Friday, August 27, 2010

Just... Lovely

Periodically, in the alternate universe we call the "Blogosphere," you stumble across a view so inviting, so pertinent to your world, that you feel compelled to feed it into your stream and let it float down river to the next open browser.
Thus said, we give you Ann at Holy Experience and a piece she wrote about integrating the Word into your daily life that Suzi described "Lovely."  Her pictures make me want to shoot all day just see the world in a better frame... and her writing causes me to want more of Him.
A good mix, I'd say.
(Thanks to Kristen for the stream intersection)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Lee's In Amman?!

Jordan has Popeye's, KFC and now Lee's... Chicken is good business!  Now, if we could just get Wendy's and a Sonic...

Saturday, August 21, 2010

SUZI: Swimming with The Whales

When my sister and I were teenagers, our cousin Dick invited us to visit him a couple of times in Boston.  We have some amazing memories from those trips.  He gave us his truck to go sightseeing while he worked, and we bravely headed out to see the sites.  In reality, he was the brave one, handing those keys over to two young girls from a small town and sending them out to negotiate big city traffic.  During one of those trips, Dick took us on a boat tour to go whale watching which began my fascination with those massive creatures.
Fast forward many years... to a dream one night that I vividly remember and what I believe to be a lesson from the Lord. I was at the edge of the water, and there were whales there waiting for me.  I was going to swim with the whales!  Surely it would be like a Gregory Colbert peaceful and amazing.  I was so excited.  I had my wet suit on, and I was ready to go.  I started to get into the water and suddenly realized how cold it was.  There was a feeling of such disappointment because the water temperature wasn't what I expected.  In the narration of the dream I heard a voice say, "When you swim with the whales, the water will be cold."  That was it.  I woke up, but I instantly knew what it meant. 
I wanted to swim with the whales, but I also wanted the water to be warm.  I wanted things to be perfect.  In real life, I was exactly the same way. I was working and waiting for things to be perfect.  Anything less was a disappointment.  It created frustration with myself, those around me and life itself.  Since that dream, I've tried to relax and start enjoying the process rather than the end product.  It has completely changed my outlook.  I've been kinder to myself.  I've been less frustrated.  It hasn't been easy, but I'm better about things than ever before. 
How many of us have said things like "I'll start doing things when I lose a few pounds"; "I'll invite friends over when I have a better house"; "I'll spend more time with the kids when things settle down at work."  We're all guilty of waiting for something to happen before we're moved to action.  Things will never be perfect, and we'll miss our chance before we know it if we continue waiting for everything to work out just right.
Scott and I returned early from Jordan to celebrate life.  Circumstances haven't gone as I have expected them to.  My living situation isn't perfect.  More than ever, however, I've decided to enjoy life's journey and do those things I've always wanted to.  In spite of whatever changes have come my way, I'm going to enjoy Cooper, spend time with family and friends and enjoy where I am in life.  What's on your life's list that you've let go of?  What have you delayed doing because the situation isn't perfect?  Let's put those things aside and remember that even though the water is cold, we're swimming with whales.

Four Months Old

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Good Batteries & Service with a Smile

Often there's a disconnect between the theory of customer service and the reality we all experience.  Back in 2007, I brought a battery for our '01 Ford Focus at Autozone in Columbia.  While we're overseas, the car squats quietly in storage, contemplating the next time it's v-treads get to taste pavement again.  Dad periodically checks in on the little guy to make sure it's able crank over.  When we returned this this time, he said the battery had gone kaput... nada, nil.  Sure enough, I jumped it, only to have it die after running for 30 minutes or so.
Long afternoon short, I'm usually pretty good about warranties and receipts, but this time around I misplaced my paperwork.  I walked into Autozone in Moberly, and was promptly greeted by Clifford, who ran a diagnostic check on the battery (dead as doornail was the official result), located my file from the Columbia store and swapped the battery using a pro-rated warranty.  He even installed the thing and put the goop and o-rings on it to make sure corrosion wouldn't rear its ugly head.
I was so pleased, I called Kip (no kidding), the district manager, to applaud his team... and then I went all blogo about it so you'd know, too.
Good folks out there at Autozone.
Oh, and the receipt's now in the glovebox, just in case.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Night Lights

The Perseids meteor shower blew through our atmosphere this past weekend and I did my intergalactic part to welcome those specks of comet snot.  I was all ramped up about the predicted 60 shots per hour and stayed up with the crickets and coyotes till 3AM to see... count 'em... TEN total shooting stars.

Yeah... 10.

So, in the meantime I was fiddling around with my camera to see if I could capture some planetary goodness for posterity.  I shot several hundred frames at 30 to 60 second intervals at anywhere from 400 to 1600 ISO.  I got plenty of this:
But after hours of punching the remote every 30 seconds, I got bored and turned to a more terrestrial muse, resulting in this:
My only captured extraterristerial traveler was some flight of fancy, probably originating from Midway and heading to an exotic locale such as Tulsa.  By that point the cries of coyotes were dancing clearly across the beans and my heart was set on a bed and instead of the stars.  But it's shots like these that keep me staring into the heavens!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

SUZI: A Parent's Wish

It's been great fun watching Cooper interact with his cousin Heidi, who is six weeks older than he is.  Their first interaction consisted of Heidi jabbering to Cooper and petting all over him.  Cooper just sort of looked around and eventually chewed on her fingers a bit.  These two little munchkins are so different!  We love them!
Heidi is a wonderful sleeper who smiles and yammers on nearly non-stop for everyone around to hear.  At bedtime, she lays in bed and "talks" to herself until she's in a deep slumber.  She wants to be held facing out and wears a constant look on her face that exclaims, "Hello, world...I'm so happy to be here!  Everything is wonderful!"  She's content to lay on the floor by herself, sit in her swing, or swirl in her exer-saucer.  Her legs are in a constant bicycle motion.  I believe she's practicing for an audition for River Dance.  She's long and lean.  She's a little fairy firefly.
Cooper, on the other hand, has to be nearly tricked into taking a nap or going to sleep at night.  You have to slyly rock him until he's drowsy and then pet his forehead and eyebrows until he drifts off.  I'm surprised he even has eyebrows left at this point.  He stays fairly serious, studying the world around him, until something strikes him as funny at which point his smile starts slow and then invades his whole body until he's curled up in a little ball laughing.  He wants to be held facing you, and he'd prefer if he was never set down.  He "talks" quietly in the morning and evenings - at times almost in a whisper.  Tummy time, the exer-saucer and the vibrating chair are OK, but only until somebody can empty their arms and pick him up.  He loves motion, but would prefer for someone else to do the moving (all while holding him, of course).  He's stocky and has a little "extra."  He's a pirate bear cub.
Some might say the difference is based on their ages or gender, or that one is breast fed and the other bottle fed.  That one is being raised by a "village" and one has had a limited number of caregivers.  I'm sure those things do play a part, but probably an even bigger piece comes down to the good ol' gene pool.  Which makes me wonder...what one earth have we passed down to our sweet boy?  What will he be like as he gets older?  Will he be curious like his dad?  Cautious like I am?  Good at math?  A reader?  Outgoing?  Shy?  What will he struggle with?  What will his not-so-strong points be?
My grandfather was executed in World War II by the Nazi's for helping political refugees escape from Czechoslovakia.  He had been secretly sending notes to my grandmother while he was held in prison, and on the eve of his execution, he wrote one final note to his family.  A part of that letter is now on a plaque commemorating his life which hangs outside the family home in Prague.  He wrote, "May all that is good in me live on in you, and may all that is bad die with me tomorrow." 
Isn't that every good parent's wish?  I realize every day a little more just how much good I wish for Cooper...not a perfect life because I know that doesn't exist.  But I wish for him to have a good attitude in the midst of adversity.  Strong faith in the middle of doubt.  Great love and compassion instead of anger and hatred.  Peace in his soul in a world of chaos.  I wish him good.  And I hope we've passed down a few things to help him along.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Train Wreck Taco

I'm back in the world of Fast Food and mustard-smothered sodium dumps.  This morning I read this little tidbit about everything I love to eat, but loathe to keep.  And then, naturally, had to read this bad news to know where my last 10 meals ranked in the opinion of those smarties over at Men's Health.  Do you know for the past few years, I have a Wendy's Baconator as my first meal back in the States?  Yep, just south of Chitown on Hwy 55, we pull over for a little welcome home... American style.
So, I was complaining on FB a few weeks ago that there were no decent Mexican places in Amman... not even a Taco Bell to pretend at... and of course, a few folks got their wubbies in a bunch that I'd ventured to put TB in the same vein as Tex-Mex anything (TB... my, but that's an unfortunate abbreviation... not at all classy like FB).
Now I'm rambling, but honestly trying to set the stage for the above pic.  I ran by the Bell tonight.  On my way back from Wal-Mart.  (It was on the way!)  Actually, the sign for the new Cantina Taco caught my eye and pushed me into the turn lane.  I'm boring when it comes to Mexican: Chicken Chimichanga at El Vaquero and crunchy tacos anywhere else.  But, I'm always game for the new menu item.

“Our Cantina Tacos are based upon authentic-style Mexican street tacos, which are designed using simple, fresh ingredients, that customers regard as high quality,” said Taco Bell Cop chief marketing officer David Ovens.

I have to say, the lime slice and foil wrap were a nice touch, 'cause, you know, it's from a Cantina... just around the corner from the beach or someplace hip and cool.  The truth, Dave? It's terrible. 
OK, I'm being dramatic.  It's tasteless.  And not in that wife-beater/gold chain/fake Jersey accent way.  The shell is that soft corn style that's too loose to stay together; irritating but understandable if it surrounds delictable goodness.  It doesn't.  I've had street-side Mexican (the famous $5 fajita!) and this isn't it.  $1.79 wasted... and $5.79 for all three versions?  I'll run by Max's place, instead.