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Friday, April 30, 2010

Go Brown!!

 I ordered a computer from Dell this month and I was told it would ship NO EARLIER than 26 April and no later than 30 April. That was perfect because I was going to be out of town thru the 23rd with family responsibilities. The Dell rep promised it wouldn't ship any earlier.

Low and behold, I get a call on my cell phone on the 23rd from Fed Ex saying they had attempted delivery THREE times and now had my parcel at their Nashville location! So now I have to go pick it up SOON -- 40 miles away!! I told her I would go down and get it Monday, which she said was fine.

OK, I understand that it isn't FedEx's fault that Dell can't ship when it agreed to. (It had shipped on the 19th!!!)

However, when I got home there were three sticky labels on my front door dated 20, 21, and 22 April. Terrific. Just advertise I haven't been home to an intruder!

So Monday Himself and I head down get it. Couldn't find the location by the directions given to me by the person I spoke to earlier so I called the 800 number.

Uh... "Undercover Boss" producers, I have a suggestion for you of a company that NEEDS to have Boss Man see what is going on!

That 800 number is the worst I have EVER called. After almost 5 minutes of a computer telling me it did not understand my response, I finally get a real live human. Glory be! But my happy is very short lived because she tells me the office is closed on Monday and I need to go tomorrow.

Hissy fit commences.

She agrees to have it redelivered on Wednesday before 5:30pm... in consideration of the trouble they had thus caused me.

Now Wednesday comes. And my computer does not.

Checking the tracking number on the FedEx web site, I see it had been put on the truck at 6:30am-ish and taken OFF at 8:01am!!!!

I call the wretched 800 number again and speak in pig Latin until it transfers me to a human. Only took a couple minutes that way!

Had to talk to two people before I found out that the driver had taken it off the truck. Why? Who knows!

Another hissy fit is pitched. This one bordered on a conniption fit.

So the station manager promises to bring it to me personally on Thursday morning - early.

Next morning at 9:30 am-ish he phones and says he is "on his way" for the 40 minute drive up. Perfect! I have to leave the house by 11am for a lunch date and even if he pokes coming up I'll still have a half hour before I have to leave.

At 11am I tell Himself to go to the lunch date without me...

FedEx dude shows up at 11:30am-ish. Two hours to make a 40 minute drive.

Maybe I should rent him "Cast Away".

"First thing it's two minutes, then four, then six, then the next thing you know, we're the U.S. mail."

Then he presents me with a rather beat up box. Steam starts coming out of my ears at that point. I made him stand on the porch until I had started up the computer and made sure it was alright.

And I didn't rush.

Fortunately the computer was fine, I signed his delivery paper and sent him on his way.

In the future if I have a shipping option... I think I'll be asking for UPS!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Guest Blog: Kristen Welch - Heroes Don't Always Wear Capes

This was originally posted on the Compassion bloggers web site. It's a beautiful post about how much your sponsorship means to your sponsor child.


I sat in a crowded, dank space and listened to the rain water dripping.

I squinted in the dark and leaned in to hear the quiet voice of Vincent, a sponsored child, living in the heart of Kenya, in the middle of Hell, known as Mathare Valley. He was an orphan, a child thrust into adulthood too soon, leading his family of siblings, alone.

He answered our questions with a kindness in his eyes, eyes that lit up when we asked about his sponsor. He said his sponsor’s name in a revered tone and told us words he’d memorized from his last letter. Someone in our group asked if he had a copy of a letter.

He sat on the edge of his couch/bed and reached behind the thin, tattered sheet that divided a small sleeping place and pulled out a much loved, worn letter from under his blanket. Vincent held the paper and grinned as he held up a picture of his sponsor, lightly touching the edges, pride evident on his face.

In that moment I realized the significance of sponsoring a child through Compassion International. Child sponsorship is a small part of our busy lives, but in many ways and circumstances, it is a child’s life. Without sponsorship and the concern and involvement of Compassion, Vincent, in his words, would probably be dead.

In my busy American life, child sponsorship was a dedicated $38 that I didn’t even miss. It was an occasional letter and maybe $10 for a birthday gift. Maybe. Sponsorship was something I did without thinking about every week or even every month. It was another thing, albeit good, that was on my long list. But I couldn’t help think how insignificant it had been to me: a few letters a year, little prayers whenever I remembered …

In many ways, child sponsorship was like an ending for me, something that made me feel good about myself, my contribution, a check off my list. But it is a beginning for a child, a new chance.

Seeing child sponsorship from both perspectives changed mine as I watched Vincent cherish his letter. It came alive to me in that tiny shack. In his soft voice he spoke sincere words I’ll never forget. They echo in my heart: “I pray for my sponsor. I pray for him every day.”

Vincent’s sponsor is a blessed man.

It was something we heard every time we asked a sponsored child about his or her sponsor. They would run and get their letters and say, “I pray for my sponsor.”

If sponsorship rescues a child from poverty, that makes a sponsor a hero.

It’s time I started acting like one.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bonsai Show

April was the spring show for my bonsai club. This one is mostly for the club members, tho it is open to the public for viewing. It's held at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens in Nashville.

Here are a few of the trees that were entered this year:

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Amish Plant Auction

Last year Best Friend went to a plant auction in the Amish community north of here in Kentucky. We've been planning for a year to make it in '10. I'd made up a list of what I wanted for this summer's yard work so I would not get distracted.

Yesterday was the day!!

Despite the fact we had severe thunderstorms (and a nearby tornado!) there were a lot of people there.

There were Amish folks who came in many kinds of conveyances...

...and "English" with their autos to buy trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetable plants.

 It was held in an open pavilion about the size of 2 gymnasiums. At either end there was a platform where plants were being sold. There were so many plants being sold so fast it was crazy.


 Plants were on pallets that were wheeled up to the auction area. There would be a line of 4 or 5 pallets waiting for a turn. They were steadily brought up to the auction area by Amish boys. I was impressed at how responsible they were and how hard they worked with no attitudes.

There were so many beautiful plants being sold.

I'd look over what was in the line-up, then head to the other end of the building to check out what was there. I must have trotted 5 miles yesterday going from one to the other.


Some prices were crazy good and some were crazy bad (you could get it cheaper at Walmart or Lowes!). Since I've been pricing out what I wanted, I stopped bidding on a lot of things. All in all, I think I did pretty good.

And it was as much fun to "people watch" as it was to bid on plants.

Here's what I came back with:

Seven 5 gallon azalea bushes for $8.50 each.

 Twelve 1 gallon forsythia bushes for .50c each!!

 Two smoke trees for $8 each.

 One patio peach tree for $15.

 Two hanging petunia baskets for $5 each.

A BUNCH of herbs for about $2 each.

Ten upright mystery flowers for .75c each. I gave half to BF and she gave me half of her cascading mystery flowers. So now we can make several planters.

Plus 4 birdhouses for only $5 each.

So pretty soon I'll be doing some planting! (Gotta finish with that shed first!)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Mount Kenya Safari Club

"The up country Mount Kenya Safari Club has been a Kenyan tradition since American movie star William Holden fell in love with its blend of romance, history, and extraordinary scenery and bought it with friends in 1959. ... Its casual elegance harks back to earlier days as a private club, when its roster of celebrity members..." -- 1000 Places To See Before You Die by Patricia Schultz

Ever since Himself stayed here during one of his military trips (yeah... rough life, eh?), I've wanted to see the Mt Kenya Safari Club. So when planning our trip 2006 Kenya trip I looked into staying there.

OUCH! That idea ended up being more spendy than I was willing to do; tho in hindsight I realize I should have done it. Seriously... what was I thinking? But I digress...

Second best option was to book lunch.

In "the old days" one "dressed" to dine at the Mount Kenya Safari Club and according to my guide books the tradition continued. So we brought jackets and nice slacks outfits to wear for our meal.

I wonder how old the info in those books was? Or was there just an invasion of Huns that day? But let it be said, we were almost overdressed. That is sad. THE reason to come to the Club is the elegance. If you're not going to partake in the atmosphere... book somewhere else!

However, the experience provided by the staff was wonderful. The level of service had not been backed down a bit. The food was delicious and beautifully presented. The dining room was lovely.

And the view was impressive. That's Mt. Kenya - the highest peak in Kenya at 17,057" (the second highest in Africa). In 1998 Himself climbed it to the summit of Pt. Lenana at 16,355".

After dinner we walked around a bit. This is the back of the main lodge of the MKSC.

Back inside, this is one of the sitting rooms. They were very elegant.

Back in '98 Himself was allowed to play their piano and they allowed him to do so again while we were there.

At the "equator". I don't think that is really where it is but it makes a photo op for the lodge. (According to Google Earth, it's about 2' south of the equator).

Monday, April 19, 2010

Paper Tiger Update

FILING - Well, this one hit a speed bump. Some family responsibilities of a serious nature needed to come first. However, everything has been sorted thru and culled. All that remains is to drop each piece of paper into its very own file in the file cabinet.

IDEA NOTEBOOKS - This hit the same speed bump. I have some small rose colored totes that I've sorted the clippings into and will get them into their respective notebooks as time allows.

CARDS - Yep... had more than Hallmark... And I am now down to 2 small file boxes: one has general note/thinking about you cards and the other has every other type you can imagine - with dividers to keep them organized. AND I won't be buying Christmas cards this year. I have enough 'leftover' cards from the years past to send out to everyone in 2010 (might even have some leftover!). What remained filled a gallon zippie. These went over to Best Friend for her to pick thru with instructions if there were any left they were NOT to come back to me!

BOOKS - That is done!!! My shelves are painted and filled with my books. As I shelved, I culled thru the books and have several boxes to donate to various places.

MAGAZINES - They are pretty much done. I go thru them when I'm relaxing or waiting on something. Of course going thru them adds to the filing and notebook pile. LOL

So all things considered, I'm fairly happy with what I've gotten done up to this point. Systems are in place and organizing is being done.

And that is what I wanted to accomplish most.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Projects for Home and Yard

My monthly goal project has been working so well I've decided to expand the idea to some other areas I'm having trouble focusing on -- doing some room renovations in our home and working on a few landscaping projects.

I'm going to work on a specific area of my home every month. And I'll have a project in the yard every month thru October. They may not be a big project, but it will be a complete project. That should bring about some serious progress.

April is kind of the 'kick off'. My goal of cleaning out the shed spills into my project areas. I want to make the shed area cute on the inside and out.

This area could be very cute with a window box and a bench...

How do you like that pile of "stuff" around it? The wagon wheel came from Himself's family homestead in ND, the dark tubs are planter boxes for my new Asian style arbor (you'll see that when I work on the front walk next month), the deep sink is the one I took out of the laundry room - I'm going to repurpose it as part of my planting bench that will be behind the shed, and the metal leaning at the corner is the rest of the arbor.

And can't you just see a row of lilacs blooming along here? That will sure look better than my arbor pieces, wheelbarrow, and trash can! LOL

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Guest Blogger: Himself - "Lost and Found"

Since cleaning and organizing the shed is my April goal, I thought you might get a chuckle at this story Himself wrote a while back. It shows you what I'm up against...


‘Lost and Found’

This month, instead of writing about some exotic place we have travelled to or some weird thing I’ve done, I’m going to write about a common thing—probably familiar to all families one way or the other: Collecting things...and then losing them!

In this phase of our lives, Teri and I have decided to ‘downsize’. For men and women that can mean different things! A woman will pull everything out of everywhere, and ‘start paring down’—having two like items in her hands and deciding which one needs to go. Then follow through get rid of it. A man? He usually decides to get rid of/buy something in two circumstances; when it is time to buy a bigger (and cooler) item, or when he can’t find the old one. In this family the latter is usually the case.

And Teri finally got sick of it.

In Teri’s ‘clean fest’ she started at the top of the house and worked down. Me? I stayed out of the way. (My ‘den’ was an exception—outside of asking me to tidy it up, she says that my stuff can ‘sit there until our Lord returns for all she cares...’) Finally Teri worked her way to the garage. Uh oh... Guy Territory. But then I got to thinking, “Man...I haven’t managed to find the ol’ so-and-so item this entire year. Perhaps I will just LET Teri go for it...but keep an eye on her in case she grabs something important that she might want to get rid of.” (Men, we understand ‘important’!)

Most things in a garage have a place. Sort of. But some items are small enough that they just get lost in the shuffle. Like screwdrivers. And perhaps socket sets—at least certain socket sizes. No matter how much you promise to ‘put it back where it belongs’, you don’t (at least I don’t). “But,” you convince yourself, “it isn’t that big a deal because how much can a new screwdriver cost?” Especially at a yard sale! So you go out and get another. Over time something happens--you end up with more screwdrivers than a sane man can want. But you still lose them. You console yourself that ‘hey, look around, I’ll be able to find at least one!’ And you do. Good enough.

Socket sets? Not as cheap as lost screwdrivers. The three sizes you use most disappear one by one, or worse--roll into some part of your vehicle that you can’t get into with adult size hands. By the third socket gone you can’t stand it anymore so, after convincing your wife that ‘you just CAN’T have a socket set with the three most important sizes missing!’, you head whistling to the hardware store or down to the nearest yard sale.

(It’s best not to start whistling until you are out of her hearing range.)

Well, as happened here this summer, there came that time when Wife wanted to do that thorough garage cleaning I mentioned. To convince Husband ‘he was helping’, she had me lift the heavy stuff while she sorted and organized everything else...and in her sorting she finds every blooming screwdriver and partial socket set. Teri? She is subtle. She just piles up screwdrivers and sockets into neat little piles that get bigger and bigger and waits for me to notice. When I do, there is nothing to say. The whistling is over...

Teri, being practical, contemplates which yard sale she can dump some of these excess items on.

Trying to justify myself though, I asked her, “Is there ANY thing that women seem to have lots of lying around the home? You know--things that can get out-of-hand and that seem to multiply like rabbits? Perhaps items that even get passed around between woman to woman at social events or family gatherings?

Teri thought for a moment & said, “Tupperware”.

Thinking about it, I must say that I have seen more mismatched Tupperware rotate in and out of homes than any other item known to mankind...

...including screwdrivers.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

New Sponsor Child - Mairiamu thru Compassion

Last summer in the magazine Compassion sends to its child sponsors, there was an article about a boarding facility for Maasai girls who had run away to escape female circumcision and an early age (11 to 14 years old) marriage to a much older man. Not only that, these girls dreamed of being allowed to stay in school and maybe even have the chance to go to university.

If you would like to read the article, it will take you a few 'clicks' to get there but it's worth the effort. Go to: On the left side of the page is a column. Click on "Compassion Magazine". When it expands, click on the Summer '09 edition. It's a PDF so it will take a moment to open. Once open, it is page 8 of the PDF file.

We had just ended our sponsorship of a Maasai girl with another organization due to some "discrepancies" in their operations. So when we read this article we knew we had found a way to help a young girl with an organization that we fully trust.

I called Compassion and requested to sponsor a girl at this place the girls call "the rescuing center". Apparently I was not the only one, as there were no girls needing sponsorship. So I requested to be put on a waiting list.

The other day I had a wonderful surprise when I opened my mail box! In it was a sponsorship packet for a girl from the school. And in a confirmation that this was indeed our new sponsor child... her birthday is the same day as my sweet little Hanna's birthday! (Different year, of course).

So I'd like to introduce you to Mairiamu (mah-ee ree ahmoo). She will be 12 years old in August. She has 5 siblings. Her favorite activities are volleyball and other ball games. Her school performance is above average. She regularly attends church and is in the choir.

I look forward to getting to know her!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Photos - South of the Border

Sorting thru more photos. This time I'm working on the shots from a mission trip in '06 to central Mexico.

Best Friend and I worked with "The Children's Corner"; a place where the children could be entertained while their caregivers were seeking attention at the medical clinic we had set up.

Here are some of the beautiful little faces we got to spend our week with.