Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Guess What?!?

Yep, I finally did it.

I got my own website, got the blog imported in over there, and I am fine tuning some of the details. So please visit me at The Mind of ~Ifer. Please, please, if you are following me here, or you have me on a blogroll, please update the link. I don't want to lose readers in the transfer.

Off to play with my new website!

Monday, December 7, 2009


As the light breaks the night into pieces, he begins his day. Talking himself through the motions, he lays out his best suit.

"Look Mama, I am wearing my suit today."

She would be proud of him this morning. He remembers her smile as he slowly buttons up his starched white shirt. Remembers her gentle hands folding down his collar, making sure it was just so.

"Should I wear my black tie or my brown one today, Mama?"

He settles his mind on the black tie, and carefully ties the knot. Mama is there again, straightening his tie, demanding perfection. He reaches for his pants.

"A sharp crease, just the way you like it, Mama."

A matching waistcoat and suit jacket are next. He can feel her there with him still, slowly closing each button on his jacket. Imaginary hands brush the lint off his shoulder.

"I can see my own reflection in my shined shoes. Are you proud of me, Mama?"

His dressing complete, he prepares to set out on his journey. He will wander the streets of this town as he has every day for as long as anyone can remember.

"I am all ready to go now, Mama. Did I forget anything?"

For the briefest of moments, his mind wanders back to that hospital room. Mama is there. She smiles at him one last time as she gives him his charge, "Take care of the ones you love, my son".

"I love this town, Mama. I will watch over them.".

This story is about Vern, a man that wanders the streets of our town. Nobody knows much about him, but on some days, he dresses in his Sunday finest and walks. This story is part of the Write of Passage challenge. Please check it out.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Blog Award!

While I don't usually do the blog award thing, I just couldn't resist when I received such a wonderful award from my blog-friend, Chelle. So without further ado, the Valued Blogger award. The rules are pretty simple:
  1. Tell your readers how your journey into blogging began. Be as verbose or shy as you like.
  2. Pick 3-5 fellow bloggers whom you adore and write what exactly it is you value about that person or their blog. The more you write about them the better. This is a chance to really appreciate your blog friends who have been there with and for you through thick and thin.
  3. Let the blessed winners know they have been awarded.
How did my journey into blogging begin? Well, I have always been a writer, a poet, a lover of the written word, so I have had a journal or diary of some sort as far back as I can remember. What got me started on this current blogging adventure was reading the Pioneer Woman's blog. I fell in love with her story, and I thought to myself "I have something I want to say", so I started blogging. It has been more therapy for me than I ever imagined it would be when I started.

Fellow bloggers that I adore?
  1. Julie's Photo Journey. Her talent with a camera is something I love and I long for. I see the stories and the emotions behind the pictures she posts. They are truly works of art, and I love them.
  2. Return to Innocence. I was orginally drawn to this blog because of the name, and the fact that it reminded me of a song I used to really love, many years ago. Since then, I have been really moved by the author's attempt to honestly deal with herself and her emotions. I love the fact that I feel, many times, that the author is talking herself through spots, and we have the privilege of peaking in the window.
I know the rules say 3-5 blogs, but honestly, I flitter about between a lot of blogs, but feel deeply moved by only a few, so there you have it.

And many thanks to Chelle for this award!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Global Warming 101

I was given a wonderful blog award that I will tell you about tomorrow, but for today...

I mentioned the other day that last year it snowed here in Southeast Texas for the first time in thirty years. Well, yesterday, for the second year in a row, Southeast Texas said loud and clear

"Take THAT Global Warming fanatics!"

Friday, December 4, 2009

Book Fair!

Across the street from our church office sits the day school. The only reason I need you to know that the school was there is that the periodic contact that I have with the preschoolers remind me of my childhood.

This week they had a book fair. An honest to goodness, Berenstein-Bear-laden, Shel-Silverstein- loving, Scholastic Book Fair. Earlier this week I had to drop off some papers in the hall where they are having the Fair, and I was instantly transported back 20 years (ok, so maybe it was closer to 25!).

For an instant, I am eight years old, standing in the library of my elementary school. Take a deep breath, inhale that smell of new books intertwined with the unique smell of the library. Look around at the glossy covers of all the new books, begging my little hands to softly caress them, to pick them up. Hear that crack of the spine when a new book is opened for the first time. Know that in my hands holds the ticket to another world.

Books were of utmost importance to my parents. Book fairs were a time when I could always be certain that we would find the money to buy a book. And no, not the fun sticker books that all my classmates were drooling over. My eyes would light up when the teachers passed out the pamphlets a couple weeks before the fair. I would treasure that paper, I would pore over the selections time and time again, knowing that I could make just one choice. I could get just one book, but oh! which to pick?

I realize as I type these words that the wonder has never gone away. I can walk into a Books a Million or Barnes and Noble today and feel the same wonder. The same overwhelming awe at the aisles and shelves of books. So many books to read, so many adventures that wait for me, how can I choose just one?

As I stood there this week, transported in time for the briefest of seconds, I wanted to thank my parents for this love of the written word. I want them to know that I do believe that words can change lives, that words can take you to other worlds, other times, other lives. That words can mold the way I think, the way I view the world.

And I wondered... was I the only child that was punch-drunk with love for the book fair?

Thursday, December 3, 2009


I know it has been a full week since Thanksgiving, and I have neglected to share stories, but every time I sit down to write a blog entry, I forget that I meant to tell you all about it.

A week late, the story of our Thanksgiving...

Most Thanksgiving, Mike's extended family plans a get-together, and this year it was at his Aunt Cindy's house. Now, growing up in a military family, I can tell you that in my childhood we never had extended family holidays. Holidays for us were a more intimate time of my mom, dad, and us kids gathered around our table. I don't regret that for a minute, and I look back on those childhood holidays with a fond and warm heart. Those are treasured times that are not diminished in the least by the negative events that have taken place since then.

But I never had a big family gathering at Thanksgiving, until I met Mike. The first couple years, I have to admit, were pretty awkward for me. I wasn't sure how to fit in exactly, and I so desperately wanted everyone to like me and to accept me. I had a good time each year, and I was silly to worry so much, but such is my nature.

Slowly over the years, I have had the chance to get to know his family, and to feel at home with them, so I was really looking forward to this Thanksgiving gathering, and they did not disappoint.

It was everything you read about a family Thanksgiving being. Two generations of kinfolk gathered around a long table (actually three tables put together), covered with more food than we could possibly eat (although we certainly tried). What I love most about it is the conversations that go on during dinner. The joking, the reminiscing, the funny stories they told, it was all part of a magical memory that I now have.

It is another memory I will hold close in fondness and warmth. And someday, this is the kind of family environment that I hope to pass on to our children. Families are never perfect. There are always those issues that rub people the wrong way, the personalities that are never going to perfectly match, the hurts and the words that only families can understand.

But this Thanksgiving, I counted myself blessed to be a part of a family that understands what being a family really means. That no matter what happens, no matter the family squabbles that may occur, that underneath it all, is family. That foundation remains strong and firm. That foundation is forever.

And as we sat there on Thanksgiving, I looked around at the people that I used to think of as Mike's family, and I realized that they are MY family now too. And that in the future, should Mike and I be blessed with a child, they will have this family too. They will be surrounded with memories and relatives. Most of all, they will be (as we are now) surrounded with love.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!

Yesterday, December 1, it was almost like the weather was following a script designed to make it feel more like Christmas around here. We woke up to a chilly morning, and throughout the day, the temperatures dropped. Folks, it's COLD out there now (well, cold is a relative term and in this case refers to the temperature dropping below 50 in Southeast Texas).

The weather people are prediciting possible snow on Friday. SNOW! In Southeast Texas! It snowed here last year too, for the first time in 30 years. I remember Mike got up in the middle of the night to get a drink or something, and he woke up me saying "baby... it's SNOWing!" The wonder and excitement in his voice was a beautiful thing, and like children on Christmas morning, we got up and got dressed and went out to take pictures in the snow at 3am. The next morning we woke up to find a beautiful white town, and until about noon that day we got to enjoy the postcard effect on our town.

I hope it snows again this year. Even if it doesn't, the cold weather outside is getting me in the mood for Christmas. It's cold outside, warm in my office, I have instrumental Christmas music playing on the pandora, and the office tree is set up and cozy warm, decorated in shades of red and gold.

Is it really only December 2? I love this season for so many reasons. I love the warmth that I feel each year. I am ready to welcome Christmas.

In the eternal words of the Whoville song...

Welcome Christmas
While we stand
Heart to heart
And hand in hand
Welcome welcome
Christmas Day

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Have you lost your mind, child?

I mentioned last month that I signed up for the NaBloPoMo, where you write a blog entry every day for an entire month. Since I signed up in the middle of November, I didn't get the chance to really get into it last month, so I decided to wait until today, the first day of December, to get started. So this is my official first post for the month :)

I woke up this morning thinking about writing in my blog, and it occurred to me just what I am getting myself into. Not only am I going to try to write every day for a month, but I picked the month of December. I seriously think I have lost my mind in attempting this. December is not only busy for me because of the usual holiday stuff that people have, the shopping, the parties, the town Christmas parade, but as a church secretary, it is even more so. I think I have mentioned before, but this month is our Superbowl. There is constantly something going on at the church during December, even if it isn't something I am directly involved in. There are Sunday School class parties, and get togethers, and programs, and events, all of which I am in some way a part of.

So, can I do it? Can I write a blog entry every day for this month? Honestly, I don't know, but I am sure going to give it a try. In some ways, I think it will be easier in December, because at least then I will have stuff to talk about each day, right?

Since this entry is already random and has no theme, I figure I might as well continue with my spew of thoughts this morning. I had such a good time yesterday reading all the blog entries for Mrs. Flinger's writing challenge. In retrospect, I wish I had a more interesting story to tell yesterday (not saying I wanted to be embarrassed, but I do like to appear interesting when people ask us to share a story). I am looking forward to each week and seeing if I can improve my writing. I am looking forward to going back to the entries I most liked yesterday, and adding some people to my blog roll.

I like events like that because, #1, they give me a topic to write about at least once a week, and that certainly gets my mind to working, and #2, they give me a sense of community, a chance to belong. I think that is what I envy the most about the bloggers that have a large following, that feeling that people care about the words you are writing, the feelings you are sharing. Don't get me wrong, there ARE people in my personal life that read my blog and care very much about what I write, and I don't take that for granted. But I think deep down inside each of us is the desire to feel popular, to be accepted. I think we blog because we want our story to be heard.

I don't really know where I am going with this post anymore, so I guess I will go now. Goodness knows, there is plenty to be done around the office.

Monday, November 30, 2009

So far, so good

I have been following Mrs. Flinger's blog for quite a while now, because I love the style in which she writes, and the stories are fascinating to me. This morning, when I was catching up on posts from the weekend, I ran across a recent post of hers that intrigues me. She is starting a writing group that once a week, will be given an idea to write a blog post about. The first one was for today, so let's see if I can give this a whirl.

Today's topic was to post about your most embarrasing moment. This is actually quite a difficult topic for me, because I have spent my entire life in a carefully orchestrated attempt to not stand out in a crowd. I don't embarrass easily, or rather, I DO embarrass quite easily, but I do everything in my power to avoid those situations to begin with. I attempt to fade into the woodwork when possible, I overplan events to make sure every tiny detail is in place, I try not to talk about a topic unless I know that my information is correct, etc.

Sure, I have embarrassing moments, like the rest of the world. I have tripped up stairs in high school, I have spilled food or drink on clothes at an important time. There was the time that I fell asleep in the chair in my boss' office while I waited for him to get off the phone. Life is full of small moments that make me blush, but I have been sitting here for almost an hour trying to come up with a "most" embarrassing moment, and the truth is, I just don't have one. So far, I have been successful in my ongoing crusade to avoid that kind of notice, I guess.

I just hope I can keep up the trend.

This post is part of the Write of Passage challenge. Please stop by and join the fun!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My Naomi

So who is your Naomi?

Mike and I are currently studying the book of Ruth in our nightly Bible study. For those of you not familiar with the beginning of the story, it goes something like this.

Naomi moved to a foreign country with her husband and two sons. The two sons marry foreign wives. The husband and both sons die. Naomi prepares to go back to her home country, and she tells her daughter-in-laws that since they are young and in good health, they should return to their families and find themselves other husbands. One daughter-in-law goes back to her family. The other one, Ruth, refuses to leave Naomi, and insists on traveling with Naomi back to Israel. Her words to Naomi are commonly used in wedding ceremonies all the time now, the famous quote about "whereever you go, I will go, your people will be my people, and your God my God".

At the end of the study on the first night, it asked us the question "who is someone you can call your Naomi".

Who in your life can you make that kind of committment to?

Well obviously, my husband, first and foremost.

I have written volumes and volumes about how much I love my husband, and our marriage, but this post is actually about someone else.

This post is about my mother-in-law, Dee, my Naomi.

She is amazing in so many ways that I cannot even begin to explain to you.

My Naomi listens to what I say. Not just polite conversation, nodding her head to pretend that she is listening. She LISTENS. The first year that Mike and I were together, long before we were married, Thanksgiving was approaching and I was telling her about a funny story from my childhood. My mother made "Thanksgiving out of a box", as the kids called it. She made instant mashed potatoes, a turkey that had a pop up timer to tell you when it was done, cranberry sauce still shaped like a can, pumpkin pie that has "libby's, libby's, libby's, on the label, label, label", and Stove Top dressing. I was telling Dee about this, and about how the first year I was in college, I went to Thanksgiving with a friend, because I could not afford to fly home. My friend's mother made homemade stuffing, and I felt let down because I missed the Stove Top dressing from my childhood. It was a story that was meant to be funny, a brief poking fun at myself for being so tied to a box mix that I didn't appreciate the work that went into the homemade stuffing.

We all laughed and went about our business. Thanksgiving day arrived, and we went to the big family dinner. They bring out all the food, Dee brings out the big pan of homemade stuffing that she makes every year. And then (and I still get teared up at this memory), she brings out a little saucepan of Stove Top dressing that she made for me. She made that just for me. She heard what I said in my story, she remembered somehow that it mattered to me, and she went out of her way to make a dish that only I wanted. That is how much she cared.

My Naomi thinks about us. She is constantly coming home from Wal-Mart with some piece of clothing that was on sale and in my size that she picks up for me. She cuts out recipes that she thinks I might want to try. She calls our house to let us know when a tv show is on that she thinks Mike or I might want to watch.

My Naomi takes care of us. If one of us is sick, she brings food over to the house. We live in an apartment next door to their house, and share a laundry room with them. If she happens into the laundry room when we have clothes that need to be moved through the process, she takes care of them for us. I can't count the number of times I have gone to go put clothes in the dryer and instead found a folded stack of clean clothes waiting to be taken home.

Like I said, I could go on for hours about all the wonderful ways that Dee has taken me in and made me one of her own. It was actually strange for me to type her name out during this post, and I only did it for clarification, because from the time I arrived here to be with Mike, she has made me a daughter. She is Mom to me. She took me under her wing, loved me, and been everything that a mother is supposed to be to me and Mike.

She is my Naomi.

But Ruth said,‘Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die— there will I be buried. May the Lord do thus and so to me, and more as well,if even death parts me from you!’ Ruth 1:16-17

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fed Up

You know what I am sick of? Liars. And the world is full of them.

I am so tired of being told what people think I want to hear in a grand effort to either be politically correct, or to avoid what they perceive as an upset person.

Case in point, the Doctor's Eye Clinic here in our town. We are waiting on the results of some tests that were taken last week. At the time of the testing, we were told by two different people that the doctor would review the results and would get them out in the mail by the end of the week. As today is Monday and we still have no results, we call them to find out what the deal is. Mike's first call is answered by woman #1 who tells him that "oh no, it can take the doctor two or three weeks to get those results back".

After Mike tells me about this, I decide that is an unacceptable response, and for probably one of the first times in my life, I call a doctor's office to file a formal complaint. The lady that I filed the complaint with (and believe me, we know her name) tells me that she saw the doctor working on the results Friday, and that he will be in the office tomorrow and she will make sure that he gets them out in the mail tomorrow if they aren't already.

So who is lying?

You know what? It doesn't matter. I am sick of it all.

And it isn't just this clinic that does it. People in our world lie all the time now. You call the phone company for repairs on your DSL line (another incident from this weekend) and for the six times I called, I got the same story only twice.


I called six times, and was told 5 different stories about when it would be fixed and we would be back online.

Why? I just don't understand it. I try to be honest with people. I try to deal in the truth, even if I KNOW it isn't what that person wants to hear.

I just don't understand the need that people feel to lie. Are they trying not to upset me by telling me what they think I want to hear? Are they making crap up so that they don't have to check their facts? Do they really not know, and are just too lazy to find out? Or are they just pathologically lying to me for no reason at all?

I cannot tell you the frustration that I am feeling right now.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Where does it all go?

The time, that is.

I love this time of year, because I love the holiday season. I live all year for this season, anticipating, planning, deciding on gifts for family and friends, and getting ready in my heart. But here is the secret that nobody tells you about...

The holiday season, when you are working in a church office, is mass chaos! Well, not so much chaos, because I can't function like that, but constantly on the go, constantly moving, planning the next special service, the next Christmas event.

Who is taking care of the live Nativity, and do they have it ready?
Do we have the labels to put on the stuff we are selling at the Christmas bazaar?
Have we ordered the books for advent?
Have we ordered the advent candles?

And the list goes on.

Now, don't get me wrong, I THRIVE on this kind of busyness, so I am not complaining. I just wanted to let you all know that if I am not commenting on your blogs, if my blogging gets a bit more sporadic, it is probably because I am somewhere in the church hanging up decorations or printing bulletins, or one of the myriad of other tasks that this season brings.

I am still here, I promise :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Letter to My Father on Veterans Day


I realized this week that for all my eloquent words about our military, for all my noble thoughts about how great and heroic those men and women are, for all that I respect them and honor them for what they have done and are doing for our country, for all the times that I have thanked a veteran, there is one veteran that I have never thanked. I have never told you, Dad. I am here today to change that.

Dad, thank you.

Thank you for teaching me to love our country. Thank you for instilling the knowledge in me that our country, sometimes in spite of its flaws and sometimes because of them, deserves my respect and my gratitude.

Thank you, Dad, for teaching me that freedom is worth the price that people are willing to pay. Thank you for teaching me to respect our military, to salute our flag, to place my hand over my heart during the anthem.

Thank you for living out an example of a man dedicated to the protection of his country, and all its citizens. Thank you for taking our family with you as you traveled around the globe. Thank you for allowing me the chance to live other cultures, and to arrive at the conclusion that America is this great nation.

Dad, thank you for your example of service. For getting up each morning, putting on your uniform, and heading out our doors to protect our country, to protect our family, to protect me.

I thank you for the fact that I get choked up every time I hear Taps being played. I thank you for the fact that I outright cry when I see the missing man formation being flown overhead. I thank you for every moment that I realized how incredibly blessed we are to live in this wonderful land.

I thank you for me knowing all the words to the patriotic songs. I thank you for making the 4th of July so much more to me than a day for fireworks. I thank you for teaching me the history of our country, for pointing out our strengths and our weaknesses.

There is so much you have taught me in life, Dad, but on this Veterans Day, I want to thank you for all you have done for me, for our family, and for our country.

I remember watching the movie "Man Without a Country" with you when I was young. The story was about a man who, during a court marshall in the Civil War years, wished that he had "never heard of America". The judge granted his wish, and placed him on a boat that was never allowed to land, and the people on board were never allowed to speak of America to him. At the end of the movie, he meets a young man who is disillusioned with America, and he speaks these words to him

..."For your country, boy," and the words rattled in his throat, "and for that flag," and he pointed to the ship, "never dream a dream but of serving her as she bids you, though the service carry you through a thousand hells. No matter what happens to you, no matter who flatters you or abuses you, never look at another flag, never let a night pass but you pray God to bless that flag. Remember, boy, that behind all these men..., behind officers and government, and people even, there is the Country Herself, your Country, and that you belong to her as you belong to your own mother. Stand by her, boy, as you would stand by your mother...! Oh, if anybody had said so to me when I was your age!"

After the movie was over you turned to me and told me not to forget those words. To remember that our country is worth everything in life. It is worth living for, fighting for, even dying for.

Dad, don't worry. I won't forget those words. I won't forget them, because I saw them lived out every day of our lives. I saw them in the flesh, in the most important veteran in my life...

My father.

Happy Veterans Day, Daddy


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

True Strength

My heart is very heavy today. Not for anything of mine, personally, but for the struggle that I see in another.

There is a lady here at the church that I work at. She is a wonderful lady, a strong woman of God, an example to the rest of us. She is, in so many ways, what I long to be in life. I have truly come to love this woman.

She has seen so much in her life. She has so much wisdom and truth that she has shared with the people of our church, and especially with the young adults in our church.

And she is struggling now. Her husband is not doing well, health wise.

She puts a brave face on it, she has so much strength in this situation. But I see the sadness, I see the struggle.

Please keep this lovely lady and her husband in your thoughts and prayers right now.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Day the Wall Fell

Twenty years ago....

Twenty years ago, I was the awkward, geeky 9th grade girl in this yearbook picture

Twenty years ago, my dad was stationed in Berlin, Germany, and we had been living there for about a year.

Twenty years ago, I was at home watching a movie with my family when the phone rang. It was Brandy, a friend of mine in high school. She was calling to say they were going to tear down the Berlin Wall.

Twenty years ago, I told Brandy she was full of it, and ended the phone conversation. I went back into our living room to tell my parents the crazy story that she had cooked up this time. (Brandy was famous for outlandish tales of how she was going to be in the Olympics, about the time she swam with the killer whales, about how rich her parents were, etc). We turned off the movie so my parents could check the news, and we saw the most amazing night of our lives begin to unfold.

I don't know if everyone was as surprised that night as I was, but as a 9th grader, I had no idea that the events were unfolding in that direction. As a military brat, you are pretty aware of world situations and things that can affect your family, your friends, and your country. I don't know if the whole world was as taken by surprise as I was. Sure, freedom was spreading in Eastern Europe at the time, but the Berlin Wall? That was a forever thing.

See, we had lived in Berlin for a year before this came about. We had learned to abide by the rules and regulations that living in those circumstances requires. West Berlin was called the Island of Freedom, because the city of Berlin sat smack dab in the middle of East Germany. To get to the next piece of "free land", we had to drive a 3 hour road called the Corridor. We had to sign out with the army in Berlin and drive one road until we reached West Germany, where we had to sign in again. You had a set amount of time to make the journey. If you took too long, they sent military troops in to find you. If you arrived too quickly, they would ticket you for speeding. If your car broke down, if you got a flat tire, if for some reason, you could go on no further, our instructions were to stay in our car with the doors locked and wait for the military to come get us.

I had seen first hand the difference between East and West Berlin. As Americans, we could receive special passes to go shopping and site seeing in East Berlin. "East Passes" as they were nicknamed, were a piece of paper with your picture, your vital information. When you drove through Checkpoint Charlie to get into East Berlin, you were to hold that pass up to the window of your car. Under no circumstances were you to give that paper to the Russian guards that were allowing you in. That paper was your proof that you were an American, that you were there with the permission and support of the American Military. I remember driving through the checkpoints and being amazed that two so different worlds could exist in the same city.

East Berlin was gray. That is what I remember most. That, and the fact that people didn't smile on the streets. It was gray. It was somber. The buildings all looked the same, there were no advertisements anywhere. The Berlin Wall itself was gray. There was no graffiti on the East side of the Wall. To even approach the Wall from the East side was forbidden, and was a death warrant, carried out by the guards in the towers that were constantly overlooking.

Walking around in East Berlin was a lesson in world politics. East German and Russian military were all over the place, both in professional capacity and on their leisure time. The East Germans and the Russians were required by their own militarys to salute American soldiers that they saw in East Berlin. My father always wore his uniform when we went to the East, as a sign of who we were. At the same time, our government didn't acknowledge the validity of the Russians being in East Berlin. We didn't recognize the East German government as valid either. So my father's instructions? Ignore the salutes received from these soldiers. A salute is a sign of respect, and we don't respect their right to be here, so American soldiers did not salute in return.

There is so much history of the Wall itself that I won't go into here today, although I encourage everyone to read the stories of how people escaped over, under, and through the Wall over the years.

What I will tell you is that in my world, the Wall was a permanent structure. Did you know that the Wall itself surrounded West Berlin only? Did you know that it was built not to keep East Germans in East Berlin, but to keep them out of West Berlin? Did you know that WE were the ones that lived enclosed in a Wall? It was solid, it was menacing, it was forever.

Except.... it wasn't. In one stroke of a pen, in one night, in one official declaration, the Wall lost all its power.

We watched TV for hours that night. The flood of people didn't stop. The East Germans weren't really sure that the open borders would last, so they were pouring across into West Berlin, just in case. There were families that hadn't seen each other in almost 30 years that were reunited that night. There were children and teenagers that had never seen the flash and color of the Free West that learned that night.

I remember that we cried that night. We cried in joy for the people that were now free. We cried in relief that their struggle was coming to an end. We cried in pride that we had done our job.

We had held on. The Island of Freedom had stood strong for so many years. So many men and women from the US, British, and French military had been stationed over the years, each doing their part to stand strong and hold fast to that patch of land, that symbol of freedom surrounded by oppression. I remember the next day, or maybe the day after that, the West Berlin Newspaper ran a full page ad on the back of the paper. In English, French, and German, all it said was "Thank You".

I write these memories so that I may never forget the wonder that I saw that night. I write so that I may always keep that awkward 9th grade girl in my heart, and she may never let me forget. I write so that we can tell our kids what it was like before. I write so that people can know the struggle, the fight, the victory that took place in that city. I write because 20 years ago, I was privileged to sit in my living room, in Berlin, Germany, and watch history unfold before my very eyes. I write because I lived a piece of history.

I felt it, I saw it, I held it in my hands, 20 years ago.

20 years ago, today.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

My Story

I was reading over my blog list today, and catching up on new posts and entries, and it struck me for a moment how much more interesting all these stories are than the way that I perceive my own life. Do we each view our own story as the most mundane? Is this simply because we lived it, are living it, and we don't see the spectacular in the day to day?

I was thinking to myself as I read these blogs that I don't see what I have to offer that others would like to read about. I don't live on a farm, I don't have kids to post pictures of, I don't have a theme that people can universally relate to. For a moment, I sat there in self pity, wondering why I should blog, and then I remembered two very important facts.

1. I blog for me first and foremost. I blog because I have things to say. I blog because I need to sort my thoughts, I need to tell the story, I need to capture so that I can remember.

2. Nobody else has my story. That is what makes the world of blogs so fascinating to me. I can read about a journey to adoption, yet that is not my story. I can read about life on a ranch, yet that is not my story. I can read about your children, your families, your world, and yet, none of those are my story. But you know what? I can write MY story, and nobody else can.

~I can write about the life of a church secretary
~I can write about the perspective of an Army brat
~I can write about the life I have chosen
~I can write about the thoughts I have

And although each of those factors may be shared by other blogs, nobody has the story that I can share.

And nobody has the story that you share.

Blogging to me takes this huge world of nameless people and faces and gives them names. It fleshes out the people that walk down the street next to you each day. It shows how wonderfully unique each and every one of us are.

So tell me your story, and I will tell you mine.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fort Hood

I don't know that I have words to explain what I am feeling about the incident at Fort Hood yesterday, but I have to try.

~Regarding the shooter. I KNOW I don't have words to describe this waste of a human being. It is a matter of taking the already horrific event of turning a gun on innocent people, compounded by the fact that those innocent people are the very ones that will give their lives to defend this country, and exponentially increased by the fact that the shooting was done in a place that these brave defenders are supposed to be able to relax and feel safe. He didn't just kill people. He killed people that had devoted their lives to protecting HIS freedom. He killed people that were in that room either getting ready to go serve their country abroad, or returning from a tour of service. He killed people that had families at home that were relaxed in their worry. The families didn't have to worry, their loved ones were on US soil, in a safe place, the time for worry had not yet arrived. The shooter is among the lowest form of human life. I am a kind person for the most part, but I have to admit that I was really disappointed to hear that he had survived and was still alive. I honestly, truly, deeply, wish that they would have killed him at the scene.

~Regarding the victims. There are not enough words in this world to explain how I feel about the men and women that serve in our military. As a child of a career Army man, I saw firsthand the love that these people have for their country. They don't enlist to get good healthcare, or free college, those are just the perks. They enlist because they believe with their whole being that our country is a place worth fighting for, that our freedom is a thing worth dying for. The ultimate goal is to serve honorably, faithfully, steadfastly, and for them to know that because of their actions, their families back home go to bed each night in safety and freedom. The men and women in that room yesterday were no less of heroes in my eyes. They were men and women who were prepared to give their life for the country, and instead had it stolen away by a mad gunman. They have all my respect, all my honor, all my love. My hand is over my heart for them. I salute the flag for them. I tear up at Taps for them. They are my heroes.

~Regarding the families. There are no words that can comfort. Please know that your country is behind you. Your country grieves with you.

~Regarding Fort Hood. The odd thing is that we used to live there. When I was in middle school, my family lived on Fort Hood for about 18 months. I know the buildings they were talking about. I drove by that main gate. I know that place. It was a place of security. I never had to worry about my dad going to work there because we were in the States. We were on American soil, we were safe. My heart goes out to all the families there now that can no longer live with that sense of security.

I don't have any witty way to wrap this post up. I will just close by saying that my thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of those hurt and killed yesterday at Fort Hood.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tis the Season

I saw the first Christmas decoration up in town yesterday, and it made me smile. I love love LOVE Christmas and all that it brings with it. The chance to buy the perfect present for the people you care about, the family, the times of togetherness, the songs, the decorations, the food, the warmth. Everything about the season is warm to me. Even living here in Southeast Texas, where the weather is NOT cold outside, the time of Christmas is still a time of "emotional snuggling under the blanket".

I am also really looking forward to Thanksgiving this year again. Mike's side of the family is having a family get together, and I always love those. I don't know the people there really well, even after the years that we have been together, but it is always a time of family that I love to be a part of. Even the ones that don't know me really well are always so nice to me, or they pick on me and tease me, as the occasion calls for. And the food... oh my, the food.

So what is your favorite part of the upcoming holidays? What makes your heart smile?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Visit NaBloPoMo

So I joined up for NaBloPoMo, otherwise known as National Blog Posting Month. It is an ongoing challenge to post once (at least) each day for a full calendar month. Now, I missed out on November, but I signed up anyhow, and I plan to try to fulfill this challenge in December.

The difference from IComLeavWe is that this one holds no obligation to posting comments on other blogs. This committment is to myself, a challenge to me to see if I can discipline myself into writing something EVERY day, even on weekends. So I look forward to this challenge.

And yes, it does add the blog to a blogroll so that people can visit and read if they choose to, but there are no obligations, and I like that.

This made me smile


I will freely admit that I have neglected my blog for a while now. There have been reasons, and one reason has merged smoothly into the next, and then the next, and so it goes.

I was sick for a few days, I fought demons of lethargy and apathy for a day, I took time away to be with the man I love.

I have things building up inside my head that need to be said, and I will write about them soon. They are building up like water behind a very shaky dam, and they will be released as soon as I can line them up in a steady stream. I have to hold on to the dam of my thoughts for a bit longer, or you will be lost in the flood of thoughts and observations that will gush out.

All that to say: I am sorry I have been away, I will be back soon, I have things to say.

Thanks for sticking in there, my friends!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sum Up

It hasn't been a good week, and I am ready for the weekend.

Actually, I have been ready for the weekend since Sunday morning. This week has been one of those that kicks you in the ass and leaves you lying in the puddle by the side of the road.

And poor Mike has had to be the sounding board for my frustrations this week. He has been the support that has kept me going.

No, not any one thing is wrong, I promise. Just one of those overall rough times, ya know?

Someone wake me up when it's Friday afternoon, please :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Little Bit of Blue October on a Tuesday

I wanted to share this video with you... it is from a few years ago, and it is the way that Blue October used to close their concerts. The honesty and "lay it all out there" attitude is what drew me to them in the first place. This video is composed of two songs, "Amazing", and "Weight of the World". "Weight of the World" is still my absolute all time favorite Blue October song, because of the raw emotion that I can hear... I hope you enjoy this...

Note: There is a little bit of cussing in parts

Friday, October 23, 2009


I was reminded today of how much I love Snow Patrol's song "Chasing Cars"... especially the quiet peacefulness of the lyrics..

"If I lay here, if I just lay here...would you lie with me and just forget the world"

Off to forget the world with my sweetheart for a while...

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Yes, I know that isn't a real word. But it is the made-up word that I use to describe that feeling of a million thoughts racing around inside my head. That state of not being able to pin a thought down. That frustration of wanting to write an entry for my blog, but having flittering, random thoughts buzzing around like a hive of bees. The state of randominity.

When I am in Randominity, the only cure is to spew the thoughts out in one messy conglomerated entry that has no direction, no focus, no theme, it just IS.

So here you go...

~it is really raining today, and while I love the rain, it is so dark outside, and that is making it tough to wake up.
~I just made eye appointments for tomorrow afternoon, and I find those annoying
~I need to remember to put the new flea collar on the cat today.
~I feel like baking something this weekend, but I am not sure what I want to make
~I really want to be home right now, curled up under a blanket with Mike.
~Daylight savings is coming on Nov 1, and I am glad. I am tired of heading out to work when it is still semi-dark outside.
~I am hungry

So what about you? For your comments today, share some of your randominity with me.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Try, Try Again

I have started three different entries so far this morning, with three different themes, and three different titles... but I can't focus.

I took a sleeping pill last night to help me get some solid rest, and although it certainly did its job, I can't shake the groggies this morning.

I decided not to do the product review. I don't know... if it was something I really wanted to do, I would not have been so conflicted about it.

I hate the fog in my mind right now...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

To Review, or not to Review...

So yesterday, I received my first request to review a product in my blog. They offered to send me a free copy of said product in exchange for me doing a blog review... My thoughts are muddled, so forgive the squiggly bullets as I mull out what I am thinking...

~I know I am not the only person they sent this review to, but still! I got asked to do a review!
~They offered me a free copy. Free! (translation: ZOMG! Free loot!)
~Doing product reviews is a great way to get free stuff, and to increase traffic to my blog. Since one of my goals IS to increase my readership over time, this would seem like a good move.
~But I don't want to seem like I have sold out. I want my blog to be MY blog.
~But if I do an honest review, whether I like it or not, then my words will still be MY words, right?
~ But what if I hate the product and I am gonna feel bad about a bad review
~ZOMG! Free loot!
~What do I do?
~What would others do in my situation?
~What is your opinion?
~Why can't I make up my mind?
~What should I say?
~I HAD planned on putting ads on my site if I ever got a decent readership
~This IS more controlled than random ads, right?
~What are the rules for this sort of thing?
~Are there legalities that I am not aware of?
~UGH! The agony of making a decision that could alter the direction of where my blog is going
~Why do I stress so much
~I should probably just say no, and move on, shouldn't I?
~But what if this is a good thing?

Help me, friends...

I am not asking you to tell me what to do, but give me some thoughts, some opinions, some insight into what others would do if they were me.

Please, before I end up in a padded room, all over a simple email request lol.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

As Long As You Are There...


After our engagement in March, Mike and I began planning a wedding for later that fall. We picked out October 15 as the date for a variety of reasons including that it gave us enough time to plan. At the same time, it wasn't too far away, and it didn't clash with any holidays or birthdays. Personally, I liked it because I like the number 15. I have an odd obsession towards numbers, which I will go into at a later time, but the 15th sounded like a nice, solid number. Anyhow, the date was picked, and the preparations began.

Although Mike left most of the planning to me, he never was too far away. He was always willing to share his thoughts and his opinions on things. Our wedding would be fairly intimate, with just family and a few close friends. Our wedding party would consist of just me, the maid of honor, Mike, and his brother as the best man.

Through each stage of the planning, whenever I asked him what he thought of something, Mike would always give me an honest answer, and then would finish his comments with "but really, as long as you are there, it will be perfect".

As long as you are there.

I bought the dress, I printed our invitations and sent them out. His mother (a florist), offered to do my flowers for me. His aunt (a very talented seamstress) altered the gown for me when it arrived. Family and friends pitched in to help us keep the cost of the wedding as low as possible, while still making it the wedding of our dreams. We planned to have the wedding in the local Presbyterian church that his parents were attending at the time. Months and months before the wedding, all the details were complete. If I remember right, by about July, all our plans were in place, and we only had to wait for the day to arrive.

September 24, 2005
Three weeks before the wedding, Hurricane Rita landed.

This might not mean that much to you, but living in Southeast Texas, it meant our worlds were about to change. Mike and I evacuated for the storm, although his parents decided to stay behind. When the storm hit, it changed everything. The church where we planned to have the wedding had serious water damage, and wouldn't be ready before the wedding date. His parents had a tree come through the roof of their house. Our town was without power and water.

Mike and I drove back into town two days after the storm had landed, and we couldn't believe our eyes. Everything had changed. Someday, I will tell you the story of our evacuation and the aftermath of the storm, but that is another story.

On the drive back, Mike and I talked about what to do now. We couldn't have the wedding the way it was originally planned, that much was for sure. We didn't want to change the date, because we were leaving for a honeymoon cruise the day after the wedding, and we wanted to be married when we took our honeymoon (silly us!). His uncle told us that we could use their church if we wanted to, so we considered just moving the site of the wedding. However, the town was still without water and power, and they were predicting that it could take up to a month to get it restored. People, I don't know if you know this or not, but Southeast Texas in October can get HOT, and that was one of the hotter years that I have lived here. I had no intentions of putting on a heavy wedding dress in a church with no power. It would have been miserable. My sister was planning on coming in for the wedding, and she was about 7 months pregnant. I wasn't going to ask her to go through that.

But most of all, his sweet mother, who was perhaps even more concerned with what we were going to do now than we were, had just had a tree come through their roof, and they were dealing with insurance, and repairs, and no power, and no water.

And suddenly, I realized something. It just didn't matter that much to me, the wedding, that is. I remembered back to what Mike had said so many times during our planning process, "As long as you are there, it will be perfect". I stopped for a minute, shocked to realize that I didn't care if I wore the dress, I didn't care if I walked down the aisle, I didn't care if there was music playing, and Mike was in a tux. I wanted to be married to my love, the rest was just trappings. Truly, as long as he was there, it would be perfect.

So in the car that day, driving home from evacuation, I turned to Mike and asked if he would mind if we just had the Justice of the Peace marry us in his parents' living room. At first, I don't think he was all too sure if I would be really okay with that, but after I explained to him what I felt, he was all for it. I didn't need a church, I didn't need a preacher, I didn't need a dress. I needed Mike, and I needed to be his wife.

So as quickly as they had been made, the wedding plans were scrapped. We called his parents and made arrangements for the Justice of the Peace (who was a family friend, so that made it easier).

And on October 15, 2005, I stood next to the man I love, in the living room of his parents house, with his parents there, his brother and his girlfriend (now his wife) as our witnesses, and we said our vows. It was, without a doubt, the best day of my life.

I cannot stress this enough, my friends. The day was perfect. Absolutely, without a doubt, perfect. To this day, I have no regrets about not wearing the dress, no regrets about not being in a church, no regrets about anything.

I was there, Mike was there, and it was perfect.

I said it then, and I still say it now, our wedding day was absolutely nothing at all like we planned, but it was absolutely everything I always dreamed it would be.

Happy Anniversary, my love.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I Knew

I remember when I was a teenager and a young adult, I didn't date very much at all. I would go out on a first date with someone, and just KNOW that this wasn't the one that I wanted to spend my time with. Friends would ask me what exactly it was I was looking for, and my response was "I will know him when I find him".

I was 28 when I met Mike. I left La Zona Rosa that night unaware of how much my life has changed, and how much more change was coming. I returned to my apartment in Dallas, where I stayed for the next couple months. Later that summer, severe financial difficulties led me to accept my brother's offer to stay with him and his family in Maryland for a few months while I got back on my feet. So I packed my bags, loaded up my car, and headed across the country.

Life in Maryland was not a happy time for me. The living situation was miserable, I was working two jobs to try to get the bills paid off, and I was unsure of where I was going next in life. In addition to that, all my friends lived far away, and I felt cut off and alone. One day, in late September or early October, I was at my day job, and looking for someone to talk to. I booted up AOL Instant Messenger, and Mike was the only person online on my friends list. Now this brings up a mystery I don't have an answer for. I don't remember ever EVER adding Mike to my friends list. I don't remember talking to him again after that Austin show. I am not sure how his name ended up on that list, but I am sure glad it was.

So I sent Mike a message. We began to talk. I remembered him. He remembered me.

During the time since the concert in June, Mike's relationship with the girlfriend had gone south, and was in it's death throes when we started chatting online. I was drawn to his sense of humor, his compassion, his sensitivity, but I cautioned myself not to get involved too deeply, because he was still tied up in the final stages of a bad relationship. But somehow, I knew.

Mike and I got closer, my feelings grew stronger. I made plans to fly to Nebraska for another Blue October show that October, and Mike made plans to drive up from Texas with a couple friends to see the same show. We were still just friends, but my heart went all pitter patter when I thought of seeing him at that show. Of seeing him in person again. You see, I knew.

I saw him again at the show in Nebraska, and oddly, we didn't hang out at the show at all. That was still in my "I HAVE to stand right in front of the stage days", so silly me traipsed off across the bar with a friend to go watch a band when the man that I was to spend the rest of my life with was standing back at the bar with another group of friends. After the show, we headed back to their hotel room (with a HUGE group of friends) to hang out, have some drinks, and just do what friends do after concerts, talk. Mike and I talked for a little while that night. I remember him making fun of how little I ate, I remember being drawn in by the sound of his voice. All too soon, I had to go with a friend to drop someone off at their house. Before I left, I wandered out to the balcony walkway outside the hotel room, and I told Mike I was leaving. He gave me a hug before I left. When he hugged me, I knew.

The months between that night and Christmas are a blur of drama, rough times, misunderstandings, and struggles. There came a point where I had to decide if I wanted to fight for Mike. Was this guy, that I had only seen twice in person, that I didn't really know all that well, was he worth it? He was, because I knew.

Making my decision to be with Mike was at the same time the easiest and the toughest choice of my life. He was the one I was giving my heart to. He was (and still is!) the man that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. But being with him would mean losing some relationships. It would mean facing a decision that I had been putting off for a long time. The decision of whether I really believed the rhetoric and doctrine that I had been fed in church and by my family. The decision of whether it was okay to stand up for myself and do something that would make ME happy, but would not make my family happy. The decision to put myself first for probably the first time in my life. The decision to do what was right for me. And still, in every moment that I weighed this decision, I knew.

I made my decision, I cut the ties that needed to be cut, I fought for the man I loved, and I won. At the end of 2003, I moved back to Texas, and moved in with Mike. Walking in the door for the first time with him at my side, I knew.

As you can imagine, as happens with any life changing decisions, more turmoil came along. But more than that, happiness. I was truly happy for the first time in a very long time. I had someone who loved ME, someone who didn't measure my worth by how "good" I was. Someone who didn't frown in disapproval when I made a choice that didn't go along with what they wanted. Someone who not only gave me strength, but encouraged me to use that strength, to stand on my own two feet, to make my own choices, to decide for myself. Someone who wanted me to be happy, no matter what path that took me down (although I am absolutely sure he wanted to be going down that same path with me!). Living with Mike, I knew.

March 11, 2005. I came home from a rough day at work, and Mike was already home. I was tired, and Mike sat me down on the couch. I don't remember what we talked about, but we chatted for a while. Then he mentioned that he had lost the remote to the TV. As is my nature, I jumped up from the couch and said that I would find it, but he insisted I sit down and rest. He said that he knew I was tired, and that it had probably fallen under the couch, and he would get it. So I sat back down, and was watching TV. He got down, and reached under the couch to find the remote. He said that he loved me. I said I loved him too. He said he wanted to marry me someday, and I said I felt the same (this was a conversation we had been having for some months). He asked me if I was sure I wanted to marry him, and I said yes, I was sure. Then he pulled out a ring box from under the couch and asked me if I wanted to make that official. I sat there stunned for a moment, I grinned, and maybe cried, and said YES! I said yes, because I knew.

I knew I had found the one I was looking for.

I knew that this was the man I wanted to share my life with.

I knew that he was the one.

I knew he loved me.

I knew that I loved him.

I knew.

(Tomorrow: The wedding that almost wasn't, but the marriage that was never in doubt)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Day We Met

June 28, 2003

The first time I met Mike wasn't the epiphany moment you read about in romance novels. We didn't look at each other, and stars appear. The rest of the world didnt fade until it was just Mike and me with Air Supply music playing in the background. We were at La Zona Rosa, a small bar in Austin. I was there to see Blue October for only the second time. I was insecure, unsure, meeting a lot of new people I had just previously talked to online. I wanted to fit in, I wanted to belong to this crowd, I wanted to be liked. Mike was there with his girlfriend, and was celebrating his birthday, which would be a few days later.

But that moment we met, it changed my life. Months later, when we would start talking online, I remembered meeting him. I remembered what he had been wearing at that moment, I remembered that I had been introduced to him, and that it was his birthday celebration. I remembered that I had been introduced also to the girlfriend, although for the life of me, I still cannot remember what she looked like. Mike remembers meeting me too. When we talked about it later, he told me what I had been wearing that night.

The funny thing is that that memory I have of meeting him, that visual picture I have in my head, he IS the only thing that stands out. The rest of that mental image is just a blur. So I guess it was the epiphany moment after all, I just didn't realize it at the time.

That is the fact that has stuck with me all this time. We remembered. Out of the whole crowd of people I met that night, I remembered Mike. He remembered me.

The rest of that night is pretty unremarkable. A concert, hanging out with friends. I actually didn't talk to Mike again the rest of the night. I am not sure I even saw him again in the crowd that night.

But we remembered.

(Tomorrow: Later that fall... aka... how we got together)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pictures from Roll #3

Ok, so I have a LOT of stuff that I want to blog about this week, but first things first. I finished up another roll of film almost a week ago, and I have just been really lazy about getting them uploaded and posting about them. But here you go!

I have to say, I am very happy with this roll. There was, in my mind, a noticeable improvement in picture composition and color, etc. Tell me what you think...

Mike and I took a wonderful trip to Houston to celebrate our upcoming anniversary, so that is where most of these shots came from.

This was the inside of our hotel room at the Four Seasons... pretty isn't it? What I like about this picture is the lighting, and the fact that I feel it looks like a brochure picture, even though I took it myself...
The people at the Four Seasons were amazing about recognizing our anniversary. They gave us two cards, and sent up a complimentary dessert plate full of goodies. What I like about this picture is that even though it is unintended, the lighting reflected in the glass table makes it look like it is split in half, light and dark. Also, the focus turned out wonderfully. This is probably my favorite picture on this roll (Mike agrees).
This is another shot of the same plate (although you might notice some of the treats are gone by this point). I am very happy with the crisp focus on this flower in this one.
One of our stops in Houston was the House of Blues, which is where we went to see The Decemberists in concert. Inside the restaurant, was this mosiac of glass tiles, each imprinted with the face of a blues musician. The odd thing is that in the actual restaurant, these faces are not that easy to see, they blend in, and make this look like a bunch of blue glass blocks unless you look closer. I will admit, I used auto focus on this one, but I was happy with the way the flash highlighted the faces and brought them out. What I don't like is the red whatever in the corner that obstructed part of the view.
This one is my second favorite on the roll. Again, I have to admit that I used auto focus, mostly because I was standing on a busy street corner, and I didn't want to take a long time with this shot. I like the off-centeredness (is that even a word?) of this picture, the fact that it all is in focus, and the contrast of the sky behind it.

So there you go, folks, roll #3.
What do you think? What are your favorites?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

An Award? For Little Ol' Me?

Thanks to Chelle for my first ever blog award!
And although I don't usually answer these survey thingies, I will in this case because I got a purty award!

1. You Can Only Use One Word!
2. Pass this along to 6 of your favorite bloggers
3. Alert them that you have given them this award!
4. Have Fun!

The Fun Part
1. Where is your cell phone? Purse
2. Your hair? Frizzy
3. Your mother? Complex
4. Your father? Nerdy
5. Your favorite food? Cheese
6. Your dream last night? Scary
7. Your favorite drink? Margarita
8. Your dream/goal? Children
9. What room are you in? Kitchen
10. Your hobby? WoW
11. Your fear? Loneliness
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Here
13. Where were you last night? Home
14. Something that you aren’t? Bold
15. Muffins? Blueberry
16. Wish list item? House
17. Where did you grow up? Military
18. Last thing you did? WoW
19. What are you wearing? Slacks
20. Your TV? Wonderful
21. Your pets? Gato
22. Friends? Few
23. Your life? Content
24. Your mood? Stable
25. Missing someone? Family
26. Vehicle? Cruiser
27. Something you’re not wearing? earrings
28. Your favorite store? Amazon
29. Your favorite color? Black
30. When was the last time you laughed? Everyday
31. Last time you cried? Forgot
32. Your best friend? Mike
33. One place that I go to over and over? Church
34. One person who emails me regularly? Nobody
35. Favorite place to eat? Tokyo

Grace in the Home
The Sages
Drops of Jupiter

What the Heck is ~Ifer?

You know, I just realized that I never explained the name of the blog, and I suppose with more and more people reading now who don't know where that name came from, this is something of increasing importance.

It is, plain and simple, the second half of my name, Jennifer.

Several years back, in a chat room of internet friends, as we tried to carry on a conversation, there was another Jennifer in the room (when in my life HASN'T there been another Jennifer in the room?!), and everyone was getting confused as to who was talking. It was decided on that since the other Jennifer (let's call her Jenn) and I made a lot of the same comments, that we must really be two halves of the same person, so our friends started calling her Jenn, and me ~ifer. It just stuck from there, and people still call me that, at least among that circle of our friends.

Important things to know about the name ~Ifer

~You must ALWAYS have the squiggle in front of it. I know technically it is called a tilde or something like that, but this is my nickname, and therefore, I call this a squiggle. I have actually had characters on games that I named Squigglyifer. So don't neglect the squiggle.

~Pronounciation: Just like you were saying the name Jennifer, except leave out the Jenn part. It is a short I, so "ifff-er", not "eye-fer"

~the i can be capitalized or not, same difference to me.

So that's how it came to be... and it would probably have died off after that, except that around that same time, Mike and I started dating. It was long distance at first, and he would send me emails and cards, and he addressed them to "My ~ifer". I liked being Mike's ~Ifer, so that name has extra special meaning to me now.

And yes, I know I promised a while back the story of how Mike and I got together, and I will, but not today...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

To Every Thing... Turn, Turn, Turn

How do you handle change?

Specifically, how do you cope with things when you yourself begin to change, and you feel yourself pulling away from the things and people that you used to find comfort in?

How do you tell friends that view you one way that you aren't that way anymore?

How do you tell people that your beliefs have changed, or are changing, without making it sound like you are judging them for staying the same?

How do you let people go when they refuse to let you change, when they insist on you being the person you used to be?

How do you fill the spots in your life, the holes left by the people that you have to move on past?

These are the questions that we have been dealing with lately. The struggle to grow and evolve and become a better person while dealing with some people that scoff and scorn. The struggle to explain to your friends that yes, I used to feel like you do now, but my beliefs have changed, are changing.

And then when you get past that sometimes necessary culling of people that are in your life, what then? Now you have empty spots, relationships gone, situations where you need people to count on once more, and now those people are gone.

How do you handle change?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


I am a bad, bad blogger...

Life and work seem to be moving along at such a fast pace this past week or so that I have trouble finding time to sit down and write a post out.

I have pictures, and stories, from this past weekend's trip to Houston to see the Decemberists (who were phenomenal!), and I promise, I will try to post them all up sometime very very soon :)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Matter of Perception

I woke up this morning to the sound of our cat playing with a jingle bell somewhere in our house.

I know you probably read that sentence and think... "um.... wooo?" But I have a story to tell, my friends, so pull up a chair and let me explain why I would start off with that.

I was first annoyed because I am not a fan of our cat waking us up playing with her toys, which she does on very rare occasions. She usually likes to dive into something noisy at around 5am, a couple hours before we are ready to be woken. This sequence of events usually involves me climbing out of bed, tracking down the cat and her toy, taking the toy away, and stashing it somewhere high up, or in a drawer, and crawling back into bed to try to grab a few more hours of sleep. This was my plan when I heard the bell this morning. I rolled over, and looked at the clock, and saw that it was 7am, exactly when I needed to be getting out of bed, and I saw that my alarm clock hadn't gone off like it was supposed to. This brings me to my point...

We haven't bought our cat a jingle bell toy in over a year.
I thought I had thrown away all the bells in our house for this reason.
I can't find the bell now when I go looking for it.
She quit playing with it as soon as I got out of bed and started getting ready for work.
She didn't start playing with it until it was time to wake me up.

Now, let me start this by saying that I am a person guilty of scoffing at people for "over spiritualizing" things. I have a firm faith in God, I believe He works in our lives and that He watches out for us, but I don't believe that EVERYTHING is His doing. I believe that sometimes there are coincidences. Sometimes, we reap the benefit or consequence of someone else's decisions. Sometimes things really do just happen. I believe that if you get accepted to college, it is just as much the time and effort and work that you put into studying throughout school as it is some divine "luck" that you were accepted. I think our sweat and tears and labor means as much to the outcome of things as chance, or as the hand of God.

That being said, I could not help but feel that I was being taken care of this morning. I could not help but feel that someone was watching out for me. It was time for me to get up and get to work, the alarm was not going off, so the cat was put to work with the mysterious, missing jingle bell.

What about you? What is your perception of events when things like this happen to you? Are you one that sees God in everything, or are you more a believer in chance and circumstance?

I am really curious to know...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Feeling Quiet...

I have been going through a normal phase of "feeling quiet" lately. That kind of quiet where Mike occasionally turns to me and says "are you ok? you are very quiet". The kind of quiet that often WOULD signify that something is wrong, but in this case it doesn't.

It is a peaceful kind of quiet. A quiet where I don't feel the need to vent, I don't feel the need to purge my soul. I don't feel the need to talk things to death, as I am sometimes prone to do. I don't feel the need to self-examine my self, my personality, my history, my life.

It's a calm content quiet.

I am sitting here now listening to the rain and just enjoying. I am watching the clock for when it will be time to go home for the day. I am anticipating the upcoming weekend away with my sweetheart (more on that tomorrow!).

But mostly, I am here...

I am content to be quiet.
I am content to be.
I am content.

Friday, September 25, 2009

In Memory of...

today would have been Jim Henson's 63rd birthday. I don't have words to tell you how much his work impacted my life as a child, so I won't try... I will just share this...

Migraines are teh debil!

I fought all day yesterday with a migraine, a constant back and forth battle that went from the verge of victory to admitted defeat. I took the pain pills, I stretched out on the bed when I could, I took it as easy as possible, I still managed a full day of work. I went to bed last night finally, with the feeling that the evil migraine from hell was almost gone, only to wake up at 1am with my head splitting so badly that I thought I was going to be sick. I slowly climbed out of bed, took some more meds, and lay back down until the pain went away enough for me to sleep again.

This morning? I am doing much better. The pain is gone now, and I am only left with that mind haze that a really bad migraine leaves behind. That feeling in the back of your skull that the pain is laughing and pointing a finger at you and chanting "neener, neener" and you know that it could come back, and yet it hasn't yet.

I hope today goes smoothly. I hope this low pressure weather system breaks and moves on so that my head can stop working like a barometer.

And I want my day back from yesterday. I feel cheated.

I am ready for this weekend, for sure. I need time with Mike, to unwind, to relax, to enjoy.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Sense of Belonging

Making new friends has never been easy for me. As the child of an Army man, we moved all the time, and starting your circle of friends over was a fact of life, but that doesn't mean I ever got used to it. I always hated the feeling of walking into a new classroom, with the groups of kids that all seemed to know each other, all seemed to have their inside jokes and little giggly secrets that I wouldn't be a part of. The intellectual in me KNEW that these kids moved a lot too, and that these friendships weren't that steadfast, and that I would be included in one of those groups eventually.

I still never forget that first minute of walking into that classroom.

The first Sunday my family would visit the new church. All the families that looked so happy and settled, our walking down the aisle to always, ALWAYS sit in the second pew back (My dad's joking comment on this: "No matter what church we go to, I always sit in this pew so that God can find me"). The awkwardness, the insecurity, the feeling of isolation.

Moving here, to this town that Mike grew up in, had a lot of that for me. There were a few moments of insecurity for me. For the first time in my life, I not only was the new kid in town, but I was the new kid in a town of kids that had lived there their whole lives. I was truly an outsider, at least at first. I felt like I belonged with Mike, I felt like I belonged in his family, but at first, I didn't feel like I was part of this town.

A lot has changed since those first months here. Somewhere along the way, I developed ties to the town we live in. I find myself smiling at Vern walking down the street (another story). I find myself caring about the town, and its economy, and its people. I find myself becoming involved in a church. I find myself feeling at home.

While this makes me happy, there is a little part of me, deep inside that is scared by this feeling. Emotional ties were a dangerous thing in the life of an Army brat. I learned as a child to never really allow myself to become too attached to anything, because my whole world would change in a few years. This is a defense mechanism that I had to learn to let go. I had to learn that it's okay to put down roots, it is a good thing, there are many blessings, many benefits, from allowing yourself to belong.

I have always felt I belonged with Mike.
I have always felt I belonged in his family.
I now feel that I belong here, in this town, in this state.

I belong.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Pictures from Roll #2

So here is the latest batch of pictures from roll #2... I was happier with more of these pictures, but there were still some real duds that I didn't post this time around...

This first one is another picture of the vine that is growing up the post in front of my house. I like this shot because it appears abstract and almost fake (the vine). The background is out of focus, and so all that exists is this vine that is struggling to make its way up the post.

Next couple are from the inside of the church that I work at. I really like the perspective on this first one. The color is a little washed out in the foreground due to flash, but that same flash picked up the golden cross on the altar and lit up the full aisle, so it gave a good sense of perspective. Overall, pretty happy with this one.

Here we have a close up shot of the cross that you saw in the last picture. I am actually very pleased with the flash effect in this one. The rest of the picture remained dark, with just the cross and the top of the Bible being illuminated.

These next two are some of my favorites on this roll I think. It is the same shot, one with a flash and one without. The one with the flash is pretty cool because of the brick detail that you can see. The one without the flash is a little dark for my liking, but at the same time, it is kind of cool because it almost looks like the window is floating in midair.

This next shot was taken on 9-11 at a local convenience store. The flag is probably as big as the store itself, and although I have seen it flying there before, the immense size of the flag, plus the fact that they had it at half-mast, really caught my eye. Overall, I really like the picture too, because although I didnt really notice the clouds at the time, I think they give an interesting backdrop to the picture.

This next one is a random flower that suddenly bloomed next to the door of my house. I didnt plant it, not sure where it came from, but I walked out my door one day and it was there. Pretty happy with the focus on this one. I think the bloom is highlighted, the colors vibrant, and the background in just the right amount of "out of focus"

This last one is from an overgrown area near our house. It's not the most colorful, its not the artsiest, but I like it... I actually really like it alot because out of all the pictures I took, I feel this one tells a story the best. The explosion of such a wide variety of plants, the vibrancy of their colors and contrasts, the broken and deserted planter... I don't know... I almost feel as though this is a scene of something that was left behind and forgotten being overtaken by new life.

Again, none of these have been photoshopped, all straight out of the camera...

So my friends, what do you think? Which do you like the most? And why? I would really like to hear about why you connect with certain pictures, and what you like or dislike about the shots...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Quick Update

I just got back my second roll of film, and there are several that I am very pleased with. I will try to get them uploaded and posted tonight.

I am excited!

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I hate them.

I just wanted to let you know that.

I love so much about the fall in Southeast Texas. I love the changes in the weather, the cooler breezes. I love the changing colors (although living in the Piney Woods, there is always gonna be a lot of green). I love fall.

But I hate lovebugs.

They are not romantic, they are not cute. They are annoying

They are everywhere.

They stick together in this horrible death-fated embrace, and fly around, in swarms. They get in the car, they get all over the car, they stick in your hair, they stick to your clothes.

They are a nuisance.

Please make them go away?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Childhood Heroes

Patrick Swayze passed away yesterday. I am sure you all know that, but I felt the need to state that, to lay the foundation for the rest of the post, I suppose.

I am saddened by his passing, honestly. Not that he was a personal friend of mine, not that I had ever even seen him in person, but still... saddened.

I think it was more what he represents to me. He was so much of my growing up, so many movies that impacted my life, from Red Dawn to Roadhouse to yes, Dirty Dancing. But like I said, this is about more than Patrick Swayze himself... it is about the passing of my childhood.

This year has seen so much of my childhood pass away, from Farah to Michael to Ed McMahon to Patrick now. I am sure there are more that I am forgetting. With each passing, I feel like part of my past is gone. Something I grew up with, something I cherished, something I remember.

It brings the knowledge that I am getting older. Only older people have childhood icons that are die off. Only older people mourn the passing of those that helped form their view of society in childhood. Only older people, right?

How did I get to be one of the older people?

Patrick Swayze will be missed. He was a fine actor, and genuinely seemed to be a nice guy from what I could tell.

He will also be missed for what he represented... they will each be missed for what they represented... those pieces of my childhood memories, those influences they had on my life, on my culture, on my world.

Rest In Peace, Mr. Swayze


Friday, September 11, 2009

Living My Whole Life

Please don't spend your whole life waiting for your whole life...

The lyrics to this song are on a new CD that we got this week. I was listening to it yesterday, and the song struck me so much that I put the CD back to this song this morning. This song reminds me of today, of September 11.

I am sure you will read a lot of blogs and stories today remembering what happened that day. Those moments, those hours, those days... they will never be forgotten, even if time allows the vividness of them to fade. I would like to think that we learned something that day. Something as a nation, something as a people, something as an individual.

I remember that day, not as a full story, but as freeze-frame moments.
~Me in my car on the way to work calling my roommate because I heard that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. At this time, we still thought it a freak accident
~The first realization that this was an intentional attack
~The second plane
~The Pentagon
~Being at work, but nobody was doing any work, we were gathered around the radio listening for updates.
~The silence of the airport... I worked about 5 miles from the DFW airport in Dallas, and the lack of noise is something I will never forget.

I will never forget the people that lost their lives that day. The ones that were gone in an instant, and the ones that died trying to save others. But for me, remembering this day is about more than just remembering the ones that are gone. It is about a lesson I learned that day.

You see, more than any other memory I have of 9-11-01, the thing that sticks out is the fear. The complete and overwhelming fear. The knowledge that our country was not as invincible as I had always perceived. The knowledge that we were vulnerable. More than that, the knowledge that we could be next. Mixed in with every moment of mourning the people that died that day was the realization that it could have been me. It could have been us. It could BE us.

I was so scared that day. I didn't want it to be me. I didn't want our lives to change, although they already had. I wanted that sense of carelessness and recklessness that I used to have. That innate knowledge that nothing REALLY bad was going to happen. That life could be dealt with. That problems could be handled. I realized that I had so much life that I still wanted to live.

The lesson I learned that day was the lyrics of the song I started with... please don't spend your whole life waiting for your whole life. It was the knowledge that life is ever so precious, and it doesn't go on forever. It was the realization that we don't know how much time we have left, so enjoy life. LIVE life.

Mike and I make an effort to enjoy our lives. Sure, there are things we plan for, things we want in the future. We want to own our own home, we want to adopt a child, etc. But the key is... don't miss what is here now in an effort to plan for what is down the road. Don't spend your whole life waiting for your whole life, and thereby missing the life that you have each day.

Life is precious, my friends. Every moment, every day, every smile from your husband, every greeting from a friend.

There are many memorials for those that were lost on that day. There will be many speeches spoken, many essays written, many stories told in far more eloquent words that I can come up with. Those words are important, those memories are important. But I also think that the people that died that day would think it the greatest honor of all if we allowed their deaths to make our lives more precious. Don't forget them, but don't stay locked in a time warp where all we do is look back on that day and fear.

Honor their memory by not letting the bad guys win. Honor their memory by holding your loved ones close. Honor their memory by being constantly aware of how very precious life is. Honor their memory by living...

by living your WHOLE life.