Thursday, December 29, 2005

Hope amidst tragedy--

what a wonderful story.

Operation Eden: Merry Christmas From Pearlington

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

I SERIOUSLY HATE shopping for clothes!!!

Seriously, there's a definite reason, other than the fact that I'm broke most of the time, that I don't go shopping for clothes very often. In fact, it's probably been four or five years since I've even thought about looking for clothes. And there's a very good reason for it.

I will admit that I'm a large girl. Not absolutely freaking huge, but big enough that I can't just pop into any store and buy the first thing that I see. No, I am right over the edge into the women's sizes. And that's the problem.

For those of you who are lucky enough to still be the same Size 12 you were in high school, let me explain. Large women's clothing SUCKS. There's no getting around it. If I were to take you shopping with me, you would take one look and run screaming from the store (believe me, that's what I want to do).

Apparently the people who design for large women think we all fall into the following categories:

1. Large women LOVE "brightly" patterned clothing. Add weird color combinations, and that makes it even better. Pink, white, black, and orange are particularly popular mixtures.

2. Large women don't want tailored clothing. Big gunnysacks are fine, thank you.

3. Large women only wear sports clothes. There's no need for any kind of professional looking clothing. Knits, sweats, denim, and t-shirts are the only things large women need.

4. Large women don't want well-made clothing. They don't mind spending $100 on an outfit that will fall apart in less than six months.

5. Large women don't like dresses. Separates only, please, and they must all have bows and flowers and little pleated skirts. The only dresses large women want are pleated denim jumpers.

6. Large women are as tall as they are wide. Every pair of slacks and skirts must be at least 36 inches long.

7. Large women LOVE sequins and beads on everything.

8. Sweaters and blouses must be low cut enough to show off your "assets."

I could go on, but you get the idea. I went to three different places, and yes, I did get some clothes, but nothing that made me feel really really good when I put it on. I couldn't believe how LONG everything is. I used to like longer skirts, but this is ridiculous. One store had some pretty nice jacket and skirt pieces, but the skirts HIT THE FLOOR. Now, I know I'm not six foot tall, but I'm not four foot, either.

If you're really bored some evening and want some entertainment, take a stroll through some of the websites which sell large-sized clothing. You'll be amazed at what you see offered as "professional" clothing. Or as a coworker of mine said, "Maybe the profession they're aiming for is streetwalking." One company actually considers cotton-type A-line housedresses to be "professional" clothing.

I've always said that if I ever had a lot of money, I'd start a REAL clothing line for large-sized women, clothes that had style and were attractive and were well made. I used to make a lot of my clothes, and I really don't want to do that anymore, but I may have to in order to have decent, attractive clothing that makes me feel good.

You want to know why large women become depressed? IT'S BECAUSE THEY CAN'T FIND DECENT CLOTHING!!!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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Friday, December 23, 2005

Done, fini, kaput, terminado, finito.

It's over, I'm done.

Today was the last day at my old job. I'm now on ten days vacation and start my new job on January 3. There's no way to explain how happy this makes me. Leaving my old job is sad--I will miss my friends--but I know that this is a good move for me, and everyone has been so supportive, and that has made it easier. I didn't even cry today--but I did earlier in the week. It's just been emotional all around. I can't tell you how much it means to me to have had so many people make a special effort to call or come see me before I left. I don't think I've ever had that happen before. Thank goodness for email--it will be so easy to keep in touch with everyone. The Boss and I were able to say goodbye without a lot of emotion or kind words--it was pretty much like every other Christmas. I'm sure I'll talk to everyone several times before things calm down after the first of the year.

So the plan is to relax over the weekend and take care of a bunch of things next week. Missy and I are going shopping for yarn and wine (you can never have enough of either) on Thursday and/or Friday, I have a lunch date with my friend whom I'm replacing at my new job on Wednesday, and I have an eye appointment on Friday morning. Other than that, I'm open, baby, so I plan on having some fun!

My DVD player finally gave up the ghost, so it was very important to get a new one before the weekend, because you know there won't be anything much on broadcast TV over the weekend. Of course, I needed new DVDs to go with it, so I bought the fourth and fifth seasons of West Wing. Between those sets and the 3 DVDs I've had from Netflix for the last two months, I will have plenty to watch this week. I also bought a DVD of the original "Christmas Carol." I think I'll watch that tomorrow.

I also splurged and bought another XM Radio--the XM2Go model, which comes complete with all the accessories for both car and home. I really like the idea of being able to use it without being tied to a power source. I was lucky enough to get it for less than half price, so it was a very good deal. I also have two 1gb SD cards coming for my Palm.

Santa was very, very good to me this week. Santa Boss gave me an extremely generous bonus check. Santa Missy gave me some VERY pretty yarn--two skeins of Trekking sock yarn that I've been coveting. She also gave me a certificate for a skein of American Buffalo buffalo yarn (which she DIDN"T NEED TO DO)! (We also got a order from Elann this week, so there's lots of new yarn to drool over.) Santa Boss and Santa Judy each gave me a very nice bottle of wine (see, people DO know what I like!) as well as a loaf of homemade pumpkin bread from Judy--yum! Santa Terri gave me a bag full of wonderful Christmas goodies and a gift card for Cato (I really need clothes). So my Santas were very, very good to me.

I can't tell you how happy I was to pull into my apartment complex this afternoon--the traffic was absolutely insane. I live two blocks from two major shopping malls and about a mile from two more big shopping areas and a large Target, and this time of year the traffic backs up for blocks in every direction. It really made me feel good to know that I don't have to go anywhere until at least Tuesday.

I'll say it one more time--I'M ON VACATION!!!!!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Such sad news about John Spencer

I was absolutely shocked to hear this--I can't imagine "The West Wing" without Leo:

'West Wing' Actor John Spencer Dies at 58

I will always remember this speech when Leo talks to Josh after his all-day session with a trauma counselor in "Noel:"

"This guy's walking down the street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can't get out.

"A doctor passes by, and the guy shouts up, 'Hey you. Can you help me out?' The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on.

"Then a priest comes along, and the guy shouts up, 'Father, I'm down in this hole--an you help me out?' The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on

"Then a friend walks by, 'Hey, Joe, it's me, can you help me out?' And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, 'Are you stupid? Now we're both down here.' The friend says, 'Yeah, but I've been down here before, and I know the way out.'"
Then there was Big Block of Cheese Day:

"President Andrew Jackson, in the main foyer of his White House, had a big block of cheese."


". . . It is in the spirit of Andrew Jackson that I, from time to time, ask senior staff to have face-to-face meetings with those people representing organizations who have a difficult time getting our attention. I know the more jaded among you see this as something rather beneath you. But I assure you that listening to the voices of passionate Americans is beneath no one, and surely not the people's servants."

And Leo was always able to inspire the President and his staff with words like these:

"This is the time of Jed Bartlet, old friend. You're gonna open your mouth and lift houses off the ground. Whole houses, clear off the ground."
There's more Leo quotes here.

Leo McGarry was the heart and soul of the West Wing's White House, and John Spencer was absolutely perfect in that role. Leo's defense of Josh to Santos and the DNC guys in last week's episode was classic--Leo always sticks up for the people he loves and the things he believes in.

Anyway, I can't imagine how the show will deal with John's death--he will be so very, very missed.

Five more working days until I leave my job. It's been a long, slow slog, but I think I will make it. This week will be crammed packed with goodbyes, an office luncheon, gift exchanges, and continued training for the person who's taking my place. I'm finding it hard to believe that on Friday I'll walk out of there and never come back. Everything I'm doing right now has an air of finalness to it that feels weird. However, I'm finally starting to think about the new job and the future, and I'm getting excited. It will be so good to start a new job on a positive note, not struggling to survive. I hate leaving all my friends, but I can't wait to get started.

There have been some fiber and fiber-related purchases, but I can't talk about them here because Santa would kick my butt if I spoiled the surprise. I do have one question, though--is it wrong to buy someone a gift and buy another one for yourself at the same time? I'm just considering them (yes, it's more than one--I have very good taste) early Christmas gifts.

We have snow in the forecast today, so Maggie and I are snuggled in and don't plan on venturing into the great outdoors much at all. There will be knitting involved, and maybe a nap.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

It's snowing!!!

And that's a big deal in central Oklahoma--it doesn't snow that much; two inches is like a blizzard here. We've had over an inch here in the central part of the state, and it's COLD--teens and below, with wind chills around zero. I think the low tonight is supposed to be in the single digits--BRRRR!!! Good thing I have Maggie to keep me warm--she's quite the little heat machine.

If I'd have dared venture out to the stairway, I could have had a better shot of the car below--it was covered in over an inch of snow. But I had already changed into my flannel pjs, and I wasn't about to go out and freeze my tush off. Unfortunately, in that second picture you can see some of my poor, pitiful pansies--they look like they won't make it! I should have covered them up, but I totally forgot. I've never had pansies before, and I'm constantly freaking out because they react to the cold so drastically. One day they'll look great, the next morning they look dead, that night they look fine again, the next morning they look horrible again. It's all very schizo.

I can't WAIT to get on the roads in the morning--joy, joy, joy . . . .

Monday, December 05, 2005

Correction to yesterday's post

Maggie was EIGHT years old yesterday. Thanks to Missy, who didn't hassle me too much about my obvious lack of mathematical skills.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Happy Birthday, Maggie!

Today's my Maggie's 8th birthday. It's also the 4th anniversary of her coming to live with me.

Maggie was a rescue dog that I received from the Oklahoma Boston Terrier Rescue Society. Maggie was found lost in Texas (I don't hold it against her), and her owners couldn't be found even though she was wearing current vet tags. She was taken in by the area Boston rescue, and was transferred here for adoption. I really don't know how old she is, but at the time the vet estimated she was about 4 years old, so I've stuck with that.

Maggie is a blessing to me every day--she's my best buddy and makes me laugh even when I don't have anything to laugh about. How can you not love someone like that?

So here's the birthday pictures:

Maggie enjoying her carob and peanut butter "cat:"

And here Maggie models her birthday present:

You obviously now understand why I have a hard time telling her
"no" . . . .

I also found some other pictures on my camera. Every year my boss is a sponsor of an event called the "Political Hacks Chili Cookoff." It's a Democratic Party event held at a local park. There are chili cooker "teams," and most of them have signs or t-shirts centered around a specific theme. This year there was "Team FEMA Chili," and my boss brought me one of their t-shirts. This was their logo:

"FEMA Chili - You won't have to wait a week to have it take effect."

There are more photos of this year's event here.

The other photo is the avocado tree I started from a seed this summer. It's almost 20 inches high right now:

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That's it for today. Later we'll make baked potato soup and celebrate Maggie's birthday some more.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Happy Holiday Food Poisoning???

It's an ominous start to the holiday season to attend your company party and be sick the next day. I really think I had a slight case of food poisoning, especially since my boss and fellow employee both had the same symptoms yesterday. I felt like I had been beaten with a baseball bat. I finally grabbed a cushion from the lobby couch and snuck into the conference room for a short nap. I felt a little better after that, but I was afraid I'd run out of wind before I could get to the bank and the grocery store after work. So I left at 4 pm, ran my errands, made it home by 5, stayed up long enough to feed Maggie, sync my Palm (yes, I am a geek, no matter how I feel), and eat a cheese stick, and then I laid down for a nap about 6 pm. I woke up a couple of times but finally got up at 11, turned off the living room light, crawled into bed, and finally woke up around 7 am.

I do feel better today, but I'm not pushing it. I'm eating easy-on-the-stomach stuff for the time being and keeping my fingers crossed that this isn't some type of real bug. So far, so good.

Anyway, the party, at the local, old-money country club, was a smash hit as always. It seems to be the first big party of the social season around town, and all the movers and shakers were there. The best part is that I don't have a thing to do with it--we host it with two other organizations, and one of their persons takes care of everything. My only wish was that we could have some different hors doeuvres, because we seem to have the same thing every year. But how can you argue with free food and an open bar? Not me . . . .

So the news is out on the street that I've resigned, and now I'm beginning to see why my boss wanted me to wait to tell anyone. It seems most people's initial reaction is "So he finally drove you off, too!" I can see why he wouldn't want to hear that over and over again--he has a deaf ear and blind eye to some of the issues within the office, and I'm sure he's probably embarassed to have people say that to his face. But anyway, everyone seems to be genuinely happy for me but sorry to see me go. My ego can't help but be a little happy to hear that. It's nice to hear that you're capable and well liked. I'm just considering that a little extra Christmas gift to me.

I'm trying to get the really important work things first, things like my final payroll. It looks like even though I will receive a year's worth of accumulated leave pay, I will end up losing, between what leave I can't be paid for and my short-term disability leave, about 325 hours worth of pay. This really frustrates me because one of the main reasons I'm leaving this job is because it's absolutely impossible for me to take any large chunks of time off--hell, I'm lucky to be able to take ONE DAY off, so I feel like I'm being ripped off twice. But there's nothing I can do about it, and I know I'll be better off in the long run, so I just have to buck up and move on.

But I've been thinking about it, and between the bonus which my boss has promised, my final paycheck, and my final leave check, I should have a nice bit of cash coming my way. If I add in some money that was put into a retirement fund (not enough to leave for twenty years and expect to get anything much from it), I should be able to put a good-sized amount in a savings account and then spend a little on myself. I've been making up a wish list of what I WANT and what I NEED. At the top of the NEED list is clothes (because I've hardly bought anything in probably five years). The WANT list includes a new computer, a spinning wheel, some new furniture, and god forbid, I've even been thinking about a small floor loom (someone stop me, this is insane). I have a second bedroom that I could turn into a little studio--most of my fiber stuff is in there anyway, it's just not organized very well. It wouldn't take much to fix it up and make a cute, cozy little studio.

What I would really like to do is fix my apartment up a little bit. I don't have much furniture, and I think it's time that my living space looked like something a 48-year-old would live in instead of a 20-something's first apartment. I'm hoping over the next six months to spruce the place up a bit. There's a thrift shop downtown that has wonderful furniture, and I'm sure I could get some wonderful stuff there. As much as I'd love being able to do it all at once, I'm just not able to do that, so I'll do a little at a time. I think it'll be fun!

My plan for today is to do my laundry and then sit down and knit for a while. I've almost finished the first front of my sweater (I guess I didn't make that December deadline I had, huh?) and should be able to do so pretty quickly. I keep having the urge to spin some, but I've not gotten there yet. I did order some beautiful cranberry fiber from eBay, so maybe I'll be inspired to get spinning again.

As for next week--we have snow in the forecast. I can't decided if I'm happy or bummed over this--the kid in me loves it, but the adult doesn't want to have to drive in it. Honestly, though, we need any type of moisture so badly here right now that I'd be happy to see some snow. We've had too many fires in the last few weeks to turn anything down right now.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Antiwar Sermon Brings IRS Warning


The Internal Revenue Service has warned one of Southern California's largest and most liberal churches that it is at risk of losing its tax-exempt status because of an antiwar sermon two days before the 2004 presidential election.


In his sermon, Regas, who from the pulpit opposed both the Vietnam War and 1991's Gulf War, imagined Jesus participating in a political debate with then-candidates George W. Bush and John Kerry. Regas said that "good people of profound faith" could vote for either man, and did not tell parishioners whom to support.

But he criticized the war in Iraq, saying that Jesus would have told Bush, "Mr. President, your doctrine of preemptive war is a failed doctrine. Forcibly changing the regime of an enemy that posed no imminent threat has led to disaster."

On June 9, the church received a letter from the IRS stating that "a reasonable belief exists that you may not be tax-exempt as a church…" The federal tax code prohibits tax-exempt organizations, including churches, from intervening in political campaigns and elections.

Apparently the IRS has offered the church a settlement if they will admit to "intervening in an election." All Saints has declined their offer and has hired a Washington legal firm familiar with tax-exemption issues.

A little internet research finds that All Saints Church is a social action church. The Rev. Doctor George Regas is a progressive activist, and some of his writings can be found on the Interfaith Communities United for Justice & Peace website. The sermon in question can be found here. Simply put, he puts his faith not just into words but into action--a trait that many so-called "Christians" should adopt.

Father Regas is simply doing his job, leading his congregation to a life where Christ's teachings are shown through actions and not just hollow words.

Actor Bradley Whitford of "The West Wing" is a member of All Saints Church. His statement regarding this issue was distributed via email by the ICUJP, and it gets right to the heart of the matter:


I have been a member of All Saints Church in Pasadena for over ten years.

The recent revelations of an IRS investigation into its non-profit status as the result of sermon given a week before the last presidential election by Rector Emeritus George Regas has outraged and galvanized our congregation.

The support we have received from across the spectrum of faith communities, including traditionally conservative evangelical leaders, has solidified our resolve-- the United States government has no place in our houses of worship, and the selective targeting of churches who speak out on the issues of the day sets a dangerous precedent that threatens the religious freedom of every citizen.

The sermon in question explicitly refused to endorse a particular candidate. It did, however, hold George Bush and John Kerry up to the high standard of Christian values. Both were found wanting.

Values not put into action are meaningless, no matter how lofty they are. It is the obligation of our spiritual leaders to not just articulate those values, but to make them a reality.

We live in an age where describing oneself as a "person of faith" carries with it a tremendous political advantage. But too often in the public arena, being "religious" is defined only as a search for personal salvation and a willingness to adhere to dogma.

Declaring oneself a Christian is easy. Putting Christian values to work in a dangerous and violent world is not.

Perhaps the best response to the tragedy of 9/11 was a preemptive war against a country that had nothing to do with the attacks. Tens of thousands of deaths later perhaps it is still the right decision.

But it is not Christian.

Perhaps it is good economics to give me, an actor on a television show, over a quarter of a million dollars in tax relief over the last five years as the poverty rate climbs, as we burden our children with structural budget deficits and cut services for our most vulnerable citizens.

But it is not Christian.

Perhaps the Death Penalty is an acceptable way to punish criminals.

But it is not Christian.

Jesus Christ was the Prince of Peace, not the Prince of Pre-emptive War. He was an advocate for the poor, not of supply-side economics.

And let's not forget that Jesus himself died in a bogus death-penalty rap. His was the original "bleeding heart," yet I am afraid he would be described pejoratively by many today as a "do-gooder."

President Bush proudly proclaims himself a Christian and tells us that his faith has changed his heart. Perhaps one day his faith will change his policies. Until then, I am proud to be a part of a congregation that seeks to hold all public officials to their easy, and too often empty, proclamations of faith.

Bradley Whitford
Pasadena, California

Isn't that what Christianity's really about?