Thursday, April 27, 2006

around and around and back again — in a good way

I really haven't stopped since Friday.

OK, well, I've slept, so I guess that's stopping. But I just get back up ready to go again. I'm not complaining. I admit, there's a slight adrenaline that goes with reporting the news. (I think that's why I don't mind that my editor introduced me as the reporter who covered everything the slightest bit controversial.) Anyway, so that's fine and all, but it happens when there was a lot of things -- fun things, mind you -- going in my "real life."

So FRIDAY Greg and I got out of town as soon as I was finished covering my events for the day. We were Lexington boundWewe got there in time to hang out with Katie and Brad for about an hour or so before crashing. We pretty much spent SATURDAY eating, using Greg's birthday as an excuse: We ate great pastries from a bakery downtown. Then after reminiscing some as we drove around the city, we went to Carrabba's for Greg's birthday lunch. (That was the meal that was actually planned with his now 28 years in mind.) I had never been there. My manicotti was good, but the bread was amazing. So they we walked off a little of that around Target and the Liquor Barn (Katie had to see the $1,000 dollar bottle of bourbon. It was really $1,600 and kept in a locked case like an expensive necklace!). Then we went to Graeter's. OK, I admit, I didn't fully appreciate Graeter's until we moved back to Murray. See, in Louisville and Lexington there are so many choices for ice cream ... Graeter's, Baskin Robbins, Cold Stone Creamery, Marble Slab Creamery ... that I didn't realize what I would miss.

(Yes, the best Dairy Queen in the world is good. Seriously, who can beat an 80 cents cone?! But it's closed November through February. People may crave ice cream in the winter, as strange as that sounds. And DQ lacks variety, regardless of how good those vanilla cones are. Plus our quanity walk-up, old-school DQ doesn't serve cakes.)

OK, back to SATURDAY in Lexington ... Late that afternoon we went to Nicholasville to Rod and Corbitt's house, the site for the couple's baby shower for our friends Bethany and John who adopted Josiah from Guatemala. They don't have him yet, but we wanted to see them (they moved to Savannah, Ga., not long after we moved to Murray) and celebrate with them.

I'm sure she won't mind me sharing their story, but I'll make it short: They tried to get pregnant, but later were told they wouldn't be able to because she had scar tissue from a previous surgery that was blocking her tubes. So they turned to adoption. The process goes along and they are blessed with Josiah. They've been to meet him and visit with him, but they had to come back and wait more while the paperwork and foreign process went along. Anyway, so a group of almost 40 people (I knew about a fourth of those!) gathered for this shower. Into the evening, Bethany and John gather everyone to give an impromptu speech before they opened Josiah's presents ... Long story short, Bethany is seven weeks pregnant and based on an early ultrasound, baby is where it belongs and things are moving along.

Let me pause to say: That's amazing news.

Yes, amazing.

See, I just am so very much encouraged by the fact that Bethany got pregnant when odds were completely, totally against her, and understandably so. I trust doctors. I depend on them too much for this infertility stuff and my diabetes to not trust them. So, anyway, Bethany's situation -- different yet similar -- is such an encouragement to me.

I have to back track a minute: When we lived in Lexington we spent the last 10 months or so (I lived there for about 15 months total) in this small group from our church, Southland. The group was formed out of an initiate to target young married couples. We really clicked. A couple or two didn't really stick, but there ended up being this core of five couples -- all of whom were at the baby shower. Goodness, it was an encouraging reunion. Of the five couples, one couple has two young kids, who they had pretty close together. But the rest of us are a different story. After years of trying, Corbitt is pregnant and is due in September. Then there's Bethany. The other two of us are still in the trying stage with situations that are obviously a little different but enough the same.

What I'm trying to say -- but I'm really doing more babbling than explaining - - is God knew what he was doing when he formed this group of friends. We've stayed in touch sort of haphazardly in the three-months-short-of-three-years we've lived in Murray. (You know how it goes, I keep in touch with one girl fairly well, thanks to e-mail, and she sort of connects everyone.) But now more than ever we can really appreciate each other's stages of life, literally.

I'll move on to SUNDAY. We got up early and drove from Nicholasville to St. Louis for a Cardinals game. It was our first time in new Busch Stadium. The weather was perfect. Our seats were good. But the Cubs won.

Yes, I know, I curse the Cardinals. If I were a Cubs fan, 1908 wouldn't matter any more because they would have brought home a World Series since then. We're going back this Sunday, maybe I'll be good luck because the Washington Nationals are in town. I really like the Cubs rivalry, though ... We'll see.

Then MONDAY was here before I knew it. People asked if I had a good weekend, and my response was quickly: Yes, but it was too quick. I especially felt like that. I worked most of the day, then I went home and took care of some things from Jaclyn and Luke's shower that is this weekend. I organized and cleaned up and just tied up lose ends. (I sure have felt like there are a lot of those lately!)

Since then, the work week has flown by because I've been so busy. I did sneak in about 45 minutes on the couch TUESDAY night to watch "Love Monkey." Have I mentioned I love that show? Three more unaired episodes ...

A quick count: I've written 13 stories, and that doesn't count the daily police logs or the list of happenings earlier this week in circuit court. Again, I'm not complaining, just quantifying my businesses.

OK, another moment of self-disclosure ... I like news. I like being this observer at these meetings and events where things happen. "Normal" people don't really come to the meetings, usually, but they care about what happens at city hall or the hospital. It's really an adrenaline rush.

Wow, that was totally a nerdy confession.

Moving on ... Yesterday after I got to a stopping point at work, (I don't say finished because if you saw my desk you would know I'm not finished.) I went to Nashville to pick Katy up from the airport. Even though I had to go to work TODAY, I took a 2 1/2-hour lunch to run a couple errands, pick up Subway sandwiches, hang out with Katy, Jaclyn and Emily -- oh, and take a break from work, which was fine timecard-wise because I'm far from short any hours this week. It was a beautiful, beatuiful day, leaving me hoping the rain holds off THIS WEEKEND.

So I did something I don't think I've ever done: I took a vacation day when I didn't plan on leaving town. I mean, I do have a friend in town who usually isn't here and a couple errands to run for the baby shower I'm hosting, but I'm not exactly vacationing. You know, admittedly, there's something I'd like to cover TOMORROW, being the nerdy I am, but I'm also feeling I might finally catch my breath.

But probably just for a moment.

Greg's baseball team plays in a tournament THIS WEEKEND at the park just down the road from us. I'd like to catch a game or two because it's the first ones this season. Like I said, I'm really looking forward to this shower. It's not every day one of my closest girlfriends has a baby and I get to plan a party for her. Oh, yes, then back to St. Louis on SUNDAY.

Here's the thing, this is life. There's nothing going on that I would trade. Yet I would by lying if I wasn't looking forward to an afternoon lounging on my new swing. (It was an early birthday present, thanks to my mother-in-law, oh, and Greg and his brother, John, who were so proud of themselves for putting it together without a glitch that they got to be the first people to sit on it!)

Meanwhile, I know you're wondering how I had time to write this long, babbling blog ... Well, truth be told, I just got back from a city council meeting and finished writing my story, which I would normally do in the morning but I had to do tonight since I took that vacation day. I have a few minutes before my friends come over to watched recorded "Survivor," so I figured I'd finish what I started at 2:10 p.m.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Pride Comes Before the Fall

Ryan is pretty proud of himself. Like my response to him, the last hand — and unplayed tiles — made the game. I guess one could say that means it was an evenly matched game. Although, to be fair, I should say that the "Official Scrabble Players Dictionary" had a hand in the tight game.

This site is pretty great for online Scrabble, especially when none of us have the time to sit and devote to a continuous game. This sends e-mail updates when it's time to play.

Anyone who wants to play, let me know.

Either way, the rematch is on. While Ryan is out to an early lead, there's plenty of letters to be played. And I think the fall is coming ... or at least that's my hope.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I love my TiVo wannabe

So "Grey's Anatomy" wasn't on Sunday because the pilot episode of "What About Brian" was. That would lead me to believe "Brian" must be a good show to interfere with "Grey's" like that ...

Um, I don't know. Maybe.

I like some of the characters. Barry Watson (who plays main character Brian) is a nice face from "7th Heaven" and other people, including Amy Jo Johnson from "Felicity" and maybe more affectionately known as the pink Power Ranger, seemed familiar. I don't know who Marjorie (Sarah Lancaster) is, but I sure like her character on the show. (And apparently after reading her bio, she should be familiar to me!)

Actually, the show is produced by the guy who did "Felicity" and "Alias."

Plus the music was great in both Sunday's pilot episode and Monday's series premiere. (I didn't know there was a difference in pilot and series premiere ...)

But the plot lacks. It's about relationships. And, trust me, I appreciate that idea, but I don't know if it's going to be developed well enough. We'll see.

SIDE NOTE: Speaking of TV, the fourth episode of "Love Monkey" — which CBS stopped short of airing — will be on VH-1 tonight.

stubbornness to sweetness

Sometimes I'm stubborn.

I used to say I didn't like Chinese food. But then I learned to admit that's really not true. I love rice, the spicy chicken, vegetables and crab rangoon.

Until yesterday, I also said I didn't like Cadbury Creme Eggs. I figured I wouldn't like them because I don't like cream-filled doughnuts. Yeah, I don't know how it's the same, but it was in my mind. I tried one yesterday — the day AFTER Easter — and was disappointed I've spent years refusing to eat them. Seriously, the creme (resembling cream) is pure sugar.

Monday, April 17, 2006

catching up

Dang, the weekend is already over!

But I think I have to back track. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were busy at work. It comes in phases like that. In the midst of my meetings and stories, Jaclyn and Bryan had their baby boy:

Luke Ellis Tompkins weighed 8 pounds 7 ounces and was 21 3/4 inches long. He was born at 11:24 a.m. Wednesday, April 12, 2006, and came out with a mess a dark, slightly wavy hair.

Saturday started as a beautiful morning perfect for yard sales. A slow start in finding treasures, Peggy and I happened upon two really great sales out in the county. We're starting to realize we should start in the county and work into the city. I think maybe less people go out to the county, so the treasures are less looked through. (I say out in the county, but it's like 5-10 minutes from where I live — in the city. There are a couple neighborhoods and plenty of random houses on farmland that tend to have sales that have proved to offer more of their junk as our treasures.)

Anyway, my best find was a 1950's style, yellow formica table that will improve my scrapbooking empire. It's a rectangle, but the edges are curved so it's no typical rectangle. Greg spray painted the legs for me last night so they are now silver, chrome (I actually think that's redundant...) and not worn-out black.

In the Taylor family, there are four April birthdays: Greg, his uncle and two cousins. So out of convenience mine (May 3) is lumped in with theirs. We celebrated this weekend — not long after we finished lunch and found some hidden plastic eggs, the five of us opened birthday presents. Well, I got one of my presents before that. On Saturday, Peggy bought me a porch swing. Greg and his brother John put it together. Then I got to sit on it for like two minutes.

That night I beat John and cousins Serenity and Maya in Scrabble. We played Super Scrabble, which basically just means the more tiles and bigger board makes the game last much longer. I really just had good letters at good times and tried to play them smart.

Sunday started a little earlier than usual with a potluck breakfast at church. You know, I love potlucks any time of the day, but no meal is better than breakfast. I mean, I had choices of cinnamon rolls! The service was more artsy than usual, but it came together nicely and was a nice change of pace. Greg's grandma and aunt cooked lunch for everyone and then we had the aforementioned festivities.

That night we took dinner over to Jaclyn and Bryan (and Bryan's dad). We all ate and then watched "Fever Pitch," which was funnier than I remembered it being. Cute movie. And I got to hold Baby Luke most of the movie.

See, after all that, you forgot I neglected my blog. I'll try to be better, but I can't promise anything, especially if the sun is out and I can read a book on my swing.

Monday, April 10, 2006

weathering work ... sort of

More times than not, I enjoy my job. But, to be honest, I'm not much in the mood to work. Yes, it's Monday, I'm coming off the weekend AND I only worked five hours today. I should be well-rested and ready to go ...

Yes, the weather totally has something to do with it.

Greg and I went to see "Inside Man" on Friday night. Pretty good. Different sort of flick. Pretty much no character development. But the plot itself kept my attention. And Clive Owen is nice to look at.

Saturday morning I went to Paducah to shop. I spent the afternoon there, searching for black and brown sandals that are "work appropriate." Too bad I would rather walk around my $3 Old Navy flip flops. The black ones I guess are legitimately summer "dress shoes" but the brown ones are just glorified flip flops. I guess glorified makes them work appropriate. They are comfortable, so I don't care.

That evening we went to Greg's parents house for dinner and Rook. After two games, we came away victorious and had a good time in the process.

Sunday was typical. Church. Lunch. Catch up at home. I organized our finances with Quick Books. Yeah, one would have thought I would be well into such technology by now. I was holding tightly to the check register, for some reason, even though it was a complete mess. Jaclyn and Bryan came over to watch the Cardinals-Cubs game. That's enough about that. No need to go into Michael Barrett's homerun or Jason Isringhausen's ninth-inning collapse. Not necessarily what anyone wants from their closer. I also beat both Jaclyn and Greg, separately, in Scrabble games. Let's just say I was getting the right letters at the right time and playing them in the right spot.

Like I said, I didn't even work all day today. After lunch I went to the grocery, which is typical on a free afternoon. (When I was a kid, I used to love to put away the groceries. I think it made me feel grown-up and like I had a job to do. Usually I excel at having jobs to do. But days like this cramp that!) Then Jaclyn (Have I mentioned she's very pregnant?! Her due date was three days ago. But she's hanging in there ...) and I sat outside on the back porch in the plastic chairs that make me want to be at the beach, drawing designs in the sand with my toes only to have the waves wash them away. We weren't at the beach, but we sat there and talked and then read our books. I'm into "Lifeguard" by James Patterson right now. Then we walked. Later I came inside and read some more while Greg grilled out.

After I cut up the cantelope, we ate. A tasty summer-ish meal. I failed to mention the weather was perfect today. A breezy 80 degrees. Perfect Kentucky spring. No wonder I don't want to work.

Oh, and, Mark Mulder hit a homerun for the Cardinals today. First in his MLB career. What a way to open new Busch Stadium. And they needed it. Izzy almost blew it again. Really Tony La Russa should have kept Mulder in - he pitched eight-plus innings - but instead he brought in Braden Looper who didn't last long and Izzy who got close to blowing it. Good thing close only counts in horsehoes and hand grenades. A win is a win in baseball.

Thursday, April 6, 2006

a moment ... or a few

I saw you face in a crowded place, and I don't know what to do ... but we shared a moment that will last till the end ... —James Blunt's "You're Beautiful"

I really thought it was supposed to thunderstorm and rain today. Trust me, I'm not really disappointed it hasn't yet, but I'm struggling to find motivation. I just took the long way to the courthouse so I could enjoy the sunshine and good music in my car.

Now I'm back in the office, greatly anticipating the arrival of 4 o'clock.

A music birthed out of freedom

Sometimes I know something in my head, but it takes it a long time — years, even — to connect to my heart. People can tell me something. I can tell myself. But it just doesn't sink in until a certain moment.

This sort of moment came for me yesterday afternoon — late afternoon, but the sun was still so bright that I forgot it was almost dinner time — while I sat and read "Blue Like Jazz" on my back porch. Summarizing what I read wouldn't do the words — and more importantly the message — justice, so I'll just share some excerpts of what proved to be my two favorite chapters of the book.

It's always the simple things that change our lives. And these things never happen when you are looking for them to happen. Life will reveal answers at the pace life wishes to do so. You feel like running, but life is on a stroll. This is how God does things.

... The problem with Christian culture is we think of love as a commodity. ... I used to love like money, but love doesn't work like money. It's a not a commodity. When we barter with it, we all lose. ... I was guilty of using love like money, withholding it to get somebody to be who I wanted them to be. I was making a mess of everything. And I was disobeying God.

... I replaced economic metaphor, in my mind, with something different, a free gift metaphor or a magnet metaphor. That is, instead of withholding love to change somebody, I poured it on, lavishly. I hoped that love would work like a magnet, pulling people from the mire an toward healing. I knew this was the way God loved me. God had never withheld love to teach me a lesson. ...


(About a girlfriend ...)

She would explain her feelings, and I should have been happy with that, but I always needed more and then I resented the fact that I needed more because, well, it is such a needy thing to need more, and so I lived inside this conflict. ...

(Talking with a counselor/friend ...)

"It's just that for some reason you are letting this girl name you."

"What do you mean, name me?"

"Well, you are letting her decide your value, you know. Your value has to come from God. And God wants you to receive His love and to love yourself too."

... "God loves you, Don," Diane looked at me with a little moisture in her eyes. I felt like Matt Damon in that scene in "Good Will Hunting" where Robin Williams keeps saying, "It's not your fault, it's not your fault," and Matt Damon just freaks out and collapses into Robin Williams' arms and secures an Academy Award for both of them.


(Then, later ...)

The sentiment was simple: Love your neighbor as yourself.

... He was saying I would never talk to my neighbor the way I talked to myself, and that somehow I had come to believe it was wrong to kick other people around but it was okay to do it to myself.


(The last chapter pulls it all together. It's ironic the two chapters I just quoted where subtitled: "How to Really Love Other People" and "How to Really Love Yourself." The whole point of the whole message is there is no how-to steps. It's simple, yes, but really oh-so complicated.)

I was watching BET one night, and they were interviewing a man about jazz music. He said jazz music was invented by the first generation out of slavery. I thought was beautiful because, while it is music, it is very hard to put on paper; it is so much more a language of the soul. It is as if the soul is saying something, something about freedom. I think Christian spirituality is like jazz music. I think loving Jesus is something you feel. I think it is something very difficult to get on paper. But it is no less real, no less meaningful, no less beautiful.

The first generation out of slavery invented jazz music. It is a music birthed out of freedom. And that is the closest thing I know to Christian spirituality. A music birthed out of freedom. Everybody sings their song the way they feel it, everybody closes their eyes and lifts up their hands."

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

tidbits

* Days that are 72 degrees and sunny are not meant to be work days. Trust me, it was tempting not to come back after lunch today, but I did that yesterday.

* If I ever don't work at a newspaper, I'd like to own a card store with both hand-made and store-bought cards. If that doesn't work out, I think I could be a tour guide at MSU's campus. That's what I did yesterday afternoon for my mom's friend's daughter, who is a junior in high school but wants to come to Murray.

* I got a manicure this weekend with the Hill women ... My nails are a nice shade of Los Cabos Coral. Sounds inviting. It's chipping off now, though. I wish I had a bottle. I guess I could get one. Really, I'd like to be in Los Cabos.

* Victory: I ate a meatball sandwich at Subway today and didn't get ANY on my white skirt or white jacket/sweater thing. Impressive. You know that if you've ever eaten a meal with me. SIDENOTE: The new garlic bread at Subway is good stuff.

* I currently manage three fantasy baseball teams. That's one more than last year. I'm easily persuaded to do such things. But I'm having trouble remembering who my players are. Despite a comment from Dempsey Dragons, I like my team name: Where is Bo Hart? The other two are Damon is a Trader and Mulder Still Looks Good (the appropriate followup to last year's Mulder Looks Good In Red to honor his inaugural season with the St. Louis Cardinals).

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

a beautiful weekend

Despite the delay in show and tell, the family visit this weekend was fabulous. Mom, Cassie, Zac, Kevin, Laine, Milla and Poppy all came down to stay with us. (Well, technically Mom and Poppy stayed at a hotel and everyone else stayed with us!) While we loved everyone's company, Milla definitely stole the show. At 27 months, she sure knows how to win over anyone, especially Aunt Kristin and Uncle Greg. She plays so hard and smiles so much. Here's some snapshots from our weekend, that included beautiful weather, a trip to the park, a Dairy Queen ice cream cone and a young gambler.






Other weekend highlights that weren't quite as photographic include new ceiling fans in both our kitchen and guest bedroom, thanks to my electrician brother, and an entertaining game of Trivia Pursuit: The '90s Edition. The girls almost won, but we lost when the boys answered "Einstein" to a question. Ironically, Milla learned how to say "Einstein" earlier in the weekend, thanks to a magnet on our refrigerator.