Tuesday, August 22, 2006


As a customer of Blockbuster Online, I'm privy to thousands of movies, including complete seasons of TV shows. This past weekend I finished Alias, Season 2. Friends of mine told me I'd really dig Alias, and though I had never watched it, decided to take advantage of the freedom of keeping DVDs as along as you want with my Blockbuster membership and watch TV on DVD.

I've become somewhat of an Alias geek. The series came to a close in the Spring - so leave it to me to be such a late bloomer. From the moment I watched the pilot episode, I was hooked. J J Abrams, the creator, is a mastermind in the complexity of twists, turns, and surprises. This guy is a story-telling genius and the most amazing part is he's my age. I'm always intrigued by people who can conjure up an unbelievable story in their head and make it come to life. As I've followed the storyline along, I've also watched the extras on the DVDs and realized that Alias had a bit of a rocky start. It seems even ABC asked J J to dumb it down for better ratings. I had a boss one time that asked me to dumb down and I found that preposterous. Thankfully, J J stayed true to the intertwining of the storyline and didn't water it down for those in the complexity-challenged viewing audience. If you can't follow the complex story line, you most likely won't appreciate the show.

For those of you who've never watched the show, the story begins with Jennifer Garner playing Sydney Bristow, a double agent who works for SD-6, a part of the enemy, while thinking, initially, she's CIA. After being brought to the good side by her double agent spy Dad, Jack Bristow, she spent the first season trying to take down the bad guys. Season two takes a whole new twist as the scenes change and the people change sides - some apparent bad guys become good, some apparent good guys become bad, and you start seeing double. (For those who've watched the show, you know what I mean.)

Now that I've finished season two and take a much needed breather before adding season three to my list, I've realized there are some good things about TV on DVD. The upside is I can watch two or three episodes at one time and not have to fiddle with fast forwarding through commercials or waiting a week for the next installment. But, there is a downside.

I miss the days of everyone talking about what happened on a show the night before. I've just watched the end of a season with a honey of a cliffhanger and no one to debrief with. I'm most likely the only person on the planet that is at this point of the show. Either you've never watched Alias, watched some episodes but aren't a fan (I don't understand why, but, I digress), or you've watched the whole series. If you've watched the whole series, you're dying to tell me what happens next, of which I do not want to know and ruin my excitement. If you've never watched it, I have to recap the last 44 episodes since the pilot for you to understand what I'm talking about. And, if you've watched it but aren't an avid fan, you quickly feel the need to find me some medication to alleviate this Alias obsession I have.

The world no longer waits patiently for the answer to "Who shot JR?" anymore. It's somewhat sad that we've lost that TV camaraderie that we once had. Alas, this is blogger...I'm going radio silent...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Ahh, To Be a Kid Again

This week starts the 37th season of Sesame Street, the place I used to visit every afternoon in my childhood days. As part of this new season, the folks at the Children's Television Workshop are introducing a new character, Abby Cadabby, a fairy in training. Her big round eyes and her purply pink pigtails are adorable and she waves around her magic "training" wand causing all sorts of things to turn into pumpkins unexpectedly. Recently moving from Fairyside Queens, this 3-year old is scared about meeting new people and friends, but her friends on Sesame Street are there to help her adjust to her new environment.

Sesame Street takes a lot of heat from folks because of the apparent underlying liberal messages but, as a grown-up, I owe a lot to Sesame Street. You see, as an only child, many times, the television was my way to learn how to interact with others. My Mom monitored my viewing, but she'd let me watch Sesame Street unaccompanied, and she'd join me for Mister Rogers' Neighborhood right after. I learned numbers, letters, and all about far off lands from my hour with the folks on Sesame Street. And, I was a viewer when only Big Bird could see Snuffy and Mr. Hooper was still alive. As an older person, I was glad they addressed Mr. Hooper's death and explained to children where he went. I couldn't wait to hear, "Today is brought to you by the Letter B."

So, welcome, Little Miss Abby. I hope you bring joy to lots of little apprehensive children who are scared to start school alone, frightened by having no friends, or simply absorb your method of making friends. Maybe they, too, will be willing to reach out and make new friends.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Small Town Appeal

After my recent vacation trip to Adel, Georgia (population 5,000, give or take an ant), I was re-introduced to my love of small towns. I was raised a city girl here in the booming metropolis of Louisville, Kentucky. It's not New York, but, after our recent realignment of boundaries, we are the 16th largest city in the US. The amenities of a city are very nice - lots of options for food, fun, and frolic - but the hustle bustle can get a bit wearing at times. When we got closer to Louisville on our road trip home, I swore I could feel the 'bub' swelling of the impending 'hub bub' of the city.

I have other friends that live in a small town in Alabama (Phenix City) and the same appeal is there that I found in Adel. The slower pace, the friendly people, and the relaxing feel of the environment. While in Adel, we were 5 minutes from most everything - except major shopping and food establishments, which was still only 20 minutes away in Valdosta. In Phenix City, the same thing occurred. We weren't far from Columbus, Georgia, and this very long strip mall that had every store you would need (along with a Super Wal-Mart) and restaurants plopped along the parking lot.

Although it can be a little daunting in a town where everyone knows your business, there was something comforting when I walked into the local Adel Rite Aid and the checker carried on a conversation with me about the previous night's storm. I can barely get a "hello" out of the checkers in Louisville. Being single, living in a small town would probably be a lot more difficult than living in a city. But, I think if I was married, I'd be perfectly content in a small town. (So, all you farmers out there looking for a wife....).

Our family never lived in a small town, but I think my Mom would have loved it. She would talk to strangers even in the big town of Louisville and not think anything about it...even when she found out more than she wanted to know. I'm sure the "Mayberrys" of the world would get old, just like the big cities, but a change of pace wouldn't be a bad thing....like the lyrics of the Rascal Flatts song...

"I miss Mayberry
Sitting on the porch drinking ice-cold cherry Coke
Where everything is black and white
Picking on a six string
Where people pass by and you call them by their first name
Watching the clouds roll by"

Friday, August 11, 2006

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

I recently returned from my summer vacation to a little town in south Georgia called Adel. Now, you'd never find this place unless you were intentionally looking for it as it lies somewhere between Tifton and Valdosta on your way down I-75 to Florida. You may ask, "How in the world did you choose that destination?" Well, back in January, two of my greatest friends, Chad and Tracy, moved to Adel to serve at the First Baptist Church. Chad is Minister of Music and Tracy is his wife and partner in ministry.

Since their relocation down south, my friend, Christie, and I had been trying to coordinate a time when we could visit, and finally, all of our schedules matched up to make the August trek. Christie, Tracy, and I are part of a close group of friends that have gone through a lot together and bonded from some interesting experiences that could fill a blog. We were so excited to get to spend time with she and Chad again that we were willing to endure the 10-hour drive to get there.

Tracy and I go way back. We both grew up at the same church, and I first remember her when I assisted with children's choirs at church. After leading her in that capacity, our next encounter was in the singles ministry. She reminds me that my comment of "I've been single too long if Tracy is now in singles" wasn't a very welcoming way for her to enter post high school days, but I've done what I could to make up for that faux pas. Through many experiences during that time, we bonded. Tracy and I have a lot in common, as was reminded to me during my recent visit. It's those things that make me miss her even more.

Chad met Tracy at our home church. I'll admit that I didn't see if at first, but now, I can't imagine her with anyone else. They are best friends and I feel like I've known Chad all my life, just like Tracy. The coolest part was being able to watch them grow together, fall in love, and get married. My house served as Chad's laundry location when he had no facilities at his own apartment. In the words of Tracy, "Only Chad could draw 12 people to watch him do laundry." We'd plan a dinner menu, cook and enjoy a family meal - all while Chad did his laundry. Card playing, American Idol watching, and other assorted activities were all part of this every other week ritual. I'll never forget those nights.

As Christie and I headed to Georgia, Tracy promised to call us every hour. And, she did. She tracked us better than a GPS and calculated the exact time we'd arrive so she and Chad could have supper prepared. When we finally pulled up in the driveway of their adorable house, Tracy was out in the yard to flag us down. Reaching our destination was a welcome sight.

Our visit began with a house tour, led by Tracy, complete with lighting cues from Chad. As we got settled for the evening, Tracy recapped for us the itinerary during our stay. This is one of the things, of many, I miss most about Tracy. She is a planner extraordinaire. Being a bit of an obsessive planner myself, she and I would be the control freaks, um, er, members of our group of friends. When things would spin out of control, you could count on Tracy to get us back on track. Down to explaining the use of the guest bathroom and towel assignments, Tracy was meticulous with details on every aspect of our stay. Some people might find that overkill, I find it refreshing. The creme de la creme came on Sunday morning. Tracy left for church and put in a roast for lunch (for those who know Tracy, she has become an outstanding cook - yep, you read that correctly). Along with the map of Adel, complete with directions to the church, she left a note for us to put in the potatoes after 10am. The note read "Put the potatoes (not the water) in the roast pot after 10am. Please submerge as many as possible." She had laid out the potholders for pot retrieval, and set out all that we would need for breakfast. When I walked into the kitchen and saw that "Tracy touch" I smiled.

The vacation was great. I loved Adel. It was great to see where their life is now and to meet a lot of people I've heard them talk about in name only. Small towns have a lot of appeal, and I'd be happy to live in one if I wasn't single. Until then, I'll enjoy many visits to my new vacation spot, Adel, Georgia.

One of the added bonuses of the trip was witnessing Chad's first musical at the church. A children's musical called "Acorns to Oaks." I had a sappy moment when I watched Tracy orchestrate the children where they needed to go and sat on the front row making sure everything was running smoothly. It reminded me of a time when I sat on a church pew as a children's choir worker watching Tracy perform...and I was experiencing a visual reminder that the torch was being passed...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A Purse By Any Other Name is Still as Sweet

In a recent post on sunglasses, I revealed my need to find just the right pair of sunglasses - and once I do, I never want to have to search for them again. Well, I'm also that way about purses. I'm a pretty low maintenance purse chick. I don't change out purses everytime the wind blows, or my shoes change, or my nail polish changes. If you do, more power to you. After changing purses so much at one time that I left my auto insurance card in the wrong purse, I realized it wasn't worth the effort. Plus, a quick scan of my handbag history and you'll see an overwhelming abundance of black purses. So, why change from black to black?

I've always admired Vera Bradley purses. Those lovely quilted purses that come in all shapes, sizes and fabrics just looked stylish no matter what you are wearing (see above) and were washable to boot. But, the price of those puppies are outrageous. Most range in price from $60 - $100, which is much more than I have spent for my purses from Target. I try to be frugal as much as I can, so I couldn't justify that kind of money - even if I carried that purse until Jesus comes. Chances are, I'd grow tired of it eventually.

The purse I was carrying was a lovely crocheted black number that came from Fashion Bug. Reasonably priced, it fit the bill almost perfectly. Almost because it didn't hold my planner. I carry a calendar, not a Day-Timer or Franklin planner, but a nice inexpensive calendar from Staples that has enough room to write on each day and glance at a month. Along with its size, this purse was also beginning to wear out. A crocheted fabric is soft and flexible, but also privy to snags and eventual holes. So, I decided it was time to get serious about the search for a purse...

I shopped at my normal discount places...Fashion Bug, Target, Jewelry & Handbag Warehouse, and even Payless Shoes (you can find some nice bags there, ladies)....but to no avail. I knew what I wanted, but couldn't find it. Then, I Googled the phrase "quilted purses" and my dreams came true.

The first non-sponsored link that came up was for Jean's Unique Creations. It was like Vera Bradley for the common man! Jean provides purses, accesories and small luggage in your choice of fabric. And, even provides wonderful accessories for walker and wheelchair users. My Mom made these pouches and bags for herself so she could cart things around the house while on her walker. After seeing the prices of these purses (the highest priced bag is $49.95), I knew I had found a purse supplier. And, the deal was cinched when I read that she is now "retired" and her husband runs her orders to the Post Office, does the housework and loves to cook. It sounded much like my Dad and Mom, although Mom never sold the things she made.

I've spread the word to everyone I know - and my Stepmom has even bought her own purse! If you've always longed for a Vera Bradley, a Jean's Unique Creation is a purse just as sweet....and be sure to tell Mrs. Jean that Rose sent you.