Thursday, August 30, 2012

Warning: Brain Connection Speed is Lacking

"You'll have to forgive my friend, you see, he's a little slow." (Name that movie - with my approximation of a quote.)

I felt like that. After I returned home from London and the Olympics.

One day, early on in our trip, before too many gold medals had been won, a funny thing happened on the way to the Tower Bridge area.

(People everywhere!)

As we were traveling in the Underground, I was trying to get the attention of 2 of our ladies to make sure they were aware that we would soon disembark (the train was crowded and one needs to move fast to make the cut, or get stuck IN the train until the next stop). They couldn't hear me, so I asked one woman, neatly dressed, in great physical condition and who I was SURE I knew from somewhere, if she could tap the ladies and get their attention for me. She did, with an odd look on her face. I gave directions to the ladies. When we got close to the stop, I again, asked the lady to tap their shoulders (I guess the two were busy visiting...). The (still familiar, but where had I seen that face?) woman again helped me out. With her help, we did all exit the train at the appropriate stop.

Many days and medals later, back home, as I watched a morning news show, I saw that lady. Honey, come quick...duh.

She was Misty May-Treanor...just the gold medal winner of beach volleyball, several times over. If only my brain was working! (Forgive her, she's a little slow, I heard myself telling myself.) Could've gotten a photo with her.

Obviously I didn't remember her name, face, and Olympic occupation until later. She had to have wondered which rock I was living under to not make the connection, since I was obviously American. And going to the Olympics. In London.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Olympic Tale of Two Kisses

I did go to London to meet people and celebrate the Olympics with several million of my best friends. Mission accomplished.

Did I see Wills or Kate? No. Harry? Camilla? Charles? The Queen? No.

I did meet wonderful people from many countries and walks of life. It was fabulously entertaining.

And surprising.

We spent many hours (literally) on public transportation engaging in conversation with fellow travelers. One fun 'job' was to give out pins that said More Than Gold. Each pin was decorated with colors that told the plan of salvation and could be accompanied with a souvenir Olympic booklet that explained the colors and offered other Olympic tidbits of information. I tried to share my More Than Gold pins with individuals with whom I had a deeper conversation.

One morning, on the way in to London, two of us engaged a couple and a single man on the Tube. There were many around us. In fact, the train was quite full. But this trio was very interested to know what we were doing. After the introductory conversation centering on Olympic events and who was going where, they started asking questions.

To shorten the tale, the man seated one seat over from me, same side of the train, received a More Than Gold pin from me, as well as a souvenir book. He was very pleased. But he was also worried that he had nothing to give me in exchange. Which did not bother me, as we were to GIVE away the pins, not trade them.

Not satisfied with my free gift, he grabbed me and planted a big smoochy kiss on my cheek.

There, now he had given me something. He felt better. In fact, he felt so good, he opened his brown paper sack, pulled out his beer, opened it, and began to noisily enjoy it. Much to our interest in how legal that was in the train (and in the morning???). He was bringing the party to London, the Olympics, and our train car. A right jolly fellow.

While in London, I received not one, but two kisses.

The location of ministry for my group was perfect. Smack dab in the middle of the tourist area next to the River Thames, complete with a backdrop of the Tower Bridge and proudly displayed Olympic rings. (Side note: It was fascinating to watch the rings fold up and the bridge rise to allow ships safe passage.)

One afternoon I was busily painting faces. The first question people always asked, as they hovered and watched, was, "How much?"

After they discovered the price - FREE - they happily joined the queue and gathered other group members to join them. This was repeated constantly, as long as the clown, Happy Hearts, was entertaining and chatting and creating balloon sculptures.

The second (or perhaps third) question that was asked was, "Why?"

As in, "Why are you taking your time and painting on the faces of so many strangers in a land that is not your home? Why?"

My partners and I were joyful to answer that we were happy to paint faces and just wanted to tell them that God loved them.

The responses to that statement were varied. Some continued to question and discuss, some changed the subject, and others commented on the sacrifice, but all were pleased that we were performing this public service.

One older woman approached me with the same question. How much? And later, as I was painting a Union Jack on her arm and teasing her that she could fool her friends with her tatoo, she asked why.

"God loves us, and God loves you. We want to tell you that God loves you," I said.

"I believe," she said, "in God."

"Oh," I answered. "Where do you go to church?"

"I'm Greek orthodox," she said.

And we continued to have a warm and intimate conversation.

As I finished her arm painting, she was overwhelmed with emotion. Tiny dabs of tears appeared in her eyes. She pulled me up, I thought for a hug.

Instead, she grasped my arms and pulled me close, kissing me on both cheeks. Kisses of spiritual connection.

Two kisses (or three, if you count both cheeks in the last kiss). Totally different heart reactions and spiritual climates.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Tub

It's back - finally!

My early (but oh so late, since the end of March at the refinishers) birthday present is complete with its new coat of finish. Perched on the tiled platform (it had to be raised for drainage), my 1926 claw foot tub is ready for cold weather, warm baths, and scented bubbles.

First, of course, it needs the drain and a hook up, as noticed by little Bubba. "What's that?" he asked, looking at the empty drain hole.

Point taken.

First, a drain and water connection. Then I shall soak and enjoy.

After the grands are removed.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Tales from the Olympics ~ The Bad News

Fresh from the Olympics. Well, almost fresh. Let's just say I'm home and my brain is on its way to join me.

What an excellent adventure and experience!

The group I was with stayed at the High Leigh Conference Center in Hoddesdon, next to Broxbourne. We were not directly in the busy part of London, but out a ways, a good 25 minute train ride. Let's all say a big Amen. Returning home each evening was very relaxing as we left the hustle and bustle to go to a peaceful centre surrounded by greenery.

The bad news was our connection to the Underground system was at Stratford. That's also where the Olympic stadium is located. And the Westfield Mall. And the Athlete's Village. And the Olympic Village.

Each of the above mentioned items is enough on its own to draw a crowd. But add them all together - mmmm - a very big crowd. Most of the time. Especially in the Underground and train station.

So, the bad news was:

~ CROWDS streaming through the train and subway system
~ CROWDS on many of the Underground trains (like your face in someone elses' armpit crowds, humidity and temperature rates of sauna strength and over 100 degrees in the crowded cars)
~ CROWDS at the mall, where tourists, athletes, teams, locals, bobbies, volunteers, employees, news people, transportation workers...ALL filled the mall areas. In fact, us regular folks could not get into the mall until after 5:00 PM, unless we had a ticket for an event.

But WAIT. There's more!

The good news was:
~ CROWDS. Despite the crowds, everything flowed very smoothly. Everything. (Even when several of our ladies fell backwards on the escalators with their luggage, taking out an innocent traveler and resulting in being checked out by first aiders - all on Day 1).
~ A multi level food court with plenty of choices and plenty of tables and chairs (amazingly enough)
~ A plethora of shopping choices
~ An M&S grocery market and several drugstores (like Boots), so any needs could be found
~ Olympic cheer and energy throughout the mall and train stations
~ Plenty of PINK signs pointing the way to the Olympic stadium
~ More than I can count transportation workers and volunteers (wearing pink/purple) filling all venues. You could not get lost if you tried. With the slightest look of confusion, several were ready to get you on your way.
~ The mall was crowded with athletes and team members. They made it easy to figure out where they were from by wearing their uniforms, which usually named the home country along the back. Watching and hunting athletes was a great past time.
~ The Underground and railways were also ripe with athletes, visitors, and locals. Our time spent on transportation (probably close to 2 hours a day) were wonderful opportunities to visit and share with others.

One could easily complain about all the challenges and crowds, but they so easily turned into excitement and fun. So why waste the energy?

London did a fabulous job hosting the Olympics.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Yes, I do admit. It would be perfect in slow motion.

Looking cute in my summer brown skirt. Walking up to the store door to pick up my Rx for possible pink eye (just in case, thanks to my little Bubba). A slight breeze, not too bad, was blowing.

Suddenly, a huge gust did a Marilyn Monroe on my skirt. Gasping, I grabbed my skirt back down, only to step off my shoe, twist my ankle, and fall flat on the sidewalk RIGHT in front of the door to Shopko!

Uh-huh. Fastest recovery and standing up ever witnessed by human eyes. Forced myself to walk without limping or looking for observers...although the big rig driving six feet away was a sure bet to have seen the excitement. (Were those people inside Starbucks actually staring AT me and laughing, or was that my imagination???)

Now I am nursing a large elbow rasberry, a sore ankle, and a weird pain in my hip joint?

Watch out, London. Here comes danger.

The Best Salad Spinner

I've found it. The best salad spinner. At $2.99, you can't argue with the price.

IKEA has this neat little, light weight, easy to use and turn, salad spinner. I used it recently to spin dry my basil before I filled the dehydrator.

Incidentally, I love the small stature of my dehydrator. Just enough space to fill in a short time (instead of hours of work to fill the older, ginormous one I used to have).

Happy harvesting!

The Oddest Thing

Due to the aforementioned finch invasion, last summer's crop of sunflower seeds were sprung far and wide. I did not plant any at all this year. I just seriously ripped out hundreds where I did not want sunflowers. Sorry birdies!

What is interesting is where several plants survived! Of course, they are thick as thieves where they were planted last year. Alas, none of the deep burgundy ones...

This one particularly is cool. It sprang up in the hole of an old brick. "Ok," I said. "Let's see how this turns out."

I still don't know how it will be, say, in October, but for now, it
is tight as a lug nut in the center of the brick hole and the roots are shoving the brick out of it's place and up off the ground. What's next?

I hope the brick doesn't break. But that's a chance I'm willing to take.

All in the name of experiments. I love garden experiments.

C'est Fini - Fastbook Fast is Over!

Wow. July was a long month in terms of no Facebook. Not that I spend oodles of time on it, but with 3 family reunions, and the majority of planning for 2 taking place on Facebook...Let's just say some challenges were overcome. And I missed sending birthday wishes to my friends overseas and out of state.

I did stay gone and worked hard to connect by phone, email, and in person. I actually had a few coffee dates, phones calls, and scheduled some get-togethers. That was nice.

But for those people of whom I have no other contact information except Facebook - that put a twist in my knickers. I can say that because I leave for London tomorrow. Which is one thing that was hard - connecting with my international buddies in hopes of meeting in person. Now I have one day (and they are sleeping right now) to connect!

Well, there was this one time. I was checking all my electronics and their compatibility for European plug adapters. My brother was checking, actually, while I was trying to find our church page, Amplify, and get him on it so he could add photo updates. INNOCENT! He handed me his Ipad (which was too cool to count). It was already on Facebook.

"Oh, look at those cute pictures!" I said. "AAAHHHHHH! I'm Facebook fasting! I'm not supposed to be on Facebook."

Too late. Sucked in, just like a a tourist at a time-share presentation.

Not to give short shift to my FB fasting, but I am heading to the Olympics tomorrow. Not actually the Olympic events, but a conference and then hanging out around Olympic venues. Gotta get this thing organized.

So, I did learn the true value of Facebook. It's connecting with family and friends. The ease of contact is wonderful. Games? Nah. Applications? Nah. Fluff? Nah. Pictures? You bet.

Just connecting with people. Real people.

Goldfinch Guys

Just out taking my family for a little flight to see the sights in the Barge-Chestnut Neighborhood. Nothing big.

Stopped off at this little diner along 30th. I don't know who the cook is, but she had a fabulous feast of sky high seeds. Quite an assortment to choose from. I kind of liked the little shady seats, but the kids kept running over to the sunny parts. Hope we didn't bother too many. Kids! You know how messy they get.

I'm talkin' SEEDS. I couldn't get enough of those babies. Fresh, still in the pods, hanging high...the kids loved the sides of bugs that were resting under the tables. I'm telling you, take your clan and have a stop. Cool, clear water straight from the fountain, and an all-you-can-eat buffet!

Perfect for our growing family of six.

See you there!