Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Cure

I saw this sign near my work and it made me bust out laughing.

I thought my baby brother coined the term. Guess not.
You see, he was extremely nervous about me being deployed to New Orleans the day before Hurricane Katrina hit.

Needless to say, it was HELL. (as in fire and brimstone)

But that goes without saying.

And my baby brother fretted the whole entire time I was there. And when I say "fretted" I really mean that he was in a near panic.
I never thought that it was possible... but he was actually more worried than our mother. If you know my mother, that is very hard to do. It's part of her mother DNA.

Every time I was able to call home on the satellite phone I would talk to him and he would start the conversation by pelting me with questions.

"Are you in the water?"

"Are you wearing mosquito spray?"

"What water are you drinking?"

"How much mosquito spray are you using?"

"Do you have enough water?"

"When are you applying the mosquito spray?"

"You know that you need to stay out of the water, right?"

On and on it would go....

Without fail, he would always close our conversation with "Don't forget Sister- an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!"

And that's the little voice I would hear in my head every day for almost three months, including the times when those plane would fly overhead and dump all that spray on us. Pounds...and pounds...and pounds... of cure.

It's the little voice in my head that I've heard now for 4 years now.

So when I see this sign every morning, it makes me smile.

Even if he didn't coin the term.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Walk To Remember

Friends unite.

Who's in for the annual Walk of Rememberance and Hope with me on October 17th?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Arab on a Treadmill

I may or may not have a little bit of a black eye right now.

You may have read about it on my
Baby Steps to a Black Eye post on the weight loss blog I'm doing with friends. Go ahead, read it and weep. (and join us!)

I told my boss about it yesterday and she howled with laughter. Then she had something on YouTube she just had to show me.

It got to the point that we had to close her blinds in her office we were laughing so hard. (ironic since blinds were what technically got me into this).

I can understand this man. Minus the speed, the dress, the screaming for Allah, and the wall behind him - it reminded me of my own experience.

I'm just so glad that he didn't reach up to open the blinds or he would have had the same roughed up results.

Pause my favorite tunes on the right toolbar, turn up your volume and learn how to say "stop" in Arabic.

Very funny.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

CoCo for Cocoa Puffs

"Exercise is a dirty word.
Every time I hear it...
I wash my mouth out with chocolate!"
- Charles Schultz

I know it is surprising but some days I don't have anything to say.

Today, I only have two thoughts.
  1. I need...I will...exercise.
  2. I need...I want...chocolate. is hanging in there. Show us some love and give us some support!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Don't Call Me...I'll Call You

Bagpipe Update: Robert de Brus didn't get any shut eye this week.

Not only did he stay awake but he was fully engaged. With a lot of pomp and vigor.

Gone was the ornery old Scot. Gone was the unrelenting Pipe Master. Gone was the guy who slept through my last three lessons. Matter of fact, I believe that he said, "good"..."good"..."good". Three different times. About what I was really playing.


So, thinking that he had per chance forgotten about last week's answer when I approached him about graduating to the actual bagpipes... I bravely returned to the topic.

His response: "Don't call me...I'll call you"

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Something great happened today. I'd like to say that a lot of thought went into it. But it didn't. I saw something...acted purely spontaneous and in the moment...and got a little smile of happiness.

Let me start from the beginning (and no - this is not a script from Footloose or Anne of Green Gables!).

Once upon a time...there was a really cute 15 year old girl who sat next to two really funny 15 year old boys in 10th grade biology class. One became her funny best friend. The other eventually became her boyfriend.

I say "eventually" because he had another girlfriend at the time. He had moved from L.A. to Nampa the year prior and was a little more worldly when it came to young love. The 15 year old girl and the girlfriend...not so much.

While not "friends", they both liked each other until the boyfriend decided that he wanted to change girlfriends. The girlfriend became the "ex girlfriend" and the 15 year old girl back-filled the position. After that they of course became bitter enemies and arch rivals in true high school fashion.

At one point, a bathroom fight occurred between them. Not a proud moment in the 15 year old girl's history.

The 15 year old girl eventually turned 16 and "like" blossomed.

She eventually turned 17 and young "like" tragically ended.

When she turned 18 she got another boyfriend and he got another girlfriend. Friendship remained.

She graduated from high school, turned 19 and moved away to college. Time marched on.

At 21 she wanted to do something beyond herself. She made a tough decision, moved home from college and shocked the world with an announcement of a 1 1/2 year mission with her church.

Upon her arrival back home her old best friend (unsuspectingly) took her to see her old boyfriend. Big mistake.

A great summer went by.

However, he didn't support her decision for a mission. He was Catholic. Really- really-really Catholic.

She wasn't.

She decided to move to New York anyway and young "like" was tragically over.

The End (literally) I promised happiness (beyond Count Your Many Blessings which is my favorite tune)

Here is is:

Remember that fight in the bathroom between 15 year old girls and the bitter hatred that ensued?

Today I paused to think about that when her name popped up on Facebook. For a slight second, I had the thought of a 15 year old...until the mind of the 34 year old kicked in with all her wisdom.

The truth of the matter is that she is a really great girl and we probably would have been friends.

Remember my 9/11 Time post?

Lesson: Life is too short. Now is the time.

Facebook Message Center

JaLae September 19 at 9:23am
Hi Michelle. I've always thought that it was sad we couldn't be friends over a stupid boy. I guess that's what makes high school....high school! I hope that things have been good for you over the years and you've had much happiness.

Michelle September 19 at 1:56pm
Yes I totally agree. Exactly what I am trying to convince my middle schooler of now that when she gets to be our age. None of what is happening now in her life will even matter. Do not sweat the small stuff! I am very blessed, I hope the same for you as well JaLae. Thank you for the kind message it made my day. Michelle

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Bagless Wonder

Bagpipe update: Robert de Bruc is still sleeping.

Today I was playing 3 lines of music and before I even got to the end he gave me a snort snore.

Ever tried to play a "bagless pipe" (otherwise known as a practice chanter) laughing?

Then he nodded off again and dropped his pencil. I think the noise of it hitting the table gave him whiplash.

Another time I actually woke him up when I correct myself out loud as I played something wrong. He lifted his head and opened his eyes..and agreed with me (pointing to a different line of music).

The big news of the day came at the end when I asked him when exactly I will get to add the bag to my pipe.

His reply: "just worry about learning the next page of music".

Next time he falls asleep I'm going to turn some pages and skip ahead.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Whale Wars

Sometimes, it just doesn't seem fair.

I can just look at a decadent dessert and feel my hips widening, while my husband actually eats the dessert and watches the numbers on the scale drop.

I don't get it.

I've been drinking water for two solid weeks. A. Lot. Of. Freakin'. Water. I've also been turning on the treadmill and rotating the tread a few times. And you know what? I haven't even dropped a pound.

If you want to get technical, I've actually gained 1/2.

My husband on the other hand....took up drinking Life Water instead of soda while he watches football 7 days a week....and he's lost four belt sizes.

Go figure.

I went off soda nine months ago! My water has less calories than his! I hate football!

So riddle me this: Why exactly do men lose weight faster than women?

I'm thinking that Eve must have done something really-really terrible.

(help Holly and I figure it out at

Friday, September 11, 2009


I once had a Red Cross client which told me that she measured time as "before September 11th" and "after September 11th".

I would too if I lost my husband in the manner that she lost hers.

I can't believe it has been eight years since that beautiful Fall day turned so tragic and forever changed so many lives.

Sometimes... I think about sitting at the EOC (Emergency Operation Center) for that 8:30am morning meeting with Emergency Management. Coincidence? I don't think so.

Sometimes...I think about that person who rushed in to interrupt the beginning of that meeting by stammering something and flipping on the TV monitors (we had a wall of them).

Sometimes...I think about being so confused and saying out loud to no one in particular that an airplane couldn't hit the World Trade Center. It's an aircraft "no fly" zone. It had to be an explosion as initially reported. I was wrong. Oh so wrong.

Sometimes...I think about all of us watching that second plane hit. You could have heard a pin drop. It went from absolute silence as we didn't believe what we Def Com 10 as we realized we did. Emergency Management got it. Very quickly we got it.

Sometimes...I think about sitting at that EOC in the days that followed and taking a call from the Secretary of State's office (Colin Powell) asking me what to do with 10 million dollars worth of heavy equipment for New York. That's when I realized how bad things were for the government. Who was running this confusing show and why did they want to give me, the Red Cross, the heavy equipment for it?

Sometimes...I think about talking to Joe Allbaugh, Director of FEMA and wondering what the hell I was doing.

Sometimes...I think about that conversation with the Dept. of Health rep who wanted to give the Red Cross nurses to help collect the blood across the nation. Reports were coming in that people were lining up across America. They wanted us to collect all that we could collect. I couldn't get an answer out of our National Headquarters and I was really mad because I was the one sitting there looking stupid without answers. I wondered if they had forgotten that they left a little girl from Idaho acting as the Government Liaison. And what's a "Liaison" worth if they aren't liaising with anyone?

Sometimes...I'm glad God heard my constant prayers and I didn't screw it all up. There was a 4 star general sitting behind me representing the NSA (National Secruity Administration) and I was scared to death.

Sometimes...I think about how the breath left my body when I heard that Mayor Guiliani ordered 40,000 body bags. 40,000! That was the size of my hometown growing up...

Sometimes...I think about how my mom didn't even know where I was or that I was "okay".

Sometimes...I think about seeing that list of tenants get passed around and it finally dawning on me that my mom had mentioned my brother was going to NYC for meetings. Fugi Bank occupied floors 79-82 of Tower 2. When were those meetings scheduled? Were his meeting scheduled for this week or next? Thanksfully next...but in that moment I couldn't remember and that was the point that it got very personal. I thought I was going to throw up and had to go to the bathroom to splash water on my face. There was another woman doing the same thing.

Sometimes...I think about that firefighter I met on a hurricane assignment. He was cute. What was his name? Tim Whitley? No. Timothy Welty. I later found out he didn't make it. Then there was my FDNY friend who was on the mounted squad and a HazMat team. I've been looking for his business card for 8 years. I still can't find it but I know I have it. Somewhere. When I do, I hope he isn't on that list. I've been looking for his face since that horrible day.

Sometimes...I think about finally being so tired that I laid down in a real bed (okay - a cot) a few days later. I didn't know what day it was...but when I finally got there I couldn't go to sleep. So I thought about my dad and how he used to put me up high up in his tractor's bucket when I was a little girl. That's when the tears finally came and slid silently down my face. I didn't cry about anything I did or saw until relating to terrorist attacks until that moment. Rather, I cried about the goodness of my father when I was a little girl. It was Friday, September 14th.

Sometimes...I think about the first time I saw that pile. I couldn't understand how it was just twisted metal and dust. It later became known as "Ground Zero". For us, the rescue workers it was just "The Pile".

Sometimes...I think about those hollow eyes in the Respite Center when hope turned into reality...and response turned into recovery. As much as I tried to convince those firemen to take a 10 minute rest, they wouldn't. I don't blame them. I was just handing out water and offering a little support but I couldn't either.

Sometimes....I think about the bomb threats. Those stupid - stupid bomb threats. Not to mention the anthrax scare.

Sometimes...I think about being transfered to Family Services and how my work began with the families. The times that everything stopped and everyone stood quietly reverent as the NYPD and FDNY widows that came through the Service Center.

Sometimes...I think about that client who committed suicide months later because living without her spouse was just too much.

Sometimes...I think about those parents who didn't tell the rest of their family that their son was killed in Tower 1. Instead, they told stories for almost 8 months and lead everyone to believe that he was still alive and well.

Sometimes...I think about my clergy friend from the EOC who was transfered to the Pentagon. He told me a story about little ballerina slippers that were found in the airplane wreckage and the soldiers who would reverently remove them wearing their white gloves.

Sometimes... I think about getting a break from 9/11 a few months later only to be sent to do outreach on a that freak tornado which hit outside of DC. My outreach team was walking streets looking at damage when I approached a woman standing by a mailbox staring at seriously damaged house. When I approached she turned to look at me with the saddest and most empty eyes I have ever seen. Her only words were "I lost my son and now I've lost my house". I didn't know what to say so I just draped my arms around her shoulder and stared at that damaged house with her. Her son was killed in the Pentagon.

Most of the time...I just think about all those families. Not 40,000 worth...but oh so many. Too many. And I wonder how they are all coping today.

There are some things that even time doesn't heal.

Which is why I can never forget.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wilson World

Pray for Mr. Thompson.

He's hunting with my brothers.

I got a very encrypted text message last night from the boonies of Idaho which read...."your brothers are hunting Nazis".

Then another one which read, "shot a wolf. not an elk". (don't worry - they have a permit).

Then yet another one which read, "they are pissed because everyone slept in".

"Everyone" I fear would be my beloved husband...12 year old niece....and 12 year old nephew. "Slept in" would mean past 3:00am.

Welcome to Wilson World. I hope he survives it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

And The Winner Goes To...

Whammy #1 - bad doctor's visit.

Whammy #2 - stopped after work to get a "feel better" haircut. New lady cut it short (NOT what I told her to do!). Feel like crying...

Whammy #3 - Stopped by the cemetary. "feel like crying" became a fact.

Whammy #4 - Mr. Thompson is gone for a week and I miss him already.

I can't decide which whammy wins for the day.

It's a toss-up.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Guns N' Roses

I know I'm anti-NRA and everything (shhhh - don't tell the Browning relatives)....

But I have a confession to make.

Last night, I bought a camo bow hunters hat. I have no idea why except for the fact that I was at Cabella's...and....well...

When in Rome, do as the Romans.


I mean, I don't even know what a bow hunter does.

But now I look like one.

Too bad you won't be able to see it.

Because I'll be camouflaged.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Two Friends. One Goal.

Meet Holly. She is my friend.

She's also going to help me get skinny.

Follow our journey at I can promise that it will be interesting. Because we are going to shrink before your very eyes.

As an added bonus she is going to make you laugh and I am going to drown myself in all this water I'm drinking.

So if you want to join us...we can always make it three friends.

Or four friends.

Or ten friends.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hush Little Baby

Dead serious. Today, during my bagpipe lesson....Pipe Major Dennis (aka: Robert the Bruce).....fell asleep.

I'm not kidding.

I'd play (or rather try to play) a measure of music and by the end of it (only 4 melody and 4 quick grace notes)....he'd be asleep.

This went on for a 1/2 hour.

He'd tell me to play. I'd play (it wrong). He'd fall asleep. His head would bob forward. I'd stop playing. I'd sit there. One beat....two beats....three beats....

His head would eventually snap back up. He'd say "good! next measure". I'd move on and play whatever the heck I wanted. He'd fall back asleep.

I'm still baffled at how this could happen. I don't exactly sound like a...

Brahms Lullaby.

Just ask Mr. Thompson.