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Thursday, August 30, 2007 - 1:32 p.m.

Monday, Todd bought some new exterior lights to replace the ugly and decrepit ones we currently have. While de-boxing them in the living room, he left the various nuts and bolts unsupervised for a few moments. In the short time his attention was diverted, Nala snuck in and stole two of the nuts for the mounting assembly. It took the better part of an hour for us to search out all of her stashes and recover the stolen parts.

I had to make fun of Todd some, of course, because it's not like he didn't know of her penchant for thieving. I mean, the cat is part magpie. In her time with us she has stolen coins, barrettes, bobby pins, bottle caps, pieces of plastic, screws, Q-tips, nails, washers, bolts, nuts, mancala game pieces, paper clips, my engagement ring, and anything else not nailed down or stored in a container requiring opposable thumbs to open. She likes bright shiny things best, although she also has a soft spot for anything that rattles nicely when batted across a hard surface. But even knowing this about her, I think Todd underestimated her skill and speed. I, on the other hand, am all too aware that a few seconds is all she needs to clean you out. The marble magnet incident is still fresh in my mind.

As for why she lifts all these things, we're not sure. Maybe it's just boredom, but honestly, I think she might be building a robot under the guest room bed.

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Looking for a drink
Monday, August 27, 2007 - 10:42 a.m.

Early Saturday morning, after months and months of drought, it finally rained. And not only rained, it STORMED. The lightning was non-stop, the thunder was the kind that rattles your whole house and causes animals to slink to your side shivering, and the rain came down in sheets for almost an entire hour. I sat in our front bedroom to watch, because there was no such thing as sleep with all that going on, and let me tell you, it was BEAUTIFUL. And the next morning, the flowers beds were covered in butterflies.

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Slow news day
Friday, August 24, 2007 - 04:19 p.m.

Our local news is always good for a laugh. Today's story about the "gas leak" in Fort Payne is no exception. Really, does WAFF investigate anything they report?

First off, ADEM stands for Alabama Department of ENVIRONMENTAL Management. Emergencies are handled by the Alabama Emergency Management Agency (AEMA) and this is not one.

Second, that whole thing about calling the EPA if measures aren't taken to control the problem...uhm, what do they think the ADEM is doing right now? And what's with the concerned citizen interview? "Something needs to be done about it, and it needs to be checked in to." No shit, buddy. Could be why they're doing just that.

And third, you just have to love the shots of the playground equipment and the water fountains. Your kids are in danger! Oooooh, DRAMA.

The problem here is, I expect actual news and decent reporting from my local station. Crazy, huh?

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When you put it like that
Thursday, August 16, 2007 - 01:16 p.m.

Oh, man, has this been a long week. Let's see:

Heartwrenching funeral for grandmother? Check.

Crazy workload with crushing deadlines? Check.

Husband gone on unexpected trip? Check.

Husband stuck in airport, not to arrive before you leave town again? Check.

Three-digit temperatures that sap all energy from your body, leaving you a sweat-soaked, withered shell? Check.

Tech support deleted all the work files and replaced them with backups from a month ago? Check, check, and CHECK.

Upcoming second funeral and interment for grandmother? Check and check.

On the upside, it's Thursday.

Update 3:15 PM: State regulators inexplicably ignoring their own regulations and undercutting your judgement with a client, not once but three times? CHECK.

Seriously, my list of people to stab in the face is growing longer by the MINUTE.

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Words aren't enough
Tuesday, August 7, 2007 - 10:53 a.m.

Even though we had a year to prepare, I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. We watched her fade away, day by day, and it was like having our hearts ripped out a piece at a time. We all knew she wasn’t coming home, that she wasn’t getting better, but when the news finally came, when my mother told me my grandmother had died, it didn’t matter how mentally prepared I was. I sat in my car and sobbed. Not for her, because I wouldn’t have held her here another day, but for me and my family and everyone who ever knew and loved her. For what we all lost and for the people who never had the chance to know her.

Many of you may never have met her, or if you did, you may have only met her in passing. You could read her obituary, and that would tell you the basics. But that cold dissection of who, what, and when doesn’t tell you who she was.

I could tell you she was a wonderful grandmother, but that can’t describe the hot chocolate "tea" parties and homemade dress-up kits, or the bedtime stories and the birthday cakes, the weeks we spent at their house during the summers and the holiday family celebrations, or the jokes and stories she told as we got older. It doesn’t convey how much she loved us, how her eyes lit up when one of us walked into the room.

I could tell you that she could talk to anyone. You don’t know how many times I asked her, “Grandmommy, do you know that person?” when she’d only just met them that instant. But that still can’t describe what it was about her that made people open up and step out of their comfort zones to talk to a complete stranger and go away smiling.

And if you’re picturing a sweet little old woman, she was, but that completely leaves out the fact that she didn’t take any crap off anybody. You could use the word feisty, but that’s almost too simple a description. And it sure doesn’t describe the glint she’d get in her eye if you crossed her.

I could tell you that she and my grandfather were married for almost 60 years, but that doesn’t describe how they bantered back and forth, and how she could give as good as she got. It doesn’t convey how hilarious and fun they were together or how devoted they were to each other...or how lucky we all would be to have a love like theirs.

I could say she was a natural mother and tell you how children loved her. I could tell you she was a fantastic cook, an incredible bargain hunter, a wonderful mother-in-law, and a pack rat of epic proportions. I could talk about the time she and I pulled out stacks of old magazines from the 20s and spent hours laughing at the old advertisements, or that day she put the fear of God into me and my sister when we wouldn’t stop bickering, or the time she gave us ice cream for breakfast, or how she always said she loved me “just a little bit.” I could tell you how she met my grandfather or pass on the stories I’ve heard from my dad about her as a mother. I could show you pictures from throughout her life, and you could see how she grew from a beautiful young woman into the grandmother I love. But none of it can encompass what an incredible, complicated, funny, loving, generous, amazing person she was.

Instead, all I can say is, if you didn’t know her, oh, you missed out. The world has no idea what it lost.

But on the other hand, Heaven probably has no idea what hit them.

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It's good to be home
Friday, August 3, 2007 - 08:35 p.m.

Well, I'm back from Dallas. Overall, the trip was actually pretty good. The class itself was not only useful but also surprisingly interesting, and I'm glad I went. I learned a lot of things over the last three days, among them:

1) The Birmingham "International" Airport mechanic goes home at 4:30 PM. If you need him after that, be prepared to wait while he makes his way back across town (probably stopping for a few drinks and maybe a movie along the way).

2) PCE goes right through concrete and dissolves PVC.

2a) Never buy property anywhere near a dry cleaner. Ever.

3) I will probably be sued sometime in my career, and I will probably lose. Not because I was wrong, but because lawyers are weasels.

4) All the stories you've ever heard about Texas? I think they might be true.

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