Sunday, February 27, 2011

And the winner is!!!

"Turn left at the next light or your collar will get it."Photobucket
After six pairs of destroyed earrings, I have finally learned to take my earrings off BEFORE letting Penny sit on my shoulders. She can do more damage in ten seconds than Kawi can in a month, little Miss Jaws of Steel. Fortunately she's not a biter. Griffy, C's brother's Conure is capable of turning a shirt into Swiss cheese throughout the duration of a football game. Kawi is more like a cuticle lancet. If you are diabetic, you would never need a lancet again.

Speaking of skin piercing, last night I dreamed that despite attempts to cover myself, I kept getting bit by mosquitoes. I know exactly where the dream came from. It was deeply rooted in the source of my much disturbed sleep. I tried to rationalize my antisocial exhausted self into thinking that sleeping all day may be a better option than going to church, but that would be like unto fasting after forty days and nights without food in the wilderness. I wasn't sure what to expect, but due to the interventions of a close friend and a single phrase in a hymnbook, I was able to justify dragging my unmotivated self there.

I have come to the conclusion that I am a winner. If there was an Olympic metal offered for having one's intentions called into question, I would hands-down be the world champion. Oddly enough, it always seems to be those instances where I am trying to help. After much grief over the ease of others to doubt or question the things I say or do, I am beginning down the path of peace.

It started with these words: 'Tis not in man they put their trust, nor on his arm rely.

Suddenly it clicked. I had been angry, frustrated, and saddened by the fact that I was being called into question when I knew that the Lord knew that my intentions were pure. Suddenly I was free to say, "It's my own fault! I can't be angry at anyone but myself, because I put my trust in the arm of flesh rather than the arm of God." I know better. I have read that phrase a hundred times and committed it to memory, and yet here I am, letting these pesky mosquitoes disturb my inner peace.

Man, whose breath is in his nostrils cannot see into my heart. My part is not to grieve over their interpretations of me, but to turn to God and hold fast to his teachings. Shame on me for faltering. I own my relationship with God and with man, and I determine which one of those relationships weighs heavier. Somehow lately I have put man in the driver's seat. I don't know how it happened, but it was a serious mistake. Here's to course corrections and mosquito netting. Where is that Deet, anyway?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Unknown Identity

C and I are big fans of the Bourne series of movies and books. Isn't it beautiful when you don't notice that the segment of sidewalk where that motorcyclist landed is really rubber? Bravo, I say. I enjoy action flicks more than chick flicks, I confess. I am abnormal that way, I guess.

Today we watched the movie Unknown. As a general rule, if Liam Neeson is in a movie, I know it will be good. The A-Team, was, well, the A-Team, and you just know what you are going to get there. Still, we left joking that the next Unknown movie will be called Unknown Supremacy, followed by Unknown Ultimatum. I did enjoy the twisty mental ride just the same, and as one who speaks German, I always enjoy movies where Germans are depicted as real people and not angry, shouting Nazis.

My poor, poor neglected food blog. I still cook, but I haven't taken time to take many photos lately. I did FINALLY get to make some kale chips today. "It smells sort of good, and sort of bad." C stated while they baked.

"Yes, like a cross between stinky broccoli and potato chips." I agreed.

They were reasonably tasty and deliciously crispy. C, my hesitant guinea pig even asked for more. I tossed some fig balsamic, olive oil, garlic and herbs with stemmed kale leaves, and baked at 350* for about ten minutes. The taste quality diminished rapidly when they cooked much longer. You know you want to try it, but don't forget the parchment paper...

Friday, February 25, 2011


A little sunshine and ice was on the menu for a getaway. See more ice structures here.
We then warmed up at a quaint little cafe that I hunted down on Urban Spoon.
I had a whole wheat bagel sandwich with egg, roasted mushroom, and bell peppers. Photobucket
Maybe next time we will dive into one of their oven baked pizzas!
I had a near miss at the bakery with these gold leaf beauties, and instead opted for some gelato.
C creamed me in a game of chess, but I still had a great time watching the funny faces he made while he strategized my defeat.
The mountains were aflame with the setting sun as we drove back from our retreat.
While C visited a bike shop to locate his next bike purchase, I wandered into a lapidary store, but it was not what I expected. The shop owner said, "You know when your girlfriend comes over and starts handling your rocks and she gets all of this negative energy all over them, and you think, 'Great! now my rocks have all of this negative energy on them and I have to clean them!' Well, all you have to do is touch it to another rock like this... and they're clean again! That's all it takes! Just like this long!" 

Yep. It was a man, too. I hastily mentioned that I needed to go meet back up with my hubby.  
Among all of the beautiful bikes, and he decides he wants this one:
How long do you think it'll take for him to finish the triathalon on this?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Penny: All that I try to Capture and Never Seem to... in this little video. See the one on the left? That one is a lot like our little Penny. Always upside down or trying to get you to play with her, always wanting to cuddle or wrestle, or get a head massage. Ironically, that one also has a little poop on her face, so that makes me feel a little better about our little poop-eater. She is an opportunistic poop eater, so we really do all we can to reduce those opportunities. When Penny poops you clean it up, because the next time she looks at it, that fluffy green pile transforms in her mind into something edible. Despite her unique tastes, she is a bucket of joy, that one.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Miracles and Newspapers

It is no mystery that I love to write, at least for myself. If only you knew how many blogs I REALLY maintain, you would realize that writing isn't just a friendly past time for me. When I see empty books I percolate with excitement! All of those blank pages and endless possibilities!

Despite my love for writing, I have forever hated using pencils since before I was in Kindergarten; that is, until someone introduced me to a MECHANICAL pencil. Why? Because wooden pencils get dull and then you have to STOP writing to go sharpen it. I could never get them sharp enough because they would break or splinter. And then there was the smudging. I was pretty young when I figured out that .05 mechanical pencil led didn't smudge, but .07 was a social outcast in my book.

Pens don't smudge either. Pens and I have had a love affair since I was nine. I am this uber techy person who loves pens. Who knew? I have more journals filled than I can count. Instead of a teddy bear putting me at ease, it was always the pen. The Zebra, the Parker, the Pilot G2... if I don't have a reliable one within reach I feel like a fish out of water. Bic puts the word Kugelschreiber to shame. Maybe Bic Stics were really invented for field tracheotomies and impromptu prison tattoo parlors, but those nasty little writing implements should only be used as pens in extreme emergencies.

Writing is almost never stressful for me. At the end of my conference post-mortem week, I had to submit two four-page syllabi for an upcoming national conference at which I will speak in May. I pounded them out in a couple of hours while C was at the gym. My workout fell by the wayside, but to every thing there is a season.

Today I taught a lesson on Miracles. Teaching has this enormous payoff for me. It's not a limelight kind of payoff, but rather knowing that I can make something easy for someone to understand. I feel good because I have helped someone learn something new.

If only I felt as at ease about public writing as I do about public speaking. A friend at work approached me about writing a newspaper column. It would be a side gig, but who could say no? I just need to throw together a couple of samples. We'll see how it goes.

Finally, a shameless plug for my very amazing man, my cookie monster, my man of steel, and my best friend. Thanks for being my favorite blog reader, my biggest fan, and the apple of our birdies' eyes (oh, and mine, too!) Thank you for keeping the ship afloat while I was out of sanity's reach for the past several months. Here's to seeing each other again in the evening and letting the laptop collect some dust over the weekend.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Morning After with Eight

Last night C recommended we venture off on a romantic evening at Bed Bath and Beyond in pursuit of an endgrain chopping block. I have never been a fan of wooden chopping blocks, but my Valentines' Day knives have remained unused due to the fact that I care more about taking care of those blades than my personal preferences. As it turns out, endgrain blocks don't show the knife cuts like lengthgrain blocks do. I also picked up some mineral oil to cure the block before using it.
C picked up one of my new knives and tried the paper slice. Like butter! Aaand the older knives we got for our wedding over 11 years ago? not even close. I can't wait. I have always wanted to learn how to chef-chop. I have watched videos online, but never had knives that were up to the task. I literally jumped up and down with glee when I opened them, but they came with a warning. I can't count how many times C has told me NOT to chop off my fingers.
After finding the perfect block, we wandered off to find a cookie, when C realized that in lieu of dinner, I had opted for an hour nap, followed by a visit from my most beloved papa.

"Let's get you some dinner." C said. Right next to the cookie shop was a pizza place.

"BBQ chicken pizza, please!" I declared.

We ordered a couple of slices of the finest. Lo and behold, there was our star designer from work sitting with his adorable girls and wife! He looked so different than the last time I saw him that I barely recognized him. We had a nice long conversation about work. He said that the lack of stress alone was a huge relief for him, and that he was enjoying his new job immensely.

They had just finished watching the Bieber movie, and I think he got a gold star for that one. What a trouper! It was so good to see them and to catch up.

Once home, I had nothing left to do! I only made it part way through my slice before I was full, and we settled in to watch some TV for a few minutes before I fell fast asleep. It has been a very long time since I have seen an 8 on the clock when I woke, but what a great feeling! "You slept REALLY well." C exclaimed. Aye, truly.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Underneath it all, It's just...

If I were a tree, I would not say that the snow that rests on my branches is a part of me. The glorious little birds that nest in my branches don't define me. The blossoms and leaves may whisper of fruits yet to come, but once ripe, they fall to the ground, and what am I then?

I am not the apples or leaves or snow. I am not the things I do, rather I am who I am, no matter what my surroundings may recommend from me.

A friend recently paid me a couple of monumental compliments. It was nice to hear, but nicer to realize that those moments are fall leaves, blazing and glorious for an instant, and then fading into nothing. Balance is remembering who you are when good things are pouring out on your life and when darkness envelopes it. It is staying immune to the good and bad, and being content to stay on the steady, rocky climb of life.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Blonde Bucks

As if the news isn't already full enough with relevant data, tonight one newscaster (who ironically was blonde) reported that blonde women make up to 7% more money than other hair colors. Considering that she included no research firm or other documentation with this statement, I am left to ponder the basis of this study. I am also left to ponder the analytic skills of the media to present information like this in such a subjective manner.

The moths of my analytic brain immediately flock to chew holes in this "research" based statement:
1. Is it that blonde hair color attracts more attention, or that the surrounding the culture encourages fair hair dye?
2. Keeping one's locks light requires money. Is it that those who are blonde are getting better jobs, or that those who have better jobs can afford to color their hair?
3. Is it really hair color, or ethnicity that is associated with a higher income?
4. Did they study several racial groups independently and examine women of the same race, but different hair color? (Now THAT would be a story, in my humble opinion...)
5. Once a theory has been tested with one gender, did they test the other gender with the same theory?
6. What other possible factors could contribute to the study to explain away the theory? (If you don't consider all possible paths to a solution, including contradictions, how do you know that you took the right path in the first place?)

Just a little glimpse into the brain of an analytic researcher who can't help but watch the news like a movie critic rather than a sponge. For centuries, people have been using "research" to prove some cool idea or concept that really has no point. Unfortunately, most people are wielding a weapon that they don't understand how to use in the first place.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


National Conference: DONE
Taxes: DONE
Dishes: DONE
Winning Penny's affection after months of neglect: In Progress
Getting Kawi out of separation anxiety mode: NEVER done
New Job: Looking good
Sleep Recovery: In a week or so
Workouts: Scheduled to start again tomorrow now that taxes are DONE

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Green Room and the Voice of God

There is so much to say about this past week. In a word, it was magnificent. Bring in the microscope, and it was a field of thorns and roses. The roses came from two places: first, from my most beloved, who always seemed to show up at the right time and in the right place, or to have a card or flower waiting in my room just when I needed it.
The second was from the amazing connections and networking that took place for me throughout the conference. It was such a delight to see the faces of the 3000 registrants and many took the time to find me and thank me, even the grumpy lady who yelled at me for not letting her into the room while we were waiting for the CTO of HP to come in with his security detail.
Production Crew
We had a full production crew for the plenary room, and we had three excellent keynote speakers. Because of the large scale production, lighting, sound system, and scripting, we had a "voice of God" introduce us each time we went on stage, and someone waiting to push us on just at the right moment. Each of us had a ... I don't remember what it was called, but a music clip that played just before our VOG, and then "Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome A___ ___, Conference Chair!"
Plenary Podium
We arrived early to get miked up, complete with a fitted earpiece and wire down the back. I started each day welcoming everyone, asking how many participated in the events the evening before, and moved on to intro the CEO of the sponsoring company. The CEO would then give a company plug, followed by an intro of the keynote speaker, and the keynote would be pushed on to the stage. The rest of us would hang out in the green room for the next forty minutes, half-listening to the keynote and chatting the rest of the time. What a great opportunity to interface with these amazing individuals.
Collaborative Discussions
After each interaction, I received a LinkedIn invitation from said CEOs, which is rather cool, I must confess. At our VIP breakfast I sat across from a manager from Microsoft and told him that I felt they were sorely mismarketing OneNote by only adding it to the professional version of the software when it was a tool that had many everyday applications. He thanked me and told me he was going to run my ideas up the line, and then offered me a 2010 Pro suite. I am not stupid, so of course I accepted. I met with VeriSign, who was very interested in building a relationship with us, and Google showed up as well. Rumor has it, they want to be a sponsor next year.
Microsoft Sponsored Playground:
As we got ready for the closing session, where I finally fit in some jokes that went quite well, my CEO said for the 150th time, "We REALLY need to figure out how we can keep you involved next year."
Cyber Cafe
I thought for a minute, and then said, "I won't be the chair, but I will be an advisor." Then, as my mind flashed forward to another great set of green room chats, I added, "Oh, and if you want me to MC again, I'll be happy to do that, too."
Media Hub (getting set up)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Fighting For Bags

I am sitting in a hotel room, wishing I had my little Penny to fluff my hair and make piggy noises in my ear while she presses her little feathered body against my cheek. C stopped by for a few minutes, but not long enough for me. The snow outside makes me feel a little better about my decision to hunker downtown for the conference, but by the end of the week I will be happy to see it end.

I already sent out a request for post-mortem reports from all of the committee chairs, due next week. I have some great ideas on how to make this conference better for 2012, but today I had yet another experience that confirmed my desire to cut the apron strings from the conference "child." It's just the right thing to do. It would be a different story entirely were certain circumstances to change, but that is an impossibility.

This morning I thought about how I am so tossed about by troubled waters, and then thought about how Peter's faith in the Lord Jesus Christ allowed him to walk on water. I decided that this is my week to rise above my troubles and exercise enough faith that I will not be tossed about by them like a lost ship on the sea. I already started to sink a bit today with something that happened, but I am past it and rising above it all again.

Upward and onward, and on, on to my workout! Aaand then back to work.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Where's Waldo?

There she is!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Double Shot of MC

Favorite quote of the week: 
"Your CEO told me he'd pay me $1000 a week if I'd do the laundry and dishes for you." From my million dollar man who has been keeping house for me while I run myself into the ground. And no, he's not getting paid to do it. 

I sat in an operating prep-room yesterday morning in my business clothes while I watched the doctor roll a tube of cortisone and Novocaine in his hands. "It's been sitting in my car, so I am trying to warm it up." Warning sign number one.

He attached the needle and shot it into my left shoulder while it burned like BLEEP, and then I heard him say, "Uh-oh." Cold cortisone viscosity + tiny needle = blockage. Warning sign number two.

A second needle was attached and once again my shoulder burned like BLEEP while he injected it again, this time completing the injection. "Do you want to lie down?" Asked the nurse. I said I was fine even though I was lying. I needed to race off to a meeting. "All of the color has left your face." She said. Rather than pass out on the freeway, I concluded that I should swallow my pride, be a wimp, and lie down.

When you are preparing to meet a group of 2600 people who you have invited to come to a conference, all of these REALLY important problems start to formulate in your mind. In comparison with all you have been through to put this thing on in the first place, these Herculean concerns start to override everything else:

  1. What is the balance between dressy-casual and professional, and darn it, what am I going to wear?
  2. How am I going to find time to work out this week while staying in a hotel with people who are going to try to track me down?
  3. What should I do with my hair?
  4. Am I going to put on ten lbs and look fat on stage?
  5. Am I supposed to be funny while MCing this event?

Incredibly, somewhere between 3:00 p.m. yesterday and 7:00 a.m. today I managed to find answers to all of these problems.

1. The CEO said I should convey the brand of the conference, while he should convey the brand of the company. The conference staff polos just weren't saying "professional" to me, so at the recommendation of the CEO, I called Banana Republic and asked them to pull a couple of shirts for me, was out of the store in a few minutes with my purchase, and in front of the embroidery machines ten minutes later.

2. I had the concierge hide me in the hotel strategically so that I could access the fitness center without using the elevator. All I need is someone following me down to the fitness room to ask me questions while I work out. You don't even want to go there.

3. My stylist took the time to teach me a new trick with my hair last weekend ("beachy curls"). Not one to leave things to chance, I purchased the exact same equipment she used, and yesterday I did it! It worked!

4. I weighed myself this morning, and am proud to say that while I have fluctuated over the past few months, I am officially going into the week of the conference with no additional poundage. {Applause}

5. Speaking never bothers me. I don't get nervous or jittery, but yesterday I was supposed to turn in my "script" as an MC. I have been so busy, I haven't had any time to think about it. First, I do know how to make a script sound funny, even though I don't like to use a script at all. Alas, over a light dinner of soup and salad last night, C and I joked about how to bring the humor. When I woke this morning, it was all there, floating around in my head!

Speaking of speaking, tomorrow I am teaching Sunday School. C recommended that I get a substitute, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I love teaching the scriptures so much. To make sure that I wasn't overburdened with pressure, I prepared my entire lesson last week, and even printed out all of my materials and handouts ahead of time.

Today I will finish my MC script. Somewhere in there I will find time to pack for the week and work out as well. Monday I will finish my conference class presentation. Wednesday I will rehearse. Thursday it will all begin with an early VIP breakfast, and Saturday it will all conclude with a reception and awards ceremony.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Silly Bus...Silly, Silly Bus...

T- minus seven to kickoff. A day full of Silly Bus. From sunrise to sunset, with no lunch in sight, I rode the Silly Bus. And finally, after days and weeks and months of Silly Bus, today it went to print!

I spent my drive home bartering with the Deaf Interpreter services to get our costs below $4000.00, yet another item I failed to consider in my project costs for the conference. This event has been an excellent way to hone my negotiation skills.

Yesterday I listened to Christian rock amidst the Juh-juh-juh-juh of an enormous waffle maker that toasted me for an hour. The radiology chef made sure I was plenty comfortable by giving me super-sized scrubs, reminding me of dad's big, cozy, T-shirts for little-girl nightwear. Absurdly optimistic that the resulting news will somehow equate to the full use of my shoulder, I can't ignore the truth that rotator cuffs aren't famous for rapid recovery.

I reserved hotel rooms for some of my conference committee next week. I don't want them to get too worn down. I need them as fresh and well rested as possible. One of them slept at her desk in a sleeping bag during her last conference. As for me and my house, sanity = me, having a standing fitness conference with myself each evening. Selah.

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