Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Watch your language!

It's all in how you say it!
I love the English language.  All the nuances and different ways to say and spell all the words we have been given command over,  A word "spoken" can have so many different meanings, depending not only on how it is spelled, but the context in how it is used.  Even our "sayings" can be confusing to those who don't speak English as the first language.  Heck, forget about English being the first language, depending on where you live in the country can "say" a lot about the way (not weigh) you speak.

I remember growing up, when us five kids (and that is how we said it) heard someone reference the Perry Dam, we would begin making nervous eye contact before we began elbowing each other and fighting the inappropriate laughter, surely believing that this person was swearing in mixed company.  And that is how we always referred to ourselves, "us five kids", unless it was Mom or Dad, and then it was "you five kids".  We were our own little posse just wanting to be heard (not herd - or herded).

People also tend to emulate language they particularly like.  Case in point.  Mr. French (until recently) owned a trucking business.  In his shop, they could often be heard saying 10-4 instead of "okay" or any other word that indicated agreement.  Now, the tone could be varied.  It could be in total agreement, a question,  or could have a resigned sound to it.  I personally like to say 10-4, so I have incorporated it into my own vocabulary and am pleased to report that as I have entered government service, it has become a new word on the 9th floor.  Oh sure, it was met with some surprise (dare I even suggest amusement?) at first, but now, it;s just....a big 10-4.

The most recent literal interpretation of the English language happened to me at a meeting I attended in San Antonio.  There was a group of us gathered and while I knew (not new) everyone, this was not true for all in attendance.  Acting as facilitator, I made the following statement.  "Since everyone here may not have met, and it's always good to put a face with a name, let's introduce ourselves.  We will go around the room and start with you, Buster.  (The name has been changed to protect the innocent.).

Buster stood up, stepped behind his chair and ...proceeded to begin going AROUND THE ROOM!!!!  I KID YOU NOT.  I wish this was a recorded meeting.  Thank goodness I am an adult now and know (not no) how to handle such things.  When I was done laughing (not so quietly) and had managed to catch my breath, I stopped Buster by saying graciously, WHAT ARE YOU DOING??  Buster replied sheepishly with a shrug of his shoulders, "you said to go around the room...."  I could not make eye contact with him for the rest of the meeting.  And it was a long meeting.

You have to understand, Buster is from Louisiana.  Apparently, I have more power than previously recognized.

I don't know so much but this is what I know for sure.  I will certainly WATCH MY LANGUAGE going forward.  I have a responsibility.

Until next time, (not thyme)
Your pal,


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The culmination of a journey

This morning Madi and I hopped (not literally) on a plane to Dallas for what seems like a very short journey, but in reality, we began this trip ten years ago.

When Madi was eight, I took her to her first concert..,Hannah Montana. Oh yes, we all remember that beautiful, talented girl before she became who she is today. Unrecognizable. But interestingly enough, even though Hannah was the main event, Madi left that night with a heartfelt (literal) interest in the front band...The Jonas Brothers-specifically Nick. That was the tee-shirt she wanted and as she got older, she never lost her interest.

We attended several Jonas Brothers concerts.  We had the obligatory Jonas Brothers themed birthday party. She had more tee shirts with Nick specifically, than Carter's had pills (as the saying goes).  She signed her letters Mrs. Nick Jonas. We are talking. All. In. 

When she was eleven, she broke her leg.  While recovering, she wrote a letter to Nick, telling him about her injuries but finishing with "when I am 18, I am going to meet you."

This letter was all but forgotten until this summer when we were going through some old boxes. When we came across it, Madi pinned it on her bulletin board, and I pinned it in my memory. 

Her dad and I didn't have anything special planned for her 18th birthday until we heard that Nick Jonas was going on tour.  Should we purchase that VIP much coveted package which included photograph, autograph, dressing room visit and being serenaded?  Did I forget the guitar picks?  And after show party?

Right now, I am sitting in the balcony watching Madi and Kenadee jockey for position in the front row, waiting for him to come on stage. 

After the photo session, Madi came over to me, put her head on my shoulder and wept. 

I don't know everything but this is what I do know. The culmination of a journey carries a lot of baggage. Even happy  journies. And this was a particularly sweet ride.

Until next time,

Your pal,


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Careful what you wish for!

September 12th was an exciting day for me.  My phone has been ready for an upgrade since May and I have not been in a rush this time.  Around July, when I started thinking I might go ahead and order a new phone, I heard two things that prompted me to wait.  First - after August 13th, Verizon was doing away with contracts.  Well, since I wasn't considering "doing away" with Verizon - all the better to get a new phone without the commitment.  Secondly - being an avid iPhone fan -and only having a 5s - I heard the announcement that a new upgrade to the 6 would be available on September 9th. That was all I needed to know.  And the wait began.

Madi and I made the switch from "flip phones" to "smart phones' as soon as the option became available.  And we never looked back.  In fact, it has been so long ago, I can't even tell you when we last held what we thought at the time was "modern technology".  Not so quickly for Mr. French.

What college is this?
He held on to that flip phone long after it lost its luster.  People would text him and he would complain (first about the added cost  $0.50 a message - since he was not a subscriber) and finally about his inability AND UNWILLINGNESS to text back on a phone that you had to go through all kinds of gyrations to create a message.

He also spent countless hours upstairs - tied to his desktop computer, because of his unwillingness to recognize the benefits of a smart phone.  Rather than miss out on Prime time, he did have a TV mounted in the corner of his office, but what about family time?  If we wanted to spend time with Mr. French, we had to crowd into his office and directly compete with his computer, TV and flip phone (business calls were never exempt from our evenings).

HE is in there somewhere-with his phone!
What to do, what to do????  Madi and I finally thought we had it all figured out.  March came along with a special someone's birthday and SURPRISE - it was time for an upgrade.  We introduced Mr. French to a smart phone of his very own.  In fact, due to the timing - his smart phone was SMARTER than ours.

No more slinking away of an evening to check emails.  He could do this from anywhere.  At first, he limited himself to just emails and texts (welcome to the 21st century).  But soon enough, he had a presence on Facebook and an app for every sporting team and affiliation he was interested in, downloaded on his Very. Smart. Phone.  These things all take time to follow.

And like I said - he could do this from ANYWHERE!!!  For example, remember last week when we were on our college visit?  Yep.  Did I mention dinner time?  Watching TV?  In the middle of a conversation?    WE HAVE CREATED A MONSTER!!

Since his first introduction to an iPhone, he has "on his own" made sure he stayed ahead of Madi and myself on upgrades.....until now,

I don't know what the future holds but I do know this,  Madi and I will be in the next class of iPhone users by the first part of October.  I guess we will wait and see what the "monster user" will be texting us with next....

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

First time college visit - facing Reality with Dad!

So, today we took Madison on her first college visit.  Over the next month we have a couple more scheduled and this particular university, Texas Lutheran, is located about 70 miles away.  Madi is interested in going to a small campus.  Keep in mind her graduating class has 50 students.

First, we went on a campus tour with a student ambassador.  Her name was Jacqui and she is a junior. It was a PARTICULARLY warm day, close to 100 (who's counting humidity) and because my lower back has been acting up, I was wearing one of those nifty heating wraps that direct heat right into the sore area (for 8 hours).   I was in Hour 5!   It probably looked liked I was going through hot flashes...because I WAS.  On a positive note, this walking tour racked up about 5,000 steps towards my goal today.  I didn't leave before I hit 15k.
This makes it REAL!

Next we met with the admissions counselor.  Madi talked with her first.  Then Terry and I were invited in.  Apparently Madi was all talked out because once we got in there, you might have thought I was the potential student.  I asked about the different majors, types of classes, how the school applied scholarships to test scores; all the normal things a student would (should) be interested in.  For the most part, Terry was busy on his phone (spoiler alert - subject of an upcoming blog) so I thought we were winding down.

Not so fast there, Missy.

When the counselor asked if we had any last questions, Terry put down his phone like an interrogator puts down his weapon (think Law and Order).  The next series of questions came out like the staccato of a rapid fire machine gun.....barely giving the poor counselor time to think, let alone compose an answer.

"Can you tell me the crime statistics on campus?  Violent crimes?  Are the dorms segregated - male from female?  NO???  Are the floors secured?  What about the bathrooms then?  Is there adequate lighting outside?  Where are the security cameras?  YOU DO HAVE SECURITY CAMERAS??"

By this point, Madi and I have picked up OUR PHONES, and are "making busy" when we aren't giving the admissions counselor encouraging (albeit empathic) looks and making sounds in the back of our throats that sound somewhere between trapped, embarrassed, and/or pained.

The counselor assured us, with a shaky smile, that her dad was the same way.  SURE HE WAS.....

The rest of the visit was somewhat of a blur.  There was a meeting with the softball coach and a trip to the bookstore but I was too busy looking for security patrols, cameras and any other type of assistance that I should have been looking for all along.  Where were the police dogs????

I don't know a lot but this much I know for sure.  Daddy is going to have a hard time relinquishing responsibility of his baby girl come next year.

Until next time,

Your pal,


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Scars are souvenirs you never lose....

One of my favorite lines from the Goo Goo Dolls song, "Name" goes like this...Scars are souvenirs you never lose, the past is never far".  Scars are interesting.  Everyone has them and most of us can tell a story about how we got our scars.
Identifying mark if needed

I have a scar on my left pointer finger that goes across the width of the finger.  It's faint now (over 50 years old) but
I still remember cutting that ham with a very sharp knife while I held it with my left hand.  I was about 5 or 6 years old and probably wasn't supposed to be doing what I was doing.  From that point forward, I have always cut my meat (and everything else) putting the knife in my left hand.  Isn't that odd?  As if it were my right hand's fault?

The scar above my left eyebrow is all that remains of a cyst that I was born with.  It disappeared for a few years and then came back and stayed,  And stayed.  It was about the size of an egg yolk and at times would have the consistency of same and at other times would be as hard as a rock.  After the cyst was removed, for many years when I touched my forehead in that area, I would feel it on the top of my scalp (towards the back),  Now I just don't feel anything.

Then there are the multiple scars I have across my abdomen.  It looks like I have been butchered. The worst occurred when emergency surgery was necessary and left me with 25 staples going straight up from my pelvic bone to past my belly button.  Not very attractive but I certainly wasn't in any position to argue, Although it's been eight years, to this day I don't like to have anything touch or rub on this scar. It's very uncomfortable and I imagine it will always be this way.

These are the scars that you or I can see.  And there are feelings and stories associated with each example.  Let's think about the scars we have all endured at some point in our life that no one can see.  And even now, there are feelings associated with them, or not.  Maybe, like my forehead, we are just numb.  But there are stories that go with each and every one.  And some days those scars are rubbed the wrong way.  We still bleed inside.

There is a new TV show on called "Save a Life".  I am a sucker for all things medical, even if I have to turn away half the time.  This show takes place in an emergency room and is quite graphic at times.  There have been a few instances where the people brought in have been stabbed.  It is always a bloody mess, but I am always shocked by how small the stab wound may actually be.  It's a critical situation because all the damage is done on the inside.

That's how I think about our scars on the inside.  It may have seemed incredibly minor at the time, but inside it caused all kinds of damage.  Or, although it was so long ago, and it was a terrible experience, loss, heartache, this scar never healed properly.  And how about the scars we bear that are ours to bear alone? I imagine for every scar we carry, we are responsible for inflicting one on someone else.  It's a lonely, cruel world out there.  Sharp objects are not always necessary to leave a mark.

So this is what I know for sure.  For me, with a little bit of make-up, and proper attire, most of my scars can be concealed.  Not everyone is as lucky.  And all of us have those days when the scars we hide on the inside threaten to overflow into our behavior on the outside. Then we are at risk of wounding others or being wounded again.  My goal is to be aware.  And focus on being the salve for healing rather than the cause of more pain.

Finishing strong with the rest of the refrain...."Did you lose yourself out there, did you get to be a star?  Don't it make you sad to know that life, is more than who we are"

Until next time,

your pal,
Kari (my name)

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