Friday, December 30, 2005

another year passes.....

So here we are at the top of 2005, with only one more full day left to say goodbye to a year that has virtually flown by in most cases.... and to some, not gone by fast enough. However the speed or agility to it's passing, it brought upon us a wide range of issues that will stay with us long after we blow out the birthday candles for 2006.

We will still have to deal with the disasters that struck our Earth throughout the year. These disasters wiped out towns, and the lives of whole families... and what it left behind is incalculable. We could read the news, and have it flashed to us in stories, but we will never know the true depths of their devastation if it did not affect us personally. We can only see it in the eyes of those down-trodden by its wrath.... and hope that someday, somehow, these areas will be restored. Between the record number of hurricanes that struck the Gulf Coast, the earthquake that demolished many areas of Asia, and the aftermath of the tsunami from last year this time, we are left wondering to believe what the next natural disaster could possibly be, and where.

Then we had the man-made varieties of tragedies. No Mother Earth to blame here. Our score of servicemen killed in Iraq has passed the 2,000 mark, for a war most of us do not want, and from a government that changes it's ideals monthly on the reasons why we are there. There are so many theories, so many pros and cons to the situation, and so many killed why we try to figure it all out. Funny thing about war... you can't just "shut" it off as you would a faucet. Ask Henry Kissinger about Vietnam. The numbers will escalate, and parents will grieve, and hopefully next year this time we will be closer to ending the hate that man has for one another.

We also lost a Pope this year after 26 years of service. He was a well respected man, and a voice of peace. I am a Catholic, though not practicing, but I still revered his message. He traveled to distant countries conveying his message, and even took a bullet on one of his journeys. After recouping, he visited his assailant in jail and forgave the man for his actions. Could anyone else have ever had that much compassion? I truly doubt it.

We also endured the debate of whether Terri Schiavo should have her feeding tubes removed after being in a coma for the last 15 years. Nobody in the court system really wanted to have anything to do with the decision, as it wavered on long enough that she eventually died several weeks after the last appeal and all tubes disconnected. Most of the courts decisions were of the opinion that she would never recover, the tubes should not be reconnected. The news services showed the same tape over and over of her in her hospital bed, showing that she "might" be responding.... what they forgot to tell you was that these tapes were taken a few years back, no such movement was coming from her now. It was a sad day for pro-lifers, and one that made others think that they should have their wills made out in case something of this scale came down upon their families. It was a good day for lawyers, though.

We found out the identity of "Deep Throat". For those of you who were not around in the 70's, this was a defining moment in the history of our Presidents. It was Deep Throat who contacted Woodward and Bernstein with enough information to bring down President Nixon (along with the testimony from John Dean), and put Gerald Ford in the position of deciding on a full pardon for Nixon after the baton changed hands. (Said decision ruined Ford's political career thereafter.) The question of who was Deep Throat lingered in the back of our minds for years... I even had my own theory that it was "I am in charge!", Alexander Haig (said after President Reagan was shot). Who said secrets can be kept?

Michael Jackson was acquitted , which I found to be a bad decision. There is something truly disturbing about a grown "man" that wants to play with little boys... then to show up to court in pajamas? Sorry, I can still add, and something about this whole circus didn't add up correctly.
Then Martha was released after her stint in a womans state penitentiary. I used to be a big Martha fan when she first came out on the circuit, but became discouraged with her snotty ways after hearing too many stories. I'm still not a huge fan of hers, but have noticed that she has done some work on her image.... so maybe some time in the pokey gave her time to reflect.

There are also other stories that grabbed the media attention.... and no, it was not about Brad and Jen and Angelina or Tom and Katie.... who really cares what they do in Hollywood!
I am talking about several steps for peace in the Israeli withdrawal of the Gaza strip. Israelis have occupied this area for 38 years, never a peaceful situation to be sure. During all that time the people in this area have endured many missile attacks, ambushes, and a host of other hate acts back and forth; we in the US could not possibly fathom. I only hope that the Islamic fundamentalists see it as an act of peace and not a sign of weakness on the part of the Israelis. One good sign of hope came from a Palestinian school principal who said, "I don't look at their withdrawal as a victory, the only winner is the cause of peace". He also said, "We must not let our wounded memory guide our future". This is truly one small step for man, and one giant leap for mankind. Perhaps the "terrorists" we fear (for good reason), will remember that next time they decide to suicide-bomb London buses and train stations.... although I fear many more years will pass before they can understand that reasoning.

Let's see.... Prince Charles finally married Camilla. Well, it's about time! Yes, I was a big fan of Diana, and saddened by her loss, but I never thought they were truly matched for one another.
I was glad to see that Charles broke ranks with the whole ritual of what was proper, and just went ahead with his heart. I was not crazy about the hats worn at the wedding though... just a few too many feathers.... but who cares, as long as they are happy.

We also lost some of the greats this year. Some were controversial, some ground-breaking in their fields. All in all, too many to list, but never to be forgotten. Watch any award show (of which Hollywood will have many), or read any newspaper and you will see that the list is not short. May they be practicing their craft in the great here-after to many audiences that enjoy them as much as we did.

So you see, the year has been quite full, zippy though it was. There are even many more happenings that I have forgotten to mention. I leave that up to you, and your memories, and hope that 2006 sees you having a year filled with dreams accomplished, our servicemen home, and widespread peace on earth.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Best Photographs Of 2005

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


Ok, the biggest part of the holiday season is over. Presents bought at the last minute and wrapped in enough time to be under the tree are all opened. Surprises over some of those choices are now mainstreamed as ownership... yes, you really did get those items, even if you were or weren't expecting them... now you just need a place in your house to put said items. Of course, the gifts that were still in the mail are now being delivered to your door; a few days after the big event, but nonetheless another gift of the season. Where to go from here?

Well, New Years Day is only days away.... are you surprised that the year has gone by so fast? Join the ranks of everyone else. This year did fly by... as they all seem to do lately. Any resolutions that were made last year this time have been long forgotten, and new ones are brewing to make 2006 a better and more prosperous one for yourself and those you love. The question lingers about how to make and keep these promises without truly compromising your attitudes or try to pull off the impossible feat. Most people will pick the obvious resolutions to accomplish... such as diets, or saving money. My list was a bit more self-indulgent... and not so hard on myself to do.

1) I will remember that every person on the face of the earth is a fellow human being. Some will fall on hard times in the most unimaginable ways conceivable. To put their needs ahead of my own would be an impossible task.... so in my own way, I pray to God to lighten their suffering, and hope that life itself will help them out of their bleak situation. For those out there that prey on the good souls, I have no doubt that the karma Gods will deal with you later.

2) I will remember that every fight, war or disagreement has two sides. To make a concerted opinion or to play mediator means that I will have to hear both sides before concluding a judgment in my mind. It doesn't matter if I am right or wrong, it's what I can conceivably live with, and the best for all parties involved.

3) I will remember that I have responsibilities that have to be upheld. To be a productive person of society means that it will always take some extra effort on my part to keep my wheels unclogged, and my machine running smoothly. The day has only 24 hours in it... it's what I do with those hours that will determine my success or failure in this venture of life.

4) I will remember that a little bit goes a long way. A random act of kindness such as a smile to a stranger, can be spread as people learn to pay that forward. I've seen it.... it's not a miracle to save the world.... it's just a friendly face amongst the sea of faces we see every day. It costs nothing but it's worth is priceless.

5) I will remember to be sympathetic in trying times. Everything has it's story, whether I can relate to it or not. I will try to remember to be a shoulder, and not a foot to the mouth.

6) I will remember that I have a wonderful circle of friends and family. It takes more than a village these days, as the world has become smaller due to technology.... and I am fortunate enough to have friends and family all over the globe. Without their support, I would be alone and adrift, so I will make an effort to not let so much time evolve before I let them know how much they mean to me.

7) I will remember that all the past discretions that either I have done, or were done to me, are in the past. No sense dwelling on it.... life goes forward, and so must I. We all do things we are sorry for, or sorry that it has been done to us. The only way to correct it is to learn by it, and make a concerted effort on our part to never repeat the same mistake. Not an easy task, by far, as we get used to "learned" behavior. To me, learned behavior means you "learned" something... even if it means learning to never doing it again.

8) I will remember to be more savvy on local and world affairs, as they will always have a direct effect on myself and those I love. Besides, to make a true impact, I just need to know what's going on in an effort to see how I can be of any help. I only hope I see the difference between the real needs and the con-artists.

9) I will remember that I have to live with myself everyday... I'm the person I wake up with, and see in the mirror. I'm the person that has to make decisions, whether they are good or bad, and have to live with the consequences of those. So I am going to learn to not beat myself up so much with the bad ones.... I'm only human, and things happen.

10) And last, but not least, I will remember that everything has a purpose. Whether it is clear to me or not, I know that it will unfold itself at a later date with the intention of smoothing tempers, and calming situations. It is the ripple effect of life; full of surprises, be it good or bad,
and it's how you react to those situations that shows the true test of yourself.

So you see, these are not so impossible to uphold. Most are just random acts of kindness; no diets here (although losing a few extra pounds would be nice in the scope of things). I guess in this long monologue of "things to do in 2006", I am actually displaying a want of being a better person. It's the least I can do for my fellow man.

Peace on earth to all... and may 2006 be a good year for everyone!

Monday, December 26, 2005

behind the closed door of my refrigerator(s)....

In my line of work, there is always a danger of not having enough, or having too much food ready for any request that might come up at a moments notice. If I don't have enough, I always try to help the requestee with another selection from our menus to something I know that we always have on hand. If I have too much, that quest becomes another matter, as we have to unload it into the garbage because it may have spoiled. This rarely happens, but in the week between Christmas and New Years, orders slow to a trickle... so we do our best to make sure the refrigerators are emptied out a bit.

So here goes the request from "The Matrix" ... done in two parts, as I have three refrigerators.

My refrigerators at home contain:

Milk. As I am a milkaholic, this is one mainstay that I cannot go without, and usually have somewhere between two to three gallons on the ready. Between my son and myself, we go through a gallon a day. I have been known to walk through hurricane force weather to get to the store to buy a gallon when I know we are running dangerously low.

Sweet Tea. What southern refrigerator doesn't have tea? Hello?

Bottled waters. My son likes his water on the go, so do I.

Starbucks Vanilla Frappicino drinks. Yuck! Nobody likes it, that's why it has taken up permanent residence in the corner. (The chocolate ones went fast!)

OJ. Gotta have that vitamin C.

Bases. Sure, you ask, what the heck are those. Every cook has bases. They are the start to every soup or sauce that you need to make... and I probably have them all. Seafood, chicken, beef, roasted red pepper, roasted garlic, etc....

Sauces. Horseradish, cocktail, strawberry topping, chocolate, honey mustard, hoisen, and the customary condiments: mayo, mustard, regular mustard (and dijon), and lemon juice.

Then, there is the usual things such as jelly, eggs, cheeses & butters (several different flavors and types for those who like a little variety), luncheon meat, hot dogs, bacon, cookie doughs (for those last minute presents to the neighbors), banana cake batter, lettuce, cucumbers, red onion, lemons, apples, pineapple, and best of all: a large plate of brownies. The freezer contains different vegetables, waffles, breads, Stoeffers mac & cheese (they make the best!), several varieties of Heathy Choice frozen dinners (that have taken on a life of their own... as nobody eats them anymore) and mini chocolate chips (for the impending banana bread batter in the fridge).

As for christmas leftovers.... well, I do have the best this year. We had a crown roast of lamb for dinner with Boston lobster neuberg in pastry shells. Since it was a mild weather day, we were able to grill our rack of lamb outside for the best of flavors. Needless to say, there were plenty of leftovers that will not last long with me around.

Refrigerators at my commercial kitchen would include: Lasagna (our number 1 best seller, and the best in the world!), cheeses, butters, eggs, lettuce mixes, italian dressing (made by us, and the best in the world also), tomatoes, mushrooms, sauces for every occasion, green olives, and marinara sauce by the barrel. Everything else is in the freezers, and that would include cannoli mix, cheesecakes, dinner rolls, and meats ready to be thawed for the next big catering that comes up.

So you can see, there is no shortage of food in my house, or kitchen. And the funny thing is, my husband is a purchasing agent for the largest hotel in the south. He brings home samples all the time, so we do eat well. Seeing that he is an ex-chef, we always have some new or exciting way to prepare that unexpected surprise that befalls him. We once went to a food show together, and in the haste to coo his purchasing choices, many vendors bestowed upon us the makings of some great meals. We ended up walking out of there with a shopping bag full of goodies. It was almost embarrassing... but not quite.

So be careful what you ask for, Neo, with no digital camera to show off the occupants of my refrigerator, I had to list them, and the list is long and mouth-watering enough for me to end here and dive right into the leftovers and goodies that didn't get devoured yesterday.

Friday, December 23, 2005

holiday eating tips.....

1) Avoid eating carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they are serving rum balls.

2) Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. Like fine single-malt scotch, it's rare. In fact, it's even rarer than single-malt scotch. You can't find it any other time of the year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-aholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think... it's Christmas!

3) If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4) As for the mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5) Do not snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?

6) Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Years. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7) If you come across something really good at the buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.

8) Same for pies. Apple, pumpkin, mincemeat... have a slice of each. Or, if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

9) Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all costs. I mean, have some standards!

10) One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Re-read tips; start over, but hurry. January is just around the corner.

Remember this motto to live by:

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming, WOO HOO what a ride!"

Merry Christmas everyone... may 2006 be your best year ever!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

the best fruitcake ever.......

You'll need the following:

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup brown sugar
4 lg eggs
lemon juice
2 cups dried fruit nuts
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 FULL bottle of your favorite whiskey

Sample the whiskey to check for quality. Take a large bowl. Check whiskey again to be sure that it is of the highest quality. Pour one level cup and drink. Repeat.

Turn on the electric mixer. Beat 1 cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add 1 tsp. sugar and beat again. Make sure the whiskey is still ok. Cry another tup. Turn off the mixer.

Break two legs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit.
Mix on the turner. If the fried druit gets stuck in the beaterers, pry it loose with a drewscriver.
Sample the whiskey for tonsisticity.

Next, sift 2 cups of salt... or something... who cares.
Check the whiskey. Now sift the lemon juice and add one table. Spoon. Of suger or something.
Throw the bowl out the window. Check whickey again.

Go to bed. Who the heck likes fruitcake anyway?

This little gem was sent to me by my friend Pat.... I can just see her in the kitchen making it today! Happy baking, y'all!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

anger management....

As previously posted, I admitted that I do cuss. It's not something I am proud of, or something I like to do freely.... it's just an inside entity of mine that rears it's ugly head in moments of extreme stress (and I hate that word stress!). Somehow, it takes on a life of it's own, no matter how hard I've tried choking it down. I usually have to be pushed to an extreme limit before it spouts out anyway... and I always do this double-take as if someone else said it, not me. I have put a lot of work into NOT cussing, and it has been a long road.

I remember years ago when I lived in New Hampshire, there was a nice lady I knew who was the epitome of niceness. I overheard her use the F-bomb and was completely taken aback by what spilled out of her mouth. In a million years I would have never guessed she was even aware the word existed, as her demeanor was pure "ladylike". Upon my gasp of hearing this word from her, she explained to me that "sometimes there are no other words to describe just exactly what you need to say about something". I have come to agree over the years that using it sparingly puts the point of shock across... and using it too much, lessens the point that you mean business.

This is not to say that I fully condone the usage... and I would NEVER speak it in sensitive company. Actually, I was raised never to swear, but managed to easily adapt to it when I went out with a sailor. He punctuated his sentences with cuss words, and they didn't bother me as much as they did other people, so I let it slide. (I find that most times I am in the company of a group of men, it is common language). My parents never swore, or if they did, it was never public... although Mom would do it in Italian (as if we didn't figure that out, as we got older). Funny thing is that Mom never spoke Italian in our house, except to swear, and it's the only Italian I know.

I did go through a period where I probably used it too much (again, never in mixed company), but was embarrassed when a remark was made to me about it. I vowed to learn new words or expressions to put across the same meaning, as there is nothing worse than slipping up especially when you don't mean to. So you see, I have made concerted efforts to clean up my act, but there are times when no matter how well you train yourself to do something, your past jumps in front of your mouth and takes over. In most of my cases, I find that I use it more as a verb or adjective rather than a noun.... not that that makes it any better.

Again, it never really bothers me to hear or see the words.... hey, I work with two guys who don't think twice to use them, so my sensitivity gauge is almost nonexistent. I find I am more hurt or upset by plenty of other things.... being thought of as a slacker would be one of them.
I know that I work hard, and I know that I do more than is required of me... so the finger that goes up (only to one person, mind you), I find well deserved. It stops me from losing all sense of reason and slapping the heck out of one partner. Unfortunately, my God sees things another way... and small injuries do occur in my recklessness of self control.

In general, I am a mild mannered person, and you would have to push my buttons either too long or too far for me to lose control....and I usually manage to walk away, unless I release that pressure valve... then watch out, it's every man for himself at that point.

So my point is..... I apologize for using profanity in my last post.... I know that it does offend, and I know that it is wrong of me, no matter the circumstances. Luckily, the person I said it to was an understanding type (he uses his share as well) and he was aware of how much running around we do at this time of year. He knew I wasn't directing anything toward him (again the adjective use was in effect), and I was exhausted beyond exhaustion.... we delivered eleven jobs that day, and I still had to work that night. God must have felt sorry for me at some point, as the party I worked that night was easy, fun, and the people I served were the nicest bunch of teachers. I even made a nice fat tip for my efforts. So in the end, it all works out.... if I can only convince my temper of that when things are at their most hectic state, thereby stopping my mouth from saying things I shouldn't.

Monday, December 19, 2005

recovering from the parties......

Finally the day has arrived that my alarmclock didn't have to be set for 4 AM.... No rush to jump out of bed to make sure that all equipment is packed, food bought, and directions taken for the next Christmas party that someone just remembered that they had to sponsor this year. I was able to get up on my own at 7 AM, after a long restful night of sleep, and great dreams of finishing my own shopping for my husband and son. The pressure is off, and life is manageable again.

During the last couple of weeks, my two partners and I have catered over 60 parties, ranging in sizes of 7 to 300 people each. Needless to say, this is my busiest time of year, and the state of Georgia, sales and use tax division, will receive their fattest check yet from us. This is a tricky procedure that Georgia plays on us each month, as we do not have a universal sales tax across the state. Depending on the county we deliver to, the sales tax could range anywhere from 5 - 7%, which then has to be divided out for the state in order for them to make sure the monies are distributed to each county by their special codes. This is a procedure I handed over to my bookkeeper a few years back with the explanation that I "take, cook, and deliver" the beans, not count them.

This is also the time of year that does not come without it's share of injuries and minor malfunctions, and 2005 was no exception. Luckily I did not break a toe as I have in the past, but instead ended up with a nice size bruise (size of a baseball) on my leg. I just didn't see that trailer hitch on the back of the truck and whammed into it in all my haste to make sure I packed every bit of equipment for a particular job. (Yes, I saw stars!... and yes, I cursed; another bad habit of mine that I forgot to list on my last post.) I also managed to slice my middle finger open, which I chalk up to karma, as I have used it freely to cuss out one of my partners who deems himself "boss" in our partnership. Of course he never sees me use it, but apparently God did; hence my injury.

On any given day during December, we were able to deliver anywhere from one to eleven jobs to customers in the metro (and not so metro) areas of Atlanta. One person who works in a restaurant next to our kitchen asked us where we were going that day, and in my tired and fragile mind of the moment I answered: "every fucking corner of the God-damned state of Georgia". Ok.... you have never seen me swear before, and I will never do it again, but in order to get my point across, I decided not to delete or soften the words, as I did say them, and will expect my karma points to lessen due to my foul temper. My Neanderthal methods have a way of surfacing when I am exhausted, and beyond reasoning with myself that self-control is a virtue.... besides, I always feel immediately better after I get the madness out. It is somewhat like releasing a pressure valve of steam for me.... then I can continue on with the work at hand, being my jolly little self again. Short bursts of anger, not necessarily directed at anyone, and only after I've had more than I can take, is usually my key to keeping the rest of myself intact.

The best part of the job is when we deliver the food, and everyone waiting on their arrival is in a merry mood, salivating over their meal choice for the night. The houses we deliver to are not just your ordinary little abodes.... they are mini mansions (or McMansions, as I call them) in exclusive neighborhoods that you are announced to the recipients from their front gates. Decorations have taken on a new height in these subdivisions, and the lights, trees and all around appearance is that of a winter wonderland.... minus of snow. These people do not put out any plastic Santas or the blow-up Snowmen.... no sir! Wreaths are hung from all outside windows, with their customary candles; and Christmas trees reach up to their 25 foot ceilings fully adorned with lights, bulbs and rather large packages perfectly placed underneath.
Ah, the good life I think.... then my practical side takes over and I wonder how they can afford to pay the mortgage on such a place. But what me worry? As long as they pay my salary for the night (with a nice tip on the side), I give them all my company has to offer... and more. It usually pays off, as I do have quite a few repeat customers who wouldn't consider using anyone else, and in turn recommends me to their friends.

So with only a few more parties to go, I can sit back and relax a little bit, knowing that another December has been executed to it's fullest. I was even able to take yesterday off to go to my husbands family party in Alabama. To be honest with you, that was the best party of all. His family is "good people", loving, warm and wonderful to be with. It usually starts off with a blessing said by a member of the family before we actually get started with the food. This year there was a little twist to the procedures as my brother-in-law announced that we should go around the room and each say what we were particularly blessed with. My turn came, and I choked.... literally! It wasn't because I wasn't grateful... only that I was blessed that I didn't have to cook (or deliver) anything.... and felt that it was out of place for me to say so. Everyone else had said wonderful things about family, friends, safe trips... and here I was only thinking about myself. My husband came to the rescue (after a prolonged silence from me) and took over with his blessing. Now this may seem rather silly to you, but here I was, the only one who did not bow my head in respect with eyes closed as everyone else did... then I choked when my turn came. I felt like an outsider to myself. Being that these are good people... it didn't matter to them a bit, and they were grateful that I had taken the time off to show up, as it is only the second party I've been able to make in the last 14 years or so. Hmmm.... did I mention that this was the best party I have been to all year?

So today I say my blessing, given that I've had time to think about it without managing to juggle parties and equipment in my head at the same time. Here goes:

I am blessed to have a wonderful family, so that I do not always feel like I need to show off my independence to the world. There is a certain a safety net in all of this, that I sometimes take for granted.... and Lord knows, we all need those nets when the bleakest times arrive unannounced.

I am blessed to have all kinds of new friends that I have met through the net, who have become my second support system and allowed me to ramble on about lifes trials and tribulations.

I am blessed to have had that long lecture from my Dad when I was first going out in the world.
He stressed to me that I needed to learn self-reliance, as I needed to become a survivor in the ever-changing matters of life. Depending on other people only went so far, the rest was up to me and the "salable skills" I was now faced with learning.

I am blessed to live in a great environment, with terrific neighbors who watch out for one another. It is one of the reasons that I stay here and have hesitated about moving to a county with taxes that won't break my piggy bank.

Last, but not least, I am blessed to have a true grasp on the little things things in life that make it worth being part of. I truly believe that "with all it's sham and drudgery, it is still a beautiful world".

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

request from the castle of nannbugg.....

This is a little game of tag. It is played by announcing a subject (in this case: 5 bad habits) that I need to reveal to the world, then "tag" five others to do the same. Although I am a gamer from a long way back (my Dad taught me how to play poker when I was just a wee little one), I am rusty at games today (unless you count the ones I play on the computer in my "free" time).

Here goes:

1) I play my free cell game while I am on the phone taking orders for customers, or talking over menus. Since I can do it in my sleep (both order taking and playing solitaire), I find no real problem doing it while I'm wide awake.

2) I have to have absolute silence around me when I am on the phone... nothing worse than being distracted by loud voices when I am trying to hear something. Solitaire does not count, as it is very silent!

3) When I wrap a present, it must be perfect.... corners tucked in properly, and tape laid just right. Otherwise I will start over again (unless I am too busy to, and just need to get it out). My theory is that everything is in the presentation.

4) After doing laundry, everything has to be folded just right so that I can avoid wrinkles, thereby avoiding ironing. (I hate to iron!)

5) I can't leave my desk or any work for that matter, unfinished. I will stay up into the wee hours of the night just to have it cleaned off or cleaned up.

There, that wasn't so bad, was it. It all seemed pretty practical to me, and not like "bad" habits at all.

OK.... for the tagging. Let's see, hmmmmmm.... thinking, thinking.......

Snaggle, Neo, Jen, Citysoul, Mayor Morgs. Good luck, y'all. It's really a lot of fun, and once you get started, it's almost hard to stop a five. Looking forward to reading yours!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

disorder in the court....

I am fortunate to be able to get my sunday paper on saturday, therefore being one step ahead of the sale pages, TV guide and coupon clip-outs. This saturday, I actually took the opportunity to read a little first before pulling out the saveable parts, and I came across an article about the trial of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. It confirmed everything I had seen on the news service reports, and the actuality of the circus it has become.

Here is a man who ravaged complete havoc, raped, pillaged and literally had his own people tortured, all in the name of his big ego.... and it continues in his appearances to court everyday.
He still wishes to be addressed as the true leader of Iraq, and proves his ignorance everyday by interrupting witnesses against him. He has delayed testimony of witnesses who wait patiently to tell their stories of abuse and imprisonment, all the while wondering why he should not be able to read his own memos written from his cell.... thereby putting his "paperwork" before the suffering of the "nobodies" he had ruled.

Does this not show the little to no respect this man has, treating the complete process as if it were a cabinet meeting, and not a trial for his life. It also shows me the lack of respect he has towards the proceedings that his ego has no idea of how to wrap around. Since he does not recognize the democratic methods, his outbursts have resonated in the courtroom turning it into not a court of law but a situation of who can make the biggest ruckus.

Funny how this makes me wonder the true reason why he is stalling so much. It is quite possible that he is using this tactic because he knows that the judges and lawyers are uncertain how the way things work in democratic trials, other than Ramsey Clark, or is he hoping that
one of the security forces guarding the proceedings is a true believer in his now defunct regime and will commit an act of terror in the court. Whatever the reason, I feel he is not worthy of all this fuss. There is no doubt of the atrocities he committed against his own people, and the court has many witnesses to attest to this fact. Since he seems intent on allowing his ego to dictate his actions, it has been noted that it is possible the court is allowing him to shout his way into absurdity. And with that, Hussein is truly making strides, even if everything else around him is not.

This was not a post to pervade the pros and cons concerning the war we are now involved with.
I am not a believer in war, but I am a believer in the system of justice to those who have committed acts of injustice against mankind. In my opinion, these people deserve the same treatment that they so easily handed out to their victims. But then that's just my two cents worth.....

Thursday, December 08, 2005


A long time ago, I ran across a..... poem?, saying?.... well I'll let you be the chooser on that.
Whatever you want to call it, is whatever it means to you. To me, it became a way of life.... although it took me many years to realize that. All I can say is that it takes time to learn and implement these words to really understand how they fit into your world... if they fit in at all.
To me, they make perfect sense.... and easier to deal with the world.

~~~"Go placidly amid the noise and haste and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.

~~~ Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your acheivements as well as your plans.

~~~Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideas; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

~~~Be yourself. Especially do not feign affecton. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perrennial as the grass.

~~~Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to sheild you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome dicipline, be gentle with yourself.

~~~You are a child of the universe, no less than the tress and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether is it clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

~~~Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspiratons, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

~~~With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy."

~~~found in Old Saint Paul's Church, Baltimore: dated 1692

Monday, December 05, 2005

a sincere apology....

My last post had pictures that were e-mailed to me under the pretense that they were pre-storm pictures of Hurricane Katrina. To set the record straight, they are not. In fact, they belong to storm chaser Mike Hollingshead of Nebraska... and he's not too happy that they've circled the world under different hurricane names either. Shame on you, whoever you are, for trying to plagiarize such fine work.
For more wonderful pictures of nature at it's finest go to: will not be disappointed!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Katrina... before the actual disaster and devestation...

The Christmas Tree

One part of the season that thrills me is seeing the finished product of the Christmas tree in all it's glory... lights shining, ornaments hung, and just a hint of a few wrapped packages peeking out from under the low branches. I used to think that my livingroom looked so much nicer with this perfectly dressed tree glowing in the darkness of the evening... as I always leave the lights on through the night, well timed to shut off somewhere in the early duskness of the morning.

Over the years we have collected many new ornaments to accompany the treasured ones we've hung forever.... and it seems that the tree is laden with memories of so many Christmas adventures. We also put up a village, well stocked with many houses as well as people bustling
around a magical tree of their own. To set up the village has become my sons responsibility, as he was once a budding architect in his "younger" days, and had a feel of how everything should be layed out. If I dared tried to move anything, he would promptly move it back to the spot it originally was set... so I gave in to his expertise, and deemed it his contribution to the decorations of the small house we live in. I must say, over the last eleven years, I've been amazed at his ability to set it up with actual ease and speed, making it a delightful little village to ponder over in the shadow of the tree lights. And, of course, each year I make his duty just a little more difficult as I add newer homes or people we've purchased to the mix. He is a real trooper though, and his village has become the centerpiece (besides the tree) to our decor.

Today we will be visiting our local Lowes to purchase yet another tree to stand tall and proud in our livingroom. Yes, I should consider a live tree.... but really have nowhere to plant it, as my yard now resembles a small patch of forest with too many trees that crowd out the sunshine for grass as it is. But I am still a bit frugal in my choices, as I like the tall, skinny victorian types... only not too tall, as my ceiling only goes up to eight feet, and I am not a fan of lopping off the top to fit it in. It has to be skinny as well, as room in my home does not allow for too much more. I just want a tree that will blend in with all the antiques and finery, with out distributing everything around to another area... as rearranging my live plants, as it is, has become a true art form.

Then it's on to the lights! I don't go overboard with the Santas on the lawn.... just a little too redneck for me (although I do get a kick out of seeing someone else displaying them on their lawns)... but rather just decorate the facia of the house with the white icicles that stretch across the front. Up goes the wreath on the door, and once again, everything looks festive and somewhat elegant without that Clark Griswold touch. Don't get me wrong, I do love to drive around at night to see the lights and decorations of the neighbors, I just don't go too overboard myself. It's just enough... just a touch, to let everyone know that I do celebrate the season.
Besides, putting everything up is easy.... taking it all down (New Years Day) is the part that's very time consuming. I never could quite understand that, but came to realize that it was akin to a popped balloon.... the party was over, and now it was time for the clean-up crew to come in and manage the clean-sweep; not always the favorite job to any end of the festivities, and rather a downer, if you ask me.

So, with a quick stop to the local Starbucks, nicely located in front of my local Lowes, a chance for my husband and I to sip down some warm holiday liquid and nibble a cookie or two, it's off to search for the perfect tree today.... and somehow, just somehow, I know that it is all I need to revive my tired bones and get into the spirit. After all, I did manage to mail out all my packages, bake all my cookies and breads, and put together my "non-list" of Christmas presents, leaving me well on schedule and not so harried. Why I might even take a little nap this afternoon since I'm so caught up after all. Besides, starting next week is when the city of Atlanta has decided to hold all of their parties (both personal and corporate) and I will be very busy dealing with fruit and cheese trays and everything yummy to make their occasions a success.... I might as well grab the chance to rest while I can.

My hope (besides world peace) is that everyone enjoys their weekend and all the spirit it arises in you from your former "child eyes"........

Friday, December 02, 2005

a night on the town.....

To say that driving in the big city can be difficult, is only a fraction of what it's like first hand, and tonight was no different. I always dread the parties that want food delivered somewhere around 5:00 PM... especially if it is going straight to the heart of Atlanta. Just the very thought of it makes me weary and worn out. Then there is the actual trip, which one can only call manic to say the least. My first thought is to update my will, because I will be surely tested while on the road.

For a normal trip of 30 minutes from where I live, it took almost 90 tonight to get the food delivered downtown. No matter how well I plan, Murphy's Laws have much more in store for me than I thought possible. Since it was strictly a "drop-off" catering for me, I knew the return trip home would take me even longer, as that's the way everyone would be heading. I decided to call my husband (who works downtown) and invite him out to dinner. We would find some cool little out of the way place, relax after a 15 hour workday, and eat a decent dinner together.

Funny how my being a caterer, he an ex-chef, we go out to dinner a lot. Who wants to come home and cook after you've been doing it all day long as well as getting in the data on the computer. Enough of stoves and serving.... let's let someone else wait on us! We are a funny pair when we go out. Besides the critiquing, which we are so prone to do, I am one of the best people to be eating in a new servers station. You see, I started out as a waitress in my early days here... and have an affinity to the job. Oh yes, I am ever so thankful to not be lifting trays anymore, or smoothing over problems between customers and their ever-pressing demands, but I do thank my "on hands knowledge" that led me to where I am today. Coming from the deep dark trenches of the bottom was the best place to start... even if it felt I would never "arrive".

We looked around for some place, any place, that would allow us in, as we were very casually dressed (jeans and sweatshirts). Finally we decided on a place that both of us like well enough, and was destined to be part of our critics choice for dining.... and yes, we did get a waitress in training. She was a sweet as can be, even if the food took a little longer to come out than we would have liked. But who cared? We didn't have to cook it, or serve it... and had plenty of time to finally let out that TGIF sigh we'd been waiting to do all day. After multiple refills of fresh brewed ice tea, some New England clam chowder (which should have been called southern vegetable chowder with clams), good conversation, topped off by a hot piece of pecan pie with whipped cream, we decided it was time to call it a night.

To miss the bulk of the friday night traffic was worth the opportunity to just sit down for a few minutes and plan out our saturday of selecting a Christmas tree and readying the house for bright lights. What a wonderful way to end a long week... no clean up was involved, and I still arrived home at a decent hour. Just how nice is that? Sometimes life is good, if I can stop long enough to realize the silver linings it holds.

little things......

Most of us miss out on life's big prizes....
the Pulitzer, The Nobel,
Oscars, Tonys, Emmys.
But we are all elegible for lifes small pleasures:
a pat on the back,
a kiss behind the ear,
a four pound bass,
a full moon,
an empty parking space,
a crackling fire,
a great meal,
a glorious sunset,
hot soup,
cold beer.
Don't fret about copping lifes grand awards,
enjoy it's tiny delights.
There are plenty for all of us.

Just wanted to share a few moments of nirvana, before the season swallows us up...Hope you all
have a wonderful day!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

the present lists.......

Every year right around this time, it becomes necessary for my little family to put together a list of needed items (or in my son's case: wanted items) for Christmas....and I have been warned to "just stick to the list" on one occasion. I used to think that the surprise was the best part of receiving a gift, but now I've become savy to my sons requests; after all, why buy something for him if he will get no further use of it than to collect dust. Since I am the "duster" in the family, the last thing I need is another item to wipe off once a week.

This years list is no different from any other ones he has put together in the past, being that it includes something way out of my budget... and could probably feed a small third world country for a year. (Personally, I think the fact that he doesn't pay rent, as he is saving money for school, is the best gift of all.... but he never quite sees things my way).

His one "special" item this year includes a new cell phone that costs upwards of $300.00. After I successfully pried my jaw off the floor over said request, I pretty much laughed and walked away. Who could possibly need a cell phone for that amount of money? Besides, what special features does it include? Does he even know that these wonderful features cost extra on the bill? I think not, or he would have rethunk the item in the first place. (He pays for his own cell bill, and I know extra costs would have an immediate effect on his budget I just don't think he's really thought this whole matter through anyway).

In years past, it was batman caves, action figures and anything to build with... leading me to think that he was going to be some future architect in some important firm, building new horizons across the city. He moved on to computers and all the new games of building empires and Sim Citys. What a fortune was spent in that... only to have him tire of the games, which just recently became boxed up for the next installment to Goodwill. Of course, with technology the way it is, his computers had to be updated every minute (it seems) and a small fortune was spent in the three computers he has had already... all of which were Christmas presents.

I've never made out a list before... and always thought it to be somewhat condescending to do so. Besides, I do like the element of surprise. That is until I ended up with year after year of candles, candy and potpourri. One year is nice; but ten years of it gave me a whole new perspective on the re-gifting apsect. Since I am not a candle burner (always being too afraid that I would forget it was lit, then burn down the house with my carelessness), and candy does nothing for my 40+ "girlish" figure, I needed to take back some control. So I started to make out a simple list for myself.... needed things, and not too expensive either. Since I am from New England stock, my bargain gene is always active, and I always feel guilty when receiving a gift I know was too exorbitant from the giver.

Simple things always include silly items I use everyday, like pens. I love the black gel pens and probably write through two to three packs a year... not to mention the ones I loan out or just plain lose. So that is one item that will go on the list... and just the right size for my Christmas stocking; not the fruit that they usually put in there, as I am not a fruit person. (Put some broccoli or corn in there, and that would be fine.... but no fruit please!) Another item I go through a lot is socks. There is never enough of them even if I were to get dozens of pairs. Between the ones that the dryer eats, and the ones that wear out in the heels (oh so fast), I am constantly stealing them from my son. Otherwise, I am all set with everything I need... really!

So this year, I made out a reverse list: NO candles, NO candy, NO potpourri... under any circumstances. Tell me you love me, help with the garbage, and pick up a vacuum cleaner once in awhile... and I'll know that my Christmas list has been filled. That was simple wasn't it? And it really didn't cost a fortune either.