Thursday, April 28, 2011

Totally Overwhelmed ....

By all the good vibes and support.  Thank you, friends - your energies are not wasted!
The doctor said he could see why I was concerned, that the freckle definitely had a slight color variation and the edges were ragged.  He referred us to a dermatologist, who we will see Monday morning at 9:00.  The Mister is an absolute wreck - he almost stayed home from work yesterday, and he just keeps hugging her.  She's a little confused about why she's getting all this attention - I tried explaining it as sometimes you have moles or freckles that can make you sick, and it's important that a dermatologist look at them and make sure they are ok.  I will cross the burning-off-the-offending-spot bridge when I come to it.  Given that The Mister had to physically restrain her as she kicked the nurse while getting her lead-screening blood draw, the Goddess only knows how THAT will go.  I'm going to start stock-piling bribes.
While my rational mind still says it's nothing, and if it is anything we have caught this very early, I can't shake this cold pit in my stomach.  I give full props to any parent who has to deal with a serious illness in their child's life .. 
Thank you for all your continued prayers and healing energy ... you are all a blessing!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Do You Have Some Good Vibes To Spare?

I was brushing Mooch's hair the other day when I noticed a freckle that came out on her hairline a year or so ago, had changed color and had gotten slightly bigger.  I studied it a bit more and the edges are slightly uneven.  Mooch has blonde hair and is fair complected, and plays outside 90% of the time.  We are ok with sunscreen .. the kids always have it on summer days, but we could be better about re-applying.  And Mooch tans ... where The Mister and I will burn, she turns this deep honey-caramel color and her hair bleaches out to white-blonde.  
Cancer is not a stranger to our family ... my Grammom died of lung cancer and my aunt died of colon cancer.  My mind almost immediately goes to "the big C"
I touched the freckle lightly, then kind of dragged my nail across it and asked Mooch if it hurt.  She said it did not.  I don't know if this says anything or not - it just made me feel slightly better.  
We are going to see our pediatrician today, who I know will probably not tell us anything, just give us a referral to a dermatologist.  
Please, send us whatever good vibes, prayers, thoughts, whatever.  Please think of our little family and especially my Mooch today.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Daily Commute

Could either be this ....

 or this ...

 I am super lucky to live within 3 miles of my job, so whenever the weather permits I get to ride my bike.  My grandmother gave me her old bike, purchased in the early 70's, a few years agoI started riding it to work and after a year of doing so the Mister insisted that I upgrade since the thing looked like it could at any time disintegrate into a pile of rust.  I got a purple beach cruiser on sale, with a nice wide seat and a handy-dandy basket on the front so I didn't have to wear a backpack anymore with all my stuff in it. 
Speaking of the backpack, a few good tips to know:
If you wear a backpack, you will arrive at your destination with sweat circles under your arms.
If your pants are say, green khaki capris, you will probably arrive at your destination with a lovely sweat stain on your crotch.  (I'm talking about the people like me, who sweat like Bill O'Reilly in church)
If you attempt to bike without wearing a helmet and have an inquisitive child, you better have a daggone good story made up as to why they have to wear one and you don't.  In fact, just wear the stupid helmet - we all look like dicks in them.
Invest in a bike with a basket or a back-rack.  If yours doesn't have one, they are fairly inexpensive and easy to add onto your bike.  I progressed from things flying out of it to getting to work with my purse, lunch bag, and travel mug of coffee all safely tucked in, not a drop spilled.

The benefits to riding your bike, aside from the obvious - that it is green and causes zero emissions - are almost too many to list, but I will try.
-It's sneaky exercise.  Just riding your bike to the store instead of hopping in your car will give you a great workout.
-You save on gas money - and with gas hitting $5 a gallon this summer, every bit counts.
-It's quiet.  Even if you have to ride on fairly busy streets, you will notice bird songs, snippets of people's conversations, the sound of the wind.  When I drive now, more often than not I don't have the radio on, and I appreciate the silence a lot more.
-It is cheap therapy.  I could get all pseudo-scientific here and say it is the endorphins or trypto-whateveryoucallit - but I think it has to do with the silence and the time to yourself.  I never arrive anywhere in a bad mood if I ride my bike.
-It sets a good example for your kids.  It shows your care of your Earth and that you are taking care of yourself, as well.
-It connects you with people.  On my little path I pass people walking their dogs, strolling, running, etc.  Maybe it's the sight of a grown woman on a purple metallic bike or the insanely lime-green helmet, but almost everyone smiles and says hello.  And the great thing is, since I ride at the same time every morning, I see a lot of "regulars".  
-It forces you to slow down and look around.  You may not notice how beautiful where you live is until you ride a bike through and become conscious of what is around you.  

 This one didn't come out so good, but there are 4 little bunnies back in there!  And that train next to the station is an Acela train - the tracks run right by my path, so everything will be all peaceful and then there will be this huge wooosh as the train goes by.  Very cool.  
If you aren't sure is a particular route will be bike-friendly, Google maps has a "by bike" option.  Even if you swap out one small trip a day with a bike ride, you will feel the benefits. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Underneath my candy shell, I am chock-full of Pagan-y goodness.

Hello all my lovelies.  I don't know what the hellfire has gotten into me, but I am as unmotivated as I could be.  I'm struggling to get through this leeeeettle bit of work I have to get done at work, which may be due to the fact that not of it is pressing and almost no one is there this week.  (Must be nice, faculty!)
Anywho, I have blogged before about Jenna Woginrich's amazing book, Made From Scratch (her blog, Cold Antler Farm, is here)  Be warned before reading - I am now obsessed with homesteading.  Like, am planning to live as MUCH of my land as possible, whether the Mister likes it or not.  Luckily, he is completely on board.
Mister: We are NOT sneaking chickens into our backyard.
Me: You don't love me. *pout*
Mister: No, I don't love getting fined by the city or pissing off our neighbors.
Me: I will only acquiesce if we build another raised bed.  And you have to help me get the other rain barrel ready.  Do you think we could afford solar panels?
Mister, doing this weird head/eye-rubbing thing and turning a funny color: I need a drink.  Did you just use the word acquiesce?  Do you even know how to spell that?
Me: Yes.  (Thank you
So YAY on marital harmony and mutual goals.  
One of the amazing points that Jenna makes in her book is integrating re-purposing and re-using into your daily life.  Whenever she needs a new appliance, or furniture or whatever, she heads to a secondhand store.  It struck me as so simple because, duh - #1 it's cheaper, and #2 it's completely green.  With that in mind, I've been stalking our local Goodwill more than I usually do, since I need some updated kitchen stuff.  I am coveting a cast-iron skillet, as well as some big earthenware crocks for storing sauerkraut in, since I have planted a lot of cabbage this year.  I wandered into the book section the other day and spotted a paperback copy of the first Harry Potter book for $1, and hardcover copies of both Cider House Rules and Gap Creek, two of my all-time favorite books, for 50 cents each.  
I was psyched and all but as I left and stomped back to campus the obsessive homesteader voice in my head started up. 
"But if I had chickens I'd have my own eggs, and they could eat the bugs out of the garden, and we could have meat hens so we could have our own fresh chicken, and it would be so fun oh I want them I want them I WANT THEMMM!"
When I looked up and saw this:

So clearly the Universe is telling me to chill the fuck out, I will get my damn chickens eventually.  In the meantime, keep on cluckin'.

I don't know about you but personally if I see one more post on FB about "Easter isn't about chocolate, it's about JESUS!!"  I may lose what's left of my mind.  Add that to dude in a dark suit who walked up to me on the street and attempted to shove a pamphlet into my hand, with no explanation.  When I asked him what it was he said, "It's about the way Jesus died for your sins"  "Oh, umm ... tell him thank you, but I don't need your pamphlet."  It's around every Christian holiday that I want to shut off every form of communication with the outside world, sit in my backyard with my family, and just BE without anyone trying to ram a Bible down my throat or lecture me.  
A few years ago I sent an email forward to the mothers in my extended family on Mother's Day, which was a funny little story about a girl giving her daddy "tea" and he thought it was really cute until he realized the only place she could reach water was in the toilet.  I forwarded it with a message saying, Happy Mother's Day, I love you all and hope you have a day filled with peace and quiet.  Nothing controversial, right?
I had forgotten about my signature quote at the bottom, which was this: 
A living planet is a much more complex metaphor for deity than just a bigger father with a bigger fist. If an omniscient, all-powerful Dad ignores your prayers, it's taken personally. Hear only silence long enough, and you start wondering about his power. His fairness. His very existence. But if a world mother doesn't reply, Her excuse is simple. She never claimed conceited omnipotence. She has countless others clinging to her apron strings, including myriad species unable to speak for themselves. To Her elder offspring She says - go raid the fridge. Go play outside. Go get a job. Or, better yet, lend me a hand. I have no time for idle whining. ~David Brin
The next day I got an email response from my cousin, who is Christian - like, did missionary work on her honeymoon Christian.
I won't bore you with the entirety but the gist of it was, it's cute that you believe in an Earth mother, but that has no basis in reality.  If you would just *read* the Bible, you'd see how much sense it makes to be Christian.  
There were also a few allusions to the idea that my parents hadn't raised me right.  And she ended it all with a quote from Napoleon FUCKING Bonaparte.
Umm, no.
I sat there after reading it and shook for 10 minutes straight.  The only thing in my mind was - why?  Why would you attack me when I was trying to be nice?  Why do you need to make it about MY personal belief system?  And WHY ARE YOU SUCH A DICK???
I waited a day for responding to her, and then responded truthfully - that I loved her and her kids and respected their religion, and the only thing that I asked from her was that she respect mine right back.  That my parents had raised me to be kind, be gentle, and be truthful, thankyouverymuch.  That I had in fact read the Bible - why would she assume I hadn't?  
It went back and forth a few times.  What I said to her in the last (thankfully) email was : The minute you start screaming about your beliefs, people cover their ears and walk away.  But if you LIVE them, if you inspire others, if you get around rhetoric and get back to spirituality, you influence so many other people.  I don't need a book written by man, or a church created by man, to interfere in my spiritual life.  No one tells me what is right or wrong.  I have Christian friends who are some of the most lovely, sweet, gentle souls I have ever met, and they inspire me.  I have Pagan friends who move me with their love of our Earth and each other.  And a lot of other religions.  I'm always baffled by the Christian mindset that you need to convert everyone - really?  How boring.  How about, love everybody.  Forgive everybody, cherish everybody.
So I'm trying not to let the busybodies ruin a perfectly fun weekend with my family.  Cause in our house, it IS about the chocolate.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Things That Make You Go .....

GO, go.

 1.) Wal-Mart.  Every. time.  The Mister thinks it's hilarious.  The minute we walk in the door and grab a cart:
Me: OK, so you take the kids and go look around, I'll meet you in a minute.
Him, smirking: Why?  What do you have to do?
Me: Stop talking so loud!  I'll just be a minute!
Me: Why did your parents ever encourage you to speak?!??
 2.) Card shopping.  I think it has something to do with the fact you have to walk around for a while and it always takes forever to find the right card.  If you see someone reading the cards over frantically while doing a weird little sideways dance, that's me.  Quietly point me towards the bathroom.

3.) Goodwill.  They have bathrooms, but heavens above - do you really want to use them?  And body, why must you always betray me so??
4.) The library.  True story : I had both kids in the kids section, which usually takes hours, and the urge struck.  The only bathroom was the kids one, with wee little potties that sat approximately 4 inches off the ground.  I hustled both kids in while they protested loudly about being dragged away from the books and toys ("Why do we have to come with you Mommy?" "Because YOU have to go potty!" "No, I don't, YOU DO!"  "Why did I ever encourage you to speak?!?")
 The bathroom was just one big stall with one potty, and as I tried to lock the door the dial twirled around without finding purchase on anything.  Yup, broken lock.  OK, well I know this will only take like 5 seconds.  I sit down and start to go as the kids pull yards of paper towels out of the holder - when the door flies open and in walks some soccer mom with one of those hideous Vera Bradley purses. 
"Oh!  Umm, sorry - just let us know when you're done!"  *Slams door shut*  Sadly there was no window to crawl out of with both kids, and it didn't seem like the ventilation system could handle the weight of 3 of us.  

Special thanks to Dark Mother and her ass, for reminding me that sometimes my ass has a mind of it's own.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Thank you, Pink Moon

Guess what, guess what?!?!??!!!

 It's almost done!!  The Mister not only woke up yesterday morning and said, "Let's go for a nature hike" (Who ARE you?), when we got home from said nature hike I went inside and fell asleep with the kids and he headed out and leveled the garden plot and put down the first two tiers of the raised bed.  AND that morning he vacuumed, without me asking him to.  Needless to say, our weirdness/dry spell is o-v-e-r. ;-)
It's a good thing this sucker is almost ready, since I need to plant peas tout suis, and my sprouts are growing daily
 I've been thinning them so there is one sprout per cup.  Lesson learned : Egg cartons are fine to sprout in, just cut up a paper towel or toilet paper roll and stick them down in each cup - they prevent the seedlings from drying out.  Also, bottom water your seedlings.  These are set in a cheap rimmed tray, and every morning I dump about a cup of water in the tray.  I had given up on several seedlings and was about to dump them, when I started bottom watering they shot up.
Here are some pictures form our hike - this was at White Clay Creek State Park, which is gorgeous.  They have an amazing outdoor concert festival every summer, and lots of programs for kids and adults.
The girls and I looking off a beautiful old bridge.  (And is that the guy from Scream in the background?  WTF?!?)
Butterbean was convinced there were sharks in it.  We had to stop several times so she could wave to them.
 Mooch was in charge of the wild beast.  How cute are her little boots?
 Down by the creek (or the "crick" as my mother's people call it)

Thanks for getting a shot of my flat ass, Mister!

Mister and Mooch exploring.  

Butterbean kept wearing out her little legs and needing to return to the stroller.

I loved this tree, with all it's bumps.  It's in a field of skunk cabbage.

Mooch was very excited to stomp through any and all water sources.

We came across this floodplain that was level with the path.  I *think* it's a vernal pond, and is not flooded year-round - but we'll have to go back and check.  There were two pairs of geese on it that the girls attempted to 'talk' to.

My babies.  Butterbean was exhausted at this point.

They're hard to see, but there were tiny yellow flowers everywhere.

And fiddlehead ferns.

Butterbean thought Mooch needed some rest time.  "I push my seester, Daddy!"
Hope you all had a wonderful weekend as well!  How did the moon effect you?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Things I'm OK Not Being OK With

My mind is just one big jumble this week.  
I rode my bike home from work yesterday and since the Mister and the kiddos were out, immediately changed into my muck-about clothes and dug some more of the garden bed.  If you haven't read Jenna Woginrich's book yet, Made From Scratch, it is amazing (and her blog is here) she has a chapter where she talks about planning her 15ft garden bed and then halfway though digging up the turf she has gone through 2 pairs of gloves and her back feels like it's going to break, and she decides to down-scale.  I wasn't quite that bad - our bed will be about 8'x10' - but now I know why the universe had me wait to start this project.  If I didn't want this so bad that it's driving me slightly insane, I would have definitely given up by now.  I very much wanted to do it all by hand, and it is backbreaking - to pull up the turf, I use a sharp shovel and outline a strip, then work the shovel underneath to loosen it, then get down on my knees and attempt to shake free as much of the soil and worms as possible.  Half of the strips are going into the compost bin, the others are being piled up to become fillers for the rain garden project.  While digging and working the soil I tend to let my mind wander - my Grammom always said if you have a problem, go dig in the dirt.  I have two family members who are dealing with mental health issues, both mothers.  Family members around them are both offering up advice to them of : "Well if you'd just do ____, then this would go away".  It frustrates me to no end.  But then I tend to turn that pointing finger on myself and realize that I send out subtle judgments myself.  While this kind of tumbled about in my brain, something inside me said : You don't have to accept these things completely - it's OK not to be OK with them.

So I've decided to compile a list - a list of things it's OK not to be OK about
1.)  That my husband straight-up ignores household projects.  And I'm not talking about, I would like all my ceiling fans finished in gold-leaf (I don't), I'm talking the handle he bought for the screen door 3 years ago is still sitting on our porch.  I have to motivate him, when no one motivates me - and I'm not OK with that.

2.) The mother who drove her car into a river with 4 of her kids, killing 3 of them.  I don't care how freaking depressed YOU are, don't punish your children.  Bitch could have dropped them off at a fire station and then taken care of herself.  

3.) That a friend I've lost touch with hasn't reached out.  I miss this person immensely.

4.) People who flagrantly abuse the environment and laugh it off.  The ones with the gigantic Suburbans who eat tons of junk food and plop their kids in front of a TV set, and think worms are gross.  A co-worker of mine once referred to a woman we worked with who was like that as "your typical fat American".  

5.) People who use elevators when they don't need to.  See above.  I once almost got into a brawl with a woman at the Smithsonian because she was taking her 3 kids, who had been running around on perfectly good legs, up the elevator while we had to wait with our stroller for the next one.  Same scenario played out at a different museum we went to for a work retreat while we waited for an elevator with my boss, who's in a wheelchair.

6.) That me and The Mister are not clicking right now.  Neither one of us knows quite what is wrong or how to fix it, and we're both annoyed.  

7.) That I can't have chickens!  Really, who would be hurt by me having 3 chickens in a moveable pen in my backyard?  WTH, city bylaws?

I swear my next post will be more upbeat and have some pictures of our garden progress, I just needed to launch this out into the blogosphere.  No more Debbie Downer!

Friday, April 8, 2011

We used to be omnivores, now we're flexitarians!

That's the new "it" foodie word right now.  It kind of makes me giggle and think it sounds a bit more like a sexual preference than a way of eating, but whatever.  
I understand and totally respect vegetarians and vegans, it just would not be the right option for me.  Personally I think we have teeth for plant matter and teeth for meat, and digestive systems that can handle both, so that should tell us something.  I tend to bring everything back to caveman times, so let's go there - meat would have been on the menu, but sparingly.  Our ancestors ate a lot more vegetable matter, seeds, nuts, and fruits and saved the meat heavy meals for the lucky days someone speared a mastadon.  So our digestive systems and bodies have evolved from that "starting point" to meat 3x a day, refined sugar-heavy diets, and food who's origin more often than not is unknown.  
It always makes me grit my teeth with frustration when someone says "Healthy food is more expensive!  I'm not rich, I can't afford it!"  Well, if you are talking about a box of prepared food (mac n' cheese, cereal, cookies, etc) than yes, the product made with the good stuff IS more expensive.  But how about the starter ingredients?  A huge bunch of kale will run you about $1.  Kale chips, kale soup, biscuits stuffed with kale, stir-fry.  A ginormous butternut squash will run you about $2.  That is butternut bisque  which will make enough for several meals, or if your kids won't touch it, bake & puree it and use it to fortify breads or soups they do like.  Did she say bread??  Yes, bread.  Bake it yourself.  Not only is it incredibly satisfying and makes your house smell heavenly, it tastes 1,000 time better than anything you buy at the grocery store.  Invest in bulk grains, bulk ingredients in general - you will save money and motivate yourself to feed your family in a more conscious way.  And if you think you won't have the time, it just takes some planning.  I woke up this morning at 5:30, went for a run, started some bread and left it to rise, then defrosted some cauliflower puree and whisked it into eggs which the girls ate on whole-wheat bread I baked Wednesday.  I work 30 hours a week and have a husband who thinks housework is a 4-letter word.  You can make it work.
I came across a package of wheat berries at the Co-op and was intrigued.  I love a good food challenge.   I googled "wheat berries" and came across a bunch of farro recipes - they are both whole wheat grains, and there is debate about whether they are an exact match or not.  Either way, they are prepared the same.
 We had absolutely gorged on beef bourguignon the night before, so I felt the need to lighten us up for the rest of the week.
  But damn, that bourguignon was food of the gods.
I had also bought bok choy earlier in the week, which I had never cooked.  It was one of those nights of "Hmmm, want to make something, but what?  Well, I have these wheat berries and this bok choy, and some sweet potatoes, and ooh that homemade ginger sauce would be yummy here, somehow"
So here is my creation, and the recipe for you to try:

Ginger-Glazed Vegetables Over Wheat Berry Risotto
1 c wheat berries
1 c vegetable stock 
1/2 med. onion, chopped
4 Tb olive oil
1 lg sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 c snap peas, ends snapped off
1 lg head of bok choy, rinsed and chopped

1 Tb corn starch
1/2 c water
2Tb soy sauce
1Tb brown sugar
2Tb fresh ginger root, peeled and finely grated
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2Tb grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

First, heat 2 Tb of the oil in a medium saucepan.  Add the onion and cook until translucent, then add the wheat berries.  Stir and cook for 2 minutes, then add the vegetable stock.  Lower heat to a simmer and cover, stirring occasionally until the liquid is absorbed.  As soon as it is, add 1 c water.  Repeat process until this is absorbed, then add 1/2 c water more and repeat.  Add Parmesan cheese, if using.
In the meantime,  add 1 Tb olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium heat.  Add the sweet potato and cook for about 5 minutes, until the outsides are slightly browned.  Add enough water to the pan to slightly submerge the sweet potatoes, then cover.  Allow to cook for about 10 minutes, until sweet potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.  Drain and set sweet potatoes aside on a plate. 
In a small bowl whisk together corn starch and the 1/2 c water.  Add soy sauce, brown sugar, grated ginger, sliced garlic, and red pepper flakes.  Set aside.
Add remaining olive oil to pan and add bok choy and snap peas.  Cook about 2 minutes, then return the sweet potatoes to pan with the ginger sauce.  Stir and cook until sauce thickens and vegetables are tender, then serve over wheat berries.

We all loved this, even the Mister

Happy Flexitarian-ing!! *giggle*

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Lazy Weekend On The Compound

This past weekend the Mister was on midnights, so the anklebiters and I had to get out of the house during the day so he could sleep.  We almost always head to my parent's house, which we call The Compound because we always joke that they need to just build us each a house on their 5 acres so we can start a commune.  They have gorgeous woods all around their house, and me and the girlies like to go exploring.
Butterbean heading into the woods
She was very impressed with this stick.
"Where are the faeries, Mama?"
Maybe hiding in this moss?
Or in a naturally-occurring faerie house
Let's go back to Mama Lou & Pop's ... I need a snack.
First open bloom on their star magnolia
"Quit taking pictures of the tree, Mama!  Lookit me!"
My beautiful Mooch.
Me & my firstborn ... horrible picture of me, but oh well!
Zackie through the tree.  "Get up Mama, throw the dang ball!"
Sorry Zac, it's more fun to sit and watch the shenanigans!

Sangria and the sunset ... not a bad way to end the day.  The kiddos decided they wanted a treat too ... anyone up for ice cream?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Mr & Mrs Not My Mister

You know how you're going along as a perfectly happily married person, then you meet someone and go all mushy?
There is a grad student of Dirty Boss' who is all kinds of dreeeaaaaaamy.  I mean, blonde curly hair, great smile, nice eyes, the lot.  I am working the second day of a conference that Dirty Boss is running, and am running registration (thus my lack of blogging).  Dreamy Grad got assigned to be my helper for a while *devilish grin* 
So we start talking and he proceeds to tell me he has his own orchard (swoon 1), would love to have his own farm some day (swoon 2) and that he is spending the summer in Paris as an intern (swoon swoon swoooooooooooon)
IM'ed a friend: "Sitting next to HOTTEST GRAD STUDENT EVER.  Am in love.  He told me I don't look 32"  she sent back: "Ask him if you look like you're up for a little afternoon delight"
I mean honestly - The Mister should thank him for the fuel he will add to our fire.  *Fanning myself*

Friday, April 1, 2011

This made me cry!

I am in a mood today.  I was stomping across campus to get to my office (campus is mostly deserted right now for Spring Break) and walked up behind a man.  I'm just a big ball of frustrated feelings today, and as I got close to him this man shuddered, then turned around and looked at me with fear in his eyes.  So apparently I'm throwing negative energy around and I'm trying to stop.  This weekend I need to focus on being still and present in the moment - I'm going to try my hardest to stay away from computers and televisions and focus on my babies.  (The Mister is on midnights until Tuesday)
Anyway, I found this this morning on StumbleUpon, and it made my mood shift ever-so-slightly.
1. First Important Lesson - "Know The Cleaning Lady"

During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions, until I read the last one: "What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?"

Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade.

"Absolutely," said the professor. "In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say "hello."

I've never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.

2. Second Important Lesson - "Pickup In The Rain"

One night, at 11:30 p.m., an older African American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rainstorm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car.

A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960s. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxicab.

She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him. Seven days went by and a knock came on the man's door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home.

A special note was attached. It read: "Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband's bedside just before he passed away. God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others."

Sincerely, Mrs. Nat King Cole.

3. Third Important Lesson - "Remember Those Who Serve"

In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10 year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him. "How much is an ice cream sundae?" he asked. "50¢," replied the waitress.

The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied the coins in it.

"Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?" he inquired. By now more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient. "35¢!" she brusquely replied.

The little boy again counted his coins. "I'll have the plain ice cream," he said. The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left.

When the waitress came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies. You see, he couldn't have the sundae, because he had to have enough left to leave her a tip.

4. Fourth Important Lesson - "The Obstacles In Our Path"

In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king's wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.

Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many of us never understand - "Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition."

5. Fifth Important Lesson - "Giving When It Counts"

Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year-old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, "Yes, I'll do it if it will save her."

As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, "Will I start to die right away?".

Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her.

~ From the blog of Eric Allen Bell, found here
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