A Very Thunderdome Thanksgiving IV

This year was the 4th year that we’ve celebrated Thanksgiving in MLK Jr. Park, or as it’s occasionally referred to, “Everybody deserves to eat day.”

This whole thing started 4 years ago through our friend Thom who basically said, “I’ve finally found myself in a position to do something I’ve always wanted to do which is feed people who need it. Lets all do this and spend Thanksgiving together. Everyone should have a place to eat and people to eat with.”

It wasn’t (and isn’t) just about feeding the homeless (although we certainly do), but also about giving people who might not have family in town, or might not have family at all, a place to go and people to spend time with. We all agreed it was a great idea and he’s been at the lead ever since.

This year was the biggest to date. I counted what we had left, and of the 100 plates we started with, there are now 12. That’s 88 meals served. Of course by the end we were down to tea, water, biscuits and pie, but we loaded people up on food in any fashion we could. Our goal is always to run out of food and we did – in record time. That’s both amazing and scary. We’re going to have to keep growing this to keep up with what we want to do, which is always serve more people. Thank you to everyone who helped us this year. Also know that if you’re reading this, around the first week of October 2010, we’re coming after you to ask you to contribute to the cause again, or for the first time. Thanks in advance 🙂

Not to mention this year we also had a football to toss around, and I got to introduce people to the fun that is the Foxtail.

So this year… What am I thankful for?
I’m thankful I’m employed again.
I’m thankful that Meg is healthy and the pregnancy is progressing so well.
I’m thankful for a happy, healthy, loving (and growing) family.
I’m thankful that I have so many close, kind and giving friends.

I hope your Thanksgiving was as fun and rewarding as ours was.

For more, see my flickr stream: GOBBLE GOBBLE GOBBLE



Hey neat.. I’m published. (sort of!)

So in May of 2009 I was contacted on Flickr by a woman named Stefanie. She claimed to be the editor for a guidebook publisher called Museyon, and she was asking permission to use this photograph in a blurb about Calicounty and Merle Haggard. She claimed they were a new company and their print runs were small and they had no budget for photography. And of course, what’s a guidebook without photographs? Boring, that’s what and I couldn’t let that happen! I was, of course, skeptical of her claims, but certainly amenable to her request. Usually people just steal from your flickr streams, and here was someone actually contacting me about one of my photos. I admit I was excited, even if nothing ever really came of it.

But then, this wasn’t the first time someone had asked to use one of my photos. I took a rather poor photo of Sombrero Key Lighthouse in 2006 that is still used on this page of lighthouses (scroll down to Sombrero Key). So I knew that sometimes these requests are legit, and you gain +2 Internet cred and a little exposure. (It also makes me wonder what lighthouse enthusiasts think when they follow that link and eventually come across me and my friends drunk in a bar dressed as pirates….)

So anyway, that was May. The book was to be released in September and honestly I kind of forgot about it. Towards the start of November I happened to get a flickr mail and saw the old messages from Stefanie still sitting in there, so I sent her a message asking if their project happened and wishing them well on it. Yes, I wanted my name in print, but more importantly, I wanted to see two things: 1) Did my email actually go anywhere this time, and 2) Did some people who obviously feel passionate about something make their dream a reality? As it turns out, the answer is yes and yes!

Stefanie responded that a copy of the book should ship within the week (wow!) The book was slightly delayed, but it’s published and appears to be the 4th book from Museyon. You can see their website here. The hard-copy of the book retails for $17.95.

And today (well, yesterday really, but I checked the mail today) I received my copy of the book!
Stefanie's note on the front
and this is my little photo: Sorry for the quality. My scanner was on sale.

So yay! Museyon is well on their way to carving out a great little niche for themselves, and amateur (or lucky) photographers like me get to help along the way. How cool is that?

Miss Congeniality

I was patting myself on the back the other day for being such a kind and understanding person. I mean, Travis left his neti pot out on the bathroom counter again and I did not even yell or go ballistic or anything. I mean, sure he has been sick and, I mean, I know that it really helps him but I don’t understand why he does not understand that it FREAKS ME OUT to stare at it all the time. Anyway, the point is, I saw it and I did not cry or freak out or demand that after 2 weeks it be finally removed from the bathroom and safely hidden away so I don’t have to look at it. And I thought, ‘Man, he is one lucky guy to have a gal as kind and understanding as I am’. I did have to scream at him for not putting the bath mat up right. And he still folds towels wrong, we will have a talk about that soon. And sometimes, he has the nerve to not clean the kitchen they way I clean the kitchen. And he still sweeps funny because he sweeps it onto the carpet and then vacuums the whole house. But the point is- boy is he lucky to have a special lady like me to take care of him. Or at least to point out what he is doing wrong.

Anyway, then I found this handy guide below and I thought ‘Oh boy, am I doing things wrong’. I could not find the part where when the guy does 50% of the house work with little to no complaining you still get to not so gently point out all the ways that he is doing it wrong. (I am helping!) Which I thought at first was a typo or obviously I was missing page two of this helpful guide but am starting to think that maybe it is me that is high strung and occasionally unreasonable. Possibly. I am not really willing to commit to that statement.

“The good wife’s guide” This is an actual article from the Housekeeping Monthly Magazine 13 May 1955

Ø Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready, on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospect of a good meal (especially his favorite dish) is part of the warm welcome needed.

Ø Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you’ll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.

Ø Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.

Ø Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives.

Ø Gather up schoolbooks, toys, paper, etc. and then tables.

Ø Over the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering for his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.

Ø Prepare the childrens. Take a few minutes to wash the children’s hands and faces (if they are small), comb their hair and, if necessary, change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part. Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer, or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet.

Ø Be happy to see him.

Ø Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.

Ø Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first-remember his topics of conversation are more important than yours.

Ø Make the evening his. Never complain if he comes home late or goes out to dinner, or other places of entertainment without you. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure and his very real need to be at home and relax.

Ø Your goal: to make sure your home is a place of peace, order, and tranquility where your husband can renew himself.

Ø Don’t greet him with complaints and problems.

Ø Don’t complain if he’s late home for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as a minor compared to what he might have gone through that day.

Ø Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a chair or have him lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.

Ø Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in low, soothing and pleasant voice.

Ø Don’t ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.

Ø A good wife always knows her place.

So, it turns out there is no page two- trust me, I looked. It also turns out that I probably would have been put in jail in the 1950s for a variety of reasons. The point of this post is to read the hilarious suggestions listed above and to laugh. And also for me to say that I am thankful for many things but especially for Travis, who probably would do more for me on this list than I would do for him. But for the record, babycakes, WOMEN CAN PREPARE FIRES IN THE FIREPLACE no matter what you think!! Dang. I forgot to use my low and soothing voice. Sigh. I am just bad at this. Well, I guess I am off to go buy a ribbon…


PS-Baby is short, fat, and fine.

Baby Showers And The Cat Ate My Flowers

As I sit here and eat my breakfast of delicious little ham sammiches it occurs to me I should write a bit about my baby shower yesterday. It was held at Tracey’s house with lots of help with food and set up from Travis’s mom, Heidi and Brooks. And it was fantastic. (And not just because of the little ham sammiches, although that helped.)

There were friends and family and new friends and good food and good times. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and I hope that others did as well. Not to mention we got some fantastic new things for the baby. This was my first shower of any kind so the whole idea was just beyond what I would have imagined. There are pics to a lot of what we got on flickr. (Although not all the clothes- and at the risk of sounding too girly and squealy- we got some really super cute clothes.)

We got a breast pump from Travis’s mom which was super cool. Wait- can I talk about breast pumps or is that too creepy?? Eh, it is character building for those of you who are uncomfortable, I suppose. Quite frankly, I am a little intimidated by it yet and have not really put it together. But I did take it out of the box and check it out. And it is snazzy- That Medela does not mess around. In addition to the pump I also got some accessories and bags so that I do not have to rough it like Tracey and use Ziplocs.

We got a Boppy and a Boppy cover. These are supposed to be very important. We have no kids so we don’t really know but that is what we hear. And we hear a lot. It is cute and purple and I love it. Travis picked out a baby bouncer at Babies R Us for the registry and we also got that. He has already put it together and it is super soft and pretty. We also got gift cards which will be great for later when we realize we forgot to buy something really important like first timers do. Or when we realize that in 2 weeks we have gone through our ridiculously giant stack of diapers that we thought would last us a year and a half.

Both Travis and I are very lucky to have dads who are incredible talented woodworkers. In keeping with family tradition for both of us, our dads have built/are building bassinets for the new grandbaby. Our child will never lack for a place to sleep. This is good- because both her parents love a good nap. We figure we have our bedroom and the living room with the two bassinets. We received the bassinet that Travis’s dad built and it is beautiful. I look forward to filling it with something besides a loud, orange cat.

My Kingdom For a Horse (part 2) – FINALLY

Ok ok… I’ve been slack about posting. I know it. You know it. Let’s move on.

As Meg has said, we purchased a new (to us) vehicle. It was an interesting journey getting to the point that we could actually make this purchase. Let me give you the short version.

We came to realize several weeks back that we were going to hit a deadline with the Taurus Meg’s been driving. That deadline was that we still didn’t have the title to the vehicle, so we couldn’t put it in her name, transfer the tags or put insurance on it, and the insurance that was on it was about to expire. That would leave us with only a truck to travel in, and we work different enough shifts now that to make that work would require a LOT of extra driving or Meg working 10½ hour shifts every day. Neither of these sounded very good to us.

I began looking into equity loans, refinancing options, etc… but was essentially told that CitiMortgage required all loans to be at least $10,000 and they only would loan $5,000 to homeowners in my area. So after a bit of back and forth on how stupid that is, I was sent to the refinancing “expert.” He informed me that it would cost me $6,000 to refinance, and that I would essentially just barely break even and could not cash out anything from my house. He suggested I just keep paying what I’m paying now (at 7.25%). Considering I’ve been paying more than my required mortgage payment for 8 years, this was a pretty big shock to me. But that’s ok. I’ll just drop CitiMortgage in a few months and refinance with someone else. Even if my payments are the same (and they won’t be), the poor customer service they provided me with is reason enough to dump them.

So what to do? Fortunately I moved some money around about a year ago and called my financial advisor, who opened me up to the fabulous world of borrowing on margin. It’s more than I can explain here, but it allowed me to borrow my own money, from myself, and pay myself back, cutting out the need for a bank approval at all. It’s not an option for everyone, but I’m very lucky to find myself in a position where it’s an option for me.

So money was secured. Now onto the “find a car” bit. Here’s where things have been complicated for me.

1) I wanted something I could move a family in. Meg, the baby and I all have to fit, with enough room for the baby accoutrements, and in the future, a dog. So it needs to be spacious with room to grow.

2) I also wanted to find a car that got good gas mileage. Aside from the just good financial sense it makes, I feel I’m going to have an inquisitive child growing up in an increasingly globally and socially conscious world, and I need to set as many good examples as I can. Will she ever notice my MPG or question what it is, or if I did anything back in my day to attempt to reduce my dependence on foreign oil? Probably not. But if she does, I wanted to have answer. Plus, again, financially it just makes sense.

3) Lastly, if at all possible, I wanted to find a car from a company that didn’t take bailout money. I was against the idea when Bush pushed for it, against the idea when Obama pushed for it, and I will forever remain firmly against the decision and every person who voted for it. Of course I knew I might simply have to let this one go, purely based on what I could afford, and knowing that vehicle size and fuel economy are more important than my opinions on the role of government.
So I search and search for cars. I narrow it down to a few ideal vehicles, a few “wishlist” vehicles and a few “only if there’s no other option” vehicles. Meg and I discuss payment schedules, rework our budget (for like the 20th time this year), and everything’s set.

This post has gone on far too long, so I’ll spare you the rest of the story. Needless to say, we found an AMAZING deal on a 2007 Ford Escape Hybrid, which was on the wishlist. It fulfills everything I was looking for: we’re averaging 32/34 MPG in an SUV, it has all the room we need and room to grow, and Ford didn’t take bailout money. It looks good, has a decent stereo, 4-wheel disc brakes, only requires an oil change every 10,000 miles, has child safety locks, rides smooth, and sits comfortably. I’m amazingly happy with it.

I named her Serenity.

“I’m a leaf on the wind. Watch how I soar.”