Friday, April 30, 2010

Life in the digital age

Cell phones. 

I have two -- one for work and one for personal life. Can't really combine them because that would mean my work is never any further away than my pocket on the weekends. And weekends are family time, for the most part.  Hence two cell phones.

So, my old work cell was a Blackberry -- the large model with the trackball positioned on the side of the unit -- and it was finally due for an upgrade. I called the appropriate department at work and the brand new Blackberry Tour was on my doorstep within 48 hours.  Yesterday we activated it and I am learning how to work this new unit (which is so much more like a computer than my old one was).

In the meantime, as I waited for my new Blackberry to finish charging so that I could activate it, my personal cell -- a Samsung Alias -- bit the dust.  The speaker ceased to work.  I couldn't hear anything, although everyone could hear me just fine. 

So, off to the Verizon Wireless store to see what could be done.  Time for an upgrade there, too. An hour later (why is this SUCH a long process???) I walked out with a Samsung Reality. My first touchscreen phone.

Now I've got two new sleek and shiny phones -- both the latest model.

Two new sleek, shiny phones that I have to learn to use.

I'll manage.

- Catherine

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Calling for YOUR opinions on this one.

My husband and I had an interesting discussion last night about the Rapture.  You see, when Jesus comes for His church, every human being who lives in our house will go with Him. But what happens to our beloved dog, Hank? 

Tim and I went around and around on that concept at some length, and we didn't come to any kind of conclusion.  I have to admit I got more than a little upset picturing Hank slowly dying of thirst because there's no one here to look after him and he can't get out of the house by himself.

So, I ask you, what do you think will happen to the indoor pets when the Christians are raptured?  I'd seriously like to know your thoughts.

- Catherine

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Random Dozen -- the Wednesday meme

1. Have you ever been so lost that you were really afraid?  Yes. My husband, who likes to live his life off the beaten track, took us through some unfamiliar woods in an unfamiliar park in an unfamiliar state -- on what he deemed to be a shortcut. We had my (then) 75 year old mother with us and I was genuinely afraid that the authorities would have to launch a helicopter search to find us.

2. Have you ever been to an island?  Yes. I've been to Bermuda and I've been to Catalina Island off the coast of California.  (We love that place!)

3. Are you more of a thinker or feeler?  I think I am equally thinker and feeler, and the context of the situation will tip it one way or the other.

4. Do you tend to see issues or situations in life as black and white or shades of gray?  Shades of gray. Oft times that's where you find mercy.

5. If you were stuck on an island, what book would you hope to have with you (Let's pretend the Bible is already there, so you can't say that.)  David Copperfield, which is my all-time favorite.

6. What are you most afraid of?  Depends on when.  I might be most afraid of something that one of my kids is about to do, or I might be most afraid of the hornet that showed up in my bathroom when I was about to take a shower.

7. Would you rather lose all of your old memories or never be able to make new ones? I've spent the longest time on this question, and I just can't decide.  Without the old memories, you lose context and the sweetness and comfort of what you know. Whereas the inability to make new memories means you're forever living in the past.

8. Pretend I'm looking at a scrapbook page about you. There are three spaces for you to drop in individual pictures. What are those pictures of, and why did you select them?  1) The family photograph taken last summer -- all 21 of us!  2) A photograph of #7 and his Dad, taken when #7 was about 4 years old -- my "two best guys," as I usually refer to them; 3) A photograph of my mother, my daughter and myself, taken the first year that my mother flew out to visit us after we moved West. Three generations.  We don't look a thing alike (really!), and that's part of the charm.

9. If you were re-doing your wedding, what would you do differently? (If you're single, tell me one thing you would do if you were planning a wedding OR huge party.)  I don't think I'd change a thing. It was a happy and fun day for everyone, and also a very relaxed day. I might have purchased a different dress - a little fancier -- but that would be about it. All the kids stood up with us when we said our vows, we sang a favorite hymn, had an enormous family party -- and that's exactly what we wanted.

10. Tell me one thing you know/believe about forgiveness. Just one? I've got more than one. But, okay, here's one: if you don't really know and accept God's forgiveness in your own life (for your own sins), you are not capable of extending it to anyone else.

11. You're waiting in a doctor's office. What is your favorite way to pass that time?  Read a good book that I brought with me.

12. If there were a clone of you in a parallel universe what is one way you hope she/he would be the same as you and one way you hope she/he would be better?  The same: I hope she is as loyal as I am. Better: I hope she forgives more easily than I do when she is deeply hurt.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

So, there were dolphins . . .

Our nature excursion resulted in some amazing sights that I'd never seen before.  On our way out to the Los Coronados Islands, we came across a pod of dolphin -- a "nursery pod" is what our Captain called it because there were HUNDREDS of young dolphin everywhere we looked around the boat.  You almost couldn't take a bad picture because there were so many dolphins, but I managed to get one (have to carry on our family tradition of taking bad dolphin pictures, you know?).

Well, this is what we really saw nearly every second that we were amongst the pod:

After the nursery pod, we headed for the islands. Here are a couple of those photos:

Beautiful, right?

More to come!

 - Catherine

Monday, April 26, 2010

Capturing nature in digital form

During our stay in San Diego, we took a 6-hour nature excursion on a boat, going about 20 miles out into the ocean to a cluster of islands known as Los Coronados Islands. There are four of them rising out of the sea, and except for one small area of one island, they are considered by Mexico to be a "biosphere" zone. No humans allowed on the islands.

The boat ride and the sightseeing along the islands was peerless -- I have many, many pictures to post here and will do some more blogging about it, I'm sure.

In the meantime, I just wanted to show you this fellow who landed on the boat as we were making our way back across the ocean to the mainland.

Shortly after this photograph, he took off again. So beautiful as he soared against the blue sky that I had to take another picture.

And this is what I got.

See him?

Me neither. The boat heaved into a swell just as I snapped.

But a few seconds later:

More to come!

- Catherine

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Here I am!

The view of the naval base in San Diego Bay. From my hotel balcony.  Be jealous.

A destroyer coming up the bay toward the base.

The destroyer passing a pleasure boat.

I'm fascinated by the comings and goings of the naval ships and could probably just sit on my balcony and do nothing else. Alas, the conference beckons and I must do The Right Thing (attending sessions).

- Catherine

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Random FB updates

My mind has been running through a variety of possible Facebook status updates this morning. And there are too many to post on my Facebook profile, so I thought I'd share them here.

Catherine wonders: what is up with the post-mascara hot flash? It never fails -- as soon as I finish applying mascara to my eyelashes, my entire body overheats. If someone can explain that one to me, I'd be grateful.

Catherine is enjoying the sound of the wind chimes blowing on the deck this morning.

Catherine's dog, Hank Williams Jr., kept watch over her suitcase all night. Not sure why.

Catherine pulled her first all-nighter since #4 was 16 months old and in the hospital. The crash is coming later today, I'm sure.

Catherine wonders: can you call it tennis elbow when you've been playing racquetball? "Racquetball elbow" seems like too many syllables.

- Catherine

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Night Pizza

If you follow my blog, then you know that my husband has celiac and that eating out in restaurants is something of a challenge. Trying to get good gluten-free pizza at a restaurant is an absolute impossibility.

Until now.

We have a new Italian restaurant in Pocatello. It's called Riggio's.

I'm pretty picky about Italian food because I grew up in New Jersey -- where we think Olive Garden is superfluous because there are great mom-and-pop Italian eateries everywhere in the State.

Tonight, at Riggio's, I was more than just pleasantly surprised. Tonight, at Riggio's, I was nothing short of amazed. We went for pizza because we'd heard they had a gluten-free pizza that was supposed to be really good.

It was better than "really good."  It was IN-CRED-I-BLE. Flat out amazing. Delicious beyond belief!

We started with an appetizer of baked brie -- best I've had anywhere at any time, and I've had brie in some pretty great restaurants in this country. The cook offered to do it without the puff pastry, in deference to my husband's celiac, and then the cook went the extra mile by baking a gluten free pizza crust with olive oil and cutting it into chips that could be eaten with the brie.  Marvelous!

I had a sausage, mushroom and onion pizza that was actually as good as the pizza I remember from NJ. Tim had a sausage and mushroom pizza on the gluten free crust and it was excellent - you just about couldn't tell the difference.  #7 had a taco pizza -- that would never have been my choice but he loved it.

#7 also discovered that he likes brie with roasted garlic.

My food bill just went up.

We finished off the evening at the local Farr's Ice Cream -- where a one-scoop cone of excellent ice cream costs a whole $1.00.

Friday nights don't get much better than this.

- Catherine

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thursday randomness

I think Spring may finally be here. I'm not naive enough to believe that there will be no more snow -- after all, we've had snow in June a time or two. But there have been two -- count'em: one-two! -- warm, sunny days in a row. Tomorrow is supposed to be more of the same. The birds are madly chasing each other all over the place and the crows are making a racket in every tree. 

I declare that Spring. Is. Here.

Whether Mother Nature wants to admit it or not.

This is the time of year when I am usually visiting my mother, so I've had some sadness these past few weeks. Around Easter we'd have been discussing the music she was doing in her church and what I'd be doing in mine. If she'd been alive and well this year, I'd have tried to convince her to fly to San Diego and meet me for a few days of beach time next week. She loved seeing the Pacific Ocean.  At the very least, I'd have been planning to visit her in the Central Mountains of Pennsylvania for a few days of R&R.

And, of course, Mother's Day is coming soon -- my first without her. No reason to send my customary bouquet of yellow roses and daisies (her favorite) or anything else that I thought might delight her or make her life easier. Last year on Mother's Day I sent her a cordless floor sweeper because she was finding the vacuum cleaner too heavy to handle as her strength weakened.

Instead I'll be visiting my stepmother in New Jersey on Mother's Day. It's been ages since I've been able to spend that holiday with her, and this year there is a serendipitous business trip taking me to New Jersey. It will be good to see her and the rest of my family.

The weekend starts tomorrow night -- hurrah! Time with my two best guys (hubby and #7)!

And on Saturday will be our church's annual Mad Hatter Tea Party -- a fun activity for the women. We wear silly hats, have lunch, have a time of worship and listen to a speaker.  I'm bringing the sautéed mushrooms for the Potato Bar lunch that we are serving. I'm also singing and playing for the worship session.  Can't wait! (I'll take a picture of my hat and post it here on the weekend.)

- Catherine

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Random Dozen -- the Wednesday meme

Welcome to the Wednesday Random Dozen. The rules of play are very simple -- copy the questions and blog your own answers, then link up your blog post over at Lid's blog 2nd Cup of Coffee!  When you see the list at Lid's, be sure to visit one or two other peoples' posts and leave comments. It's kind of an online coffee klatch.

1. How do you feel about "Gladiator" sandals, also called "Roman" or "Jesus" sandals? A fashion yea or nay?  Have to say "nay" -- I think they suit very few people and very few outfits.

2. What is your favorite pizza? Favorite toppings would be sausage and mushroom; favorite place to get it: Vic's in Bradley Beach, NJ.

3. There are plans in the works to sell roughly 1,000 items from Star Trek: The Experience in Las Vegas. This means you could buy Picard's chair for your family room. If not a Star Trek item, what prop, background, set, etc. from what TV or movie would you buy if you could?
[Ex: Hurley's "I Love my Shih tzu" shirt from LOST, the plantation home "Tara" from Gone With the Wind, or Tracy's tambourine from the Partridge Family.]   I'd like to own Professor Higgin's library -- with the floor to ceiling shelves -- from the movie My Fair Lady.

4. Name a local food or restaurant that your area is famous for.  Famous in Pocatello??? Don't make me laugh! I really love this town, but it's not known for the food.  That said, I guess I could name a place called The Green Triangle, known locally as The Green T.  It's a local bar/pub, and a lot of the big acts that perform at the Holt Arena end up hanging out at The Green T after their show. Food's good, too.

5. What is your current favorite snack? Horseradish Cheddar Cheese on Ritz Crackers.

6. Hypothetical: You are required to be a reality show contestant. Which show would you choose based on your probability of success? (You cannot choose "none.") 

A. Dancing with the Stars
B. Biggest Loser
C. Survivor

A. Dancing with the Stars. I love to dance!

7. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being uninhabitable and 10 being cleanliness that meets the standards of OCD, how clean is your vehicle's interior? 7. It's cluttered but clean.

8. It doesn't feel like Spring until I hear the birds singing at dawn.

9. Something that made you laugh really hard recently is the reaction of my husband when I told him that my racquetball partner/teacher has to play left-handed in order to play down to my level.  Tim howled and so did I.

10. Tell me about a goal you're working toward. Becoming fairly proficient at racquetball.

11. Share a thought-provoking or inspiring quote this week. Easter says you can put truth in a grave but it won't stay there. (By Clarence W. Hall on Truth)

12. Name one thing that you do as a parent that you absolutely know will make your kids happy. If you're not a parent, feel free to substitute "friend" or nomenclature that works for you. Oh. My. Heck.  This is a hard question! Most of our kids are grown and gone, so that's a whole 'nother category of making someone happy. For the older kids, I know I make the girls happy with an annual "Girls' Gift" at Christmas -- generally some kind of useful container or basket filled with fun and useful items.  This past Christmas the annual Girls' Gift included a shadow box display of photographs taken last summer.  As for the one kid still at home (the famed #7), I think I just have to say "yes" to a request in order to make him happy.

Happy Wednesday everyone!

- Catherine

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Catching up

So, I am the biggest slacker blogger of all time, I think. I haven't written a word since last Wednesday! The only excuse that I can offer is that I've been busy, busy, busy -- both work and fun.

We spent last Saturday morning on the racquetball court -- #7 and I, that is. Turns out he loves the game, too, so I hauled him along with me to the gym -- after purchasing a second racquet and some work-out clothing at the nearby sporting goods store. My friend, Rhonda, who is my RB buddy and teacher, brought her teenage daughter -- we sent the kids to another court while Rhonda and I got down to business.

I'm doing so much better.

I actually scored six points against Rhonda.

Instead of my customary five.

I see the progress here. Don't you?

I haven't had the opportunity to ride my horse lately, but I'm hoping to get some time in very soon. (Hint to my nephew: you so do NOT need that job that is taking up all your time; paychecks are overrated. Aunt Cath needs to ride!)

I finished reading the Ian Rutledge Mystery series that is written by Charles Todd.  I'm so sad it's over!!! It's a fantastic series -- the best I've read, I think.  Please hurry up, Mr. Todd, and write the next volume because I'm going to waste away to nothing, pining for the next book.

And now -- time for work!

- Catherine

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Random Dozen -- the Wednesday meme

1. Define a great relationship. A deep, mutual respect and a lot of laughter.

2. Why is it called a "drive-through" if you have to stop? (Real question: What was the last food/drink you purchased at a drive-through?)  I can't remember -- we almost never eat fast food of any kind, so it would have been months and months and months ago.

3. As I type this, the Butler Bulldogs are getting ready to play in the NCAA championship game. Every Hoosier is hysterical about this except me. So in honor of the Bulldogs ... what is your favorite breed of dog? (I tried.)  Labrador Retriever. They're intelligent and friendly, which is the perfect combination.

4. If you had to move to a state besides the one you currently live in, where would you move?  Hmmm.. it's hard to pin down just one, because so many states have aspects that are attractive.  But I think I'd say that it would be New Mexico so I could have a somewhat warmer winter.

5. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be? I would love to have NOT heard the words "Because I said so."  That phrase was the stock answer to almost EVERY question posed by us kids -- and it didn't do anything to foster actual relationships between parents and children.

6. Who's the funniest person you know? My youngest (#7).

7. Did you get enough sleep last night? Yes, for a change!

8. What's the first thing you thought about this morning? "What day is this and where am I?" I travel a lot, and the days and locations get blurred together at times.

9. Grilled or Fried? --HONESTLY   Fried. Grilled.

10. Are you afraid of the dark? Not anymore. I was afraid of the dark all through my childhood and right up until I had my first child. And then my fear instantly vanished when I had someone in the house to protect.

11.When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?  A librarian.

12. If you had one word to describe yourself , what would you choose? Loyal.

Thanks, Lid, for hosting this! If you want to play too, please go to Lid's Blog at 2nd Cup of Coffee and link your post with hers.

- Catherine

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Doo Doo Doo Doo, Feelin' Snarky

Every time I try to put my down parka away for the season, I have to get it out again because more snow has arrived. Yesterday it started raining around 5:00 p.m. By 8:00 p.m. it was snow. This morning there is a coating of snow and ice all over, and the sky is still gray. More wet stuff on the way.


Took the dog for a walk this morning and the crows were out in force in our neighborhood. Not sure why, but that gathering of crows (a murder of crows?) seems to be a spring phenomenon here. Everywhere we walked, there were black crows glaring down at us from trees overhead, cawing for all they were worth. Walking the dog is like something out of a Hitchcock film this time of year.

I cleaned all my floors yesterday, but April snow inevitably leads to mud. So if the temperature warms up later today, I'll be getting my steam mop out again tonight.


Okay, enough snarkiness. Time to get on with the day, whatever shape it takes!

- Catherine

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Better late with the blog post than never, I guess.

We started our Easter morning before dawn, meeting our nephew and niece and their family up on the ridge above town to greet the Easter sunrise.  A cold day, but achingly clear with a brilliant sunrise. We feasted on breakfast burritos and God's word (not necessarily in that order). We read the resurrection accounts in Matthew and in John and had an interesting discussion.

Excellent way to start this day of days!!

Later that morning we had a rousing worship service capped by a great message from our pastor.

The afternoon started with lunch out at the local Applebees with a couple of good friends.

The evening has just been my hubby and me, sharing some quality time.

Easter is my favorite holiday in terms of my spiritual life. I love the collective remembrance of what Christ did for us. I love the truth that my real home will always be with my God and Father, whether I am here on earth or there with Him.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus name.

On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is sinking sand.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday

Good Friday. The most solemn day of the Christian year.

Our church puts together a Prayer Path on Good Friday: a specific pathway that one follows alone while listening to a CD over headphones. The path takes you through 11 different stations, intended to give you an hour to commune quietly with God and to reflect on Christ's work on the Cross.

I'm acting as host until 2:00 today, which means I'm greeting people and helping them get started on the path. And, although I organized and help set up the different areas of the Prayer Path -- so I know it pretty well already -- I will also spend a quiet hour following the path today, relishing some time alone with my Savior.

Good Friday. Good to reflect on all He has done for each one of us. Good to remember why He did it. Good to know that we are forgiven and forever reconciled with our Creator.

- Catherine

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Adventures in Racquetball

So, my current Facebook status reads:

Q: Why are Catherine's solitary racquetball practices so very effective? A: Because her shots are still so wildly unpredictable that it's like playing against another person.

Actually, it really is rather funny that I can practice so well against myself for the time being.  I talk to myself on the court, too.

As you know if you've read my blog posts (here and here) I took a nasty spill that resulted in eight stitches in my chin. It was only my second time out on the court. Some may think that, being as I'm 51 years old, a serious injury the second time out really doesn't bode well for my success in racquetball.  To them, I say, "stuff it!"  (In the nicest way possible, of course.)

I truly enjoy the games and the practices -- really love the workout that works both body and mind.

So, I'm going to keep at it.  If my fellow blogger, Christy, (a former non-runner) can train for a 5K run, I can learn to play racquetball.

Rock on, sisters!

- Catherine