Tuesday, June 30, 2009

LOVE Freecycle

When you're cleaning out your garage/basement/spare room/storage area and you come across things that are just 'too nice' to throw out, what do you do? Most of us first ask the relatives, then think about the kids on the street, and then the church, and then maybe calling one of the charities that comes to pick up stuff...

...but what if you could get rid of it with the assurance it will go to someone who WANTS it, and that it won't end up in the landfill by you trashing it?

That's the idea of freecycle and I've been participating for about a year. Freecycle is a local community based disposal service, but is a nationwide trend. Some of the stories of how people use the things they pick up are heartwarming. Some of the stories behind the requests are poignant. Neighbors helping neighbors, family helping family, people helping animals (who knew there was a guinea pig rescue organization?) It is always free!

True Story: I had some 6 foot lengths of styrofoam packaging. Certainly didn't want that in a landfill. I offered it on freecycle. A lady responded and came to pick it up. Then she told me her son needs it for occupational therapy, pushing golf tees into the styrofoam helps him build fine motor skills. How cool is that?

It is so easy to join. For Reston/Herndon, go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HerndonRestonVAFreecycle/ and follow the prompts. Be sure to put in that you LIVE in Reston/Herndon or you'll be bounced back out. After that, start cleaning out your storage areas!

If you're one of my visitors from outside the Reston/Herndon area, check your area to see if you have one. You can check at http://www.freecycle.org/. If not, consider starting one. It really is a very cool way to build community. Some of the items I've seen offered:

  • left over baby items (high chairs, bibs, diapers, bottles, etc.)
  • toys
  • computer parts and peripherals (even a flat screen monitor)
  • building materials
  • tools
  • outgrown sports equipment
  • bicycles
  • food -- fresh and packaged
  • appliances
  • furniture
  • house paint
I think you get the picture. This is a win-win situation. And, after you've posted offers twice, you can put up a "WANTED". Maybe you need the parts for something to make it work -- trust me, someone out there has those parts and is wondering what the heck to do with them. This is the ultimate recycling, so join in!

Ruby Tuesday

Thinking ahead while at the mall yesterday, I kept my eyes open for Ruby Tuesday shots as well. This little lady is a jewelry holder!

And the second photo is the answer to yesterday's mystery photo.


You can play with us at Ruby Tuesday by clicking here!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Michael Jackson

Okay, I've held it in for a day or two, but I guess I have a comment.

I grew up with Michael Jackson's tunes ringing in my ears. The one that really grabbed me at an early age was "Ben." Yeah, it was a love song to a rat. I never saw the movie. But in Michael singing it I heard a plaintive cry for a place to go for all of those who saw themselves as unwanted by society.

And wasn't that always Michael's trouble? No doubt, the guy was very strange. And his boku money allowed him to become stranger and stranger. Yet, all of the different things Michael did to himself and his life were outgrowths of what he was expressing in that song. He wanted to create a life and place where he could belong and where no one even desired to exploit him, much less did it.

He had a tremendous talent for music. He understood it in his soul and had a gift for being able to incorporate all different types of music in his tracks. Thriller stands by itself musically and dramatically. Michael was ALWAYS dramatic. He was never given the opportunity to be a little boy, and as soon as he was old enough to stop being a little boy exploited, he used his emancipation to wrest control over his own fate.

To hear that his family is "moving quickly" to take control over his children and his image and his financial empire is tragic. In the end, those who should have protected him are the ones who once again will exploit him. And this time they'll do it in the names of his children.

I'm not sure where Michael Jackson ends up eternally, but if he's with Mozart, you know there's some great music being created.


Mellow Yellow Day at the Mall

My car was being serviced so I spent three hours at the mall, mostly window shopping. These are two windows I found to be interesting! The flip-flop is actually a chip and dip dish! And the other -- you tell me what store you think this is -- put it in the comments section!

Participate in "Mellow Yellow Monday" by clicking here.MellowYellowBadge


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Neighborhood Meeting

Last night there was a Reston Association sponsored community meeting at Hunters Woods. The topic was the proposed concept of a new indoor tennis/pool/recreation center to be built in Reston. While RA insists that no decisions have been made, we all know that $92,000 has been spent developing the idea. To Larry Butler's credit, he gave a pretty clear presentation on a) how long the idea has been kicking around b) how RA has tried to provide the requested service in the past and c) why the Browns Chapel site seems to be the best fit. I came away with a couple of impressions. You can agree or disagree with me, but I ask that you do so politely.

  • First, there was a good reason why public meetings opened in prayer in the old days. To plunge right in without asking divine providence for guidance almost guarantees that a controversial idea will produce contentious meetings and ugly behavior. Too bad people are so afraid of Truth.
  • Second, most of the people who had a lot to say about this (masquerading as questions) are part of the over 60 crowd. Many of them have been in Reston since the 1960's. They've enjoyed the benefit of all of the amenities that they would now deny the younger folks. Our standards for recreation have changed over time, and to refuse to even listen to other people shows that one has become an embittered oldster rather than a helpful member of the community.
  • Third, our community can't afford this idea. As a parent, it is very difficult in this country to teach my children that you don't purchase what you can't afford. To encumber our property with even more taxes to pay for something that we may or may not need as a community means that at some point, we will probably have to move away from Reston because we will no longer be able to afford the taxes. Fairfax County and RA are pricing young families right out of the area. I guess the upside is tht when we can't afford to live here any longer, you can turn the elementary schools into your indoor centers for the aged.
  • Fourth, There is far from a consensus about the need for this center. Sure, the swimmers and tennis players say we need indoor facilities and, by the way, USTA and US Swimming agree. But many people do not agree. I can't wait to see the survey results in the fall.
  • Fifth, one semi-great suggestion came up in regards to the rezoning of the area that parallels the toll road. It was that the additional parking deck could be multi-tasked to provide the requested indoor facilities and parking for them. GREAT idea, which Larry Butler said was one of those things worth talking about. Here's an even better enhancement -- how about ASKING developers to make it worth their while to do so. Let market forces dictate whether this is the right time and place for this kind of facility.
  • Finally, re: that same notion -- if you build a huge facility at Brown's Chapel to accomodate USTA and US Swimming's desires for a venue for their events, you're asking all that traffic to go up Wiehle Ave or Reston Parkway to get there. If people can just hop off the toll road and park, it's a much better idea.
I confess I went to the meeting with an attitude of NO! But before I went I prayed that I would at least listen to opposing viewpoints and see whatever merit is in them. I think I'm more informed now, and more balanced in my reasons for saying NO. I love tennis and swimming and I'm a member of the Y. But I love fiscal responsibility and parental responsibility more, and my vote is still NO.

Talk to me!

The High Cost of Health Care

I wonder how Congress is going to fix our health care system. They've done such a great job fixing other things. (insert your own note of sarcasm here).

Two weeks ago I had a small accident -- dropped a really heavy object on the top of my foot. It swelled immediately but there was no pain or limitation of movement. I sat down and put ice on it until my husband got home. Because it involved my driving foot, I thought it best to get it x-rayed. We went to the ER at our local hospital because the doctor we use said, "if it's broken we'll send you somewhere else anyway for an ortho consult." At the ER it was a sleepy Thursday afternoon so I got way more attention than I deserved. They took the X-rays, said nothing was broken, wrapped it, insisted on a tetanus shot, gave me a prescription to fill for a high-octane pain killer, and put me on crutches for a week. Without pain or limitation of motion, by the time we got home, I jettisoned the crutches. By applying RICE (Rest, ice, compression, elevation), and skipping the gym until Monday, I was fine.

For all of this, I was billed $1,279.25 for emergency services. The statement from the hospital says my insurance company paid $306.69, and there was a contractual adjustment of $942.56. I owe $30, essentially a co-pay. So my insurance company paid a reasonable cost, I pay a reasonable cost, and the hospital has to eat $942.56? Does anyone else find this ridiculous? Who ends up paying that missing amount? Is this what drives the exorbitant cost of health care?

Let me state for the record that the ER people working at the hospital were kind, professional and highly competent. They are in the same squeeze though -- overtreat because of risk avoidance, and then bill, bill, bill!

As Ted Kennedy and Hilary Clinton are facing health challenges, do you think they're asking these same questions? i.e., just what IS my insurance company paying for? If we ALL asked these questions and challenged the underlying assumptions, might the system actually be improved?

Hope so.


Monday, June 22, 2009

New Penny

These photos are also taken with the microscope connected to the computer. In case you have kids, this "Digital Blue" is the neatest program. It has provided hours of examination of the micro-world!


Oh, credit to the photographer -- my son.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Shadow Shot Sunday

My son took this with a microscope camera. It's the "0" in 2009 on the new penny coin. If you haven't seen one of these, they're really cool. They have Lincoln's log cabin on the back. They definitely feel lighter than the old ones though!

Thanks Hey Harriet for sponsoring this meme!


Happy Father's Day

In a Father's Day message many years ago, one of our favorite preachers stated the following:

Absent or present,
indifferent or engaged,
abusive or loving,
dead or alive,
our fathers have THE most influence upon our lives.

As I reflect on my years with my dad, I find that to be so true. My dad was a career U.S. Army officer during the Viet Nam War. There were many times that he was absent from our home, yet his very absence had an impact. It meant that my mom had to step up to be all things to all the little people in her life. It allowed her to grow her independence, yet it made it difficult to reintegrate when he returned. When he was absent, we missed him, and when he was present, we forged new bonds of relationship as we went through each age and stage and phase. (And boy did we put him through our phases!)

My dad was not always engaged, but he was rarely indifferent. I'm sure he always had an opinion about whatever our latest crazy idea was, but he didn't always express it. He had difficulty telling us with words how much he loved us, but he has learned over time to express it openly with heartfelt meaning. Many of the decisions he made as to where we would live, or where he would work in his post-Army job made little sense to us. With the advantage of wisdom I've gained being a parent myself, I know now that he made those decisions not for his own pleasure or advancement, but in order to provide for his family.

He didn't grow up with a lot of great role models for hands-on fathering, and he lived in a day and culture that eschewed 'touchy-feely' fathering. Two things he did learn along the way though were that a MAN does not walk out when things are tough and a MAN does not rely on the government or anyone else to provide for his family.

He became a better father than he had ever had, doing the best he knew how, with the resources he had. It is a testimony to his example that his three children are all thriving, contributing human beings. None of us were ever arrested. None of us are homeless. None of us are on drugs or drowning in other types of addictions. His determination to continue his education influenced all of us -- All of us finished college and two of us went on to attain professional degrees (medicine, law). All of us have married and are each still married to the same person we pledged to honor and love and cherish until death do us part (for over 20, 20, and slightly less than 20 years). His oldest daughter received his dark hair and dark eyes. I think she learned from him the values of forgiveness and compassion. This makes her a most excellent wife to her dear husband! His son also received the dark hair and eyes, and learned commitment to family. This makes him a great dad and husband. His middle child took after the other side of the family with the blonde hair, blue eyes. Yet, that is the one for whom he was present at birth, not deployed somewhere across the world. I've always thought that gave me a special connection with my dad.

My dad has been a warrior, a poet, a lover of music, an observer of the wonders of God's creation, and a sharer of stories. He is a fabulous grandfather to my children, and I am grateful that he is mine.

Thank you Dad.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Proud Mom

Forgive me, but I'm pretty impressed with what my son can do with little warm-up. Enjoy!


Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Arsenic Investigation

It's time for 3-word Thursday! Visit Quilly to find out rules and words and to read the exciting conclusion to her long-running story! And come play with us next time!

Definitions I used:

pulchritudinous -- beautiful, stunningly attractive

phylarologist -- one who talks and talks and talks nonsense

summotion -- craziness (Urban Dictionary)

Alice watched impassively while Brian signed for his personal effects. He returned the sheet to the blonde duty officer, a pulchritudinous young woman who he normally would have stopped to flirt with. This time he simply filled his pockets with the detritus that had been in them when he was arrested and turned to Alice. “Let’s go home,” he directed tersely.

Alice led the way out of the station. It was only once they were in her car that he turned to her and asked, “what on earth was this about?” Alice, as his attorney, had gotten the scoop from the assistant district attorney who had shown up when Brian was brought in. “They are looking into a series of deaths that occurred at Wibley Hospital. Marina’s toxicology reports showed that she had massive amounts of certain chemicals in her system that cannot be explained by natural processes.”

Brian leaned his head back and sighed. “Well, of course she did. Towards the end Marina was willing to try anything to ease the pain. She spent time online at night getting advice from other cancer patients regarding whatever they were using. She was searching for something that would ease the pain, but not knock her out. But why would they arrest me?”

Alice flicked her eyes over towards him and then back to the road before she answered. “The chemical they found the most of was arsenic. That’s a tightly controlled substance and you were the person closest to her. They figure you administered it to hasten her death.”

“What?” Brian exclaimed. “I would have sold my soul to give her life back to her! This is just a summotion without foundation.” He calmed down. “Okay, so why did they let me go?

Alice considered carefully before answering. “Well, something is going on that I can’t yet discern. The young ADA is a phlyarologist of the highest order.” Seeing Brian’s expression she added, “someone who talks nonsense.” He nodded. She continued, “either they can’t figure out how you got arsenic for her, or they’re working another track entirely. And I don’t know what this has to do with the deaths at the hospital.”

Alice pulled into the driveway and waited for Brian to lift himself out of the car. “Brian, don’t talk about this to anyone. There may be some ugly stuff just below the surface. I’m going to do some investigating tomorrow. I’ll be over for dinner at 7 and will bring you up to date. In the meantime, just go to work as normal and try to be like the old Brian.”

He gazed at her sadly, “I don’t even know who he is anymore.”


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Thursday, June 11, 2009

FIOS is Coming

Just checking in to say we're set up to go with FIOS...but it won't be until the 16th, so I'll miss all my normal memes this week. It is amazing how much I get done around the house with the internet out though! Hmmm...


Friday, June 5, 2009

Three Word Thursday (Late)

My internet provider is out and they tell me, after 45 minutes on the phone with someone in India, that it must be something on my end in the wires or the modem (mind you, these are the wires and modem that THEY provided and installed). They'll be happy to send a technician for $199 plus if the modem is faulty they'll provide a new one for $149. This is after 25 years of resisting ALL of the 'come to us' offers from other companies. I said "no thank you" and I'm researching other providers. So in the meantime, I'll use the library and write off-line. But if I don't get a chance to visit your blogs as often as normal, I apologize! Here's my 3 word! If you want to participate, go to Quilly's blog to get the scoop!

“So Alice,” began Brian, as he folded a towel warm and fresh from the dryer.

“Yes?” answered his sister.

“Do you think it’s possible I’ll ever feel about someone else the way I felt about Marina?” he asked.

“Probably not just like you felt about her,” came the answer. “It will be different, not better or worse probably, but different.”

“I feel stagnicolous,” Brian said, “like I can’t see my way free to something new or different. Yet I feel disloyal even thinking about moving on.”

Alice raised her eyebrows, “stagnicoulous? Brian, you’re beginning to sound as highly educated as you are!” He grinned sheepishly, “yeah, well I can’t let you get all the encyclopedia points with the parents.”

Alice, paused for a moment. “So speaking of encyclopedia points, do you want to drive out there this weekend? Mom is baking pies.”

Brian answered, “I’m just not ready. They’re so sad about Marina and how tragic they see my life being. It’s not exactly tension, but there’s an anxiety in the air with them, like they’re afraid I’m going to make my tragic life even more tragic and they’ll have to witness its tragic decline. I don’t like them invigilating me.”

“Whoo-whee, Brian! That’s two multi-syllabic words! What’s going on with you?” Alice marveled.

He shot back, “what’s wrong with a little upgrade in my vocab? You’re not the only smart one in the family. I happen to have a new friend who likes to play with words. She throws them at me and I have to figure out how to use them. You’re the only other person I know who recognizes them as words! The guys at work make jokes about it. The other day I told Denny that his impression of Steve Martin doing King Tut was risible. One of the other guys, Fidelo, said “Salud!” Denny just told me I sounded like a jerk. I asked Denny what he meant and he said he thought I sneezed and in Spanish they say “Salud” for “Bless You!” I don’t think Denny knows enough to comprehend whether I was insulting him or complimenting him. I’m beginning to understand how your use of words gives you pleasure and a little feeling of power.”

Alice, like the older sister she was, homed in on the only important part of what Brian had just told her. “You have a new friend who is a girl who gets you to expand your vocabulary because you like feeling smart?”

Brian’s jaw dropped, “how do you do that? How do you laser in on the only part of the discussion that involves a relationship?”

“Oh, it’s a relationship now? That’s okay if it is; I’m just trying to discern what’s going on here. Maybe you should be doing something else on a Wednesday evening than having your sister over to help you with laundry!” She grabbed a towel off the newly folded stack and threw it at him.

“Hey, I just folded that!” he exclaimed. “Don’t jump to conclusions. She’s just a friend.”

Alice smirked, “does she have a name? Or does “Vocabulary Woman” suffice.” Brian just ignored her and went over to turn on a ball game.

“Okay, if you’re going to watch ESPN, I’m going home. I have papers to grade anyway. I’m going to drive out to mom and pop’s on early on Saturday. They have new puppies in the barn and mom’s baking pies. If you want to catch a ride, call me Friday. If you want to take your new friend out there . . . “

Brian whirled around, “No! And don’t tell them about her! She’s a friend! That’s all! Jeez, Alice, why can’t you let things alone?”

Alice recoiled as if struck. Don’t react. Understand where this is coming from. He’s afraid. “Okay, sorry. I was just teasing. I see it’s not a laughing matter for you. Not a word to them. I’ll bring you back a pie. I’m going now.”

She gathered her purse and jacket and moved toward the door. Brian turned toward her. “Umm . . . are you sure you don’t want to stay? We don’t have to watch ESPN.” She smiled, “if a sister can’t forgive you for being a guy, who can? I’ve got to get going anyway. See ya!”

As she drove away, Alice smiled. It would be good for Brian to start looking outward again. As she pulled onto Boulevard Avenue the little train of thought crossed her mind again, “what a stupid name! Like it can’t make up its mind. Will it be a really big street or a small one?” She heard the first notes of Rhapsody in Blue start up indicating her cell phone was ringing. Punching the answer button, she said, “this is Alice.”

“Alice, you have to come back. The police are here. They say they need to re-open the investigation into Marina’s death. Alice, they want to search my house and take me down for questioning,” Brian’s voice sounded understandably panicked. “I’ll be right there,” she told him as she pulled a u-turn at the next cut-in. “Do not say anything other than my attorney is on her way,” she added. Five minutes later she pulled up in front of Brian’s building and five minutes after that she was in the detective’s face, furiously demanding, “what on earth are you thinking?”

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Monday, June 1, 2009

Mellow Yellow Monday Shot

These are some yellow flowers left over from a bouquet earlier in the week. As I contemplated them, and the yellow apples, I was struck by how different the yellows were. When I shot them from above, on a honey-colored table, even more yellow shades emerged.

Thank you Drowsey Monkey for this meme!