stopped singing in hopes of recovering, but I suddenly didn't recognize the accompaniment at all. So I said, "I'm sorry. I'm going to have to stop." And then I turned to my accompanist to quickly choose a place to pick up. Ultimately, I recovered and sang the end of the piece flawlessly but I hate that I had to stop & start. I ended the audition beautifully. "One More Kiss" was absolutely flawless and was certainly well-received by the panel of judges. So...all's well that ends well.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Whoops...She Almost Did It Again

Each Friday, the Dallas Morning News posts its new Pet-of-the-Week candidates. You may remember that Dori was in the running more than a month ago & ultimately won. Earlier this week, I remembered that I hadn't checked for last week's entries. (While I don't always vote, I do like to look each week.) As I was scrolling down the list of potential candidates, I see a familiar face--Dori. Yep, she managed to make another appearance (and almost won again--who wouldn't vote for that cute face again?!). Naturally, this was a different picture (shown). I recall sending it after I thought the first picture had been rejected by the screeners as one not fit for the weekly stroll of candidates.

So, for those of you who also check the Pet-of-the-Week candidates each week, no, Dori's mommy was not trying to suggest that Dori is a diva and deserves more than one week's celebrity. Clearly the people at DMN don't get in a hurry to post photos & thus pet parents, like me, are led to believe their previous submissions have been rejected & thus send more, potentially cuter, photos of their beloved four-legged children. And because the people at DMN likewise do not check for duplicate entries--albeit with different photos--you may end up with cute critters who make the stroll more than once. So thanks to everyone who voted for her again; we're kinda glad the win went to the little dachsund.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A Big Fat Raspberry to Today

So what do you get when you add one to thirty? A big fat raspberry. Yesterday was great. Couldn't have asked for a better monumental birthday. Heard from lots of friends, some were even a surprise. Got gifts, flowers, balloons, a yard full of toilet paper, good food. Like I said, I can't complain. Got up today feelin' pretty good.

Then....

On the way to work, I got shmucked by a stupid teenager in a hurry to get to school who decided stop signs aren't really meant for stopping & heads aren't really meant for turning to look both ways. Thankfully, no one got hurt--at least, at this point, it seems like we're all in the clear. I may be sore tomorrow, but for now, I'm fine. So, afterward, I was feelin' pretty sorry for myself, right? Right, 30 + 1 = a really sucky day. But then I started thinkin' about the kid who hit me...and here's where the story begins--Reader's Digest version, of course.

I'm driving down the street minding my own business. Out of the corner of my eye, I see this white car coming at my driver's side door. I think, "wait, what's he doing there? He's supposed to stop. Why's he not stopping? He's gonna hit me. Oh crap...." (All of this taking place in a millisecond, of course) BAM...SCREECH...all quiet. "Am I okay? Nothing hurts. I think I'm fine. Time to get info. Stupid idiot." Get out of my car to go get insurance info. Walk up to the car & see that it's two teenagers. Great. They're not white either. Great. (No offense to anyone, but insurance statistics show that those most responsible for causing claims on uninsured motorist policies are not white.) I'm wondering whether they're going to have insurance when I ask for it. Yep, thankfully, they do. Take the card & go back to my car to copy down info. DPS officer happens upon the scene & stops to assist. Checks on us to be sure we're unhurt. Assesses damage. Asks questions. Helps us get pertinent info. At this point, we figure out that the kid has no driver's license. Not only that but he has no i.d. at all. He volunteers, "my dad doesn't know I drive the car to school." Bummer for you, he's gonna know now. "I have to call Rowlett PD before either of you can leave." They get there quickly. Get information from both of us. Kid gets ticketed for driving without a license. Plus, his car gets towed to impound because there's not a licensed driver who can remove it from the accident scene. The kid is still late for school & gets taken there by the cops.

So I chuckled all the way to work thinking...man, that kid has to sit at school all day knowing that he's going to be in some serious trouble when he gets home. Not only was he driving the car without parental consent, but he hit someone & was at fault in the accident because he ran a stop sign, he got a ticket for driving without a license, and he's the reason the my-dad-doesn't-know-I-drive-it-to-school car got towed to impound. All in all, I would say this day cost him--and subsequently his parents--some serious cash.

Yep, maybe this day didn't suck so bad after all. At least I didn't have all that 'splainin to do!

For the Girls

Today's song lyrics are for the girls. Both tunes are snappy & very catchy. Toe-tappers, ya might say. Carrie Underwood's song just cracks me up. The first time I heard it I thought, "wow, what girl hasn't wanted to do this to the guy who decided he'd play the field!" And it still makes me smile every single time I hear it. While The Wreckers' tune is catchy & the harmony tight, the heart of the story is a lot more sad. Put to a sappy melody line, it would certainly make ya cry. But the story's very familiar to any girl who's dated a guy who can't make up his mind just how much he likes you but doesn't want to let you go altogether. Havin' his cake & eatin' it, too, so to speak. Meanwhile, you're left to wonder at what point he's going to choose someone else & leave you to "pick up the pieces."

So, ladies, these are for you. Enjoy

Before He Cheats

Right now he's probably slow dancin' with a bleach blonde tramp,
and she's probably gettin' frisky
right now, he's probably buyin' her some fruity little drink cause she can't shoot whiskey
Right now, he's probably up behind her with a pool stick showing her how to shoot a combo

And he don't know
That I dug my key into the side of his pretty little suped up 4-wheel drive,
carved my name into his leather seats
I took a Louisville slugger to both head lights,
slashed a hole in all 4 tires
Maybe next time he'll think before he cheats

Right now she's probably up singin' some
white-trash version of Shania karaoke
Right now, she's probably sayin' "I'm drunk"
and he's thinkin' that he's gonna get lucky
Right now he's probably dabbin' on 3 dollars' worth of that bathroom polo

And he don't know
That I dug my key into the side of his pretty little suped up 4-wheel drive,
carved my name into his leather seats
I took a Louisville slugger to both head lights
slashed a hole in all 4 tires
Maybe next time he'll think before he cheats

I might saved a little trouble for the next girl
Cause the next time that he cheats
Oh, you know it won't be on me!

Ohh...not on me..
Cause I dug my key into the side of his pretty little suped up 4-wheel drive
carved my name into his leather seats
I took a Louisville slugger to both head lights
slashed a hole in all 4 tires
Maybe next time he'll think before he cheats.


--Carrie Underwood

Leave the Pieces

You're not sure that you love me
But you're not sure enough to let me go
Baby, it ain't fair
You know you just keep me hangin' round
You say you don't wanna hurt me
Don't wanna see my tears
So why are you still standin' here
Just watchin' me drown

And it's alright
Yeah, I'll be fine
Don't worry 'bout this heart o' mine
Just take your love and hit the road
'Cause there's nothin' you can do or say
You're gonna break my heart anyway
So just leave the pieces when you go

Now you can drag out the heartache
Baby, you can make it quick
You can get it over with and let me move on
Don't concern yourself with this mess you left for me
I can clean it up, ya see
Just as long as you're gone

And it's alright
Yeah, I'll be fine
Don't worry 'bout this heart o' mine
Just take your love and hit the road
'Cause there's nothin' you can do or say
You're gonna break my heart anyway
So just leave the pieces when you go

You're not makin' up your mind
It's killin' me
You're wasting time
I need so much more than that

Yeah, I'll be fine
Don't worry 'bout this heart o' mine
Just take your love and hit the road
'Cause there's nothin' you can do or say
You're gonna break my heart anyway
So just leave the pieces when you go

Leave the pieces when you go


--The Wreckers

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Birthdays

Birthdays are the tolling of
A bell that marks the coming of
A time of festive joy and love,
A time to treasure life and love.
So come and celebrate with me
The circumstance that makes me, me:
The moment when I came to be,
And what I now have come to be.

--Author unknown

Birthdays--generally, I have no qualms with birthdays. I usually manage to make mine last well beyond a week by the time I catch up with all of my friends and family. Since this year marks a "monumental" birthday, I would rather spend my birthday under a rock, pretending it doesn't exist. Particularly when I got up this morning to find my house toilet papered (thank you, David & Olga) and my yard littered with signs proclaiming my "big" birthday. So in the light of the fit of side-splitting laughter I've already had today, I thought a moment of reflection might be better since I'm clearly not going to be under a rock today. Plus, my quote-a-day calendar says

Cheerfulness brings sunlight for the mind,
filling it with calm and reassurance,
and lasts far longer than amusement's quick frantic burst.

So my cheery reflections are thus: I am truly blessed to celebrate my thirtieth birthday. Beyond the blessings of years are those of wonderful family and friends, who love and support me in everything I do. Thank you all for making each and every day a special day.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

One Down...

So, yesterday's audition--went. Funny how I always have some kind of funny story to tell after an audition. To start the whole thing off, I was late to my audition. This never happens. I'm usually at least 10 minutes early. And I left in plenty of time. Knowing that it was TX-OU weekend, I opted to go George Bush to Irving from Rowlett. I figured I would avoid all the football traffic that way. Haha--this would have been a good plan if the good folks at NTTA hadn't decided to do construction on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., shutting the westbound lanes down to one lane from Preston all the way to 35. Suck! Thankfully, I got there & people were congregating in the hallway. I waited about 5-10 min and Steve called my name. Nope, they hadn't been waiting on me. Overall, I think the audition went alright. My friend Gary Okeson was the hired accompanist so I was very pleased to know I would have a capable person driving my pieces. Sang "Green Finch" from Sweeney Todd first. Got all done and a conversation with one of the panel members goes something like this

{guy} Do you have anything more in the pop style? Less legit?
{grasshoppa} No, I'm sorry. I don't. I brought "Summertime" as my second piece.
{guy} Okay, well, let's try that and see how it works.
(Sing first 16-ish bars)
{guy} Thanks.

Yeah, so I was a little confused by this request for more pop style. The audition posting was thus

Please prepare 2 contrasting musical theater or country/folk type songs.

If you wanted musical theatre more in the pop style, say like Wicked! or Rent, then you should say so in the audition posting. Oh well, as I'm learning with each audition, there's always something new to add to the memory bank. This lesson would be to ask more questions about the types of pieces they were really looking for.

So...on to the next audition. I can only hope it goes better or is at least sans any strange comments.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Quote of the Day

The Church is a society of sinners - the only society in the world in which membership is based upon the single qualification that the candidate shall be unworthy of membership.
-- Charles C. Morrison

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Consumer Warning

To my friends, family, and other blog readers:

To follow, find a discourse on why, at all costs, you should avoid doing business with Zales Consumer Credit. Zales Consumer Credit, managed by Citi, provides the credit services for Zales Jeweler. You see all of the ads, "Apply for our card & get xx months of interest free/payment free financing." The ads are enticing, yes? Who wouldn't be interested in spreading out the cost of a major purchase, like jewelry, over an extended period of time without penalty of interest? We sure bought into it. But I am here to strongly encourage--no absolutely yell at you--DO NOT DO BUSINESS WITH ZALES CONSUMER CREDIT!!!!! Say no to the card!

Why? Allow me to give you the Reader's Digest version of our year-long battle with Zales Consumer Credit. Last October, we made a purchase. When we realized that it did not qualify for the advertised payment/interest deferment period--yes, that's right, it didn't qualify for the advertised program--we returned the purchase for a refund. Subsequently, we repurchased the items, along with two additional pieces, in order to qualify for the advertised program. When we received our billing statement with these transactions, things were amiss. Rather than issuing a credit for the return, the credit center posted a second charge for said amount. We called. No problem, we'll issue you a credit. They posted one credit to our account. This still leaves one erroneous charge pending for the return that was made. We called again. This time, no one at the credit center can help. The problem had to go to the investigations department, and we had to fax documentation of the transactions. In January, the second credit finally posts & the account is finally correct. Right? Right.

Sadly, I wish the story stopped there. In March, the credit center posts a charge to our account in the amount of the return. We called the credit center to tell them of the error and ask why this happened. "Yes, we know about it. The store called and said it mistakenly reposted the charge to your account. You should see a credit in about two weeks." Anal retentive, obsessive compulsive person that I am--I check the account regularly--okay, every day. A month later and still no credit for the erroneous posting. We call the credit center again. Again, the problem is sent to investigations and once again we have to send the same documentation of the return that we sent to the same department in December. Mind you, each time it goes to investigations, "it can take up to 60 days to process your request." In the meantime, I faithfully check the account to see if the credit has been issued. Sixty days later, no credit. More phone calls to the credit center--each time speaking to someone further and further up the chain of command. Another round of investigations, however, no request for documentation. August--still no credit. Another phone call. September--no credit. October--no credit. Another phone call. And those of you who know me know how angry I am at this point. No, I'm beyond angry. Get a supervisor.

{idiot} "I understand, and I wish I could give you a credit, Mrs. Fox. But I am not authorized to do that. All I can do is send this to the investigations department, along with all of the notes I have taken."
{grasshoppa} "You don't understand. This same issue has already been sent to your investigations department four times. And it has yet to be resolved. We have been dealing with this issue for almost a year. Do you know what happens when we get to a year? We accrue finance charges."
{idiot} "I'm sorry, Mrs. Fox. This is all I can do for you."
{grasshoppa} .... (trying to gather rational thoughts)
{grasshoppa} "Fine. Send it to your investigations department for the fourth time. But you owe me the credit, and I'm not paying it or any finance charges that might be assessed."
{idiot} "I'm sorry. I can't give you the credit. And there is a possibility the finance charges cannot be reversed. I'm not author..."
{grasshoppa} "I UNDERSTAND YOU'RE NOT AUTHORIZED. Send it to your investigations then." (very short pause) "Is there someone in investigations I can speak with? They already have all of this information on file, and I can save them a lot of time and get this taken care of a lot quicker if I can speak to someone."
{idiot} "I'm sorry. You can't. They're a non-phone department."
{grasshoppa} (Right. That's convenient) "Fine. Send it to investigations then. But what I want you to do is cancel the account. I'm not paying the balance. And you let your superiors know that I'm very unhappy, that I never intend to do business with you again, and that I intend to tell everyone I know not to do business with you."
{idiot} "I'm sorry. I can't give you the credit, even if you deserve it. And I can't cancel your account. I will make a note that you're unhappy..."
{grasshoppa} "What's your name?"
{idiot} "Rob."
{grasshoppa} "Last name?"
{idiot} "I can't tell you that."
{grasshoppa} "Okay, Rob. How about an identification number?"
{idiot} "I have an operator number."
{grasshoppa} "Okay, what's your operator number?"
{idiot} (sighs) (gives me his operator number)
{grasshoppa} "Is there an address to which I can send a complaint about the investigations department?"
{idiot} "No. But we do have an address for complaints about our services."
{grasshoppa} "What's the address?"
{idiot} (sighs) (gives address)
{grasshoppa} "Are you a member of the Better Business Bureau?"
{idiot} (sigh) "Yes."
{grasshoppa} "Good. I'll also be lodging a complaint with them." (pause) "Is there anything else you can do for me today?"
{idiot} "No, I'm sorry. All I can do is send this to investigations...."
{grasshoppa}(Click)

So I rant and rant about this to Derek, who had already spent an hour on the phone with Rob-the-Idiot before I spent the fifteen minutes to get told he could do nothing. Once I finally calmed down, we both came to the same realization. When we spoke to the credit center in March, they said the post was because of a store error. We had worked with the store manager after being told this in March. So we decide to go back to the store manager today to see if they could expedite the process. In theory, the store manager has this resolved. It still has to go to investigations, but rather than waiting up to 60 days, we are supposed to know in 5 days. We'll see if this gets fixed once and for all. Given their track record, I figure we'll be calling them again in a few months...and that phone call will be through our attorney!

Learn a lesson from us--DO NOT DO BUSINESS WITH ZALES CONSUMER CREDIT!!!! If you have an account, watch it like a hawk; pay it off; and cut up your card!

{Sidebar: Actually, the real problem is not just Zales Consumer Credit. It's with their managing company--Citi. We have a consumer account with Home Depot, as well. Guess who manages those accounts? Citi. Have we had problems with that account? Yep. Has it taken more than one call to the credit center to get the error fixed? Yes. Has it been fixed once and for all? Not exactly. But the balance is at least what it should be. Only the coming months will tell if they get it right permanently. So....before getting any store card for those great financing deals, check to see who manages those consumer accounts. If it's Citi, RUN LIKE HOLY HELL!!!!}

Busy October Weekends

While the weekdays are still pretty restful, my October weekends are anything but. I have two auditions in the next two weekends. This weekend, I'll be auditioning for The Winner at Lyric Stage. This piece is a world premiere, so I know very little about it aside from the basic plotline. I'm ignoring a birthday next week, though my friends and family will not let me. So throw birthday festivities in the mix. Next weekend is the annual audition for The Living Opera's upcoming season. The following weekend is the Chorale concert...and add my wedding anniversary in that weekend for fun. There are a few local theatre shows I would like to see with friends and several dinner dates to make. Like I said, the weekends are busy. But I'm glad to begin to get back to a schedule I recognize! (And that I feel well enough to do so)

I'm very nervous about both auditions but particularly the one this weekend. My voice teacher has been out of town the last two weeks. Thus, I have been all on my own to both choose and work up audition pieces. Needless to say, I've picked ones with which I'm pretty comfortable. Thankfully, she returns this weekend, so I'll have one lesson to work the two pieces I've chosen for next weekend's audition and I can work my solo piece for the Chorale concert.

She's Everything

She’s a yellow pair of running shoes
A holey pair of jeans
She’s looks great in cheap sunglasses
She looks great in anything
She’s “I want a piece of chocolate”
“Take me to a movie”
She’s “I can’t find a thing to wear”
Now and then she’s moody
She’s a Saturn with a sunroof
With her brown hair a blowin'
She’s a soft place to land
And a good feeling knowin'
She’s a warm conversation that I wouldn’t miss for nothin'
She’s a fighter when she’s mad and a lover when she’s lovin'

She’s everything that I ever wanted
And everything I need
When I talk about her I go on and on and on
'Cause she is everything to me

She’s a Saturday out on the town
Church girl on Sunday
A cross around her neck and a cuss word cause it’s Monday
She’s a bubble bath and candle
"Baby, come and kiss me"
She’s a one glass of wine and she’s feelin' kinda tipsy
She’s the giver I wish I could be and the stealer of the covers
She’s the picture in my wallet
She’s the hand that I'm holdin' when I’m on my knees and prayin'
She’s the answer to my prayers
She’s the song that I’m playin' and

She’s everything that I ever wanted
And everything I need
When I talk about her I go on and on and on
'Cause she is everything to me

She’s the voice I love to hear
Someday when I’m 90
She's that wooden rockin' chair
I want rockin' right beside me
Everyday that passes I only love her more
Yeah, she’s the one that I'd lay down my own life for

She’s everything that I ever wanted
And everything I need
When I talk about her I go on and on and on
'Cause she is everything to me

--Brad Paisley

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Baby Pike Update

For those of you interested in Anthony Jacob's progress, I spoke to Jennifer on Monday. Jacob is doing extremely well. He's been on room air since the weekend. He's eating well & gaining weight. Everything is completely normal, so no preemie worries at this point. Jennifer & Tim thank you for all of the prayers and ask that you continue to pray for little Jacob as he works on growing enough to leave the NICU for home, which is still many weeks away. I'm going to visit on Sunday, so I'll amend this post with pictures b/c I hear he's the cutest baby ever...then again, this was from his mom so I'll let all of you be the judge!

What's Up With All the Song Lyrics???

I'm sure the observant among my faithful blog readers have noticed a recent rash of song lyric postings. Have I gone sentimental on all of you? Perhaps. Is it intentional? Yes. For whatever reason, I've been more tuned into lyrics recently. I don't know if it's because I was in the midst of helping my brother pick wedding music or what. But for whatever reason, I began to really listen to the lyrics to some of the country top 40. Thus, when a song really struck a nerve, I've posted the lyrics. Some make me cry every time I hear them. Some have a very special meaning. Others simply make me smile. As I continue to be in this poetic observance period, I'll post more song lyrics. Too mushy for you? Don't read them. Hear one you like and don't see it posted? Let me know about it.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Broken Road

I set out on a narrow way many years ago
Hoping I would find true love along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two
Wiped my brow and kept pushing through
I couldn't see how every sign pointed straight to you

Every long lost dream lead me to where you are
Others who broke my heart they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

I think about the years I spent just passing through
I'd like to have the time I lost and give it back to you
But you just smile and take my hand
You've been there you understand
It's all part of a grander plan that is coming true

Every long lost dream lead me to where you are
Others who broke my heart they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

--Rascal Flatts

Mozart Requiem - Mark Your Calendar

In honor of Mozart's 250th birthday, the Irving Chorale will present a stirring concert of reflection, including "Laudate Dominum" from his Vesperae Solennes De Confessore, K. 339 and the entirety of his Requiem. The Chorale will be joined by the voices of the Plymouth Park United Methodist Church Chancel Choir. The choruses will be accompanied by professional orchestra and under the direction of Jason Chavarria, music minister of PPUMC, and Harry Wooten, artistic director of the Chorale.

This free concert will be presented on Sunday, October 22, 2006, at 7 p.m. at Plymouth Park U.M.C. in Irving. Click for Map

Monday, October 02, 2006

When Adults Behave Badly

In all my years of watching football, never have I witnessed such an asinine display of childish and very dangerous behavior as I watched unfold yesterday during the Cowboys/Titans game. For those of you who've lived under a rock the last two days, here's the scoop. Early in the third quarter and immediately after a Cowboys touchdown, Titan defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth kicks Cowboys center Andre Gurode in the face--not just once but twice, the second blow leading to a gash requiring at least 30 stitches. Anyone who saw this post-play action unfold likely screamed at the t.v. like I did because there was no provocation for this ridiculously "asinine behavior" (in the words commentator of Daryl Johnson). Naturally, a flag was thrown for unsportsmanlike conduct. Haynesworth, obviously thinking that he'd done no wrong in throwing a shoebottom full of turf spikes in his opponent's forehead, throws a big ol' two-year-oldlike temper tantrum by stripping off his helmet & flinging it down on the field just before he gets in the ref's face & proceeds to give him the what-for. Tell me folks, do we really want our children idolizing professional sportsman? Because with behavior like this, it reminds me why I've quit being a loyal fan & virtually never turn on a game...ever! I think the real icing on the cake for me is Haynesworth's day-after commentary:

"What I did out there was disgusting," Haynesworth said. "It doesn't matter what the league does to me. The way I feel right now, you just can't describe it."
Yeah, well, I'm glad you've had difficultly clearing your conscience overnight and all, but really...where the h-e-double was your sportsmanship yesterday? I cannot think of anything that could be said or done on a ballfield that would provoke such an assault on another human being. Makes me wonder how you deal with difficult situations off the ballfield. Do you beat your wife too, Mr. Haynesworth?? Quite frankly, I think he should be not only be permanently suspended from the game but also brought up on criminal charges. That behavior goes beyond ridiculous & shouldn't go unpunished by a court of law...NFL fines & suspensions are not good enough in cases like this! An example should be made.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

From: Dad

Look at the two of you dancing that way
Lost in the moment and each other's face
So much in love you're alone in this place
Like there's nobody else in the world
I was enough for her not long ago
I was her number one
She told me so
And she still means the world to me
Just so you know
So be careful when you hold my girl
Time changes everything
Life must go on
And I'm not gonna stand in your way

But I loved her first and I held her first
And a place in my heart will always be hers
From the first breath she breathed
When she first smiled at me
I knew the love of a father runs deep
And I prayed that she'd find you someday
But it's still hard to give her away
I loved her first

How could that beautiful woman with you
Be the same freckle-face kid that I knew
The one that I read all those fairy tales to
And tucked into bed all those nights
And I knew the first time I saw you with her
It was only a matter of time

But I loved her first and I held her first
And a place in my heart will always be hers
From the first breath she breathed
When she first smiled at me
I knew the love of a father runs deep
And I prayed that she'd find you someday
But it's still hard to give her away
I loved her first

From the first breath she breathed
When she first smiled at me
I knew the love of a father runs deep
Someday you might know what I'm going through
When a miracle smiles up at you
I loved her first

--Heartland

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Memories

Recall it as often as you wish--a happy memory never wears out.

Next to Godliness

As much as I hate chores, cleanliness really is next to Godliness...and once it's all said & done, it really does make you feel better! As you can imagine, very little house cleaning has gone on since the appendectomy. You think Derek will do it? HA! He's supposed to vacuum this weekend, but I'm not holding my breath. Though, I must give him credit, he did pick up clutter yesterday. And that in itself made the house look better. Never mind all the clutter got put in boxes & scattered about the house. haha

Thus far today, I've organized the master closet, sorted the mounds of laundry, done several loads of laundry, put several weeks worth of clean laundry away, cleaned the kitchen, reorganized the pantry, and watched this week's episode of Grey's Anatomy, which was a really good one for those of you who missed it (but you can come to my house & watch the DVRd copy if you want to catch up). Still have dinner to make for us & for a convalescing friend. I'm a little tired, but there's still lots more to do to get all caught up on a clean house. I doubt I can get it all done in one weekend, but it's something to shoot for.

Tomorrow, I'm taking a break to leave my little brother a "welcome home" gift--he gets back from the honeymoon on Monday. Don't worry, I won't be too mean. All of the messes will be relatively easy to clean up! But he's going to know that I paid him a visit since his best man wouldn't let me paint up the going away vehicle. And in the evening, I'm saying goodbye to a dear friend who's leaving for a year-long tour of duty.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Involuntary Stop Along Roadside of Life

The question I get asked every day, "how do you feel?" While I appreciate everyone's concern, I'm getting kinda tired of answering the same question over and over again. It's been three weeks since the appendectomy. The pain is officially gone. If I get tired, I feel my side, but it doesn't hurt...if that makes any sense. I wouldn't even classify it as an ache. I just feel it, as simple as that. So...all in all, pain free. I wish I could say the same for the fatigue. While I have several more hours in me than I did even a week ago, I still cannot make it through an entire workday, church service, rehearsal, trip to the grocery store...blah, blah, blah. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm always on the go. So needless to say, the fatigue has put me on the sidelines of life...sniffing the pretty flowers that usually whiz by at mach 10. And I'm not used to seeing the flowers, much less smelling them. While I'm not necessarily complaining about what was likely a much-needed respite from a dizzying schedule, I'm not accustomed to being forced to take said respite. My rest periods are very different from the one of the last three weeks. I usually still have things to do & places to go about three days a week. And I don't require a nap every day. So...now that I'm going nowhere, taking naps every day, and avoiding anything that requires me to lift or handle 10 lbs of resistance...I'm a little anxious to have things back to normal, to feel like myself again, to be able to go an entire day without having to rest.

So...how do I feel? Restless. Simple as that.

My Wish

I hope that days come easy and moments pass slow
and each road leads you where you want to go;
and if you're faced with a choice and you have to choose,
I hope you choose the one that means the most to you.
And if one door opens to another door closed,
I hope you keep on walkin' till you find the window;
if it's cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile.

More than anything, more than anything,
My wish for you is that this life becomes all that you want it to;
your dreams stay big, your worries stay small.
You never need to carry more than you can hold;
and while you're out there getting where you're getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you and wants the same things too.
Yeah this is my wish.

I hope you never look back but ya never forget
all the ones who love you in the place you left.
I hope you always forgive and you never regret,
and you help somebody every chance you get,
oh, you find God's grace in every mistake,
and you always give more than you take.

But more than anything, yeah, more than anything,
My wish for you is that this life becomes all that you want it to;
your dreams stay big, your worries stay small.
You never need to carry more than you can hold;
and while you're out there getting where you're getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you and wants the same things too.
Yeah this is my wish.
--Rascal Flatts

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Silence is Golden

A true friend is one with whom you can share silences as comfortably as conversations.

To my friends:

Thank you for sharing my silences.

Love, me

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Congrats to cast of Kiss Me, Kate

The Dallas Theatre League announced the nominees for this year's Leon Rabin Awards. The cast of Garland Summer Musicals' Kiss Me, Kate received the following nods:

  • Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role - Musical: Christine Cunningham
  • Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role - Musical: Blake Davidson
  • Outstanding Music Director: Larry Miller
  • Outstanding Set Design - Musical: Kelly Cox
  • Outstanding Direction of a Musical: Buff Shurr
  • Outstanding Production of a Musical: Kiss Me, Kate - Garland Summer Musicals

Winners will be announced on November 13.

Thought for the Day

Love is like a pebble dropped on the smooth surface of a lake. It ripples outward in perfect symmetry, caressing everything in its path with reflected glory.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Last Chick Leaves the Nest

Mom & Dad officially have an empty nest. The last chick flew the nest yesterday. The wedding was truly beautiful. The bride was radiant, the groom was handsome, the decorations were breathtaking, the music was fabulous, the family was happy. Here are a few photos to enjoy. There are literally hundreds, and these are photos from only one of the professional photographers.
If you're interested in seeing more photos, leave a comment & I'll send you a link to the Snapfish photo album. But be prepared to sit for at least 30 minutes to view them all.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Seriously

Grey's Anatomy. Two words familiar to every woman in America. Two words that make every woman in America giggle with glee in the presence of anyone remotely interested in hearing about the latest episode. Two words that strike fear in the hearts of every man in America...because he knows he loves the show, too...seriously. Probably the biggest show to hit television in the last five years. By far the biggest thing to hit my television in at least that long. So why do we all love it so much? This article does a superb job explaining exactly that. Seriously

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Prayers for Baby Pike

Anthony Jacob Pike, son of Jennifer (Willingham) and Timothy Pike, was born by emergency c-section at 7:41 a.m. this morning, weighing 3 lbs 11 oz and measuring 17" long. Jacob, as he is called, was born at 30 1/2 weeks gestation. Yep, another friend has had an early delivery. He is doing well thus far, in the NICU at Presby Dallas and breathing with the help of a CPAP when last I saw him this afternoon. Mom is likewise doing well, just a little worried about her new little guy. Please keep the Pike family in your prayers as they have six long weeks to wait for little Jacob to grow and develop into a happy, healthy newborn who's ready to go home.

Road to Recovery

Had my post-op check-up yesterday. Incisions are healing well. Still dealing with post-op fatigue and lack of appetite, both of which are to be expected. Those should resolve in the next two to four weeks, according to Dr. Bell. I still have restrictions--no running, no lifting over 10 lbs. Otherwise, I am free to do whatever I feel like doing. Honestly, the fatigue is the most frustrating. I have about five to six hours of "good time" and then I have to take a nap. I am fortunate to work for a terrific group of people who have been so understanding during my recovery. I'll be working half-time as long as necessary. I go back for another post-op check-up in four weeks. I'm hoping everything has resolved by then. In the meantime, I'm significantly cutting back on activities in hopes that speeds recovery. I've really done too much over the last two weeks.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Proud Day for Big Sis

It's hard to believe that my little brother is old enough to be out of college much less a graduate of the DPS Academy. Today he made his big sister proud when he accepted his oath of office, marched across the stage, and officially became a public servant. My brother has grown into a handsome and honorable young man that I'm proud to call both brother and friend. The citizens of Texas have gained a very special addition to the ranks of those committed to serving and protecting. Congratulations, David, I am so proud of you!









It's official!





A little smooch for Olga





Proud parents







and a proud Granny, too!