Saturday, January 12, 2008

Sunrise With Debbie

Debbie and I went yard saling this morning. However, we did more picture taking of the sunrise than going to actual yard sales. I headed East on Hwy. 42 and then turned right (South) on Hwy. 50. There was a nice church on the left with a somewhat interesting steeple and view. We took a few shots and kept going. We turned into a subdivision that let us see another subdivision where the rolling hills looked great. We headed down Hwy. 50 in search of a left turn to get us to the 'further back' subdivision. We found it, and we also found a great 'water hole'. I took lots of pics while Debbie took a few pics of me taking pics:-) It was fun. The lack of color in the sky and the darn plane contrails keep these from being good enough to print. However, they are still a lot of fun, and I think the time progression will make you almost feel like you watched it yourself. Enjoy!

Fun at Crabtree

The boys and I went to Crabtree Valley Mall with Christine and Madi today. We left home around 11:30 and didn't get back until nearly 6! Any trip to Crabtree is 3 hours inside the mall minimum.

The kids are always super happy to be together. Happy equals energetic:-) Christine and I worked with them as best as we could to help them behave. It was a bit of a challenge a few times today.

Everybody came home with at least something small. Fun!

More Mall Pics

Friday, January 11, 2008

A Trip to the Movies

The boys and I went with Christine and Madi and the Plymouth Church youth group to see the new Veggies Tales movie The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything. The last movie I took Joey to see was Cars, and Johnny has never been to a movie since he's been a preschooler...maybe as a baby.

The kids wore pirate costunes to the show...everyone in the church youth group did. The costumes were a big hit and lots of fun.

Johnny was just mesmerized. He sat still the entire 90 minutes eyes glued to the movie and stuffing himself with popcorn. Joey was a tad scared toward the end? He was worried before we even went in. Madi seemed to enjoy herself...almost as much as her mom. Us girls liked being out on a Friday night even if it was to take the kids to a cartoon movie:-)

More Pirate Costume Pics

Christmas Memories

I spent a few minutes today going back through our 2007 Christmas photos and came up with this collage. It's always nice to look back over happy holiday times, and this seems a great way to do it.

Time to start working on Christmas Thank You cards now that I have some good pics to work with too.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Little Gym Medal Ceremony

The Fall/Winter semester at The Little Gym (TLG) ended tonight for the boys. That means that this was Show Week and that the boys each got a medal. During show week, the parents are invited into the gym to watch the kids perform. 6 kids with 20 parents and extended family tonight;-) Lots of cameras and video recorders. All the kids did really good and were enthusiastic about doing their routines. Joey had the most Tah Duh's:-) First they did the beam, then a floor routine, and then the bars. I snapped as many pics as I could considering the difficulty with the high ceiling and fluorescent lights messing with the camera meter. I can shoot in fluorescent mode and the pics are brighter but then any fast movement is blurred...grrrr. Anyway, I really enjoyed watching the boys tonight and thinking about all the new stuff they continue to learn there. We'll be back next week for the same time and class as part of the Winter/Spring semester.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Europe Spring 1986

I had an opportunity to go to Europe in the spring of my senior year in high school...1986. It was an 11 day bus tour starting in Rome. I loved Rome. I thought it was a dirty, crowded city, but the Renaissance art was so great I was just in awe. The people were real people there too. We went to Florence next. I was equally in awe of the art and the beauty of the city itself. We then drove through the Alps for an overnight in Geneva and then on to Paris. Geneva was a very clean almost sterile city, and I just didn't care for it. I did come back with a few pocket knives, though. Paris was fun. Not my favorite, but lots of neat things to see. I also really enjoyed London, our last stop, too. For the $1500 dollars or so Dad paid to give this once in a lifetime opportunity, it was TERRRIFIC, and I'll always be thankful to him for it.

I've been back to Paris and London a few times for work and to Munich too. I'm a homebody, but I did enjoy all the opportunities I had to travel to Europe. I hope someday I can give me kids these types of opportunities too. Dad was always real good about making sure I got out to see the world.

Europe Pics

A Beautiful Sunrise After a Beautiful Sunset

Yes, these are sunrise pics. When I walked Blaze at 6:45AM, I could already see wonderful shades of orange and pink forming around clouds in the sky. I knew I had to jump in the car and go take some pics of the sunrise. These shots were taken on Hwy. 42 near the bait shop as you head toward I40 from the house. I've cleared the album down from 166 to 109, and I just can't think about reducing it anymore right now. Enjoy!

More Sunrise Pics

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

A Dull Sunset Turned Beautiful

My 2PM meeting today at IBM RTP happened to be in a coworker's office facing west. I was supposed to be paying attention to an Excel spreadsheet with over 20 worksheets. I was, mostly, but I was also looking at the clouds forming in the sky. I remember hearing about some potential for rain tomorrow. Anyway, I was thinking to myself that I hoped that the clouds would make for a really pretty sunset.

As I traveled home (frustrating that it's east and not west), the sunset was looking like a real dud. There were pretty clouds, but all the pretty color was missing. I was really wanting to take some pics. Then kindof all of a sudden right at sunset the sky turned a beautiful orange color. Of course I had to stop and take a few pics.

For your enjoyment other sunset pics are here.

Monday, January 7, 2008

70 Degrees in NC!

NC gave us a nice break from winter today with a 70 degree day. It was awesome even though it was a workday. I got out at lunch with Madi while Christine made an important work call. We went to Blimpies for lunch and then did a little shopping in Wal-Mart and at Guardian Angel. It was nice to be out just with Madi for a few. I didn't tell Joey;-)

When the boys came in from school and the park, they ended back outside doing things like riding in the Jeep.

Just before dinner, we ended up at Madi's, and Eli, Faith, and Sophie walked/rode up too. Eli made it all the way to our house on his big boy bike. Woo hoo! Way to go Eli! The kids had fun shooting baskets, riding on the swings, and playing in the sandbox.
Tomorrow will be another beauty too. For those able to be outside, enjoy!

IBM Base Camp

Some of you know that I'm fond of Chicago. There are a lot of places I'd like to take the boys. Chicago is on the list for sure.

I'd never been to Chicago or paid it any attention until the summer of 1991. No sooner did I get settled into my new job at IBM RTP when Don let me know that I needed to go to IBM Base Camp FOR A MONTH, and it was in Chicago. I have to say that that was a pretty scary prospect. I was barely settled in my new apartment and that was traumatic enough!

So, 6/10 - 7/2 of 1991, I was in Chicago attending base camp. All that really means is that I was attending an extended education class. They put me and a bunch of other students from all over the country up in one of the high rise tower apartments, gave us $36 a day to live on, and told us to report Monday - Friday 9-5 to the big black IBM buidling over by the lake.

I got there and got settled in OK. We had roommates. Rothie (don't remember her last name) was mine. Let's just say that she made sure I was OK. Being in Chicago was a bit scary, and she was a bit older, and kindof motherly.

Ya know, and don't tell Don, but I don't remember one darn thing they taught me in that class. I can barely remember even being in the classroom even though I reported every day all day. I do know that on $36 a day that I was able to eat at a bunch of nice restaurants in Chicago including prime rib at the Chicago Chop House. We ate at Dick's Last Resort and Hard Rock and lots of other places too. Rothie and I went to the Brookfield Zoo one Saturday. We spent a lot of time walking between the Sears Tower and the John Hancock Building. And, of course, we went up to the top of the Sears Tower and went on the observation deck. IT WAS FUN! There was even a boat ride out on the lake!

OK, so maybe they did talk a bit about system 390 assembler code and how to read that yellow card thingy in class. I tried to pay attention, honest.

I notice in the shot below that I'm carrying the case I had my Minolta 110 camera in. That must have been what I took these shots with!

Over the years I've traveled back to Chicago several times on IBM business. The InfoMan product frequently held user group conferences there. It continues to be one of my favorite cities.

18 Years With IBM

Don was reminding me that my IBM service anniversary is 1/5/90. That gives me 18 years:-) OK, so I wish it was 20 (I'll get a 5th week of vacation), but still, 18 years is now starting to seem like a bunch of years. And, if I'm lucky, I'm near the halfway mark in my career:-)

The first 16 months or so were spent at IBM Charlotte as a co-op while I finished up my BA in Math at UNC Charlotte. I worked on the southeast region helpdesk writing small amounts of code in REXX for a forms application called ECFORMS (or EFAS). I also learned how to use the IBM Information Management helpdesk product to track customer problems. That would be an important skill down the road.

When I graduated from UNCC, and my co-op gig had to end, I was lucky enough to be offered a job at IBM RTP. IBM Charlotte was NOT hiring. Don is the one that interviewed me for the job in RTP. It was a L2 support job, and he always says he was pleased with my ability to openly talk at the interview...something a customer support rep needs to do. I know none of you is surprised I was running my mouth. Boy am I lucky he took a chance on a college hire. He had a lot of training to do before I was ever able to truly help our customers. It was a lot of work bringing me up to speed on how to be an IBM employee, the MVS mainframe operating system, and the Information Management (InfoMan) helpdesk product.

You see, at IBM Charlotte, I was working on InfoMan, but they didn't call it that. Don and I had no clue I already knew a little bit about the product I was hired to work on. Then one day, it was, "Hey, Don, this is the helpdesk. I've seen this before!" "What? Cool!"

I've been scanning in some old pics lately trying to preserve some pre digital pics. It's a lot of work, but it's worth it. What I scanned in today were the pics of my going away party at IBM Charlotte and the pics of my first new on my own apartment in Cary just a few miles away from my IBM RTP job.

Those that didn't know be back in 1991 will be surprised that I had 2 cats and no dogs at that time. Also, the apartment is slightly more feminine than the decor in the current house; you can get away with some stuff when you live alone. I see a few former boyfriend guy influences (owls and pic over couch in main room), but overall it's a bunch of my childhood stuff just moved to the new apartment and set up in a new place. Interesting.
I'm sorting through getting ready to turn 40. These musings are helping.

More IBM Charlotte and Cary Apartment Pics

Sunday, January 6, 2008


For the longest time, I wasn't going to have any kids. Rick didn't really want kids, and I wasn't pushing. One of the things that happened in my life to start me thinking otherwise was a sweet little boy named Zachary. I met him and his mom and dad (Wendy and Timmy) not too long after he came home from the hospital. They lived up Wateroak a few houses from us. I didn't know them very well before Zachary came along, but it was a pretty fast friendship afterward.

Zachary came early, and he stayed at the hospital for a really long time after he was born. Even when he came home, he needed to have extra oxygen, so he had to have an oxygen tank and an oxygen monitor on him most of the time. It was exhausting for Wendy and Timmy. I started to help out a little here and there. I remember one time Wendy and Timmy going out for a bit and letting me babysit Zachary. I was so proud. We dozed on the couch...him on my hand making sure his oxygen line stayed in his nose. Another time I remember him being in his saucer and me stepping outside for just a sec and the door locking behind me. Sheer terror. I could see him. He was fine. The nextdoor neighbor opened the door with a credit card in a jiffy...phew. He was a darling little boy, and I loved visiting and playing with him.

Wendy and Timmy moved away a few years back, and they've expanded their family. Zachary is now almost 13, and he's the happy child on the far right of the picture. It's definitely worth sending Christmas cards when you get back cards like this in response.

Somehow I've screwed up Wendy's address, but after a Yahoo People search and a talk with Timmy's mom, I'm back in touch. Whew!

Kids can come a long way even with obstacles. And, there are special people that come into our lives that never leave even if they move farther away.

My First Car - Sold

When I started work at IBM in January of 1990 (yes, it's been 18 years now...but that's a topic for another blog entry) I was driving a 1976 Cadillac Fleetwood Sedan DeVille. It was powder blue on the outside with white leather seats and boasted a 126" wheelbase (distance between wheels). It also had a 500 engine.
1976 Picture
1976 History and Specs
Someday when I come across a pic of it, I'll show it to you. It's a long story why I was driving that car (and a 1966 Coupe DeVille before that), but that's also a topic for another blog entry.

What I wanted to talk about in this entry is my 1991 Acrua Integra. You see, I was driving around the Klingon Battlecruiser as Rick once called it, and I was getting ready to start work at IBM RTP in April of 1991, and Dad wanted to make sure I had a reliable car to drive. We'd rebuilt the engine in the Cadillac after an overheat ruined it, and it was never the same. Also, the gas was cheaper than now, but not cheap! That 500 could really burn up some gas. So, Dad took me car shopping. I drove Ford Probes, Honda Accords, Pontiac Trans Ams, Dodge Intrepids, etc. Dad really wanted me to get the Accord, but they weren't sporty enough for me in 1991. I had to have a spoiler, and the car had to be blue. We compromised on the Acura Integra which has a Honda engine but was way sportier than the Accord. Dad threw in an extra $3000 so I could get it in blue (only the high end GS came in blue), and it was a done deal. Sun roof, CD player, spoiler, 30mpg, it was GREAT! I'll always have Dad to thank for being patient with me and steering me in the right direction with that car.

I drove the heck out of that car until Rick moved from Concord to Willow Spring. It was 150 miles each way between IBM RTP and his house in Concord, and I drove back and forth a lot.

The car continued to serve me well commuting from Willow Spring to IBM at Regency Parkway in Cary and then to IBM RTP. However, when Joey came along, it was just too hard to get him in and out of the backseat. We could just barely squeeze the carseat in the middle behind the two front seats. It hurt my back and wrists getting him in and out. In 2003, we ended up buying the Honda CR-V and the Acura became a secondary car.

In the last few months, Rick and I realized that we were out of room to park cars. With his work van, small trailer, big trailer, and the Honda CR-V and now Odyssey, there just wasn't any room to park the Acura and not enough opportunities to drive the Acura, so Rick washed it up and put it up for sale.

Except for a sparkplug coming loose on 2 separate occassions and making me pull off the road, and another couple of times that the car just would not start after being flooded? I don't think that car ever left me stranded. It continued to get great mileage. We had the AC converted so we could keep cool in it. The engine and transmission were still in good shape.

We sold the Acura on 12/31/07 for $1500 with nearly 264,000 miles on it. In a way I was really sad to see it go. That car was really good to me, and like all good chapters in life, they are hard to close. But mostly I was ready to move on. And besides, I have another blue car now;-)