Wednesday, May 31, 2006

the threshold of life...........

Chances are unlikely that I will ever be asked to give a commencement speech. I am not an important enough celebrity, with any uber knowledge on any subject that would make me worthy of such a request. I am a plain, hard-working citizen of earth the learned everything in the "school of hard knocks". There are no commencement services at this school of learning, and no real graduation day to celebrate the end of an era. It's an on-going journey that I call life. It's what happened to me while I was busy making other plans.

The experience gained through the journey is more than I could have expected; the path ever-changing, and the time lightning fast. I hardly believe that it's been 31 years since my own high school graduation... but I've never stopped learning. It's been an ongoing process that seduced, with it's medusa-like tendrils, a knowledge gene to always want to know more. The "why" of life. Thirty-one years later, I still question this "why" factor, but I have a better handle on the answers than I once did. Moving past the naivete' of my teenage years, where I thought then that I possessed the secret to lifes mysteries, I find myself in this new pasture of middle age. Experience along the way altered many of the answers of my youth; I can see clearer and wider than the confines of my own mind, and self-education is key to surviving the path of life.

As the graduates of the Class of 2006 enter yet another rite of passage, I wish them well, and leave them with a few lessons I've learned while walking down the yellow brick road:

~Life is rough, tough, and full of bumpy roads. It never really gets easier, and many times it's just plain not fair. It is the attitude deriven from the curve balls that test the spirit, and show the character within.... a lesson that takes many years to develop. Get yourself over that hump as fast as you can, and develop relationships with people who will build you a foundation of solid friendships. They will ease the heavy moments, and encourage the strengths for you gather momentum in your quest for inner peace.

~High School is just a stepping stone, college a temporary dropping-by spot. You will learn more as you step further away from the friends you had in school, and new peer pressures will tempt you to do things you were always told to be cautious about while under your parents supervision. Play those games smart. Too many times we parents read horrifying stories of over-indulgence; be it behind the wheel of a car, or frat parties. No one will ever remember if you drank 5 beers, but they will remember a trip to the emergency room if you drank 50 and passed out. Having a brain-dead child was not what we envisioned for you when we cuddled you at night and read you stories. Our job was to see you safely through the difficult learning years, and get you safely into adulthood. Please don't break our hearts with foolish decisions.

~Maid service is officially over. It is now time for you to learn how to truly take care of yourself with chores that require you to learn how to: do your own laundry, pay bills, shop for groceries, balance your checkbook, make your own appointments for the doctor, and budget your time and money. It's a tall order, yes, but we've been doing it for years and know that practice makes perfect..... and whether you like it or not, you have to learn it too. You've been telling us that you're all grown up..... well this is where you start learning the real facts of life.

~As far as possible, learn to be wise in your choices. We all have gut feelings, as they were the teachings of our youth. Learn how to read them better. This applies to relationships, job opportunities, and dealing with difficult situations. Sure, we all make mistakes, but the point is to learn by them. This, too, takes many years to master, but is well worth the effort if you start in your youth. The road IS bumpy, but a good set of shock-absorbers makes it less rattling to the soul.

~Never lose your inner child of wonderment and learning. There are plenty of books published on all subjects and ideas that man has had since the beginning of time. They may not all apply but many contain the wisdom of the brilliant writers and sages. It's pretty much a guarantee you will find a path that is akin to your soul, and beliefs through this knowledge... be willing to quantify this.

~Trust in a higher power than yourself, whatever you conceive Him, Her, It to be. Having faith is having hope, having hope is having a voice, and having a voice from your soul means that all possibilities are endless. We live in a free society that depends on the voice of the people... spoken from the heart and souls of the individuals. Use that voice wisely, as it does affect history, and it's something you will pass down to your children someday.

~Get involved with issues to make the world a better place to dwell in. Don't be a "me" person, be an "us" person. This is the tallest order of all, as we need to temper progeny with sound and reasonable exercise. Remember, he who shouts loudest is not always right just because he yelled louder. To state your purpose and argue your point takes a great degree of intelligence, a sound mind, and solid facts.

~Lastly, never give up, no matter the rains of disappointment that seem to dissolve your resolve. A survivor always looks to tomorrow, no matter how bleak the circumstances ahead of them. Your lifeboat is more floatable if you learn to remove the sharp objects. Stormy seas are a fact of life (remember earlier when I told you it's just not fair sometimes), but learning to navigate the waves greatly improves your chances of staying afloat. Trust in yourself, you are smarter than you, or we, think you are.

May all the graduates who embark upon the real world in the next few weeks fulfill the hopes and dreams of their souls. It's what we as their parents told them all through their youth: You can be anything you want to be, but it does require that you need to work at it, and re-invent yourself from time to time to keep up with the changing tides.
Being at the threshold is the opportunity we middle-agers wish we could recapture... with all the knowledge we have now. A lifetime of good is all at the fingertips of our youth. Let it be our quest to encourage that in them.... they are deserving of it, as they are our future.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

sadly, a first for me........

I've often said that being a caterer is a much more rewarding job than to be an everyday server at a restaurant. When you cater a party, all guests are geared for party mood, and all people look forward to the events of the celebration, especially if it's a wedding. Beer, wine and alcohol flow freely; food is served with aplomb, and the decorations will put you in the spirit, regardless of the status to your invite. You don't necessarily have to be a family member to have a great time, because the music invites all to sway to the festivities as well as wish the new couple well.

Or so I thought.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to cater a "memorial" wedding located at an event facility that I regularly cater at. I can do my job at this place in my sleep.... that's how well run things go for us here. I had met the bride a few months back while at the facility when she came in to look the place over, and I had been there to set up for another wedding taking place that day. She loved what she had seen, and wanted to meet with me further to do a taste-testing and talk over details. No problem.... since that is all part of my service. I would meet with her and her fiance' within a few weeks to work out all details and settle on a menu to fit the specifications of all "special needs" guests. She was lovely.... and I mean that in more ways than one. Not only was her personality even-keeled, she was a beautiful girl, and very easy to work with. Her fiance' was just as nice, and my thought was that this was another carefree job . Yay.... I love the smooth ones, as my night goes by fast and everyone is happy.... just the way we need them to happen: no "blooper" moments.

The night proceeded along nicely. The bride was even lovelier in her gown, and she recognized me immediately to come up and give me a hug to say thanks for all the help I had given her in her selections. She couldn't wait to eat, as she had remembering the tasting, and had been thinking about the food all day. How nice was that?

Wanting to be attentive to all needs, we were careful to pay attention to our timeline of events. Champagne had to be poured at the tables for the toasting 20 minutes prior to the cake cutting ceremony. We were out on the floor, bottles in hand at the ready. It is here I encountered the first snag of the evening. The mother of the groom approached me on my tryst around the room to inform me that SHE had paid for the champagne..... we were to pour it right up to the brim. "AFTER ALL", she said, "I PAID FOR THIS STUFF, AND WE HAVE FOUR TOASTS TO MAKE. DON'T BE STINGY! I WANT ENOUGH CHAMPAGNE IN THOSE GLASSES SO THAT THEY WILL LAST FOR ALL FOUR TOASTS!" And for all the glasses I had already poured, I was to go back and fill them to the top. I tried to tell her that most people usually take only the obligatory sip, and almost never down the champagne, but she was adamant and told me she didn't care.... fill them up! I went back to the kitchen to make sure we had enough, as most providers of the champagne never bring enough to do that sort of thing, but found that we had plenty. I loaded up with two new bottles and returned to the table where I was in the middle of pouring, when she had encountered me. This table now starts to mock her and laugh, all the while telling me to fill everything up.... including the candle holders in the center of the table. Since I could tell that they were in a pretty festive mood, I asked them if I had made a face or been rude to the grooms mother. Oh no, they said, I handled it in a perfectly professional manner, the mother was way off base for the way she screamed at me. Feeling better, I finished the tables around the room, while also letting my partner know of the special request from the mother. Unfortunately, he had also been approached by her, and knew of the demand. No big problem.

The toasts were made, and the mother of the groom would be the last one to make the most defining toast of all. She would tell the new couple not to make the same mistake she had made in marrying.... after all she said, "This room is filled with plenty of ex-couples, so don't follow our example". It seemed a little inappropriate, but what the heck, it was all taken in stride, and the cake cutting commenced. All this time (much to my unknowledge of the events), the grooms mother was fuming, and the amount of alcohol she consumed made her temper even harder to deal with. I started to pay a little more attention to her after I had found out that she was upset with the new couple because they had dedicated a dance to the brides parents (who were a very loving couple themselves). For some reason the grooms mother was under the impression that she was not being paid enough attention to, and that the brides parents were "dissing" her.

When my partners decided to empty the overflowing garbage to the dumpster, they encountered the grooms mother yelling at her son outside, because of this non-attention, making him certainly uncomfortable to all those that were within hearing range. They were to tell me about it upon their return inside the facility. Now I kept full attention to the grooms mother, because we weren't sure what was going to happen next.

The last song was played, well-wishers blew bubbles for a mock-leave of the bride and groom into their new life together, and we started around the room to start the clean-up. Then IT happened.

The grooms mother burst through the back door of the facility screaming and yelling at the top of her lungs how she had been dissed by everyone, especially the brides parents and she wasn't going to stand for it. This discussion was started in the garden area of the facility between the groom, bride and grooms mother. When the mother came rushing through the door I heard the bride yell at her new mother-in-law, "Not everything is about you! For what you just did, I will never speak to you ever again!". And with that the bride walked across the room and out the front door. The grooms mother then proceeded to yell nasty things at the mother of the bride, which prompted the father of the bride to step in and tell his new in-law that he wasn't going to stand for his wife to be talked to that way. The mother of the groom turned around and slapped the father of the bride upside his head and told him some words I didn't quite hear, but understood they weren't nice. Two groomsmen had to hold the father of the bride back, as he lunged toward the mother of the groom, arm raised to retaliate. At this point the groom grabbed his mother and made an attempt to get her out into the front parking lot, into her car, and on her way. He was clearly embarrassed, and very angry at his mother.

Successfully scraping my mouth off the floor over this action, I watched as events unfolded I'd never seen at a wedding before. I was speechless, as was the bartender who grabbed me into the kitchen. My first order of business was to inform the facility coordinator of the happenings, but I did not readily see her. Walking out the front door after the grooms mother was escorted out, I came across the coordinator. Since she had witnessed the grooms mother being taken out kicking and screaming, she decided that the situation was taken care of by the wedding party, and there was no sense making a bad situation worse by interfering.

The evening did end, but I could not help feeling that this couple was in for a lot of problems due to the jealousy of the grooms mother. They would now be in a fight for their lifetime over any and all holidays, children born out of the marriage, and any family gatherings. Because of the nature of the brides parents, I don't foresee problems stemming from them, but rather from the grooms mother. I also couldn't help but feel that this woman (and notice I didn't use the word lady), was horrible to have pulled such a stunt at her own sons wedding. She forgot the one rule of a wedding day: It's the BRIDES day. If you can't play nice in polite company, then you shouldn't expect to be asked to play at all. Sadly, I know she'll never get the point on that.
I was sad to think of the problems that would stem out of this one event, but as I watched the bride and groom handle the situation, I saw the power of their love. I wished them a silent "love freshened anew", and hoped they would remember this bond during the tough times of their future together. They certainly have a bumpy road through no fault of their own.

Discussing the events of the evening with the bartender, DJ, and wedding coordinator, I couldn't help but feel that this was the first time I had ever witnessed anything like this. It turned out, it was a "first" for all of us. For a day that is supposed to be filled with love and togetherness, it was sad to see it tarnished over such a silly reason, and I hope to never witness another. I don't see it as a good way to start a new life as husband and wife. And if I were really superstitious, I might see it as a bad omen.

Good luck to you Ted and Christina.... you will need lots of it!

Friday, May 26, 2006

a memorial weekend.....

Somewhere between the grilling out and the picnics we will enjoy this weekend, a moment should be taken to remember the troops who will not be able to share their time with us any longer. A moment when we remember the reason for this weekend other than having three consecutive days off. We may not agree with this war, or the administration that put us there, but it should not lesson the debt we owe to the men and women who set off to battle in order to secure the very freedoms we have. May our current troops come home safely, and may the world come together to celebrate peace as it should be.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

the enemy......

In every war, it is only a matter of showing the enemy who's tougher, while gaining real estate in the process. Fancier tactics are now used as technology has become sophisticated, and it is even possible to eradicate the enemy without showing up any more to do the manual fighting. Plans are layed, weapons are stocked, and soldiers are on the ready... it's merely a matter of timing to be sure the enemy is in range... then KAPOW, the war has begun.

To say that casualties will be kept at a minimum is not a guarantee one can promise... it can only be hoped that there will be few to no bodies to escort off the battlefield once the real fighting begins. It's not an easy quest, and most leaders have had their share of battle scars. It's a haunting vision, and not for the weak of stomach. It's a job nobody really wants, but someone must assume in order to further their way of life over the machinations of the enemy they are faced with.

Am I talking about the war in Iraq? No.... not at all. I am talking about squirrels... specifically the ones who have invaded my yard ever since Miss Kitty moved to Florida. Oh yeah, they are cute and fuzzy... and make the cutest moves and noises. The are also a nuisance. Through some squirrel tele-networking that they possess, word has gotten out that the maple trees in my yard are filled with condo areas waiting to be occupied by any available yard rodent in the area or from miles around. To say that they have moved in in droves is an understatement. I have been invaded! And why not? My yard is filled with tasty flowers for them to gnaw on, the birdbaths are all filled with clean water to drink, and housing is at a premium..... it's the perfect garden of eden.

With no hunter to keep them at bay, they jump from tree to tree laughing at my inability to do any more than scare them off temporarily. Oh sure, you think, squirrels can't laugh... but I'm here to attest that they have those big cheeks just for that reason. It's the pointing at me while they are laughing that is really beginning to test my patience, along with the fact that they have decided to dig up all my plantings. Everyday I encounter new invaded pots of flowers with fresh gnaw marks at the roots. I have planted over 100 new flowers in the yard that I must systematically re-plant when they dig them out. It's annoying, I tell you... and I have to declare war whether I want to or not. If they were paying some form of rent, I might be a little easier on the buggers, but this is my real estate that I've worked so hard to preserve. It's time to get tough with them.... I'm just not sure how.

I've been told that this is the mating season for squirrels right now... the reason why they are acting so "squirrelly" and rambunctious. Hmmm..... they always act squirrelly to me. Have you ever noticed one crossing the street. It's like they have a hard time making up their mind as to which direction they were headed in the first place. They start halfway over, stop, turn around, look around, hop a bit, stop, look around, hop some more, turn back and go 1/4 of the way, then stop and turn around again..... it's an endless decision for them. Perhaps that's why we do see a lot of the undecided ones as road kill. Chipmunks on the other hand are scurriers. Once the decision is made to cross the street, it's off they go. You rarely see a deceased chipmunk.... but always see the familiar squirrels as part of the pavement.

Now I'm not saying I want to run them over.... I detest killing of any sort. I am more likely to get butted from the back by an over-eager driver up my rear end for slowing down to let these animals get safely to the other side (and this equasion would include bunnies, possums and raccoons). I need to find a way for these pesky rodents to leave my plantings alone. It has been suggested that I should use cayenne pepper in the soil, or put out mothballs, but I'm not sure that is a workable solution. Besides, I hate the smell of mothballs.... and cayenne pepper seems cruel.

Does anybody have any suggestions that have worked effectively for them? I need a good game-plan that allows me to go on about my life ( in essence: not showing up for the war), while allowing my flowers to reach some sort of maturity. (I notice that they don't bother the bigger plants.) I'm not so good at this war thing, because I detest deceased bodies laying around, and do not have the stomach to chuck them off into squirrel heaven.... that's a job for hubby anyway.
I just want them to go about their life while leaving my new flowers alone. They are welcome to all the water they can drink, as well as all the birdseed that gets tossed to the ground from the birdfeeders.... but that's where my hospitality ends. Darned pesky yard rats!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Has it really been a week since I posted last? My, my, my, how time travels fast when you are having so much fun....

Actually it's been a hell of a week for me... hence the lack of posts on my part. It started with a bang of caterings that kept us so busy, I could barely keep them all apart for all the equipment that needed to be stored and packed. I am glad to be an organized person for the most part, as I make lists of everything. This becomes most helpful when it comes to knowing what I have, what need and, what I need to get. It has saved me many times ..... as long as I can remember where I leave the lists.

We were supposed to be fairly quiet, then it seemed that everyone remembered that they needed food, or their previous caterer was a.w.o.l. A few moments of letting their fingers do the walking, they arrived on the page of our ad, and decided to give us a try. What started as three caterings for the weekend turned into eight. Yup, it looked like I was going to be able to pay my bills early with the potential dough that was going to roll in; although much work had to go into all the planning in a very short amount of time, and I had to be up to the task. I was, and everything went off as well planned as it could possibly go.... with only a few snags here and there, nothing that anyone else knew about but myself.

Luckily it happened while I was on the last catering of the weekend, and had a staff of ten people helping serve 160 people table-side service.... rather than buffet-style service. It was upon their request that a buffet wasn't present, as they wanted their people to stay in their chairs, and have us wait on them. It did go off beautifully as it was supposed to, but by the end of the night I heard the familiar barking of my feet, and was overly anxious to get home after mopping their kitchen floor. Too tired to do that final walk-thru to see if we left anything behind, I hung the mop up and proceeded out the door to my vehicle. I was only 10 minutes away from home, and still in enough time to catch the season finale of Desperate Housewives. I put my truck into auto-drive ( a feature I highly recommend for every vehicle), and took a mind wandering jog over the nights events. Happy that I could pat myself on the back over such a fruitful job with lots of praise from the participants, I pulled into my driveway, ran into the house and threw off the shoes, pants and shirt to climb into shorts and a T-shirt. I immediately felt better, and the cool night air gave me a feeling of relief that the weekend was officially over; I could relax until 6 AM Monday morning where I started all over again with boxed lunches for 60 people.

It wasn't until 7 AM Monday morning when I was headed out of my house to the kitchen that I remembered I hadn't carried my "repair-kit" bag out of the event facility from the night before. In here I store all the little stuff I might need during the event, but don't want to walk out to my vehicle to get. This usually includes a comb, hair spray (for those loose strands that always seem to fall down in front of my eyes), toothpaste and brush, my keys and my cell phone. I tried calling my cell phone, hoping that it might have fallen out of my purse in the truck, but no, I had left it in the bag this time. I purposely leave my keys in the bag, because it is one way for me to remember my bag, but this time I had taken the keys out to go back to the truck to get something, and instead of returning them to the bag, I slipped them into my apron pocket. Big boo-boo on my part! Now the cell phone was a.w.o.l. Geez..... my bad, huh? Calling the facility the next day, I was able to get back in to find the bag. The only problem was that it wasn't where I had left it. A check to the lost and found revealed nothing, and a return trip to their kitchen to look in every corner finally met with success. I felt 20 pounds lighter in relief alone. I could have forfeited the bag and it contents, if it were not for the cell phone.

All this time, I was feeling funny.... and not the "ha-ha" kind, but funny in a weird way. I literally could feel my skin crawl with itching, my lips had taken on a new fullness, and I was lightheaded . Not prone to fainting or any of that silliness, I felt that perhaps I was a bit overtired, so I took a few hours in the afternoon off to take a much needed "real" nap. Yup, that's what it had to be.... I was overtired, and just needed some uniterrupted sleep to put me back on top of my game. I woke up many hours later (and thank goodness the phone was quiet all that time) only to feel that I wasn't in any better of shape. I was actually even more tired and itchier than before. The backs of my legs were rubbed raw, my right knee-cap and arm had welts, my lips had grown and were the size of being hit by a 99-mile an hour baseball, and my muscles were very sore. I still had no reason to base this affliction on, and being a trooper, I had a lot of laundry to do as well as work to catch up on. So on I plodded, not working very fast, but effectively getting done the mental list I had put together to end the day at 11:00 PM.

And then came this morning..... the itching was worse, the welts worse, but my lips had receded a bit. Oh well, nothing like a hot shower to wash it all away, huh? Well, sort of.
I felt like I had a bad sunburn and the shower did nothing to alleviate the itching, but actually made it worse. By the time I made it to my kitchen this morning, the welts were worse, the itching uncontrollable, and my lips were beginning to grow again. My partner noticed it right away. He went to his car and pulled out a bottle of benedryl and told me to take some, at least the itching would come under control. I asked him to read the back of the bottle as I was sure that this was going to make me drowsy (and I was too lazy to walk to my truck to get my glasses to read it myself). I could only imagine it would say something to the effect that once taking this product, one should never handle machinery, drive, or even attempt to think. "Oh no", he said, "Take it.... what's more important is that you stop itching." Remind me to not be so lazy next time and get those glasses, as I started to get drowsy.... real drowsy. I found reasons to do something, just to keep my mind going, because I could not think a coherent thought in my brain otherwise. Simple tasks proved to be stressful, and I was giddy as well. On the plus side, the itching did cease. I couldn't wait to get home again, as I really needed to lay down; that was the first order of business once I crossed the threshold of my home. All housework, yardwork and thinking would have to wait till I was in a better frame of mind.

So here I am at the end of a much needed nap, again, and not really feeling any better. The itching has receded a bit, the rawness to my legs is not as bad, but I am still lightheaded. Just writing this post has been a challenge in spelling and skill. I can't believe I've made as many errors as I have (you should have seen this before I re-read every part twice); even simple words were hard to spell in my head..... and since my spell-check is on permanent a.w.o.l. status, this has been quite an exercise in patience for me. Hmmmm..... good thing I'm still on those pills that Dr. Teddy prescribed. At least I don't feel like I need to take anybodys head off while I'm scratching away..... I'm actually in a good frame of mind for someone who is suffering a series of unfortunate events.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

a brave and beautiful city.......

When Sherman marched his troops through Atlanta during the Civil War, then left it in tatters, no one could have ever imagined that the town would rise above the ashes to become a the beautiful international city that it is today. It would take years for it to form, but it would surpass all plans anyone could have envisioned at the time.

If you were to fly into Georgia from any destination, the landscape is covered in green, until this mecca, that appears like an island, pops up in the middle of it. In actuality, Atlanta has three tiers to it's cityscape, but only a keen eye or native son can recognize it. There is the actual city itself, or "downtown", then there's "midtown", and lastly, there's Buckhead. Each area is rich in history and vast in wealth of it's citizens. Starting on Peachtree Steet, the most famous street in the city (that has over 28 surnames for added confusion), it meanders north over 60 miles away to Lake Lanier. Along the way, it changes it's name numerous times, but that's very typical of the way they name streets here.

There are dozens of other neighborhoods that surround and intertwine themselves within the city limits, and they all have charming names that are easily recognizable if you are a native or transplanted native, such as myself. What is equally nice about these neighborhoods is the fact that each one has at least one, if not several, parks. It's as if a park were placed and named, and a neighborhood was placed around it. Convince me that you wouldn't like to live in an area named Morningside, or Garden Hills, and you'd have a hard arguement on my part.

Traveling north from downtown, and heading into midtown is the Margaret Mitchell Museum located on 10th and Peachtree. The MM museum was adopted by the city history center in the 1990's who finally restored it from it's original "dump" appearance. It was here that Margaret Mitchell wrote most of her famous story, "Gone With The Wind"; taking a full ten years to complete. She had always called it "the dump", and with good reason. Her tiny apartment resembled a broom closet at best. It consisted of three tiny rooms, one being a kitchen, one her bedroom, and the front room being her livingroom. It was here she tapped out the pages that told the story of life during the few days before the Civil War and through the Reconstruction Period. It was called "the greatest love story ever told", and the premiere of the movie was held to record crowds in 1939.

The museum now resembles an original brick apartment building, well taken care of, with a lovely green lawn out front. Window casings gleam in white, and flowers are planted along the walkways. It didn't look like that a few years back, nor did it appear that way during Miss Mitchells stay. For many years after her death, the apartment building sat in a state of disrepair, was raped of its beautiful stain glass windows by antique hunters, and set fire to twice during the 1980's by homeless people who occupied its vacant rooms. It looked like a "dump", and we could all understand why Miss Mitchell referred to it that way.

A few miles up Peachtree, is The High Museum where famous pieces of art are displayed on loan, and in collections from famous museums of Europe. It sits across the street from the Woodruff Arts Center, where the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra houses its concert series.. and is only minutes away from the famous Fox Theatre. It is at the Fox where you can see anything from a play to a concert featuring The Clash. (I've done both.)

A little further north is the heart of beautiful Buckhead, where the History Center, a major financial and hotel center of the city, and beautiful mansions reside in park-like settings. If you live in Buckhead, you live in good company, as the Governors Mansion is located a few streets down from the History Center. It was here this past weekend that our Governor invited Prom students to party after their dance, and he served them up pancakes and waffles for breakfast. Isn't that just the friendliest thing you ever heard of?

Travel north of the city and you would cross over the Chattahoochie River into a quaint little town called Roswell, which by population alone is really a city. But there are no tall buildings here.... large, yes, but nothing tall. It even has a town square with a cute little cotillion in it's center park. It is here that you could find southern mansions that were left untouched by the northern troops during the Civil War. These antibellum plantations have all been restored, and are open today for tours of a time when life was a bit slower. Judging by the traffic on the roads, you might have a different idea, but once inside these magnificant homes, you cannot help but be transformed into the life of the early 1800's. In some cases, the original furniture is still in place..... carefully stored during the war; lest the pesky northern troops use it for firewood.

Like the city of Atlanta, Roswell has many parks as well. The two best are located on the Chattahoochie River, and are fondly known as the "river parks" by the locals. It is here that you can set up a picnic and listen to free concerts on saturday nights, or go for a five mile bike ride that connects Marietta (the neighbor in the next county) to Roswell by the river. It is so family friendly, that many people bring their children here to play on the many swing-sets, or teach their children how to ride a bike; after all, it has an amazing bike trail.

Travel a little north of Roswell, and you enter the charming town of Alpharetta. Since the cities are so close together, the area is more known as Roswell/ Alpharetta (even though the high schools of each seperate city have a rivalries that go pretty far back). Like Atlanta and Roswell, Alpharetta has numerous parks and bike trails, but unlike Atlanta, it has no tall buildings. It is in Alpharetta that you would find homes where the Braves players live.... or should I say mansions, and the most prestigious neighborhood is Country Club of the South. No doubt entry here is gated, and the only way in is by invite only.... unless you have the money to purchase one of these million dollar mansions. Let's just say that it is an area that the service industry likes to target, as these people do nothing for themselves. Between the well-manicured lawns, and the parties given for no particular reason, it is obvious that money flows pretty freely when the job is to the specifications of the tennants.

Even though both Roswell and Alpharetta are seperate cities from Atlanta, they still claim to be part of the big city itself.... after all, they still belong to the same county and are counted as part of the population of Atlanta. What once was "moving out to the country" and up to North Fulton county, is now only a 15 minute drive down to the heart of Atlanta..... considering that you do not try this treck during the morning or evening rush hours. The city of Atlanta, that was once burned to the ground, has sprawled in all directions, with each neighborhood and neighboring town laying claim to census results as well as all the metro perks Atlanta has to offer.

In the past 23 years that I have lived here, I have seen the city change, grow and adapt into becoming an international center. We've hosted the 1996 Olympics, and we're home of the most of the Fortune 500 companies. The Civil Rights Movement was born here in the small booth of a pharmacy cafe when Dr. King held court with his followers back in the late 1950's. A wonderful zoo shares a park with our Cyclorama exhibit of the Civil War, and we've just added the worlds largest aquarium to the tourist must-see sights. The city constantly evolves, and leaves nothing to ruin for too long as real estate is a premium. We probably even have the best baseball stadium, as we were able to convert the Olympic Stadium of 1996 into the new home of the Braves. A great honor for all of us has been the 15 consecutive wins by our Braves in the National League playoffs, so they deserved the stadium left behind.

So is it no wonder that Andrew Young had named Atlanta a brave and beautiful city? We have been through several reconstruction processes, starting from the remnants of the Civil War, and into the new millenium with a population of over 4 million people. Like the statue of the Phoenix rising from the ashes that sits downtown, Atlanta continues to push forward and past the constraints of its borders. The city knows no boundries when it comes to its graciuosness and pride.... unless you get stuck on the highway during rush hour. Then it's every man for himself.

Friday, May 12, 2006

When God created Mothers.....
~ by Erma Bombeck

When the good Lord was creating mothers He was into His sixth day of "overtime" when the angel appeared and said. "You're doing a lot of fiddling around with this one."

And the Lord said, "Have you read the specs on this order? She has to be completely washable, but not plastic, have 180 moveable parts.... all replaceable, run on black coffee and leftovers, have a lap that disappears when she stands up, a kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair, and six pairs of hands."

The angel shook her head slowely and said, "Six pairs of hands?.... no way."

"It's not the hands that are causing me problems," said the Lord, "It's the three pairs of eye that mothers have to have."

"That's on the standard model?" asked the angel.

The Lord nodded. "One pair that sees through closed doors when she asks, "What are you kids doing in there?" when she already knows. Another here in the back of her head that sees what she shouldn't but what she has to know, and, of course, the ones here in front that can look at a child when he goofs up and say, "I understand and I Love You" without so much as uttering a word."

"Lord," said the angel, tugging His sleeve gentrly, "Go to bed. Tomorrow....."

"I can't," said the Lord, "I'm so close to creating something so close to myself. Already I have one who heals herself when she is sick..... can feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger.... and can get a nine-year-old to stand under a shower."

The angel circled the model of a mother very slowly. "It's too soft," she sighed.

"But tough!" said the Lord excitedly. "You cannot imagine what this mother can do or endure."

"Can it think?"

"Not only think, but it can reason and compromise," said the Creator.

Finally, the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek. "There's a leak," she pronounced. "I told You. You were trying to put too much into this model."

"It's not a leak," said the Lord, "it's a tear."

"What's it for?"

"It's for joy, sadness, disappointment, pain, loneliness and pride."

"You are a genius," said the angel.

The Lord looked somber. "I didn't put it there."


This Sunday is a special day for me, and not because I am a mother, but because my son turns 20 on Mother's Day. It's his birthday as well.

I did it.... I got him past crawling, toilet training, and High School math. It wasn't always easy, but he didn't come with a training manual at birth. I've finally come to the point where my baby isn't a baby anymore as he leaves his teenage years behind. Oh, who am I kidding... he'll always be my baby even if he's 50 and I am 78. But now I get to see the adult in him come out, and it thrills me that he's at the beginning of a whole new adventure in front of him.

He asked me what I wanted for Mothers Day and I told him all I cared about was his undying love and affection..... oh, and flowers. I won't be the least surprised if he comes home with the prettiest bouquet from the pickings, and the nicest card. Happy Birthday, sweetie.... I love you with all my heart!

And a Happy Mothers Day to all who read here!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

the magic words and etiquette..........

There was a time when the content of your character was based on the type of manners you displayed. The way you interacted with your fellow man allowed one to see that you had good breeding because you had interjected the magic words in your correspondence.... verbal and written. It was the little whispers from your mother to your ear as a child each time someone said or did something nice for you. It was the "please" and "thank you" factor. Somewhere along the line, we seldom hear the words as we once did., and it has become a lost art along with the R.S.V.P.

It's kind of sad really, because it is a loss of civility that blemishes our society as an intelligent species. When did it become fashionable for people to expect and dismiss bad behavior because we do not stand up to the people who break the rules of good behavior? You see it everyday on the freeway by the people who cut you off because wherever they need to be is much more important than where you need to be. You see it at the grocery store by the people who park their cart in the middle of the aisle, while they contemplate which can of beans to buy. Even the polite "excuse me" goes unnoticed, because their bean choice has a higher priority. You see it at entrances to buildings when people rush through an open door without holding it for the next person.... which makes me think they are the ones that cut you off on the freeway earlier.

Maybe we have just forgotten the rules of engagement when it comes to being polite and wearing our manners in all situations. They really are more simple than they are given credit for, and if practiced, really make it easier for a society to get along.

So let's see if we can clarify all this for those who forgot:

1) "Please" should be used in all situations where you are bidding to have someone do something for you; as in: "Would you 'please' take out the garbage?" and "Pass the salt 'please'" .
In our family, if you did not add the word "please" to your sentence when asking for the salt at the table, your request went unheeded. Everyone looked at you until the magic word was said; which came swiftly after a noticed silence. This applied to food and drink as well, and since everything was served family-style at the diningroom table, your reach depended on the cooperation of others. You caught on very quickly, or you missed out... it was that simple.
It also works real well in the first person; as in: "May I have some more, 'please'?"

2) "Thank you" quickly follows "please" in all situations. Since you are verbally reciprocating the errand done for you, you are giving vindication to the person helping you. It is also very important that "thank you" is a card you write to relatives when they send you money in your birthday or graduation cards.
In our family, if you did not thank someone for their help or efforts, it might be a long time coming before they decided to help you again. It was almost a slap in the face to not say "thank you", because it showed a lack of appreciation.

3) "Excuse me" is used in all instances where you need to get by someone blocking your way. The now customary "behind ya" or "geez, move outta the way, will ya?" is a social faux pas. Yes, they are effective, but they show bad manners; plain and simple.
In our family, "excuse me" was also used in instances where you couldn't hear someone when they spoke. It was more like, "Excuse me?" followed by: "I'm sorry, I didn't hear you, would you 'please' repeat that?" Barked orders of: "Hey, speak up, I can't hear you!" was considered very rude, and could cost you a trip to the another room to be spoken to, if you uttered them.

4) "You're welcome" follows all "thank yous".... again, the reciprocating of a deed done; an acknowledgement to the person you help that tells them you are happy to be there for them.

These are just the basic ones as there are many more depending on the situation you are in:

~ When driving, use the signal indicators. My psychic abilities might be on hiatus at the moment you decide to cut me off, so I'd appreciate knowing that you are crossing four lanes of traffic to make it over the the Starbucks for your latte' seconds before the turn. If I do let you in, please acknowledge with a wave that you appreciated my gesture. In other words, be appreciative of other people when they do good deeds for you just for the heck of it.

~When shopping at a grocery store, be aware that there are other shoppers in great need of groceries as well. Parking your cart in the middle of the aisle when you search for that bean coupon might earn you a tap on the shoulder.... or if it is me, an "excuse me". It is nothing to take offense at, but your are impeding traffic, and you need to pull it over....."thank you".

~When entering a building, look behind you to make sure you are not slamming the door in somebodys face. It takes seconds out of your life to hold it for someone else, and is the nice thing to do, no matter what. You'd be amazed how you can bring a nice "thank you" from them (followed by "you're welcome" from you), and perhaps a smile. It doesn't always work, but when it does, you can't help but smile back.

~When you receive an invitation in the mail for any reason, and it asks for an R.S.V.P., please do as it asks: "respond, if you please". People throwing parties need to order refreshments of some sort, and having the count off can lead to great embarrassment for the host as well as the person catering the event. You cannot imagine how many people do not respond, even if an invitation is accompanied by a self-addressed stamp, and that's just plain rude. (Believe me, I hear this all the time.)

~If you are going to be late to miss an appointment with a friend, or reservation at a restaurant, pull an E.T. and "phone home". Call them up and let them know you are running late or in traffic. Have a heart, their time is precious too.

~Don't assume that people are smarter or dumber than you. If you treat them like people you just might get the respect you deserve for being more polite.

These are all pretty simple and easy to follow. It really takes less effort than being rude, and the rewards are far better than they get credit for. The most important element in following the basic golden rules, is to practice it everyday, and then pass it on to our children. If we state that we are a kinder, gentler people, then the proof is in the actions, as well as the passing along of good virtues. It might quite possibly breed a stronger nation, that we are just maintaining for our children at the moment, because the teaching starts with us just as it did with our parents.

The magic words are indeed that: magic; and ettiquette should not be a lost art. Being civil and civilized should not be on the short list of common behavior, but rather the norm of decency..... after all, it's what seperates us from all the other animals. Us, the "intelligent" ones, remember?

Just my $1.00's worth.....

Oh, and thank you for reading.......

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

a cinco de mayo wedding......

One week before her big event, I receive a call from a bride who is very unhappy with the caterer she had picked. Apparently she had waited till the week before her big day to do a tasting with them, and came away with a sour taste in her mouth. Was there any way we could fill her request for a Cinco de Mayo theme only seven days away. "Of course", I answered, but because of time constraints, I wouldn't have the time to sit down and do a tasting with her. Would she be able to trust my word that our food was excellant? Yes, at this point, she was pretty desperate, and we were recommended by the event facility coordinator as to our food quality. A verbal confirmation of time and menu selections was discussed, and the date was set in place on my calendar.

Since we do a lot of business at this particular facility, I knew my night would run smooth, and I knew I was in for a good time. I could practically do this job in my sleep, it was that easy. I set up my equipment for the event the day before, leaving me plenty of time the day of to take care of other business. So far, so good. With a menu that consisted of fijitas, spanish rice and a salsa bar complete with all the toppings, all was set for the perfect Cinco de Mayo wedding feast.

I arrive at the event facility at 6 PM to start the coffee, and put a few little details into place before my partner brings over the food to load into the chafing pans. Those little details are never on the regular schedule of a time line with any bride, but always manage to pop up at the last minute. No problem, easily taken care of.... did I mention that I could do this in my sleep?
The food arrives, the wedding cake is set in place, and the ceremony starts all on time. To my chagrin, I realize that I had forgotten to take the coffee grounds out of the ziploc bag before brewing, and they were still sitting in the metal grounds holder in the guts of the urn. Hmmmm... maybe I better rethink that sleeping part, huh? I quickly managed to get the top of the urn off without third degree burns for my efforts, and there sat the ziploc bag, perfectly protecting the coffee grounds. It did not melt or bust, and I even heard a comment from someone who witnessed me, that this incident should be told to Ziploc, as it said a lot about their bags. All taken care of in a matter of seconds, I turned up the temp on the urn and let it brew away till the water turned into coffee. Funny thing about coffee at these events, no matter how much I brew up, 75% goes down the drain at the end of the night.... but you have to have it or somebody will notice if you don't.

The ceremony goes off without a hitch, the bridal party (all 15 of them) come back inside from the garden to re-group, and the guests file back in to partake of margaritas and coronas. We are told by the bridal party to have the buffet opened for everybody to start eating, and I make it a point to let the DJ know this as an announcement he can make to the guests. I go outside to help the coordinator bring in the chairs that were set out in the garden, and when finished go back in to see if my partner needs help. Not only do I find out that the buffet wasn't supposed to be opened, but they were going to make bridal party announcements first. Oooooops! Luckily no one was bold enough to start in anyway, as it usually is custom for the bride and groom to open the buffet. From this point on, I decide it is better for me to pay more attention because I have screwed up twice now. No sense in being cocky.

For some reason there is a usual litany of songs played by DJ's at weddings. I've heard "Love Shack" more times than I care to count.... and it's always on the roster at every wedding I've catered. I was at one wedding a few months ago where I hadn't heard it yet, and the night was coming to a wind-down when I mentioned it to the bartender that we hadn't heard THAT song. The words were no sooner out of my mouth when.... you guessed it, the DJ played it. This night was no exception, but with a little twist. The bride, who now had more margaritas in her than everyone combined, decided to play a little karioke and took the microphone from the DJ as Love Shack played. I had several word of advise on this: 1) never give a drunken bride a microphone (under any circumstances). 2) I hoped that she wouldn't think to quit her day job, as she was tone deaf. But hey, this was her special day, and she was deserving of any way she wanted to play it out, even if their were only six people left in the hall to listen. Midnight was only minutes (and one more song by her) away.

The evening ended late, my dogs were once more barking up a storm, and I couldn't wait to get home, tear off my tux and settle into some mindless sit-coms or a movie on TV. After unloading my equipment, and reloading for a wedding the next afternoon, I snap on the TV, only to be met by a fuzzy screen because the cable was out. Maybe this was a sign that it really was time to go to bed.... but I was too wound up to settle in easily. A call to the cable provider and a few chapters in a book read, when Cinco de Mayo finally came to an end for me at 2:30 AM; the book still in my hands in the place where I left off when I woke up and re-started my Saturday at 7 AM.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

the idiot box......

For as long as I can remember, I've been addicted to television. I grew up during the era when TV was in it's infancy (as was I), and shows like Ozzie and Harriett could keep me in rapt attention for the full half hour it was on, as well as a myraid of other great shows. My Dad always enjoyed TV as well, and I probably got the habit from him. My Mom on the other hand referred to it as the "idiot box", and only watched something if it was important, or an old movie was on that she remembered from her childhood of going to the "picture show". We only had three channels (ABC, NBC, CBS), and it came into the house in black and white only. Color made its debut in the early 70's in our home, but you still had to get up to change the channel, or shut it off entirely. If you stayed up past 1 AM, the station played the National Anthem and went to fuzzy screen.... a signal that it was time to go to bed.

I lived without a color TV for many years on my own, as black and white was the only set I could afford after I moved out of my parents home. No big deal, at least I could still watch my favorite shows, even if I couldn't see them in color. I survived "colorless" till the middle of the 80's, when I moved in with my now husband, who had a great set.... with a remote! Wow.... I was styling now! I no longer had to get off my butt to change the channel, and we actually got a few more channels than the usual three. This certainly opened up the playing field a bit, and I was thrilled with the new freedom TV offered. We couldn't afford cable, but that was ok, as we could transport the TV into any room and just plug it in to watch. Reception was dependant on the rabbit ears that stuck out of the top of the set, and the closer to a window, the better the picture came in.

In 2001, I finally relented to the naggings of my son, and had cable connected to our sets. We finally moved up into the new millenium, and tantilizing from my friends ceased, because they couldn't understand how I had gotten along so far without it. Well, what you don't have, you don't tend to miss, and it was always because of the cost factor that kept me from having it in the first place. But relent I did, and it was one more item on the list that my son made that he could scratch off of "wantful things" in our home. (What's funny about that list is that I do manage to knock off the items listed, but he always manages to find new things to put on it. At this point in his life, I told him he needs his own home to do the bidding for, as the money tree had all it could do to afford the mortgage, utilities and upkeep of this house. Besides "wantful things" doesn't necessarily mean "needful things", and he has a hard time understanding the differences... but then all kids do, huh?)

After a very long weekend of catering two seperate weddings, I wanted nothing more than to sit back with my feet up and snap on the set to lose my mind in senseless sit-coms and movies. I came home Saturday morning at 1 AM after the first wedding, clicked the remote and the fuzzy picture greeted me. Hmmmmm...... that's odd, I paid the bill (for the first time I was even early doing it), and the connection hadn't been tampered with, so what's the problem? Within 30 minutes, my son came home from work and told me that cable had been out all day. We finally deduced what the problem was. My next door neighbor has sold their home and moved to Port Richey, Florida. They must have had cable disconnected, and cable guy snipped the wrong wire. It all made perfect sense, and was what I explained to the cable customer service people when I called. After plenty of apologies, an upgrade to my cable service for the same amount of money I pay now, and plenty of more apologies, they assured me that someone would be on it immediately. Off I go to cater my early wedding on Saturday, hoping that when I get home, cable is back to normal. No such luck. They didn't show all day, and I made another call to my provider. Again, many apologies, followed by "we'll call you right back with an ETA... so stay by your phone". That was at 7:30 PM, and I never heard from them again all night.
I picked up a book and called it a night. What the heck, I'm always complaining that I never have enough time to read anyway.

Cable was restored by noon today, but I was so engrossed in the book, that I had a hard time putting it down, and ended up reading over half it before finally starting dinner. I had already finished one book between Friday and Saturday, and was already into my second one. Amazing what a few days away from the "idiot box" will force you to do.... knowing that you should be doing these things all along. Of course I am glad that cable is restored, and I'm sure it will only be a matter minutes before I am once again glued to the set in my off hours.

Oh.... geez.... gotta go..... Desperate Housewives is on in 10 minutes, and that's another one of my favorites in the ever-growing list of addictions I have.

Friday, May 05, 2006

dr. teddy.......

What should be an intimidating time in every womans life, actually is not so bad for me. What am I talking about? Why, our annual exam, of course. The time of the year when we allow ourselves to be clothed into paper jerseys while strange hands perform health techniques to see if all our inner and outer parts are in place. What fun!

Actually, I am fortunate to have the nicest gynocologist in the world. He realizes the intimidation of this process and does everything he can to put me completely at ease... because, let's face it, nothing makes you more vulnerable than your legs raised up into stirrups while your butt is no more than 1/10th of an inch away from falling off the edge of the table. It is hard to act completely natural about this procedure, but you realize it is a necessary evil in your scope of things to do for the year. Besides, it might just save your life.

My Dr. Teddy holds a complete conversation with me the whole time, and barely looks away from my eyes as he speaks. He inquires about my life, my health, and my business, all the while giving me an exam. Heck, he even warms up the stethoscope first before checking my lungs. Speaking of which, he does know that I smoke, and I had a nice conversation with him about that this time. Once, years ago, he wrote a prescription for Zyban. I never filled it, because I guess I wasn't ready at the time... I know, bad, bad me. This time I saw his face light up when I told him I wanted to make a concerted effort to stop, and could we try again? Of course this made his day, as he has been trying for some time now to achieve this goal with me.

What surprised me was the medication he prescribed this time. (Yeah, I know, I should just go cold turkey, but even he didn't recommend that with me. ) He wrote out a prescription for Wellbutrin . I'm no expert, but I do remember the commercials on TV for this drug, and looked at him sort of perplexed. Isn't that an anti-depressant? Why yes it is... all the more reason to help you quit, and get over the cravings without taking someones head off in the process, because we all know what a craving will do when not fulfilled. He explained the process as one that you do not exactly quit at first. You need to let the medication get into your system for a week or two, then gradually cut down as your brain no longer craves the nicotine and noxious tars. Let's go for it, doc! I need to finally take this monster out, and am too weak to let my willpower speak for itself.

Of course we covered other subjects about my health as well. Now that I am well into my 40's and 50 is fast approaching, it was time to start talking about osteoporosis (sp?) . I told him I had no fears on that subject as I drink what amounts to a whole cow in milk a day. He kind of gave me a funny look and asked, "Really?" Yup, milk's always been my drink (besides tea), and I've never broken a bone in my life. I never acquired a taste for soda, and don't find it remotely appealing as a thirst-quencher. Good answer.... he liked that one.

We went over a myriad of other questions, and with a hand shake and "pleasure to see you again", I was back into street clothes and on my way out of the gynocologists office, and driving to my local Kaiser facility to have my prescription filled. While there, I decided to make another appointment have bloodwork done up. Since diabetes runs very high in my family (not to mention strokes, heart disease, and a few other deadly things), I wanted to put my mind at ease over the abuse I've thrown at it in the past few years. This doctor was informative and friendly as well. He thought it smart that I take the precaution, even if his nurse looked at me like I was crazy to do so. So for the second time, I hopped up on the scales for weigh-in, and wondered how I had gained five whole pounds in 30 minutes, when I hadn't even eaten yet. Then I remembered that I had purposely taken off my shoes at the gyno's office, where I forgot to do that at Kaiser. Yikes! My shoes weigh five pounds..... no wonder my feet and legs ache at the end of the day! Who needs a treadmill when you have these babies on, I thought to myself.

So now I sit and wait for two weeks for test results, and my brain to catch on to the fact that I don't need ciggarettes anymore. It won't be easy, and I'm sure I will still crave them long after I smoke the last one. I only hope my bitchiness doesn't show in this quest, but I'm not expecting complete miracles other than to quit altogether. I know my family will be happy, and my lungs as well.

As for Dr. Teddy.... well his parting words to me were, "Let's hope next year when you come in, you can tell me that you are smoke-free." I adore Dr. Teddy....he's been the best! And why do I call him Dr. Teddy? Because his last name is Bearman.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

a marriage made in heaven.....

On their way to be married, a young couple are involved in a fatal car accident. The couple find themselves sitting outside the Pearly Gates waiting for St. Peter to process them into Heaven. While waiting, they begin to wonder: could they possibly get married in Heaven?

When St. Peter arrives, they ask him.

St. Peter says, "I don't know. This is the first time anyone has asked. Let me go find out," and he leaves. The couple sat and waited for an answer. Two months pass and the couple are still waiting.

So as they waited, they discussed that IF they were allowed to get married in Heaven, SHOULD they get married, what with the eternal aspect of it all? "What if it doesn't work?" they wonder, "Are we stuck together FOREVER?"

After yet another month, St. Peter returns, looking somewhat bedragged.

"Yes," he informs the couple, "you can get married in Heaven."

"Great!" said the couple, "But we were just wondering, what if things don't work out? Could we also get a divorce in Heaven?"

St. Peter, red-faced with anger, slams his clipboard onto the ground.

"What's wrong?" asked the frightened couple.

"OH COME ON!" St. Peter shouts, "It took me three months to find a priest up here! Do you have ANY idea how long it'll take me to find a lawyer?"

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

a view from the top......

One of the remarks from the astronauts who traveled in space said that if you looked down upon the earth, you would not see any visible borders of countries... it is all one big land mass seperated by the oceans. It almost seems sad to think we cannot see our world in those very same terms.

We want so much to believe that all social ills, sufferings and unfairness to humankind can be
solved if we let down our resolve enough to work things out and find empathy in our hearts. And although that may seem like a nice plan, we somehow fail to obtain it due to our predjudices through lifes experiences. It hardly seems fair that we don't allow ourselves the unobtainable, because we are all told it is the golden door to a happier life.... but somehow, we feel tricked and cheated at every turn, and we carry on with a fierce caution against our fellow man. This has happened through the ages, and will probably not end in our lifetime either.

If you step back for a minute, as the astronauts did, the picture seems clear, the solution easy. All we have to do is remember that the earth is not as big as we percieve it to be, and it's all we have as our means of existance. To fight over land or God seems small and petty from this view. This is all within good reason, because once again, you see no borders anywhere. The simple question comes up, why can't everybody just get along? But being in the midst of it, the solution is not solvable because we are all smug in our own perceptions... which never quite measure up to everybody elses equations for the same solutions.

In the past few days, I've read over some of my links to blogs I like to read on a steady basis, and I have found that I was able to open my mind a little more by some of the well written and well stated arguements for and against the American border issue. It all boils down to pros and cons in the long run, but the details are what make it so controversial and hard to solve without being labeled racist or bleeding heart.... and the details are what makes us take stands against one another. I came to realize once again, not everything is in black and white, and there were a few grey areas I became aware of.

Living in the land of opportunity (as we are told everyday), we have a statue at our front door that welcomes all the huddled masses yearning to be free. It's been part of our heritage of being who we are as a nation for many years, and it was the symbol that greeted the immigrants who came here in the early 1900's. This country was built on the backs and sweat of these people looking for opportunities and religious freedom.... and, in most cases, a bigger piece of the pie than they were offered from their own homelands. Through this process, we have become multi-cultural with our celebrated holidays, food creations and fashions. That is the beauty of a nation that is a melting pot: we have become a land that has something for everybody, because everybody is represented here. That, all by itself, is a very good thing. No one should have to sacrifice their in-born heritage, as it widens our countrie's scope of culture and helps to bridge the differences we have as seperate nationalities. That, too, is in our favor as a nation.

We want people to come here, assimulate into the laws of the land, and do good deeds. Where it gets messy is in the methods used for the entry in. This was never the issue it is now, pre-9/11. We allowed everybody in because that was the kind of nation we are. Sadly 9/11 taught us to be fearful of this open door policy, as we lost over 3,000 people to senseless attacks.... all over the fact that we live a different lifestyle the factioned Muslums hate. It was an attempt that rocked our world, saddened our hearts, and scared the living daylights out of us. We stopped in our tracks while trying to take stock of what type of future lay ahead. We feared for our children in the miltary, because we knew war was imminent. Oh, so many things went through our heads that awful day the planes came down. We needed to sort out the facts, while grieving for everyone who was personally affected by the events. One of the most immediate actions taken was that the borders were sealed, as we had no idea what to expect next. It made perfect sense to do this then. It still makes perfect sense to do this today... as we live in a different world now.

It's gotten messy again because the issue has taken on medusa-like qualities. So lets get one thing straight about it once and for all, and maybe we can tackle some of the stinging qualities that turn our minds into sheeple-type predjudices. America is still the melting pot it always was, and probably will be for as long as we continue to be a nation. What most (to all) people who are citizens here ask for is, that people who migrate into this land, do so legally. That's such a small request, really. Come through the front door, salute the lady in the harbor, and make a concerted effort to assimulate into a new society. If you find this wasn't your cup of tea, feel free to return back to your own land.... nobody said you had to stay if you didn't want to. In most cases, our Government will help you with that process.

Yes, learn the language, because it is to your advantage to do so. If you want the better life you were seeking, then that's part of the process you need to adapt to. When my Grandparents immigrated here almost 100 years ago, there were no signs in Italian that helped them along. They made a concerted effort to learn enough to converse, ask questions, and go about their daily life, while contributing to a society that had much harsher laws then it does today. Yes, it was hard, and no it wasn't fun, but it was a necessary element in their goal for making a better life for their families. Times were different then, but times are always different.

With a population of over 250 million people, an additional 12 million means we cut the pie a little bit smaller here and there to middle class folks (you know, the citizens who are too poor to be rich, and too rich to be poor). The rich are never affected by this, and the poor will see benefits I'll never be privy to unless I become disabled. I can still live with this equation, and I'm even bleeding heart enough to extend some benefits to people who need time to assimulate to this new country.... but I need to see a concerted effort that non-citizens want to become citizens, or at least be registered to reside here and pay taxes as we do. Again, that is not an unusual request, and it's actually considered fair play. It's what any other country would require of me if I were to immigrate.

I want to see people not afraid of INS invading their workplace, because the immigrants working there decided to take the same steps as others before them, for the correct paperwork that legally states they have the right to work in this country. I've worked with many people from other countries who have a better work ethic than our own people do, and we could actually learn a few lessons from that ourselves... but unless they do so legally, it gets too far out of hand to reel back in the squabbles that we see today.

We should have the right to do background checks on people coming into the country. This assures us as a nation that we are letting in people truly seeking a better life, and not the element hell bent on destroying it. This was a lesson from 9/11 we've let slip to the back burner in our efforts to be politically correct to the world. (If we wanted to be so politically correct, we would back out of the Middle East, but that's an issue for another day.) In the meantime, it is important that we keep the borders sealed, and only allow in the quotas that were set for immigration. Those 12+ million folks who are already here illegally, should not be made to be afraid of our deportation system if their efforts in becoming legal are genuine. Let them come forward and register themselves, be subject to checks of their background status, and show a concerted effort of their goals. This again, is fair play. For those not willing to go through this process, we probably can get by without you.

To view our immigration issues from the top, the answers seem easy. To be in the midst, the complications multiply. One issue that needs to be taken off the table immediately is the race card. It has no right from either side to be thrown in the middle of the debate, and is only the poor thinkers way of dealing with an issue they have no grounds to argue. The issue, and the only one at that, is in legalization. If a person is trying to sneak in through the back door, what ever makes us think they will abide by any other rules and laws we have set up to protect ourselves? Yes, there have been many who snuck in who have made a better life for their families while learning to abide by the laws of the land, but many snuck in with the intentions adding to our problems of gangs, and drug trafficking. A screening process is a necessity, and we must make an effort to start learning to work with one another enough to have faith our laws will work if abided by BY ALL. In addition, we must get after our government to sort this out, because even though they are at the top, they are not looking down enough to find a fast and immediate solution.

Just my $1.00's worth.... inflation, you know.....

Monday, May 01, 2006

a few questions for illegal aliens boycotting on May1st......
~ by: Jim Kouri, 5th Vice President of the National Association of Chiefs of Police

We pride ourselves in the United States with having the freedom to protest, demonstrate and boycott in order to make our voices heard with out fear of retribution. However, since you lawbreakers are protesting and boycotting this Monday, perhaps you will answer a few questions for me:

1. Will illegal alien gangs cease their drug trade, violence and mayhem for at least one day? You know the gangs: MS-13, The Murder Unit, Border Brothers, La Gran Raza, La Fran Familia and other who prey on American citizens and LEGAL immigrants who are from Latin American countries? Will these tens of thousands of criminal aliens cease their illegal operations for one day?

2. Will the criminal aliens who are child sexual predators avoid contact with American children for that one day?

3. If any of you or your loved ones becomes ill or has an accident requiring medical attention, will you suck it up for one day and not use the American heath-care system? Or are you selective in your boycott?

4. Coyotes, in support of your brothers and sisters from Mexico and other countries in Latin America, will you stop smuggling illegals into the US for that one day? Boycott our border for the day. Please.

5. Drug traffickers, will you also refrain from bringing your poison into the US for one day?

6. Welfare recipients, will you tell the US Government to dock your welfare checks for one day? Will you give up one day's worth of food stamps?

7. You claim you are not criminals, but those who are deported and re-enter the US are felons who serve as many as 20 years in federal prison. Will you turn in these felons to the immigration authorities? Show us you are loyal Americans. Do it anonymously, if you wish.

8. Since you are participating in a boycott, will you boycott gasoline stations, car rental agencies, public transportation, etc., and walk to and from your protests no matter how far away it is?

9. Teachers in California, who are supporting these lawbreakers and urging your students to do the same, will you give back one day's pay since you aren't teaching on May 1st? Or you may use one of your vacation days or personal days for your political activities. Afterall, I don't know of any bosses paying workers who wish to go to the border to help Minutemen build their fence.

10. California politicians who passed a resolution in support of the illegal alien boycott and protests, will you give back one day's pay to the taxpayers? Perhaps all the campaign contributions you receive on May 1 can be given to charity?

These are not difficult items to add to your boycott. If you do these things it will reflect upon your sense of fair play. But I, for one, am not holding my breathe.


Just a few points to ponder about the protestors today. I found this little tidbit on a link that I was sent to by Saurkraut (from my links). Interesting questions, no doubt.