Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day Recap

I hope everyone had a fun and relaxing Memorial Day yesterday. I didn’t do much of anything, and didn’t even go fishing as mentioned in my Happy Memorial Day post. My parents got back from Alaska at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday morning and my dad said he needed to see where the fish were biting before we went out; also, I think he was tired from his trip. So, there was no fishing for us Parkers yesterday.

I set my alarm clock to get up early so I could ride my bike up Bankhead Parkway to Tollgate and watch the Cotton Row runners struggle up the big hill. Tony and I did that last year and I enjoyed it. When the clock went off though, I was feeling nothing but lazy and ended up moving from the bed to the couch instead of outside to my bike. Needless to say, I didn’t see the first runner. I spent most of the morning watching TV and dozing and finally about 10:30 I got up and mowed the grass. I had to take about five breaks in order to not die from a heat stroke. There’s no doubt about it, summer has arrived. We’re already in the upper 90s which doesn’t bode well for June, July or August.

After mowing the lawn and taking a shower, I made some coleslaw and deviled eggs before heading over to my parents’ house for an afternoon of hamburgers, hot dogs, and family. It was indeed just family since my parents had not been in town long and didn’t want to have a large group over. My dad and I got everything ready and he made a freezer of Butterfinger ice cream which was very sweet, but very good.

I went home a little before 7:00 and watched an episode or two of American Chopper before falling asleep on the couch just after 8:00. I woke up at 9:30 and watched about 30 minutes or so of TV before turning in for good. The impromptu nap didn’t hinder me from a night of sleep either. I think the sun must have drained me because I was more tired than usual, which is saying something for the queen of sleep.

So, that sums up my rather uneventful but yet fun Memorial Day. I’m back at work today, the first day of a four day work week. Why is it that the four day work week always seem longer than the five-day week?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day 2011

Happy Memorial Day everyone!

For those of you who work outside of the home, I hope you are enjoying the day off (that is if you have the day off).Most of all, I hope you will take some time to remember the men and women who died fighting for our freedom. That is, after all, what Memorial Day is all about. As for me, I’m supposed to go fishing with my dad this morning. If that happens, I’m sure there will be a story of two to tell and you can count on stopping by this little spot of the world wide internets to here it. While you’re waiting though, I hope you have a great day!

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Tour of My Cubicle - Part Two

Today we will continue with the tour of my cubicle (cue music) – hope you enjoyed day one; although I doubt it.

As we make our way towards the left of where we ended yesterday, we find a menagerie of photos in the corner of the desk area. All of these are of me, my parents, and The Tide or some combination of the three. This is also the area where my purse sits all day long. I’ve never been one to lock my purse away although I probably should be. Yesterday morning it was raining and so I had on a light wind breaker and it is sitting here as well. Most days I bring my lunch, but I had no leftovers or anything else for that matter to bring yesterday, so I ate in the cafeteria. Most days though, my lunch bag sits here after lunch as well as my breakfast dishes. There is also a poster of Fenway Park and a Fenway sign in this corner of my work world.

Further to the left we have a collection of random wall hangings. There are the framed tickets to the 2001 GMAC bowl, which were the first complementary tickets I received when working as a Sports Information Director. Also included in this hodge podge of items is a 2011 calendar, a poster of the 2009 Tour de France route, the two first prize ribbons I won in the 2009 cake contest (thanks to Erika’s help), a printout from Tony of Captain Phil, a sheet off of an old Napoleon Dynamite memo mouse pad (gift from Jackie), and a magazine ad for Man vs. Wild. If that’s not an eclectic collection, I don’t know what is.

To the left of all that randomness, begins my marker board, which currently has “I HATE COMPUTERS” written on it (by me) and the response, “Operator Issue!!!” written by my good friend David. I have little patience when it comes to computers and David is a techie. Also in this area are some markers for the marker board, a map of the 2011 Tour de France route and a random diagram I drew when trying to explain something.

Back over to the left in the area that is above my phone (guess I should have included this area yesterday – oh well) is a shelf which is home to a variety of knick knacks. There’s a file holder, a birdhouse which has a picture of Captain Phil on it (compliments of Tony), the ceramic cats Tony won at Bingo at Hardee’s which were dubbed Cornelia and Marie, a calendar Sabrina brought back from Italy last year, a sand creature I made at Opryland when I was about 10 years old, and a couple of baskets, one which hold various gadgets such as a yo-yo and a spinning rabbit. There is also a rock from Lake Ontario, a skull which held Halloween candy, a couple of mugs from customers, a clock which was the media gift at the 2001 NCAA Frozen Four, a tiara I was given for my birthday back in 2009, some Q-tips painted in magic maker which were melted into some plastic in one of the labs here, and an elephant which holds a picture of each of Jackie’s kids. I realize you can’t really see all of that in this photo, but it’s all there, I promise.

Directly in front of me is a corner and in that corner is a calendar of scenes from Paris and to the left of that is a “poster” Tony made when the 2008 Olympics were taking place in Beijing. It has a picture of Vince Vaughan on it from the movie Old School (the one where he’s smoking and performing a routine on the rings) and above it is the Beijing 2008 logo – it still cracks me up! To the right of the calendar which you really can’t see is a bag which I use for when I need to take my laptop home and also a smock for when I need to go out on the floor and a cape for when I need a little extra warmth. There is also a basket hanging here which has more markers for the marker board. In this corner is also a chair for those who care to come for a chat can sit and rest their weary legs.

On the other side of the shelf I showed earlier are the magnetic name plates of some people who no longer work here. They either left or were laid off, or passed away. I don’t know how I ended up with this collection, but I did. I took a photo of it, but decided not to use it to protect the innocent.

So, that’s it folks, that’s where I spend the majority of my life – in my cubicle (cue music). I hope you enjoyed this little tour; but, more importantly, I hope you have a really great holiday weekend!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Tour of My Cubicle - Part One

Once again, I’m grasping at straws in regards to writing a post today. You’d think a single gal would lead a fun, adventure-filled life; but, alas, all I did yesterday was work, go to church, and watch TV. Not so thrilling after all, huh?

So, while I was sitting here at my desk, the idea came to mind that I could give you all a pictorial tour of my cubicle – the place where I spend the majority of my life. (Tune song “My Cubicle”).

We will start with the desk area to the right of where I sit all day long. There is a black filing cabinet here that serves as an extension of my desk. On it usually sits my pink notebook (which I currently use for taking notes in meetings), my calculator, a steno notebook (used for note taking on one specific daily call), a stapler and a plant that my friend Brenda gave me for my birthday this year. It’s a violet of some sort, but blooms in crimson rather than violet. It’s pretty when it’s blooming and currently has one leaf that has far exceeded the others in growing tall.

Moving to the left, my daily calendar sits there along with my mouse and polka dot mouse pad. Under that polka dot mouse pad is a Napoleon Dynamite mouse pad, but the mouse doesn’t move as smoothly when using it so I have to use the polka dot instead. Why do mouse pads get so dirty anyway? Also in this area is hand sanitizer, lotion, a bright yellow highlighter, a basket that holds my paper clips and a candle holder that serves as a pen, pencil, scissor and business card holder. Oh, there’s also a picture of me as a wee lass there too – I’m playing with the adding machine my dad kept in his office; I guess it was inevitable that I ended up working in finance. You can also see the chapstick I keep on my keyboard. I probably use it 100 times a day - I'm a cahpstick addict.
Moving even further to the left is my phone which currently has a rubber mouse on it. As mentioned on The Chronicles of Nat before, we had a bit of a bug problem here at work and bugs fell from the ceiling onto my head on a daily basis. Around this time, someone left this rubber mouse on my desk. I never found out who did it, but I suspect it was my friend Phil who passed away back in January. Today there is also a variety of drinks sitting in this area. I have a cup from this morning which had orange juice in it and also a can of ginger ale and the cup from which I was drinking the ginger ale. I had a craving for ginger ale this week. There’s also a napkin in this area and you can usually find a tissue here as well. Today my check book is laying here because it's pay day which means I was paying some bills this morning.

On around is my printer and then in this next photo we get to some things hanging on the cubicle walls. That’s the banner I got on the home opener of the 2002-2003 Carolina Hurricanes hockey season. I lived in North Carolina then and made the hour or so trek over to Raleigh for a game one night – by myself! I couldn’t find anyone to go with me, but that didn’t stop me! Underneath is my trusty hole punch which I seem to use on a daily basis because we like to kill trees around here and use as much paper as we possibly can. There are also some file folders in this area which I rarely use and another holder of pens and such.

Having fun yet? As we continue our way to the left, we find my desk calendar which helps to keep me organized as well as some old notebooks I used during meetings of long ago and also some dictionaries and grammar guides. I like to have good grammar and spelling – very important trait! Also sitting here is my coupon organizer which will be put to good use tomorrow afternoon when I go to Publix for my weekly shopping trip. There is also a box of tissues here which I use every day thanks to my constant sinus drainage and the fact that I sit under a moldy musty water catching device. Well, actually it’s over the cubicle next to me which used to be Tony’s, but I’m close enough to it that I contribute the constant blowing of my nose to it.

Above the aforementioned area is the 2011 SEC football schedule and also painting of an elephant holding a Roll Tide fan. I don't think you can see the schedule in this photo, but it's to the right.

I think we will wrap things up here for today and continue the cubicle tour tomorrow. I know you can hardly wait. See you then! By the way, these photos were taken using the Retro Camera App on my phone which I downloaded from Amazon for free over the weekend thanks to a tip from my co-worker and fellow blogger Matt.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I Thought I Had Nothing To Say

Well, I wish I had some more exciting news to share with you today, but I don’t. I’ve tried to think of something all morning to write about and nothing has come to mind. So, maybe if I just start typing my mind will start wandering into a rambling of nothingness and I will end up with a post of some sort.

Today is Oprah’s last show – can you believe it? I certainly can’t. I mean, I guess she’s ready to move on or whatever but it’s going to be weird without Oprah in the afternoons. I’ve not ever been what I would consider a loyal Oprah viewer. I would usually tune in if I happened to be home in the afternoons or I would record it if she had a guest on that I was interested in hearing from; but this season, I’ve watched more than usual since it’s been her last. I record all of the episodes and then watch the ones that are of interest to me and sometimes even the ones that aren’t. I’ve really enjoyed watching and now wish I had watched more in the past. You know, Oprah has done a lot of good for people too. She’s sent lots of people to school through her scholarship fund and she’s always giving things to her audience and she just generally seems like a very compassionate and nice person. I’ve also been watching the Behind the Scenes show that comes on her new network, OWN, and have loved it! It’s very interesting to see how show ideas come about and all the prep work involved, etc. So, Oprah, I’ll miss you and I wish you all the best! (Like she’s going to read this.)

As mentioned yesterday, I’ve set up an appointment to have the world wide internets installed at my house – I’m actually getting pretty excited about it. I feel like I’m moving up in the world or something. Anyway, I was in need of purchasing a wireless router before the installation guy came out and lo and behold, my friend Robert from work had an extra one and he brought it to me today. Free of charge! He just saved me about $40 or $50 and I’m really grateful for that. The router works fine and he already set up a network for me too. He bought a new one for his house and didn’t need this one any longer. Robert is the type of guy that is always buying the newer version of things so he always has an older version lying around his house. I told him I would bake him a cake in return for the router since he didn’t want any money for it. Robert is a fan of my baked goods. Thanks Robert! You rock! (Pretty sure he’s not going to be reading this either.)

As you know, we were without power here in Huntsville for about five days after the April 27th tornado outbreak. I mentioned on this blog that Huntsville Utilities did a great job getting the power back on, and they did. In May, HU went to a new billing system and everyone’s meter dates were changed. My meter used to be read around the first of the month and my bill was always due on the 25th. Well, in May, my meter was read on the 18th and I FINALLY got my bill on the 21st. I’m probably the only person in America praying that the utility bill would come. You see, I’m a budgeter and my utility bill is budgeted for a certain time period. Well, now it’s due in a different time period than I’ve got it budgeted for and my whole budgeting system is in a state of havoc. I’ll get it all figured out in due time, but I’ve got to tell you, it’s a pain when you’re used to paying on one date and now it’s due on a completely different date. Plus, I’ve also read from their own web site that the meter reading dates for June are going to be different from the ones in May – so who knows when the heck my next bill will be due. To top it all off, this billing cycle was longer than normal, which I knew it would be, but I was without power one whole week (almost) and didn’t run my AC another three weeks of that period and my bill was still high. I don’t get it. Now the days are getting hotter than blazes and there will be no utility bill relief in sight until October (if then).

So, I’ve mentioned Dore Holte on here numerous times – about how I’m completely fascinated with him and the crazy helmets he wears when he runs alongside the riders in the cycling races. Yesterday, I sent a tweet to the producer at Vs. and told him he should do a profile piece on Dore Holte. He responded with “Considering It”. I couldn’t be more thrilled. This was such exciting news. I emailed Tony this morning and told him about it so he too could sent a tweet to the producer about doing a piece on Dore Holte. So, if you’re on Twitter and want to join in our crusade to get a profile on Dore Holte during the Tour, then you can send him a tweet as well, his handle is @joelfelicio.

I really despise untrustworthy people.

I’m sure if I sat here long enough I could think of something else to ramble on about, but I need to do something more productive I suppose. Hope everyone has a happy hump day!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

It Was Bound To Happen

I have an announcement to make – one that will shock and awe some of my nearest and dearest friends. Are you ready? Are you sure? Yesterday, I scheduled an appointment… to have internet service installed at my house. I’ll give you a moment to let it all sink in.

I had been thinking about getting internet service when I got back from France since, although I will still be saving money each paycheck, I would have a little extra to spare for an additional bill. Also, my student loan payments are winding down and by the end of this year, I should be student loan free (this brings a tear to my eye), and so I felt like I could go ahead and take on the extra monthly expense upon my return from France.

I decided to go ahead and get it earlier (June 11 is my installation date) for a couple of reasons. One, the place I work is shut down the first week of July, but since I am taking off the last two weeks in July, I have been granted permission to work from home instead of having to take another week of vacation and so I needed access to the world wide internets. The second reason is that I’m pretty sure I’ve found someone to house and dog sit for me while I’m away and I figured they might want to have internet while they are hanging out at my hacienda. So, those are my reasons, or excuses, or whatever you want to call it. You may now officially welcome me to the 21st Century.

Now, I know what your next question is going to be or at least the next question for a good majority of my closest friends – “When are you going to get on facebook?” Look, people, everyone knows I am a facebook hater – I hate everything it stands for and think it is a complete time suck and I’ve got enough of that already. I am, after all, a TV addict. But, if I’m being totally honest here, the thought of getting on the hated facebook has crossed my mind for the following reasons: 1) More and more companies are putting coupons on facebook and love me some coupons - even though I think companies should release coupons through their own sites and not social media and 2)The stalker in me is itching to get out and find out what’s going on with people I used to know. As they say, curiosity killed the cat and it’s bound to kill my anti-facebook movement too. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em they say. I don’t know for sure yet what I will do in that regard but chances are if I end up on there it will be for coupons and cyber stalking only.

In other news, Harold Camping has announced a new date for the rapture. I wanted everyone to know so you can be prepared (HA!). So, plan your rapture parties for October 21 and be sure and lay some abandoned outfits on the sidewalk. Oh, how I wish I had done that this past weekend. Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, May 23, 2011

I Was A Little Scared At First

Well, clearly the rapture didn’t happen on Saturday. I now wonder what all those folks who thought it really was going to happen are now feeling. Someone needs to write an article about that. I’d especially like to hear from the people who cashed out their life savings in anticipation of the rapture. What were they thinking?

Anyway, Saturday morning after my spin class, I went to get a mani/pedi at The Salon Professional Academy (TSPA) here in Huntsville – it was my first visit and I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew that the services performed at this place would be done by students, but as for the quality, I was a little worried. The reason I went to TSPA was because I had bought a Living Social special where the mani/pedi combo was only $15 – not a bad deal!

I got there a few minutes before my scheduled appointment and a few minutes later, this tattooed girl popped from around the corner. She had a couple of piercings in her face too and I actually said to myself that I hoped she wouldn’t be the one giving me my mani/pedi – in other words, I judged the book by it’s cover. Mostly I thought, what it the world will I chat about with tattoo girl? Well, of course, tattoo girl, otherwise known as Krystle, was the girl who was scheduled to do my nails.

It turns out that Krystle was actually a very nice and beautiful girl. She told me she had 19 tattoos. She had the letters “SUCCUBUS” tattooed on her fingers – one letter on each finger. I wondered all morning what the heck that meant and finally this morning, I searched the world wide web only to discover that a Succubus is a female demon who takes on a human form to seduce men – INTERESTING. You can read all about it here. So, apparently a female demon painted my toenails and fingernails on Saturday morning. This doesn’t give me much comfort.

After my pedicure –which looked really good, it was time for my finger nails. I just wanted a clear coat because I’m not much for color on my nails. The soap or minerals or whatever they use there to soak you fingers in was orange and I didn’t notice until I got home, but my fingernails seemed to have an orange tint to them and so I ended up taking off the clear cost so I could get the orange tint off as well.

I also ended up asking for an eyebrow wax, and that made me nervous after I made my request because what if she took off more than I wanted – I just needed a “cleaning up” after all. She did a really great job on my eyebrows though and I was very pleased.

Overall, it was a good experience and I actually made another appointment for the day before I leave for my trip. The prices there are very reasonable ($30 for a mani/pedi combo) and the students do a good job. They are also supervised while they are working and they are trying to earn a degree so chances are they are not going to screw anything up. They do haircuts and colors there as well and also facials. Check out their website for all the prices. I don’t know if Krstyle is really a female demon, but she was a nice girl and we found a few things to talk about so there wasn’t any awkwardness at all. By the time I left, I was no longer frightened, but now that I’ve read about what Succubus means, maybe I should be!

Friday, May 20, 2011

It's Been Nice Knowing Ya!

We’ve reached another Friday in 2011 – this year is really zooming by. I feel like I say that every week, but it is. Seems like this week just started. In case you haven’t heard, the rapture is supposedly taking place tomorrow. If it is, that really stinks because my parents are in far off Alaska and what if I never see them again? So, to any of you who might believe that the rapture is taking place tomorrow – good luck with that. Of course, the end of the world is also taking place on October 21, 2011 in case you didn’t know. Seriously, who comes up with this stuff?

I haven’t made any big plans for the weekend (you know, with the rapture coming and everything), but I did get all my yard work done last night and I’m really happy about that. I made a stop by Wal-Mart after work yesterday to get two things and ended up getting 12 – this is one reason why I hate Wal-Mart. Most of the things I got were actually on my Target list so it’s not like I got a lot of things I didn’t originally plan on purchasing. I had to buy a couple of fitted sheets (which were actually a couple of dollars cheaper at Wal-Mart) since The Tide scratched a hole in yet another fitted sheet – this one I had only owned for all of two days before the scratching occurred. Anyway, by the time I was finished gathering up goods from Wal-Mart, I was cutting it close to making it to the gym in time to get changed and get my favorite bike. So, I opted for doing the yard work instead and actually got a lot more accomplished that I intended to. I cut down a dead tree and trimmed up some foliage. It was a successful evening of yard work.

Tonight I plan on doing some laundry, catching up on the shows on my overworked DVR and taking The Tide to get her nails trimmed so she might not scratch a hole in the new sheets. I also have to pick up my comforter from the dry cleaners, provided it’s ready.

Tomorrow morning I’m going to the gym and then to get a manicure and pedicure – I want to make sure my nails look okay for the rapture. Seriously though, I bought a Living Social deal a while back and it’s set to expire soon so I figured tomorrow was as good a time as any to use it. I’m going to do a little grilling for dinner tomorrow evening and spend some time finishing preparation for my Sunday morning Bible class – this is my last Sunday to teach for the quarter. Sunday afternoon we are hosting a bridal tea for a childhood friend and his fiancĂ©. His sisters and I (Tina and Shawna) have been friends for years – they have both been mentioned here at The Chronicles of Nat.

That about sums up my weekend plans – well, provided the rapture doesn’t happen and everything. Someone posted on Twitter this week that as a prank you should lay some outfits complete with shoes and socks on the sidewalk so as to give the impression the rapture took those people. That makes me laugh. Hope you have a big weekend planned and if I’m not here on Monday, well, I guess the rapture happened after all and you can just refer to me as a Doubting Thomas.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I’ll Be An Orphan For The Next Week

My parents are leaving today to fly to Seattle, Washington and from there are going on an Alaskan cruise. They will be gone for about 10 days, returning in the wee hours of May 29. Keep them in your prayers while they are gone – that they will have a safe trip and a fun time – it’s important to have fun – it is vacation after all.

They have lots of interesting experiences planned – glass blowing, visiting Captain Phil’s grave, going on a crab boat, going dog sledding. I’m anxious to hear all about it once they return. When my parents are both out of town I kind of feel like an orphan. I suppose there is some comfort in knowing they are a phone call away if something happens and when they are on vacation/out of town, I always have a slight sense of uneasiness until they return. So, maybe you should keep me in your prayers too – ha!

Speaking of vacation, my big trip to France is coming up in just eight weeks! Eight weeks! That is so hard to believe! I think I put my deposit down for this trip the first week of August last year; so, I will have been anticipating this big adventure for almost a whole year by the time I head out. The anticipation leading up to the trip has been a lot of fun and I can only imagine how amazing the trip itself will be. The sad part is that once I arrive the time will fly by and the next thing I know it will be time to come home. Hopefully I will make a lot of memories and have a lot of amazing experiences in my two weeks in France.

In a post I wrote a while back, I debated about switching hotels for my first night in town. The hotel where I had my reservation is about seven or eight miles outside of Lyon and the hotel where I had to meet my group the next day was closer to the airport. I debated for all this time about keeping my original hotel or changing to the one where I will be meeting my group on July 18 and just this week changed my hotel to the meeting location. I am a little apprehensive about being in Lyon by myself the first night – as far as finding a place to eat, etc. and felt I would be more comfortable at the other hotel where (hopefully) there will be other Americans from my group. With any luck, I will be able to meet a few of the people on that Sunday and eat dinner with them and get to know them a little bit before we start our big adventure the next day.

I will still have a room to myself and therefore be able to have some quiet time before I spend the next week rooming with a stranger and the week after that rooming with my snoring dad. I feel good about this decision and more at ease. I think I am getting more anxious in my old age! I booked through my travel agent, the lovely Elaine, and she was able to get me a better price than the touring company offered me so I was really pleased with that. It’s now only about $30 more than my original hotel and let me tell you $30 isn’t a drop in the bucket compared to what I’ve already spent, so I think I’m okay with it.

I can tell it’s getting close to time for the Tour de France just by the traffic that has come to my blog recently. Jim Brickman is still this week’s (and every week for that matter) number one read post, but the second place post usually varies from week to week. This week and last, the second most read post was “Dore Holte, Who Are You?” This is the post I wrote about Dore Holte, that crazy guy who runs along the cyclists during the mountain stages at the Tour De France. The Tour of California is on this week and I’ve been watching it in the afternoons when I get home. Yesterday towards the end of the stage I saw him running up the hill with moose antlers on his helmet. It absolutely made my day. So, I don’t know if folks are searching after seeing him at Tour of California or if they are getting anxious for le Tour and just doing searches on him, but nonetheless traffic has been high for my Dore Holte post. I sure hope that guy is in France come July because I have about a million questions for him. If you have a question for him too, then put it in the comments. If run into him while in France, I’m going to interview him for my blog – provided I can meet him without appearing like a stalker anyway.

My French lessons in the car continue and I’m going to have to cut back on the number of days I spend on each CD. I still have two more that I haven’t even listened to yet and want to do some reviewing as well. I still think the CD with the songs has worked best for me, but I figure that’s because I have a good retention rate of songs I learn. I should be able to get by with the little French I know while I am there. I’ll obviously let you know for sure once I put my language skills to use.

I suppose that’s all the news or non-news as it were for today. Hope everyone has a great Thursday!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Question About Graduation Ettiquette

OK, guys and gals, today’s post poses a question about etiquette and I’m looking for your opinion. Well, actually a friend of mine is looking for your opinion. My friend came and asked me a question this morning and it was something I had never thought about and really didn’t have the answer. So, we’re coming to the masses or at least the five people who occasionally stop in and read this blog and asking for your opinion.

My friend (who has asked to remain anonymous) has a child who is graduating from high school sometime in the next few days. Recently my friend’s church hosted a reception for the senior class. While the church had 15 seniors this year, only 12 of the seniors participated in the program. As it often goes at these senior receptions, members of the church as well as family members and friends bring gifts to the graduates. My friend felt like since his/her child was a graduate that he/she didn’t need to provide gifts for the other graduates since generally speaking it would be a wash. Let’s face it folks, having a graduating senior can be expensive – there’s all kinds of things from photos to caps and gowns to pay for, not to mention the college tuition fees looming around the corner. So, my friend felt like there was no need to get the other graduates a gift nor was there a need for the other graduates’ parents to give a gift to my friend’s child.

However, my friend’s child received monetary gifts from the parents of four of the other graduates. Now my friend feels like he/she should have been a gift-giver too. So, what is the etiquette for this type of situation? If you are the parent of a graduating senior, do you or did you give gifts to the other graduating kids?

I told my friend to just write some thank you notes and not worry about the situation and I think that’s what is going to be done, but we were still curious to get the opinion of the rest of you out there. What would you do in this situation? What is the proper protocol? Inquiring minds want to know – so leave a comment and tell us what you think!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tuesday Movie Review: The Lincoln Lawyer

As mentioned yesterday, I saw not one, but two movies at the theater this past weekend; and today is the review for the second movie I saw. Last Thursday, my parents went to see The Lincoln Lawyer and afterwards I met up with them for dinner and they told me how good it was. I had bought a reduced price ticket from Groupon for this movie back in March and still had not used it and decided that I would go ahead and use it on Saturday lest the movie leave the theater and my ticket go to waste.

It’s been a long while since I’ve gone to see a movie by myself – probably since before I dated Tony – so, at least three years. I forgot how much I enjoyed it. I got to the theater about 20 minutes before the movie started and got some popcorn to accompany my contraband Diet Coke, made a pit stop and found a seat. There were about 20 or so people in the theater to see the film, which kind of surprised me since the movie has been out so long. I assume it must be doing okay otherwise it would have been off the screen by now.

The movie stars Lance Armstrong’s buddy and sometimes running partner, Matthew McConaughey as Mickey Haller, aka The Lincoln Lawyer. He’s a hot shot lawyer in LA with a quirky personality and a witty mouth. In the beginning of the movie, an acquaintance of his encourages him to take the case of Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillipe), a rich kid who has been booked for beating a girl. The movie goes on from there – Mickey and his investigator dig into Roulet’s past, and discovers some shocking secrets. Haller goes on to begrudgingly defend Roulet and gets caught up in a bit of a mess of his own.

I don’t want to give much more away in case you plan to go see this film. The movie is based on a book of the same name by Michael Connolly. I have not read the book and therefore cannot make the comparison between novel and film. There were a lot of twists and turns in this film that I did not see coming. My heart raced and I held my breath throughout the majority of the film because I just knew something crazy was going to happen, and it sometimes did. From beginning to end this movie had me on the edge of my seat. I constantly wondered what was going to happen next and the final surprise scene, I certainly didn’t see coming.

I don’t know how much longer this movie will be in theaters since its release date was March 18; with the summer blockbuster starting on Memorial Day Weekend, I wouldn’t think it will be around much longer. So, if you get a chance to hit the theaters this weekend and are looking for a thriller, check this movie out. You will not be disappointed.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday Movie Review - Something Borrowed

This past weekend I saw not one, but two movies; which is kind of crazy for me these days considering I haven’t been to the movie theater since January, and I’m really not even sure that counts considering it was the $1 movies.

On Friday, Jackie and I went out for dinner at I Love Sushi and then headed over to the theater to see Something Borrowed. When Jackie saw the preview for it she asked me to go with her. We both read the book a couple or five years ago (I lose track of time) and so that in conjunction with the fact that the always cute and charming John Krasiniski was in the film made it a must see for this BFF duo.

When we arrived at the theater there was a group of three women sitting on the back row. A few minutes after we sat down one of them said, “Ladies, ladies, excuse me, but do you know what this movie is about?” So, we gave a brief synopsis of the book – two girls in love with a guy, a romantic comedy. They seemed satisfied with that answer and then a few minutes later asked what time it started. I don’t know if they snuck in to the theater or what (in all honesty, sneaking in wouldn’t have been hard to do considering there was no ticket taker) but it seemed as though they were clueless when it came to what was about to take place in auditorium number 5. By the time the film was supposed to start, a few more girls trickled in and even a man or two.

Having read the book a movie is based on always makes me a tough critic of what I’m watching on the screen. In this case, it helped considerably that it’s been a long while since I read the book because I had a hard time remembering what took place and Jackie has to refresh my memory. As the film progressed along, I remembered more and more. So, as best I can remember, this film followed the book rather closely. The author admitted there were some small changes, but I couldn’t even tell you what they were. Long story short, the changes compared to the book weren’t significant enough to make me rip the film apart, as was the case of Percy Jackson.

If you are unfamiliar with the premise of the book or the film, I’ll sum it up briefly. Rachel and Darcy grow up together as BFF. Rachel and Dex go to law school together and Rachel has a crush on Dex and Dex on Rachel but neither admits it. Dex and Darcy end up meeting and dating and eventually get engaged. Rachel and Dex finally admit their feelings for one another. In between there’s a lot of interesting happenings if you will. Who gets Dex in the end? Well, you’ll have to read the book or watch the film to find out.

The atmosphere in the theater was good for this film. I felt like I was watching with a big group of girlfriends. Everyone was laughing and there was some talking out loud back at the movie screen which cracked me up. At the most tension-filled moment in the movie, the screen went black and the sound cut off. I thought we might be having one of those Huntsville power outages that are so famous these days since our utility system is beyond fragile thanks to the tornadoes of April 27; but, no it was some other malfunction. They got the movie up again after a minute or two and the last five minutes of the film played for us and then it was all over.

This movie has gotten some really rotten ratings and to be honest, if it weren’t for the fact that I had read the book, John Krasiniski was in it, and Jackie wanted to go, then I probably wouldn’t have seen it in the theater. It was better than I thought it was going to be and I actually enjoyed watching it and had a few good laughs. If you’re on a tight budget and only save your movie going for the best of movies, then you might want to skip this one (rent it a few months from now) and go to the movie I’ll be reviewing tomorrow instead. But, if you are looking for a cute movie to see with the girls, then this one definitely fits the bill.

Friday, May 13, 2011

We Had Some Fun Too

Not sure what happened with blogger yesterday, but I posted this for a little while, blogger started having difficulties, shut down and this post disappeared. Blogger is now up and running again as of about 25 minutes ago and so I’m going to try and post this again. Hopefully it will stay around this time. Enjoy the post and have a good weekend!

It has been busy at work this week, ya’ll, and as a result, this blog has suffered a little. I apologize to those of you who come here daily to read about what is or isn’t going on in my life. Hopefully things will calm down soon and I’ll be back to blogging on a somewhat more regular and timely basis.

In the mean time, I thought I would share a few more pictures with you from mine and my brother’s recent trip to Tuscaloosa. Since the Nick Saban statue was revealed at the A-Day game back in early April, I have not even seen a picture of it. I figured they would put one in the newspaper the next day, but I wasn’t so lucky. So, since my sorority house is close to where all the championship coaches’ statues are, Justin and I decided we should go by and check out the new statue and see if it met our approval (especially since we wouldn’t have to fight 100,000 other people just to get a glimpse).

There were a few people milling about, but not a lot and we were able to each get our photo taken with the statue thanks to the camera feature on my phone. Seriously, there are a lot of Kodak moments taken on phones these days, although maybe they should be called Android moments or iPhone moments or Blackberry moments, you get the point.

There was an older couple checking out the new statue as well and they were all decked out in their Bama gear as if it was game day. I told Justin to offer to take their photo and they said yes and so he took a couple of them and the Saban statue. Then the man asked if we wanted a photo together and we handed over my phone and gave him a quick tutorial on the touch screen and he took a photo of the two of us.

After the photo session, we headed to the book store and I bought Justin a shirt as his belated birthday present (May 3) and then we ate lunch at Firehouse Subs before pointing the car North and heading back home.

It was a nice day and it was also nice to spend some time with my brother. I’m glad he took some time out of his schedule to drive down to Tuscaloosa with me.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


It has now been two weeks since Alabama was hit by a series of tornadoes. I can’t believe that much time has already passed. But, as they say, time flies. I heard on the news this morning that the tornado count from Wednesday, April 27 is now at 28. A few smaller category tornadoes will probably be added to the count before it’s all said and done.

This past Saturday, my brother Justin and I went down to Tuscaloosa. I was supposed to have gone down the Saturday before, but since there was no power and Tuscaloosa had been hit worse than the Huntsville area, I decided it would be best to wait another week before going.

The reason for the trip was to pick up some dining room chairs that I bought from my sorority house. The Theta house is doing some remodeling and as a result is buying new furniture in some areas. They sold the old furniture and I bought a couple of the old dining rooms chairs to have mainly for sentimental reasons. I currently have no idea where I’m going to put them in my much loved yet small house.

I always take a lesser known exit off the interstate going into town so as to avoid a lot of the traffic on McFarland Boulevard. If you know me well then you know I’m not a big fan of lots of traffic and this particular exit is the one I used all through college so I’m rather partial to it I guess you could say. The road I take into town goes though Alberta City which was hit especially hard and as a result, we ended up having to turn around because the road was still closed.

The road we took in was Veteran’s Memorial which turns into 15th Street once it crosses McFarland; so, we were forced to see all the tornado damage in the heart of the city which was really something I wanted to avoid. 15th was closed as well; but Justin grabbed my phone and took some pictures around the intersection as we drove by. Over 30 people lost their lives in Tuscaloosa that day. This city as well as all other communities across Alabama is still healing. As mentioned in my last post, the pictures really don’t do it justice. The damage is so much more heartbreaking and devastating up close and in person. It’s really hard to put into words the absolute ruin we saw that was once a thriving part of a city we love.

These cars were apparently totaled in the storm.
You can't tell much from this photo, but they were all beat up pretty badly.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Cleaning Up

Last Monday morning, we woke with power. As mentioned in the last post, the power came on at my parents’ house about 3:00 a.m. on Monday morning. My dad and I got on our work clothes and headed into town. Our first stop was Mullins. Since we hadn’t had a hot breakfast in a long while, we stopped in for a hot biscuit and it was really good. We then made a quick stop by my house so I could close up my windows since the AC was back in action.

We then headed out to the Toney area of town where our friends Colene and Gary live. You may recall that upon reading the newspaper on Friday, we discovered that their house was hit by one of the tornadoes. My mom had called Colene the day before and asked if we could come out and help them do some clean up work and she said yes.

When we got there, Colene and Gary were not at home so we called them to see what needed to be done. Colene’s cell phone battery went dead during our conversation and so my dad and I just hung around to see if they would soon be home. While waiting, I made a couple of phone calls and my dad passed out cold drinks to the county workers who were cleaning up tree debris from the roads.

Gary and Colene soon pulled in and said there wasn’t much to be done except for trying to straighten up what was once Gary’s workshop. Colene and I walked through what was once their house to see if there was anything else she needed from inside. The county workers told us once they applied for assistance through FEMA, that FEMA would come in and bulldoze down the house and the bulldoze what was once the workshop out to the road to be picked up by the county. Can you imagine your house being bulldozed out to the curb? So sad! As we were walking through the house a group of four guys arrived; I don’t know who they were or who they were affiliated with, but they started helping us with the clean-up and straightening of what was left of the workshop. Not long after the four guys arrived, another group showed up to help; again, I don’t know who they were or how they ended up there. Then a group from Mastin Lake Church of Christ came to help and before the day was out another family that I go to church with, the Cothrens, came to help. Before the day was over, I think there were around 30 people helping to clean things up.

The National Guard came and dropped off some cases of water and the Sherriff’s department brought seven or eight really large tarps for us to cover everything with since we were scheduled for rain again. My dad and I left about 2:00 or so. All of us together were able to organize things into piles and get them covered up. There were still some things that needed to be tarped before we left, but the Cothrens agreed to get that done and told us to go on home – since we were both pretty tired, we agreed to do just that.

It was a long and very emotional day. The pictures you see on TV and in the newspaper are nothing compared to seeing the tragedy up close and in person. It's a very humbling experience to say the least. I already felt very blessed to still have my home and family and friends, but after spending the day at Gary and Colene’s, I was even more grateful for those blessings.

Some tree stumps pulled up by the roots at Juanez' house.
She lives next door to Gary and Colene.
The branches, etc. had already been cut off and carried away.

I thought this was intersting and hope you can see it okay.
This is a mop stuck in the ground. I am assuming the tornado caused this.

At what was once Gary's workshop before we left for the day.
Those are the Cothrens working.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

After The Storm - Days Three and Four

Saturday morning, I got up about 6:30 or so and went home to my house to empty my fridge and freezer of all my food and condiments and throw them out. I cleaned the fridge and freezer with Clorox and threw away hundreds of dollars worth of food; again, only a small and insignificant complaint when so many people don’t even have a home any more. I am blessed to be able to afford to replace those items and so in the grand scheme of things, it’s not really that big of a deal.

What I was able to salvage from my fridge and freezer.
Sorry for the crooked picture.

After cleaning out the fridge and freezer, I swept and mopped the floors and opened a couple of windows to let in some fresh air. Then I gathered up a few things I needed and headed back to my parents’ house. I got there about the same time as my dad who had been out to Publix to get some sandwich and hamburger meat and a few other items like milk. Since Mr. Savis was kind enough to let us use a line off of his generator, we were able to plug in the main fridge and keep some things cool. My dad was also able to get some bags of ice, which was a blessing. He offered a couple to Mr. Savis who didn’t want any and so we gave one bag to a neighbor down the street and before he left the store, my dad gave a bag to a man in line behind him because Publix had run out.

I would like to take a moment to say what an EXCELLENT job Publix did during the power outage here in North Alabama. As you probably know if you have read this blog for any period of time, I LOVE Publix and do just about all of my shopping there. While the power was out, all the Publix stores were operational thanks to generators. They had plenty of food on the shelf. They brought in trucks of ice each day. They also had amble supplies of batteries, charcoal, propane, lighter fluid, flashlights, etc. If it weren’t for Publix, I don’t know what folks would have done. They did a great job!!

After taking a nap, we grilled out hamburgers at hot dogs and once again my brother and granddad came over to eat. The food was good, as always! Once my brother and granddad left for the night, we settled in for the evening, had our nightly Bible reading and prayer and played cards. I’m happy to report that I was once again the winner!

I got up around 6:00 on Sunday morning and went outside with The Tide to collect all the tree limbs and branches that had fallen in my parents’ backyard and took them out to the road. After a couple of hours work, I went inside to take a shower, listen to the 8:30 a.m. press conference and go to church. I went to church with my dad Sunday morning instead of driving across the county to Chase Park. Mother didn’t feel like going so we left her at home with the two dogs. Before we left, we tried to brew some hot coffee for the church folks, but the large coffee warmer kept flipping the generator and so I’m not sure how hot the coffee ended up being.

My dad had an excellent lesson – he really spoke from the heart, which I had encouraged him to do and I hope he challenged a lot of the folks in the pews. The lesson was about being content in whatever situation you find yourself in and it was obviously very appropriate for our current situation. After church, my grandparents stopped by to get some kerosene for their lamps and a bag of ice. I went home soon after that to get my work boots and some grungy clothes – we had plans to go out and work in the devastated areas on Monday and I needed some other clothes. I also grabbed some more Diet Cokes – there would have been a crisis for sure had I run out – and also got a pizza from Dominos. After days of grilling out, pizza was a welcome change, even if it wasn’t that good.

I then went over to my grandparents’ house to pick up their cell phone so we could charge it on the generator. I also stopped at Publix for something – can’t even remember what. I think it was eggs and Gatorade and a few other things. By the time I got home, Mr. Savis had turned off the generator for a while to let it cool down. I attempted an unsuccessful Sunday afternoon nap and when I got up, Mr. Savis was trying to start the generator back up – only there was a problem. He couldn’t get it to stay on. It would run for a few seconds and then shut off. My dad ended up going over there and so did a lawn boy who was working on one of the neighborhood yards. After an hour or so, the lawn boy got the generator to work. Something as wrong with the carburetor and the generator would have to go to the shop on Monday. This would be the last few hours with the generator for a while.

Working on the generator

I let my grandparents’ phone charge for a while and then took it back to them. On the way, I stopped off at Lowes to get some work gloves. I also noticed that Publix had an ice truck in the parking lot so I stopped there again and got some ice. My grandparents didn’t need any so we gave a bag to a couple of neighbors – one who was riding his bike down the street.

That evening, we listened to the radio while playing cards. This was the first night that we had listened while playing cards and it was the same night that various areas were getting power back on. The radio would tell us which areas were getting power and it seemed to be getting closer to us. I said, “It’s just like Santa Claus! It keeps getting closer and closer!” My house had gotten power around 8:00 that night, but because of the curfew, I stayed at my parents’ house instead of going home.

While playing cards and listening to the radio, we discovered that Osama bin Laden had been killed. I thought that to be a moment I would never forget – no power, playing cards by the coil oil light, and listening to the radio to find out about a big event in our nation’s history. Awesome! After the card game was over (can’t remember who won, but it wasn’t me), we listened to the radio a bit longer and then went to bed. About 4:15 in the morning, I woke up; I don’t know if it was because my dad was rummaging around or if I had to go to the bathroom or a combination of the two. At any rate, I noticed that there seemed to be street lights on outside and sure enough, I asked my dad if the power was on and it was. He had woken up because when the air conditioner came on, he got cold and he was getting up to adjust the thermostat. Our time without power had come to an end.

Friday, May 6, 2011

After The Storm - Day Two

On Friday morning, my dad and I both woke about 6:00 a.m. He went for a walk and while he was out, a friend, Wayne brought over his frozen food. My parents’ friends, the Reeds, had power in the small town of Somerville and also had an empty deep freeze and had told my dad to bring his food over to their freezer. So, Wayne had brought his food over so we could take it too. My dad put the remainder of his lawnmower gas in his car (both of his vehicles were low on gas) and we loaded up the frozen food and headed out to Somerville, 25 miles away. On the way, we listened to the 8:30 a.m. press conference which had become our primary source of information thanks to the radio station airing it each morning. Speaking of which, allow me to say what a great service WDRM 102.1 FM did in covering the storm and the press conferences and providing tons of information to those of us without power. I normally don’t listen to this station, as it is country music and I’m not a big fan, but I listened every day the power was out and am immensely grateful to the service they provided to the community.

We had heard that morning that some of the gas stations in Lacey’s Spring were opening and we were going to pass through that area on the way to Somerville. Sure enough, by the time we got to Lacey’s, there were long lines at the gas pumps. I managed to snap this picture with my phone. I’m not sure how well you can see, but the line was at least a mile long.

After having to call the Reeds a couple of times to get directions and turning around no less than three times, we finally arrived to drop off my parents’ frozen items. We loaded up the freezer and had to bring a few things back with us because there wasn’t room for it all. We headed back to town and had plans to stop by the store and pick up a few items. We were also in need of a battery operated radio and first stopped at a Wal-Mart in south Huntsville and discovered it was closed. The gas station there was open and there was a long line there as well. We then went to Publix on Bailey Cove Road and bought some snacks and dog food. The dog food was on sale in last week’s Publix ad and I had already planned on getting some. The downside is that all my coupons were at and are still at work and I couldn’t use the $1 off coupon I had planned to use. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not that big of a deal, but I did wish I had those with me on more than one occasion.

Our next stop was Target in Jones Valley; they had no radios and we bought nothing there. We then went to Publix in Hampton Cove and bought some little cakes from the bakery, some D batteries, a small flashlight, charcoal, and some other things and then we headed back to the house.

After we returned, I had a hot shower, my parents have a gas hot water heater and we were very blessed to have hot water the whole time the power was out, and then took a nap. That afternoon, it was time for grilling again. This time we had pork tenderloin, grilled corn, and grilled Texas Toast – it was all really good! We only had one big meal a day and only snacked at other times. So, needless to say, I was very thankful for that one big meal each day.

While we were out grilling, my parents’ neighbor, Mr. Savis, came over and told us he had an extra line on his generator and offered to let us plug in. Mother had mentioned to him earlier that her wheelchair needed to be charged and so he kindly came over and offered us his extra line. We were able to plug in the power strip I had bought at Lowe’s the day before and then were able to plug in my mom’s wheelchair, the fridge, and also some of our cell phones. It was truly a blessing. We were able to have some cold food and drinks and keep some of our frozen food frozen. Neighbors helping neighbors – that’s the theme these days and it has been very humbling and heartwarming.

While we were eating, my brother showed up and told us the lines at the gas stations close to us were not that long. We then decided to go and fill up our cars and also take the gas cans and fill them up for use in Mr. Savis’ generator. I went over and got Mr. Savis’ gas can and we all headed out. Before we left, The Huntsville Times was delivered, the first newspaper in a day and I was very excited because finally we could read and see what was going on right around us. I took the paper with me and while waiting in line for gas, began to read and discovered that the home of a lady I go to church with (Colene) was hit by one of the tornadoes and completely destroyed while she was inside with another lady I go to church with (Juanez) and also Colene’s grandson. The pictures in the newspaper were unbelievable; when you have no TV, you really have no idea of the total devastation that has occurred and so we were thankful to finally receive a newspaper so we would have some idea of the complete and total destruction that happened right here at home.

We only had to wait for gas for about 39 minutes and that went really quickly thanks to the Foo Fighters and the newspaper. The gas station was only taking check or cash and my dad had forgotten his check book. Luckily, I had brought mine and was able to write a check for the gas for all three vehicles and two gas cans. (Yes, my dad paid me back.) After we filled up, we headed back home and had our nightly Bible reading and waited for dark so that we could commence our nightly card game of Phase 10. I’m happy to report that I won on Friday night, and went to bed a winner!

Want to know how you can help the tornado victims of North Alabama? How about sending a gift card? Last year when Nashville was hit with flooding, Lindsay Ferrier collected unused gift cards through her blog, Suburban Turmoil. She had great success with this and was able to pass out envelopes of gift cards to people who lost their homes in the flood. I would like to do the same thing for the people of North Alabama. To people that lost their homes, a gift card would be a big help. Whether it’s for dinner at a restaurant or to a home improvement store or to a clothing store, it doesn’t matter. These people will be able to use any form of gift card you are willing to provide. If you have any unused gift cards laying around or want to purchase some gift cards to help, please email me and I will let you know how to send these to me so that we can help the people of North Alabama start to rebuild their lives. I will post updates as to how many gift cards I get and how many families we help. Thanks in advance and spread the word!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

After The Storm – Day One

On Thursday morning, I woke up with the sun – about 5:30 a.m. – which isn’t all that unusual as that’s the time I normally get up for work anyway. I turned on my phone and checked Twitter to see if I could find out any information about the electricity or any other thing for that matter. I found out that the power would be out for two to four days. I started packing up a bag as I had decided to go stay with my parents so I would at least have some company for a few days if the power was really going to be out that long.

I took a bath with the hot water that remained in the hot water heater and got dressed. I then listened to the radio for a bit and discovered that a tornado had hit the power lines coming out of Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant which is the TVA facility that supplies power to the Huntsville area, and that was why it was going to take a few days for power to be restored. Around a million people were without power. I called my customer for work and let them know the situation and then talked to my parents and told them The Tide and I were headed their way. I grabbed a few snacks and some bread from the freezer and loaded up the car with all things human and dog. I was low on gas because I had planned to fill up on Thursday, which was my payday; so, I put the remainder of my lawnmower gas in the car before we headed over the mountain.

I then went across the street to Jeff’s house to let him know we were abandoning ship. He didn’t know the power was going to be out for such a long while and decided right then and there that he was going to go to Virginia to stay with his brother for a few days. I asked him if he had enough gas to get out of town because due to the power outage, the pumps were not working and you either had to go north to Tennessee or south of Cullman, AL, to get gas. He said he had enough to get to Chattanooga and so he was good to go. We said our goodbyes and parted ways.

The Tide and I arrived at my parents house and unloaded the car – some said it looked like we were moving in, but hey, we didn’t know how long we would be there. Not long after arriving, my dad and I headed down to Lowe’s with our cell phones and my iPod to see if we could find a plug to charge them up. My dad had ventured out the night before and noticed that Lowe’s had a generator and so that’s how we knew we could charge our devices there, provided we find a plug that is. We found one close to the restrooms and the employee break room; so, we plugged in and stood around waiting. After a while, I went and bought a power strip so we could plug all our devices in. I guess we must have been there for an hour or maybe close to two while waiting for things to charge. Obviously our devices were quite low on juice. We talked with the employees who thought it was humorous that we were there charging our phones. After our charging session at Lowe’s, we went up to check on my grandparents and discovered they had gone into the city to find some oxygen for my granddad; so, we went back to the house.

That afternoon, my dad grilled pork chops and rolls and cooked some potatoes in an iron skillet over the hot coals. It was good to get a hot meal in our bellies and it was quite good. Since we all had a lot of food in our freezers, we had to grill what we could so it would be used instead of throwing out. My brother and grandfather came over to eat and afterwards left to go back home. I had brought my Daily Bible with me and read the day’s passage out loud and my dad prayed for all those folks who were affected by the storms. We then decided to take a walk around the block before it got dark and took some left over pork chops to a lady up the street while on our walk. I’ll take this opportunity to also say that the Sherriff put a curfew in place from dusk to dawn and arrests would be made for anyone caught out after dark. This curfew worked well as very few arrests were made and very few burglaries reported, which speaks well of the community.

When it got dark, we lit the coil oil lamps and played a game of Phase 10. This became our nightly ritual while the power was out. My mom loves Phase 10 and no one will ever play with her. Since there wasn’t much else to do, Phase 10 it was. My parents tied and I finished in third place during this first night of competition. After the game, we went to bed, and on the way to bed, I was carrying a coil oil lamp and the globe wasn’t on tight and it fell off and broke into a million pieces. We had to keep The Tide and Scout away from the area while I cleaned up the broken pieces as best I could; and so ended day two.

Want to know how you can help the tornado victims of North Alabama? How about sending a gift card? Last year when Nashville was hit with flooding, Lindsay Ferrier collected unused gift cards through her blog, Suburban Turmoil. She had great success with this and was able to pass out envelopes of gift cards to people who lost their homes in the flood. I would like to do the same thing for the people of North Alabama. To people that lost their homes, a gift card would be a big help. Whether it’s for dinner at a restaurant or to a home improvement store or to a clothing store, it doesn’t matter. These people will be able to use any form of gift card you are willing to provide. If you have any unused gift cards laying around or want to purchase some gift cards to help, please email me and I will let you know how to send these to me so that we can help the people of North Alabama start to rebuild their lives. I will post updates as to how many gift cards I get and how many families we help. Thanks in advance and spread the word!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Day of the Storm

Today is Wednesday, and it has now been one week since our beloved state was ravaged by a series of tornadoes. I’ve obviously been offline for the past week (I've stopped by Panera today to use their free WiFi - thanks Panera!) so I’ve got a lot of writing to do in order to catch you all up on the past week’s activities. Knowing how long-winded I can be when writing, the recap will definitely be more than one post; that is if I can remember everything that has taken place over the past week. So, let’s get started…

Last Wednesday, April 27, I wrote a brief post about the series of storms that we had experienced and were expecting to come that afternoon/evening. Not long after writing and posting that, I left work for the day and headed home. It wasn’t raining at all when I left and personally, I was a little leery about just how strong the coming storms were going to be. I have always felt that Huntsville is a tad bit over concerned when it comes to weather awareness and as a result, I often take weather warnings with a grain of salt. I’ve never been one to be overly afraid of thunderstorms or tornado warnings; after all, hunkering down in a bathroom or storm shelter is a way of life for an Alabamian, and especially a Huntsvillian. The most frightened I’ve ever been, in fact, was in January of last year when a tornado hit on my street. So, when coming home, I really wasn’t overly concerned and started thinking about what I would do with my evening since church had been cancelled as a result of the impending storms.

I arrived home about 4:15 or so and tried on some new clothes that had arrived on my front porch. While doing that, a lady from church, Pat, called to check on me and I chatted with her for a while. During my conversation with her, the tornado sirens went off for about the third time since I had been home. I then plopped down on the couch and began to watch the weather coverage. I also decided it would be wise to plug in my cell phones to charge. The lights were dimming and blinking and my power rarely goes off. In talking with my parents earlier in the day, I knew their power had been off since a little before noon and so I figured if the power was going to go out, I’d better have a way of communicating with people. Each time the lights blinked, the DirecTV receiver in my living room when out (the HD receiver is apparently more sensitive than the SD receivers) and so I moved to the bedroom to watch TV since that receiver wasn’t going out. Soon after moving into the bedroom, the weather man told everyone in the TV studio to go to the shelter there because a tornado was coming close to the studio. Since I live close to that studio, I started getting prepared to hunker down in the bathroom and it was only seconds later that the power went out and we were flying blind. This was about 5:00 or a little after.

Luckily, I had my iPod fully charged and was able to listen to the radio and knew where the tornadoes were. I alternated between sitting on the couch, standing outside and chatting with my neighbor Jeff, and sitting in the bathroom floor – each time the wind and rain picked up and certain areas were told to get in their safe place, The Tide and I would head back into the bathroom. I think it was rather confusing for her to say the least.

Finally about 7:30 all the storms had passed and the rain began to taper off. Around 8:00 when it was completely pitch black out and you couldn’t even see your hand in front of your face, I decided to go on to bed. I had started dozing off and didn’t want to fall asleep with candles lit and since there wasn’t much else to do when you can’t see anything, going to sleep was about the only option I had. I also wanted to conserve the battery power on my iPod and therefore couldn’t listen to the radio. I wouldn’t find out just how severe all the storms were until the next day.