Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Marie Millard talked me into participating in NaBloPoMo, which stands for National Blog Uhhh...POorly, MOther... or Namby Blog Potpourri Mo...uh..uth..

Hold on a sec. I'll go look it up.

Got it! It is:

NAtional BLOg POsting Month!

That means I've committed to blogging every day through the month of November. I just signed up with no regard for rules and regulations. Like, if I can't think of something to write (yeah, right) on any certain day, is it fair to just log on and write

asadfa;o; guerhf;siufoeg ?

Blog fodder will not be my downfall. Everyone knows that if you can't think of anything to write, just drink a glass bottle of wine, and you won't be able to shut (me) up.

Time constraints will be my issue. Is it fair to blog-hoard? Write 3 or 4 at once, then pre-date them? Sure. I say yes.

Anyway, I got THE nicest compliment in e-mail the other day. It read:

What's up with your blog? No updates for a week.
You're almost like a good TV show that got canceled.



Careful what you ask for, reader. Every freakin day through November it's gonna be, Lori, Lori, Lori.

I'm readying to graduate from being a canceled television to show to a mind-numbing 24 hours Law & Order Marathon.

Don't change the channel though, k?

Bag Lady Wanna Be

Have you seen this Disney cartoon, The Sword in the Stone? Merlin packs up his entire house into that little bag, and takes off?

I need that bag.

If any of you know where I can find that bag, or any other relatively compact bag that I can fit a lot of stuff into, organize-ed-ly, I beg of you: tell me! I hate shopping, and I especially hate shopping for purses. And jeans. But I'm not talking about jeans right now.

I'm talking about your advising me where I can finds a bag that fits my bill, but doesn't cost a lot of bills.

I've always preferred small handbags: money, keys, lip balm, cell phone:

But I'm busier (and yes, older) now. I find myself, these days, needing more. Between my mother, myself, and TFT, I sometimes find myself carting around 3 or 4 checkbooks. Sunglasses and reading glasses. Palm Pilot. Camera and card reader. Pens. Business card holder. Kitchen sink.

Please consider these points while you're shopping for me:

My purse must be efficient: I hate emptying the contents on the hood of my car to find my car keys. I hate single-compartment purses where everything is tossed like purse-salad.

I don't want it to be too deep. I don't want to have to crawl in head first to get to my ringing cell phone.

I don't want it to be too large. I don't want to carry around luggage (and it must fit into the saddle-bags of Clint's motorcycle).

This purse is too large.

I don't want it to be too heavy. I don't know how some of you ladies tolerate those expensive Coach bags. They weigh 7 pounds before you even put your crap belongings in to them.

May the force be with you. Chic would be nice, but efficiency and practicality is higher on my list. Don't forget:

If I could get this bag, I'd kiss your whole face.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Busy, Busy

Can't talk. Making posters, slide shows, newsletters and flyers for Care Package event. Filling garage with boxes of foot powder and soccer balls. No time, no time.

Here's some pretty, pretty pictures from the weekend, for you to look at until I can write.

Honestly, this time of year, the photos just take themselves.

For more from the weekend at Mill Creek, in Marshall, Illinois, click HERE.

Catchyalater, gator.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Brain Misfire: Show Me Some Love, Will Ya?

I hit on, in a previous entry, that I have tons to blog about, but no time to blog it. In the meantime, you are behind! I've squeezed in camera time, and have a few lucky shots. I've had a few girl's nights, and been to a few fund-raisers, and a few luncheons, and, HEY! Here's something: I have a B-O-Y.

Yeah, yeah, I've been shy about introducing him. Despite my willingness to discuss Montezuma's Revenge and spit cookies on my blog, I remain cautious and discreet about revealing issues of the heart.

Anyway. There is a boy. He's firefighter. We share grade-school class photos. We were friends, in junior high, and when Dad let us choose 1 friend to take to the races with us, in high school, he was often that friend. We have fond teenage memories, and we both ended up marrying, at the age of 18.

Other people.

I helped him remove a muffler on a '61 Ford Falcon when we were kids, but we never so much as held hands.

After a false start a over a year ago, we began seeing each other about 6 months ago. And things are nice now. Swimmingly nice, ya'll. That's all I'll say for now, except that you should be happy for us, that's how nice things are.

So, on our last Group Camping Trip Of the Year, with other Firefighters and EMTs, and their wives and children, I, today, sleepily asked, around noon:

"Did we bring any Diet Coke, Rick?"

If you're not sure what's wrong with that question...

The Boy's name is not Rick.

The Boy's name is Clint, and I'm going to stop calling him The Boy, after this entry.

Rick is my ex-husband's name.

Holy Shit. The scenario, in my head, was more like "Did we bring any Diet Coke, RickOHMYFREAKINGODWHATDIDIJUSTSAY?"

Clint himself is extremely amused, because, he says, he witnessed my complete confusion at my brain's short circuiting.

While he teases the heck out of me, and I run off and find a therapist to figure out what just happened, help me out, will you?


Call someone by the wrong name? Steer your car to your former address? Write the wrong last name on your check?

Show me a little love. I know I'm not alone here.


Blushing at Mill Creek State Park

Monday, October 22, 2007

Speaking of Good Sam's....

Those of you that have been reading here for awhile know that I have 3 immediate family members: My son. My Mother. My sister. And you know their situations, and mine. It is often, during this time in my life, that I hear from friends: "I don't know how you're still standing," and "you have more than your share...."

I can only shrug and smile.


My sister came home last Wednesday, from the ACS Hope Lodge. She has been there since Labor Day, you may remember. I wrote, 6 weeks ago, about her staying there. She's been receiving radiation therapy daily, and will be begin chemotherapy here at home, soon. It was shortly after this entry that I got an email. It read, in part:
I have a proposal for you. I would like to provide a hotel room for your sister for 2 nights for the weekend of her choosing. I think it would be a great break from the prison (I mean residential facility).
It was preceded by this statement:
I can't imagine spending 6 weeks in a residential facility while receiving treatment. I spent some time at Barnes, as a patient, when I was younger.
I honestly couldn't respond, immediately. This. This offer. It had to sink in. And I had to run it by my sister, this offer for her and her family to stay here, for the weekend of her choice.

She talked it over with Tim, and she shyly, and then I shyly, accepted this offer. Dates were confirmed, and we awaited the reservation confirmation.

It was then that I got confirmation that a PayPal donation had been made to my account, from Teri's benefactor. I couldn't imagine, this guardian angel must be sending $250 to cover her hotel room!!

Who was I kidding?

My PayPal email notified me that $500 had been sent to me, for my sister. I received an email shortly thereafter that the $500 should cover the room, taxes, valet parking, and hopefully a nice meal, for Teri and Tim.

I was at work when I read that message. I just had to stop. Stop what I was doing, stop working. I could only sit and breathe, and take in the kindness of another person. And find a kleenex; for some reason I needed a kleenex.

When I could catch my breath, I called Teri, and I told her. The weekend was on. And I told her what had been done for her.

You'd think there would have been whooping, and cartwheels, and high-fiving, at this point, wouldn't you?

But I will never forget: I told her, and then we sat. We bot sat, silent on our phones. Not saying a word. For minutes, until I finally said "I know." And she said "Yeah."

And I knew she was looking for a kleenex.


So I booked the rooms, and I ran the difference over to Tim, the night before he took off to St. Louis for a fun weekend with Teri. Nephew Dane went also.

E-mails from Teri became more fun, as she began to get excited about getting the hell out of the cancer lodge and having FUN with her hubby and son (daughter Brandi out of town with friends). She wrote me, the day before she took off:
I am SOOOOO excited about going over to the Hyatt tonight. Mr. _______ has made my time here one that will be memorable forever.[...]but because of the wonderful thing he did and the fun I plan to have this weekend. It will top any negative times I have had or will have while going through my treatments.
The room:

The restaurant:

The sisser and the Tim:

The family charicature that cracks me up for it's accuracy:


"How are you still standing?" they ask me.

I am still standing, friends, because there are guardian angels in the wings that make putting one foot in front of the other easier every single day. Both simple and grand gestures are made.

Each is gold, to us.

And someone out there prefers to remain anonymous, but he will steadfastly remain in our hearts forever.

He has no idea.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Friday, October 19, 2007

What a blast

Yayyyy, what fun! We bellied up to the TV, sat right on the floor and cheered every time Steakbellie got airtime.

Great job, SB! Keep us posted.

Note to Dogbait: You got it right! C'mon, you have to find something to do to fill your time now that you're retired. One contestant was 63 years old! It's never too late!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Rubbin' Elbows

I just love it when one of us bloggers gets all famous!

Blog buddy and friend-I-haven't-met-yet Steakbellie is going to be on SpikeTV tonight, after competing in the "Wedges and Wings" eating contest in Las Vegas last week.

Show him a little love, and tune in to Spike TV tonight, 11 PM EST. That's 10 PM to us Central Illinois folks, and uhhhh...8 p.m. for you west-coasters. Check your local listings for MLE Chowdown: Wedges and Wings.

Even though the winner was determined a week ago, I'm going to cheer him on as if it's live.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sam's Cafe II

I've blogged before about Sam's Cafe in downtown Champaign, which is open on Thursday and Friday nights for authentic Lebanese food, made by Sam's wife, Dody.

Every other day of the week, it's your standard American-fare diner, open for breakfast and lunch only. I've never made it in there for lunch, but I loooooove their breakfasts. $3.40 will get you 2 eggs, sausage or ham, and toast or pancakes. I like the atmosphere: I love the cook and the waitstaff communicating to one another from across the room. I love that Sam knows everyone's name. I love the old-timey white coffee cups that remind me of my dad taking me to coffee shops in the late 60s. I love that you have to squeeze in and around, and no one minds.

And look what Sam's doing to his ceiling: He's letting his clientele advertise right there on his ceiling tiles! Oooo, I got so jealous when I saw those ceiling tiles; I immediately asked Sam how I could get my own. What would he charge me?

HE charges nothing, he said; it's just a fun way to decorate his restaurant and give his customers some recognition. The guy that makes the tile? They will charge me, depending on the design. Text? Graphics?

I raced home and emailed SDO Graphics, in Monticello. I was so sure I wanted a ceiling tile that I just sent them the text, the graphics, and everything, and said "give me a price for THIS!"

SDO Graphics left a message on my answering machine. "The price," the message said, "is nothing. We think what you're doing is great, and we're going to donate the tile, the text, and the graphics. It will be in on Saturday."

Look! There we are! Couldn't you just hug everyone?!

C'mon. Scrape up $3.40 (+ a tip, don't forget) and go see our tile! We're famous now!

Sunday, October 14, 2007


We do not see people as they are; We see them as we are.

—Anais Nin

I met the girls out for dinner and drinks on Thursday evening. A low-key girl's night, a lot going on in each of our lives, a little venting and laughing was therapeutic, as always.

On the way back to our car, we encountered a young couple addressing a man lying in the street. Melissa and Georgie, both nurses, ran over to check things out, and I just kind of circled them all, in limbo. The guy was conscious, and becoming alert, but asked us to call an ambulance for him. The young girl set about doing that, while Mel said "we need to sit you up!" She grabbed him under his arms and set him upright on the curb, and out of the street.

We then hovered around, Mel parking herself right next to him, to wait until proper authorities showed up. The man seemed ok, by then, and bantered with all of us.

Some minutes later, a squad car showed up, and a police officer got out, a bit exasperated. The first thing he said to me was "What is this, some kind of social experiment?!!"

What? He repeated the question: "Some kind of social experiment going on here?"

Well, no, I told him. We're just waiting with this guy until he gets a little help. "I'll take it from here," he told us. The underlying message definitely being "beat it, girlies."

We scrammed. On our way back by the intersection, our "friend" was being patted down.

I can't help thinking of the different perspectives to just one 15-minute event.

Guy in the street: Must have been an interesting perspective, lying on the concrete and looking up at 5 people staring down at you.

Kids: Rattled and unsure of what to do.

Nurses: summarizing the situation, and knowing, after a few minutes, that "upright" okay.

Me: Clear on only one thing: you don't leave people lying in the street.

The Police Officer: Knowing still more than we do, exasperated and wondering what in the hell these 3 blondies are up to with THIS guy. HIM again. Arrest? Paperwork? Scolding? One of their local pains-in-the ass.

And after it was over?

Those kids were on their way giggling about an exciting event. Georgie went back to a new apartment, new life, new job. Melissa went home and ended up rushing her dad to ER, with heart problems. I came home and began working on my kid's next care package. And that cop? I'm sure he was a nice guy. Maybe his shift ended at 11. Maybe he went home to a wife and a couple of precious kids tucked under cozy blankets.


I don't know.

And I don't know what happened to Guy, either.

I know we just keep moving on, with our own perspectives, and I'm hopeful that we remain tolerant of other's.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Blogging Against Hunger

I remember, vividly, a certain payday in my life, when Brian was about 6 years old. I took my paycheck to the bank, made my house payment, paid the babysitter, and when all was said in done, had $7 left to tide me over until next week's paycheck.

Seven dollars. My budget for the week.

Sounds pitiful, doesn't it?

Seven dollars to me then meant only this: We wouldn't dine out for a week. We'd simply stay home, in the warm house that we owned, and we'd watch cable-vision, and we'd cook from well-stocked cabinets. We'd ride our bikes and play in the park, and rent books and movies from the library.

My kid would never know one way or another, if I had seven dollars or seven thousand dollars.

My kid would never be hungry.

I have never been hungry. In my life, I've never skipped a meal out of poverty. The only forced "hunger" I've ever had to tolerate would be the fasting they make you do before a medical procedure. Oh, the unfairness of it all, not eating between 8:00 p.m. and 2 p.m. the next day. The sheer suffering, huh?

I've run into a few people in my life that have been hungry. When Brian was a newborn, his babysitter, pregnant with her 2nd child, sacrificed her own meals so that her toddler daughter could eat, while her husband was off work with a severe back injury. We're not talking about skipping a meal: The woman once didn't eat for 3 days. When I found this out, my mother and I ran out and bought gift certificates at the grocery store, and put them in her mailbox.


There are a heck of a lot of people in our own community that don't have grocery fairies.

36,000 people, actually in this county and 13 surrounding counties, for instance.

That's how many people the Eastern Illinois Food bank helps out each month. 40% of them are children under the age of 18.

The Eastern Illinois Food Bank's 2007 Food for Families Drive starts tomorrow, and will run through October 27. In the next two weeks, they hope to raise $65,000 and 190,000 pounds of food. For every dollar you donate, $10 worth of food can be acquired for the bank.

Drop boxes are located at IGA's in Champaign, Rantoul, & Mahomet; County Markets in Champaign, Urbana, and Monticello; Schnucks it Champaign and Urbana; The Common Ground Food Co-op in Champaign, and at Strawberry Fields in Urbana.

If you have also never had a hungry kid, then I ask you to join me in making a gesture to the food bank over the next 2 weeks.

One thing that I'm learning about gestures is that even the smallest can change lives. Do you have $10 to spare? That will get them $100 worth of food. Even $2 will buy them $20 worth.

If you'd rather not give cash, throw one or two of the "Super Six" into your cart next time you're shopping, and leave it in the drop box on your way out ([1] Canned meats/fish [2] Canned complete meals [3] Canned vegetables [4] Canned Fruits [5] Boxed meals [6] Peanut Butter).

For more information, or to make a donation online, go to

If you donate online as a result of reading this or any of several other CU Bloggers who are Blogging Against Hunger, please make note of it when you're asked on whose behalf you're donating. The Food Bank is interested in tracking how much Blog-Advertising helps them out.

And, thank you.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Beavis & Butthead II: Barnes Hospital

I'm yakking to my sis'ser on the phone tonight, and she's telling me that she has a another week or so to go, but that she's made some tight friends at the ACS Hope Lodge (not the Hope House, remember) while she's undergone radiation treatment in St. Louis. God, they're taking Immodium and laughing and hoarding the remote control for Survivor ('VIVOR!!!) and sneaking out and shopping....but they are NOT, if anyone reads this, taking food to their rooms.

Teri was telling me, tonight, about being on the elevator at Barnes, with a new friend named Jessi. I have minimal details, but Jessi is 18, and she's at ACS as a caregiver to her mother. And, as I said, they were on the elevator, headed to Floor #14.

While they were heading up to the 14th floor, Jessi turned to Teri, and said "Did you ever see the movie `Elf'"? Teri looked at Jessi, and she knew. She knew what Jessi was thinking....

...and before she could stop her (yeah, right, as if she tried to stop her) Jessi ran her fingers down every button on the elevator. They proceeded to stop at every floor on the way up.

At the 13th floor, the doors opened and a woman boarded the elevator. Still going up, and every button on the board lit up for the trip down, Teri and Jessi looked straight ahead, not daring to make eye contact with one another.

It didn't take the woman long to figure out what had happened though, and she started in on an immediate rant. "Some people can be so IMMATURE!!!," she huffed.

And Teri huffed right back, "I know what you mean!! That was like that when I got on!!"

And she and Jessi moved off the elevator at the 14th floor.

Dang kids.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Beavis & Butthead in Bement

Having a free Sunday, and determined not to waste it doing housework, I grabbed the camera and hit the road. I intended to go, first, to Pontious Farms in White Heath. A country drive, ahhhhh.

The last direction on my GoogleMap read "Turn right on Whispering Pine Lane." But Whispering Pine Lane had a second sign, reading PRIVATE LANE. After some contemplation, I drove down the private lane anyway, ending up in someone's driveway, and waited to be shot for trespassing.

I called Pontious Farms for further directions, and got a message saying I had to call an alternate number if I wanted to leave a message, but ONLY if I wanted to leave a message. I became exasperated and decided to head on down the road. I'll try it again another day. I got these 2 photos in White Heath, before I left town:


I drove on through Monticello, Bement, Ivesdale, Sadorus. I stopped in each town, and found myself lacking interest in each one. I think it was due more to the 92-degree heat and the fact that small town businesses close on Sundays. No browsing, no one to chat with, I was bored-bored-bored and hot-hot-hot.

I came home late in the afternoon, with less than 10 photos under my belt for the day. That heat fried my creativity.

I did manage to get 2 snapshots that amused me.

A few shopkeepers in Bement will be mumbling under their breath when they arrive to work this morning, I think. Small-town pranksters had obviously been on the loose Saturday night, and I came across these two signs in one block. The first one surprised me, and seriuosly set me to wondering just what in the heck the Bement Country Opry was singing about:

I did a search last night, and discovered it's Gary Osterhoff playing on October 5. Not that other. Just so you know.

And though this doesn't look appetizing to me, I know quite a few people that might just get in line for this one:

Heh. heh. Weed buffet. Heh heh.

Dang kids.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Lobster Godmother

I know I'm not blogging as much lately, but it's not for lack of blog fodder. I have tons of fodder. Hello mudder, hello fodder.... Oh. Hi. I have fodder coming out of my ears, people; it's time I lack. I have a minute right now. I will commence to blogging retroactively.

Back up, back up, to when Brian was home, and I posted a photo of lobster races. Believe it or not, there was more to that evening than watching lobsters scootch backward on the dining room floor, at a rate of 8 cm./hour.

It was our first lobster boil! I'd been reading up on cooking live lobsters: they're cheaper and fresher. Coincidentally, when he was home, Brian piped up, "I'd like to try lobster sometime." I asked him if he'd be willing to hold my hand while I tried my hand at the live cooking thing, and he was all for it. His friends and Clint joined us for the party.

Clint and I did the shopping. When we asked the clerk for 6 lobsters, she freaked and ran for help, claiming there was "one mean one" in there. She wanted nothing to do with them.

They didn't scare me, long as their claws were still banded. Surprisingly, none of Brian's friends would pick one up. Chad gave it a shot, but suddenly screamed like a little girl, and put the thing down, claiming "it touched me with it's antler!"

That I could overcome that they have to be cooked live is surprising to even myself. I'm generally queasy at blood and guts and stuff. I witnessed the stab-them-in-the-head procedure in a cooking class once. I was proud that I didn't faint dead away, but pretty sure I'd never try that on my own. So, in the pot it went:

And back out, 15 minutes later:


What in the heck to do with the thing was my next dilemma. I had every intention of firing up the laptop, finding some instructions, and having Brian walk me through step-by-step instructions, when the doorbell rang.

Yay! Surprise company, my friends Mary and Manot were visiting from Florida, and they and two other friends, Kaye and Kristy, dropped in to say hey!

Much squealing and hugging and jumping around, and wine was poured, and I confessed to them my current dilemma: How to properly break into my lobsters. Lo, and behold, Manot announced "I know how to do it!"

Yes! There I was hoping that I wouldn't serve up the poisonous bits and kill everyone at the table, when God sent me my very own lobster fairy!

Manot proceeded to step up and teach me lobster ropes. You have to break off the legs, and bend them in the middle, and snap off the tail, and cut them there, and push that. She showed me how to scoop out that green liver-y stuff (that's quite good) of the males, and save the roe from the females (also tasty!).

Most importantly, she told me "throw that part away, it will make you very, very sick!" Those were the bits I was worried about. So we threw those bits away, served up these good bits:

The bad news was that Brian hated it; he didn't like the texture. The good news was that that left more for me, me, me, because I thought it was delicious.

It was a very memorable evening. Great friends dropped in on me. Brian was 1 year old when I met Mary, can you believe it? He got to see them, they got to see him while he was home, the wine was good, the food even better, and I can now serve you lobster without making you very, very sick.

Come on over! Oh, and BYO-Lobster.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Mass Email I Just Sent...

Hey, if you're not on my e-mail contact list, why aren'tcha? You're missing out on great TFT propaganda, plus I'd send you little hello's when I'm bored at work, if I had it.


Dear Everybody,

As Toys for Troops continues to send beanie babies to the soldiers, we focus, now, on the upcoming holidays. We intend, with your help, to send care packages to every soldier on our list at both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Please join us, to make sure this happens.

4:00-8:00 P.M.

Our Thanksgiving care packages will be packed on November 3, as we cook brats in the Silvercreek parking lot, and come together in the greenhouse to pack up stuff for our boys. Brats will be provided; Bring a side or a dessert. In addition, everything on the Silvercreek menu, including appetizers, drinks, and desserts, will be available for purchase.

Our Thanksgiving boxes will be care packages: If you'd like to donate, here are some standard items we'd love to send:

wet wipes brown or tan t-shirts
beef jerky AA batteries
energy bars magazines & books
trail mix zip-lock bags
sunflower seeds books
eye drops foot creams
aspirin sunscreen
CDs writing materials
playing cards
Powdered Gatorade, and powdered drink mixes
koozies to keep bottles and cans cool
long socks (boot length, black, green, or white)
toiletries, such as deodorant, foot creams, eye drops, lip balm, q-tips...or any other item that you think would make a soldier's day a little bit nicer.

We will also enclose every card and letter that you write in our packages. Bring 'em on!

I ask you to remember that I'm just one mom whose kid shipped out to Iraq 6 months ago. My friends remind me not to be humble, but I seriously need your help in order to make these events happen. I mean it now! :-D

The wrapping and packing party date and time for the Christmas event is still in the works, but we ARE going to make sure that every soldier on our list opens a gift from us at Christmas.

We're looking for "luxury" items for our Christmas packages. CDs. DVDs. Electronics. Sports items. I'm working on iPod Shuffles. If there's ANYTHING you can think of, to bring to our Christmas event, or to send us, please let us know. We want to wrap these gifts in Christmas paper, and send them soon after Thanksgiving to ensure their timely arrival.

Thank you so much for your time, and know this: Nothing that we've done so far could have happened without you, and the people you know. Please forward this to everyone in your e-mail contacts, and help us circulate the news of these events. You cannot understand how extraordinary that gesture alone will be in the success of these projects.

And thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Lori Stewart

Donations for either event can be brought to Silvercreek on Nov. 3, OR, mailed to

Lori Stewart
c/o Omegatype Typography
3101 W. Clark Road
Champaign, IL 61802

or contact us at any of the following:

Lori Stewart
Jeff Jolley
Michelle Jolley
Marcee Hampton,

Donation items can also be dropped off at the Champaign Police Department lobby.

P.S. Brian took the above photo of friends, in their "barracks." These boys are still living in tents. I encourage you to blow the picture up and scroll around, to see exactly where my son and his friends are living right now. Help me brainstorm about how we can make them a bit more comfortable! Yeah!

We will soon resume to regularly-scheduled blogging.