Thursday, October 30, 2008

Posing Monkeys

I just completed a six week photography class, which in my mind, made me more than qualified to run a real photo shoot. I had great ideas and locations in mind, but my dilemma was finding people to pose for me. Luckily, five little “monkeys” were being driven in from Louisville, KY by my sister and her husband last weekend.

“Monkeys” can be a little difficult to work with sometimes because of their sporadic nature and their resistance to sitting still, but no one would argue that they are the best and most beautiful things to photograph.

Believe it or not, the photo shoot did got as smoothly as planned. Apparently, I haven’t learned everything there is to know about proper lighting and avoiding blurriness. ( Hold On! My computer just told me that blurriness is not a word – whatever! ) I don’t know what went wrong. As the monkeys moved about, I moved with them, snapping pictures like a maniac. Isn’t that what the professionals do? When I took a moment to see what kind of shots I was getting, all I could see was a bunch of blurry monkeys. I could feel myself getting frustrated and anxious because I knew my models would only last so long, which means I had to pull it together, quick!

Over all, the monkeys were fantastic to work with – real naturals -and I look forward to working with them again, because next time, I’ll do better. I did get a few shots that I’m proud of – photos that captured the true essence of them. I can actually see the spirit of each and every one of them shining through in the pictures. It’s like magic!

At first glance, many people comment how similar the three older girls look because of their mutual brown hair and brown eyes, but I see three completely different faces, personalities, and individuals.

I love that at their age, they still celebrate and believe in the beauty of themselves. They all see themselves as the pretty princess in their own story and it never occurs to them to see themselves as anything other than magnificent. Oh, how I wish that feeling could last a lifetime. But every woman I know, including myself, grows up to see a reflection in the mirror that no one else sees but her. She will see every blemish, every gray hair, every extra pound, every funky mole, and every knobby knee. She’ll see everything, except the reality that all these “flaws” do indeed make her beautiful in her own way.

I’m starting to believe that if we’re doing this “life” thing right, we should be able to make it through all that internal trash talk and end up on the other side of it. And when we do make it to the other side, we should be aware of how unique we are and celebrate that. We should know who we are, be proud of it, and use that confidence to live our best life. Not acknowledging and celebrating the woman we are, and still working to become is not only our loss, but also a tremendous loss for everyone around us.

That, ladies and gentlemen, was my impromptu lecture for the women of the world!

Excuse me for a moment, as I now step down from my soapbox.


As with the end of any big photo shoot, dessert was served for a job well done. At least, that’s the way my photo shoots are gonna go down! I made a Strawberry Cheesecake Trifle as a treat and since the monkeys did so well, I gave them each a long spoon and let them dig in and devour as only kids can do! Amy and I did some serious damage to it also, only because it was soooooo good – if I do say so myself!


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Good Night... to Goodbye

My younger sister, Amy moved away to Nebraska ten years ago after getting married to Eric. We had never been that far apart before, so it took some getting used to. Even though we’re not twins, we’ve been asked the question many times, which we find ridiculous, because we just don’t see it. We used to stand in front of the mirror, look each other over, and laugh, “I just don’t see it.” When strangers ask us if we’re twins, we answer them with, “No, we’re not twins, but we were born on the same day." That always gets a few odd looks!

We were both born on April 2nd – just two years apart – which means we’re both Aries – which means we both like to talk a lot. One of the first times she called me from Nebraska, we talked for nearly two hours. I remember, because I heard her husband’s voice in the background and then my sister laughing.

“Did you hear what he said?”

“No. What?”

“He asked what we could possibly talk about for two whole hours.”

Now I was laughing right along with her. Little did he know, two hours for my sister and I was peanuts. Ten years ago, when we paid per minute for a long distance call, we justified that paying 8-10 bucks for our conversation was better than any movie playing at the theatre. Now that we have the phone plans with unlimited minutes, all bets are off and the only way to end our conversations is for the batteries to die in one or both of our phones. Even the Energizer Bunny is no match for me and my sister. We’re so incapable of ending our conversations that sometimes when one of our phone dies and we get disconnected, we both just walk away, rationalizing that the phone did for us, what we couldn’t do for ourselves.

We both agree that this problem stems from our childhood, when we slept in the same double bed every night. Our mother would yell for us to “GO TO SLEEP!” and we would try, but there was always something more to be said. Eventually, as we grew tired, one of us would say, “Okay, Good night.”

“Good Night.”

“OH! Just one more thing……….”

Now, we only live three hours away from each other – not that it matters – and we admit that when we see each other’s name come up on the caller I.D., we hesitate to pick it up because we know that we cannot get on and off the phone in less than an hour and sometimes we just don’t have the time. Still, more times than not, we pick it up anyway. We start many conversations with, “Ok. I don’t have much time. I just have one quick question…..”


The other night, after an hour on the phone with each other, the first “good bye” almost took, but then one subject led to another and the conversation continued. Once again, I heard Eric’s voice in the background, followed by my sister’s laughter.

“What did he say?”

He asked, “When you say “Good Bye” does that just mark the end of the first hour?”

We laughed together. Poor Eric – what he has to put up with. In our defense, our conversations are totally productive. We pick each other up when we’re down, we brainstorm about how to make our lives richer and more meaningful and more fun. We talk about ideas and dreams and aspirations. We’re both dreamers, so there’s a lot of talk and very little follow through, but we got grand ideas and some day, we’re gonna rule the world – just you wait and see. At the very least, we’re gonna be on Oprah!

Love Ya Sis!

Call ya tomorrow…….

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

No More Poop Dungeons!

The discussion of sensing water faucets followed me to work today, and I got some interesting and potentially useful advice on how to handle dysfunctional bathroom equipment from some of my patients.

“Lulu” had a good suggestion right out of the gate. She asked me if I had tried to clear the sensor mechanism.


I never thought about the sensor getting gunked up with soap residue, therefore inhibiting the sensor from properly sensing. Brilliant! Of course, she followed this simple practical advice with her second suggestion, which was a little less practical. She recommended I try flashing the faucet.


She reasoned that if the theory on the color black disrupting the sensor was indeed correct, then flashing the faucet - exposing my bare flesh – just might be the answer. Of course, you hope a nun or a mother with her young son doesn’t interrupt this experiment…....

Amazingly, this bathroom conversation with “Lulu” lasted for nearly thirty minutes. Once we had solved the problems of sensing water faucets, we moved on to toilets and automatic flushing.

We’ve all been in a stall where the toilet refuses to acknowledge our presence and fails to flush when we’re done. No matter what dance you do, no matter how many times you get up and down from the seat, it simply ignores you and remains silent. Irritating!

Then there’s the toilet seat that you have to leap from to keep from being sprayed because it’s flushing action is so violent, that the water goes everywhere. Scary!

And there’s always that one toilet that rushes you out of the stall by flushing before your business is done – what’s that all about? Rude!

As annoying as all these little defects can be, I would still take them any day over the outhouse I used in the mountains of Canada. I hadn’t been in a real outhouse since I was a kid, when our family went camping out west for weeks at a time. I forgot how awful they can smell. When I used the one in Canada two weeks ago, I painfully moaned and groaned the whole time and officially swore off poop dungeons for good. I could have used a good toilet spray after that experience.

But enough about toilets and outhouses…………..

Sunday, October 26, 2008


So, I’m at the North Market this morning with my sister, when I excuse myself to use the ladies room. When it’s time to wash my hands, I load up on the pink soap and place my hands under the faucet.

“Oh. This is one of those sensing no-touch faucets – great.” I think to myself.

Nothing’s happening.

I move my hands closer.

I move them farther.

To the left, maybe.

Oh, of course, a little more to the right.


Maybe I’m too close.

Maybe I’m moving too quickly.

Maybe my hands are too high.

Oh wait, there obviously too low.


Maybe I need to step back a moment before I lose my cool.

What am I supposed to do with all this soap and no water to rinse it off?

I turn around and notice the toilet’s got a lot of water in it – Groooooooss!

Somebody told me once that the sensors can be thrown off by the color black. Of course, I thought that was ridiculous when I first heard it, but now as I stand here soapy and wearing black, I find myself wishing a lady in red would walk through the door.

Right about now, my sister probably thought I fell in…..

I take a deep breath.

I walk away for a moment to regroup.

I sneak up on the stubborn faucet, slide my hands under it, and BSHHHH! - a quick burst of water gushes out for just a second. If I would have blinked I would have missed it, but what I did get, was gonna have to be enough.

Now, I go to dry my hands under the blow dryer.

A sensing no-touch blow dryer.


Still nothing.

I walk out.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Bear?! Where?!

On my last day in the Rockies, we ventured up to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake for some sightseeing. We were heading to Peyto Lake when Torben graciously agreed to take the road that promised the possibility of seeing wildlife. I was encouraged not to get my hopes up, but I really wanted to see a bear.

We hadn’t been driving long, before we noticed a few cars stopped on the side of the road. Sarah and I immediately jumped to the biggest conclusion, but Torben thought it was probably just an elk. As we got closer, Sarah and I squealed with excitement as we both spotted the beautiful brown grizzly bear walking alongside the road in the ditch.

As Torben pulled the car over, I was jumping out of my seatbelt, sliding to the opposite side of the car and gearing up my camera. I rolled down the window, poked my head out to see him, and thought for a moment how much better I could see him if I stood just right outside the car. I decided, however, that seeing Mr. Grizzly from inside the car would have to be enough. There was a slight sprinkle outside, so I did my best to keep my camera from the rain. I snapped one picture after another as the bear slowly made his way closer to our car, digging for berries along the way.

One gentleman got out of his car and stood right next to ours. Do you know what you call a man who stands twenty feet from a bear voluntarily?





Torben’s answer was, “Stupid!”

I know the man was exercising poor judgement, but I seriously wanted to be stupid with him. The bear was so docile and seemed completely unaffected by all the cars and cameras, which could definitely give one a false sense of security. I knew things with this bear could change on a dime, so the poor man stood alone wearing his stupid sticker, while I got all my shots from the car.

There was this teeny-tiny part of me that hoped the bear would get angry and charge the “stupid” man so I could get some killer action shots. After all, my photography class was meeting the next week to show off our favorite pics. I could get a picture of a real, live, charging bear! Who’s gonna top that? That’s right. Nobody! Of course, the very biggest part of me said a quick little prayer for the “stupid” man and his safety.

After the man got his award-winning shots that could have only been captured standing outside a vehicle, in harm’s way, he made it to his own car, safe and sound. I – the non-stupid tourist from Ohio – left the scene with 23 blurry shots of what looks like a bear – because I’m an amateur photographer and every part of my brain that held pertinent information on how to take a great picture went suddenly dormant and I set the camera on the worst possible settings for this occasion. Luckily, the bear hung around long enough for me to correct my mistake and I got some decent shots of Mr. Grizzly, as you can see above.

We were fortunate enough to spent twenty blissful minutes with the beautiful bear before he finally disappeared into the evergreens. As we reluctantly drove away, we were still buzzing with excitement. Everybody in the car agreed that we were totally blessed to have had this experience.

Of course, we were barely three miles down the road when Sarah said, “Wow. Sure would be cool to see two bears today”……..

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bombs = NO Bears!

I went to visit one of my best friends in the Canadian Rockies last week and one of the things I noticed while I was there was the many conversations about bears. I heard it all: from seeing bears, backing up slowly from bears, running from bears, spraying bears, hiking in large groups to scare away bears – you name it, I heard it. Maybe it was just me, but it sure seemed that the subject of bears made its way into most conversations, so of course, I started feeling a little nervous about the hikes we had planned to take in “Bear Country”.

This nervousness intensified just a touch on the day we were driving to our Chester Lake hike and my friend Sarah turned to her friend, Torben and asked, “Did you remember the bear spray?”

“Nope. Didn’t you?”


Torben didn’t seem too concerned, Sarah seemed just a little concerned, and I was silently freaking out in the back seat. “What?” It’s like they were playing Russian Roulette with my life here. Were these two people really my friends or was it their plan all along to drive me to my certain violent death? “Let’s see how a little Ohio girl does in the mountains with a big ol’ black momma bear. Ha Ha Ha!”

Obviously, that conversation only played out between my two ears, but I did speak up and calmly inquire about proper protocol upon meeting a bear. When we arrived at our destination, we realized that it had snowed at least a foot, so that alone, lessened the odds quite a bit that a bear would be out looking for food – thank goodness! My friends also reassured me that if we stayed together, chances are we would be just fine.

Great plan - except my little eliptical cardio workouts back home were no match for the three hour uphill climb in the mountains. You would think that the incentive to stay close for my own safety would be enough to motivate me to keep up with my friends, but I always found myself lagging behind. Add to that, Torben - being the man he is - was dropping fart bombs at a rate so great and with a stink so foul that I believe they could have killed an actual bear – strangely comforting, really. Still, every time he dropped another one down my way, my vocal cry of agony was so great that Sarah would actually turn around in alarm, fearful that I had spotted a bear.

I knew I had to find the strength to pass Torben and save myself. My worries were no longer about surviving a bear attack – heck, what sane bear would approach a stench like that? Of course, there’s always the possibility of a crazy bear in the mountains. But, if that kind of odor actually turned a bear on, then I was safe – I smell like roses! Torben, however, would be in big trouble! My new goal now, was getting ahead of the pack and breathing in the fresh mountain air.

I did it! Sarah and Torben had mercy on me and let me lead the three of us to Chester Lake and it was beautiful. The whole hike was breathtaking. I got a little grumpy at the end b/c I was getting tired, but it was totally worth the trip. We never did see a bear that day and I choose to thank Torben for that. Sure, we’ll never know if his stink bombs actually kept the bears away, but if you would have been there with me that day, I’m confident you would be thanking him too.

Still, I would have liked to seen a bear at some point on my trip to the Rockies….

stay tuned…….

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Six Insignificant Things

I’ve been “tagged” by my friend, Jen to reveal Six Insignificant Things about Myself. The challenge here is to determine what is significant and what is insignificant. Would the insignificant things be the little quirks that make us the funny individuals we are? I suppose these small details could be considered insignificant, but I think they just might be the key to our uniqueness – the things that makes us special – or in my case, goofy.

Whatever! Six random things about myself. Let me think for a moment.


One) I believe with every delusional fiber of my being that if I eat an obscene amount of cookies or candy at one time, my body won’t know what hit it, will be unable to process it properly, and therefore, my body will not suffer the same consequences it would have endured if I had spread the gluttony out over the course of a few days. If I eat five cookies in a row, it is as though the body will process it as one. The teeny, tiny, intellectual corner of my brain recognizes this logic as complete BS, but every other part of me considers it truth. Majority rules!

Two) When I don’t want to get out of bed in the early morning to go to the gym, I make a deal with myself. I tell myself that if I get up, get dressed, and go to the gym, and the only thing I do when I get there is use the ladies room and come home, I still get credit for going. Lying in bed, thinking about the intense workout waiting for me, makes me want to pull the covers over my head, but if I lower my expectations of what I need to accomplish when I get there, it makes it less intimidating. ( I have yet to only use the ladies room….) It’s a strategy, people – and it works!

Three) Every time I pass a Mini Cooper on the road, I let out a small whimper. I liken it to the scenario in which a lady at the next table gets served a dish of creamy alfredo pasta as I responsibly order the broiled fish.

Four) My single pet peeve in life is people who drive slowly in the Pass Lane on the highway. There are many rules for the road and this particular one helps keep traffic moving. If I have to pass someone using the inside lane, I actually talk to the driver as I pass them and explain to them the rule they are breaking and I ask them to watch me and learn from my actions. I try hard not to come across as condescending or rude, but sometimes I’m afraid they sense my attitude from afar. My intent is certainly not to offend anyone. I just want them to understand this particular rule and apply it, so the next time we meet, we don’t have to have this conversation again. I would much rather prefer to just drive by… the pass lane.

Five) Ever since I was young, I have fallen asleep while creating my own dreams. I may reflect on one or two things of the day or think ahead to the tasks for tomorrow, but then I shut it down and enter my very own Disney World, where dreams do come true. I will either rewrite my day as if it were more interesting than it was or I dream of the way I would like tomorrow to unfold. Did you know Matthew McConnaughy lives at Disney World? He does. I used to wonder if God was insulted by my rewrites or suggestions, but I've come to believe that I'm probably God's favorite program on the comedy channel. “What will she come up with next?" he laughs.......

Six) When I meet my husband and we get married, I will pay him to clean the bathtub.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Parade Reform

Why do we go to parades?


As kids we only went for the goofy clowns and the candy they gave us, but why do we still go as adults? Is it just for the kids? I’m starting to wonder….

As I sat and watched our big Oktoberfest parade this weekend, I found myself bored, uninspired, and totally unexcited – not a great combo for me! As I sat there impatiently waiting for the clowns and their candy, I found myself wondering when someone decided that simply driving a car down the street qualified for entertaining parade material. At least spruce up the ride a bit and try driving the car with your feet. My best friend and I did that a few times down side streets in high school and it made for great entertainment!

Parades are just no fun anymore! From the expressionless faces of the people lining the streets, you would think we had gathered to watch a funeral procession. There were only a few clowns throwing candy at the kids – which is fine – but now there’s people handing advertising material to us adults. How did those crazy telemarketers find me on this street corner? I tried to avoid making eye contact with them so they wouldn’t give me their loot, but they just went ahead and dropped it in my lap anyway!

There were a few lively acts during the parade and I noticed the energy level of the crowd escalated quite a bit during those moments. It started me thinking about the obvious need for Parade Route Reform. I’m afraid the ritual of parades will disappear by the end of the century without some serious change.

It’s only going to be a matter of time before thousands of people refuse to sit on a curb just in hopes of getting a few free Tootsie Rolls from some clowns. Parades should be entertaining! I think parades should be like a walking Circus. If you want to drive a tractor in the parade, do some wheelies with it. If you want to ride your horse in the parade, let’s see it race or jump a Shriner in one of those mini-cars. And I want to see a clown do some clown tricks – maybe some juggling or back flips. If schools want to march their band in the parade, choose a song with some pizzaz! Wouldn’t it be great if their music got everybody jumping up off the curb and dancing like fools? Now, that would be a parade!

I’ve got a vision, I just don’t know who to talk to about it. With everything going on in the country today, Parade Reform would probably fall a couple hundred notches below the Economic Bail Out Plan on the nation’s “To Do List“, but if something doesn’t change soon, I’m afraid parades could be a thing of the past…….

I’m just saying…...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

It's Gonna Be A Great Day!

Several weeks ago, I had a craving for Graeters Ice Cream. When it was time to pay for the yumminess, I handed the girl one of my gift cards and warned her that there was only 77 cents left on it. After she cashed it out, I handed her another of my gift cards to cover the remaining amount due. She slid the card through the reader, looked at the screen and said, “This card only has one penny on it.”

“What?” We both laughed at the ridiculousness of it all, as I pulled at the last gift card in my wallet. This one had some money on it for sure, because this one was given to me by my sister-in-law for my birthday back in April – I think…..

She swiped the card, did a double take of the screen and again, “There’s only one cent on this card too.”
"What? Seriously? That’s crazy! When did I eat all this ice cream? Dang – now I’ve gotta pay for this sinful splurge out of my own piggy bank!”

When I recounted this story to my sister-in-law, she too was surprised that I had used up the gift card that fast, but machines don’t lie, right?

Now, fast forward a few months to present day. Since Fall is rapidly approaching, I pulled out one of my Fall bag/purses that my sister made me last year. As I reached in the bag, I pulled out a mini wallet. I recognized it as a gift given to me by that same sister-in-law on my birthday. I opened it up to see a picture of my three adorable nieces and nephew in the first sleeve. Very sweet.

As I flipped it to the next sleeve, my eyes focused in on a perfect, bright, shiny, magical, Graeters Gift Card! Yippeeeeeeee! It was like finding a long lost treasure that I didn’t even know was missing and to think it was right under my nose the whole time! It was like opening my birthday present all over again! More Free Ice Cream For Sheri and Friends!

Ahhh, the magic of lost treasures found!

It’s gonna be a great day!

Thursday, October 2, 2008


It’s been said that a man and a woman can say the exact same sentence, but mean two different things. Example: Both parties can stand before an open closet door and say, “I have nothing to wear.”

What the man really means is, “I have nothing clean to wear.”

What the woman really means is, “I have nothing new to wear.”

As I stand before my closet this morning, trying to decide what will fill the suitcase for my Canada adventure, I find myself saying, “ I have nothing to wear!”

In black and white reality, this is absurd. I could clothe my entire neighborhood with the clothes I own. Of course, many of them would be shoeless, because unlike most women, I don’t have a shoe addiction. But if they showed up wearing their own shoes and undergarments, we could have ourselves a real fashion show.

But dressing myself is not a black and white issue. It’s about colors and fabrics and style and comfort and how to make it all work together. I want to wear something that feels like me, expresses who I am, fits me, and compliments me. If something fits all four categories, you can wrap it up, bag it, and charge it, because you've just made yourself a sale! Cha-Ching!

So, as I’m looking through my closet, my first instinct is to go shopping because, “I have nothing to wear!” But as I engage in a little self-talk, the reasonable and practical side of me points out that nobody in the entire country of Canada has seen me in any of the clothes I consider “old“, so it’s all new to them! I could cross the border in my favorite jeans and t-shirt from last year and the Canadians would be totally clueless. And if I take another step towards reality, I would realize that nobody in Canada really cares what I’m wearing, just as long as I’ve got my passport.

This ridiculous dilemma plagues me every time I pack for a trip and every time I actually get where I’m going, I find that I don’t really care what I’m wearing. When I walked out of the airport in Rome last spring and breathed in that Italian air, I could have been wearing a toga and high tops and I would have been happy. I don’t need new clothes to go see my friends, Sarah and Torben – I’m going for the food, the friends, and the fun.

Still, Sarah did mention hiking and I don’t have true hiking attire, so I might have to do a little shopping today, because I can’t hike in the Canadian Rockies with simple sweats and running shoes – that’s just silly.