Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Upside down bottles and a quarter inch of salsa

The men in my family are doing their level best to fight global warming by never producing any garbage. In plain American English, this means THEY NEVER THROW ANYTHING OUT! The Carson Law of Matter states that, “Matter can neither be created nor destroyed, but it can be stored.

My husband, God love ’im, is always determined to get his money’s worth from shampoo bottles, hand lotions, ketchup bottles, salad dressings and mustards, etc. So if you were to come to my house and look in my refrigerator on any given day, you would likely find at least three bottles of condiments upside down in the door of the fridge. They have to be kept in the door because they are too skinny headed to stand upside down on a regular shelf. Sometimes, when the door gets pulled open a little too quickly and one of these bottles will throw themselves out of their perch, landing right side up and shaking all the good stuff back down to the bottom. This wouldn’t be such a bad deal, if they ever actually got pulled out of there and used up down to the last expensive drop, but somehow, it’s too much trouble to deal with squeezing that final taste out of the bottle and a new one gets opened while the old one continues its upside down vigil in the door of the fridge.
The upside down shampoo bottle in the shower is always leaping from its station and bouncing around in the shower stall. Usually this happens during my shower, right after I’ve poured a portion of my shampoo onto my hand, so I have to chase the bouncing near-empty bottle around with one hand, while trying to avoid letting the water hit my other hand and wash away my shampoo.

My son likes to try new salsas; different brands, new flavors, varying levels of fire and so on. So he brings home a new jar about once a week. Somehow this jar gets used up down to the final quarter inch and then it is abandoned, ousted by the new flavor of the week.

Well about a week ago I decided to make it my mission to force them to use up the last of the upside down condiments. I found no fewer than 8 jars of salsa with one quarter inch left in it. This was going to call for more than a batch of taco meat and a can of refrieds. I made large salads and I took every upside down bottle of dressing and put it on the table, inside a glass so it wouldn’t tip over. I boiled some macaroni. I stirred some taco meat and cheese into the macaroni and started pouring in the salsas. Added a little sour cream just for good measure and put it in a hot oven to warm it all up. I might have thrown in some shampoo and hand lotion, but I wasn’t alone in the kitchen. I held no hope whatsoever that it was going to be very tasty, but there was suddenly a lot more room the fridge, so it was going to be worth it, even if the casserole ended up in the garbage.

I nearly fell out of my chair when my son said, “That’s the best casserole I’ve ever tasted!”

Go figger.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

I think I have a new favorite movie. It’s an oldie – made in 1998 starring Sandra Bullock and Harry Connick, Jr. (Eye candy of the highest grade). It’s ‘Hope Floats.’ As the movie opens, we have a front row seat to the unraveling of the life, family and home of a woman named Birdee (Sandra’s character). Her “best friend” tricks her into appearing on a talk show where she reveals she has been having an affair with Birdee’s husband for the past year. Birdee takes her daughter, Bernice, (played by Mae Whitman) and goes back to her hometown in Texas to stay with her eccentric mother, while the husband apparently continues his relationship with the “best friend.” (Now don’t you wonder; if Birdee’s best friend would do this to her, what will her worst enemy do?) The rest of the movie is a poignant exploration of Birdee’s rocky road to recovery from the betrayal and disintegration of her marriage, within the fishbowl existence of a tiny town, where everyone knows everyone’s business. It’s also a portrait of mother-daughter relationships as seen in the interaction between Birdee and her mother (played by Gena Rowlands) and Birdee and Bernice. We see father-daughter dynamics between Birdee and her Alzheimer’s afflicted father and Bernice and her runaway father. Meanwhile, Birdee is being courted by Harry’s character, who confesses to having been in love with her since they went to high school together.
This movie also has one of the saddest scenes I’ve ever watched and it makes me cry every single time I watch it, which has been a lot lately, it seems to be the rerun of the month on CMT. When Bernice’s father asks Birdee for a divorce, Bernice is determined to leave with him, but he rejects her with cruelty and selfishness, all the while telling her how much he loves her. He drives away, leaving Bernice screaming and in hysterical tears in the driveway while Birdee is left to pick up the pieces.
I like the closing lines; “Beginnings are usually scary; endings are usually sad. What counts is what’s in the middle. Just give hope a chance to float to the top.”

I also have found a new appreciation for the Trans Siberian Orchestra. You’ll remember them for their head-banging version of “Carol of the Bells”, which they entitled “Christmas Eve in Sarajevo.” We have a cd of their opera “Beethoven’s Last Night.” The story, about the death of Beethoven, includes a character who is the embodiment of Fate, represented by a woman. Fate has a deformed son named Twist and it only gets better from there. I can’t begin to describe it, but I do recommend it. You’ll have to listen to it more than once to really appreciate the whole thing.

I can’t believe it, but the mercury got above freezing today! So, I went out and spent some time with Lucy in the round pen. We had as good of a session as we could have, being up to our knees in the snow. She’s catching on to the idea of the difference between “walk”, “trot”, “canter”, “back” and – most importantly – “WHOA.” I remember seeing a headline on a Western Horseman magazine that said, “WHOA is not a Multiple Choice Question.” Lucy’s getting that figured out. ‘WHOA’ is her best thing so far. She’s pretty good at walking. She works pretty good at the trot, though she tries to change direction without being told. Canter needs a lot of work, as it tends to initiate little bucking. She’s going to a trainer as soon as he gets home from California in March.

This week’s memory verse:
Galatians 6:7-8 “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”

May I brag a bit? So far – and I know we’re only 26 days into the new year – but I’ve kept on track with my plans. Each day that goes by in which I achieve what I’ve set out to do successfully, adds to my personal encouragement.

Have a good Sunday, everyone!

Monday, January 21, 2008

I thought this a little too long-winded to put in the comments box, so here it is:

You’re right, context does add a deeper understanding to any verse, but since my plan is to memorize a verse per week, and not the entire book, I’m sticking to verses.
To answer your question, Isaiah was speaking to the children of Israel during the time when they were practicing idol worship and living hedonistic lives. During Isaiah’s time, they were also under attack by several imperialistic Babylonian kings. Isaiah’s prophecies took place during the reign of four kings, whose histories are recorded in 2 Kings 15 - 2 Kings 20. Isaiah spoke of Israel’s eventual defeat and the Babylonian captivity, as well as their deliverance from that, but his concern isn’t just for his contemporaries. He prophesies the coming of Jesus. Matthew Henry’s commentary says, “He (Isaiah) has been well called the evangelical prophet, on account of his numerous and full prophesies concerning the coming and character, the ministry and preaching, the sufferings and death of the Messiah, and the extent and continuance of his kingdom. Under the veil of the deliverance from Babylon, Isaiah points to a much greater deliverance, which was to be effected by the Messiah; and seldom does he mention the one, without alluding at the same time to the other;”
I knew all this before I chose this particular memory verse and I’m inspired by the fact that the words speak just as eloquently to me of God’s concern for me in the here and now as they did to the Israelites of Isaiah’s time.
You’ve wasted your time at the Bible studies if you have not been taught the truth of God’s great concern for your eternal existence.
Yes, He wants us to be happy and productive within His will while we are here, but more than anything else, He wants an Eternal relationship with each and every one of us. He did not send Christ to suffer the agony of the cross so that we would learn to be nice to each other and have a good life here on this earth. His life and death accomplished much more than that: it separates us from our sins and makes it possible for us to have a restored relationship with God.
As for learning a new language and culture, that is exactly what Christian Missionaries have been doing for centuries. The Bible has been translated into over 700 languages, about 400 of which (including many North American Indian groups) would never have had an alphabet or written language if Missionaries had not gone to live with them and learned their culture and language in order to create for them a meaningful translation of the Bible. And the work continues to this day: CBC is right now supporting a young family who has moved to a remote area of Peru to do just that as well as another couple (parents of the young man in Peru) who was living in Indonesia doing the same thing until the Muslims took control of the government and ran them out.

Friday, January 18, 2008


All Blogospherians who visit here are invited to my place on the 26th of July. And I do mean my actual home, not this virtual one. Blogospherians from far far away (Colorado and England to begin with. And maybe Chicago – Joe? California – Myrna?) will be in the neighborhood and we are gonna kill the “fatted calf” and the “old red rooster when she comes…” Okay, never mind. They’ll already be dead when we bring them home from the store.

We’ll be firing up the grill and Sue promised peanut butter bars. The rest of you go visit Nellis Redneck Restaurant (link at left) and pick your heart’s desire from the menus, and we’ll see what we can do. We’d appreciate a head count as soon as you can get it to us.

We’ll pick up all the trash, mow the yard, wash the dishes and vacuum. Heck, we might even empty the manure spreader before you all get here.

Can’t wait!

I forgot to post my memory verse of the week.
I know you were all worried and losing sleep over it...

Isaiah 55:8-9
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts. Neither are your ways My ways," declares the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways."

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Taxes, Taxes and More Taxes....

Everyone, guess what time it is... Tax Season is quickly approaching (or maybe its already started). Either way, I hate this time of year. I am usually happy if I get close to break even, but generally I have to pay.

I had an interesting conversation at work the other day on that subject. One guy said, its stupid that I have to actually pay a tax when I file. He maxes out his taxes and gets a "huge" refund every year. Now I personally think that is insane. Think about what you are doing if that's your strategy. If you get a refund every year, that means in effect you loaned the government your money and paid additional money to file a form to get back what you over paid...Interest free. If any of you are giving out interest free loans, I'll gladly take one.

Have you ever heard that saying, that you have to work until May 10 (can't remember exact date) to actually pay all of your taxes in the year... Sound upserd? Well it actually isn't. I believe you probably work longer than May to pay your tax bill. The US actually has one of the lowest tax rates in the world. Despite that, do you know how many different taxes you pay... Allow me to help illustrate. Below is a listing of some of the taxes out there... Maybe you've seen these before, maybe you haven't....

Accounts Receivable Tax, Building Permit Tax, CDL License Tax, Cigarette Tax. Corporate Income Tax, Dog License Tax, Federal Income Tax, Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA), Fishing License Tax, Food License Tax, Fuel Perm it Tax, Gasoline Tax, Hunting License Tax, Inheritance Tax, Inventory Tax, IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax.. one of my favorites), IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax),Liquor Tax, Luxury Tax, Marriage License Tax, Medicare Tax, Property Tax, Real Estate Tax, Service charge taxes, Social Security Tax, Road Usage Tax (Truckers), Sales Taxes, Recreational Vehicle Tax, School Tax, State Income Tax, State Unemployment Tax (SUTA), Telephone Federal Excise Tax, Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax, Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Tax, Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax, Telephone Recurring and Non-recurring Charges Tax, Telephone State and Local Tax, Telephone Usage Charge Tax, Utility Tax, Vehicle License Registration Tax, Vehicle Sales Tax, Watercraft Registration Tax, Well Permit Tax, Workers Compensation Tax.... How can we forget Tolls, The State Lottery (Voluntary tax, or some call it the stupid tax), Cable tax, Tire Tax...

Depressed yet...I am. So, maxing out your taxes and getting that "big refund" every April is not a good idea. Consider it fools gold, if you are not a saver, then maybe its a good thing. But overall, you save in the long run by owing a check at tax filing, not getting a refund. Here is what is upserd, there is a billion dollar tax industry that exists to get you a refund. Think about the revenues of H&R Block, Turbo Tax, Quicken / Intuit, Jackson-Hewitt, and the thousands of accounting firms out there. Happy Filing!

Saturday, January 12, 2008


Long ago, when both our daughters were small, my sister Shirey (who blogs at Shirley Midtown) gave us little girl hand-me-downs, because my daughter was smaller than her’s by a year or so. The tradition continued through the years (and has to this day, even though our daughters are now in their 20s), but I’ll never forget a remark she made once that hurt me more than I’m sure she intended it to. She handed over a big bag of hand-me-downs and said, “I had some other stuff to get rid of, but it was so old and in such bad shape, not even you would have wanted it, so I threw it away.”
Ouch. But, being the resilient Redneck that I am, I shrugged it off.
Last Sunday, one of my nieces (Lisa) got even for me.
Four of us were in the kitchen washing and drying dishes and Lisa asked, “So, what’s new with everybody?”
“Well,” Shirey said, “We have some new friends.”
“Cool” Lisa said, “How do you make new friends when you get that old?”

Friday, January 11, 2008

There goes the neighborhood...

Well everyone, sorry for my absence (again)... I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year. As Janell just accurately noted...My wife, little Joe and myself have finally moved North of the Mason Dixie. Wednesday I was in my pool for the last time (along with Baby Jo, will post a pic once I get it downloaded), this morning I had snow on my Bright Red Audi with no heated seats.

So how hectic was the move? Actually, as stressful as moves can be, this was not really stressful at all. This is actually our Third move (I'll get into that in a sec here). This move, as all of my moves, was under a company re-lo... Definitely the best way to move.

The company picks up the cost of selling your house and purchasing your new home in your new city. Want to go house hunting, no problem. You get a house hunting trip, all expenses paid. Closing costs on the new house, Realtor fees to sell your home... all covered. Now its moving day, but you have to pack up the house. Which would really suck. Unless of course, the company sends 4 people to your house the day before the movers actually get there to pack up literally everything not considered furniture. It was actually a lot of fun. We've been trying to use up our food in the house (mostly perishables). So it was the packers lucky day. The host, me, cooked up steaks and bratwursts for everyone.

Now comes moving day... no worries there. Four different guys show up to your house to load up the semi that is parked on the street in front of my house.

Now the movers didn't get done til 6pm. A little late to hop on a plane and go to Chicago. Nothing left in the house to eat. No problema. I get to expense a dinner and hotel. Now I got to lug Junior to the airport along with the cat. That was stressful. Try getting a 17lb cat and a 15 month old efficiently through security. uggh...

Despite all the comforts and as easy as the company tries to make the move..It doesn't take away the pain of leaving a house you quickly made your home. Look at the attached and you will all see why. What you are looking at is the view from my backyard.

Now, I love Janell's view. But this has its own beauty. See that cute little palm tree, I put that there (after I cut down a huge tree! Had to throw that in for Ladawn). I did this for the environment of course... Well, actually I did it to improve my view and more sun in my pool..but the environment thing sounded cool....

As I eluded to earlier, this is my third move. I am originally from Sunny and Beautiful Ohio. I moved to Chicago in 2003 for a job, I left that company and move to Miami in 2006. 18 Months later, we moved back to Chicago for a promotion.
My Bible verse of the Day link was broken and I couldn't fix it, so I took it out. Something's going on over at biblegateway.com. When they get it up and running , I'll put it back up.

Joe; good to hear from you again. I'm guessing you are either in or on your way to Chicago. You'll have to do a post on the adventures of moving. I hope you don't get too homesick for Fla.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

It’s snowing here again.

It’s time for my annual recitation of Oliver Hereford:

“I heard a bird sing in the dark of December.
‘Twas a beautiful thing and sweet to remember.
We are nearer to spring than we were in September.
I heard a bird sing in the dark of December.”

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

This Week's Memory Verse

James 1: 19-20 "This you know, my bretheren. Let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger. For the anger of man does not achieve the Righteousness of God."

Friday, January 04, 2008

You should go here http://peoplewhowearhats.blogspot.com/ and scroll down until you meet Sweet Allison. She may be the next generation's Audrey Hepburn.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

This week’s memory verse:

Psalm 90:12 – “So teach us to number our days that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom.”

If it sounds familiar to you, it was yesterday’s “verse of the day.”

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Things will be GREAT in 2008!!

And may your hitonious moments be few and far between.