Tuesday, March 29, 2005

What is love?

A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4- to 8-year-olds, "What does love mean?" The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined. See what you think:

"When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love." --Rebecca, 8

"When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth." --Billy, 4

"Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other." --Karl, 5

"Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs." --Chrissy, 6

"Love is what makes you smile when you're tired." --Terri, 4

"Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK." --Danny, 7

"Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss." --Emily, 8

"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen." --Bobby, 7

"If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate." --Nikka, 6

"Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday." --Noelle, 7

"Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well." --Tommy, 6

"During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore." --Cindy, 8

"My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night." --Clare, 6

"Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken." --Elaine, 5

"Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford." --Chris, 7

"Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day." --Mary Ann, 4

"I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones." --Lauren, 4

"When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you." --Karen, 7

And the final one...
Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once talked about a contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child. The winner was a 4-year-old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said,

"Nothing, I just helped him cry."

Monday, March 28, 2005

C-O-N-N-E-C-T-I-O-N Part 2

Here are Serenity and I on Saturday in Nana's backyard. Posted by Hello

She does it again...

Rochelle Riley always gives me a case of I-Wish-I-Had-Thought-To-Say-That. Here are some highlights from her column last week about the congressional hearing about steroids:

As I tuned in to congressional hearings into steroid use in baseball, I had just one question: Why were these congressional representatives so mad?

They didn't seem that upset about U.S. foreign policies that don't make sense, or federal "let-the-rich-get-richer" policies that are hurting America, or health-care proposals that cost twice as much as touted. ...

The anger on the reps' faces over damage done to our national pastime was incomprehensibly stronger than their outrage over damage that America's turn in Iraq will do to its global reputation.

Or maybe, after holding in all that war outrage for the sake of political correctness, the reps unleashed it on targets they didn't fear politically: boys cheating at sports, boys whose tree-trunk biceps they knew weren't normal.

Congress is feeding America's fascination with celebrity by making front-page news of baseball heroes and steroids. Oh, that they would pay as much attention to scientists who enable us to live longer and researchers who make some diseases disappear -- and American soldiers who are dying every week in Iraq. ...

And Congress is asking about cheating baseball players?

Congress should be hauling the president back to hearings, without Vice President Dick Cheney holding his hand, to explain where his policies are taking America, not asking Mark McGwire how he knows steroids are bad.

House members should demand that Bush give an honest analysis of how long our troops will be in Iraq -- not doing baseball's job. ...

Two months after their historic election, Iraqis still wait for a government. Should Congress really be focusing on whether home run kings should be stripped of batting titles -- isn't it obvious? -- and whether baseball players are bad role models?

Congress should be keeping its eye on the ball -- the deaths of American soldiers, not ill-gotten home runs.

Talk about wrong priorities.

I just changed the channel.

She always makes me think a little bit more about the world and words, and how I fit in somewhere in the middle.

Easter addition

My mom sent me an oversized box with a really great Easter basket in it. The basket itself is really cool -- neat looking and practical. Plus, the basket contained some pretty great things. Peeps, Twizzlers and chick-shaped Circus Peanuts as well as a cool purpose water bottle, a book, UK pencils, K-shaped Post-It notes and foot lotion.

Yes, I'm almost 26 years old and still got an Easter basket from my mom...
And I loved every minute of opening the package and sifting through the gifts.

Sunday, March 27, 2005


Greg's cousin Serenity came into town from Iowa for Easter weekend. I had a great time with her yesterday. First, we were dressed in similar outfits. There was no memo involved. Pretty funny really. We both were wearing dark jeans with flowered tanktops that were cream and black. Then we both had sweater things buttoned in two places over, so you could see the bottom of the printed shirt underneath the sweater things. Weird...

I really wish she lived closer because I think we could be friends.

And we're on the same level as Scrabble players. We played teams with Greg's younger cousins, but it was mainly Serenity and her sister Maya against me. I won by nine points -- 310-301. I was a little behind in the beginning. Until I spelled C-Z-A-R across triple word score. (That's 45 points.) A couple times later I spelled D-I-N-O-S-A-U-R. I used a blank for the A and an R that Serenity and Maya put on the board right before -- and in the only place that would allow me to make that word. (That's 66 points becasue I got the 50-point bingo for using all my tiles!)

It's just always nice to make a connection with someone and come away from the day knowing that person made my day even more enjoyable than it already was.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Reality Bites

I've renewed my obsession with Reality Bites. I used to love that movie, and I've recently decided to love it again. I bought it on DVD for $9.74. It's a very quotable movie.

I enjoyed watching the director's and writer's commetary on my new DVD. And the actors said some really great things.

Ethan Hawke described his character (Troy) has "some version of myself I wish I was." I think we all have versions of ourselves.

Winona Ryder also said something pretty neat about her character (Lelaina): "She said things I wished I had thought to say in certain situations but that I only think of in the car." I feel like that more than sometimes.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Feel lucky if you were born Blue


May I have your attention, please.

If we can call a brief respite to March mania for one shining moment, I propose a day of thanksgiving.

If you are among the boundless legions who pledge college hoops allegiance to Kentucky, you need to take a big-picture look at all you have to be thankful for.

Start with a thank you to your ancestors.

Chances are, it was they who came to Kentucky or stayed in Kentucky, which meant the "state school" of your home land happened to be the one that has played in the Final Four at least one time in every full decade in which there has been a Final Four.

Your people could've landed in North Carolina -- and chances are, your allegiance would've been to powder blue, not royal.

That would have been good. The Tar Heels win almost as many games as Kentucky and with less history of cheating and skullduggery.

But think of all that exceptional individual talent passing through Chapel Hill -- Scott and McAdoo; Jordan, Perkins and Worthy; Daugherty and Smith; Jamison and Carter -- yet yielding "only" three national titles.

Think of the frustration.

How lucky is it instead to get to root for a school with seven NCAA crowns?

Still, your people could've landed in New Jersey/New York and become prosperous beyond compare. If they did, you could've ended up matriculating at Duke.

Starting in 1986, that would've made for a sublime hoops experience. But your poor grandparents and parents would've been cheated, since the Dookies didn't start winning national titles until they learned to spell K-r-z-y-z-e-w-s-k-i.

How lucky is it instead to be born into rooting for a program that has won national titles in four different decades?

Of course, your people could've landed in sunny SoCal.

Had they gotten there just as a Wizard began to weave a potent magic, they could've spent the mid-1960s through the mid-1970s emotionally invested in the greatest dynasty college basketball has ever known.

But before and since John Wooden, the four letter abbreviation UCLA might as well have been RPAS -- Rarely Produce Anything Special.

How lucky is it instead to put your passion into a college hoops program that has proven larger than any one man, that has had four different head coaches cut down NCAA championship nets?

Then again, your people could've followed the path of Kentucky-born Abraham Lincoln and moved to Indiana.

If they had, your allegiance would likely be to a school that has won five NCAA crowns.

But the Crimson and Cream has also reached double digits in the loss column 10 times in the last 11 years.

How lucky is it instead to have been born into rooting for a team that has spread its most recent 10 double-digit loss seasons over the last 32 years?

Now, you could've been born into the largest city in our state -- and into the only county of 120 where divided college hoops loyalties are a daily fact of life.

If so and if you chose the red side of the divide, today you'd be celebrating your school's first round of 16 appearance since 1997.

How lucky is it instead to pledge allegiance to a school that has made the round of 16 six times in the exact same time span?

The answer to all the above: Darned lucky.

So, give a shout to your friends and neighbors.

It is the undying ardor and passion of a massive fan base that has allowed UK basketball to rise again like the Phoenix after a point-shaving scandal and the periodic ethical misdeeds that dot UK hoops history.

Give thanks to Adolph Rupp for setting an enduring standard of excellence; to Joe B. Hall for having a hide thick enough to follow a legend; to David Roselle for luring the bright light of Rick Pitino at the exact moment of Kentucky basketball's darkest hour.

Pay homage to Pitino for working a miracle of a reclamation job; to C.M. Newton for the judgment to find a coach secure enough in his own skin to stand in Pitino's shoes; and to Tubby Smith for whatever he said in that Vanderbilt locker room three winters ago.

There are a lot of real-world problems that come with living in Kentucky ... but there's no better place to have been born if you love college basketball.

Just for today, take a moment and think how lucky you are.

Your parents could've had ya in Kansas.

Monday, March 21, 2005

wished a prayer?

Have you ever gotten answers to a prayer you aren't sure you prayed but wished you had prayed if you hadn't and were glad you prayed if you had?

It's refreshing to know somebody mightier than myself is looking out for me and is concerned with details even more than I am.

Monday morning...

And the survey says...

Good weekend.

Friday night, Katy cooked this interesting dish. Pork chops were cooked between layers of apple pie filling and stuffing (I think some people call that dressing...). It was really good. After that I worked for a few hours. Saturday morning I got to sleep in. I woke up at 8:30 when Greg did, but then he went out to clean up in the yard and I thought I would lay in bed a few minutes. A few more minutes turned into 90 minutes, and before I knew it the clock said 10:00. It was so nice. We hung out with Greg's family that day. Charles and Angela were in town with Elijah, who was fairly happy most of the day. He had his grumpy moments, but don't we all! Then they all watched the first half of the UK game at our house. Katy and Chad also came over for some basketball and pizza. I love the NCAA tournament.

But I hate Duke and Louisville. I was rooting hard against both of them yesterday, but Louisville killed Georgia Tech -- so much so one of our two CBS channels changed the Duke game and never game back to UofL's. (The other CBS had the Duke game the whole time.)

I got some cute pictures of Elijah, so I started a scrapbook for Angela. I needed a new project. I figured I'd just add to it for awhile, then give it to her. On that note, I enjoyed hanging out with her probably the most I ever have this weekend. That's a good feeling because I really wondered if it would ever get to that point.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

morning laughter

Funny things often come across the police scanner at work. This one perked my ears at 10:14 this morning:

I have a report of a live chicken in front of JC Penny.

two moments yesterday

I hadn't left the office, but late in the day I sat down, took a deep breath, and suddenly felt the tension leave through my toes. I should have thought to do that earlier.

Her name flashed on my cell phone screen. My excitement actually relaxed me. That's how much I miss her.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Being cute regardless ...

Poor baby girl Milla had a stomach ache and hadn't eaten much all day, but that didn't stop her from stiking cute poses in her high chair during dinner Saturday.  Posted by Hello

Havin' a ball ...

Milla had a blast playing a game with Poppy, her great-grandpa, Saturday night. She'd reach for the play the ball, and he'd act like he was going to give it to her. But then he'd drop it. She'd bend down to get and he'd beat her to it and do it again. Eventually, he'd let her have it and she'd cradle the ball then go off in another direction with it. Within a minute, she'd be back to do it all again. Her giggles were classic, and this smile is pretty good too.  Posted by Hello

Smilin' in the sun

I forgot to blog about my weekend in Knoxville two weeks ago. It was fun to see Elijah -- he's 14 months old, three days older than Milla -- in his own environment. He's much happier there than when he comes to visit here. The weekend started out really good, but went down hill when I got sick. That's probably why I forgot to blog about it. He's Elijah showing his mouthful of teeth.  Posted by Hello


The highlight of the weekend was definitely the Toby Keith concert.

The opening act -- Ted Nugent -- was not worth sitting through, although my mom and I did, laughing. The best part, because of complete craziness, was when Ted Nugent shot an arrow through a life-size, cardboard cut out of Saddam Hussein during "Kiss My Ass," his song during which he slammed every Democrat possible.

Toby's stage was set up like a bar -- "I Love This Bar" -- complete with urinals for the horn section. He sang most all of the songs I love, so I was satisfied. And he even had a video tape-version of Willie Nelson on the big screen singing his part of "Beer For My Horses."

I don't know if I have ever seen so many rednecks in one place, though.

state mottos

Who knows where Michael and his friends come up with this stuff. But it's good stuff...

Hell Yes, We Have Electricity.

11,623 Eskimos Can't Be Wrong!

But It's A Dry Heat.

Literacy Ain't Everything.

By 30, Our Women Have More Plastic Than Your Honda.

If You Don't Ski, Don't Bother.

Like Massachusetts,
Only The Kennedy's Don't Own It Yet.

We Really Do Like The Chemicals In Our Water.

Ask Us About Our Grandchildren.

We Put The Fun In Fundamentalist Extremism.

Haka Tiki Mou Sha'ami Leeki Toru
(Death To Mainland Scum, Leave Your Money) �

More Than Just Potatoes...
Well, Okay, We're Not, But The Potatoes Sure Are Real Good �

Please, Don't Pronounce the "S" �

2 Billion Years Tidal Wave Free �

We Do Amazing Things With Corn �

First Of The Rectangle States �

Five Million People; Fifteen Last Names �

We're Not ALL Drunk Cajun Wackos,
But That's Our Tourism Campaign.

We're Really Cold, But We Have Cheap Lobster �

If You Can Dream It, We Can Tax It �

Our Taxes Are Lower Than Sweden's

First Line Of Defense From The Canadians �

10,000 Lakes...And 10,000,000,000,000 Mosquitoes �

Come And Feel Better About Your Own State �

Your Federal Flood Relief Tax Dollars At Work �

Land Of The Big Sky, The Unabomber, Right-wing Crazies,
and Very Little Else. �

Ask About Our State Motto Contest �

Hookers and Poker! �

New Hampshire
Go Away And Leave Us Alone �

New Jersey
You Want A F##$%##! Motto?
I Got Yer F##$%##! Motto
Right here! �

New Mexico
Lizards Make Excellent Pets �

New York
You Have The Right To Remain Silent,
You Have The Right To An Attorney... �

North Carolina
Tobacco Is A Vegetable �

North Dakota
We Really Are One Of The 50 States! �

At Least We're Not Michigan �

Like The Play, But No Singing �

Spotted Owl...It's What's For Dinner �

Cook With Coal �

Rhode Island
We're Not REALLY An Island �

South Carolina
Remember The Civil War?
Well, We Didn't Actually Surrender Yet

South Dakota
Closer Than North Dakota �

The Edyoocashun State �

Se Hablo Ingles �

Our Jesus Is Better Than Your Jesus �

Ay, Yep �

Who Says Government Stiffs And Slackjaw Yokels Don't Mix? �

We have more rain than you do �

West Virginia
One Big Happy Family...Really! �

Come Cut The Cheese! �

Where Men Are Men... And The Sheep Are Scared

Thursday, March 10, 2005

good music and an addicting game...

I've been playing Tetris this afternoon. I love that game.

I've also listened to Jack Johnson when I was in my car earlier. His new CD is good stuff. I like his songs because he always has neat lyrics that make me appreciate life, particularly love, a little more. His songs are just fun, happy to me. I mean, how can you not love a song called "Banana Pancakes"?

Monday, March 7, 2005

living vs. existing

The following are my thoughts over the past week or so. It's funny -- well, ironic, maybe -- how the sermon at church went along with my recent thoughts. Makes me realize the idea of everything working together holds turn in my heart. Even so, the guy who spoke at church yesterday isn't the usual preacher. Actually, it's the first time he's preached at our church. And it was rather refreshing. Right along with the theme of my thoughts ...

I scribbled in the margins of the announcement sheet:
I feel like I have buried myself under the attitudes of the world around me. I feel like I have accepted satisfaction for mediocrity. Thank God for March. Thank God for new life. I am a sign reader. I have been ignoring signs and failed to use them to change -- for the better. That hindered me and changed me -- for the worse. Thank God for signs that teach me. Thank God for grace.

Yeah, that's vague. I know ...

I tend to overanalyze everything. That means I play conversations over in my head and wonder if I said the most appropriate thing. I read between the lines too often and wonder if there was some deeper meanining. I too often won't take things -- people, even -- as they are.

As they are.

That's an idea I'm trying to learn about. Words. Actions. Attitudes. People. Places. They are the way they are. My lofty expectations sometimes keep me from enjoying them.

"They" is abstract, I know.

And that's the thing, I can't really put my finger on it. It's just a collective feeling from my life lately. I haven't been enjoying people and moments like I want to. I've let being overly analytical steal my joy.


Nothing is perfect. (I'm certain this will be a life-long lesson for me...) But my life is blessed. I am loved. I love.

With this nature of mine comes the desire to be productive. I've always been the nerd who likes work. Weird, I know. But too often lately I've let work dictate my life. That's fine a degree. But my entire purpose isn't wrapped up in being a reporter. That's only part of who I am.

I'm a wife.
I'm a friend.
I'm a daughter.
I'm a sister.
I'm an aunt.
I'm ...

A lot of different things. And all of those things influence who I am. But I was created by a hand greater than anything I've ever known, and too often I dimish that with worrying about pleasing people and getting enough done.

I ask a lot of questions at work. I function in a deadline-driven atmosphere. That usually works for me. But I don't need all of that to always carry over into my personal life.

Call it a new attitude. Call it a revelation. Call it an epiphany. Call it spring. But whatever name you give it, I'm thankful for it.

During the sermon, I scrippled something else in the margin:
The best way to measure your faith is through your actions. The most deceiving way to judge your faith is through your own words. Every action you do is based on something you believe -- even if it is wrong.

Believing something is more than being convinced something is true. It's about being committed to that something. Do I lack faith in those things I believe?

New life is a fundamental belief of Christianity. Thankfully, so is grace.

I like butterflies. My kitchen is decorated in them. Today I'm wearing one of two butterfly necklaces I have. I struggle with change. I'm pretty good about growing comfortable and getting sucked into a routine. Butterflies are reminders to me that change can make life more beautiful.

"I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine." --from 1 Peter in The Message


It was the kind of weekend that let me catch up emotionally with my life.

Friday was another spring-like day here. Beautiful. Katy, Jaclyn and I walked outside. Later Greg and I went to see "Hitch." Pretty funny. I slept in a little Saturday and then took it easy at home and cleaned up some. Then I scrapbooked for awhile. That night we grilled out with Katy, Chad, Jaclyn and Bryan and then all went bowling. It was definitely not one of my better bowling showings, but I still enjoyed myself.

After church Sunday we settled in for some basketball games. Good thing the Wildcats game didn't mean anything. It was ugly, and would have been uglier if Florida was hitting their shots. Good it wasn't. We took a Dairy Queen break before watching the last half of the UNC-Duke game. It's too bad anyone had to win that game. (Side note: Dairy Queen in Murray is a whole culture in itself. Sort of weird, really. It's one those old-fashioned ice cream stands where customers just line up outside and order at the window. A medium cone is 90 cents.) Katy and I walked outside again last night. Also, this weekend I had some time to play Tetris and pop-a-shot.

I felt my life and my heart take a turn for the better on March 1. The sunshine was part the cure for some funk I was in. Plus it's always good to start fresh at the beginning of the month. More on that later.

Thursday, March 3, 2005


I had a dream last night and the conversation was so real I woke up feeling like I had an old friend back.

Wednesday, March 2, 2005

ROCHELLE RILEY: I will learn, not fear, the piano

I love this woman and her words. I love I can go to her words for strength. And I love she had these words today, they somehow seem appropriate for me, even though I have no desire to learn how to play the piano. She writes like that, and I forget I'm not the only one for whom she's writing.


In my growing-up house, the one where my grandparents raised us with a sense of purpose, extracurricular activities were not just for our educational resumes. We were expected to do the things that the ancestors never could. We studied literature, played sports, gave speeches, participated in pageantry on a regular basis.

They weren't just activities. They were duties.

Music also wasn't extracurricular. It was integral. Mahalia Jackson's soulful wail painted the walls on more than Sunday mornings. Nat King Cole was a regular, too.

And when those voices were silent, I heard the songs anyway. Man, my grandmother could sing! We heard "How Great Thou Art" along with "Straighten Up and Fly Right." And when she wasn't singing, she kept trying to make my brother, sister and me perform in front of her friends.

In the corner was the piano, an extravagance that became a necessity, a part of a cultured upbringing. It was so much a part of my house I can't remember when it wasn't there. But I do remember this

I never played it.

I didn't know how. And I was scared to learn.

Lots of excuses

I've always wanted to play, but every year, I put it off, still fearing, still feeling that it would take too much time. I kept telling myself that we each had our purpose, my brother, sister and me. My sister took the piano lessons and sang. I took writing lessons and read, dozens of books a month. And my brother was the MacGyver of our family.

My father, when I got to know him later in life, had a favorite nickname for me: Independent Cuss. I went places without directions, visited other cities without fear, flew around the world and grew into someone more and more fearless, someone who hated not knowing.

So it has bothered me for years that I left my musical training behind in high school and haven't played an instrument since clarinet in the Marching Trojans, too scared that it would be too hard, scared that it would take too much time, scared of the 88 keys, scared ...

It bothered me more when I realized that my daughter has a talent that I haven't really nurtured. Oh, I was one of those parents who placed her in piano and violin lessons at 3. And she excelled. And she hated it. So I also became one of those parents who refused to force her to do something she hated.

So I let her quit.

But since December, I've been hearing songs from the living room. She has been teaching herself music, picking out the notes by sound. I can't tell you the joy of Christmas carols in February.

Let there be music

So I made a decision for my grandmother, for my daughter and for me.

I am starting piano lessons. But more than that, I'm taking them with my daughter. We'll do it every week and grow not only stronger in our understanding of music but also confident in our ability to each create our own chords, playing notes to match our moods.

In the past, we could hardly wait to shed our week, putting aside briefcase and book bag and heading out to the movies or to hang out with friends. But this Friday, and for the next many, many Fridays, she and I will dutifully match wits with this unwieldy instrument.

Do we have time? No. But sometimes life isn't about time. It is about keeping traditions for more than a generation. It is about taking a moment to stop fitting things in and decide what's important. In my grandmother's house, music, real music, was. And it will be in my house again


Be more concerned with your character than your reputation. Your character is what you really are while your reputation is merely what others think you are.

I don't know who said that, but it seems appropriate. The key word is THINK.

The most ironic thing about reputation is it seems the people who are quickest judge are the people who know me the least. They are the people who are quickest to run their mouths and the slowest to actually try to get to know me.

I'm beginning to wonder if the people who seem the closest to me are the ones who ask the least about my life and just assume they know things too.

Then there's me, my hardest critic by far. And there are moments I look at my life and wonder how I got to be where I am and who I am. That's neither good or bad, just my life.