Sunday, December 13, 2009

What a Great Friday and Saturday!

Friday I flew down to Raleigh, NC with a friend to visit another friend who is battling cancer (I wrote about her in an earlier post). We flew down in the morning and came back in the early evening. I am so glad we did this. It was great to see our friend - we toured Raleigh, went out to a wonderful restaurant, and went back to our friend's house and just talked. It was a gift to myself - to see my friend as she battles this disease, and how she is doing during the recovery process. I'm sure we will do this again in the near future.

Saturday was a very busy day. I left the house at 9:30 and didn't really return until 8:30 in the evening. I went to two cookie exchange parties. For the past three years, these parties have fallen on the same day - bring six dozen cookies to the party, exchange with everyone else there, and take home six dozen cookies. But, when you do two in one day, you get to bring home twelve dozen cookies! Cookies of all different shapes, sizes, flavors (chocolate, spice, ginger, sugar, etc., etc., etc.). I love this day every year. It's fun to catch up with people you haven't seen in awhile, or to visit with friends you see regularly, but may not have the one-on-one time to visit with them. I love the expertise of these home bakers - some try new recipes every year and some bring tried and true recipes from their childhood (always with interesting stories about the history of the cookies). Both of these parties are very different. The first party is more relaxed, with time to visit with one another; the second party is a noisy event, with lots of other activities taking place, but I always find someone to talk to who I haven't seen for some time, and it's fun to catch up with them.

Following the cookies exchanges, I raced over to pay my respects at a funeral home. A work colleague lost her mother and I had to give her a hug, if only for a brief moment. It's so sad when people die during the holiday season.

I raced home to pick up the desserts I was bringing to our church's annual Christmas party. And, because of my exceptionally busy day, I actually bought the desserts instead of making them. I think that's a first for me. We had a delicious dinner, and I think the program afterward was good, but a good friend and I were trying to enter monthly data into the computer system, and we missed the program! We did get to see Jolly Old Saint Nick arrive to talk with the children and give them a candy cane. The looks on the kid's faces and the excitement in their eyes was so fun to see. I'm looking forward to talking with them about it in our Sunday School class.

Now, for a little bragging. I'm new to the world of blogging, and setting up a blog. As anyone can see, I haven't written too much since I started this many months ago. But, the other day, while visiting someone else's blog, I thought it would be fun to attach a "widget" to my blog. I followed the explanation on this other person's blog, and lo and behold, I was able to attach the widget to my own blog. There's a little video on it, and when I click to play the video, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was singing a song we are practicing for our Christmas program. It was nice to hear how this song is supposed to sound (and fun to see all the women in that choir sing the song - our entire choir is singing, men and women). But the fact that I was able to add this to my blog gives me hope that I'll be able to be more creative with the look of the blog in the future. Maybe I can get Denise to give me some more pointers when she arrives with her family next week to celebrate the holidays with us.

So, now it's Sunday and I'm about to get ready for church. Maybe we'll visit the Temple Visitor's Center tonight to see the Christmas decorations. Maybe by the end of the evening, the tree will be decorated. We did wrap some presents yesterday, so we could get the Mudgett's box in the mail so they get their gifts before Christmas. Only a little more shopping to do. With company coming, I guess I have to get moving and clean up the house. Hope everyone has a great holiday season.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Where did the time go?

A blink of the eye and it's been almost 3 months since I last posted something. Kim reminded me that the subject of my last post was rather sad (9-11) and that I should write something new.

As the holiday season approaches, I'm facing some inner turmoil now. Trying to shop for Christmas and planning a Mediterranean tour closely following Christmas is not something I would recommend anyone do. I have been organizing two tours in Europe (one in Rome and one in Athens) and I've learned something about myself. In my future life after retirement, I don't think I want to be a travel agent. Trying to appease the likes and dislikes of fellow cruisers who I don't even know is proving to be a little more time consuming than I had anticipated. I'm trying to pace myself with the holiday shopping, and have actually done a fair amount of it online. That's one thing I never thought I would be doing - I love to shop during the holidays.

Another wrinkle in this process has been an injury I sustained in September. I fell at work and reinjured the knee I had surgery on last year, as well as injuring my back. As many of you know, I have dealt with a bad back for more years than I can count, and I was so upset with myself that this back problem has been reaggravated (despite the fact that I slipped on a wet floor at work). Fortunately, workman's compensation is paying my medical bills. I've been going to physical therapy 2-3 times a week, and things are not improving as quickly as I would like. Despite this, my trip to Europe will not be altered because of these injuries. I will take my pain pills with me, and be grateful with the knowledge that between each port, there will be a day at sea to rest!

Just some randon thoughts:

Today, December 1st, is the 35th anniversary of when Peter's sister Ann was killed in a plane crash. Denise was 11 months old. It is hard to believe it's been 35 years. Life isn't always fair, but death is a part of life and one we all must learn to live with.

I learned this week that one of Denise's friends from high school died over the Thanksgiving holiday. It is tragic that someone that young dies. Another of Denise's friends just lost her mom. I always think of how sad it is to lose someone you love during the holiday season.

A dear friend has lost her job at work, through no fault of her own, and there is nothing anyone can do for her. We hope the attorney she has hired will be able to get her a significant severance package while she's out looking for another job.

Turning the tide of this post, I've finished shopping for all my grandchildren, and it's only the beginning of December! This brings my stress level down quite a bit;. just a few more presents to buy and I'll be finished.

I have reconnected with two daughters of a dear friend of mine who died 12 years ago. This Facebook connection is quite interesting and fun to explore while learning about friends and acquaintances you've met throughout your lifetime. I just read there are now over 350,000,000 Facebook users! Wow, and they even have games to play on their site - how I ever got interested in Farmville is beyond me.

December is a busy month - choir performances, holiday lunches/dinners, two cookie exchange parties, our ward Christmas dinner and Relief Society dinner activities, Denise and her family arriving for the holidays, writing the annual Christmas letter (and mailing it), wrapping gifts to mail overseas, a couple of baby showers, a quick trip to see a friend in NC who is battling cancer, and last, but not least, a gift of life blood donation on December 18th. This time of year the Red Cross really needs blood donation - so, if you are so inclined, contact them and see if a blood drive is scheduled in your area. It doesn't cost you anything, and it can do so much good for those who need it.

Well, it's getting late and though I could go on awhile longer, I'll end this post now, and see how many people discover this new addition to my blog. Hope everyone enjoys this holiday season - hopefully I'll be back before too long.

Friday, September 11, 2009

9-11 - Two Views

I remember the day - the sky was azure blue and not a cloud in the sky was to be seen. I remember thinking how gloriously beautiful it was that morning. I arrived at work and began sorting through a list of what I needed to accomplish that day. About 8:50, Peter called to tell me something horrible had happened, and to turn on the TV. The senior leadership at the hospital was in their weekly management meeting. I knocked on the door and told the hospital president that they should turn on the TV. Everyone was agast and what they were watching. Everyone couldn't take their eyes of the TV. It wasn't too long before the unthinkable happened - another plane had struck the Twin Towers. Minutes later, reports began to flood the airways that the Pentagon had been hit. Not long after that, an open field in Pennsylvania became mired in a piece of history it never wished to be a part of.

I watched as the entire hospital went into disaster mode. Not knowing what to expect from the casualties at the Pentagon, all hospitals in the area went on alert. Several times during the hours that followed the tragedy, senior and middle management met together to discuss contingency plans in the event we received overflow patients from the Virginia hospitals. Supplies were gathered from all over the hospital to send to the Virginia hospitals to help ease their situations. Hours later, it became apparent that those anticipated patients would not be coming over the bridge. The whole day began to seem surreal.

Living on the outskirts of Washington, DC has its privileges and its burdens. Immediately following this tragedy, while at work, I would see fighter jets circling the skies around Washington. This continued for weeks. One of our vice presidents was on vacation in Nevada. Planes were grounded for days. The only way he could come home was to rent a car and drive across the country.

Several days after 9-11, I ventured across the bridge to Virginia to bear witness of the tragedy that had unfolded. There was, on the Virginia side of the 14th Street Bridge, parked on the side of the road, an Army vehicle (a Howitzer, I believe), with military personnel manning the vehicle, the long and cold looking automatic weapons in the arms of these soldiers. Did I say this was in Virginia? How can this be? As I looked around, there were many military vehicles stationed in this general area of the Pentagon. I continued down the road, exiting at the entrance to Washington Boulevard, a road I had traveled numerous times when in Virginia. As I rounded the curve of the exit ramp, I could see the damaged to the Pentagon, and the damage inflicted on our country. It was inconceivable that the Pentagon had been hit by a commercial airliner. It was more inconceivable that our country had been terrorized by vengeful outsiders, who struck at the core of two of our more vibrant cities, and a town in Pennsylvania that never dreamed nor wanted its new found notoriety. It is a day that will never be forgotton. It is a day that never should be forgotton.

It was a very different day two years previously. A dear friend of mine lost her daughter, six weeks shy of her third birthday, from a brain tumor she had battled for more than 18 months. I saw this sweet little angel about five days before she died. She was in her house, in the family room, next to the kitchen, lying on the sofa, pretty much in a coma. My friend's parents and her in-laws were there, as were her husband and eldest daughter. Life goes on, and this family wanted to hold on to as much of her as they could in these last days of her life on earth. I dropped off dinner, talked to my friend for a few minutes, went over and carressed Amy's arm to say my goodbyes.

Each year as 9-11 approaches, my friend writes a letter to her close friends, asking us to stop by the cemetery to visit at Amy's gravesite. Each year when I get this letter, the tears well up in my eyes as I think how different their lives have been since they lost their precious daughter. Each year, I feel the pain of my friend who not only grieves for her daughter, but grieves for the nation as this double tragedy in her life happened on this same fateful day, two years apart. Tragedy has struck my friend again this year when she was diagnosed with a serious cancer, which she is fighting with all her might. She remembers the fight her daughter fought 10 years ago, and knowing she has a guardian angel watching over her, gives her the courage to fight for her own life now.

Let us never forget this day and remember those who were lost eight years ago. Say a little prayer for them, and say a little prayer for my friend.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tag, You're It!

I have been observing a lot of people at work for the past year. I have noticed a lot of these people seem to think they have much more power in their job titles than they actually do. Business etiquette has been pushed aside and lack of civility and basic kindness toward fellow employees has crept in the workplace.

Some people think because of whom they report to, this gives them the power to disregard professionalism and civility. I have worked for vice presidents and presidents in various jobs I have held in my lifetime. Never once would I take it upon myself to insinuate my bosses’ power over others. Never once would I try to humiliate fellow co-workers in front of others. Email etiquette is the latest tool to which has fallen away from professionalism.

My latest observation is that people at a lower level in the organization, who seem to think they have power, feel it necessary to copy numerous people on emails which don’t have anything to do with these other people. In a very kindergarten way, the writers of these emails seem to think that by copying the world about a perceived wrong, they are taking it upon themselves to shout out the perceive wrong to the world, thus trying to embarrass a colleague in front of their fellow employees. I am the latest victim of one particular person and I'm trying my best not to come down to their level and play dirty. I'm fairly certain, in the world of email etiquette, one should ask if it alright to copy or forward a private email to other people. This person has decided she is the judge, and by copying others, they will make up the jury. Again, I wonder, what happened to innocent until proven guilty? We all know what it means to assume anything, and I will not write out the definition of "assume" so as not to offend anyone.

This is not the first time this person has done this. I know of many instances with other employees that this person has tried this same tactic. In all cases, the "victim" has chosen to keep quiet and not make waves. Being the mature person I am, I decided to block this person from my Facebook account. By doing this, I will not be tempted to reply to the negative and rude comments this person continues to make.

The frustrating part of this situation is that this person's boss has been made aware of these emails, and does nothing to stop the assistant. Because the boss appears to allow this behavior to continue, most people do not engage the boss about the assistant, because they know the behavior will be allowed to continue.

The post is my vent. Hopefully by tomorrow, I will have calmed down enough, but I don't think so. I'm not ready to deal with this person (via email, phone or in person) at the moment. You have to pick your battles, and I'm not sure I'm willing to go to war over this one (although it would feel pretty good to continue the skirmish).

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Does Anyone Remember Why This Country Was Created?

There's so much debate over the new healthcare proposals currently making the national circuit. People are for the proposals, people are against the proposals, some people listen quietly at town hall meetings, some people are loudly vocal at town hall meetings in their opposition to what is being discussed. Quite frankly, while I do agree that some reforms need to be developed, I think we are moving too fast with these reforms. I don't think that the members of the House and Senate know exactly what reforms are in the proposals on any given day. I find it most fascinating that at the town hall meetings which are disruptive, those people who are willing to make their voices heard are now criticized by the opposition - they must be influenced by organized protestors, they don't know all the facts, they can't think for themselves. Wait a minute - what happened to freedom of speech? Just because you don't agree with proposed new reforms, when did you lose your right voice your opposition, and, if you do disagree with the new proposals, why can't you form your own opinion about the proposals? It seems the opposition thinks that you can't possibly have formed a valid opinion on your own - you must have been swayed by others. Wasn't this country founded by people who were vocal enough to express their concerns and willing to fight to develop a new country where freedom of speech was essential in the new country's development?

I think we all need to take a step back and have meaningful discourse on these reforms. We need to listen to all viewpoints - isn't it possible that some creative ideas might come forth from these discussions, and maybe we could all support a healthcare reform system that works for everyone - not just the special interest groups that our politicians are trying to appease.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Ramblings from a Busy Person

Last time I wrote something, I was noting how busy life is, and since that post in July, my observations have proved to be correct. I flew to Detroit for five days to try to help Denise while they are in the process of moving (I did pack a couple of boxes, and got to spend time with Jackson, Luke and Grant), but I wish I could have been more helpful. Then I returned to work and have been dealing with lots of family tragedies with some of our staff - the death of a spouse (not unexpected but the future for the family is full of unknowns) and a family dealing with one income and suddenly, because of some past issues with their car, needing to come up with $1,000+ to get their car out of the impound lot - we were concerned that the staff member was on the verge of a breakdown. A term I really don't care for (because I first heard it from a member of a political party I'm not affiliated with), "It's takes a village", proved true for this staff member. Due to the generosity of fellow staff members, a collection was taken and this, together with a loan from a family member, enabled the family to get their car back. It was interesting to see how quickly life can change in an instant - the finality of death, and the unknown economic future we all face in these trying times.

So, today I decided to try to get some projects done I've been meaning to tackle over the past several months. The door bell rang twice this morning - one visitor brought me bushel of peaches and another visitor brought me a bag of tomatoes. I guess I'll be canning today instead of working on those other projects. It seems as if I'm destined to be busy for awhile longer. And wouldn't you know it - today the outside temperature will go up again and we will, once again, be hot and humid - just in time to heat up the kitchen while I'm canning. And I still have to plan a lesson for my Sunday School class. In the words of an advertising campaign from long ago, "Calgon, take me away"

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I Wish I Had Time....

I wish I had time to do all the things I want to do. If I had the time, what would I do? In no particular order: can fruits and vegetables during the week, travel to Detroit, Phoenix, and Harrogate, England to see my children and grandchildren, organize my house and my office, volunteer in organizations I have an interest in (like I used to do before I went back to work in the mid 90s), take some on-line courses in my professional field to expand my knowledge base, vacation in the Outer Banks, focus more on my personal life than on my professional life, learn to knit and crochet, make another quilt (or sewing projects I'm interested in). I see a common denominator in much of what I want to do - work gets in the way. Oh well, I guess I won't have a lot of time for the next few years until I stop working. I guess I'll try to focus on one thing at a time, and eventually I might find the time to do the things I want to do, and not focus so much of the things I don't want to do.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day

Perfect weather - in the low 80s, no humidity, a cool breeze - I don't remember such a nice July 4th as today has been. Morning began with the annual flag raising and breakfast at church, and then the annual Kelley cookout. I was going to can some more strawberry jam today, but after being in the kitchen all day yesterday doing the same thing, I decided to take a break. I'll get back to canning tomorrow before church.

Today is a day to extend our gratitude for all those men and women in the Armed Forces who have/are/or continue to protect our country. The sacrifices they make for all of us so we can live in this free country are too numerous to count. I'm glad to know I live in a place where these people are willing to put their lives on the line to defend our freedoms.

While we all enjoy ourselves today, let us remember those good and decent people and say a prayer for their safe return from harm's way.

Friday, July 3, 2009

This is the Beginning.

It's been almost 3 months since my dear daughter set this blog up for me. July 3rd is the day I'm beginning this blog. I hope this will keep family and friends up-to-date on what is happening in our lives, particularly since our three daughters, their husbands, and our grandchildren are not currently living near us anymore. As I write this, I'm in the middle of canning strawberry jam, and once that is finished, I'm going to attempt blueberry jam. By the way, I canned strawberry jam last week, but it is too runny, so I'm going to try to reprocess that jam as well. I'm waiting to hear from dear daughter #2, who was driving across the country to AZ by herself, and hopefully she will have arrived there safely after my last phone conversation with her at 1:00 a.m. this morning.

I don't know where this blog will go, or what I will feel an urge to discuss, but I'm going to try to keep up with the new technology of communication via blogging that is so prevalent nowadays. Hopefully those who read this will get something out of it, and I hope I will take away something from this as well.