Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sunday Serenity 6-28-09

video

A must-see when in Vegas: The Bellagio Fountain

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thursday Thoughts of a Twitterless Thinker

The next time you go to the grocery store and complain because your New York Strip steaks are $5.99 a pound, just remember, it could be worse. You could be paying $13 a pound for M&M’s in Las Vegas. I kid you not. But they sure are pretty, huh? Don't ask my daughter about it. Sore subject.



My son passed his test to obtain his yellow belt in Kyuki-Do yesterday. He worked very hard so in a few days he’ll actually be belted in a brief ceremony. I think he can now officially kick my butt. I’d better stay on his good side. Mighty mothering moment when you realize your child can whup ya.

Something I’ve never understood—how deodorant works on men. I mean basically they just apply it to their underarm hair, right? So how does that help anything?

Last summer I bought a wooden planter that I thought would look great filled with bright red petunias. I’ve never been able to use it yet. Why? Because every time I think I’m going to use it, my son is playing with it and complains that I am trying to take away his “gun base.” Need ideas for your ten-year-old’s birthday? Get him a planter.




I had a moment of quiet today. Jere was away playing at a friend’s homemade water park. The thermometer read 95 degrees so I turned on the swamp cooler. I had just eaten lunch of leftover spaghetti and sat down to read some blogs. Lulled by the serenity of the moment, I sat there, reflecting on my momentary solitude while blindly staring at my computer screen. The cooler hummed on hypnotically, and was soon accompanied by the far-off sound of a neighbor mowing his lawn. The mower got closer and closer and closer until…suddenly…Holy Chainsaws, Batman! It wasn’t a mower after all. I had awakened myself with the sound of my own snoring.

And then, Michael Jackson died. Nothing left to think.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Las Vegas----The Return

We were in Seattle last month when Daughter K called and asked if we would meet her in Las Vegas on June 20. She and a couple of friends decided on a whim to spend a weekend in Vegas, the first time for each of them. The price was right—only $300 for round trip plane tickets and two nights at Circus Circus. Since we live 5 hours from Vegas, and since from my previous post you all know how much I LOVE Las Vegas, we decided to drive down and meet her there. It had been two years since we had seen her.

The first time I went to Vegas, back when my boss embarrassed me by offering to pay me to go, was a little more pleasant than I had anticipated. The highlights were the Bellagio fountains at night, the Bellagio buffet at dinner, the food at the Hard Rock Hotel restaurant, attending CTIA, and the rockin’ Cellular One training sessions. The downsides were my hair reeking like cigarette smoke, the glassy-eyed elderly women sitting in a state of oblivion at the slot machines, and the bullet holes in my hotel elevator door.

I realized after this new trip, that I have a love/hate relationship with Las Vegas. How could anyone step on to Venetian property and not be mesmerized? The splendid architecture, the gondolas slicing through the pristine blue water, the exquisite sculptures and the ambience of Venice are a sensual feast. Most of the more recent hotels are architectural wonders and are astoundingly beautiful. Walking past them or through them is enough to keep a sightseer busy for days. I found myself wishing that every city had the means to create places where people just enjoyed being. Places where you felt like you had been transported to an art museum or a lush botanical garden.

The Venetian


Las Vegas definitely has it disadvantages too. Most of them though are probably my fault. I don’t smoke, drink, gamble or get enticed by porn. Vegas is a haven for people who enjoy those activities. I’m too old. Or too dull. Or too something.

My husband, having been a Vegasite before I met him, remembers a day when food was good and cheap in Las Vegas. The logic back then was that if people didn’t have to spend so much money on food, they would spend more money on gambling, right? Breakfast and lunch buffets could both be had for under $5. Methinks those days are gone.

Our entourage, consisting of Hubby, Jere, Daughter M and her two boys, and me, met Daughter K and her friends at the Treasure Island lunch buffet. The understanding was that it was $14. The daughters convinced us to splurge since we were on the strip and this was probably the cheapest we could eat. We thought $14 was a lot (remember, I quit work to be a SAHM so we are ultra frugal) but agreed to eat there. The daughters went in ahead of us to save a place, while Hubby, Jere and I sought restrooms. [Vegas psychology: don’t have bathrooms inside the restaurant. That way people have to walk through the tantalizing casino first.]

After the restroom, we got in line to pay our $14. Hubby’s jaw dropped when the total came to $60 for the three of us! Oh, just kidding, the $14 is only for weekdays! On Saturdays, the lunch is $23. Since the daughters were already inside eating, we forked over almost our entire Vegas stash. Gulp.

The food was average, I would say. My pizza was cold and they forgot to put the chicken in my orange chicken (but boy, was that breading good!) We tried to slam down $23 worth of food, and force $12 worth of food down Jere’s throat in the hopes that we would never be hungry again, but we were realists. If we planned on walking the streets of Vegas where each block is really four blocks, we would have to restrain the over-stuffing. [If you have never been to Vegas and someone tells you something is only a block away, don’t you believe them! It’s really half a mile.]

Exiting the TI buffet, I noticed on their wall menu, that the reason the buffet is $23 on Saturday is that it comes with free champagne. Since Hubby, daughter M, and I don’t drink, I jokingly said, “Oh that’s the problem! We forgot to get our free champagne.” We kept walking and laughing, but Daughter K was about to take matters into her own hands. She left our group and marched her little self right back to Treasure Island.

We stood at a distance while she informed the management that since no one at any point offered us any champagne, she either wanted a champagne-to-go for every member of our party, or else she wanted a refund so we would all only have to pay $14. The next thing we knew, K was poking her head out of the restaurant asking, “Who all wants champagne?” Her friends accepted, but the rest of us declined. We would have rather had a refund, but it really wasn’t the restaurant’s fault we didn’t read the wall menu first.


Daughter K [middle] and the Great Las Vegas Champagne Score


My three kids each came away with different reactions to Vegas.

10-year old Jere: “Why do they have all this stuff on the ground? Can’t you just take me home NOW?” [We had to walk in an enclosed boardwalk for six blocks that was carpeted with discarded “advertisements.”]

25-year-old Daughter M: “I just want to go home and not have to drag a 5 year-old and an infant around. I’m tired”

22 year-old Daughter K: “Yahoo! Par-tay!”

My reaction? If someone pays me, or if it’s the only way I can see one of my kids, I will go to Vegas. Otherwise, I’ll just watch Ocean’s Eleven.

Monday, June 22, 2009

How I Know God Has a Sense of Humor

Most people I know, who have an inkling of spirituality in their souls, have pondered the nature of God, or the Universe, or their Higher Power. Even atheists that I have known have spent long moments pondering creation before they came to their conclusion that there is no God.

My journey has led me to believe that there is a God, and that specific scientific patterns are followed. I don’t buy that the universe is random and chaotic, although many very intelligent people that I know, believe that it is. Their journey has taken them there. My journey has taken me elsewhere. Who can say whose journey is correct? I don’t tell them that their journey is wrong, and they can’t convince me that what I have experienced isn’t real.

I have had too many miracles happen, too many “just in time” bailouts, too many answers whispered to my soul in the middle of the night that turned out to be correct, to believe in chaos. My God, for me, is very human. He cries when souls are lost, He rejoices when good triumphs, and He consoles when times are tough.

Most importantly, He laughs.

If you are a parent, you already know that children are a great source of humor. My five-year-old grandson tells people that his “winker” has special powers. My ten-year-old son told me not to interrupt his play or I will destroy his “imagitory theme.” Tim’s five year old granddaughter once asked me “Grandma, why are your eyes bald?” on a day when I had not put on any makeup. I laughed at each of these. By laughing, was I ridiculing these children? No, I was simply acknowledging that in their innocence, they did not see the whole picture, and that they made me look at something in a new, humorous way.

I believe God, as my parent, has a sense of humor. Let me share just two examples that happened in my life, that showed me that God laughs.

What Happens at the Malt Shop…

About eight years ago, Jeremiah’s dad, John, had just gotten home from a trip to Las Vegas. He met me at work and took me out to lunch at a local malt shop. He enthusiastically described all the fun things he had done in Las Vegas, from eating dinner amidst jousting, to going on a roller coaster, to shopping at exclusive stores. He kept repeating that he would have to take me there some day.

My reply?

“You couldn’t pay me to go to Las Vegas.”

“Why? There is so much to do!”

“Las Vegas gives me the creeps. It just seems to me to be a town devoted to disgusting things. Why would I want to go?”

“Well, sure,” he said, “there are some disgusting elements. But they are so overshadowed by the beauty and the endless possibilities of things to do.”

“No thanks. Like I said before, you couldn’t pay me to go to Las Vegas. Somewhere else maybe. Las Vegas holds no appeal.”

At that precise moment, my cell phone rang. It was my boss.

“Hello. I have a proposition for you. Our company [the major cell phone company for which I worked] is having a region-wide training in a couple of weeks. It would involve going out of town and you would miss three days of work, but I would pay you to go, for 24 hours a day instead of eight. Plus, your hotel, meals and transportation would be paid. You would meet other managers from the region. Would you be able to go?”

“Sure. I think the training would be great, plus I would love to meet the other managers. Where is the training being held?”

“Las Vegas.”

I had no choice but to turn to John and say, “I guess you could pay me to go to Las Vegas.”

I could almost hear God laughing.



And They Called it Puppy Love…

Flashback to 1971. I was eleven years old and was hanging out with a neighborhood girl named Patty. She was incredulous that I had never heard of Donny Osmond. She showed me Tiger Beat magazine. One look is all it took. I was smitten.

My bedroom walls were papered with Tiger Beat and FaVE magazine posters of Donny. Every cent earned babysitting went to buy records and magazines. Every family member knew that all I wanted for birthdays and Christmas was Osmond paraphernalia.

When I was twelve, my dad surprised our family with a trip to Disneyland. The only thing I could think of was the possibility of meeting an Osmond. I had seen TV shows where the Osmonds performed at Disneyland. What if they were there when I was? What if I saw them walking down the street in LA? When I discovered we would be driving through Utah, my excitement grew. Now I had two states of Osmond possibility since the Osmonds were from Utah.

My prayers began in earnest. “Please, God,” I would pray, “please let me meet an Osmond.”

An Osmond sighting during that trip never materialized. I didn’t lose hope for the next two years. Praying to meet an Osmond was part of a nightly ritual until I was about 14. The Osmonds became less popular and I became less interested as real life took precedence.

Over the years my family still teased me about my teen love for Donny. My mom would always refer to him as my “boyfriend” whenever she saw he was in the news, or when he appeared on a television show. I laughed as I got older because those childhood prayers to “meet an Osmond” seemed so innocent and far-away.

Flash forward to 1997. I had just recently moved to Utah, having married John. I was in line at the movie Titanic when John nudged me. “Merrill Osmond,” he said. Yes, two people ahead of me in line was Merrill Osmond, whiter-haired, but still every bit as handsome. I laughed inside as I realized for the first time that I had forgotten as a child to tell God when I wanted to meet an Osmond. What I would have given to have experienced this moment at age twelve!

The Osmond sightings did not end there.

I saw Merrill at the grocery store.

When I lamented to my boss that I used to have an Osmond album called The Plan but could not still find it for sale anywhere, he surprised me one day with a homemade cassette tape of the album. When I asked him where he had gotten it, he replied that Mary Osmond, Merrill’s wife, made it for me!

I spoke to George Osmond, the Patriarch, on the phone at the cell phone store where I worked.

One day, while managing the cell phone store, in walked George and Olive Osmond, Donny’s parents! It seems that Marie had given them a cell phone for Christmas and they needed assistance in learning how to operate and program it. I sat with them for about an hour, going over the functions. Marie had already programmed all the children’s phone numbers into it, so I showed them how to access each child’s number. Yes, I had Donny Osmond’s phone number in my hot little hand. At this point I almost said, “You got me, God. You got me good.” I felt like God and I were sharing an elaborate inside joke. Very nice people by the way.

I got to see Jay, Merrill and Wayne in concert at a local college. Yup, thirty years after I had prayed to see them in concert. They even had a meet and greet after the concert where they said they would stay until every person had a chance to talk to them. I left. Getting my son to bed was a greater priority. Who’da thought?

Tom Osmond, Donny and Marie’s brother, was my flipping mailman for five years! A hearing loss does not stop him one bit. He always waves hello and stops to speak. He invited Tim and me to his home one night for a multi-level marketing party. I didn’t go. An Osmond invited me to his home and I declined.

Various next-generation Osmonds live in our community, the nieces and nephews of Donny. They go to our local high schools and perform at various community events.

I never get tired of the Osmond overload God has provided. It shows me that He listened to those prayers all those many years ago. I believe He laughs with me when I have an Osmond sighting these days. I believe He may be telling me to be more specific when I pray. But more importantly, I believe He is telling me that the universe is a funny place, if only we remember to laugh.

Daughter Kylie, her friend Clint, and The U.S Postal Service's Finest, Tom Osmond


By the way, today is Alan Osmond's birthday. Yup, I remembered that from when I was twelve.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Thoughts of a Twitterless Thinker

I don't Twitter. Call me old. Call me old-fashioned. Call me anything you want as long as you don't expect me to Twitter.

Twittering is probably fine for businesses and professional bloggers--people who need to get information out there in an instant. It's also good for people who are able to limit their thoughts to 140 characters. Not me man.

In honor of Twitter and its effect on our society, I will now do my part and post the random thoughts I had throughout the day, the same as a twittering tweeter would.


*Today at the Wal-Mart photo center, I saw a girl who used to be one of my customers when I managed a cell phone store. She made it a point to come over to say “hi” to me. I hadn’t spoken to her in about four years, so I was surprised that she remembered me. Yet, I wasn’t surprised that I remembered her. Why do I always assume that only I remember people that I’ve dealt with? Why do I always assume no one else remembers our interactions? Am I arrogant enough that I think only I have a memory?

*I think I want to have a party for all my friends who have never seen Lost and show them the entire first season in one day. That would only take about 8 hours wouldn’t it, assuming there are 13 episodes at 40 minutes each? I would even keep my mouth shut unless they asked me something.

* A lady at my church had been staying at her daughter’s house in another town while she was being treated for cancer. Her husband announced at church two weeks ago that she was home. I will have to go visit her. I got the call today that she died. Why didn’t I make arrangements to visit her the day her husband made the announcement?

* I get disappointed when I go to the mailbox and there is nothing there. Hmmm…maybe others feel the same way when they don’t get anything from me. I think I’ll send someone some mail this week.

* I love the smell of Downey in my laundry.

*My creative writing class meets tomorrow. We’re going to work on small scrapbooks so that they can see that writing isn’t just about making up stories or writing essays. I’m going to teach them how to write captions, page titles and journal entries by their photos. I spent two hours going through photos I had taken of those kids all last year when they were my students, trying to decide which ones to print out for them. I waxed nostalgic and nearly cried. I’ve taught them for two years, fourth and fifth grade, but this fall I have to teach high school. How is it possible to love kids so much, when they’re not my own? Can I love teenagers the same way?

*Why can I never remember to drink water throughout the day?


*I went to the library today to look for a good book to read. I walked up and down the aisles, hoping for something to jump out at me. I do that every time, and every time I say Why don’t I come prepared with a title of something I want to read? I copped out and looked for my favorite author, Orson Scott Card, and picked out another one of his books. Next time I’ll be prepared. Uh-hum. Maybe when Oprah calls me personally to tell me what she wants me to read.

*Jere picked out a movie at the library and I denied it just because of its name, “Hellboy.” I don’t care how good a movie is, if you’re going to call it Hellboy I’m not renting it. That’s all I need is a ten year old running around yelling, “I’m Hellboy—huzzah!”

* My daughter calls me every day on her way home from work. I cherish that ten minutes. It’s good to know that as she walks out the door of her office, mom is still a comfort.

* Man, I was a slob at dinner. I have tomato soup and tuna sandwich down the front of my shirt. That’s what I get for balancing a meal on the edge of my keyboard. [Oh come on—you have too done that.]

* The refrigerator is not working. Lukewarm milk is gaggy. How do babies do it?

*The refrigerator not working reminds me of the difference in food tolerance between my husband and me. His motto is “It’s still good-I picked all the mold off.” My battle cry is “When in doubt, throw it out.” The fridge limit for leftover refried beans is two days. Once we left them in the fridge for a week. Tim’s son, Nathan, opened the leftover beans and said, “AAAAGGH! Death Beans!” I smelled them and agreed—they were the Beans of Death. Tim smelled them and said, “I don’t see anything wrong with them.”

*Mosquitoes suck.

*Does anyone have a more sinister voice than Christopher Lee?

There you have it. My twitterish thoughts of my day. All at once. Did you care?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Have You Ever Been Owned by a Cat?

We don’t have cats. Cats have us.

The reason we don’t have cats is because we have always rented in places that don’t allow pets. That hasn’t stopped the cats though.


The Arrival of Black Cat

The first cat I didn’t have was a black cat with orange highlights. I lived in an apartment quad-plex, with the four ground level apartments arranged in a right angle. The homes were situated on each arm of the angle, two facing west and two facing north.

My neighbor who lived in the west-facing arm moved away. I was surprised to see that he left his cat sitting in the carport. (He, for some reason, was allowed to have a cat.) Day after day, the black cat with orange highlights sat there, waiting for him to come back. He never did.

His apartment sat empty for a long time, so eventually black cat came to my house and sat on the porch. Acquaintances advised me not to feed the cat, or I would never get rid of her. For the first two weeks that she sat on my porch, I didn’t feed her. I figured if I ignored her long enough, she would go sit on my neighbors’ porches. Or, maybe she would be one of those miracle pets that travel for miles to find the previous owner.

No such luck. Black cat continued to haunt my porch, and my porch only. Her hunger was obvious, as each time I came home from work she appeared skinnier.

Was she ever excited the day I came home with cat food!

I planned to only feed her long enough for her to get her strength back and move on. [You can laugh and point right now, I don’t care.]

After she had “not been our cat” for a few months, daughter Megan came in one day and said, “Bleach is going to have babies.”

“Who the heck is Bleach?” I asked.

“The cat!” Megan said.

Apparently Megan and the next-door neighbor named the cat-we-didn’t-have “Bleach” because she looked like your favorite black pants after you spill bleach on them.

The day she had her kittens was quite magical. Little Jeremiah was amazed at the wet, scrawny critters. She appeared to have five before we went to bed. We made a nice cushy box for her and her babies. In the morning it was apparent she had birthed a sixth. However, we all cried when we realized that she had accidentally smothered our favorite little gray baby during the night. One by one, we found homes for her kitties.

Even if we were allowed to have pets, it wouldn’t have mattered to Bleach. She was suspicious, skittish and not fond of being petted or picked up. One winter night when the temperature dropped to 10 degrees below zero, I coaxed Bleach with food into the house for warmth. She lasted for about 39 seconds before she started screeching to go back outside.

“You’re going to die. It’s ten degrees below zero.”

“Screech!”

“Do you want to freeze?” I asked her.

“Screech!”

The screeching went on for about thirty minutes before I finally had had it.

“Fine! Go back outside! See if I care!”

I opened the door and out she scooted. I slammed it behind her.

I’ll give her five minutes. She’ll come back in when I open the door.

She won. She stayed outside all night. She lived.

When I married Tim, I had to figure out what to do with Bleach. The home he lived in also did not allow pets. I wasn’t about to leave her behind the way her previous owner had, but no one else wanted her. Finally, I decided to take her with me, but make her live outside, just like she was used to. She hated being in the house anyway. If the new landlord saw her out in the yard, we would plead ignorance by saying, “Neighborhood stray, what do you do?”

The problem with an outdoor cat like Bleach is that she was fond of skanking around the neighborhood, offering her services to the neighborhood toms. Many times we discussed getting her “fixed” but any attempt to catch her or pick her up resulted in a shrieking, scratching disaster.

Bleach only loved us when she used our garage as a birthing center. As much as it surprised me, I loved her, so we dealt with her kittens. We tried to get them used to humans from birth, so Bleach wouldn’t corrupt them with her wild-woman ways. We were pretty successful until…

Devil Cat Storms Upon the Scene

While tending Bleach’s latest batch, we noticed her sneaking away with a small black kitten in her mouth. We tried to intervene because we trusted our kitten-raising skills more than we trusted hers. Sadly, we never got that kitten back and Bleach raised a demon. She would bring the growing kitten along at feeding times and her look-alike daughter fed beside her, but only when we moved away from the scene. Devil Cat would have nothing to do with humans.

As Devil Cat grew, Bleach began spending more and more time at the neighborhood cat lady’s house. Devil Cat however, came by every day to be fed. She would sit and wait in the backyard, twenty-five feet away from the house, until one of us filled her dish and took it outside. She would never approach until we were safely gone. If she saw us peeking out the window, she would freeze in motion, not moving until all vestiges of humanity were gone. Her screeching rivaled, then surpassed, her mother’s.

Mama Bleach taught her well, and soon she dropped her first litter in our garage. We gave away her kittens, and gradually Devil Cat began hanging out at cat lady’s house. (Which was only fair since all the impregnators came from her house anyway.)

All I did was feed an abandoned cat, and suddenly, we were “cat people.”


The White Cat Warms Our Hearts

We were unable to find a home for one of Bleach’s last kitties. The White Cat was adorable, snuggly, mild-mannered, and a right friendly old chap. The bigger he grew, the more we knew that no one else would ever take him. I think a part of us also missed Bleach and… and… and…. OK! I’ll admit it! We missed Devil Cat a little bit. So The White Cat became ours.

Since The White Cat loved humans, we had a new problem. He loved to hang around the house, sitting on the porch and snoozing on our bench. At every opportunity, he would dash past our feet to get into the house before we did. He ate, and then got kicked back outside--almost literally since he refused to go. The task befell us of hiding him from the landlord.

Jeremiah and Juliah had to be specially trained. Whenever they referred to “our cat,” Tim and I would reply, “We don’t have cats.” When they would ask, “What should we name this cat?” we simply said, “The White Cat.” If the landlord came by while we were getting home, and The White Cat tried to get into the house, we would be able to say to one of the kids, “Please get that White Cat away from the door,” and he would be no wiser.

Not having cats has sure been a trial at times.

The Move and The New Landlord

In December 2008, we moved to a nearby town. The new landlord said no cats could live inside, but we were welcome to have outdoor cats. We packed up The White Cat and showed him his new home.

He was not immediately impressed. He ran into our new basement and hid for most of the day.

We have settled into a new routine though with The White Cat. At three years old, he is still as lovable, cuddly and homey as he was, although he is more gray than white now. When he comes in, he eats, then snuggles under an end table for a nap before we force him back outside for the night.

I think we’re finally at the point, after about seven years of hiding cats, to admit it.

We have a cat.

Should we name him now?



Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday Serenity



I will never stop being thrilled by a rainbow out my front door.





Thursday, June 11, 2009

My Campaign to Stop Gore


This post has nothing to do with the 45th Vice President of The United States.

Unless he wants to help me.


Those Friday nights were heaven for ten-year old girls. The Brady Bunch. The Partridge Family. Room 222. Love American Style. It was a whole evening, full of one good television show after another. I wanted to be Jan Brady. My best friend wanted to be Laurie Partridge. Together at one of our homes, or separately with our families, my friend and I would park ourselves on the couch at 7:00 p.m. when The Brady Bunch started and would not get up until 10:00 p.m. as the last strains of the Love American Style theme faded out.

During the commercials between shows were our times to discuss whatever show we had just seen.

“Did you see Marcia’s outfit? Wasn’t that cute?”
“Yeah, but the skirt was kinda short.”
“I’m gonna ask my mom if she’ll make me one like that.”
“I liked her poncho.”

Or

“Didn’t you love that song they sang tonight?”
“Yeah, I wonder if it’s on their album.”
“Reuben bugs me.”
“Yeah, me too.

It was a time of deep thoughts, ponderous reflections, and shared feelings. It was also a time of innocence on TV.

I could watch TV for three hours straight and the only thing that scared me was my brother, mocking in a falsetto, “Oh Greg Brady, you’re soooooo cute!”

Times, sadly, have changed. TV viewing by my son must be constantly monitored to avoid freak out moments like he had a few weeks ago.

I first boycotted TV at my house several years ago when Jeremiah was small. We were watching a show together one night, a program geared toward children. During a moment of surfing, while the commercials were on, I was put in a position of having to protect my son from what he saw.

In a few short minutes, during commercials designed to get people to watch certain shows, Jeremiah was freaked out. First--by people screaming at a skeleton walking down a hall, second-- by a shot of a severed finger, and third-- by a man handling a human skull.

I was enraged. I purposely didn’t let my young son watch those types of shows. To be confronted by such gore during their commercials was something I had not planned on. He begged me to shut off the TV that night.

I did.

For years.

We went a long time without TV. If we wanted to watch Lost or Dancing with the Stars, we downloaded it from the network website and watched on our computer. Commercial-free.

Recently, in order to take advantage of a Wii game system that someone had given us for Christmas last year, we had to buy a new television set. Ours was beyond old, but since we only used it to watch DVD’s of our choosing, it didn’t matter.

My husband came home with an antenna shortly thereafter. We were excited because we had not realized that we could now catch all the local stations and in High Def to boot! The shows we formerly downloaded to our computer we now could watch on our television.

And once again, I am enraged.

We set aside Monday nights as family night. Dancing with the Stars and 24 were two of our favorite shows, so we would gather around with snacks for a family evening. If the phone rang--tough. “It’s Bauer hour!” we would laugh as the answering machine picked up.

The laughing didn’t last long. Commercials for slasher movies and gore-intensive TV shows assaulted us. Jeremiah would yell, “Shut it off! Shut it off!” and we would quickly turn the channel or mute the commercial, while he plugged his ears and closed his eyes. We told him when it was "safe."

Soon after starting family night, we found out about a new show called Castle. It looked intriguing, humorous and intelligent. Tim and I watched it the first night it aired, and since it was in the 9:00 spot, we sent Jeremiah to go hit the shower and get ready for bed. The show reminded us of old Moonlighting episodes, with the witty repartee between the main characters. I was even pleasantly surprised that the show was gore- free. I told all my friends to watch it. It was my new favorite.

Episode by episode, as the weeks went by, the gore-factor was kicked up a notch. Finally, one night, Jeremiah came into the room after taking his shower and began screaming. He hid his eyes and ears and kept screaming “Turn it off!” I did not know what was wrong until I looked back at Castle and saw the leading man holding a severed head in his hand. Jere cried and begged me to never watch that show again. I promised him I would not.

That night during his prayers, he begged to have that image removed from his mind.

There are certain shows that I know enough not to watch, C.S.I. being the great- granddaddy of them all. I don’t go to slasher movies either. [I have friends who use C.S.I. as the blood-barometer by which they judge other shows—“Is it less bloody than C.S.I? ”] I am not complaining that these shows feel the need to show gore in order to feel loved. That’s their right and I don’t want to take that right from anyone. But I have the right not to watch them, which right I exercise diligently.

What I will stand up for is my right to watch the shows I want to watch, without being bombarded by gory commercials for the shows I don’t want to watch. If the networks feel that the only way they can convince the public to watch their shows is by displaying bloody body parts, then that is indeed a sad commentary on what our society has become.

Last night, while watching the two-hour episode of So You Think You Can Dance, a noted gore-free show, my husband switched channels to see what else was on. We were affronted by a commercial for The Mentalist. Lying there in the middle of a road, enticing me to watch the program, was a severed arm! That sure made my ten year old’s night!

Networks, please pay attention. There are people in this country who are offended by your insensitivity to human decency. I am alone amongst my friends, who all have DISH Network. One of the main reasons they all cite for subscribing to DISH, is the ability to fast forward past your commercials. You are spending your valuable airtime, trying to get people to watch your television shows, only to have people pay money to skip those very ads.

Do you wonder why more and more people are saying “enough” and are shutting off their TV’s? Do you really think that Americans have become so desensitized to your garbage that a severed arm laying in the road is no longer sickening? I’ve shut off my TV before and I will do it again.

Please, network executives, take us back to a day where we could gather around the TV as a family and have an enjoyable evening without being subjected to a commercial showing a gaping eye socket or a still-beating heart.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Story You Won't Hear

If you’ve read this blog in the past couple of weeks, you’ll know that we went to Seattle and had a vacation full of wonder. We encountered many interesting and kind people, and we cemented our relationships with people we already knew. The scenery was beautiful, the whole ambience of the city fresh and invigorating.

Only one downer occurred on the whole trip--a man who made my son cry. At a tourist site Jere in his innocence did something he should not have. This caused the site Gestapo to descend upon him and throttle my son with words. He didn’t stop until he saw tears in my son’s eyes.

I was mad. I had already reprimanded Jere for what he had done and I felt the man at the tourist site should have discussed the matter with me, not chastise a ten year old.

Walking back to the van, I stewed about the incident and the more I stewed the firmer ( not softer as you might expect with stewing,) became my resolve to address the issue somehow. Aha! I have a blog! I will tell everyone I know about the place that we visited and about the mean employee who accosted my child. I will tell them how ridiculous the man’s argument was and how he just wouldn’t stop. That’s it! I’ll get even! The power of a blog! Yeah!

Luckily for me, I have a very wise friend I’ll call LJ. She has helped me through many a crisis. In the past, when I have complained about people who hurt me and asked what I should do to get even, LJ would wisely respond, “Sure you could go around acting like she did just to show her what it’s like to be treated that way. But do you want that in your character?”

The more I thought about blogging and exposing that gentleman and the tourist site, the more I heard LJ’s voice ringing in my ears from long ago, “But do you want that in your character?”

No, I don’t want revenge or retaliation in my character. I want forgiveness and love in my character. I want seeing the eternal picture to be part of my nature. I will never know if that man later felt badly about making Jere cry, and went home and prayed for forgiveness. Later that day, was he extra friendly to customers to make up for it? Does he have a blog somewhere and has publicly confessed? I don’t know.

What I do know, is this.

Anger makes you smaller,
while forgiveness forces you to grow beyond what you were.

Cherie Carter-Scott,

Friday, June 5, 2009

Internet Explorer Problems UPDATE (new items in red)

Recently, Internet Explorer users have had issues either when trying to get on my blog, or when trying to comment on my blog.

There seems to be a few different issues:

1. You are unable to make a comment on my blog.

2. You try to access my blog and get an "Operation Aborted" message.

3. You try to access my blog and it repeatedly loads my page until you have multiple pages of my blog on your computer and it crashes your computer.

I have been in contact with Blogger and apparently this is a known issue with Internet Explorer users only. Firefox users have not noticed the problem.

So far, the only fix that Blogger says has solved the problem is for the blog owner to move their "Followers" down to the very bottom of the sidebar (which I did) or to remove it altogether; either will have the same effect. They are still working on the problem. New Note: Another suggested fix is to have the comments from readers shown in a pop-up box instead of embedded, the way I had it. I have now changed the way the comments box looks. I also removed the Followers gadget.

I have been in contact with some of my readers regarding this issue. If you are having this issue and have NOT been able to leave a comment, please email me: foreignquang at gmail dot com. {sorry for posting my address that way, but so far I have no spam--yay!}

Please tell me which of the above issues you have been having. Also, if you have problems AFTER I have removed the Followers and changed the commenting format (June 8, 10 a.m. MDT) please email me and let me know.

Thank you so much to all my readers, especially Janice, who have patiently borne with this problem in an effort to help us discover the cause.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Come Visit Me!

I'm hanging out today over at Janice Hunter's cafe, Sharing the Journey. If you'd like, please come and see my guest post titled Sharing the Seattle Journey.

Janice has created a cozy little corner of the blogosphere where people like me love to rub shoulders with people like you. We look forward to seeing you there today.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

My Bucket List

A few months ago, we watched The Bucket List with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. As you may know, the Bucket List was a list of things one of the characters wanted to do before he died.

It prompted me to make my own list, knowing that if I don't make a list to do something, I end up doing nothing.


Finish learning Spanish

Watch Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Visit Ireland and Scotland

Learn how to read music

Learn how to play the piano

Write a book

Take my son to see the Harlem Globetrotters

Attend a ballet

See dolphins swimming in the ocean

Upgrade camera and learn to take better pictures

Attend a Renaissance Fair

Get all my photos scrapbooked

Learn to juggle

Relax in a hot tub outside on a winter night surrounded by snow

Sleep eight hours straight without having to get up to go to the bathroom

Visit an observatory and see what astronomers see

Go white-water rafting

Participate in a flash mob

Visit an upscale salon and let them do what they want to my hair 7-13-09

Grow a successful garden

Learn how to can fruits and vegetables

See Il Divo in concert

What's on your bucket list?
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