Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Reading by the pool

I started reading John Grisham's "The Last Juror" yesterday. Sitting by the pool can help a girl get far in a book. So I'm approaching half way, and I'm still wondering why nobody, mainly my husband, stressed how much I would like this book. I mean, it was recommended last summer, but the emphasis on how it combined things I liked reading about — especially small-town journalism and a criminal trial — was lacking. Oh, well, I'm reading it now, and that's all that matters.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

a much-needed break in the sun

I needed yesterday.

I woke up at 8 a.m., which was very welcome after going to bed at 10 p.m. Refreshed, I enjoyed a summer day after I went grocery shopping. Sitting in the sun reading "Beach Road" by James Patterson. Laying in the shade on my swing reading some more. Napping on the swing. Eating a burger and hot dog Greg grilled. Finishing dinner with strawberry shortcake. Playing games in the cool inside with a slight red to my skin and a few mosquito bites. In bed by 10 p.m. again, reading a couple more chapters before going to sleep.

I just finished the book, by the way. I have to admit, there were some nice twists I didn't anticipate at the end. The most quotable line, although it only generally had to do with the plot: I guess you live in your head more than anyplace else. If your head is in a good place it doesn't matter quite as much if the rest of you isn't.

Two hours of work tonight, then I'm off tomorrow. I hope the storms hold off because I think a trip to the pool is in order.

Friday, May 26, 2006

A little more about "Grey's"

(Pardon the slight obsession...)

After seeing them on Oprah this afternoon, I like Ellen Pompeo (aka Meredith Grey) and Isaiah Washington (aka Preston Burke) even more.

Man, I'm going to miss them this summer. I think I've already said that.

Oh, and for the record, Ellen said she doesn't know if Meredith chooses McDreamy or Finn. And she called her own boyfriend, who was in Oprah's audience, her own McDreamy.

Meanwhile, Isaiah Washington was awfully excited to see civil rights leader Andrew Young, who randomly was in Oprah's audience and is better known for being beside Martin Luther King during his famous "I have a dream ..." Apparently the beauty of "Grey's Anatomy" for both these actors -- and so many fans, including Young and even myself -- is the humanity and the amazing screenwriting.

Free burgers for people named ...

So Backyard Burger here in Murray has a promotion that gives away free burgers to people with a certain names on certain days. Apparently Kristin was the name of choice on Monday. Yeah, too bad it's Friday and I just learned about it. It's also too bad of the two sides of the sign in front of the restaurant, I'm more likely to see the side without the name promotion.

Third Day: Wherever You Are

This CD is good. Each time I listen to it, I like it more and more. Some of the lyrics just make me pause and think, hope or rest — all of which keep my heart calm.

Here's what I noticed today on my way to lunch:

You’re bruised and you’re battered, your dreams have been shattered/Your best laid plans scattered over the place/Despite all your tendencies, God sees it differently/Your struggle’s a time to grow/And you, you’re a miracle, anything but typical
—From "Keep On Shinin'"

Did you think you were immune to this/Did you think you could escape without infection ... When you think your life is shattered/And there’s no way to be fixed again/Love heals your heart/At a time you least expected/You’re alive like you have never been/Love heals your heart ... Sometimes it’s hard to understand/How we’re trapped inside
—From "Love Heals Your Heart"

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Culture Controversy

Although I haven't read "The Da Vinci Code," I want to. When I was in Rome in July 2004, I read Dan Brown's other book, "Angels and Demons." And I loved it.

I'm pretty certain when I do read "The Da Vinci Code," I'm feel much like this:

... But here is the seminal question in the "Code" chaos: Is it sacrilege to test faith, or is it worse to fight any test of faith because it can destroy faith?

When I read Dan Brown's conspiracy tale several years ago, I thought he'd face more legal than religious challenges. But when you're a secret society that possibly has been slandered, do you risk suing and revealing your secrets?

I devoured "The Da Vinci Code" in one night. I was sorry to reach the last page because I love the thrill of a good thriller. But as a woman of faith, I read the whole thing and didn't once stop believing in God or the gospels that tell Jesus' story.

The "Code" never replaced my Bible. Within six months, I'd pretty much forgotten many details, moving on to James Patterson's next book, which featured a serial killer who I did not expect to see on CNN that night.

Rochelle Riley

I'll get back with you on this ...

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

wisdom from TV

"What would you say if you said what you meant?"
—Joey Potter's one-time-crush Eddie in a 2002 episode of "Dawson's Creek"

Monday, May 22, 2006

There and Back

We took a much-needed trip to Murray. Funny thing, I didn't know the trip was needed until I got there. The last few weeks at work have pretty much drained me. I muster up the energy through adrenaline to write "hard" news stories, but when it comes to stuff of lesser importance, I really struggle for motivation. It's like these silly stories just hang over my head, but I can pull together my words for things I think are important.

Anyway, no need to complain and babble about that when there are pictures of Milla to show. A reminder: She's 28 months old, knows how to say my name, hilarious and smart. Yes, I'm biased, but I'm pretty sure you would be amazed as well!

The following is the result of the following conversation:
AUNT KRISTIN: (Sitting in front seat) Say cheese, Milla.
MILLA: Cheeeeeeese.

MILLA: Can I see the cam-er-a?

This picture is from when she was really happy to have stickers and chips and salsa at Tumbleweed. Like I said, smart girl. Here she is loving her daddy. SIDENOTE: Watching Kevin be Milla's dadday makes me really proud.

Other notes from our trip that have nothing to do with my precious niece:

* When we stopped at the center-of-the-parkway gas station near Beaver Dam on our way to Louisville on Saturday morning, I ran into two couples and another guy I know from Murray. Weird. Then on the way home yesterday, I saw another lady I know. Seriously, it's a small world between Murray and that other part of the state.

* We also went to Mom's retirement party. She'll obviously be spending more time with Milla (who, if you missed it, was pictured earlier!). I'm hoping she'll make some trips to Murray too. Anyway, here Greg and I are with Mom, Kevin, Dad and Poppy. (Cassie missed the festivities as she traveled Europe. (Poor thing!)

* I started reading To Own A Dragon" by Donald Miller. As usual, he struck a cord in me earlier on:

"The truth I've learned about life is you can't do it on your own. People don't do well independently. One generation passes wisdom to the next, wisdom about girls and faith and punctuation. And we won't be as good a person if we don't receive it. ... People assume when you're swimming in a river you are supposed to know which way you are going, and I guess some of the time that is true, but there are certain currents that are very strong, and it's when we are in those currents we need somebody to come along, pull us out, and guide us in a safer direction."

* Then, there's my other niece, Ethne. She's almost 8 months, incredibly laid back and always watching her brother, Elijah.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Three things

Random notes ...

* Sort of as a personal statement to start over, I picked at my nails last night during a meeting that was countless times longer than it needed to be. Or at least those are my excuses.

* Greg bought me flowers — mini carnations, I believe — on May 2. I remember because it was the day before my birthday. Anyway, many are still living both on my desk at work and on the kitchen table at home. He split up the bunch. Or maybe he bought two bunches. Regardless, they are nice, even more than two weeks later. (I discarded the ones that weren't so nice-looking anymore.)

* I'm looking forward to being done at work when afternoon comes. I can definitely use the night with non-work commitments such as going to watch Greg coach baseball and have dinner with the in-laws.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Comments on my friends at Seattle Grace Hospital

Alex Karev made me cry.

Yeah, no surprise. He makes a lot of girls cry, I'm sure. But he didn't make me cry because of his tell-it-like-it-is approach that wipes all sensitivity out of any conversation. No. He made me cry because he set that approach to the side and let his heart win out. Despite his jealous feelings about Izzie falling for her patient, Denny, Alex was the one who was able to talk her away from his side when he died. And then he took care of her.

So you thought a blog about "Grey's Anatomy" would start with how Meredith was frozen between choosing her love Derek and the good-guy vet Finn. Yeah, by this point, Alex already had me crying — in a good way — so this much-anticipated connection between Meredith and Derek only added to it. So many things to consider that even passionate love isn't a clear-cut decision. (Even one of the writers said so in his blog about the episode Sunday night, the one-hour installment before last night's two-hour installment: Because too often those answers aren't black and white. They're grey and they fall into cracks and it's hard to get a hold of them because they keep just slipping out of reach.)

If she chooses to walk toward Derek, does that mean he leaves Addison for Meredith? Or does it just mean Derek wants to sort through things? Finn is the safe choice, and maybe that's what Meredith wants. She's obviously thought about it ... She brought up the chief's decision to stay with his wife despite his love for Ellis Grey. (SIDENOTE: The chief learned just now, after many years, that his wife has always known about his love, yet she chose to stay with him and care for him after Ellis Grey drove him to drink. And for the first time she asked him to go out of his way for her and their niece.)

George loves Meredith, too. But he realizes that's just going to be stored away in his dreams. He's ready to move on with Callie — even though he's not ready to love her. That's OK. Different people give different things to us through their relationships. If we always compare them, we'd lose what's most important about each of them.

Izzie is nuts. There's the adage that love makes us do things we never thought we were capable of doing. But it's more than that. She lost all focus and broke rules that ended up hurting other people — including the man she wanted to be able to freely love. I had the feeling Denny would die. I just didn't think the plot could develop in a way that allowed Izzie to "get away" with her decision to cut the wire that was keeping him alive so he could get a new heart.

Christina and Burke are just hard to understand. I thought Burke would lose movement in his hand and lose Christina in the process. But apparently he still has both. I hope Christina learned about being a person first and surgeon second from the man she claims to love but struggles to love.

I'm going to miss these people this summer. But I'm glad they were all there for each other. Oh, what a tangled emotional, professional web they weaved, but in the end they saved each other. After spending their lives saving other people, literally, they saw fit to save the people they love. Rather appropriate then that they all contributed to the opening monologue rather just relying on the typically analytical Meredith Grey.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Ah, technology ... gotta love it!

I have a gray index card box on my desk at work. Inside are yellow, white and blue index cards with people's phone numbers and other contact information. The thing about index cards that is so accommodating is a business card can be tape to the index card, but there's still space to write another phone number, the person's title, or anything else.

This morning, I went to look up a phone number in the gray index card box, and the box was missing. You know, it's really not very smart to have all these phone numbers (and some precious cell phone numbers included!) in one place with no back-up plan.

So I started entering the contacts into a spreadsheet this morning ... That way my phone list can be the ever-changing document it really should be.

(Oh, by the way, my editor, for some unknown reason, had my gray box on his desk!)

Actually, it's pretty amazing to me that I still relied on my index card box. I mean, I keep some work contacts in my cell phone, mainly the ones I think I may need when I'm out of the office, but with all this technology surrounding us, why am I relying on a plastic box and pieces of sturdy, colored, lined paper?!

Exactly. No good reason.

I plan on finishing the transfer to my new electronic list tomorrow when I'm back in the office. Now I'm contemplating doing the same at home. Yes, I have addresses in a nice, flowery address book. I think I need to move on the electronic version.

The ironic thing is I love technology ... my TiVo wanna-be, my cell phone, my blog, online Scrabble games, e-mail ...

Speaking of technology, I also have to praise the TiVo wanna-be.

(I know I have referred to this lovely addition to our household, but I'm not sure if I ever described. Basically, we use our Microsoft Media Extender program and wireless network to playback television shows that were recorded onto our computer. In attempt to continue its almost-monopoly-like status, Microsoft requires an XBox to be used on the TV end of the wireless connection. Hmmm ... wireless connection. Does that make sense because there's not actually any wire connecting anything?! So, anyway, it's just like TiVo in the ways we can set it to recorded series of TV shows and watch live TV and pause it because it's really actually recording and letting us catch up to live TV if necessary.)

OK, so, anyway, it's a hot television time in my world. Last night "Survivor" concluded with Aras winning. Terry let me down when he couldn't get balanced on the floating thing in the final immunity challenge. It was three hours, counting the reunion show, so it ran into "Grey's Anatomy." And tonight, there's a special two-hour episode of "Grey's Anatomy" that happens to the season finale. "CSI: Miami" looks good tonight becasue there's a preview for that with all kinds of drama, but we'll have to wait until later in the week to watch that. Plus, "Love Monkey" on VH-1 is winding down tomorrow night. But, keep in mind, Tuesday is the primary election, so I'll be hanging aroudn at the courthouse waiting for votes to come in and calling winners (and losers, probably) rather than sitting on my couch, under my T-shirt blanket, with the remote in hand to fast forward the commercials.

Ah, technology. So long, gray index card box. Hello, TV shows I love on my time!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

unreasonable disappointment

Have you ever been disappointment by something you told yourself time and time again not to be disappointed by because you know you have absolutely no control of it?

Yeah, I find myself completely disappointment by such a thing — maybe even a couple such things — and I'm stuggling to get over it.

Monday, May 8, 2006

weekend tid-bits

Despite working until nearly 3 a.m. Saturday, I couldn't help but get up at 8:30 a.m. I heard my neighbors mowing the grass and some kids playing. I could see it was bright out there. I just wanted to be out there. So I sacrificed sleep and went to some yard sales.

The bargain shopping was cut a big short because we met my mom and sister for lunch in Clarksville. It was a farewell lunch of sorts, as my sister is finished with college. Yeah, it's really hard for me to believe. Sort of makes me feel a little old. Just a little. I also got to spend some gift certificates Mom gave me for my birthday, so that was a nice treat. (And not at my expense!)

That night Greg and I sort of crashed. We watched some recorded TV and played Rummikub. We took it easy Sunday after church and lunch. I organized some things and cleaned up some. But I also got to start reading "Beach Road" by James Patterson while laying on my swing. Quite an enjoyable combination.

Then, of course, I got to hang out with my friends from "Grey's Anatomy" last night. They are getting ready to leave for summer, so I'm making the most of it!

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

home improvement

I wrote this for a special home improvement section we published last week. It was something different, which made it fun.

One home improvement project spawns another. Trust me, I know.

When my husband and I decided to move back to Murray almost three years ago, I most looked forward to our house. At the time, I didn’t have a job and only a small handful of friends here. But I was already renovating the 50-plus-year-old Sycamore Street home in my mind.

The orange-brick home with a stone front belonged to my husband’s great-grandparents and was loaded with character. The arched doorway into the living room, the built-in bookshelf in the living room and the original hardwood floors in most of the rooms were among the things I had no desire to change.

There was no hesitation with other things.

First to go was the strange mix of pink and mint green in the finished attic that we wanted to use as a guest bedroom. The bathroom up there was pink. I’m talking pink-painted walls, a pink sink and a pink-tiled floor.

I like pink as much as the next girl, but that was a bit too much pink! So the walls got a couple fresh coats of antique white paint — and the sink and tile suddenly didn’t seem as pink.

Moving outside the bathroom, antique white also covered the mint green walls. Only a minor time and material investment, but the area almost immediately became more comfortable. Just ask the guests before and after.

Next project: Remove the carpet in the main-level bathroom. I won’t get into how gross I really think it is to step out of the shower onto a carpeted bathroom floor, even with a rug between. I will just tell you I found a handyman who improved the space.

Twelve-inch ceramic tiles were laid on the concrete that conveniently was bare under the carpet. And you know, not only did my feet like the change, but the tiles lightened the room.

Then a simple trip to Lowe’s and Wal-Mart allowed me to finish the room with a red, purple and gold striped shower curtain and loose fabric framing the window. Some bamboo-like shades blended nicely with the curtain, accidentally creating a soothing, slightly Asian feel.

Sometimes projects just happen, like when our back-porch awning fell. After I got over the surprising sound that made me wonder what had tried to plow through my back door, I was thankful Mother Nature helped me move on a much-need project.

Before the Winter 2004 snow, a few out-dated metal poles held a flimsy awning. It served its purpose of shielding me from the rain as I unlocked the back door that for practical terms is our front door.

But the snow piled up on the awning and as it melted, the awning came crashing down and I got to call on my new favorite handyman again. He replaced it with a sturdier, more attractive structure that gives our concrete block porch a cozy patio feel. The deck-like enclosure was topped with appropriate awning material.

Back inside we improved the atmosphere — literally — with a couple new ceiling fans, thanks to my brother the electrician. That was not long after we had all new windows installed. Yes, all 15. It was the priciest project to date.

Not only did the new windows look better, but they all have screens and will open — quite an improvement from our original windows. And, despite a slight character sacrifice, they are obviously more efficient because we don’t feel the typical draft of air.

The windows were a stepping stone to the installation of central heating and air conditioning. See, I started working about a month after we moved here, so we’ve been saving money since, knowing we’d slowly transform our home. With the windows in place, we knew we could pursue the other high-ticket item at the top of our list.

Our window air conditioning units were replaced with an actual thermostat that controlled the air flow through our newly installed vents from the fresh duct work. The much-welcomed change happened to come just as the temperatures reached close to 90 degrees for several days in the humid spring in which we’re living.

It’s far from winter, but the idea of having a controlled environment then is especially appealing. The electric floorboard heaters made me nervous. While I like the gas logs, they do a super job of heating only the nearby rooms; our bedroom happens to be at the other end of the house.

With the savings account significantly less, I’m left dreaming of our new kitchen. There’s a list of projects that I wish my favorite handyman was around for, but he moved to Texas. And, you know, handyman is really an understatement because his home improvement skills are really a talent.

Nonetheless, I’ll find someone who will transform my kitchen with dark-wood cabinets, a new counter top and ceramic tile instead of the vinyl floor. We’ll probably buy our first new appliance to replace the hand-me-down refrigerator, but whether the hand-me-down kitchen table at which I ate the majority of my meals growing up will go remains in question.

The kitchen and living room is an open area that runs much of the length of our house. The kitchen half of the space is used often, even for someone who doesn’t love to cook. But the living room space is more of a thoroughfare to the rest of the house. I plan on joining the spaces better with my kitchen remodeling project.

That’s right, I plan. That’s was home improvement really is. Never think for a moment everything can be transformed in one fell swoop. I’d be completely jealous of anyone who has the money or time for that.

I haven’t even touched on my dream for the basement, which currently houses our washer and dryer, my scrapbooking area and my husband’s arcade-like pop-a-shot and stores tools, wrapping paper and the artificial Christmas tree.

Right now I’m just pretty much thankful we even have a basement. One day it will be another bedroom and a game room and the bathroom won’t be quite as scary. But, hey, at least the plumbing is already in place. That’s one less thing to worry about.

Outside our house is another area on which I haven’t touched. We did have to buy a lawnmower and weed eater early on for basic maintenance. But improving the landscape is one aspect of home improvement I haven’t explored. I don’t think my $2.94 flowers from Wal-Mart count, but they look nice hanging on my back porch, the sturdy one.

Meanwhile, I’ve learned to take it one project at a time because just as we finish one I see a new list of what’s next. Slowly the Sycamore Street house that already had plenty of character is becoming our home — with plenty of our own touches.

Now, I just need to find a replacement handyman. That’s something that wasn’t really on my to-do list.

World Press Freedom Day ... and my birthday

Things happen every day, but it's interesting to see what happened on my birthday — sometimes well before May 3 was actually my birthday. I mean, that didn't come until 1979.

Here's are some of my favorites, or at least the most interesting:
1494 — Christopher Columbus first spots Jamaica.
1937 — "Gone with the Wind" wins the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
1991 — The Declaration of Windhoek is signed.

Today is also World Press Freedom Day.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Who am I?

This quote ...

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that frightens us. We ask ourselves "who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?" Actually, who are you not to be? Your are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." —Nelson Mandela

... is only one of the many great inspirations I have found on this blog. I don't know Ali Edwards, but she sure inspires me.

... if they don't win it's a shame ...

I'll take some deep breaths and recap my life lately.

Friday night I bowled a 142 in Game 1 of the two-game night. I beat all bowlers — both men and women — only to falter with a mediocre, middle-of-the-pack score, although-still-breaking-100 in Game 2. That was after I watched Greg's PONY League team lose its first game. Despite the three tournament losses this weekend, Greg said the team is ready to go because now he knows more what he's working with. Hmmm ... I hope he's right.

The baby shower went off pretty much without a hitch. (I also learned that three people from our church — and our church isn't that big — looked at buying our house when Greg's mom originally put it on the market when Greg graduated from MSU. Long story short: It didn't sell; they ended up renting it; then we moved back. But it's weird that I know three people who looked at it and considered buying it — and they all told me when they were at the house!)

Sarah didn't get to come to the shower like she expected. (She was in southern Illinois for the weekend from her new home in Chicago ...) But we did take a girls trip to Paducah to see her and her family. We ate with them at Rafferty's and then did a little shopping. Katy bought me 29 Sharpies (the ultra-thin kind with which I love to take notes ...) for my birthday.

Sunday Greg and I went to another baseball game. The rain held off during the actual game (minus about 15 minutes while we mostly under cover) but the ride home was tense — and I wasn't even driving. (The following picture was taken while stopped at a traffic light obviously near The Arch. It makes a perfect desktop background.)

And our personal seven-game losing streak that extended from old Busch to new Busch was broke! But I don't know if it counts because the Cardinals weren't playing the Cubs. I used to think I was a good luck charm for the Cubs because the last seven games we saw — all against the Cubs — were losses for the home team, but maybe we were just in a rut. Who knows. I guess we won't for a while. In June and July, we'll see the Cardinals play the Rockies and Dodgers. (I admit, I like Nomar ... He's sort of a Cub, but not really. He is really a Red Sox who took an injury pit stop in Chicago and now spends his time on the West Coast. I wonder where Mia is?!)

Oh, and yes, the weekend ended with "Grey's Anatomy." I was so glad to be hanging out with Meredith, Izzie, George, Christina, Burke and Derek again. I had missed them. It's amazing what a few weeks will do.