Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Nightmare in Arkansas (insert scary music riff)

Today I encountered one of the creepiest things I've ever seen. Yes, this is a life-size dummy.
Wearing a hog snout.
And its head moves side to side.
Apparently in Ozark this is not the beginning to a horror flick, its advertising.

Dante the Dark Gray Impala and I were trekking home from a whirlwind trip (almost literally!) to Springdale, in the NW corner of Arkansas. We left yesterday when it was 70ish, and made it to the hotel just as the storm band hit, though thankfully only with buckets of rain instead of tornadoes. I just about lost my fingertips to frostbite while filling up the tank today.

The trip itself went well. I learned a little something about manufacturing construction goods, stood on a roof, saw a lot of sprinkler placards--which is always exciting for a property person--and had some great conversations.  But, Dante and I both were ready to cross the 430 bridge and park. If by some chance I had forgotten this, my stop in Ozark for a water would have reminded me. There's nothing like nearly having heart attack in a gas station to make you long for the familiar. Needless to say, Dante and I didn't linger.

At home, I opened the door to find two indifferent felines, the same pile of laundry I left behind yesterday, and a fridge full of food I would have to make for myself.

And I was so grateful. Those are my indifferent felines. All that laundry fits me. That is the random collection of food I bought, and I can combine it in any weird way I want. And not a dummy or pig snout anywhere, praise Jesus.

Yeah, it's good to be home.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Aw, yeah.

As much as I love me some adjectives, verbs, and yes, even adverbs, no two sweeter words have I ever typed.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A rose by any other name...

Shakespeare (via Juliet) asked, "what's in a name?"

Well, Willy, quite a lot I think. I have to side with Anne Shirley on this one.  The year I was born, more little girls in the US were named Jennifer, than any other name. These are the girls who spent their elementary being Jennifer A. and Jennifer L., or getting numbered.  Some of them probably switched to Jen, or Jenni to avoid the last initial.

That same year, the 500th most popular name was Tiffanie, yes with an i, and the 1000th most popular name was Rhenita.  More girls were named Thelma, Tabitha, and even Cristen, than Rhenita.

Rhenita and Jennifer had different experiences, I think. For instance, no one called Rhenita Rhen, just to tell her apart. She had no question of her uniqueness, which in middle school was a curse, but before and after was a gift. She probably got teased some in elementary, and then in college the boys told her how beautiful her name was when they wanted to hit on her.

Jen/Jenni/Jennifer didn't get teased. If anyone took on a Jennifer, they could all form a pack and take out the offender. She whipped around a half dozen times an hour when someone called her name, and it wasn't actually her they were talking to. That was never a big deal unless it was that one cute guy that she always wished would speak her name and actually want her attention.  No matter what permutation of her name she chose, everyone felt they had the right to change it and call her whatever they liked best, so she ended up loving and using the weird nickname that ended the confusion. J-Dog, or JJ or her last name if it was a good one.

Kimberly falls somewhere in the middle. 14th to be exact. Despite the high ranking, I didn't run into many others growing up. I think it was much more popular in the South than the North. It didn't rank so high that I was a number, nor so low that people felt it was sacred, but in that middle place where you're name is open for tampering. Growing up I was Kim. I think I was a tween before I realized I really like those last two syllables, and started officially going by Kimberly. It took the family a while to adjust. Some of them still are. But for the most part, aside from the occasional weird nickname, I've managed to go by Kimberly.

Until recently. At work a few people started calling me Kim. I don't want to be one of those people who gets crazy eyes over a mispronounced name, so I let it go. I mean, I introduce myself as Kimberly, I sign all my emails with my full name (sometimes twice if replying to a Kim email), and I answer the phone with the whole enchilada.

And yet, those certain few continue to lop off over half the letters and call me Kim.  Some day I'll find a  diplomatic way to address it. Or I'll get crazy eyes, I'm not sure. But in the meantime, I'm grateful for my name. I'm glad I'm not a Jennifer, or Tiffanie, or even Rhenita though I'm sure they're all great people. But it's just not me. I'm glad I'm not Kim despite what some colleagues think. I'm Kimberly.

So, here's to names both popular and not so much. What's in a name? Quite a lot.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


We all have a morning routine. Mine includes makeup time in front of the bathroom mirror. I don't particularly enjoy this, except the eyeshadow part. Jellybean, on the other hand, does.  He climbs onto the top of the toilet tank and watches with that single-minded focus of a cat on the prowl. It's not so much me he's watching, since the most interesting thing would be the facial contortions of mascara application. No, he's watching the Q-tips.  

I am an admittedly poor at eyeliner.   So, it takes me a couple tries and a few Q-tips to get my eyes to match.  Jellybean loves Q-tips. I don't know why. But while I'm fixing, he's staring. Sometimes he gets over eager and steps on the counter and I have to push him back.  Occasionally he'll come around to the front and paw blindly at the surface to see if he can find it and pull it down. He's actually pretty good at that.

Here's the thing. Eyeliner Q-tips are gross. I have bought the boys catnip toys, jingle balls, feathers-on-a-stick-thingies, and even a kitty kong.  All of them end up strewn around the apartment, with the exception of the fuzzballs, which Buckley hides in my shoes. But the Q-tips are mesmerizing. If I find one Jellybean's gotten and set down somewhere, and through it away, he'll go try and figure out how to get the trash lid up so he can save it.

As much as I dislike my cat's penchant for used cotton, I can't get mad at him. I see myself do the same thing. Not literally, but God has given me so many gifts, and sometimes I catch myself chasing things that are the spiritual equivalent of secondhand Q-tips. 

Success. I want to be great and be able to point at achievements and show that I am, when I can have this journey made up of days hiking with God, some arduous of course, but overall they add up to a lot more than the praise of man. 

Justification. I want everyone to know when I've been wronged, when I can have the peace of knowing God is just and merciful and will fight my battles for me. 

Materialism. I want the most Q-tips when I could have the joy and contentment of God. 

I can get so busy hoarding Q-tips that I miss all the glories of a lavish God. Fortunately, he keeps giving, and the more time I'm with him, the less appealing this worldly waste becomes.

Jellybean doesn't agree, but he's a cat.

Thank you, Lord, for your incredible plenty and that even when I lose sight of the gift of just YOU, you never lose sight of me. You call me higher, deeper, and to a greater experience of the beauty of knowing you.  I don't want to spend myself on the cheap things. Draw my eyes up always. All my love.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Let me count the ways.

Some people show love with poems, some with songs. Others show love in chocolates or notes or compliments.  And some people show love with mangoes and avocados.

My grandparents fall into this last category.  As the only vegan they know (pronounced vaygan, as in rhymes with pagan) they're never really sure what to do about food when I visit.  At first my grandpa would stock up on things like broccoli and strawberries and spinach, and his garden-fresh asparagus.  I ate the strawberries and asparagus. And then the next time I came there were a few avocados which I shamelessly monopolized, and then a mango showed up.

Now every time I come there are avocados, mangoes, and usually a Starbucks mug waiting. It always makes me go, "awww," inside, and through what turned out to be a very trying week, it was nice to have the simple reminders that there are people who love me.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Did reading that make you yawn for real? Me too.

Wow, this week has gotten away from me. And not because I've been sitting on so many cushions downing bonbons and champagne. Hence, I'll keep this short.

Today I'm grateful for my iphone and the smug little alarm that is going to wake me up way too soon.

No picture tonight because my gaping mouth will not brighten anyone's day.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Flea Circus

Do you ever start a day running ahead of schedule? It's rare, I know, but this was one of those days. In fact, I figured since I would have a few minutes to spare, to get one thing checked off my to-do list while I got ready, and I'd be that much further ahead.

Famous last words, eh?

So there I am, half-dressed, and I pull out the flea and tick control for the boys. They'd been scratching at their necks for a while and were due.  Jellybean was conveniently wedged inside a shopping bag, so it wasn't difficult to corner him first. Unfortunately, as I mentioned, it has been a while since we last did this. So that whole part about putting it right behind their neck drifted out of my mind, and I put it a little lower, just above his shoulder blades. About four seconds later I was reminded of why this is not okay, when I had a cat tearing around the apartment in a panic and drooling. Which meant I was tearing around the apartment in a panic, trying to catch him so I could figure out how to make him stop drooling. Buckley had the good sense to hide under the bed out of my reach.

When I finally caught up with Jellybean I tried to get him to drink water. This did not work. So then I just held him and soothed while googling what to do if your cat licks the flea treatment.  The answers ranged from, "nothing, but expect seizures for the rest of it's life," to, "the cat will be fine, but you might want to bathe it to remove the misplaced flea-icide."

Since Jellybean had calmed considerably, and was in fact purring instead of drooling, I gave up the notion of performing kitty mouth-to-mouth, and split the difference. He got a bandanna as a cape to cover the medicated area, and I carted him with me from room to room in case the seizure person was right and I had to resuscitate after all.

Well, by the time I left, he'd drunk a good bit of water, hadn't licked anymore medicine off, and had yet to so much as twitch. So, I cornered Buckley and applied his medicine in the right place (after which he hid under the bed again...not that I blame him, I wanted kind of wanted to too), put Jellybean's harness on to hold the bandanna in place while I was gone, and then prayed my way through a long work day.

I am happy to report both cats are in good spirits and good health tonight.  For that alone I am thankful. But the whole thing, from itching their necks with their back feet, to getting squirted with a medicine so repellent it makes one cower under beds, to tasting that medicine and drooling like an animated villain made me super glad that people don't get fleas.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Little Things

Today was a long day at work. Don't get me wrong, it was a good day, but just long.
I got home and here I sit on the couch, debating if I'm hungry enough to stand up and cross all twenty feet to the kitchen, and then put something together, or if I'd rather just stay put and ignore the occasional tummy rumble. Unfortunately, since it's been a long day, this simple question was taking more effort  to answer than I could handle. 

Then, as if in answer to prayer, I saw grapes. They are easy, tasty, and if you eat enough of them, filling.  

Sometimes it's the littlest things that I'm most thankful for. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Happy Feet

I know the good ol' days had a lot to boast, but I am glad that footwear science has come a long way since canvas sneakers (and that we don't have to walk uphill both ways through the snow anymore.)

I wonder why they're called sneakers? If you really want to sneak, Nikes, or even Converse, probably aren't your best option. I'd go with something that has a soft sole, like ballet shoes, or slippers.  For that matter, tennis shoe is only accurate when you buy the kinds for tennis.

These days, you don't just buy sneakers or tennies or whatever else you'd call 'em. Now you buy cross-trainers, trail runners, (insert ball of choice here) shoes, hiking shoes, walking shoes, track and field shoes, and of course the classic running shoes. And within running shoes there's a world of options in style, color, and brand.

I signed up for the Little Rock half marathon in March. So, on January 1 I figured I should start running again. The only problem was I couldn't find my shoes. After searching my closet three times in case they decided to magically appear, I realized I left them in OKC.

At Thanksgiving.

So, I went to the running store and the nice man helped me pick out some new kicks. (Again, who kicks things? What things are we to kick?) I admit that this is my first time paying retail for athletic...well, anything. But let me tell you, its worth it. When sister hasn't run for two months and has two months to get ready for 13.1 miles, every ounce counts. Unfortunately my gym frowns on running naked. So I'm grateful for my fancy new shoes that are engineered to be uber light and still support my feet.

I have no moral parallel today, just feet that don't hate me after three miles on the treadmill.

Friday, January 4, 2013


I've been cooking a lot this week, which means there's been a pile of dishes in my sink that grows and subsides day by day, depending on how late I'm running and how much I can cram in the dishwasher on my way out the door.  Right now its roughly the size of, oh, Mt. Kilimanjaro's older, meaner, brother.

I do not love washing dishes. Or getting prune fingers from the water. Which is why I'm grateful for my dishwasher, even it does leave the occasional spot on a wine glass.

Wouldn't it be nice if there was a people-washer? Yes, I have a shower and I know how to use it. But I mean like, heart stuff.  Jesus is the ultimate heart-washer, but rarely do I get to learn a lesson in 45 minutes.  Mostly we meander a long, double back a few times, stumble, stop to sit on a rock and rest, then trudge on before we reach whatever insight he has in mind. He definitely has to hand wash me and his fingers get all pruney.  How cool would it be to have a question, concern or shortfall, and you pray and push the start button and blammo. Instant growth!

We've all heard the analogy of caterpillars and butterflies and how the journey gives us time to grow wings. Whenever I hear that I mentally roll my eyes. Not because I think its untrue, but because it probably is.  I imagine too, the delight I get from a new insight is much richer than it would be if it were easy.  And in a way, the time is part of a gift back to the one who invented, supplied, and led me to that moment.  Time with God, even if its not sunshine and roses, is still precious to us both.

So maybe its okay that there's not a heartwasher. But I'm still glad I don't have to hand wash my dishes.

Okay, that's all I got. It was a long short-week at work and this girl is wiped.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


My family has a number of holiday traditions. Not the normal ones like hiding elves around the house or eating black-eyed peas on New Year's.  At Christmas we have this old cheese gift box my dad got once, and whoever gets to it first wraps a gift in the cheese box.  It's always a thrill to be the giver of the box, and also to get it, and it leads to the requisite cheese-related cheesy jokes (it was just sitting there waiting, I couldn't help it!) I'm not entirely sure why, but it's fun.

I do not have a picture of a rose, so
these are lovely tropical flowers
from Cambodia. I do not know
what they're called, so I am going
 to nick-name them Lemon Drops
until someone who knows
better informs me.
For New Year's, we would get up and watch the Rose Parade and pick our favorite floats. One year we were in California over the holiday and we got to go walk around the floats after the parade. You know how some things are cool on TV and kind of lame up close?  The Rose Parade floats do not fall into that category. They are exquisite.  I recommend going to anyone. Unless you have hay fever.

The sheer number of textures and colors and shapes of the flora on one float is overwhelming. There are people who work year-round to design the floats, build the structures, and plan the floral layout. Then, teams of volunteers work around the clock for a few days making it happen, and voila. A parade is born.

And then an hour later, its over. The floats are on display for a few days, but the flowers won't last.  Oddly, this isn't depressing to me. I find it kind of fundamental, that the labor, the time, the money and yes, the flowers, are poured into an art piece that has an expiration date.  The point is not functionality. It is not efficiency. It is just beauty. (Okay, probably marketing too, but that isn't nearly as touching).

The Rose Parade has been held since 1888.  Before Christmas lights, there were roses.  So, obviously, I'm not the only one who feels the magic of nature combined with creativity to form something more special than any purely man made construct.

I think life is like that. We are made to achieve. To be creative. To do new things, push ourselves, grow. But anything that is just me-made is less than it could be if I go to the Creator and let him cover it in his flowers.

Oh Maker of irises, lemon drops, ferns, and yes, roses, this year is young. It only just started, and there is so much I want to do. But I do not want to do it alone or even on my own blueprints.  Direct my plans. Help me to grow and develop. Cover this year in your flowers.  All my love.