Monday, November 26

Fair Warning

Tomorrow I will attend the funeral of a great man who was just a few months younger than me. It still doesn't seem real - I keep expecting to run into him around town. Today at lunch I thought I saw him... but of course that wasn't him. Tallen won't ever join me for lunch again - because somebody got behind the wheel when they'd been drinking.

One of the things that I have struggled with is the fact that I too have driven when I shouldn't have. Not often, but it only takes once. When I think of the lives that I could have affected... my blood runs cold. When you're young you think only of the consequence of getting caught. The longer you live, you know the consequences to be much more serious. I have a great friend who is living in a wheelchair because of a drunk driver. And now I've lost a friend, a wife has lost her husband, a daughter has lost her Dad.

The day after Tallen was killed, I witnessed someone get behind the wheel who should not have been driving. I don't know why I didn't stop them. I don't know if I could have lived with myself if something had happened. I feel like I owe an apology to anyone whose lives have been affected by a drunk driver. I am sorry for my inaction.

It won't happen again. My friends, family, and anyone who drinks around me... consider this fair warning. I am NOT out to ruin your good can drink all you want. Drink until you fall down. But when you take a step towards the wheel of a car... I will be asking for your keys. If you refuse to give them up, I will reach for my phone. As you pull away, I'll be calling 911. I will tell the police where to find you, what your vehicle looks like, your license plate number and how much you've been drinking.

Fair warning. I owe this to a lot of people. To Ray. To Tallen. To his family. And to you.

Thursday, November 22

Thanksgiving Day

There is a cacophony of thoughts in my head. Some of them I can share, some I must just keep close in my heart and wait for the right time to act.

Yes, today is Thanksgiving and I got to spend it with my wonderful family. The whole biological clan was there, plus husbands and kids...but the best part is enjoying time with some of our extended family. My brother-from-another-mother Bruce is in from Dallas and although he is a man of few words - just being in his presence is comforting. He completes us in a special way. I love his mischievous smile and his quick wit and wish that he didn't live so far away. But I'm very happy that he is content with his life in Dallas.

We also enjoyed the company of our international students from Randolph College: Proity and Eriko. Although Thanksgiving is an American (ish) holiday - it is easy to appreciate the spirit of a harvest festival, which is what Thanksgiving is. And they joined right in with the chaos of our family gathering. It never ceases to amaze me that they have such an ease with the English language...I can't imagine the challenge of carrying on a conversation in anything but my native tongue. I studied Latin - so unless you need the verb "Amo" (love) conjugated or if you need to say "the farmer is a boy" - I'm pretty useless in the language category.

I look forward to the big family holiday gatherings - but I'm glad that my next activity will be putting my feet up and eating a couple bourbon pecan pralines. I made some for Thanksgiving. I was afraid that the 10 servings that the recipe made wouldn't be enough (after all, I think there were 16 or 18 at dinner) so I decided to triple the recipe. But since that gave me an uneven amount of butter...I went ahead and quadrupled it. I may be giving pralines as Christmas gifts!

Another of the thoughts in my head is related to loss. My good friend T. Allen Schlapman (I called him Tallen) was killed yesterday by a drunk driver. I don't know yet how to deal with this and can't imagine what today was like for his wife and daughter. Tallen was an extraordinary man - always there with a smile and hug. His talents ranged from accounting to construction to management. We shared a love for good food and tried to have lunch together once every couple of months.... It is hard knowing that my phone will never again greet me with a text of "when are we going to have lunch again?" Tallen was one of those people who you could brainstorm with, or vent to, and know that he would just listen. Unless you asked specifically "what would you do in this situation?" - he was content to be a sounding board. That is an incredible gift. I will miss him greatly.

Because of the way we met, I felt it important to tell a particular individual about his individual that I had never planned to contact again. It felt strange to reach out - but after I hit "send" I felt a peace about it. One more piece of healing from a bad situation.

It has been a pretty good day. I'm glad I'm not one of the nutballs getting ready to go shopping. I will be thankful for a good night's sleep. And I will be praying for a good night's sleep for my friend's family.

Tuesday, November 20

A present for me!

Many years ago...I don't remember how many...I became an Ambassador. Sure, it would be cool to say that I was the Ambassador to Papua New Guinea or San Salvador or someplace exotic. I think it is equally cool that I am a Maker's Mark Ambassador. It was free to sign up, they give me first crack at a barrel of bourbon whiskey that began its aging process when I signed up, they sent me personalized business cards identifying me as an Ambassador (yes, they are in my wallet) and a few times each year they send me presents! I've gotten playing cards and gift wrap and an ice tray designed to make ice balls - never have made any ice balls but it is nice to know I have the tool to do it!

Tonight it seems as though I have two presents - Mom just informed me that there is a surprise for me in the dining room and she is bringing it to me now! It is (drumroll please) meringue cookies!!!! Oh, I love them. They are light and crunchy and these are full of tiny chocolate chips and bits of pecan. What a wonderful treat!! Isn't it fantastic when someone thinks enough of you to make you a special gift? I don't know what I might have done to deserve it...but I'm really happy to have them. In order to get the top on them it looks like I will need to eat six or seven....

Now to open my present from Maker's Mark...if I can get the cat off of it. (another drumroll, please) Oh, how cute and clever! It is 3 gift boxes (remarkably in exactly the right size to give someone a bottle of Maker's Mark) that make it look like you got somebody a tacky gift like Cat Weights. Although I'm thinking that Rude Cat might need a workout sometime. The only exercise she gets is screaming at me.

Well, a nice end to the day. Surprise gifts are awesome! Give one to somebody today! Might I suggest a grateful recipient? ME!!

Saturday, November 17

How did I get myself into this?

Just got home from a marathon blocking meeting with the director of Centenary's Christmas musical. I love this director like a sister...oh that's IS my sister! This year Denise has bit off a giant project for the "children's Christmas play." This year Centenary UMC will be performing an original musical - Lost and Found on Christmas Eve. Yep, original. As in written by people from Centenary.

A few months ago our minister of music Danny Moore got together with my sister Denise and let her know that he had a whole bunch of original songs that he thought would be great for a Christmas musical. She promptly decided to write the dialogue that connects them all together! In fact I think she wrote some of the script without actually reading the songs that she was connecting... But the result is a fantastic musical that will be enjoyed by all (December 15 at 4pm).

A cast of 30 will bring Danny's music and Denise's script to life. The story involves a young college student who can't go home for the holidays because of work - so his mother decides to send his younger sister to join him for Christmas! The surprise goes horribly awry when Nicole's backpack is stolen at the airport, taking her cell phone, brother's address and all her money with it. The plucky young lady is not to be deterred and she believes that a Christmas miracle will help her find her brother. I won't give away the plot - but I think you can expect a happy ending!

I, of course, have been, make that a sort of production savant. (I must confess that I not only hate musicals...people launching into song for no particular reason...I am also not fond of children). During the show I will be running lights and sound. Prior to that I also have the small tasks of set design, construction and keeping my sweet sister on track. Talk about your Christmas miracle!

It is an interesting challenge - helping she and Danny translate the visions in their reality. As much as I would love to see a tightly choreographed opening sequence of 20 airport travelers doing spins and dancing with their rolling suitcases...the reality will be somewhat more subdued. Even though it may not be Broadway - the audience will love it! But I have had to quash several grand ideas:

- a giant snowball rolling down from the balcony (think Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom)
- children singing while briskly walking down the aisles with their suitcases
- angels flying
- drummer boys with actual snare drums

Blocking took about 2 hours to plan - hopefully it will take about 45 minutes to convey to the ensemble. Things are going to get interesting. I have some decent scene painters - but I could use some choral risers, a few wireless lavaliers and would love a full blown light kit with dimmer pack. Seriously. Call me.

And if someone can come sit on the director on December 15....

Friday, November 16

Back from the void...

Another two week lapse in posting...

I admit that I was not motivated to post during the midst of the election furor. I have many opinions and I feared that in expressing some of those, I would lose friends and family. It saddens me that the election polarized so much of the country. If you weren't standing on one end or other of the playground screaming about how right you were and how wrong the other guys were...I guess you were the clueless guy driving his invisible car around swingset supports. C'mon - we all went to school with one of those. The one at Madison Heights Elementary drove his imaginary car around the school and playground until 7th grade when Mr. Holt stopped him and said, "you're going to be in Junior High next year - if you don't stop driving your invisible car now - you're going to get your ass kicked next year." I thought he was remarkably insightful. If that happened in a school today I think Mr. Holt would have been fired and/or sued.

Anyway -- I digressed from my original point. There are passionate people on each side of the political aisle. But if they don't start listening to each other and finding common ground, we are going to find ourselves unable to move forward on anything at all. And anyone who chose not to participate and learn enough to make an informed choice needs to get Mr. Holt to straighten them out.

I was having a conversation the other night with a person from the opposite side of my political viewpoint - he was unaware of what my political viewpoint was and I do not believe he cared to hear any of my thoughts. So, I will correct myself - I did NOT have a conversation about the election the other night. I was subjected to a rant the other night. When I suggested that it was disappointing more white men (the demographic of what this person believed to be the core of all political wisdom) did not choose to vote - I was informed that they have all become disillusioned by the process. "They've all given up - it just doesn't matter to them."

Well, excuse me for saying this, but that is just SAD. An apathetic populace is truly the antithesis of democracy. Only through participation can we truly make progress.

Well...dang...I didn't mean to rant....Perhaps now that is out of my system I can go back to blogging with my rare insight and humor. Or maybe I'll just keep putting up pictures of funny cats. Either way...I'm back!