My Favorite Conspiracy Theories

Jet Trails - The theory is that the white lines of condensed water vapor that jets leave in the sky, officially called contrails or chemtrails, are actually a toxic substance the government actually has scientific experimentation underway and uses those trails to dissipate chemicals on us, the clueless masses. Even the renowned publication, USA TODAY, wrote about it in 2001. Check it out here.

Mel's Hole - Mel swears he's found a bottomless pit and has gone on national late-night radio to talk about it. He tried to find the bottom by stringing about 15 miles of fishing line and weights, and says he couldn't find the bottom. His latest interview was in 2002. Mel says the hole is in Ellensburg, Washington, but has never divulged the exact location. Many have tried to find this mysterious hole (Mel says it can even resurrect dead animals) to no avail. Unless Mel steps forward and give the exact coordinates, this hole is quite possibly another in Mel's head!

The Amero - some people believe that the government is actually already printing new currency for the North America Union which consists of Canada, the US, and Mexico. Pictures and videos of the new currency have popped up on websites and even YouTube, but have proven to be de-bunked. The currency is actually the work of an artisan, Daniel Carr, who created several of the new state quarters. Apparently he made them to raise awareness and are part of a "fantasy" series he issues along with parody coins and more. You can view more on his website here.

The Illuminati - a secret society, or shadow government, sometimes referred to as the Bilderburg Group, that rules the world and is bent on one world government or new world order.

and my latest favorite turns out to be true:

Start a fire with a potato - I've seen it!

I am in no way saying I believe any of these. I'm simply writing about them because I find them interesting and in some cases, silly.

December News

Life is good. We're settling into our new home in Sumner (see photo), only two houses from my sister Linda and family. My dad moved in with us too, which is working out great. We all have our own offices and a huge beautiful kitchen to cook in. The main downfall of the house is there is not a 3rd stall in the garage and the yard is awfully small, though that means there is less yard work. We are desperately trying to figure out how to merge two households into one house and have lots of extra furnishings, books, kitchen stuff, and the like. We still have a lot of organizing to do.

I'm looking forward to the Boeing Christmas break as I'm hoping to do some faux paint treatments on some of my walls. It is imperative that I do something in the way of color on the walls as the entire house is beige. It is driving me nuts. I spent years in off-white rooms in many of the homes we've lived in; however, in the last decade or so, have gotten enamored of striking colors and paint techniques that liven up a place. I'm not afraid of color anymore.

Shhh, don't tell my sister Linda, but she actually started my decorating bent back about 6 or 7 years ago when she painted one wall of her dining room burgundy. It looked so good I decided to give it a try. It didn't work out so well though; the living room ended up being a pinkish-maroon, but I kept at it and am now pretty good at color selection and decorating in general.

We have heard there is a family very interested in purchasing our house in Kent. Everyone who reads this: PRAY! We really need our home to sell. We moved to our new Sumner home one month ago and really can't do two house payments for long. We've lowered the price so that it is the lowest in the area for the price, quality, size, etc., so we've been getting showings, even in December which is notorious for being the worst month of the year for house sales.

We also have a great house for sale in Centralia. It is on Diamond Street. James bought it when it was truly a "diamond in the rough." It was probably the worst house we've purchased and renovated to date. He got it for under 60K range, and had to put over 60K into it. It pretty much is a brand new house, but with about 1900 sq ft, it is a lot of house for under 200K. It looks great now. We had hoped to rent it out, but getting financing for investments is tight right now and we are going to sell it instead. So pray that one sells too.


Rear View Mirror

Hindsight is really something. We've all had the the old "woulda, coulda, shoulda" mantra that parades through our heads after significant life events hit us. A dear friend of mine passed away last week. I am so very glad to have formed a stronger bond of friendship with her in the last four years, starting with a trip to Italy in 2004. The following years included numerous dinners and evenings out talking of travels, kids, God, and just continuing to get to know each other better still. They were precious times getting to know her and love her dearly. Then BAM! Life cuts those times short. I wish I could've spent more time getting to know her even better. I could have made the time to try to get together with her more often, in fact, I should have; "woulda, coulda, shoulda" at its finest.


She has now been birthed into new life, the real life. Her life on this earth was just a pre-cursor to a life with the Lord and away from the corrupt world here below. She is certainly not troubled by her body, or anything else for that matter, any longer.

So, I'm thinking the "woulda, shoulda, coulda" is really all about us who remain. Is it guilt? She certainly isn't feeling it, only we are. Hmmm....

Have fun Tina. I know I'll see you later and we can continue on where we left off!


Has Anyone Seen James?

As many of you know, I travel to Long Beach California frequently for business. My last trip was the last week in October. I returned on a Thursday evening dog tired from a very hectic work week. My son picked me up at the airport and whisked me down to the house in Sumner which had just closed. The plan was to move in 8 days later on November 7th. We showed the kids the house, wandered the rooms and plotted out the cleaning, painting, and re-carpeting schedule that would get the house move-in ready.

James and I made it home around 8:30 that night and both of us were hungry and tired and still had to pack for our trip to Oklahoma City the next day. I slumped down in the dining room chair and just stared into the kitchen. James massaged my shoulders and then asked me if he could make me some dinner.

Now the should massage is a common occurrence, but the suggestion that James cook anything is not (unless it is Thanksgiving or Christmas and it is his famous garlic mashed potatoes). I stared at him for a second and then decided I'd better ask what he had in mind. James has been known to make hot cereal or scramble an egg once in a while.

"I'm thinking I'll cook some vegetables." He says.

I assume he's pulling out a bag of Tyson or Birdseye frozen vegetable concoction, so I ask "What do you mean?"

He answered by opening the refrigerator and pulling out fresh broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and small red potatoes, and then the chopping block and a big sharp knife.

After scooping up my jaw from the floor, I just sat and stared at the phenomenon. First he asks to cook for me, then he starts cooking vegetables? My mind is whirling and I ask, "What's going on here?"

He proceeds to tell me that he's eaten steamed vegetables every night that week and he's been journaling his food intake keeping his calorie count to an average of about 1300 calories! He'd even lost a few pounds.

OK, so at this point I'm thinking that aliens came and are using James as a host body. Kind of like an "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" thing. Clearly he doesn't know my ice-cream-eating, fast-food-junkie James. Nor does he realize James doesn't pay attention, much less journal, his food intake. I'm thinking this is alien is vegetarian AND writing a documentary.

So now about two weeks later, we're still into all things vegetables: soups, steamed, stir-fried, and raw. He weighs everyday and is frustrated when he doesn't lose and celebrating every loss.

Has anyone seen MY James lately?


Move Update

Well the move to Sumner is nearly over. There are still some things to move from storage though. My father is moving in with us this weekend as well. So we still have a few weeks of organizing ahead of us. We'll probably be "craigslisting" some stuff that won't fit in with our new space. Anybody want a boom mic stand?

Even though the house is only two years old, it had some pretty heavy wear and tear from the previous owners. They had four dogs and a couple of cats. We've replaced the carpet on the main floor and up the stairs due to stains and smells. Thankfully the rest of the carpet seems to be ok. James also put another coat of varathane on the hardwood floors to bring back the shine that was long gone. Dad hired a housekeeper to come in and wipe down all the wood finishes (and there are a LOT) so everything was clean. Mandy, Daniel, and my sister Linda painted some walls that were awful and Rod mowed the grass. Everyone helped us so much! I want to give a huge "THANK YOU" to everyone who helped us out.

Now comes the task of finding out where the best dry cleaner, nearest drug stores, and best restaurants are in our new little town of Sumner. I tried out a local Mexican restaurant, El Charro, and it was awful. I should've suspected it when I noticed only 3 of about 20 tables were occupied. The food was dry and didn't have much flavor.

I love my new house. I love my new neighborhood.

Moving Day

Today is starting out early and looks to be a miserably rainy day for me to be expected to not get everything soaked with mud the day I get the rest of my house packed up and moved. It's only 9:00 a.m. and I've already been up and at it since 6:00 a.m. because it sounded like I was sleeping next to a chainsaw I awoke in a grumpy mood full of energy. I did ran and grabbed a latte, have loaded a few more boxes, cleared out most of the rooms and am thinking of bailing out here taking a short break before I tackle the last hold out room upstairs. All-in-all, I've done more than a human should do in one morning a good bit of work so far.

We're supposed to get up about a foot of rain today, which has me screaming in frustration is fairly typical for this time of year. Sunday, I'll be joining my family in wishing my sister a big "Happy Birthday" as well as my daughter, Mandy later that evening at dinner. I also have the cable guy coming to hook up the TV's. Sunday sounds like it will be a a brutal a fairly full day of work, fun and parties.

OMG! I just scared myself spitless looked in the mirror and saw what I looked like. Since all my toiletries are packed, my hair is sticking out all over since after getting caught in the rain. I look stupid like a free-spirit! However, I'll wait until I get to the new house and then go abandon James & let him keep working on this mess clean up and then probably take a much-needed rest. I deserve it since he woke me up so early with his nasal chorus!

Happy Fall!


Wallly Update

An update to the Mystery on 94th Street, you know, Wally? I've found myself puzzled because Wally hasn't been as in-n-out as usual. In fact, I hadn't seen Wally do his usual back and forth routine for weeks. I was feeling sad at the possibility of not being able to solve the mystery before we moved. But then...

Well, I was putting some boxes into my SUV yesterday and "Wally", the neighbor across the street heads out of his house, not to his distinctive orange pick-up with the pop-up camper, but to his old maroon mid-60's Buick. I quickly race into the house, grab the keys, and jump into my car to follow him. I'm thinking "this is my lucky day!" (I neglected to pick up my purse with my driver's license so I'm very glad I didn't attract the police during my foray into the detective world.)

I pull out just behind Wally and he guns it through the pink light (yellow turning to red) and Darn! I can't follow or I'd have to run a red light! I wait about a minute as the light cycles, figuring that Wally couldn't have made it much past the Fred Meyer about a 1/2 mile up the road. I speed up James Street hoping to catch a glimpse. Nothing. He had totally disappeared. I circled around a bit looking into parking lots and side streets; to no avail. Wally had escaped.

Wally is sneaky. Clearly we need to setup a true surveillance operation.

Hopefully more on this soon.


Pack, Pack, Pack

I found myself singing the little children's ditty from Dora the Explorer called "Backpack! Backpack!" yesterday as I packed for THREE events. I leave today (Sunday) for a four day work session in the Long Beach area, and laid out the clothes for next weekends jaunt to Oklahoma City and Dallas for a wedding and NASCAR race. We return on Monday evening and then finish packing up for our move to Sumner slated for Friday the 7th.

Our house deal is supposed to close on Monday, then hopefully the "team" will be painting some of the more hideous walls, getting the new house cleaned up, and carpets shampooed next week while I'm gone. The "team" consists of James, my Dad (who is moving with us), and my sister and hopefully Mandy and Daniel. They've all proffered their assistance to help. I have no expectations (I don't think).

The month of November promises to be a full month. Of course, the holidays are just around the corner too. I hope I survive.

A Penny Saved???

With our current economy tanking, I got to thinking about a more frugal life-style. It got me reminiscing about my growing-up years.

I grew up in a family with five other siblings and had parents who continually took in the down-and-out. Sometimes it was relatives, but more often than not it was young adults trying to find their way out of drug addiction in the 60's. Even with a very large house, we all shared bedrooms, and sometimes converted other rooms into living quarters. My parents had big hearts and couldn't bear to see people lost and without the help they needed. As a result, our house was always very full and vibrant, though not always in a good way. I remember the awful sound of retching and moaning as different kids went through withdrawals. I also remember my mom finding drugs and booting some of them out of the house because they refused to stay clean.

One of the consequences of this lifestyle was the need for constant penny-pinching. They had to feed this houseful of people, clothe us six kids and themselves, and send us all off Christian school, thereby keeping us out of the awful public school system. Mom had it down; she could pinch a penny until it squirted out two!

Here's some of my favorites:

Lentils - they can be used in place of meat with the same protein! We had lentil tacos, lentil stew, lentil chili, and even lentils mixed with beef to make the meatloaf stretch farther. I learned to like lentils.

Duck bread - our nearby grocery store sold gigantic 3 or 4 foot tall bags of stale bread. Mom found that there may be pieces still salvageable for sandwiches! Turns out that if you microwave them with just the right settings, and with a glass of water, they can actually get soft again. Be careful though. You have to eat it fast or it will harden right back up. Sandwich croutons.

Quilt Coats - mom found a local garment manufacturer that sold snippets of parka-type fabric (the kind with warm backing attached) and lugged home a couple of boxes full of the stuff in a variety of colors: purple, pink, white, navy blue, baby blue, black, and red. Being the good seamstress that she was, she proceeded to build me a coat made up of pink, purple and white squares with a trendy belt too! I was in 7th grade. Unfortunately I didn't grow much from 7th to 8th grade and the coat lasted two seasons. needless to say, I wore sweaters a lot in Junior High.

Frankenstein Garments - most kids with siblings have suffered through hand-me-downs. Ours had a special twist. Instead of just handing down garments that fit the younger child, my mom actually added extra fabric pieces here and there to lengthen, widen, or augment in some fashion so they were sure to fit one of us. So what had maybe been an OK garment ended up only having a semblance of its original style or shape.

Root Beer - this is one money-saving activity that we all loved. We made home-made root beer every summer using a stash of saved pop bottles and a weird bottle capping contraption. We loved adding in the extract, stirring it up, adding the yeast, and then waiting a couple of weeks for it to set. The results were usually fantastic and provided us with pop for weeks.

I'll think of more as time goes on. Do you have any stories?


Bizarre News

Here's the bizarre of the week:

3 Year old chosen as a goddess - girls lose goddess status at puberty and rarely marry, suffering a life of hardship post-goddess status, yet her family is honored that she is chosen!

Naked man swims in moat - I would guess that sake was involved.

The bra bandit - you'd think it was a guy!

Monkey Butler - whoever thought this up was clearly trying to escape minimum wage laws.


Global Warming?

I think scientists forgot the Pacific Northwest when some declared the controversial "Global Warming". Case in point: Boise, Idaho, October 10th. It snowed. According to the Boise newspaper Idaho Statesman, It snowed earlier than any other year since 1898! I also recalled one of my own journal entries from earlier this year where I said: It's March 28th and snowing outside. It's snowed off and on for the last two days. So much for Global Warming. The globe around me doesn't feel too warm to me!

While I'm trying to be a good world-citizen by not being wasteful by recycling, using low-energy bulbs, driving less, and the like, I am still doubtful about the whole warming thing. I distinctly remember the ecologists cry in the 70's about how the world was cooling an we were all doomed. I wasn't sure I was recalling correctly (as I was a teenager) so I researched and found an article from 1975 in Newsweek that confirms I did not imagine it. The author, Peter Grim, finishes of the article by saying, "They concede that some of the more spectacular solutions proposed, such as melting the Arctic ice cap by covering it with black soot or diverting arctic rivers, might create problems far greater than those they solve. But the scientists see few signs that government leaders anywhere are even prepared to take the simple measures of stockpiling food or of introducing the variables of climatic uncertainty into economic projections of future food supplies. The longer the planners delay, the more difficult will they find it to cope with climatic change once the results become grim reality."

I'm glad politicians are slow to move on things like this. I can't imagine the consequences had world leaders actually carried out what was suggested in Grim's article.

Cool, then warm, and now maybe cool again? Yes! The Nature Journal states that a team of German scientists are rising up to say we are entering another cycle where certain zones will begin cooling!

I'll stick to re-usable grocery bags, renewable resources and energy star appliances, thank you! But please don't divert any rivers or re-freeze the polar ice caps to try to change the climate!

Coldest spell in California since the 1800's in Mendocino County

Pendleton Oregon faces cold snap that breaks record of 118 years!

And one more: Alaska Glaciers grew this last year


Coming of Old Age

Toast Dust – you know the stuff that you scrape off burnt toast to save that slice of bread? It’s important one not be wasteful, you know. I learned that from my mom, a toast-burner extraordinaire. The toaster gets the blame, and that little adjustment knob on the bottom of the toaster? Well it was years before I knew what that was there for. No one ever touched that little do-hickey at our house. Mom used to “hide” the evidence by scraping it directly into the sink (why the sink, I’m not sure as it was in the days before anyone had any garbage disposals other than a dog); which we’d always find when we went to clean up. ‘Course the slight charcoal taste was still a dead give away.

Well, I woke up one day with what surely must be toast dust in my eyes. I have never suffered much in the way of allergies, but after a second nosebleed it had me wondering. Maybe it’s because I have neglected to drink water the preceding days. Doesn’t coffee count? All of my siblings have allergies and two even have asthma.

My older sister Shirley was very sickly due to asthma and its devastating attacks. I’ll never forget when the doctor told mom to give her wine to cut the mucus down. Mom would force feed a tablespoon or so when it would get bad. I had always wondered about the blue lips. Shirley used to tell me in genuine earnest “it’s cuz I’m dying and you have to be nice to me.”

Ah, but I digress. I have said all that to say this: I think I’ve succumbed to allergies in my old age. My day will be going along fine and all of a sudden I’ll find myself sniffling, sneezing, and scrubbing at my eyes; then as suddenly as it appeared - it’s gone!

Another coming of old age is the memory thing. My mind used to be a steel trap; nearly a photographic memory. If I had read it, I could close my eyes and read it off the page. This was really helpful in college, providing I actually read the material. Not so much anymore though. I have come to the conclusion that my “hard drive” is nearing capacity, regularly deleting files to make room for more. Unfortunately, I have noticed that I don’t always have much control over what “files” are maintained and which are sent to the “recycle bin.” I’m hoping the ridiculous trivia of the past is what goes first; things like my old BFF girlfriend’s phone number from 6th grade (yes, I still remember it), or a gift I got at the 3rd birthday party from my Aunt Gloria. However, I suspect that there must be a greater purpose to those memories, trivial or not. I just have to find it. I’ll have to dig deep and put some of my good analytical skills into play and determine the ….

What am I looking for again????


A Plan for a Plan

I just read a great article today in the Chicago Tribune regarding the upcoming election. It clearly articulates something that has bugged me for a long time: candidate proposals or plans to fix things. How many times have we heard about these plans and then find the elected candidate can't seem to get anything done? Why then do we continue to believe that their plans actually mean anything at all?

Jonah Goldberg has a humorous take on these plans and writes in his October 10th article titled Best Laid Plans Mean Zip, "Every weekend I have a plan for how my 5-year-old child will spend her day. Keep in mind: I am literally the boss of her. She has no money, little education and no reliable means of escape. And yet, she foils my plans time and again. But somehow we're supposed to believe that a plan involving billions or trillions of dollars, millions of people (each with their own agenda) and thousands of communities influenced by countless interested parties and bureaucracies is not only possible, but the highest responsibility of our elected leaders."

Check out the article, it's a fun read. Let us find out what all these candidates actually stand for by examining their character, not their rhetoric, or the spin generated by journalists and others.


Reaching Out to the People!

The Birminham Cathedral is going to new heighths to reach non-church goers. In an article on Sep 2 2008 By Rhona Ganguly, The Birmingham Post states that the "Birmingham Cathedral could be doing its own fund-raising version of turning holy water into wine as it considers plans for a wine bar." A wine bar? I wonder if it is about reaching souls or could it be that it's all about money?

On August 31, 2008, Jonathan Wynne-Jones of UK's Daily Telegraph, reports that the cathedral's leaders are exploring various opportunities to engage new parishoners and are considering opening a wine bar. Church leaders state that "The new appraoch to attracting and retaining worshippers could become a blueprint for dioceses across the country." The goal is to have a more business-like approach to their operations.

The Birmingham Post goes on to say that Mr. Hope-Urwin, part of the clergy there at the cathedral, says “We’re not trying to encourage drinking, but the cathedral has to engage more with the city and find ways of meeting people on their territory. Cathedral wine bars should be seen as a potential commercial operation with profits going into the upkeep and of the building and paying for evangelistic work.

I can see it now; forget the lattes and coffee before services. Bring on the wine! Folks can come in sippin' and a swirlin' their reds and whites, offering tidbits of wine wisdom prior to hitting the Sunday evening Bible Study. Do you think they'll remember anything?

What's next? Valet parking? Oh wait, I've seen that before too. Ahh, the sacrificial life - bring it on!


Favorite all Time Dave Barry

This is my all-time favorite Dave Barry column published Friday, November 7, 1997, in the Miami Herald. Coming from Seattle, the home of the coffee craze, it had me in stitches – still does.

Favorite excerpts are:

"...consumers are always ordering mutant beverages with names like ``mocha-almond-honey-vinaigrette lattespressacino,'' beverages that must be made one at a time via a lengthy and complex process involving approximately one coffee bean, three quarts of dairy products and what appears to be a small nuclear reactor."

"... a group of workers, who were supposed to be making a birdbath, began drinking Egyptian coffee, which is very strong, and wound up constructing the pyramids."



Mountain Climbing

I love the outdoors, particularly hiking. As a child our family spent summers trekking through the Cascade Mountains in search of beautiful viewpoints, waterfalls, streams and lakes. I love the physical activity, the scenery, and the camaraderie it engendered; all of us chatting and helping each other over the rough spots and then standing in awe when we reached our goal. I remember one exhausting climb where my imaginative sisters and I closed our eyes and pointed at the mountain, commanding it to move. Even as children, we knew not to take the scriptures literally as stated in Matthew 17:20 “…you could say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there,’ and it would move,” so we were not a bit surprised to find the mountain still there and continued on.

Mountains are huge, rugged, and dangerously beautiful; people try to climb and conquer them all the time. Some even die trying. But what are these mountains spiritually? Most mean great pain and hardship and our desire is to see them dealt with quickly. We may even pray that prayer for total removal of the mountain. These Life challenges are what make us grow; they can either make us or break us. However, scripture shows us powerful evidence that unfolds a new perspective on mountains, how to climb them, and what we’ll find when we reach the top.
In your trial, troubles, and conflicts that are your mountain, you can find so much more than simply an obstacle.

A Place of Vision and Destiny

In Exodus chapter 3, Moses encounters the burning bush while on Mount Horeb.” There he hears from God, receiving clear direction and calling for his future. Moses receives the divine communication through the fiery manifestation that outlines Moses’ purpose in life – the salvation of the Israelites from Egypt.

A Place of Instruction and Direction

The story of Moses receiving the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai is famous among even non-Christians. Also, in I Kings 19, a discouraged Elijah, after confronting the prophets of Baal went to mountain cave. There the Lord converses with him, telling him to go in and anoint Hazael as king over Syria.

Jesus gave lengthy instructions to his Disciples and followers in his Sermon at the Mount. Here he outlined specific teaching that is foundational in all Christian teaching today. Again in Acts chapter 1, we see that He gave instructions, from the mount (vs. 12), to the disciples just prior to ascending to heaven. These last instructions were what prompted the disciples to wait together in the upper room where they experienced the outpouring of the promised Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4). What if they’d never gone to the mountain with Jesus to hear and obey his instructions to wait for the promise?

A Place of Divine Intimacy and Worship

One of my favorite stories is where Moses pleads to see the face of God. In Exodus 33:18 Moses beseeches, “I want to see your glory!” I have often tried to imagine Moses’ heart as he expressed his desire, craving God’s intimate touch. The Lord responds saying, “I will make my Goodness pass right in front of you; I’ll call out, proclaiming who I am.” He goes on in verse 22, “I’ll put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with my hand until I’ve passed by. Then I’ll remove my hand so that you can see my back, but not my face.” Moses experienced something no other had – he saw God. Not only did Moses receive his destiny while conversing with the burning bush, he also was told by God "I will be with you. This will be the proof that I am sending you: After you lead the people out of Egypt, all of you will worship me on this mountain."

Another example is when Jesus went to the mountain to pray. Luke 9:28 – 29 says, “And it came to pass about eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering.”
There’s been many a trial in my life, that once overcome, has resulted in my grateful praise and thanksgiving; awe at His ever-present mercy at work in my life. While my face might not need to be veiled like Moses’, or be glistening like Jesus’, I have no doubt that, when I’ve spent time in intimate worship, it’s not furrowed with frown lines.

A place of Victorious Views

One of the best examples of a mountainous view that resulted in victory is when Moses, Aaron and Hur stood on top of a hill and watched God miraculously deliver the Amalekites into the Israelites hands (Exodus 17:10-16). They were in a great position to be able see the battle raging below them. The results of their actions were readily apparent and they responded appropriately with support for Moses as his arms got heavy and he could no longer lift them himself. Once victorious, the Lord said, in verse 14: “I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.”

The importance of this mountain is that it put them in a strategic viewpoint with which to survey the situation and make the needed changes to quickly respond. The important part is not to focus on the actual mountain, or place where we’re at (an introspective view), but rather at the surrounding environment to see what tactical strategies we can employ that result in victory.

Revelation 21:10 states, “And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,” here the view is of the heavenly kingdom; truly an incredible vantage point to see the eternal future!

What is your mountain?

Is it a place of temptation? Satan took Jesus up to mountain and tempted him, Luke 4:5 states, “And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.” Is your temptation one of gossip, conforming to the world, or maybe attitudes of anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness?

Is it a place of refuge? Elijah took refuge in the mountain cleft after defeating the prophets of Baal. From there he heard the voice of God.

Is it a place of death and sacrifice? Abraham was instructed to take Isaac to a mountain of God’s choosing to offer up Isaac. Is what you’re facing mean great sacrifice?

Do we really want to ask for our mountains to be removed, or even made easier? What would we miss out on if we found a short-cut or even a way to avoid our obstacles? We could be cheating ourselves out of, not only the view, but an amazing opportunity to hear directly from God about our destiny, or clear instructions about the future, and intimate worship with the lover of our souls. So lace up your hiking boots and let’s go mountain climbing!


Old Kat - New Tricks

For years it never failed; every outing where photography or videography was executed by yours truly, shots included numerous frames of feet and excellent renderings of whatever ground was being traversed. I've often thought of creating a video of all these odd shots that I've managed to capture over the years, but while it's funny to me, it probably wouldn't win the Ebert "thumbs up" vote. I have no idea how this happens. Surely it is not because I leave the camera on. I am much too aware of myself and surroundings to have acquired that particular habit!

I would like to believe that most of these errors have been perpetrated by James; primarily due to a known fact that he has a penchant for hiney and close-up chest shots. But one could argue that the long stretches of cement and feet in videos don't tend to follow his aforementioned predilection for my other body parts. Either way, it has been somewhat embarassing to sit down with friends and family for a viewing of our vacations and finding them subjected to our photographic lapses and failures.

Well feet and pathways aside, I've actually thoroughly enjoyed this last decade of digital photography. I've traded up cameras every few years and have gotten better with my "real" shots, even garnering some more objective positive comments from non-friends and family (people I don't feed first before a viewing). Well, I recently traded up again and purchased a digital SLR: Canon Rebel XSi 12.2 megapixel camera. I now have two lenses too! I immediately made a date day with James for a hike and took the opportunity to test out my camera. Wow! The difference between my point-and-shoot 4 megapixel Olympus and this new one is pretty amazing. The shots are so clear and crisp. Take a peek.

Now, where is my new Grandson?????


Anyone Want a Million Dollars?

OK, so I can't guarantee anyone a million dollars, but I figured I'd get your attention. Did it work? Good! Now down to business.

As most of you may know from previous posts, we're moving from our house here in Kent. Well, in addition to the Wally mystery, we have another: an old locked safe embedded in the floor of the house.

What is in this safe? How long has it been there? Should we spend the money to get a locksmith to crack it open? The odds are there is probably nothing in the safe. But, what if there were? The curiosity is burning bright and I think we'll have to cave and find out.

James suggested we put a proposition out there for anyone who wants some of whatever is in the safe. Anyone who contributes to the cost of cracking the safe can have a percentage of the findings; kinda like a salvage operation, an investment if you will.

So, for example if the cost is $300 and one donates $30 to the cause, they would get 10% of the contents, or the value of the contents.

Any takers?

Mystery on 94th Street

Well our time here on 94th street in Kent is drawing to a close. Our original plan was to live here only 2 years (to pick up on the tax break) but it ended up being just a tad over 3 years. I am not sad to be going. While I've really liked being close to shopping and a ton of restaurants, it is too noisy for me and I am excited to be heading further south to the quietude of Sumner.

However, there is a mystery that we have to uncover before we leave.

As I sit in my home office, day after day, I've been beyond puzzled about the behaviors of the old guy who lives across the street; I'll call him Wally. Wally owns an old orange pick-up truck with an battered camper perched on the back, complete with a padlock dangling off the back door. Now Wally is very quiet. He doesn't peel out and race off down the road. He isn't creepy and peering out of his always-closed-curtains nor does he simply sit on his porch and stare at everyone as they go by. No, Wally simply comes and goes. That's it: just comes and goes.

Wally takes off in his truck, sometimes as often as a dozen times a day. And, get this, he's only gone for a few minutes each time! Where is he going? What is he doing?

Wally has been the source of much speculation at our house. Where does he go? Why is he gone such a short time? Does he run a business on Ebay and go to the post office 10 times a day? If so, why wouldn't he just save up his stuff and go once? Maybe his toilet doesn't work and he has prostate trouble. One idea was that he is a drug dealer meeting shady characters away from his house (and his sick sister who is bed ridden - that part is true). Maybe he has a drinking problem and he grabs a quick glass at the Golden Steer.

So our family has decided that before we move, we're going to do some surveillance on dear Wally. We have to solve this mystery on 94th street.

I can just see it now. Several of us in our cars posted at various intersections with walkie talkies at the ready.

Kat: PSHSHSHTT [insert strange white noise] ...James, what's your position?

James: PSHSHSHTT...I'm on 100th and James - ready!

Mandy (Daniel driving): PSHSHSHTT...Dad, you're supposed to say "roger", not ready!

Ricky (Rosie riding shotgun & Judah sleeping peacefully in the carseat): PSHSHSHTT...No! You only say "roger" when you're agreeing to something.

Kat: PSHSHSHTT...whatever guys! What's your positions?

James: PSHSHSHTT...100th and James. Roger, 10/4, or whatever I'm supposed to say!

Mandy: PSHSHSHTT... We're at the Fred Meyer. Over and Out!

Ricky & Rosie Team: PSHSHSHTT...(Rosie's voice this time) I feel so dumb. We're at 104th and James by the Taco Bell [Ricky heard in background "I'll take two double taco's with extra hot sauce, a Dr. Pepper, and a..."]

Kat: I'm here on the cross street. I can clearly see his driveway and will give the go when he leaves. Everybody be ready to follow for your section of the route. Don't forget to fall back when the next team takes over. Everybody ready??

James: PSHSHSHTT... Roger!
Mandy/Daniel: PSHSHSHTT...10/4! [giggle giggle] Daniel! Stop! Not now! I mean Ready!

Ricky/Rosie: PSHSHSHTT...[sluuurrp, crunch, crunch] S'good.

Kat: PSHSHSHTT...Here he comes!

We'll let you know what we find out!


Ditz in the Dessert

Well, I'm not in the dessert really, just closer to one here in Southern California than my typical day in Kent, Washington. After several days in a very rainy Richmond, VA for a NASCAR race over the weekend, I had to buzz off to Long Beach, CA for a couple of meetings with my boss. Everything seemed like a typical So-Cal trip, the 90 minutes in the airport, the 45 minutes on the tarmac before take-off, the 120 minutes in the air, another 20 minutes landing and getting "de-planed"; you know the drill. Well I finally make it and head off to the glorious Emerald Aisle where I can select the car of my choosing.

I decided to wander into the tiny booth to ask specifically which cars boast satellite radio (I love satellite radio) and get the info about looking for strange antennae mounted to rooftops. I shlepp my gear along the heralded aisle and decide to tap into this idea of being a little green this trip and head for a Toyota Prius with the tell-tale antennae shooting up from the pale blue rooftop. Now, I've driven one of these before and found the experience interesting so I figured I'd examine the vehicle a little more closely this time and pay attention to things like: pick-up speed, braking, radio speaker quality, seat comfort, and the like. (Who knows, maybe I'll actually buy a "green" car someday?) I hop in and do the mirror adjustments, seat belt adjustments, find where the lights are, and plug in my GPS so-I-don't-get-lost-for-the-thousandth-time electronic lifesaver, and we're off!

I get to the checkout stand w/ the railroad crossing contraption and wait to be checked out. While there I try to find my favorite oldie comedian station on the satellite radio. Being a very busy morning, the cars immediately start lining up behind me, so when the guy finally takes my credentials, I breathe a sigh of relief. I hate holding people up. Guess what? I can't figure out the satellite radio! I ask the guy when he returns and he shrugs and hollers at another worker who says "that one don't got it!" The man asks if I want to switch cars. After a quick glance in my rear view mirror, I decide I'll have to live with out Bill Cosby for my 72 hour trip. Ah well; I head off into the LA freeway system.

I arranged to meet a co-worker after work for dinner at my favorite Long Beach restaurant, Open Sesame (a Mediterranean eatery of note), and head out of the office at 5 o'clock to meet her there. It's only about a 20 minute drive, and the restaurant is well worth the effort. Well, my cute little Toyota Prius had a totall different idea!

I insert the rectangular "key" into the slot, put my seat belt on, and then hit the power button. Now, you can't hear this car start. Your only indication that the car is running is this dashboard computer that shows the power. I hit the tiny park button to get it out of park and maneuver the tiny little lever into the reverse notch (it doesn't stay there, like a normal gear shift knob would) and try to back up. It goes about 3 feet and neatly stops at an awkward angle successfully blocking the car next to me. Great. I try again and again to get the car to backup to no avail. I anxiously hope that whoever owns the car I'm blocking is working late tonight! I hate holding people up. So, I shut the car down, take off my seat belt, open and close all the doors thinking maybe it won't go if a door is ajar; nothing. I fasten the seat belt on the passenger side. I go through the whole routine again and again: nothing. What is with this car? It worked fine earlier in the day!

Sure enough the owner of the blocked car comes out and wants to leave. I jump out of the car to explain my dilemma. She nicely explains she knows some friends who have the car and they haven't had any problems. Do I want her to call one of them for me? Nice.

After another 10 minutes of repeating the starting process, I decide to peek in the glove compartment to see if there's some sort of "Prius for Dummies" manual or something. Sure 'nuff! Intersting that the manual fell open easily to the correct location (anyone else have this problem???) and I found out you have to have YOUR FOOT ON THE BRAKE PEDAL in order to start the car! How stupid is that? I dutifully go through the steps to start the car, only putting my foot on the brake pedal BEFORE I pushed the power button. Guess what? It started. I moved the car. The lady got her car out. I headed off to Open Sesame.

Boy did I feel dumb.

Needless to say, I was late to dinner. My friend had a table already and was enjoying my story about the time I accidently flung my fork off the table and onto the sidewalk (we were eating outside). After dinner I made the mistake of almost trying to get into 2 other Prius's parked on the same street. Apparently they are a popular model here in So-Cal; so is the color blue.

My GPS so-I-don't-get-lost-for-the-thousandth-time contraption kept shutting off, even while plugged into the cigarette lighter. Apparently my fuse is blown. I got lost for the 1001st time here in So-Cal. I just can't seem to get it right down here.

Ahhhh travel. Don't you just love it?


The Forgotten Children

This summer, James and I trekked to Bucharest. It took nearly 24 hours enroute from Seattle, Washington. It was almost midnight and we were exhausted, yet excited about our adventure. We were met by Eugen who helped cart our bags to his little truck and then on into the city to a tiny apartment we'd been lent for the week.

Starting around 10:00 a.m. the next morning we were met by the pastor's wife, Imogene McAnulty, and immediately driven to their small Church of Christ sanctuary and put to work. Three Sunday School rooms and the entire foyer were filled with boxes of clothing for us to make into bundles for the children. We had been unaware of the largeness of this effort and were astounded at the magnitude of work ahead of us for the next six days. There were 2500 clothing bundles to be created, in varying sizes or age groupings, and then delivered to over 22 children's schools/homes. Some of the schools were orphanages proper, others were state run schools serving the very poor families of Bucharest. Some of the children have little in the way of clothing outside of what is given by Imogene's team.

June 1st is Children's Day, and a significant event for the children there. It is second only to Christmas for many of these children.

Imogene has lists and lists from each school/orphanage with details of how many sizes are required for either girls or boys. We have to sort through dozens of boxes of clothing that has been purchased or donated throughout the year. Imogene spends months in the states visiting churches talking about "her children" and raising funds. She also shops for clothing specials at Walmart, Old Navy, Children's Place, during special sales and picks up clothing at rock-bottom prices.

James and I brought a lot of candy to add to the packages, the children LOVE candy, and found that we only had enough for about two schools! We ended up making a trip to the local candy store down the block, almost every day, to purchase more candy so that each child had a piece along with their new clothes. We bought a lot of candy!

Towards the end of the week we made trips to several of the orphanages/schools and distributed the packages. One of the orphanages had worked with the kids to prepare a show for us. It was so sweet. They were colorful dancing flowers, bugs, and mushrooms all set to music. It was adorable. We hugged them, gave them their candy and packages and then had to go. Every place we visited was full of grateful children. They gobbled up the candy and beamed when they opened their packages of clothes. For some of these children this would be the only new set of clothes they would get until Christmas. They have very little.

Our hearts were sad as we realized the sheer number of children Imogene was trying to serve. Apparently sometimes the donations even get taken by some of the workers and/or parents and then sold. Imogene works hard to make sure that doesn't happen by checking with the children and watching the schools closely. If she finds out that the donations have been taken away from the children, she takes will refuse to work with the school again. Most of the schools are very happy to have Imogene's help and are very grateful. She has formed good bonds with most of the administrators and they love to have her come. Several of the schools we visited offered us refreshments and spent time talking to us about how the children were doing, what their schools needs were. Clearly Imogene's work was a big help to them.

Our hearts were touched by this trip. We hope to continue looking for mission trips such as this where we can affect children in particular. If no one watches for the children, then who will? They are the future and we want to impact that future for Christ.


I Find it Strange That...

A man caught an absolutely huge fish with his daughter's Barbie fishing rod. It weighed in at over 21 pounds! My neice has one of these pink beauties and I'd call them a toy with very little hope of actually catching anything. I guess it's all in the bait!

More kids, like this one in England, don't try making a human torch from their bodily gas emissions. That's gotta hurt!

People didn't catch on that the Big Foot found earlier this month wasn't real! Duh! Apparently as the ice encasing the "animal" melted it became more and more clear that this was simply a gorilla costume. Read the full story here.


Weird News

I love to hear weird stories and I thought you might also like to see a few that have caught my eye recently.

Man Shoots Lawnmower - A man gets riled when his lawnmower won't start. They think alcohol may have been a contributing factor. Duh, you think???

Peacock Hitchhiker - So I wonder if the bird got where he wanted to go?

Lawn Chair Larry - An oldie but goodie. Larry Walters is known world-over for attempting to fly over Long Beach California, in the early 80's, using weather balloons attached to his lawn chair. When asked why he had done it, Walters replied, "A man can't just sit around." This outstanding stunt only made it to the Darwin Awards as an "Honorable Mention." Can you believe it? But Larry had his fans; which leads us to...

Adelir Antonio de Carli of Brazil - attempted to raise funds for his cause to build spiritual rest stops for truckers by soaring over the mountainous area of South America with 1000 balloons attached to a chair. Even with survival suits, cell phone, food for 5 days, GPS, and other precautionary plans, he still managed to find trouble: he neglected to learn how to use his GPS! Needless to say, he got lost, couldn't help anyone pinpoint his location, and eventually bits of his balloon mass were found out in the ocean.

Jesus is in Florida - A man threatens his family saying he is Jesus and wants the world turned over to him. This is not the same Jesus I'm looking for!


Grandma Kat

I am a very happy Grandma of a 7 pound 1/2 ounce little boy, Judah James Ochs. My son Ricky, and his wife Rosemary, produced little Judah around 6:45 p.m. on July 21st. It was emotional hearing his little cries as he was welcomed into this world.

Here's a few shots of little Judah.


Are We Living in a World of Excess?

After my recent trip to Romania, I've realized how much I take my daily lifestyle for granted. I have plenty of food and places to shop for delicacies, tons of clothes to select from each day, a beautiful home with all the amenities, a late model vehicle, a great yard, can travel where I'd like, ad naseum. In a majority of countries in the world, this is not the case. We have it easy.

Well, here's a video I ran across where someone has taken the simple life to heart. Take a peek.

I don't think I'm ready to downsize that much!!!

New and Improved!

A few months ago I vented in my "Things That Bug Me" post about knee high nylons, 18 hour bras, and assorted other buggers. Well I've come up with a few more that may strike a chord with some of you.

New and Improved!!! - Ok, so how many ways can we reinvent toilet paper, toothbrushes, Cheerios, or antiperspirant? It seems like every product always has some new additive, accessory, alteration, gimmick or twist to lure us into the purchase.

Time Warpers - There are several of these in my family; they set clocks forward by 17 minutes or maybe 11 minutes so they won't be late. My husband, in the days when he wasn't self employed, used to set his alarm clock 17 minutes fast, and then he'd set the alarm for 15 minutes before he had to actually get up. What's with that? Bottom line is you still have to get up at the right time! Who are you kidding?

Aisle Hogs - Don't you just hate it when you're bombing through a store, maybe even with a grocery cart, and someone in front of you stops dead center? Worse yet, is when they become engrossed in a conversation (cell phones too), or even leave their cart there while they scurry off to another area. then they don't even notice you coming up and needing to get by. I've tried several tactics. My first attempt is usually to get close and see if they are observant and polite enough to simply move over. The talkers usually don't and you have to actually speak up (horrors). Of course if they left their cart and are farther down the aisle or even a totally different zip code, then you have to move the cart away yourself. I get particularly irked (time to get on my knees) when folks stop and chat right where they're blocking an entrance or exit.

Moles - We hired a company last year to eradicate moles from our yard. They caught two - yipee! Guess what? They're back.

I am Feeling So Proud Of Myself

I am so proud of myself! I actually remembered to use my eco-friendly grocery bags yesterday!

[Insert dream-like music and fuzzy fade-out to six months ago]

I did the honorable thing and purchased half a dozen "eco friendly" shopping bags at my local grocery store. I don't really buy the "Global Warming" effect seeing as there are an awful lot of controversial things that have me doubting it; like the fact that in the 70's there was the big global cooling "we're going to have an ice age!" panic, along with countless articles from scientists who spout anti-global warming criticisms. However, I do think it is important to take care of the environment that we live in; hence the bag purchase.

Early on in my oh so admirable re-usable bag endeavor, I made it a habit to put them neatly back in my car once I had divested them of my purchases. That rule came about with the first use of my new bags when while unpacking them I had an irritating vision of leaving them behind, stacked somewhere in my kitchen, and thus being party to filling landfills the world over with those nasty, earth-hating plastic grocery sacks. I have since been very proud of myself for this thoughtful routine.

[Insert dreamy music again and fast forward to the present]

I can blame my busier-than-ever job, or the fact that I have traveled for work and pleasure a good bit of 2008 and have lost my shopping rhythm, or maybe just put it down to a bad memory, but every time I've hauled my cart up to the checkout counter in the last two or three months, I've realized I forgot my the car. By then it is too late. What am I going to say while the checker is ringing up my stuff? "Oh, excuse me. Can you wait 10 minutes while I run out to my car in the back 40 and find my eco-friendly bags?" No. That would make me look stupid. Or maybe I should have just asked them to just dump all my stuff in the cart without any bags at all. No. Then people would think I'm stealing if I wheeled the buggy out looking like I had just been on a game show (no bags at all). So the checker dumps everything into those tiny, awful, guilt-laden plastic bags and I kick myself all the way to the car where I see my nice green bags waiting for me the minute I open my trunk. Man I can be stupid sometimes.

Well, yesterday I remembered. I think the key was that I wasn't in a hurry for a change. I meandered to the store. I patiently found a parking spot out in the back 40. I cautiously opened my door, taking care not to bang the car next to me, and then actually remembered to get the bags out! I selected three from my neat stack (I do keep them neat) and nearly burst a button while walking through the parking lot towards the front door. I almost did a "neener, neener!" as I passed the stand offering eco-friendly shopping bags by the bananas.

Maybe I'm not a lost cause yet, but time will tell.


She's So Vain

I admit it, I have a vain streak. I like to look good. I dye my hair, constantly diet, have facials regularly, buy expensive facial products, and also have had "permanent make-up" applied. About 8 years ago I had my first procedure: eyeliner. While very painful, I've loved it. I never have to worry about my eyeliner. Then about two years after that I had my eyebrows done. I also loved that. It re-shaped my face and now I don't have to draw in eyebrows that were so light they appeared non-existent.

Well Saturday I took the plunge and had my eyeliner darkened up and then my lips done. OWWWW!!! I thought eyeliner was bad, this felt like someone was slowly slicing my lips off my face; and that was with a topical anesthetic (and a little prescription painkiller I took before the procedure).

My sister Linda (who had her eyes done the day before) drove me home upon which James began laughing the minute he saw my lips come in the front door. That's about all one can see when you look at my face: bright red, puffy lips. My eyes are puffy too, but the lips win the prize.

So the swelling will go down within a couple of days, the color will mute itself as the layers of skin slough off, but I'm not so sure it was worth the agony. We'll see.

Save the Ta-Ta's

While this title may sound trite and possibly a little crude, it caught my attention at the Susan Komen "Race for the Cure" held here in the Puget Sound area on Saturday June 21st. My sister, Linda, her two daughters (5 and 2 yrs), and my mother all did the 5K walk along the Alaskan Way viaduct. The walk started at Qwest field (where the Seahawks play) and looped around the viaduct ending 3.10 miles later.

The viaduct was a sea of pink! Men, women, children, and even dogs walked to show their support for the cause. There was the "Save the Ta-Ta's!" t-shirt I saw on a young man walking next to an older woman (mother?), and another man wearing a pink shirt "Beaus for Boobs" next to another elderly woman with a similar shirt titled "Babes for Boobs". A young family with strollers and toddlers had a banner attached to their stroller announcing "Thanks for the Mammories!" It was great seeing the creativity and fun everyone was having while raising awareness for this killer disease.

My mother, Necia, is a breast cancer survivor. She was quite moved to see the hundreds of other survivors banded together singing out "I Will Survive!" in the middle of Qwest field. Living in tiny Chehalis, Washington means that she hasn't seen the huge supportive network nor the large numbers of other women (and some men) who have battled breast cancer and won.

All in all, it was an impactful day. My heart swelled with awe at the huge numbers of people all there to support the cause. It truly was inspiring. I decided that I will do my best to participate in this event every year.



James and I in a tiny square in Oia on Santorini, a beautiful Greek island.

Greek Island - Santorini

Beautiful view from the town of Oia (pronounced EE-AH) on Santorini, one of the most beautiful of the Greek islands.


This is the Ephesus library. Only about 20% of Ephesus has been excavated. What we did see was a pretty amazing display of Roman architecture. The main road was paved in marble and snaked up through a multitude of ruins that were shops, houses, administrative buildings, baths, and temples. It is incredible to think that Paul spoke there. John also lived there and most likely died while living in Ephesus.

James in Istanbul

An authentic Turkish restaurant offers relaxation for James. These cushions are on the floor with tiny little tables for the favorite beverage: Turkish tea.


The Naxos Effect

Notes from my journal:

I'm warm here laying in the Greek island sunshine, nothing to do and a gentle breeze doing a great job of keeping me from becoming too hot as I on a bench at the tiny airport of Samos. We were to stay 3 days in Kusadasi, by Ephesus in Turkey, then leave and go to Naxos via Samos. We've spent several days trying to figure out how to get to Naxos. My research in the states apparently wasn't thorough enough and there are not daily ferries to Naxos. We cannot get there! As a result we had to decide what to do with the next few days. We decided to fly on to Athens and then wing it from there. Our main goal was to really relax and soak up some sun. We've been going 100 miles an hour since we left the states and we are ready for some down time.

I'm not used to winging it. I like things planned out, so everything past our planned and now de-bunked Naxos itinerary, we are now referring to as the "Naxos Effect."

Once in Athens we made a beeline for a travel agency there in the airport. We figured we'd hit a beach or maybe even fly to Venice for a few days. We were game for just about anything. The travel agent was very helpful and booked us on a three day cruise through the islands. Perfect. It is a smaller, older cruise boat, but we liked the idea. We spent the night in Athens near the port and then left on Friday morning on the boat, Ocean Countess, at 11:00 a.m. Our first stop was Mykonos. Saturday morning the boat stopped in, you'll never guess, Kusadasi! We didn't even get off. We just sat on the deck and worked on our tans. The boat stayed only long enough for most passengers to get a quick bus trip and tour of Ephesus, and then we were off and away again, now we're on our way to Patmos.

From Patmos we'll hit Crete then Santorini, and then back to Athens. We'll only end up spending two and a half days in Athens, which we're told is enough, and then fly on home.

Back to Kusadasi. We met up with Mark and Michelle Moore in Kusadasi and stayed with them and their three children. Michelle had just found out she was pregnant with their fourth (they wanted four) and wasn't always feeling too well. We rented a car and tried to stay out of the way for the most part. Their two older children, Clarke and Alyssa, were very excited to have us there and talked our ears off. They drew us pictures and made a card for us to take home.

We visited Ephesus which was an amazing set of ruins and also a small Greek village called Siringe. We'll show every one pictures on those two places later. I really like Siringe. It was really a throw back. People had outdoor kitchens with stone ovens where they cooked. Very little in any modern amenities.

It has been very hot, probably in the mid to high 90's. Being on the boat with the breeze has made it nice though.


Istanbul at Night

From the terrace at our hotel on the very first night, I captured this stunning photo of one of the famous mosques in Turkey: The Blue Mosque. It is called the Blue Mosque because of the blue tile used in the dome.

Children Put on a Play for Us

The children put on a play for us to say "thank you" for the gifts. They were adorable.

Sorting Clothes in Bucharest

Here I am sorting out clothes in Bucharest for the orphanages and schools.


June 2 - Last Day in Istanbul

Today we leave istanbul for Kusadasi, near the old Ephesus, to meet up with the Moore's, a missionary family from the U.S. I am copying this from my writing in my journal while on the terrace of our hotel around 11 a.m.

We hiked down a steep street near our hotel to a UPS store and had a bunch of stuff shipped home. VERY EXPENSIVE! But it is the safest way to get stuff home. You can't trust the regular post office; things may not arrive. Obviously UPS doesn't have a ground option to the U.S.

Over 15 million people call Istanbul home. There are approximately 70 million in Turkey. There are only 3000 to 3500 Christians. It is the largest country with the smallest Christian population. A huge mission field, but an extremely hard one.

As I spend my last few moments here, I am awed by the vastness of this city as well as the grip of the Muslim religion. It is an exotic, beautiful city; but very lost and it doesn't want to be found.


Magıcal Istanbul

We made ıt to Istanbul a few days ago and wow, what a magıcal cıty! The archıtecture of the major buıldıngs ıs dıstınctıve, as one would ımagıne, and the spıcy smells of the food assault you as you walk down the streets.

We dıdn't arrıve untıl dınner tıme on Thursday, but we acclımated quıckly. Wıthın a few hours ıt was sunset and from our hotel rooftop we took ın the beautıful sıght of old Istanbul. The Blue Mosque and Hagıa Sophıa were lıt up beautıfully. It was quıte a sıght. Whıle we were takıng ıt all ın, the call to prayer went out over the Mosque loud speakers. It felt very exotıc.

We met up wıth Sandy and Cevdet, she ıs from the U.S. and theır 1 year old daughter, Sarah, for lunch. We had a wonderful tıme chattıng wıth them and hearıng about theır work here ın Turkey. We wıll meet up wıth Mıke and Mıchelle Moore on Monday and stay wıth them whıle we are ın Selcuk.

The most amazıng thıng to us was the Grand Bazaar. It ıs a labyrınth of over 4000 shops! Hawkers try to draw you ınto theır shop ıf you so much as glance at anythıng ın theır tıny shops. You don't dare talk to them or you're ın for an earful. James keeps talkıng wıth them and ıt takes forever to get very far ınto the bazaar. We hope to vısıt the Spıce Bazaar on Monday before we leave.

Havıng fun!


Last Day in Romania

We've been to two orphanages and two schools. Yesterday's visits were to two schools that were in better sectors of the city, so they weren't as run down as the two we visited on Tuesday. There were hundreds of children in each. Some of them stay each night during the week and some do not. They are all poor. The children loved the gifts of clothes. James has purchased tons of candy and we gave our suckers and lollipops to them all. Lots of big smiles. The children all tried out their English with big a "thank you" and "my name is ..." it was precious.

Yesterday reached about 100 degrees and then there was a quick thunderstorm and rain which cooled the city down considerably. Whew. It was hot. No air conditioning either. My tolerance of that kind of heat is not good, but God was with me. I was fine. James struggled much more than I did!

Our hostess, Imogene (72 yrs old), took a very hard fall in one of the schools that had just mopped the tile floors. She fell hard on her hip, smacking her head and elbow as well. We were very concerned for her, but she rebounded just fine and within about an hour was back to her spunky self. She absolutely amazes me with her energy, humor, and heart for the children. She clearly loves them all. Her babies.

We work 12+ hours a day getting the packages ready and then delivering them to the children. We could easily work more. There is so much to do to get packages ready for the 2500 children. It is daunting.

One place we visited had some disabled children and they put on a little play for us to say thank you. They wanted so badly to bless us. The children danced like little flowers to music, then mushrooms, then bumble bees. It was adorable. Clearly the school had very little budget. The teachers had all pooled their money to buy some costume materials. The children tried very hard and were very happy to have us there. That day at lunch when we were blessing the food, James was overcome by tears for the plight of the children. Our hearts really go out to them. There are so very many without love and nurturing.

Well, our internet time is up; as they say in Romania: Pah Pah



We left Seattle at 9:55 pm on Thursday night and got into Bucharest around midnight on Friday. We were very tired from the trip.

The last two days have been interesting; not fun, but interesting. We were met by Eugen at the airport and he graciously helped schlep our bags to his little truck and then carted us about 30 minutes to the apartment we've been loaned for our stay.

The apartment is in one of hundreds of concrete blocks of buildings resurrected by the Communist government decades ago. They are aging and, for the most part, in sad shape. They are quite ugly. The city is dirty and the people seem fairly poor and not very happy. I would smile at people walking down the street and they never smile back and look at you rather suspiciously. Romania has only been free from Communism since 1989 (The revolution). Capitalism is taking its time to take hold.

We woke early on Saturday morning and took a long walk trying to find food. We ended up eating a chicken hamburger at 8 in the morning! Strangely, they put greasy, limp potatoes on the burger.

We met up with Imogene, our host, around 10. Her cheerful face and strong Southern accent were a great comfort in this very strange place. She immediately packed us up in her car and carted us over to the church where she put us to work sorting children's clothing into bundles for delivery to the orphanages.

We worked all day, met a few helpers, had a lunch of bread, cheese, ham and cake, then back to work!

We have to put together packages for over 2500 children in the next few days. We have a feeling we won't get them all done. It seems a daunting task.

By the end of the day I was pretty burned out, having only about 8 hours sleep in 2 days. We found a restaurant not to far from our apartment that seemed decent (most places seem very dirty and not sanitary). No one spoke English, so we pointed to a word we understood: Spaghetti. It was ok, not great though.

Back to the apartment and try to sleep....

Sunday was beautiful. We went to church with Imogene and Dale. The people were so very friendly! They all came by to kiss our cheeks and say hello. Some spoke English and were very proud to talk in our language. They were some of the friendliest people I have ever met. Imogene and her husband Dale took us out to the only American restaurant in town: Ruby Tuesday. Loved it. We toured Bucharest for a while and then visited a family where the girls all had lots of cross stitch items they sold to help raise funds for schooling. We bought some items from them and had a wonderful time with the family. There were 6 girls, 3 of which had been adopted from orphanages a few years back. It was a lovely afternoon. 2 of the 3 adopted girls were still following the Lord.

It is about 9 am and we're heading off to work again. We will keep you all posted.

Kat and James


More Cool & Geeky Stuff

Before I get started on the cool geeky and weird finds, I have to point out the funniest sign I saw the other day. On our way to my Grandma's 100th birthday party, we passed a grocery store that had a huge reader board with the daily/weekly specials. It read "Hot Legs and Thighs" and then a price. Who cares how much it costs?? I almost looked to see if there was a line of men (maybe I should be politically correct and say "people") stringing out the door and around the block. I couldn't resist a giggle and tried to get a snapshot of it with a camera I had with me. Didn't work. Oh well, you'll just have to believe me. James saw it too, so I know it wasn't a figment.

Ok, on to the fun geeky gadgets that have caught my eye this past few weeks.

Cubicaller (see photo above) - require a civil entrance into your cubicle space with this bad boy.

Bad Breath Detector - does this really require an explanation?

Microsoft's WorldWide Telescope - This is like Google Earth only for outer space. Users can pan and zoom across the galaxy in 3D, right from your own computer. This is pretty amazing. Everyone should give this one a try.

Floorplanner - I found this when I was looking for online tools to help plot out possible remodels for a house recently purchased. They have a free version where you can create a couple of different floor plans and save them or share with others. Pretty amazing technology on the web. I love Web 2.0!!!

Talking Lips - This is hands-free taken to a whole 'nother level. Simply synch up your phone to this ridiculous gadget. It's a glorified speaker phone where the lips talk in time with the sounds from your phone!

RSStroom Reader - need that news fast? Anywhere? Now you don't have to take that hours-old newspaper or magazine with you to the John. You can get your RSS feeds directly to an RSS reader right in the bathroom, printing out on your toilet paper no less. If you don't like what you're reading...

Earwax Camera & Cleaner - ever wonder if you're getting all the waxy build up out of your ears. While Momma always said never to put anything smaller than a football in your ear, we repeatedly shove cotton swabs in and swirl regularly in order to divest ourselves of the stuff that God put in there to catch bugs. Well now you can look inside your own ear! I've heard that the Asian culture is fastidious about ear wax removal; I even saw a special (probably Discovery Channel) where there are specialists devoted to the craft. Folks go in for regular ear cleanings. Maybe that's why our kids and spouses don't hear us! Clearly, this is the solution.

Honorable Mention:
Cake PC
Racing Grannies
Fartacus T-Shirt
iPood Baby Romper


Name That Prescription!

I would love to be the person that gets to dream up the names of new drugs. I am always seeing ads on TV for drugs and noticed that sometimes they don't even tell you what it is for. Although I now assume if a man is opening a car door for a woman, or having a picnic at a park it is probably for some Viagra-type medication. I've noticed they take care to not have him look too happy; merely content and having a nice time.

I love it that now they spend over half the ad trying to tell viewers of all the possible side effects too. They're not even very clever about it. Doctors are walking the halls with young interns explaining that patients might lose the use of thier arms, throw up, experience death defying diarrhea, or become blind after prolonged usage. It's enough to keep anyone from trying out a new med. That stuff could kill you.

I've been fascinated by this for years. I personally believe that most of these names make for good online gamer names. In fact, about 5 or 6 years ago, I suggested one to my daughter that she still uses today. It had that "Godzilla" kinda ring to it: Nostrilla. Sounds like something you'd want to run from, right? That's what I thought. It is actually a nasal decongestant. I never told her though, and have had a secret laugh about it ever since (shhhh, don't tell). Pretty much any nasal medication make for a great laugh.

Just last night I saw an ad for one that is mystifying: Abilify. I suppose it helps you do things better. Maybe we all need a little of that!



I just had a birthday. I've noticed that the older I get, I tend to become conflicted about birthdays. If no one celebrated them, I'd be ticked. But if someone mentions how old I am five times during the day, or "hey how's it feel to be getting really old?" I get ticked. Maybe I should realize that I can't have it both ways. But wait, maybe I can!

One helpful event occurred yesterday, I attended my grandmother's 100th birthday party. I now realize that I am positively young and vibrant. I'm full of life, and as my dad likes to say "vim and vigor." (What is vim anyway?) I'm not even half way!

One point of discussion between James and I was what the perfect age to leave this earth is. Do we want to live to 100? How about 90? Is it earlier? It is sobering to think about how one will live, eat, and where we'll be when we reach truly the twilight years. I'm not so sure I like to think about it.

Now on to a less sobering thought - vacation! As many of you know we are leaving for our 3 week trip to Europe here in a couple of weeks (May 22). If we go by James's counting schema, we leave in 9 days. You can't count non-work days, the current day, nor the day you leave; hence 9 days. But those of us who count correctly know that the 22nd is actually 11 days away. Either way, we leave soon and I'm excited.

I will be blogging as I can throughout our trip, so stay tuned to this blog to read all about it.


Some of My Favorites

I'm a geek and a gadget queen. I love cool software, fast computers, programs where you can change the skins, phones, cameras, xBox consoles, iPod's, camcorders, personal video players, special roasted coffee, neat containers, foods, and more. I love finding the newest, latest and greatest of everything, gadgets, food, toys, designers, all of it. Now, I can't usually afford to get everything, but it sure is fun researching. Hey, I could find a new toy! Here are a few really cool things I've found of late:

1. Software to create itineraries and travel guides that you can access from anywhere (I had this idea a few years ago and did nothing with it - I could've been rich!):

2. R2D2 Trash Can (Ricky, you'll like this)

3. Tea - picked by Monkeys! The website says that monks trained the monkeys to pick the tea off of trees that were too high for mere mortals to reach.

4. Shooting cubicle alarm system. This cool gadget will protect your space from unwanted intruders. It spots the intruder, sounds an alarm and then fires off two foam missiles at the offender. Cool. Now you can either keep your stuff safe from cubicle candy/food roamers. Or, maybe it is as simple as setting these puppies up as an early warning device that notifies you and others of an approaching boss; which leads us to another solution for wandering bosses or co-workers...

5. The Executive Marshmellow Shooter. The description states that the shooter dazzles with a "high-tech, chrome-like finish" and that it "can lay down a withering barrage of mini marshmallows in seconds." Shoots up to 30 feet. Need I say more?

6. Hilariously disgusting way to store your valuables in plain sight, called the Brief Safe. The website states: "The “Brief Safe” is an innovative diversion safe that can secure your cash, documents, and other small valuables from inquisitive eyes and thieving hands, both at home and when you’re traveling. Items can be hidden right under their noses with these specially-designed briefs which contain a fly-accessed 4″ x 10″ secret compartment with Velcro® closure and “special markings” on the lower rear portion.

"Leave the “Brief Safe” in plain view in your laundry basket or washing machine at home, or in your suitcase in a hotel room — even the most hardened burglar or most curious snoop will “skid” to a screeching halt as soon as they see them — wouldn’t you?"

7. THE Swiss Army Knife to end all army knives. You can see a picture of this above. This 8-inch bad boy weighs in at a very practical 2 pounds, 11 ounces. Oh, and there are 85 tools to choose from! Did I mention that it costs $1200? I think the only thing missing is the kitchen sink?

8. I know by Blackberry keyboard is too small to be able to shoot out emails quickly, so I found just the thing: Keyboard pants. Yes, that's right, your pants can double as a keyboard. Built into these duds is a keyboard, knee speakers, mouse slot and a joystick built into the crotch. Though I would suspect that if you wore these, the whole world would know you're a geek.

In the words of a very famous song, "these are a few of my favorite things." But stay tuned, I'll find more!!!


Things That Bug Me

Have you ever had a moment where you've paused to try to figure something out and try as you might, your brain can't really wrap itself around the dilemma? If you don't understand what I'm talking about, I'll be happy to start that process for you and help you become (queue strange music here) of us!

1. The 18 Hour Bra - what happens after 18 hours? Does the bra wilt or wither away? Is it Cinderella-like and give up and let the wearer's mammaries sag at the stroke of the clock? I also want to know if it is a sudden failure of the garment or if it slowly loses its support structure over the last few hours. If you wear it only 12 hours, is it only good for another 6 on the second wearing?

2. Speaking of undergarments, one can't forget the invention of the underwire bra. It should take a page from the time release wearability of the 18 hour bra and wait at 12 to 14 hours before becoming painful. Alas no, after only a few hours my poor rib cage is dying from having their hard, curved platelets digging in. God forbid that you have bad posture. Upon removal at night there are two red smiley faces proudly showing they've done their part to support womankind. Yuck!

3. Knee High Nylons - does anyone buy these anymore? Oh yeah, I forgot. I just saw someone wearing them a few weeks ago; and they were wearing a above-the-knee dress! The ensemble consisted of a patterned blouse (paisley, or polka dots or similar) and a smart tartan plaid skirt that fell to an inch or two above the knees. You already know what the stockings were: knee highs. I wish I had my camera with me. It would have been priceless.

4. Opening a brand new toilet paper roll. Ok, let me set the stage for you. It's the middle of the night and you have to use "the facilities" (somehow we all know what that means). Usually I'm staggering in the general direction of "the facility" because basically I'm still sleeping. I'm still in the dark mind you, as I don't want to wake anyone up (namely me). I sit (yes, I'm a girl), do my tinkle, stare around for a few seconds trying to remember why I'm there, and then finally reach for the TP. It's empty. Drat! So I grab a new roll and try to find the edge. It is nowhere to be found. I pick at it with my fingernails and eventually revert to a full fledged clawing to try to tear away some of the paper. Finally I give up and grab some kleenex. To heck with the TP. Maybe tomorrow.

5. Tear out mailers in magazines - I truly hate those. I have a couple of subscriptions: Really Good Homes and Spectacular Gardens, Taste My Cooking, National Pictureiphic, and a few more. So, I grab a cup of warm brew and find a cozy spot to indulge. The mag immediately plops open to a page with tear outs begging me to subscribe to...this very same magazine! They are embedded in every other page! There are postage paid tear outs for magazines, for calendars, for Franklin Mint dolls or plates, for real gold coins, you name it. I've gotten so that I immediately hunt down all the tear outs and dispose of them first thing. I hate 'em. One time I ripped them all out, and without filling in a single line of the forms, I dropped them into the local blue post box. Hah! That'll teach them to waste my time. Strangely enough, they didn't learn. They're still there.

Now don't get me wrong, I don't get bugged easily. I tend to just raise my eyebrows and move on. But some things warrant some questioning and these are just a few of those things. I'm sure you can come up with several yourself.

Do share.


Exotic Trip Coming Up!

Those of you who know and love me (or at least like me) know that I fell in love with Europe in 2001 after my first visit with my mother and little sister. I've been back twice since. Now, I get to go again!

James and I have wanted to do a mission-type trip and our heart was set on something having to do with children. My heart was affected about six or seven years ago about the plight of unwanted children in the Eastern block of Europe: Russia, Romania, Kosovo; areas such as that. The people are so poor that many times they abandon their children. The children are in state run homes/orphanages and many times don't get much attention, and even less love. So we researched several organizations for a few years and we finally zeroed in on one facilitated by an older couple in Romania. She ministers to over 11 of these homes (some hospice-type institutions too since many children battle disabilities or illnesses) and even more on a more peripheral basis. She packs packages full of goodies, treats, and just visits too. At Christmas and on Children's Day, which is June 1st, she supplies gift boxes for each child. Needless to say this is a LOT of work.

We will be heading over there to work with her to prepare for Children's Day. We'll be there for about 6 days helping put together the packages as well as deliver them and spend time with the children. The average age is toddler through about age 12.

From there we'll fly over to the exotic Istanbul for a few days. We are very excited about visiting the bazaars and taking in the Byzantine architecture. We've been boning up on the history of Turkey so we can be somewhat informed as to what periods came when in history; like was the Ottoman empire before the or after the Byzantine?

From Istanbul we'll jet down the coast to Izmir and we'll explore a couple of the "seven churches" like Ephesus. Then we'll take ferries and head off to the Greek island of Naxos. We'll end our stay in Athens after taking in the Acropolis.

We're very jazzed about the trip and most of the planning and plotting are complete. I'll make sure to blog while we're gone too.


March Madness

My travel schedule in the last month has been full. I went to Las Vegas for a Pink Elephant conference (a IT consulting firm). And yes, they actually brought in an elephant with "jewel" encrusted flowing pink drapery into the conference hall, carrying the Pink Elephant CEO. It was pretty amazing. Then 10 days later I was in LA for a week and then again the following week for another offsite. The good part about it was I got lots of sunshine in LA (Vegas, not so much).

Somewhere in all that I went in for my annual mammogram. While in LA on business I got a message from the imaging center to call in. I tried to call, but I had missed them and had to wait until after the weekend. Back in LA again the following week, I managed to reach them and found out that there was something that didn't look so good on the films and could I please come back in as soon as possible. Given that I had noticed a lump in my own exams for two months running, my blood ran cold. I setup the appointment for my first available day home, Friday, March 14Th. Given my mother had breast cancer, everyone's concern is doubly founded.

I went in late Friday afternoon and they took more pictures and validated that there was some "densities" that caused them alarm and asked if they could do an ultrasound right then and there. Of course, I said yes. After the ultrasound, they said they saw more detail and needed to do a biopsy, and would I mind if they did it then and there. Of course, I said yes.

Ouch! Big ouch. They numbed up the boob, inserted monster needles that pull out the offending tissue (they did three samples). They bandaged up my poor bloody booby and sent me home with the words "we'll know something sometime next week when the test results come back." Now it was the waiting game. I had all weekend to stew and baby my black and blue body part (hard to lift my arm even).

Well, I decided not to stew. For a few moments on the table there panic hit me as my mind was flooded with "what ifs." What if I have to have chemotherapy, what if I can't go on my trip to Europe? What if I'm sick when my grandson is born? Within moments tears welled up and nearly spilled over. Then I prayed. Lord, I'm not going to dwell on this. You are my comfort. You can save me. With You, all things are possible; even getting through this weekend without falling into an anxious meltdown. I started whispering parts of Psalm 23: "the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want...thy rod and staff comfort me...I will fear no evil. He makes a table in the presence of my enemies."

My weekend went well overall. I managed to hang on to my sanity and not panic. I did have moments where I was not keen on making long-term decisions like purchasing airfare for a trip in the summer until I knew what the outcome was. I changed my hair appointment for the following week even. (Didn't want to spend $150 on my hair when I might lose it).

Monday came and went with no news. I called Tuesday afternoon to find out if they had any news; my nerves were raw, reminiscent of the feeling before a musical solo. I swear someone could have seen my blouse shiver with every beat it was beating so hard. The news? Benign. Whew! I felt like I lost a 100 pound weight off my shoulders that day. Relief flooded my body and within minutes the low-grade headache, muscle aches, and underlying tension slithered away. I immediately call James and let him know and then email my kids so they won't continue to worry. Relief all around by all.

But wait! The next day I got a call from my doctor's nurse. He wants me to come in and talk to me about my results she says. He won't discuss it on the phone. Concern immediately stalks right back and sets up camp. I have to wait two days to see him. On Friday March 21st his office is running behind so I have to wait for 20 minutes in the waiting room (uncharacteristic for him). I read, I make phone calls, anything but think about what bad news he might have to share.

Dr. Harrington finally calls me in and starts with pleasantries. "How's James and Ricky and Rosie?" "Am I excited to be a grandma?" Stuff like that. "Get to the point!" My mind screams out as I smile at him nicely. Finally he hells me that all is fine but I have cysts, densities, blah, blah, blah.... Another big "Whew!"

So all is well, the scare is finally over. All-in-all, I did manage to hang on to peace and not let myself get worked up. I've known many people who panic for days, but I kept myself busy, prayed, and generally tried not to dwell on it. I thank the Lord for that.

I thank my family for their prayers which I'm sure were what kept me safe and mentally sound through this mad, mad, March.