Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Tragedy on tragedy

Boy, I had a hard time getting to sleep last night...I stayed up till after two o'clock watching the hurricane coverage on CNN and it was disturbing. Really disturbing.

Jeanne Meserve, who I've seen a hundred times on CNN, had called in a report to Aaron Brown earlier in the evening, and they replayed it later. I've never heard a reporter so affected by a tragedy. Her voice was calm but you could hear the horror of what she'd seen that day as she tried to get through the report. You can listen to it here at CNN; click on the link to "watch an emotional account" which seems like a dumb way to describe it, but oh well. I thought she completely conveyed how horrible things are in New Orleans, and she did it in a very personal way.

I also saw a brief local New Orleans interview with a man who was wandering the streets with his two boys, disoriented and in shock. When he told the reporter that his house had broken in half and his wife had been swept away, the reporter burst into tears.

What made it hard for me to sleep was the thought of thousands of people trapped in their homes, in the dark, in the heat, pinned up in the attic with the water rising. The thought absolutely makes me sick--it's like all my worst nightmares come to life. What can you do but pray? Which I did.

I am not a tragedy junkie. I don't follow coverage of high-profile kidnappings and murders and their subsequent trials. Somehow it feels...unseemly...to receive infotainment from other people's nightmares. But when things like this happen--September 11, the Asian tsunami, hurricanes--it feels important to me to pay attention for a while. Not because there's much of anything I can do personally, but just to show respect, to show that it matters to me what happens to people. To prove it to myself if nothing else. And to pray. So often in life that's all you can do, and to me, sometimes, it feels terribly inadequate in the face of overwhelming catastrophe. I have to hope and believe that what I pray makes a difference somehow. I don't know.

Monday, August 29, 2005

More pics

I never got a chance to post more stuff about my trip home to Ohio two weeks ago, so here's a few more pictures from the wedding:

On the right, my lovely mom and her lovely granddaughter. Mom sewed Kylie's flower girl dress, and also made the flower girl basket and ringbearer pillow. Mom is a talented seamstress: in 1992, she made my wedding gown, three bridesmaid's gowns, and then whipped up a little something for herself to wear. That was her most ambitious undertaking, but she has also done a lot of sewing for the grandkids. When I was little, she sewed most of my clothes, and often made my doll a matching outfit. Nice memory!

On the left, my lovely mother again, along with yours truly. All of my outdoor wedding pictures have light poles, telephone poles, and telephone wires running through everyone's heads...some creative photo editing will be required when I scrap these!

I was thrilled to find this dress at 30% off at the last minute--summer dresses are mostly gone from the stores, but this one fit well and was fairly flattering as well as cool.

This was a sweet moment--the last dance at the wedding reception, and Kylie was exhausted after a very long and important day. Her daddy took her out for one last dance...precious!

I wish I had a picture of my slow dance with Tanner...the music started and he was on the floor and motioned for me to come dance with him. The song was "I Will Love You So For Always"--who sang that one, anyway? DeBarge? It was a glorious 80's ballad, that's all I remember. Anyway, I sang some of it to him while we danced, and he was quiet for a minute and then said, "That's the stupidest song I've ever heard." Well, that's romance for ya, kid. At least, that's how we did it back in my day.

One day while I was home, I took Tanner and Kylie for the day and started them off with a treasure hunt. I hid small prizes and clues in five or six different places around the area, and they had a super time finding them all. This shot is from a walk we took in the rain at one of the parks where I hid stuff. The following picture is right after they discovered a prize in the big flowering vine at my parents' house.

I never seem to take as many pictures as I intend to, but as the pile of photos "to be scrapped" grows, I realize I don't need to take as many as I think I do. I wish I had gotten one of my grandparents, but other than that I did pretty well. I did get one of myself with Grandma at the wedding.

In other news, my cold is finally on its way out after 10 days and counting. I'm still coughing and hoarse, but the spark of life is starting to come back, LOL. I got my Stamp It! project sent out via Express Mail this morning, and on my day off tomorrow I plan to turn my attention to a few other things that are cluttering up my desk. After that, time to create a couple September classes.

We've been glued to the coverage of Hurricane Katrina since Sunday afternoon, when the situation was looking positively apocalyptic. It's still terrible and awful, but it sounds like the very worst-case scenario for New Orleans was averted at least. Poor Biloxi, though.

Hurricanes were never something I paid much attention to until we were introduced to Isabel in 2003--our very first hurricane experience, mere months after we moved to the coast. That was enough of a taste for me, and we got off very light with just the inconvenience of no electricity for five days. Others in our area weren't as lucky. Now they've started talking about this tropical depression 13 in the Atlantic, and I am wondering if we're going to get another taste this year. For some reason, I have a feeling we'll see a hurricane here this season. Hope I'm wrong!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Crap on toast

Sometimes you just want to sit down and have a nice long cry. Except you don't have time. And even if you did, it would just make your nose stuffy. More stuffy.

I came down with the Cold from Hell last Saturday--the same day that Karen, my boss, broke her foot at the pool. We've been trying to tag-team and give each other breaks so that she can be home and rest her foot and I can be home and sneeze/cough/moan....but it's been exhausting. If I'm not at the store, she has to be, and vice versa. I am so over that damn store, I can't even tell ya.

Every other day (or so it seems) I'm teaching a make-and-take, trying to croak out instructions umpteen times and attempting to be upbeat and perky, which doesn't come easy at the best of times. Business at the store completely sucks. I've felt like crap on toast for six days and counting. I have a magazine assignment that should have been in the mail yesterday and still isn't done yet. And another magazine deadline tomorrow. And a project proposal request sitting in my in-box that really needs some thought and attention. The toilets are filthy, I haven't been to the grocery store in weeks, our bedroom looks like a clothing bomb went off, and every time I cough I pee my pants. I've been coughing a lot.

This is the first day I've felt good enough to come here and bitch about how awful I feel. How sad is that? LOL.

So in the past week I have gone from feeling resentful, frustrated, and overwhelmed...to feeling miserably sick, resentful, frustrated, and overwhelmed. Not a move I wanted to make. Kind of makes me afraid of where I'm headed next week, know what I mean?

Friday, August 19, 2005

Just stuff

It's been so long since I've been home, I feel weird about jumping into my blog world again. So much to say and share!

I flew home last Friday morning (home being northeastern Ohio) to attend my cousin Janine's wedding. Janine is dear to my heart because I babysat her and her brother quite a bit during my senior year of high school, when she was three years old and I was 18. Their parents worked second shift at GM, so I would go over after school, stay all evening, spend the night, and get up and go off to school the next morning. I did this two or three days a week from Ocotber to May. Janine and her brother are a big part of the reason I don't have kids today...it was a major dose of reality to take care of a three-year-old and four-year-old at that age!

But I loved them and still do, and it was a joy to see Janine marry her special guy on Saturday. Here they are looking very happy! They looked happy and relaxed all day, and seemed to have fun, which was good to see--some couples are so stressed out when the wedding finally rolls around!

My niece Kylie was the flower girl and took her duties very seriously, although she and the ringbearer were slightly confused as to exactly which aisle to go down and where to stand. There was a lot of wandering up and down the aisle during the ceremony. Kylie wore a dress that my mom sewed for her, and she looked like the world's prettiest girl. Here she is blowing bubbles as we stood outside and waited for the couple.

My nephew Tanner was very interested in the proceedings, too, althoug it was hard to sit still for the whole ceremony. He looked very handsome.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Stopping for a breath

This has been a crazy week, but I'm finally ready to start packing for my trip to Ohio. Woo hoo! I'm flying out tomorrow morning. Heading home for my cousin Janine's wedding and a few days' visit.

Taught the altered clipboard make-and-take one last time Wednesday night, to six people, so that brings the total to 22 students for three make-and-takes. Not bad at all! I'll be plunging right back into a full day at work and another make-and-take the day after I get back next week.

That's all for now...I have to pack and get things together and then collapse for a little while. Later!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Is it Monday? Whatever.

It was a little steamy here today...I stepped outside when I got home from work to take a few pictures of the crepe myrtle bushes on the street, and the camera viewfinder fogged right up. I think it's kind of cool-looking, though.

From the Ask-A-Stupid-Question Department: a woman called the store yesterday afternoon from her car, trying to find the store: "I'm at the intersection of Route 17 and Victory. Which way do I go?"

Um. As I am not in your car, I would have a hard time answering that question, since there are at least three possible choices. Which direction are you headed in?

"Uhhh...I don't know."

I'm sorry, I just don't get how a person can drive around in their daily life and not have a clue at any given moment which direction they're headed in. Now, if you picked me up and plunked me down in say, downtown Manhattan with no reference points, then, yes, I would be hard-pressed to know which direction I was headed in. (At least until I bought a map, which would be my first stop.) But in my own hometown?

Me: "Okayyy...well, you need to head south on Route 17--"

Her: "I don't know which way is south."

We had to break it down to landmarks and it took forever! "Is Wal-Mart behind you or in front of you? Is it on your right or your left?"


It would be so incredibly disorienting to never know what direction you were going, or whether a particular road runs north-south or east-west. I know people (well, mostly women) who live this way--my mother and sister are two of them--but sheesh, it must be hard!

Thus endeth my superiority trip. I may not have many talents in life, but by God I can read a map and retain the information! Pat, pat, pat on my own back.

Found a dress to wear to Janine's wedding today, plus jewelry, plus slenderizing undies to {hopefully} smooth out the lumps and bumps. What a relief to get that done. I actually knocked quite a few things off my to-do list this morning. More pats on the back for me!

I have not had a single day off work since Saturday, July 23. Now, I'm not working 8 hours each day, but still. Friday, when I leave for Ohio, will be my first day off in three weeks. I can't wait for Karen's husband to get back so he can be with their kids and I can stop working every freaking day! Days of the week have become meaningless. Monday? Friday? Saturday? Okay, I'll just take your word for it.

It's not so bad, but I'm finding myself getting more and more impatient with people and their stupid questions. So if you come in the store this week, just keep your trap shut!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Thanks, Peter.

It's very late and I just heard online that Peter Jennings has passed away. I saw his broadcast the night he left ABC World News Tonight, and I certainly never dreamed that his battle with cancer would be so short.

For many years, Peter Jennings was my "go-to" guy for the news, especially before we had cable and 24-hour-CNN. And even after CNN took over my life, I still faithfully turned to ABC to see what Peter had to say. And I bought and pored over his "The Century" book a few years ago...Jeremy and I listened to the tapes on our road trip a year ago. He was my favorite of the "big three anchors"--so urbane and well-spoken, so careful and intelligent. I liked that he was unapologetically Canadian, and that sometimes you could see that part of him peeking through his comments...a hint of skepticism at the wacky Americans and their doings.

I don't watch the news as much as I used to. In fact, in the past four or five years, I've been living in an increasing state of denial about our country and the world...sort of the equivalent of sticking my fingers in my ears and singing "lalalala!" The news is bad, and the quality of news reporting is so much worse than it ever was. And now with Peter Jennings gone, one of the last old-time, reliable, intelligent voices is gone, too. TV news is all the worse for it.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Gimme some cheese with that.

It's late and I should be in bed, or at least on the way there. Oh well. "Should" is not a word I've ever cozied up to.

I taught the first make-and-take of our new schedule tonight--showed seven people how to make an altered clipboard over the course of an hour and a half. Seven people! I was amazed that many people showed up. I'm hoping this is a good omen--that classes and make-and-takes are what people are wanting and that we can meet that need and get some warm bodies in the store. Preferably warm bodies with heavy purses!

Saturday should be interesting--I blocked out 10 am to 2pm as the make-and-take period, and I'm wondering/fearing/hoping that we'll be inundated, if this many people came on a weeknight. Having lots of people is good, of course, but oy! is it stressful for me to be "on" like that. Trying to keep everyone on track, explaining the steps over and over (since make-and-takes are come when you want, rather than scheduled times like classes) (although even with classes, you have to explain over and over, LOL), making sure everyone has everything they need and the supplies are where they need to be, explaining clearly and shifting gears a million times and remaining positive and enthusiastic, even with the needy, whiny students...these are not talents that come naturally to me.

I particularly have no patience with the needy, whiny ones. Oh, I pretend I do, and I do a heck of a good job of it. But inside I am rolling my eyes to high heaven.

{rant deleted}--too many people out there who could stumble across it. Plus, it's too late at night for me to be coherent. I'm not excited about teaching...I don't want to do it, but the situation demands it. We need to offer this for the store's sake, and for once in my life, I'm the person with the necessary skills. Kind of a nice feeling, but--ugh. Creating, planning and teaching classes is really far down on the list of areas I want to devote precious brain space to right now.

Hm. Don't know if I'm being needy, but I am definitely being whiny. Go ahead, you can roll your eyes at me. I don't mind!

Monday, August 01, 2005

Good stuff

Some good stuff that happened today:

--I took a leisurely drive up to Williamsburg along the river and through the woods.
--I had a delicious lunch and spent an hour shopping for rubber stamps.
--At work, Karen told me how much she appreciates me and the work I do, and Denise said that they call my work "the beautiful mind of Janelle." Unbelievably nice!
--My friend Cheryl stopped by with some Target Dollar Spot treats for me: mini clothespins, mini binder clips, and mini paper clips.
--Only three hours of work today, and the customers were all sweet.
--The sky was full of big poofy white clouds this afternoon.
--A box of Therm O Web stuff was waiting at home for me to play with.
--I had a nice little phone chat with my mom and an even littler chat with my niece Kylie. She's got this gravelly voice that cracks me up.

Life isn't perfect, but it's good.

Book talk: I picked up an old copy of Nicholas and Alexandra at the used bookstore a few weeks ago and finished it last night. I've never had a paperback literally fall apart in my hands as I was reading it, but this did--it ended up in three pieces at the end, as well as a few loose pages. It was awfully old!

But what an amazing book. It read like fiction--each character sprang to life, and the story was so compelling. I think the thing I found most interesting was that Nicholas II was such a good man--he loved his wife and his children so much, loved his country intensely, loved God and strived so hard to do the very best he could, to be fair and honest and just...and that was probably the very worst kind of person to be ruling Russia at that time. It's amazing and frightening to think of how much a country depends on the characteristics of its leader meshing perfectly with the circumstances of each particular crisis. Churchill in England. Roosevelt in the U.S. (althoug I know some conservatives who would say that Roosevelt was a disaster--sorry, I don't buy it.) And on the flip side, Hitler in Germany. Lenin and Stalin in Russia.

Makes me wonder about George W. Bush. Will we look back and see that he was the perfect person to guide us through the terrorist crisis that exploded upon us on September 11? Or will people look back 100 years from now and shake their heads with pity over the mismatch of his personal characteristics with the era and the crisis? I wish I could see how it all turns out.