HUNTSVILLE, ALABAMA

This weekend I went to the Ministry Conference in Decatur, Alabama (by Huntsville). I traveled with Arlene, a co-worker, whom I didn’t know too well until this weekend – so that was a lot of fun getting to know her.

We flew down on Friday and headed for our motel and then the church – Westmeade Baptist.

110_0555 Usually, Friday night is when you set up your room, but since I was in the “Upper Room” (the church’s name for it) and breakfast would be served in the room the next morning, I couldn’t really do anything to set up, so I wandered around a bit, talking to people and getting acclimat

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ed to where everything was. Although I did not know the missionaries real well (actually, I hadn’t met them ever before) – I did know some of the other people who were there, so it was great catching up on the news. So, after a on-site pizza supper, Arlene and I walked back to the motel.

The missionaries had worked hard to publicize the conference, having someone call every church in the area and personally invite them. This is the way the church looked about a half hour before the first session – by the time the first session began, the church was full.

Saturday morning everyone came to my room and ate breakfast – which meant I had some quick setting up to do after they left. The breakfast had been served by (I’m guessing) a senior-citizen group at the church – all very sweet, very impeccably-dressed Southern ladies. (Imagine a room full of Paula Deens.) So, as I’m moving tables and chairs, they would come and more them somewhere else.

“No!” I said, as gently as I could. “I need to set up for my workshop.”  This went on for about twenty minutes. Me moving and them removing – until they finally realized that I actually had a class in there. Then we finally started working together – and their husbands showed up and it all started again. I was laughing so hard – I felt like I was trapped in a sitcom.  But we did get the room set up.

My four workshops went well.  A lot of people stopped to chat afterwards, so I felt like a personally met a lot of leaders and I enjoyed listened to their concerns and comments.

After a pasta supper Merlin and Bev, two “old” friends drove Arlene and me over to Huntsville so she could at least see the outside of the Space and Rocket Center. The last time we were in Huntsville Ken was with me and these same great friends arranged for us to get a personal tour through the center by a man who is a NASA engineer and had worked on the original moon rocket.

The evening was beautiful and walking around the grounds was fun.

Here are some pictures –

THE WEEK

BARGAIN OF THE WEEK

I had this purse/bag that was ugly but was great for planes – it had enough room for a file folder, a book to read, my iPod, Nintendo DS, camera, plus wallet,  Dramimine and all the other stuff I needed – then on my last trip the strap broke.

So I decided it would be a good idea to get something else that would work. I stopped at Kohls on the way home from work the other night and went through their purses/bags and found one that worked (big and ugly like the other one). But it was $48.00 and I didn’t want to pay that much for something useful, but ugly. I did some other shopping and came back. Lots of the other purses were on sale – but not that one.  Yet, I decided to take it up to the counter and check. Unbelievably, it was $4.80!!!!!! Even the clerk was surprised. Yeah, really.  Needless to say, I bought it.

CRIME OF THE WEEK

I got this official-looking letter in the mail yesterday. Well, actually, Ken got it. Yes, it was addressed to him with a forboding message that if anyone tampered with it before the addressee opened you would be fined $2000 or get 10 years in prison – or both.

So, you’ll all have to come visit me and/or, feel free to contribute to the cost of my threatened fine.

Actually, it was an ad that promised to reduce his credit payments by half.

NEW WORDS IN OUR 2009 WORLD

To keep you up-to-date – here are some new words added to the dictionary in 2009.

1. STAYCATION – a vacation spent at home or in your hometown

2. FRENEMY – someone acts like a friend but is really an enemy.

3. FAN FICTION – stories written by fans and posted on the Internet (these are usually continuing episodes of popular shows)

4. LOCAVORE – someone who eats food only grown locally

5. VLOG – a blog with video

6. SOCK PUPPET – a deceptive, false online identity

7. WEBISODE – an episode of a TV show that you can see on the internet

8. PHARMACOGENICS – the study of how different people react differently to the same drugs

I MUST REMEMBER WHO I’M DEALING WITH …

DSC_0016About two months ago, a guy at work needed a ride home and since he lives in the same general area I do, asked if I could drop him off.

As we were walking to my car, he pointed at my license plate and said, “You know, if you don’t get that license plate replaced, you’ll be fined.”

I looked at my license plate which is bubbly and rusty and I said, “How do you know that?”

“You didn’t get the letter?”

I indeed, did NOT get a letter about a rusty and bubbly license plate.

And in my usually chaotic go-to-work-come-home-and-mow-the-lawn priority list, worrying about my rusty and bubbly license plate was nowhere near my top twenty things to do.

So, I ignored it.

But then several weeks ago I heard a talk show host discussing it and saying that people with bubbly and rusty license plates needed to get a replacement (free) before they get fined.

So I put it on my “to do” list, but wasn’t all that motivated “to do” it.

But one day I decided I needed to check it out.  I hunted around on the web until I found something about it and then followed a link to a form that asked me some questions – clicked and waited.

I have now received an official answer – a letter from Jesse White. Free license replacements are only for those who have bubbly and rusty license plates and therefore were manufactured before March of 2004.  And if I have damaged my license plate in another way, I can just take myself down to the local license place and pay $30.00.

Excuse me?  I did not do something that made my plate rusty and bubbly. Seriously. I don’t even know HOW to do that.

So, now what?  Call and argue? Put the letter in my glove compartment. Wait to get fined?

Actually, writing this blog post just gave me a brilliant idea. If I could figure out what the first sticker was on my plates, I could tell when I got the license.

Which of course, I couldn’t because I can’t take the other stickers off – however, I still have Ken’s plate and we got the Vanity Plates at the same time!  So I ran down and checked it out and we indeed, got the license plates in the spring of ’04.

So there, Mr. Jesse White!!! I was right.  But now this just means more wasted time on rusty and bubbly license plates.

AAAUUUUUGGGGHHHHH!

A NEW RULE

DSC_0030Everyone is making rules.

Silly rules.

Crazy rules.

Senseless rules.

Like just this week an amusement park in the U.K. decided that you could no longer raise your arms in the park – like when you’re riding on the roller coaster – because of body odor. Seriously. I am not making this up.

So, the 9yo munchkin and I decided we were making up our own rules. IMPORTANT RULES. That people should follow.

This is the history of our first rule:

We were riding the road and I was talking and the munchkin suddenly said, “Look! A rainbow!”

But then she added, “I’m sorry I interrupted, but I wanted you to see it.”

So – this is our rule

YOU SHOULD NOT INTERRUPT SOMEONE UNLESS YOU SEE A RAINBOW AND YOU WANT THE PERSON YOU’RE WITH TO SEE THE RAINBOW, TOO.

R.B. AND ME

DSC_0925So, R.B. the fearless dog was due for his yearly visit, so last night I headed to the vet along with my 9yo munchkin assistant.

As we were sitting in the little room waiting for the vet, we checked out the rack of dog-type brochures.

Your Dog and Arthritis

Your Dog and Eye Care

Your Dog and Dental Care (now, tell me, did any of you have dogs growing up? How often did YOUR parents take their dogs to the doggie dentist?)

Your Dog and Salmon Poisoning (for dogs who eat sushi, I guess.)

But then we found a brochure that simply gave some dog statistics. For instance, did you know that 49% of people sing to their dogs?

And then there was THIS statistic: 50% of dogs take on the personality of their owners.

I started to laugh but my 9yo munchkin assistant looked thoughtful.

“That’s true of R.B,” she said seriously

Hmmm …

“That’s true of R.B.??????  How is R.B. like me?”

“Well,” she said, “You’re both calm and you both give me kisses.”

How could I argue with that?

CANTIGNY RAINSTORM

DSC_0475This past weekend a friend (my former pre-school coworker – FPSC) came to visit and being the wanting-my-guest-to-have-a-good-time hostess, I planned our itinerary with great care.

Saturday happened with a few glitches, but still worked well.

Sunday’s plan included church (check), lunch with my mom (check) and a visit to Cantigny for their French Connection Event – this included a French Market (which mostly was Wheaton’s Saturday French Market, transferred down the road to Cantigny) — and a concert by the Air Force band.

Sounded good. We saw the dark clouds hovering overhead, but decided to continue with the plan.

Unique happening #1. We were meandering down the row of tents, looking at the jewelry, kids’ clothes and tubes of cream that promise fantastic results, when we saw a tent crowded with used books – neatly organized in children’s, historical and general sections. The tent was about 8×8 with only about 4×4 space for someone to stand – which would’ve been fine except the space was already crowded with two booksellers and a lady with a quite large stroller holding a happy baby. However, since both FPSC and I like books, this seemed to be the place to stop. I found a book I wanted (a gift for someone whom I will not mention) and was in the process of paying when the rain began with a vengence. Although some of the booths (we later discovered) continued to have people walking in and out, the booksellers immediately closed up the tent as tightly as possible. (Pottery is a good thing to sell in an open air market. Rare books are not.) I understand about closing the tent – but the two booksellers, FPSC and lady with the stroller holding Happy Baby were still inside. The clouds then exploded even more and there was no way the booksellers were going to open the tent to even let us out.

Which was fine because we weren’t particularly interested in getting wet either.

I paid for my book and we jockeyed for a place to stand in the 4×4 space. (Think elevator)  Then one of the booksellers started to talk to the lady with the stroller about the baby in the stroller.

At which point we learned.

1. She met her husband online (she was Russian, he was American).

DSC_00072. He came to Moscow and spent eight days where they had a wonderful, surreal adventure visiting Red Square, the museums, the restaurants.

3. Then they got married.

(Meanwhile, bookseller #2 was frantically picking up books and putting them back on the table as quickly as Happy Baby pulled them off – but oblivious lady kept talking.)

4. She had learned English in school, but British English, so came here knowing nothing.

5. She was a journalist, but here she stayed at home and wouldn’t even watch TV because she didn’t understand anything.

6. Now she has a baby and you can’t do anything when you have a baby, so she’s stuck.

7. She would like to go back to Russia.

And it went on …

As she talked I realized that I was in a never-again-in-my-life situation – trapped in an 8×8 tent with FPSC, two booksellers, a baby, a couple hundred books – and a lady from Russia pouring out her heart.

Not the planned Air Force Band, but still … um … rather fascinating.

DSC_0003Finally the rain dwindled to a drizzle and we ventured out into the aisleway, leaving the lady with the story behind.  FPSC was able to get some delicious-looking cinnamon bread for half price because the plastic bags holding the bread were wet, so that was good.

We headed for the gardens, just as the clouds opened enough for  a tiny sliver of sun to get through and I was able to get some pictures (seen on this page.) DSC_0006

DSC_0022But skies darkened again and we decided we’d better hurry back to the visitor’s center – which we did – just in time.

Once again, rain dumped from the sky and people huddled under the overhang waiting for an opportunity to run for their cars. (The Air Force Band had decided to fly away, alas, no music.)

Even after fifteen minutes, the rain didn’t lessen but seemed to be coming down with even greater torrential force. So we decided to go back inside and find a place. to sit.

DSC_0009Unique Happening #2. We went into a snack shop area that had several tables and a couple chairs and couch in the corner under a tv which was shouting out weather warnings. We sat on the couch and settled in for the duration. A couple walked over and sat down on the chairs. They seemed nice enough, chatted with each other and then the man got up to go get some ice cream.

The lady asked me to tie a bow on her sleeve (which was in an awkward position for her to tie). It had gotten caught in her umbrella and had come undone.  She went back to staring at the rain and FPSC and I continued our ongoing conversation.

Mr. Nice-Enough Couple came back with his ice cream and sat down and started chatting with his wife.  I didn’t pay much attention, but I noticed that he was watching me.

Finally he said, “I know I know you.”

Now, I have learned to at least acknowledge such introductions with politeness because I’ve spoken at enough Awana conferences that people remember me (because I’m teaching the workshops), even when I don’t remember them. And this couple looked liked they could be Awana leaders, but still I’m saying inside my brain  “I don’t thinnnnkkkkk so” and I could tell his wife was sort of wondering about the whole thing, too.

But Mr. Nice-Enough seemed determined. “What high school did you attend?”sc00bb4f74

“Maine West.”

He looked at his wife and they looked at me and he said, “That’s it! We were in the same class.” (He was so sure about it, he didn’t even ask me what class – but he was right.)

He told me his name and I vaguely remembered it. I would not have remembered him or recognized him in a million years. Seriously. So, for the next 20 minutes we talked about high school and some of the people we mutually know. He introduced me to his wife and I introduced him to FPSC and we went on our way. I figured I talked to him twenty times longer than I had ever talked to him in school.  He actually transferred as a junior, so the last time he saw me (and we didn’t really KNOW each other), I looked like this – my 16 -year old self.

By this time, the rain had decided NOT to stop – so we headed for the car — and got soaking wet.