Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve, 2007 - A Year of Firsts

I can't believe this year is over already! Wow, time flies when you have a bazillion projects you want to get to, doesn't it? This has been quite a remarkable year for me, as far as my creative pursuits are concerned. After my bead website kind of dissolved into a pile of bad feelings last year, it was nice to have my stitching to take my mind off of it (though it still niggles at the back of my mind, especially when the person I blame 90% the failure on likes to visit me every so often, as though nothing ever happened, and we're still "friends"). Of course, last year's Christmas present frenzy might've done me in on stitching, too, but once those were done, and then I finished St. Georges on New Year's Eve, it kind of left me at peace, if that makes sense. I guess it was a sense of accomplishment that I wasn't really expecting.

I began this year full of excitement at the prospect of finally working on The Castle as part of the SAL - I'd wanted to do the Castle as long as I'd had it, but for one reason or another, I'd just never started it; and I'd also never been in a SAL before, not having any needle friends in person. And that first week on The Castle made Fantasy Triptych holler at me from its dusty bag, so I had the overwhelming urge to work on that, too. So I started a weekly rotation, which then soon included my first soldier memorial, and then Quaker a 6 Mains. And then, that wasn't quite enough, either, so I decided to kit up some more ornaments, which I had been collecting for the longest time, and had done just one, in December of '06. I got several of those stitched between soccer games and early weekend mornings when it was too early to get out the big projects for the day. And did I mention the RAKs? We created a group, thanks to Claire, specifically for RAKs, and for the first time in my life, I got a little something in the mail from someone I didn't know in person, for no reason at all! Is that the coolest thing, or what? And the whole year was filled with such wonderful surprises in my mailbox, including my first ever mail art! And I had lots of fun, too, sending out a few of my own, though this coming year, I would like to make more things, including my fist mailart.

I finished Quaker in a ridiculous 3 weeks' worth of stitching, and decided to get it framed, despite not really having the cash to do so. And then I thought that maybe I would enter it in a local fair, and thought it'd be nice to give DH an excuse to take me to the North GA Fair, instead of the Gwinnett County one we always go to - just something new, you know. So I entered it, and some jewelry that I had finally finished, after I got over a bit of the heartache I had experienced with my beads last year. And when we went to the fair that week, I found that I had won!!!! I won First Place with my Quaker, and I won 2nd place with my jewelry!!! There's some more firsts for the year - entering and winning!!! DH doesn't think I'm quite so nuts with this "knitting-thing" I do now, though I don't think I've convinced the boys, yet.

This fall, I finished my first soldier memorial, and have it almost completely framed, my first stretching and framing. I need to finish it up in the next couple of weeks and get it to his mom - I just didn't want to send it near the holidays, as I didn't know if that would cause more hurt at a time of year when it is often hard enough to deal with loss. Just gotta find my glazer's points that I know are here somewhere, or get off my butt and go get another pack. Also need to order some spacer material - have it bookmarked at work, so maybe I'll do that Wednesday.

I made great progress on all of my rotation pieces; The Castle is a bit more than half-done, I think; I finally got to the 10% mark on SQ Lady & Unicorn, I am almost done with the assissi side of Fire Flower, which is this week's piece, and just last night, I finished the entire Maiden Panel on Fantasy Triptych!!! WooHoo!!! Next time it's up, do I go back to the Knight, which is also very close to done, or do I tackle the Castle panel??? I don't know - I guess I'll make that decision the day I get it out! Yesterday, I also whipped up a little beaded set, which I made to go with a new sweater and cords outfit I got for Christmas; it's nice to be able to make my own stuff to match, in as little as 1/2 an hour. When the muse strikes, you have to go with it!

As for the coming year, I also have Bouquet for Cheryl just less than 1/2 done (give or take), and have the huge ABC Ancien Vert et Mauve started, as well. BfC should be finished sometime in the early part of this new year, and ABC will probably be a very long-term project. I was inspired by Mariann, as well as others, to pick up Chatelaine Mystery X while it was still online, so I am kitting that up, bit by bit, now. As soon as one of these TWs gets completed (I expect to finish both this year), my first Chatelaine, Knotgarden, goes in that spot. Now, does her Anniversary Castle Sampler go in the spot where the other TW now is??? Or Mystery X, which ought to be kitted by then? Can I NOT have a TW in the rotation? I have no idea, since I have never not had one of hers on the go. Time will tell. I am also the proud owner of a working sewing machine, which I have yet to play with, though did buy some fabric to back ornaments with, so expect to actually start finishing things this year, as well as a mail art or two, maybe a needlebook or needle roll, and I imagine a biscornu or two might make an appearance :) I have Gloriana thread, in Elizabethan Green, or order right now for the large monochrome from Long Dog's Foursome Reel, which will get started as soon as Fire Flower is finished, which I expect in February or March. I have a Crescent Color Belle Soie silk, Blue Lagoon, picked out for LD Paradigm Lost - no idea where that falls, especially as Tracy's Anatolia and Garden Stars are both hollering at me. As well as the 20 other things I have kitted up and waiting for me!

And here I thought that the only remarkable thing, good or bad, would be my 40th birthday, which I wasn't expecting to be as good as it was. It was hard enough to send my first son to his first day of high school this year, and then see him excel with his new team, and his love for soccer continue to grow, hopefully leading him to a bright future. My youngest will leave elementary school this year, and will be in middle school next fall; it seems just yesterday when he was a smiling, toothless, happy baby, and now he's the Incredible Jabbering Monster, irritating people as far as the eye can see (usually just me and his brother). What a year it has been! And the friendships that have been firmly cemented this year are where most of my successes this year have started; the encouragement and enabling alone are evident in the pictures here :) But mostly, you all have made my heart feel much lighter than it has in years, and for that alone, I wouldn't give back a second of our conversations this year, and hope to continue in the coming year. I look forward to the day, hopefully next year, when I can actually meet many of you in person - I think that will be quite monumental, as far as meetings go :)

I wish all of you Health, Happiness, and Peace in the coming year, and of course, much Stitching! Thank you all for a wonderful year!!!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas Silliness - You Know What To Do...

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? both

2. Real tree or Artificial? Artificial – only because we had to have one in the apartment we first lived in, and it hasn’t completely disintegrated yet…. Oh, and cats.

3. When do you put up the tree? Black Friday

4. When do you take the tree down? The day after, usually – or the weekend before New Year’s.

5. Do you like egg nog? I’ve really tried, but no – I don’t care what you put in it, I just can’t do it.

6. What is your most favorite Christmas gift ever? My Aquamarine ring, Cameron’s birthstone.

7. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes, Todd’s mom gave it to me when Cameron was a baby – I have no idea where it is, though. We used it for a nightlight for Nick when he was a baby – might be in his closet. It doesn’t go with my Santa collection, at all.

8. Hardest person to buy for? My Parents

9. Easiest person to buy for? Me

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail, the every-other-year I manage to send them. Especially this year :)

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? When I was 13, I think, my aunt gave me little-kid make-up; I was utterly appalled. She meant well, but wow, out of touch. And raised a son many years before, so now in hindsight, probably not her fault.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? A Christmas Story, of course. “F-R-A-G-I-L-E; hmmm, must be Italian. Fra-gee-lay!” Classic – and yes, I like that line better than the much-overused “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid”.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? When I finally decide I can’t possibly blow if off any longer.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I recycled one of Todd’s, that he got from one of the people who worked for him, for a White Elephant party at work – the one and only I’ve ever participated in (yes, I got the biggest white elephant of them all, and I’ll be damned if I can tell you what it was – a big box of really old computer-like junk)

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Ham and sugar cookies – sometimes on the same plate J What? Flour is a grain - that's a food group.

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Color on tree, house has clear.

17. Favorite Christmas song? Ave Maria, though I’m not sure this is strictly a Christmas song. Or Christmas Eve in Sarajevo by TSO.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Home – traveling is for soccer season L

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Yeah, usually. Not without singing, which, trust me, none of you want me to do.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Neither – one of those German glass pointy things – I’m sure they have a name, but I have no idea what it is.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas morning with my kids – sometimes 1 each on Christmas Eve.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Malls and the people that inhabit them.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color? Red, gold, green.

24. What do you want for Christmas this year? A working sewing machine, and money for a trip to England in ’09. And about 50 colors of silk thread, in 50yd increments or more.

25. Who is most likely to respond to this? Whoever else doesn’t feel like working today?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Payback's a Bitch!

This is what I arrived at work to see this morning (excuse the poor quality of my phone pics - there are better ones floating around, if I can just get them....)
My parking spot, complete with Handicap Sign and a walker with a black balloon drawing attention to it from anywhere in the parking lot...
After I hobbled out of my car, bypassing the walker - I did later offer to bring it up to the door for everyone else to use, if they needed to :)

Of course, the obligatory forest of black balloons - this one tied to me door (the signs ont he door are all mine - I like to keep the night crew entertained, or teach English as a Second Language)

More balloons, and shiny metallic 40s hanging from my ceiling. Not shown: the REALLLLLYYYY bright work lamp that was placed over my mouse, which actually kept me pretty warm until I figured I'd better turn it off....

They had the mail girl deliver me a FedEx box, containing denture adhesive, some incontinence pads, ice gel for my aching joints, and a packet of mineral salts for bathing away my aches and pains. Since I rolled my ankle really badly the other day, and it's now all black and purple, the icy gel might actually come in handy :)

This was my desk chair, but as I was slightly disturbed by it, I begged for my chair back; this is now my visitor chair, which of course, my boss had to come use to do his impression of The Thinker.

Oh, silly people, I have a very good memory, and as one of the "decorators" has her 50 coming up in 2 years - I'll start planning now....

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

And Another Doolittle Raider is Gone!

Former Doolittle Raider Dies
Air Force Print News October 12, 2007

SAN ANTONIO -- Former Lt. Nolan A. Herndon, a member of the famed Doolittle Raiders, died of pneumonia Oct. 8 at the age of 88. The lieutenant was a navigator-bombardier on one of the B-25 bombers that took off from an aircraft carrier on April 18, 1942, to strike targets in Japan. Led by Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle, that historic mission became known as the Doolittle Raid.
Lieutenant Herndon, a native of Greenville, Texas, enlisted in 1940 after attending two years of college and was commissioned as a second lieutenant about a year later. He also graduated from navigator training and completed bombardier training.

During what many consider one of the most daring air raids in American history, 16 B-25 bombers took off from an aircraft carrier and headed for Japan. The planes each had a five-man crew and were to fly 650 miles over the Pacific Ocean to bomb their targets, then continue 1,600 miles in hopes of reaching airfields in China.

Although the planes completed their bombing missions, most ditched at sea or crashed in China. Lieutenant Herndon's plane landed in Russia, where he and his crew were captured in the then-neutral country. Lieutenant Herndon was held as a prisoner of war for about a year in Russia.
His death leaves only 12 surviving members of the Raiders.

Copyright 2007 Air Force Print News. All opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

This Pretty Much Sums it Up

I don't agree with Bill Basamico 100% of the time, but I think this one is pretty much spot on. Where does it end, folks? 'Nuff said.

Monday, September 24, 2007

And the Ribbon Goes To...

...Me! I won - two, to be exact! My very first time out, and my Quaker a 6 Mains won first place in its class (19ct and over), and my Turquoise and Pearl necklace and earrings won 2nd in their class! And the jewelry that won first was just awesome - a baroque pearl and crystal or moonstone necklace and earring set - it was gorgeous (and if those pearls were as nice as I think they were, pricey). I took a picture of it with my phone, but it didn't come out well - they had it displayed on a white manikin, and it was up and back - I really would have liked to have gotten a really good look at it :)

Time: about 3 weeks each
Materials: about $120 each
Total Cash Prize: $9
Eternal Glory: Priceless!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Would the Owner of This...

...please go live next door? The boys found this outside today - it's about 3 1/2 feet long, and probably a black snake. I hope it's just a black snake. Of course, every poisonous snake that doesn't live in Australia or Africa lives here, so who knows? No rattles, so that's good....

And I really like snakes - the ones that I know about, that is; have only come across a couple in our years here, even with all the woods here. Little Kid finds them all the time; can't believe he hasn't gotten bit by something yet...

Friday, September 14, 2007

Make Your Plans Now!

September 19th is Talk Like a Pirate Day!!!!! Arrrgggghhh! In celebration of this, I plan to watch a Pirates of the Carribean movie :) Get more details here:

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Yeah, I Know, I'm a Slug

I have needed to post for a while now, but just haven't really had the time all at once. The summer has been quiet and hectic all at once; no one played soccer, which was nice for us big people, but a certain 14yo hated it, especially as his middle school season ended sooner than he was ready for. Work has been a complete mad house, but I did survive another round of layoffs; the outlook is kind of grim, but the burden of it lies mainly on upper management, and I think everyone knows that now. There have been some unsound business decisions made in the last year or so, and I hope they get them fixed. I'm so far down the totem pole that I just keep my input to myself; large parts of the problems stare me in the face every day, but for some reason, we just don't talk about them. More of the unsound business decisions, is my guess.

A new school year has started, and a new soccer season has started. This Labor Day weekend is our third tournament weekend in a row; fortunately, the weather should be much nicer for this one, which is DH & Little Kid's. The last two have been absolutely miserable in the heat (100+ with heat index) and the smog, and no rain the entire month of August until the 1.4" we've gotten this week; now we're only under by 10-11". And all around us, people are under water; Texas, Ohio, England - it's just crazy. I just hope we've seen the end of the 100 temps, and I know my mother would crap to hear me say this, but we really could use a couple of non-devastating hurricanes to come to a halt over N. GA for a few days. Of course, that would probably only serve to increase the price of gas more....

Well, that's all that I have time for, for now. I need to write up some stuff about our new soccer team - The Dacula Danger U-15. It got off to a rocky start, but it is looking promising. More a bit later in the season, when we've actually played some regular-season games. Until later, everyone keep cool....

Friday, June 08, 2007

Now Open!!!

There is now a museum open at the base I was stationed at in England. It is the Bentwaters Cold War Museum. RAF Bentwaters, and its twin base RAF Woodbridge, closed in the early 90's. I was there from 2/87 through 2/89, as my first permanent duty station. If you are ever in the area, check it out. The driving force behind getting the museum up and running was the Bentwaters Avaiation Society. I will get back there eventually, though even if I left today, I wouldn't recognise anything, I have no doubt. I probably couldn't even find either place I lived.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Virginia Tech

I don't really have the words to say what I want to say here, so I'll leave it with the above image, and just this statement: The fault lies in a person who is now dead; let's not make a witch hunt out of it, adding more victims to it. In the end, it won't bring back the dead, and it won't prevent the next tragedy, because tragedy happens every day - always has, always will. It's part of life, as sad as that is. It should make us all more greatful for the good things in life.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Imus vs. Sharpton

You know, there appears to be no limit to the stupidity that people in this country are willing to accept. I have made it apparent in other posts that I do not consciously watch any news, outside weather and traffic as needed. I just can’t stomach it. But I do consider myself relatively well-informed, nevertheless. You know, the big media blitz we live in still seeps in around the edges; I can’t block it out entirely – I’ve tried. I am a voracious reader, but there again, I am very selective in what I read; I read primarily fiction, of the historical nature, preferably of the 17th century and before. I don’t read biographies, tell-alls, anything of that nature (with the exception of Col. Hackworth’s About Face – relative and all that) – I’m not interested in people trying to justify their stupidity or victimizations, and I’m certainly not willing to give stupid people awards (i.e. my hard-earned money) for being stupid, and willing to admit it

That said, I know who Don Imus is; there are members of my household who are newsaholics, who watched the OJ trial (that’s where this all started, isn’t it?), and who have some news-something on when I walk in the house. So I’ve seen him, and I’ve even listened to him, in an effort to get my head around the obsession this country has with listening to dumbasses (see also Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Cindy Sheehan). And I know who Al Sharpton is – who doesn’t? Where Al is, Jessie’s sure to follow, isn’t he?

Okay, getting to the point: Uh, last time I checked, being STUPID wasn’t against the law. And let me tell you, if it was, neither Imus nor Sharpton would be at the front of the line. Also, SAYING STUPID THINGS isn’t against the law; in fact, surprisingly enough, it’s covered in the Constitution, being considered Free Speech. Before I continue this rant, I have to give you my interpretation of the 1st Amendment, and that is all it is, my interpretation: Freedom of Speech covers anything that does not cause harm to an individual; and by harm, I mean the act of saying certain words causing death or dismemberment. Hurt feelings don’t count, because that is 50% on the head of the recipient (s). Also, FoS covers anything that does not put the security of this country, and all the individuals it contains, singly or wholly, at risk of death or dismemberment. Of course, there are finer details here, but you get the idea, and that’s good enough for this discussion.

So, Al Sharpton wants somebody to police Imus because he said something stupid; he wants him punished for something that isn’t against the law. Now, don’t get me wrong – I do not agree with what he said, in any way, shape or form. In fact, to be completely honest, I could care less about the Rutgers Women’s Basketball Team – glad they won, hope it was a fair game, etc., etc. Whatever. Don Imus is just a guy; he can have whatever opinion he wants about women, black women, black women playing basketball, women playing basketball, basketball – whatever combination you’d like to put together. And so can everybody else who cares to spend the time to form the opinion. Where he went wrong was in being stupid enough to let his opinion be known in an arena where, if it wasn’t looked on as favorable to the majority, he should be prepared to face the consequences – Open Mouth, Insert Foot. Happens every day on a much smaller scale, don’t you think? I probably do it more often than I am aware of at work. If I say something stupid, and it is brought to my attention if I really am unaware of the problem, then I apologize, and if needed, explain myself. If there is resentment afterwards, I understand it, and I move on. I’m never going to make all of the people I come in contact with happy all of the time – who can?

There are a couple of good articles about this little circus on – yes, the stronghold of uber-conservatives everywhere. I am conservative, but not 100%, so some of the things said on Town Hall either go against my grain, or don’t apply to me, so don’t throw any labels at me. But I do like Mike Adams and Michelle Malkin both, and their recent articles on this story I think hit the nail on the head. You can find them here: Michelle Malkin's article, and Mike Adams' article. It's interesting what is okay for certain people to say, but not others. And I've often wondered, for all those Blacks out there that don't like white people, doesn't that make them racists, too, or can only white people be racist? How does that work, exactly? Of course, I don't really worry about it myself - since I pretty much dislike everyone, you know.

Monday, April 09, 2007

RIP: Ripley

Ripley came to us in 1992; DH actually bought him from a pet store in Engelwood, Ohio - because there aren't enough free cats in the world. The first couple of years we had Ripley, we lived in an apartment in Troy, along with his big brother Booger, and then the Big Kid arrived. We never saw Ripley in that apartment; he spent his days under the water heater, next to the pilot light. How he never went up in flames, I have no idea. He would come out at night to play with superballs we'd get form gumball machines; the "foyer" and dining room was vinyl floor, and he'd have those balls bouncing all over the place, all night - the people downstairs must've really wondered what that was. When he would come out when we were up, he wouldn't pay a lot of attention to us; he was almost feral, but not in a scared-of-humans way - he just didn't need out constant companionship like Booger. He was kinda scrawny - definitely an alley cat. He had medium length hair, black and white. His chin was completely black, but his top jaw, nose, and face were white, so he looked like he was wearing a beard. And his eyes were seawater green, though he wouldn't really look you in the eye - he'd look at you though his white eyelashes. And he ginormous whiskers - they were sprouting out all over his head. One of my nicknames for him was Catfish. He wasn't a pretty cat, by any means, but he was interesting.

Then we moved to Georgia, and something happened while he and Booger were being boarded; he became friendly, and a little fat! We bought the cats and kid a house, and moved them in, and then let the cats outside; Ripley, once he got over being scared of outside, was in heaven! He'd go out to the woods, and would be gone for days. He'd come home all beat up, covered in cuts and scratches, and he'd lay around for a couple days, eating and recouping, and out he'd go again, to defend his territory. He came home once with a BB in his shoulder; it was just below the surface of his skin, half exposed, so we doctored him up as usual. We think the neighbor got him; when we moved in (I assume before he knew we had animals), he said to not be alarmed if we heard or saw him with a pellet gun - it's how he kept the cats out of the trash (as opposed to putting lids on it, I guess?). They left eventually, anyway, so whatever. Then Ripley's new little brother, Zeke (later to become known as FatAss) got hit by a car, and had a broken leg, that we had to borrow money from my dad to fix. Hard times being a cat in the wilds of the N. Georgia Mountains, with acres of woods to defend. And don't get me started on the asshole drivers...

Ripley was definitely the scrapper in the family; Booger, with no claws, would box you hard enough to make you see stars, but he wasn't much for fighting. Zeke was still kittenish when he became bionic, and then, since they fixed him while they were fixing his leg, he just got fat, and had a bad temper to go with the fat. Ripley ran his patrols, and stood watch from the porch. He spent the warm months (all but January & February) sleeping out in the mulch in the flower beds; he'd come inside to eat, or during the heat of the day if we were home, but he'd be back out as soon as someone would open the door. He'd stand on the porch, looking in the sidelights and watch us walk past the steps; we'd go open the door, but he wouldn't move - he'd just sit there, staring in. No idea what was going on in his head.

He was kidnapped once; we went on vacation one year, and had the kid across the street taking care of the animals. He could let Ripley in, out, whatever, and not to worry if he didn't see him; he'd come back as soon as he knew we were back, trotting down the street and driveway with a "It's about time!" look on his face. He'd come make sure we were okay, the food was secure, rest a day or two, then go back out on patrol (we'd every so often get a glimpse of him prowling through the woods out back - that white fur, when he wasn't muddy, would stand out well in the green). Well, this time, we came back, and a day went by, and we hadn't seen him. So we started calling for him - he must not've heard us come home. And we called and called. Finally, DH made up a sign on poster board and put it on the ladder out in front of the house. That night, as people were rolling in from work, we got a knock on the door; a guy was standing there, and he said he thought his wife had "rescued" our cat. We showed him a picture of the Brothers Chat - the three of them, eating tuna. He said he wasn't sure, but he'd go home and check. But they had picked up a cat they thought was stray, since he was dirty (as would you be, sleeping in flower beds). They took him to the vet, where he had shots and was fixed. And would we like the paperwork if it was him? Whatever you want to do, because we aren't paying you for kidnapping him, if it is him. So the guy left, and not 10 minutes later, Ripley came hauling ass up the driveway, making a b-line for the door! He came in and didn't leave for days! I know he heard us calling him the whole time he was wherever they were holding him (we have no idea who/where they were - just someone down the street somewhere); didn't the lady think it was odd, him getting all anxious? Yeah, thanks for fixing him (it was on our to-do list - in between getting 2-legged kids, of which we had 2 by this time, taken care of; money was very tight, and vets were/are ridiculously expensive), but please let him go and stop holding him hostage, eh?

After that, Ripley didn't go away for days; he'd go for the day or the night, but he never went far. He liked to run across the street and crap under Eddie's porch (good choice, in my opinion), and he'd run back home, and curl up in the mulch. He flattened all of my lilies every year - I guess they provided great shade. When they were done blooming, then he's go lay in the monkey grass along the driveway. He didn't like to be in much. And often, when he was in, he'd pee. He destroyed an area out in the dining room. We ripped up the carpet to put down laminate, and the wood underneath was destroyed, so we fixed that, too. He would not use a litter box any more - if we didn't let him out when he needed to be let out, he'd just do his thing - he didn't think anything about it, and would even do it if we were standing there watching him. He was a strange cat that way. That cat ruined a lot of things, which we are still having to replace as we can. There wasn't any point to new carpet or furniture until we didn't have animals to keep tearing it up, so we keep cleaning it the best we can, and hope it lasts as long as these animals.

The past couple of years, Ripley had really started to look bad. He ended up losing every tooth in his head; we took him to the vet, who gave us antibiotics to get the infected teeth cleared up, so he could pull them, at $35 each. We couldn't afford that, so we took care of what we could, and let nature do the rest. Once h is teeth were gone, he couldn't take care of his fur anymore; he wasn't very good at it to begin with, and always had mats on him that I'd get off, when he'd let me. But without teeth, he just didn't even try anymore, and he wouldn't let me near him with anything. We tried shaving him, but his skin was so loose, it was impossible. And under the white fur, his skin was white - almost impossible to tell what was skin, what was fur. We tried to keep him cleaned up, but it just got out of hand; he was really looking rough for awhile. Then all of that kind of fell off, and he was okay again for awhile. But this past fall, he really started to decline. He wouldn't do any grooming, and we couldn't touch him. He'd sleep for the whole day, then wake up, pee on something, eat, go back to sleep. And he wasn't going outside much anymore, either - wanted to stay inside and crawl onside a gym bag or something and sleep. So I got him a bed around Christmas - you'd think it was the best thing ever invented. It only took him a day to realize that it was his, and nobody else's, and that where he's spent the days since then.

A few weeks ago, we noticed he was sick; he had an open sore on his face, around his lower jaw. He smelled really bad. He wasn't moving around too well, so we knew he wasn't going to get over this like he had all the other wounds he'd received in the past. We put him down the other day. Our poor, strange cat, Ripley. I think he made the most of his 9 lives, and I hope he enjoyed his time with us. He didn't get the attention that Booger gets, but he didn't require as much as Booger does (lucky me). Ripley liked to play games with us - the looking-in-the-window trick, to see how many people/times we'd open the door for him, only to be ignored. He got in trouble a lot - he did fly out the front door more than a few times when he'd pee on my floor. But then he'd just look at you with those seawater eyes, and he'd head butt you if you'd let him, and he was so thankful for any attention we'd give him. God, he was a weird cat. I mean, all cats are weird, but this one was above and beyond. We'll miss you, Ripley - I hope you have no pain where you are now, and I hope you know we did the best we could.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Another Doolittle Raider is Gone

Col. Chase Nielsen Passes Away
Air Force News March 26, 2007

SAN ANTONIO -- Retired Lt. Col. Chase J. Nielsen, one of the famed "Tokyo Doolittle Raiders" who helped boost American morale in the early days of World War II with a surprise air attack on Japan and spent a lifetime as an advocate for American airpower, died March 23 at his home in Brigham City, Utah.

Born Jan. 14, 1917 in Hyrum, Utah, Colonel Nielsen attended Utah State University and graduated in 1939 with a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering. In August 1939, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps as a flying cadet. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in June 1941.

Colonel Nielsen, a lieutenant at the time, was the navigator of "Crew # 6," one of 16 B-25 Mitchell bombers and 80 Airmen that launched from the deck of the USS Hornet on April 18, 1942. Led by legendary aviation pioneer Lt. Col. James H. "Jimmy" Doolittle, the raid is one of the most studied and talked about missions in the history of aerial warfare.

It was personally ordered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as response to Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor nearly five months earlier. Preparation for the attack was conducted in secrecy at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and was executed by loading 16 of the medium bombers onto the deck of the USS Hornet, which departed from San Francisco, Calif., April 2, 1942. Although Doolittle and his crews had perfected the art of taking off on a short field, returning to carrier was not an option.

All 16 bombers made it to their targets, however, they were forced to ditch or bail out over or along the Chinese Coast because the U.S. task force had been spotted by Japanese picket boats, and Doolittle had decided to launch early -- more than 600 miles from the Japanese mainland and 200 miles farther out than planned.

The original plan had called for the Raiders to launch during the night and recover in China at dawn, but due to being spotted by the picket boats, Doolittle's improvised plan had them taking off in the early afternoon and landing in China at night. Further complicating the recovery, an aircraft with a beacon that was supposed to take off over China and guide the crews to friendly airfields wasn't able to get airborne, so the Raiders were not able to avoid areas where Japanese occupation forces were concentrated.

Most of the aircraft were able to reach land, but two, including Colonel Nielsen's, were forced to ditch off the coast of China. Two men were killed in the ditching.

The eight men who survived were taken prisoner by the Japanese forces and held in inhumane conditions from which only four of the eight survived. Colonel Nielsen spent the next 40 months as a prisoner of war, most of the time in solitary confinement, before being rescued at the end of the war by an Office of Strategic Services para-rescue team and brought back to the U.S.
Colonel Nielsen returned to Shanghai, China, in January 1946 to testify in the International War Crimes Trials against his former captors.

Colonel Nielsen became a member of Strategic Air Command in March 1949 at Roswell AFB, N.M., where he was assigned to the 509th Bombardment Group -- the first group to be organized, equipped and trained for atomic warfare. The assignment was fitting as SAC's mission was to provide the United States with a long-range combat capability.

During his decade with the major command, Colonel Nielsen helped SAC develop key operational innovations, including radar navigation bombardment, air refueling employing the flying boom, and electronic countermeasures. He helped integrate "fail safe" and other emergency war order procedures into SAC's unique set of flight profiles.

Colonel Nielsen returned to the air while assigned to SAC and reached more than 10,000 flying hours mostly in B-29s, B-50s, B-36s and B-52s. His longest flight lasted 26 hours non-stop without refueling from Okinawa, Japan, to Roswell, New Mexico, in a B-36.

Colonel Nielsen retired from the Air Force in 1961 as a lieutenant colonel and began a career as an industrial engineer at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. He retired in 1981.

Colonel Nielsen's decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart with Cluster, the Air Force Commendation Medal with Cluster, Outstanding Unit Award, Longevity Ribbon with four Clusters, and the Breast Order of Pao Ting from the People's Republic of China.
Of the 80 men who took part in the raid with Colonel Nielsen, three were killed during the mission, five were interned in Russia and eight became prisoners of war in Japan. Of those POWs, three were executed by firing squad by the Japanese and another died in captivity. Thirteen others would die later in the war. There are 14 Raiders alive today.

The Raiders are also famous for their annual reunions, which began as a party hosted by Doolittle, in Miami Beach, Fla., in 1947. The reunions have evolved into a gathering of one of the most elite military fraternities in the world. At each reunion, surviving Raiders meet privately to conduct a solemn "Goblet Ceremony."

After a role call followed by toasting the Raiders who died since their last meeting, they turn the deceased men's goblets upside down. Each goblet has the Raider's name engraved twice -- so that it can be read if the goblet is right side up or upside down.

When only two Raiders remain alive, they will drink a final toast using a vintage bottle of cognac.
The 80 goblets, which are normally on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, are accompanied by U.S. Air Force Academy cadets. The Raider reunion will be held this year in San Antonio from April 17 through 21.

At last year's 64th reunion, Colonel Nielsen said, "I am proud to have been on the Doolittle Raid. I am more proud to have been of service to my country. I hope and I pray that what we Doolittle Raiders have done will be an inspiration to you people.

"I hope and pray that our young men and young women who are serving in the service today will be protected; that they will live their lives in accordance with the military rules and laws of war, that they will do their best and that they will appreciate their country and protect their flag as we tried to do ourselves," Colonel Nielsen said during reunion ceremony April 18.

Besides Colonel Nielsen, the other Raider who will be toasted this year is former Staff Sergeant William L. Birch, a bombardier on Crew #11, who passed away Nov. 18, 2006, in Santa Anna, Calif. Funeral services will be 11 a.m. Wednesday at Allen-Hall Mortuary in Logan, Utah.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Overdue, as Usual

Been too busy to post lately; work has been a madhouse, the weather has been less than wonderful, so I've been inside, wrapped in blankets, and reading or stitching. I'll leave the stitching details to my Multiply site. I, for one, am ready for Spring, though really shouldn't complain since it didn't get below 60 until the end of December, and, oh yeah, I'm not under FEET and FEET of snow and ice! Man, I so do not miss that kind of weather.

There's something that I want to get off my chest. What is the deal with packages having to change every 6 months now? You know, I have a shampoo that I use all of the time. I went to get a new one a few weeks back, and I went right to where they ought to be on the shelf, and there were none! So I poked around. Come to find out that they were right there, but the packaging is a completely different color, the verbage is completely different, and now I'm having to read them all again to find out which variety is the one I want. And I'm still not sure I got the right one. What the hell? What weenie did a "marketing study" and came to the conclusion that doing a complete overhaul of the packaging - colors, style, verbage - would sell more stuff? If I can't find it, after buying the same product for years (it has slightly morphed a few times before, but definitely never on this scale), how will that sell you more? I do not understand this "New and Improved" thing that goes on all levels now. You know, Coke has had their bottle shape since the inception of the product; it is known the world over. Would Coke dare to do away with it entirely, and scrap the swoosh thing they have under the word "Coke", in favor of a style and color never before associated with Coke? I don't think so. Speaking of marketing studies, I've been on this planet for 40 years, and I'm pretty sure no one has ever asked me my preferences - just who the hell are they asking, that they would arrive at the above conclusion?

Okay, I'm being picky, I know, but just the plain amount of time I spent looking up, down, left, right, and then when I found what appeared to be the same product line, the amount of time I spent having to research the choices on the shelf, and now not feeling confident that what I have is the same or similar to what I have been accustomed to; gee, was it worth it, marketing weenie? Bloody hell, I hope so. I'm sorely tempted to go on a new product search, but how much more of my time would that waste? If the stores can't keep the product in stock, then that might be your indication to NOT MESS WITH IT. Yeah, if it expires and not one has moved, you might rethink the packaging.

Okay, enough of that. I was hoping to feel better after that, but it didn't work. On to other stuff. DH got a new car; the poor old Intrepid was on its last leg/tire/shock - whatever, so he traded it in on a slightly used Magnum. He's wanted one of those since they came out, so now he has one. Not the big Hemi, of course, but big enough. So now we are going to be two-car-payment-poor for the years until my Mazda gets paid off. That sucks. But, what are you going to do? He had to get something, and there's no point in trading a PoS for another PoS, so it had to be something decent. If nothing else, it will be nice to haul soccer players in, MIL can actually take all of her junk to wherever we go for vacation this year (if we have $$$ to go now), without threat of riding on the roof. It's a big freakin' car, let me tell you. It's kinda like steering the Titanic, and we see how well that worked out. Yep, guess I'm really not cut out for driving urban assault vehicles. Like the damn DWA or Hispanic in her Suburban the other morning on Breckinridge, who had no idea she was driving up the middle, taking up half of each lane, thus almost wiping me out 3 times, since she couldn't maintain a constant speed, either, and I couldn't get away from her. She wasn't even on a phone, as far as I could tell - just bloody clueless.

On the soccer front, indoor ended for both boys, with both of them getting to the Finals, and then both losing in the final minutes. Man that gets old. We seem to go to the finals all the time, but other than the Big Kid winning that Chevy Cup or whatever it was 3 years ago, they just can't get to the end, either kid. Outdoor is now beginning, amidst all this crappy weather. Big Kid has ended up playing for school only; that Select coach that he went and did conditioning with, who promised us a spot, just never got back with us; if there was a problem, he should've been man enough, nay, professional enough, to call us and tell us, but he just didn't bother. I really hate when people do that. Granted, I'm the last person to pick up a phone and call someone when I'm hesitant to say something, but when he was sent all kinds of e-mails and had messages left, he had ample opportunity to just simply reply "thanks, but we've decided to not open up the roster", or whatever. To ignore 2 months of waiting and wondering what was up, and not be held responsible for doing so, just floors me. Guess I'm glad now that we aren't involved with the group, if that's what we could have expected. People kill me. And the bastard gets paid! How exactly does that work???

Well, that's enough for now. Trying to stay warm, make it to spring. Busy, busy, busy.... C-ya!

Friday, January 19, 2007

This Pretty Much Covers It...

Everyone concentrates on the problems we're having in this country lately; illegal immigration, hurricane recovery, wild animals attacking humans in Florida. Not me. I concentrate on solutions to problems. The result is a win-win-win situation:
  • Dig a moat the length of the Mexican border
  • Use the dirt to raise the levies in New Orleans
  • Put the Florida alligators in the moat.
Any other problems you would like for me to solve today?

Monday, January 08, 2007

For Football Fans

Okay, I'm not really much of a football fan, but when your home state college is in the championship game, you kinda gotta go with it. Especially when you live in the South, where they think they know everything there is to know about football (uh, where are those Bulldogs?). Personally, I view the Big Game as good time for stitching!