Sunday, November 30, 2008
The tooth pain "dormancy" gave out at around 10 pm last night. I went from feeling vaguely headachey to writhing—writhing!—in pain. The entire right side of my face is throbbing. I have a pulse in the bad tooth, and in all of the other teeth, both top and bottom. I can feel a pulse in my right ear. In my right eye. I can even feel a pulse in tip of my nose.
Vicodin doesn't seem to ease the pain, but it does stop the pain-induced shaking. Ice is better than heat, I read, and I've been coupling that with a Clove bud oil & Orajel regimen. I'm trying to numb my entire head, but it's just not working!
I am NOT being a trooper about all of this! This scene from Cast Away has crossed my mind about 100 times today.
Actually, I've never made it through the movie Cast Away, because I can't bear to watch that scene; I get queasy and turn it off. Sorry, Tom Hanks. (In case Tom reads my blog.)
Maybe I won't go so far as to use an ice skate (I don't have one), but I will definitely be pounding down the door of an oral surgeon at 7 a.m. tomorrow morning. I'll be begging for a procedure that normally terrifies me. That should be interesting as "Surgical fees must be paid on or before the day of surgery unless prior arrangements have been made." I'll definitely have to run around making prior arrangements.
And the Toys for Troops Christmas Gifts for Soldiers Event is 1 week away, and I worry that I'm going to feel like crap this week, no matter what happens. I have a lot to do, and it's looking like I'll be calling on you for help, out of sheer necessity. I've always been lousy at delegation, but I may get much better at it this week.
Never thought I'd say this, but cross your fingers that I'll have a big hole in my head by this time tomorrow night. I really don't want to feel like this a week from now.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
I caught up with Momo on the phone while I diced vegetables, and she made me promise to send her the recipe if it turned out good. It was easiy to make, and it turned out GREAT, so here's the recipe.
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 t. cumin
- 4-6 c. chicken broth
- chicken--I boiled a few boneless skinless chicken thighs with onion and garlic. I diced the chicken and saved the broth for the soup. In a pinch, stripping a store-bought rotisserie chicken would work great for this soup.
- 1 c. long-grain white rice
- juice of 2 limes
- 1 bunch cilantro, separated into 2 bunches
- 1 tomato, diced
Saute pepper, onion, and garlic, and cumin for about 5 minutes. Pour in the chicken both, diced chicken, and the rice. Add lime juice and 1/2 of the cilantro.
Simmer until the rice is cooked. Just before serving, toss in the fresh diced tomato, and the rest of the cilantro.
Next time I make this, I'll punch it up with some diced jalapeno, and serve with more lime.
It may have been Clint's second 12-hour Sudafed that alleviated his cold symptoms just after dinner, but I like to think that the soup had something to do with it also.
I got the bright idea to check my spam folder, and there you all were! Stupid Gmail has been sending you to spam for the last week. I did get to read your comments after all, but when I tried to publish them I got a snotty message: "This comment has already been moderated, bitch." See? Told you it was snotty. So, in response, I hit the "THIS IS NOT SPAM, YOU JACKASS" button.
I showed that spam folder a thing or two.
Friday, November 28, 2008
I woke up Wednesday morning in excruciating pain, from the tooth I'd gone to the dentist for on Monday. Ah, to be Monday again, in which I moaned to Clint "$200! Shit, it's probably going to cost me $200 to fix this!" I left, in shock, with antibiotics and an $800 estimate.
Long story short, my dentist worked me back in Wednesday, to "open up that tooth and take a look." Seriously, getting my teeth cleaned makes me edgy; the idea of "opening one up" made me hyperventilate.
Opened, Closed, and out the door with more bad news. Shocking news! Such a diligent brusher and flosser I am, and this is my pinkslip on the way out. Or rather, my green slip:
Extract the tooth. Heal. Implant titanium post. Heal. Screw on new tooth, so that others don't shift around in my head. Heal.
$3,000. No dental insurance: Longtime Wallet Healing. Can't we go back to the $200 I was wailing about on Monday? Pleeeeeeeeease?
Anyway, I left, Wednesday, with a temporary filling, an order for oral surgery, and another Rx for Vicodin. Clint came home from work that night, with a sore throat and stuffy head, and his own bag full of medicinal goodies. We crashed until late Thursday morning, ate some breakfast, and then crashed some more.
I took this photo, yesterday afternooon, of "Our Thanksgiving Feast."
Cold meds, tea & honey, vicodin. Just like real Pilgrims & Indians.
But guess what? The Thanksgiving Fairies came!! Around 4:00, the doorbell rang, and I gingerly opened to find my cousin Michael, and his girlfriend, Debbie, standing there with armloads of Thanksgiving-feast laden trays. "Happy Thanksgiving!"
Two giant plates full of HOT food, hot AMAZING food. Turkey AND ham, potatoes and noddles...well, just look at all of it. There was also a tray full of desserts! Whoo hoo! I've always said that food that other people cook for you tastes better than food you cook for yourself...and this meal proved my point.
In fact, I've decided never to cook another Thankgiving dinner ever again, and start a new family tradition: Stalk Michael and Debbie, and crash their Thanksgiving meal.
I'm sorry I didn't get their photos, so you could see who they are. Just as well, you might stalk them too, crash their parties, and get my food before I get there.
I wonder where they'll be at Christmas...
(Mike, I'm sorry I called you a fairy.)
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Devoid of charming blog fodder. Antibiotics for sinus infection, and possible tooth problems to the tune of $800...or twice that.
To boot, Brian was denied Thanksgiving leave, and Clint is coming down with what I've been fighting for the last 4-5 days.
Looks like Thanksgiving's going to be a bust this year. I am, at this minute, banking on taking some Advil, and curling up with Clint, like a couple of kittens. I wonder if we'll have energy enough to toss a couple of steaks on the grill, Thursday night.
A can of soup will do, if not.
Not what I hoped for this year, but you know what?
My kid isn't in a war zone this year.
I'll take it.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
(You'll have to read down an entry for the significance of this snowman.)
Friday, November 21, 2008
They happened like this:
While we were all feeling like crap with yesterday's post about Kim (and yes, we still do), I got another email from her--yes, yesterday--with this photo, and several more like it:
That's Santa Kim. Can you read the side of the box? "Soccer Balls from Noah, " it reads.
Those are soccer balls from Noah, the young man that sacrificed his birthday presents, last March, in exchange for soccer balls to send to the troops. It was a day I'll never forget, and one that you should read about, HERE, if you haven't! (I've you have already read it, go ahead and read it again. It gets me right in the ol' heartstrings every time.)
So, The Ever-Resilient Kim's in the spirit, dressing up and taking photos. I joyfully forwarded them to Noah's Mom, who e-mailed me back with this great news:
Noah is being honored by Illinois Lt. Governor, in Chicago, this weekend as a HOMEFRONT HERO!
If anyone ever deserved Hero Status, this kid is it. I can tell you up front that he never set out to be a hero, or hoped for recognition. I still smile at his nonchalantly shrugging when I gushed at his good will, and saying "I just want to hang out with my friends."
So. I'm declaring it Feel Good Friday:
Noah's a hero, in Kosovo AND in Illinois.
Kim, I know, may have a few snail mails coming her way; thanks to all that asked for her mailing address.
Life sometimes does take my breath away.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I got a letter from This Just In's Kosovo Correspondent, SSG Kim. She's been a guest blogger here a couple of times, and you've all been so kind to send her well-wishes and a couple of packages.
Here she is:
In addition to e-mailing, Kim and I have taken to sending snail-mail to one another, periodically, which is a miracle in itself, as we're both pretty busy chica's. It's worth it, though: real letters in your real mail box are total keepers, in this day and age.
I have learned, in these letters, that in her (stateside) U.S. life, she is renovating a 100+-year old home. She loves dogs, and found a caretaker to live in the house while she was gone, in exchange for taking care of her 3 canine babies.
Kim just came home for 2 weeks of R &R.
Her canine babies were NOT taken care of. Timelines not available, the "caretaker" pretty much locked up the house and left the dogs to their own devices.
Kim's doggies were alive when she got home, but starving, and sick. One had developed a large tumor, and had to be put down. She's found alternate homes for her St. Bernard, and for her Golden Retriever, who went from 148 lbs to 101 lbs.
Her house, with 3 large dogs locked in for God knows how long, was a mess. Furniture had been chewed, and everying was saturated with urine. She had to call in a company that clean up after homicides to take care of it. There was so much damage to the floors that even the subfloors will have to be replaced, when she gets back to restoring her home.
Oh, and her homeowners insurance does not cover damage that her own dogs did to her house, she's being told.
Kim spent her entire 2 weeks leave finding alternate housing for her 2 remaining dog, cleaning her house, and sealing it up for the winter. She didn't get to see friends, she didn't, as she told me, even have time to get her haircut.
It took her 3 days to fly back to Kosovo, and it was then that we picked up our correspondence: She spent 13 hours gathering school supplies for children on her first day back. And you know what just kills me? Her first email to me, with all of this on her mind, began, "I hope your mother and your sister are doing well."
She's tired, disheartened, and worried. If you have a prayer, or a well-wish, or a hilarious joke to cheer her up, you can put it in your comments, or I can give you her e-mail or mailing address.
This is one angel that could use a little wind beneath her little wings right now.
Monday, November 17, 2008
I NEED PHOTOS.
I am trying to put together a collage of "Military" Christmases. Christmas in Iraq. Christmas in Afghanistan. Christmas wherever you are, soldier! Christmas Soldiers, Christmas tents, Christmas humvees or dinners or barracks!
DEADLINE: Yesterday. I'm sorry. Everyone keeps asking me how I get all of this stuff done: By the seat of my pants, that's how, and I'm flying right NOW! It's the nature of the Thanksgiving-then-Christmas beast. I'd like to make a few posters from them.
Mail your snapshots to me here: firstname.lastname@example.org
I'll share with the world what I get, and give the photographer full credit. I'm not going to steal photos off the net, and I'll just use what I end up with in the next 24-48 hours.
Please: Panic! Forward this to anyone that might be able to help!
I'll send a poster of the final collage to every participant.
Saturday, December 13
Kick-off: 7:00 at the Tumble Inn, Champaign.
You're welcome. It's less than a month away, and I don't want you scrambling for outfits at the last minute!
What is Santa Rampage, you ask? According to the initial initiator of last year's Santa Rampage, Jeremy Jay,
Santa Rampage takes place in major cities all over the world involving tens of thousands of Santas. It is a non-profit, non-political, non-religious & non-sensical celebration of holiday cheer, goodwill, and fun. There is no good reason to dress up in cheap Santa suits, run around town, sing songs, have strangers sit on our laps, and decide who is naughty or nice—but it's a lot of fun—so Santa does it anyway.Essentially, it's bar-hopping in Santa Suits. Oh, and last year, bowling, too.
Here a few photographic highlights from last year's event.
We ran into newlyweds Kim and Dean during the evening; they ended up using some semblance of this photo for their Christmas card last year.
For more information, visit MySpace.com/santarampage08
For more photos of last year's event, check out my Santa Rampage Smugmug Gallery
For a helpful hint on creating your own Santa boots for a fraction of what Santa Pays, click here: Santa Boots.
Gather up your own Santa Cliques and meet us downtown on the 13th! I really think we can match those City-Slicker Rampages, Santa-for-Santa.
Friday, November 14, 2008
It's been 48 hours since the Thanksgiving boxes were shipped! Enough! Time to get off our duffs and starts focusing on Christmas boxes! Chop chop, we have a lot to do!
If you're on the Toys for Troops mailing list, or in my e-mail contacts, you've already received two notices from me today. If you are on those lists, then this is the third time you're hearing this from me:
TOYS FOR TROOPS
Christmas Gifts to Soldiers
Sunday, December 7, 2008
VILLAGE INN PIZZA PARLOR
and Mattis, Champaign)
We mean to send everyone on our list a box of great holiday goodies! CDs, DVDs, t-shirts, socks, games, letters, and gourmet foodies.
- Purchasing a gift for a soldier, and bringing it to the event or dropping it in one of our drop boxes
- Baking some cookies or other treats
- Showing up on the 7th with Christmas wrap, scotch tape, scissors, and a smile
- Clicking on the button on the right, and sponsor the cost of shipping 1 box
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
We are becoming Post Office Conniseurs.
First of all, I smartly ordered all of my boxes and forms from USPS.com. However, I stupidly didn't allow enough time for them to be delivered. Monday evening I was still boxless, and running like crazy. When all was said and done, my shipping supplies came from Post Offices in Champaign, Savoy, Tolono and Urbana. Lesson learned; I won't do THAT again!
Also, I've learned that calling ahead is much appreciated. It's good to go when every window is open. Seriously, you just try bringing 70 boxes to the counter when there are only 2 clerks working, and see how much love you get from the people behind you that just need to buy one lousy stamp.
Not much, that's how much.
Andy was our lucky clerk today. He has a niece in Baghdad right now, and contributes to weekly care packages for her.
My secretary, Clint, helped me get Customs Forms together that I thought I'd already finished. My bad.
Here are a few of the boxes we wheeled in.
"Why?" you ask
I gambled this morning: I put this note and a tray full of home-made brownies at the counter, in hopes that it would appease those grouchier, more pressed-for-time customers.
Chocolate and a gentle explanation worked like magic. We didn't encounter one cross word this morning. We chatted, we laughed. We shook hands and passed business cards around. People asked me for flyers—and the brownie recipe. They patted my shoulder, and thanked us for all we do.
It was almost sad when it was time for us to go. I gathered up my bag of labels, and announced "We're taking our brownies and we're going home now. Last chance!" Clint carried the tray down the long line of customers still waiting. A few hedged, then got out of line to grab one before we left.
One clerk yelled "Bye, Mrs. Toys for Troops Lady!!"
Sniff. Bye-bye Post-Office People. I'll miss you.
Oh...and uh, pencil me in for December 8. I'll be back with more boxes.
And brownies. Definitely, brownies.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
First of all, the Lincoln Trail Elementary School really comes through for our local vets. The assembly they put together is amazing. They children accompany in the color guard, and with it, 200 more Veterans. Vets of all ages, and from every branch of the military.
They honored U.S. Veterans by reading letters to them. They honored U.S. Veterans by writing poetry for them. They honored U.S. Veteran's by singing to them. They honored U.S. Veteran's by interviewing them on camera, and creating a video with their answers to such questions as "what did you learn in the military?" and "what did you miss the most?" The video also included snapshots of veterans and their families.
As part of their Veteran's day project, the students have been helping Toys for Troops by collecting items for soldier's Thanksgiving Care Packaged. They wrote hundreds of letters, and presented me with all of that, today, along with some money to help send everything.
There were so many wagons that I lost count. And look at all of the loot in just this one!
I thanked them and promised them that their letters would be in the hands of soldiers on the other side of the world, most likely, by the time they sat down for their own Thanksgiving feasts.
And after the event, these Vets thanked me. And I thanked THEM for all they had done for us and our country. I was honored to be in this photo with them.
And off we went, for Phase II of this day:
Box after box was brought in, and merged with donations that had come in from the community in the last couple of weeks:
We are slow at work this week, and I got that A-OK to pack our boxes there. Coworkers joined in the fun.
Here's Kurt, our maintenance guy, and jack of all trades. He can wire, plumb, farm, rebuild your transmission, perform brain surgery and fly a rocket to the moon. And yet my tape gun got the best of him.
Apparently this editor, Heather, also slept through TapeGun 101. She fought the gun, and the gun won:
Jessica, Diane, and Kurt finish adding letters, sealing, and throwing on customs forms:
My job: To point at things, and say "do this" and "do that," and make my coworkers do alllll of the work, so I could then pose with the final products:
My car, until tomorrow morning:
Thank you so much to everyone that helped this event go so smoothly. Bloggers, friends, and acquaintances forwarded our newsletters and my e-mails. Many "far-away" readers helped by sending their own boxes to soldiers from their own homes.
- Financial donations covered the majority of the shipping expenses.
- Care package items were left on my porch, brought to my workplace, and dropped off at the "country casa" as Clint or I worked there.
- I received homemade cookies from fellow bloggers, in the mail, did cookie runs last night to pick up more, and had even more dropped off today. I have an 8 am run in the morning, will pack the last few boxes, and then it's off to the post office.
I just want to let you know and the generous people who workI'll close now, with this video, of the students singing to the Veterans as they left the Assembly this morning:
with you that the all airman I've met through my almost three years in
the military appreciate everything you are doing. From the children's
letters to the homemade cookies, all are packaged with the TLC that we
need and miss. The best part of a deployment is walking into work and
seeing a letter with my name on it. It's a constant reminder to us that
all our efforts are not going down for nothing. And the Americans that
we so proudly fight for are stepping up and showing their own gratitude
with a reminder to the soldiers and airman overseas. I will never be
able to say thank you enough for all your efforts.
Oh, and P.S.: Our next project starts...yesterday. Christmas Gifts to Soldiers. Get ready for it!
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Modus Operandi. Individual modus operandi. I contemplate, lately, the things I do to get me through the day that, perhaps, the rest of you might not. I'm relatively sure that many of you have your own operating systems, and I think it would be fun to compare and contrast.
Many of my systems revolve around reminding myself to do something. I make lists. When I absolutely MUST remember to do a thing, I resort to more drastic measures: Post-it notes on the bathroom mirror, reminding me that a coworker needs a ride to work this morning. Drawing an "X" on my hand, because I hate ink on my skin (tattoo excluded).
Here's another "system" I use. When I MUST remember to do something at the end of the day, I park my car at work and throw something in front of the steering wheel:
Seriously, who's going to forget to take home the milk they put in the workplace refrigerator when they find this? It doesn't have to be a shoe: A water bottle, instruction manual, any old thing you can find in the car will work. (If you get all the way home without noticing the shoe, you shouldn't have been driving in the first place.)
Clint, when reminding himself to grab something on his way out of the house, will set it in front of the door. Right. in. front. of the door. Like a doorstop.
Another friend, to remind herself to grab a thing, pulls this little stunt:
Keys in the freezer. No one's going anywhere without these, and oh! Don't forget to return the hedge trimmers to your sister!
Not all of my personal, quirky modus operandi revolve around memorization. For instance, when I do any sort of housework, yardwork, work work, I listen to books on tape. In order to work freely and keep myself from periodicaly catching the cord on doorknobs and such as I move about the house, and thus prevent snapping my neck, I uses small hair clips, and pin the cord to the back of my shirt:
When Brian was growing up, we developed a system of leaving notes to each other on the floor. They never went overlooked:
Being light skinned, but not quite "Porcelain" or "Geisha" as are the lightest shades of makeup, I buy 2 colors of foundation every time I shop, and mix them every morning. I don't know about you, but my skin isn't the same color every day. Lack of sleep can leave me pale, extra sunshine leaves me blushed; I'm covered every day with this system. And I get by on cheap makeup this way also. 2, $7 tubes do more for me than 1, $55 cosmetic counter color.
Doing it on the run, as I do most things in my life, I suck at laundry. After losing one too many sweaters or other delicates, I now have a laundry system that works for me every time: A magnet on the washer lid.
Magnet on the back of the lid means "toss everything in the dryer. Knock yourself out."
Sliding the magnet to the front of the door, however, means "there's a bra in here that costs so much that you've opted to pay 23% interest and make $10 monthly payments on it. Take heed."
Here's the magnet I use. It's my own personal laundry drill sargeant!
Did you know "Hooah" isn't really pronounced "Hoo-Ah," as Al Pacino would have us think? It took me quite a while, at Brian's bootcamp graduation, to realize that "hoo-ah" is pronounced more like a gutteral "HUAK!"...only without the actual hard "k" at the end. It's more of a disgusting hocking sound, one you wouldn't want to hear from the guy in the booth behind you at Applebee's.
Well. I digress. "Hoo-ah" is my laundry reminder.
Why don't you regale me with tales of your own individual modus operandi? I'm sure there are some brilliant ones out there, and that we will all benefit from your systems.
Go ahead. Make my day.
Friday, November 07, 2008
I ran across this piece, written in 1968 by Kent Keith, when he was 19 years old. It's crossed my mind a lot in the last few days, as people of this country both celebrate and lick their wounds. I've heard and read a lot of responses to the outcome of Tuesday's election. I have smiled at McCain supporters who have graciously, and even humorously accepted defeat. And I've been shocked and incensed by ignorant and hateful responses that I can't bring myself to link to here. I'm watching actual friendships struggle when prejudices are revealed, and turmoil amongst family members that can't bring themselves to agree to disagree.
This writing, especially the first line and last lines, comforts and calms me, while I sit back and watch these new days unfold.
THE PARADOXICAL COMMANDMENTS
People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.
© Copyright Kent M. Keith
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Alarm went off at 5:45 this morning, and I was off to the polls, telling Clint, "It's a historical day, and I'm going to participate!"
The polls were packed at 6 a.m., which made everyone smiley.
Well, everyone except the guy in front of me, who complained loudly through the 1-hour-wait, breathing coffee breath into my face, and explaining to all that was in earshot that today's system was a result of all of the dead people that voted for Kennedy in 1960. There are some people that just aren't happy unless they're unhappy, and this guy was in his glory.
15 minutes of politely listening to his tirade was enough for me; I pulled out the iPod, lost myself in a game of cribbage, avoiding eye contact, and thus forcing him to turn and talk at someone else.
I have to hand it to him, though: He voted.
So did I.
This is going to be one exciting day.
Monday, November 03, 2008
Yeah. That's my guy. I'll vote for him tomorrow, too. (And yes, I know I'm looking sleepy. I hadn't had my free coffee yet!)
Look how honored he is, to get his photo taken with me. You can see it in his face.
Free coffee, free cinnamon-crisp bagel, and a photo-op with Uncle Sam.
This is the best start to a Monday morning I've had in ages!
If you didn't make it out, but would still like to help, contact the Champaign Schools Family Information Center.
Saturday, November 01, 2008
My buddy Steve Holstein, of Holstein & Company at WIXY (100.3), is working with the Champaign Schools Family Information Center, on Monday morning, from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., to collect new coats for kids that need them, in this community.
There will be a drive-through coat drive at Atlanta Bread Company on Neil Street, on Monday morning. Drive through, drop off a new coat or $10 in either the Obama or McCain box, and get a free bagel and coffee to go.
And you can get your photo taken with a cardboard replica of your candidate. Hey! You can enclose the photo in all of your e-mail attachments on Tuesday, to encourage your friends to vote for your guy!
Of course, this isn't about the photo; it's about keeping a little body all toasty warm this winter.
So: Here's an Adventure Idea for your familia: Skip the $8 theater tickets and the $9 popcorn tonight. Take the kids to Walmart. Target. Farm & Fleet. Buy one coat, a $5 DVD, and a box of microwave popcorn.
You'll see a movie, eat some popcorn, keep a kid warm this winter, and break even in the process.
I'll see you Monday.