Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Dear Reader, here we are again. Note that I am almost incapable these days of thinking up a blog post on my own and am relying heavily on the weekly Hodgepodge.  Sad.  But since I know you are just chomping at the bit to read my weekly answers, let us delay no longer.  Away we go!

1. A new Miss America was crowned on Saturday night-did you watch? If you were a contestant what would your talent be?  I haven't watched Miss America since, like, 1976 I think.  If I were in the contest, though, I guess I'd be singing. (It certainly wouldn't be baton twirling  -- someone would get hurt if I did that.)

2. Do you have houseplants? Real or fake?  Generally, houseplants come to my house to die. Seriously. They have been condemned to death by some obscure plant jury and they end up at my house. The problem is that I've never mastered the art of watering correctly for the conditions, no matter how many methods I've tried (and I've tried a LOT). But hope springs eternal. So I do have a couple of herbs growing on my kitchen windowsill this winter. So far so good, only because they are in front of me every day, affording me the opportunity to save them from fatal dehydration in the nick of time.

3. When you were in school did you speak up or were you more of the hide your face, avoid eye contact, and pray the teacher didn't call on you type of student? I spoke up if I was sure of the answer and prayed not to be called on when I didn't.

4. Next Monday marks the Chinese New Year...what do you order when someone suggests Chinese food? Hmmm .....  BBQ pork and seeds is pretty good, as is General Tso's chicken. Our town has a restaurant that serves Mongolian Barbecue, and we go there most often for Chinese food -- that means I get to put together my own concoction and have it cooked for me!

5. How would you define a miracle? What would it take for you to consider something a miracle? A miracle can be something that defies reason. It can also be something that happens despite overwhelming odds. Most of the miracles in my life tend to be of the latter variety -- but they are no less miracles.

6. What's your favorite Disney song? If you're stuck you'll find a list here. Oh. My. Gosh.  Just one??? I love so many of them. "When You Wish Upon a Star" is a favorite for it's melancholy yet hopeful aspect (Rosemary Clooney did a great version back in the day). I also love the joy and celebration of "That's How You Know" (from Enchanted). And the sheer fun of "Les Poissons" (from the Little Mermaid).

7. I should have prayed more yesterday. Always!

8. Insert your own random thought here: Randomly speaking,  I have new office furniture that is making me very happy. I don't know why furniture should affect my mental well-being, but it does. For the last week now I've been getting all kinds of work done. Of course, it might help that I now have a setup where, truly, there is a place for everything. Which means my brain can stop the constant playing of the game "Concentration" and focus on the work itself!

Thanks again to Joyce for this week's questions! If you want to play along, answer the questions on your own blog and link up at Joyce's!

- Catherine

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Frustration

Today has been one technology problem after another and I am beyond frustrated.

First there was my fax machine. This machine is actually a multi-tasking monolith -- it scans! it copies! it sends faxes! it receives faxes! 

Yeah, those last two functions? They've been inexplicably MIA for a few days and this was the first opportunity for me to tackle the problem.

To do so, I was forced to enter the maze of functions of the multi-function machine that has only the tiniest LED read-out area on the front to guide you. Argh! 

Menu -- General setup --- down arrow through the choices -- nope not there! 
Menu --  down arrow -- Fax -- down arrow through the choices -- nope not there either! 
Menu -- down arrow -- Initial setup -- down arrow through the choices -- ah ha! 

Change one setting. 


After doing a factory re-set and starting all over again, I finally called the phone company to see if there was trouble on the phone line. I had to be sure -- because the fax machine was telling me it was a "Comm. Error" in the telephone line. But since I spoke to the phone company on said telephone line, I was pretty sure it was okay. And it was. 

Dead end.

Next I consulted the multi-tasking monlith's website in hopes of support.

Right?  Not.

Finally mentioned to my hubby what was going on and he recalled that he has this deely-bobber thingy that you attach to the fax machine to make it once again become fond of the designated telephone line with which it must work.

I liked the sound of the "fond of" part and became hopeful again.

And after setting it up tonight with the deely-bobber thingy, all is well. Just like that. Who knew?

One problem down.

Other problem is my email software made by someone very evil at Microsoft. I hate you, whomever you are. In concert with some other evil person at Microsoft who invented the Virtual Private Network, which moves at the speed of, oh, molasses uphill in Maine in January. 

My local file folders were stuffed to the gills and even after eliminating a lot of old stuff, they still wouldn't take anything new transferred from my inbox.


Have. To. Transfer. My. Thousands. Of. Archived. email. Messages. To. My. Employer's. Servers. Utilizing. The. Virtual. Private. Network.

Yeah, that fast. I've been at it all day, trying to force a 10-pound bag of potatoes through a cocktail straw. Even working in small, small, teeny-tiny batches, half the time the software gets so hung up that it can't continue doing anything and shuts itself down.

Curses on you Microsoft!!

There is a bottle of wine in the kitchen with my name on it. And I am very glad it's a 3-day weekend! Because maybe by Tuesday my email will have been successfully archived through the cocktail straw.

- Catherine

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Ah the glorious randomness of the Wednesday Hodgepodge!  

And away we go .....

1. Lake Superior University has once again published a list of words/phrases they think should be banished from the Queen's English in 2012-

amazing, baby bump, shared sacrifice, occupy, blowback, man cave, the new normal, pet parent, win the future, trickeration, ginormous, and thank you in advance.

Which of these words/phrases would you most like to see banished from everyday speech and why? Go here to read more about how the words are chosen.

I hate the phrase "baby bump" with a passion. It takes pregnancy, which is a sacred thing for a woman and her body, down to the level of a fashion accessory. Maybe if the press didn't glamorize it as a fashion accessory, we'd have fewer unwed, teen mothers who are in no way ready to make a lifetime commitment to raising a child? Just a thought ....

2. Are you easily embarrassed?   I used to be, but as I get older and more confident with who God is and the kind of person He would have me to be, I am less easily embarrassed.

3. What is your go-to snack? A piece of chocolate, sad to say. And my hips reflect that. Also sad to say.

4. Have you ever been to Washington D.C.? If not do you have any desire to go? What site/attraction would you most want to see in that city? If you have been, what's your favorite site/attraction?  I love Washington DC -- it's my favorite city on the East Coast. I have a lot of favorites in that city, but I'll mention one that is not seen by too many folks -- the National Building Museum. The space is awe-inspiring and the history of the building is fascinating! Love it!

5. sit ups-planks-lunges-squats...which do you hate the least? I hate all of them, but I think I hate sit-ups the least.

6. What's a small act of kindness you were shown that you've never forgotten? There are many. But I think the one I'll mention here took place the day after my mother died. Her dear friend called me and asked -- persuaded -- me to drive out to her place so I wouldn't be alone on the night between Mom's passing and the funeral. She fed me homemade chicken soup and rolls, and let me talk through some grief and anger. She was just lovely and I was very, very comforted.

7. Have you ever been a blood donor? Yes. My employer regularly participates in the local blood drives and we were always allowed time to go over and donate. Only once did I have break-through bleeding after the donation -- fortunately I was still in the donation room and they clamped it down well right away (I felt fine -- my arm was just bleeding like crazy for a moment or so).

8. Insert your own random thought here. Randomly speaking, I bless the day I decided to hire someone to help me clean the house each week. I just can't keep up with the house and a full-time job and my aunt and my sick hubby. Thank you, God, for bringing me Erin!!!

Many thanks to Joyce over at From This Side of the Pond.  If you want to play along, use the link on the badge at the top of this post!

- Catherine

Monday, January 9, 2012

Santa Claus, Tim Tebow and God

"When you stop believing in Santa Claus, then you find Grace."

That was the last sentence featured in the very last dream that I had last night as I was sleeping.

I went to bed after watching the stunning upset victory of the Denver Broncos over the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime. Some game! And you can't mention a Broncos game without mentioning their controversial quarterback, Tim Tebow.

The man American society and sports commentators love to hate.

It is astonishing how much vitriol comes Tebow's way these days.

It's true that Tebow is not a great technical quarterback, as NFL quarterbacks go. But he really does inspire his team with his upbeat, can-do attitude and he does pull out enough wins to get the job done, if not elegantly then at least satisfactorily. He's also constantly striving to improve. Non-expert that I am, even I can see that he played better yesterday as a passing quarterback than I've seen him play before.

The controversy, of course, is that he's vocal and demonstrative about his faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. From all I've read and seen, he walks closely with his God all day long every day. The press makes much of it, thus it is seen by millions of folks all over the country.

And this leads me to the concern that people who do not know God will come to believe that either God is shining favor on the Broncos because of the prayers of Tim Tebow, or that Tebow is a fraud because he's not a perfect person, or that he is a hypocrite because his prayers must be meaningless if the Broncos lose.

For the record, I've read some about Tebow and watched him closely on the field. I may be wrong, but I don't think for one moment that his prayers are for the Divine Intervention of God in a football game. I think he thanks God at each moment for the pleasure and privilege given him on this earth -- to be doing something that he truly loves in a venue that allows him to minister to others in a variety of ways.

No, I'm sure he's not a saint. But he is an excellent role model for young people and, comes to that, for our entire American culture in some very important ways. For example, you never see Tebow dancing and gloating with glee on the field as you see so many, many, MANY other NFL players doing (it's one of my pet peeves, can you tell?).  Tebow's conduct on the field is very sportsmanlike. Enthusiasm for the game and his team, yes. Taunting and gloating over your opponent, no.

And now, back to that opening sentence.

"Santa Claus" as a concept means that gifts are given to deserving (read: good) people.

But God gives gifts that are not based on whether we are good or bad. God brings to each of us Grace: the absolute gift of all time that allows every last one of us to be reconciled fully with Him. And along the way, God also blesses those who accept that Grace. Generally not with football victories, although if there is a deeper purpose, He could do just that. (And that's a whole 'nother blog post, dear reader.)

He blesses us with meaningful gifts and pleasures and joys. The kind you can't get from Santa Claus. Not always what we request. Not always evident at first as a gift. The kind of gifts that, in a myriad of ways, shine a spotlight on just how much we have been given by the God who created us, who redeemed us, and who longs for our minute-by-minute relationship with Him (football minutes or conventional minutes -- you choose).

Tim Tebow knows Grace. He knows football careers are fleeting and that God has brought him to this moment for His divine purposes. Tebow passed up the "Santa Claus" concept a long time ago. And when he's "Tebowing" he's not just thanking God for another completed pass, another touchdown, or another victory.

He's thanking God for another opportunity to show the world who God really is.

- Catherine

Friday, January 6, 2012

Friday Brain Dump

Tim is home and we are all breathing easier.

I'm happy to be eating breakfast at home and not at the hospital.

I cleaned my office yesterday and today it is still clean. If you know me, then you know this is an accomplishment.

Charley is a 97-pound snuggle puppy who needs to be on someone's lap each evening. This is funny and painful at the same time, depending on how he flops down on you.

I put away the Christmas tree on Wednesday and then immediately rearranged the living room furniture. This will lead to new curtains in the living room bay window and a new coffee table (Charley having substantially chewed off the corner of the table last year while he was still teething).

My eldest granddaughter turns 12 today. Wow! She and her baby sister (age one month) are the bookends of our 13 grandchildren.

Although Tim came home deathly ill, we enjoyed our days in San Antonio with the family last week. I think all of us who were there had a grand time staying together as a family and seeing a beautiful part of the country! Those who drove through Roswell on the way down from Idaho assure me that they didn't see any aliens (Tim and I had flown to Texas rather than drive).

Hank Williams Jr. is being forced by Charley to run around outside a bit more. Since Hank is overweight, I think this is a Good Thing. Hank does not agree.

I love my Acer Iconia Tablet so much that I bought one for Tim for Christmas. He is still learning how to use it and grumbling the while. Sometimes it's good to be dragged into the next century, honey.

I believe that's all for today.

Have a great weekend, one and all!

- Catherine

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wednesday Hodgepodge

And away we go!

1. What are three words you would use to describe your 2011?  Lotsa health problems. (Lotsa can be one word if I want it to.) Tim had surgery, began treatment for Hepatitis C, and ended the year in the hospital in order to clear up complications from both the Hep C treatment and another virus that came on at the same time. I had a bowel obstruction and emergency surgery to take care of it. I also got my first dental crown. That's more than enough for one year, I think.

2. Do you like shrimp? What's your favorite way to have it prepared?  I have always loved shrimp. My dad worked in a boat yard when we were little, and he knew the guys down at the docks, so periodically he would bring home some shrimp -- we learned to love it early on. My current favorite is to prepare it with a light sauce and serve it with leeks and polenta.

3. Is your house de-Christmased? If so when did you tackle that job? If not, when will the decorations come down?  As of the day I am writing this (Tuesday), the house is not yet de-Christmased. A little thing called "my husband's hospitalization on New Year's Eve" got in the way. But he's on the mend and so the Christmas decorations will be going downstairs. I'm pretty sure we'll have them all down before the next National Holiday anyway -- you know, the Super Bowl!

4. Do you like to watch scary movies? No. I have a visceral reaction to images that evoke anxiety and fear, and I hate it. I also have nightmares. So I don't watch scary movies. Ever.

5. Ice skating~sledding~skiing~snowboarding~of the four listed which wintertime activity do you most enjoy? Hmmm ... I used to love ice skating, but I'm pretty sure my legs and ankles would protest were I to try it now. Plus my balance has deteriorated over the years. Snowboarding? Never tried it and never will. Last week my youngest got thrown 25 feet and dented his helmet (I wasn't there and am taking his word for the 25 feet).  Skiing? Love cross country -- great exercise -- and hate downhill. Sledding? Yep -- I still love that! Especially with small children!

6. Did you have a childhood hideout? Describe it. Oh my gosh, what memories just came flooding back to me. I'd forgotten about it, but we did indeed have something that we called The Hideout. It was behind our garage, which had a high fence extending off the back in order to keep the 'back of the garage' stuff out of sight from anyone in the yard. Right behind that fence was The Hideout, and if I recall correctly, there was an abandoned dog house set back there that we always climbed onto (not in). By standing on top of the doghouse, we could see up over the fence into the yard. Heady stuff for a 4-year old!

7. What's a place or space that motivates you?  Craft stores and office supply stores are big motivators. They shouldn't be, because that means money is being motivated out of my wallet. But there it is.

8. Insert your own random thought here.Randomly speaking, I hope it will be many, many moons before I have to see the inside of a hospital again. And next time I'll drive the extra half hour to go to the non-profit facility in the next town. Our newly made-over "for profit" local hospital leaves a lot to be desired. $300.00 for one stinkin' IV bag of fluids!!!

Thanks again to Joyce for this week's questions! If you want to play, answer the questions on your own blog and then go on over to Joyce's to link up with everyone else. Don't forget to read a few while there too!

- Catherine

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


This morning the ulcers on Tim's throat were finally gone (or all but gone ...  and that's close enough for our purposes). Around noon time the nurse took the feeding tube out.

He's eating red jello.

And I'm breathing easier.

- Catherine

Monday, January 2, 2012

Wait and See

There is not a lot of people watching from a hospital room, but there IS a lot of unintentional eavesdropping.

The phrase I hear and overhear most frequently is "We'll have to wait and see what the doctor says."

"Wait" is the operative word in that sentence.  For all of us here, it seems.

We have been waiting for two days for a whole host of things, including some reassurance that someone on this hospital staff really understands what is going on with Tim.

I am frustrated and Tim is just about at his wit's end with the nonstop pain and discomfort.

And we are still waiting.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Year

We are celebrating the New Year in a hospital room. Tim's Hep C treatment hit a big bump in the road when he contracted Coxsackie virus on top of all the other side effects of the treatment. Ulcers on his throat and uvula have made it impossible for him to eat or drink or take his meds. So here we are, educating the local hospital staff on the specific and detailed requirements of treatment for Hepatitis C, which they must follow along with the treatment for the Coxsackie virus.

It's been fun.


Stay tuned for more as we go along.

And to all - I wish you a HEALTHY New Year!

- Catherine