Thursday, May 22, 2008

Guest Blogger

Abby says:



Today, Sheri is appearing as a guest blogger on "Writing Military Mom" a blog written by one our our colleagues, Rosemary O'Brien. Rosemary is a writer/author that Sheri and I met in New York City two years ago at an author conference.

We have continued to correspond and keep in touch. Rosemary lives in Connecticut with her husband and her sons.

Check out the post by clicking on the link above.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Dogs with Jobs

Sheri says:

Abby and I are both dog lovers. In the 20+ years of our friendship, we’ve celebrated new puppies and grieved the loss of a beloved pet. Abby held my hand and scraped me off the floor when my previous Lab had to be put to sleep.

I’m partial to Labs; she’s partial to Boxers. One of her first Boxers ate a bathroom and most of the living room. She also heaved herself on my husband’s head during a puppy frolic. I can’t tease her too much. I’ve had Labs destroy their fair share of my material things.

Not all dogs are destructive. When the horrific events of 9/11 were unfolding, Abby and I watched in stunned shock. When we weren’t together, I kept the phones near my ear in case I accidentally dozed off. This went on for days. In the midst of the ruins, they brought in the dogs. My husband refers to these as, “Dogs with jobs.”

If a child goes missing, there’s a dog with a job on the case. Chances are your local fire station has a Dalmation – it’s a job. Walk around the airport and those bomb-sniffing dogs take their job seriously. The physically impaired and the blind rely on service dogs. Your police department probably has a K-9 patrol. Mine does.

My dog does not have a job except to bark at air. I remind her occasionally that she’s a slug. She gives me a look that lets me know I am one also.

Abby says:
Yes, and how about the dog who “knew” his owner was terribly ill – prompting a medical exam that led to a cancer diagnosis? And, the dog who pulled a family safely from a house fire? My, Maggie (a Boxer/Shepherd mix rescue) has a job: eat, sleep, play and protect me. It’s totally a dog’s world.

What prompted this post is that one of my clients living on a farm in Kentucky got to talking about his dogs. He mentioned that one of them – a Great Pyrenees “guards the goats”. I had no idea what he meant. I even had to Google the breed name. What a great job – to guard the farm goats from foxes, coyotes and other wild scavenging animals. He also has other breeds of dogs whose job it is to guard certain areas on his farm. I might also add his Great Dane recently had 14 pups. Yes, I said 14 – pups – that will soon turn into small ponies.

I am always amazed at the smarts our dogs exhibit – even those who are not formally trained outside of being a house pet. When my former Boxer, Sadie, was dying of heart disease (after years of thousand dollar vet bills and multiple medications to sustain her life) she often stood in one corner of my living room facing the wall. It sort of became “her final resting place”.

When I first brought Maggie home from the Humane Society, she went right to that corner – and sat facing the wall. For many months thereafter, she would sit and stare quietly, as though she and Sadie were corresponding and in cahoots. Whenever she sat there, she did not wish to be bothered, petted or spoken to. It was a little unnerving. She still occasionally hangs out in “the corner”. Dogs must know things we don’t.

Sheri says:

Of course they know things. That’s why we love to hang out with them.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Simplifying

Sheri says:
I read an article the other day about simplifying. The woman profiled had reduced her wardrobe to the following:
5 pairs of pants
5 shirts
1 sweater
3 pairs of shoes: winter boots, everyday casual shoes and a pair of heels.
1 dress
2 coats: one heavy and one lightweight jacket

What fascinated me was the woman was not destitute. This was a move of choice, not desperation. She owned her home and had a healthy income. She simply decided to live with less stuff.

I walked through my home and realized (again) my abundance of clutter. It’s probably time for me to let some things go. I won’t manage to do it to her level but maybe, just maybe, I could take some baby steps.

Too much equipment, too many books, etc. We all have our vices.

When I first read the article, I misread it. I thought she meant she only had five pairs of jeans or five pairs of black pants. Three pairs of shoes? I thought she was just counting by category.

She also simplified other things in her life, but just thinking about the closet exhausted me.

Abby says:
I applaud this woman whoever she is. I wonder what prompted her to clean house. I think simplification can be very cathartic. Sometimes cleaning out physical possessions can help to cleanse our minds and put more important things into perspective. Maybe she experienced a life-altering event that required her to make a big change.

I have way too much. I don’t buy extravagant things. My vice is going to Target and scoring a cool pair of $19 Converse tennis shoes or a spicy aromatic candle on the clearance aisle. The problem is, I do that a lot. Therefore, I've accumulated a few pair of Converse tennies and several candles sitting in my cabinet. There is some type of comfort in being surrounding by “things”, yet once you have those things they can make you crazy when you have too many.

At the moment, it’s hard to think about material things when you see those recently affected by the earthquake in China or the people suffering from the loss of their family members due to the cyclone in Myanmar.

If we were all forced to do what this woman did, somehow I think we’d be fine.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Texting Lingo

Abby says:
Ok, so I have proudly broken into the world of text messaging. Until I purchased my iPhone (which I must say has been the best technology gadget to ever benefit my business) I never really texted. With my current data plan, it's free, so I decided to slowly tread into the waters of this hip cyber typing experience. I have learned something new!

I've grown to love it because I can correspond with someone quickly if there's no time to pick up the phone and voice mail. With some clients, it's become a great productivity tool when you need to get a quick message to somebody. It's also great between meetings when there is no time to call. Beware: if you have "diarrhea of the mouth" texting is not for you. It's also not for experimentation while driving.

And, I feel like I might be accepted into the cool crowd corresponding with my "younger friends" (much younger I must add) and relatives. I must tell you, though, I've noticed they send me messages with abbreviations, signs and symbols to which I am clueless. Perhaps I am not as hip to the technology as I thought.

After receiving a text with an upside down question mark, I decided to investigate. Upon Googling, I found it's just the Hispanic symbol for a question. Easy enough, but how do you actually type this? Well, it's the "num lock" plus "alt" plus "168". That is too much info for me to remember let alone a stress on my pre-arthritic fingers!

Textmessages.com is a great site if you're looking for a whole slew of text abbreviations. Here are a few they list:
nid = need
nt = not
2moro = tomorrow
f = if
? = what?

Sheri says:
I don't know how to text. My husband uses it all the time to communicate with the kids and I'm a little jealous. I just got a new phone and have made learning to text a priority. Luckily, our son is now home from college so he will try to teach me. It will be a new language for me. I'm not very good with signs and symbols, plus I tend to write in complete sentences.

Once I learn, Abby will be the first to know.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Voting Stories

Abby says:
I don't think I have ever been as interested in an election as I have this year. While I don't support all the candidates and their views, it's exciting that we have the opportunity to be voting Americans in a free country. I love that high school aged kids have been calling my house during the dinner hour for the past several weeks, pleading their case for their candidate -- even if I didn't plan on voting for their candidate. I talked to them and encouraged them to believe in their cause and stay involved. I love that young people in their 20s have been setting up tables outside near my office, encouraging people to vote in the primary. These kids are the future of our country.

When I arrived yesterday at my voting precinct during the dark hour of 6:00 am, there was a long line. I wasn’t irritated, I was glad. People care, and they are voting. I waited about 30 minutes. An interesting observation I made while watching the goings-on around me: precinct volunteers literally had their hands on the pile of "Democrat"
forms – appearing almost anxious to hand them out as they asked voters which party they declared. This was not just a presidential primary, it was about congress, school board, judges, etc. Was this a subliminal message that people are looking for a change? Or, have they been watching too much of the media talking about cross-over votes? Who knows, but it was mighty fun to watch.

We live in Indiana. Hillary won. But, will she throw in the towel? It will be an interesting few weeks ahead.

Sheri says:
I am way too obsessed with the political process. Indiana has not really counted in the primary elections in over 40 years. Yesterday was our day. The Clintons and Obamas criss crossed our state repeatedly over the past few weeks. To quote one of our columnists, "If you didn't see them, you didn't want to." They were everywhere.

It's nice to have Indiana in the spotlight for something other than a sound bite with someone with bad teeth and bad grammar.

I voted early but unlike Abby, I missed the morning crush. The average age of our poll volunteers is 73+. After I submitted my ballot, a volunteer man came lurching toward me and smacked a "I Vote; I Count" sticker on me. He put it on my breast but I decided to not be offended.

The primary is important. But I'm a tad concerned about the candidates below the presidential level. We have a few buffoons that keep getting re-elected year after year. We have a Congressman who was elected solely on his last name and his grandmother's coattails. We have a person who used to be our governor that I suspect is working and oiling the political machine. That makes me crazy but it is reality.

After I voted yesterday, I had several conversations with neighbors, friends, etc. Two of them referred to Obama as the "Anti Christ." The young people seem to adore him; middle-aged people seem to be skeptical.

I am only one person. I vote. I count.

Abby says:
Even Stevie Wonder showed up for Obama and performed a few songs downtown on the American Legion Mall. Sorry I missed that. He's one of my favorites!