A memoir of musings, allegories and adventures covering my inspired life...

Thursday, June 30, 2011

God & Country

As the July 4th celebration weekend approaches, I am reminded of a time when Brandon was 4 years old and how our conversations in the car opened my eyes to his innocent perspective on life.  I had picked him up from preschool that day and inquired, as usual, about what he had learned in school. His response was, “the pledge of allegiance.”  I glanced into the rearview mirror, only to discover that he was knuckle deep in his nose…digging for gold perhaps, or “pointing to my brain” as he would say (it was a daily struggle between us to break this disgusting habit).  So I was like, “Brandon! Get that finger out of your nose!” and he was like, “How’d YOU know where my finger was?”  I told him that it doesn’t matter whether I can see him or not.  He shouldn’t do things behind my back because God was watching and eventually he would reveal the truth to me.  So Brandon is all, “Well I already KNEW that.  We learned about it at school today.” And I was like, “About what?” and he says, “About how God is EVERYWHERE an you can’t hide from him.”  So I was like, “But I thought you learned the pledge of allegiance today.” And he says, “We DID.  It’s a story about God AND about the country.”  So I was all, “What in the WORLD are you talking about?”

Frustrated with my ignorance, Brandon moaned through a deep sigh and says, “It goes like THIS, mom.”

Brandon: “I pledge allegiance, to da flag, United States of America.  An to da republic, whichistans, one nation, under God, INVISIBLE, wif liberty an justice furall!  See?  He’s everywhere, we jus can’t see him cuz he’s invisible.”

Me: “Well if you knew that, then why were you picking your boogs?”

Brandon: “I didn’t think he would tell on me this time.”

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Citizens for Sasquatch Privacy

I’d like to bring your attention to one of The Gambit blog of New Orleans posts this morning, where they shared this fancy little nugget of information through a press release issued as follows:
"Bigfoot Captured on Video in New Orleans City Park

06.27.11 - New Orleans, LA - The New Orleans Bigfoot Society (N.O.B.S.) received a video of what appears to be an unclassified non-human primate in New Orleans City Park this week. N.O.B.S. immediately dispatched a field team who gathered hair and fecal samples from the site of the encounter. N.O.B.S. has sent these samples to a lab for analysis and will update the public on the results as soon as they are available.

You can watch the video footage on the N.O.B.S. website: www.nolabigfoot.com

If this evidence proves conclusive, it will be a major breakthrough in the scientific search for Bigfoot.

The New Orleans Bigfoot Society (N.O.B.S.) was founded in 2001 by a group of Sasquatch researchers and enthusiasts in the Greater New Orleans area. It’s a little known fact that there are more Bigfoot encounters in Louisiana than in any other region of the USA (other than the Pacific Northwest).

Several of our members have had personal encounters with the creature, many of them during the course of N.O.B.S. research. Surprisingly, many verified sightings occur near urban areas and there are several documented encounters that have occurred inside the City of New Orleans (especially in the wild areas of City Park over the last few years).

N.O.B.S. is dedicated to uncovering the truth behind the nature of these creatures, finding evidence of their existence, and revealing it to the world.

There has been a rash of recent sightings in the area including one in New Orleans East (at the abandoned Six Flags) and at least two other verified reports of strange humanoid creatures encountered in City Park. We have also received audio recordings and photographic evidence that is currently being analyzed.

If you have seen or encountered one of these creatures, please contact N.O.B.S. immediately by emailing: sightings@nolabigfoot.com

For interview requests please contact:
Dr. Xavier Jenks, PhD
Research Team Leader
New Orleans Bigfoot Society (N.O.B.S.)
A direct link to the post is here: http://www.bestofneworleans.com/blogofneworleans/archives/2011/06/28/big-foot-real-or-imagined

First of all…OMG!!!!! Sasquatch in NOLA?!?!?! People! Leave him alone! He’s not hurting anyone! I’m sure he’s just trying to pass a good time on Bourbon Street…have a little gumbo, join a second-line parade…

I have to admit, I feel like a blossoming expert on sasquatches after the 2 hour period Sunday afternoon wherein I found myself editing marketing pieces on the couch with Animal Planet droning on endlessly in the room. When all of a sudden, right before me was a 2 hour marathon of a show called Finding Bigfoot. Basically what I know is this, sasquatches DON’T WANT TO BE BOTHERED! They pretty much always run away or hide when spotted, despite their superior size and strength. And also, even though none of the sasquatch info we have can be confirmed to be fact, I'm pretty sure if you are out camping in the woods, and you play Wilson Phillips Greatest Hits in your tent, sasquatches will throw rocks at you…but really, can you blame them?

Second, and most importantly, I’d like to bring mention to the fact that there presently exists (and has for a while) duhn dhun dhun DUHHHHHHNNNNN

The New Orleans Bigfoot Society (N.O.B.S.)

Wha? Are they for real? Because there is a REAL demand for this institution in the big scheme of things.

I think the sasquatches are just gentle giants watching over us as we watch for them. Maybe we have it all wrong. Maybe they are our protectors against the cataclysmic zombie invasion that everyone keeps talking about. People! I implore you! Think about Chewbacca, and what an asset he was to those on his side! Don’t piss off the yetis! Save the wookies! And stop following Big Foot!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Stupid is as stupid does

Let me take a moment to introduce you to Maggie “Doodlebug” Miller.  The photo here pretty much sums up our little simpleton…so cuddly, so sweet, and oh so very DUMB.  This was her response to the “SIT” command.
Sit Maggie
We first learned of her condition a couple of weeks after we adopted her.  Concerned about a guttural hacking noise she kept making, I brought her to be examined for what I suspected was some sort of respiratory infection.  After careful observation and testing, the vet was like, “Maggie here is perfectly healthy.”  And I’m like “But what about the horrible hacking noise?” And, as if on cue, Maggie takes a few steps, trips over her own foot and let’s out that sound.
Me: “See?! That’s the sound!”

Doc: “Well that’s just a bark.”

Me: “A bark…really?  It sounds more like she's chaneling the spirit of a toad with laryngitis.”

Doc: “It seems as though Maggie has what is called an abbreviated mental capacity.”

Me: “Are you saying my dog is retarded?”

Doc: “Basically.”

Me: “And that affects her bark.”

Doc: “You’ll probably find many idiosyncrasies as she develops.  But as far as her health goes, she’s good to go.”
Great.  Just what I needed. The Forrest Gump of cocker spaniels.

So I present to you the list of “idiosyncrasies” revealed:

-at adult growth, she is 20 lbs dwarfed from her normal breed size

-one ear is half the size of the other, this is typically disguised by her long hair, but sometimes we ask for a summer cut at the groomers, and she pretty much just walks around looking like her head is cocked to the side all the time.

-sudden energy bursts cause her to run wildly back and forth across the yard, sometimes colliding with the columns on the back porch

-she usually barks ferociously at her reflection in the glass door as she walks by

-one time she charged at her reflection and became so frightened by the display that she avoided that room for the rest of the day

-she humps our other dog, Mojo, when she wants to play because to her it is a form of wrestling

-she runs through the dog door at full speed and sometimes misses the hole

-when she hears Mojo alerting with his bark, she mimics the barking, but instead of focusing on the cause of his barks, she swings her head in a Stevie Wonder-like motion while staring off into space

-she pees herself a little every time someone with a baritone voice greets her
Over the years we have adapted to our doodlebug.  Her antics warm our hearts, but the grunt-barks are still so annoying.

Friday, June 24, 2011


Nonsense thoughts that have gone through my head before 10am this morning…

-I constantly write run-on sentences. I was regularly corrected for it in school as a child. Maybe that’s why I like lists so much…because you can put as many fragmented thoughts together as possible without creating a run-on sentence.

-I wonder what was the longest sentence ever written (I Googled it by the way, over 35,000 words!!!) I want to read this sentence.

-I don't think I've ever met a person who declared brown to be their favorite color.

-Indiana Jones…definitely the man

-I can’t remember if Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner ever really dated, or if it’s just my memory of that movie they did together screwing with me.

-The Mona Lisa creeps me out. I think it’s because she has no eyebrows. Never trust people without eyebrows.  Maybe that’s why there are different schools of thought on her mood in the painting. I say let’s paint on some eyebrows and knock out two problems with one solution.
Mona Lisa Makeover!

It’s definitely Friday people!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Stamping out ignorance

Nila, my co-worker, recently began researching the assets for a succession our office is working on this week. Occasionally she asks me questions regarding procedures and protocol, but for the most part, she is on her own in the process. The succession is riddled with various stock certificates and life insurance policies from the 1940s which makes the preliminary work all the more difficult. At one point this morning Nila walks into my office with a furrowed brow and photocopy in hand.

Recreation of the inquiry

Nila: "What are these stamps?"

Me: "What do you mean?"

Nila: "When you copied the Cash Sale Deed, what were these stamps copied on the same page?"

Me: "Let me see that…they’re just stamps on the cover page of the deed. Maybe the clerk’s office mailed it somewhere."

Nila: "No, they aren’t NORMAL stamps, their SPECIAL stamps. You think they are collector’s stamps?"

Me: "No way…collector’s stamps? I think someone just mailed something somewhere."

Nila: "You never know. They could be worth millions. I use to collect stamps. They weren’t worth millions. But these could be!"

Me: "Surely not."

Our boss walks in at this moment and we brief him on the current discovery session and conversation.

Tudor: "Did you figure out what they are?"

Me: "Nila just Googled it. Are they some sort of receipt?"

Tudor: "Not really. Back in the old days you use to have to pay a state tax on real estate transactions, that’s what those stamps are for. It helped keep people in check when declaring the value of their property."

Non-productive history lesson for the day: Not regular mailing stamps, not collector’s items worth millions…just taxes.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Karma filtered

So, Saturday was a long day of cleaning house, organizing drawers and running errands. One of the chores on my handy “to-do” list was to change the air filter for my A/C unit, which was struggling along in the fight against our recent Louisiana heat wave. Please keep in mind, that as I recreate this scenario with you, I was hot, sweaty, tired, and had reached my limit of patience for the day…but I guess that’s still really not an excuse for the “wise” parenting practices I chose:

Picture it: standing before the air duct in my hall with Brandon slightly to my left

Me: “Brandon, please take this new filter out of the plastic while I unscrew the grill from the air duct.”
(I toss the new filter at him and spin to complete the task at hand)

Brandon: “Sure, mom.”

Grill removed, I pull out the filthy air filter and turn to exchange it with Brandon for the new one, only to discover that he STILL had not removed the packaging from the replacement.  "Slow as molasses," as my father would say "Quit fiddly-fartin' around!"  But I did not choose those words...

Me: “Really?! Here...take this old one to the trash and gimme that. You suck!”

(I would like to defend my choice of words by letting you know that I was smiling and using a playful tone at this point, even though I sort of meant it too)

I grab the new filter and in my haste to “school” Brandon on quick packaging removal, I lost my grip on the left side of the filter, causing it to shoot up and smack me in the face, busting my lower lip.

Brandon: (laughing hysterically at this point) “Now THAT’S what you call Karma!”

Lesson learned…pride in check…air filter clean.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Juxt -a-pose?

Juxtaposition...one of my FAVORITE WORDS!!!!  It came to mind when I encountered this photo on the morning news a few days ago.  The reporters were discussing whether this "accidental photo" was staged or spontaneous when taken during the Vancouver riots following the Stanley Cup finals.

This morning the subjects of said photo were guests on that same morning show, and video footage of the actual moment the photo was taken was rolled for all to see...it was REAL!!!  What is the story you ask? Well, put simply, the couple were leaving the area as the riots escalated and the riot police basically plowed them down in route.  The boyfriend was merely consoling his girlfriend in a moment of chivlary.

I was thrilled to hear that it was a geniune "moment" because as a photography enthusiast, I am rarely driven to raw emotion by staged photos.  It's the accidental moments that generally take my breath away.  This one did the trick...

Love and War
Compassion and Disdain
Solace and Chaos

Whatever you call it, there's nothing like a still photo that brings you into that moment to experience it for yourself.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Politickin' Folk

We are very fortunate at my office to be located on the same floor as the Congressman for our district. Over the last sixteen months of my employment at my office, I have wondered what topics of discussion would arise should I ever have the opportunity to get to know the Congressman in passing. Of course, due to his numerous schedule obligations at our state Capitol and in Washington D.C., he has been limited in his time at his “home office”, and although I have gotten to know some of his dedicated staff over time, I had not had the opportunity to meet him in person…until today.

There we were my boss, my co-worker Nila, and I, all leaving the office a few minutes after 5pm and heading toward the elevator, when we were intercepted in the hall by none other than the Congressman himself and a few members of his staff. Immediately my boss, in true fashion excitedly says, “Look girls! It’s our congressman! Rodney, I don’t believe you have met my assistants, Nila and Abby.” The elevator doors open and several of the people from our floor pile in herd style.

I find myself in the rear of the elevator with the Congressman standing right in front of me with his back to me to save room. This would probably be the best time to mention that he is probably about 6 foot 6 inches and wearing a dark suit. I was staring directly at an enormous WALL of microfiber blend and feeling a bit crowded. I was distracted from the potential onset of a claustrophobic panic attack by the conversation that ensued between the occupants of the elevator.

My Boss (with a comical demeanor directed at the Congressman): “We’re not gonna find any naked pictures of you on the internet, are we?”

Congressman: “Nah, there’s no money in naked pictures on the internet.”

Woman standing beside the Congressman: “We wouldn’t want another ‘WEINER’ roast now would we?”

Yep, that just happened.

On my way through the parking lot I thought to myself, “So THIS is what “We the People” want to discuss with our representatives.”

I love working with my boss because he reminds me occasionally that life shouldn’t be taken too seriously…and my Congressman is pretty cool, too.

Cooley Deal

So on a recent trip to Alaska with my father, I had an experience I’ll never forget. Well, I had TONS of experiences I’ll never forget, but THIS one in particular REALLY sticks with me. It was the realization of the vast span of the amazing life of my dad, Charles Murphy Miller. I mean think about it…he was born BEFORE the television was an appliance which could be purchased for the home! And now…here we are, in the twenty-first century…and he’s STILL so cutting edge! Okay, so maybe not “cutting edge”, but he sure does give it his best effort…

Picture it: A chilly summer day in Valdez, Alaska 2010, picturesque views from our RV campsite of an eagle’s nest, a glacier pool, and mountains as far as the eyes could see.

My dad and I were sitting in lounge chairs. I, with my laptop resting upon my legs as I uploaded that day’s photo journal of sites; Dad, sipping his diet coke in intervals between tales of mayhem back in the day with his good ole buddy, Daniel T. Cooley. And that is how we will refer to him for this story, because it is important that you understand that, although my father was commonly known as “Chuck” among his Marine friends, he refused to reference his dear friend without using his full name, middle initial separation included.

“Boy me an’ Daniel T. Cooley was in a MESS uh trouble then!” or “That Daniel T. Cooley just grabbed that son-of-a-gun and ran!”

Anyway, a brief period of silence induced by a man lost down memory lane was suddenly broken by his peaked curiosity. “You still savin’ pictures?” he asked. “No,” I replied, “just checking my Facebook for a sec.” Leaning over he made his next inquiry, “What does it do?” So I proceeded to explain to my father the revolution of social media and the convenience it provides when one wishes to stay in touch with friends and family far away. I showed him how you can upload photos, drop someone a message, follow their day to day goings on, etc. His response to the wealth of knowledge I had just shared? “Well, I wonder….what my friend Daniel T. Cooley is up to. I hadn’t seen ‘im for at least 35 years. He may even be dead by now. Abby…look on that there Spacebook and see if you find a Daniel T. Cooley.”

“It’s FACEbook, Dad,” I corrected, “but it may be worth a try.” It was only a matter of minutes before I was staring at a list of people…four to be exact, Dan Cooley, Daniel Cooley, Dan theMan Cooley, and Daniel T. Cooley. Of course none of them had a picture that was usable for identification purposes, but dad chimed in anyway, “It’s THAT one! I know it for sure! He ALWAYS goes by Daniel T. Cooley. Nuthin’ else. That’s him alright! Text ‘im and tell ‘im Chuck is trying to see if he is the same Daniel T. Cooley that skinned 3 rabbits with his bare hands on a bet in Okinawa, Japan after the bar brawl.” So I messaged this stranger, word for word as I was instructed. And wouldn’t you know it wasn’t 10 minutes before I had a notification that Daniel T. Cooley had replied to my message. His reply read “Abby...thanks...glad to know he is doing good...I don’t get on FB much…does Chuck have a Skype account? tell him setting up Skype is a lot easier than running a Jetcal on a J65 engine! So he should be able to figure it out! Anyway, I'll look forward to talking with him on Skype.”

Well obviously I don’t need to explain how I was instantly setting up a new Skype account for my dad, all the while explaining yet ANOTHER social media concept to him. And then…ring…ring…ring…”Huhllo?!”

Dad: “HELLo!”

DTC: “Huhllo?!”

Dad: “HELLo!”

DTC: “Huhllo, CHUCK?!”

Dad: “HELLo!”

Me: “Dad! Say SOMETHING else, PLEASE!”

All the while I’m making screen adjustments…sound was working well (as well as can be expected when the Skype session is between two battle-proven, hard-of-hearing men over 70), but no picture on his end yet.

DTC: “Huhllo CHUCK?!”

Dad: “Yeah! How you doin’ Daniel T.?”

And then the video stream from Okinawa, Japan fades in. A withered man with receding hairline white as snow and a crooked solid white beard is peering through some lenses at his long lost friend, my dad. It was Daniel T. Cooley…in the flesh. My dad looks at his friend a moment…then turns to me and says, “Man, he looks soooo OLD!”

OMG... “DAD!” I returned in a strained whisper, “He can HEAR you!”

Alas…I was wrong…the conversation went on without a hitch. Although the sound was working on Skype, good ole Daniel T. Cooley apparently needed a new hearing aid. All was well with THIS friend connection.

So very proud of my dad, for not letting the technology advancements scare him into submission.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Doomsday Dumplings!

With all the news lately being centered around tsunamis, tornadoes, flooding devastation, economic collapse, sasquatch sightings and the world ending a few weeks ago, I thought I may entertain this idea by examining just how prepared my household would be for such an event. Don’t get me wrong…I actually don’t believe I need to prepare anything other than my soul for when my Savior comes, but for the fun of it…let’s explore this question carefully…Is my pantry prepared for an apocalypse, world-wide catastrophe, or alien invasion? What does one store to sustain themselves and their family for the years following an “earth-shattering” event?

I began with a brief inventory of my pantry. For those of you who know me well…I pretty much am a minimalist in the grocery department, and am therefore doubtful that our survival would be guaranteed with the supply I currently maintain: ½ jar of peanut butter, one unpopped bag of Orville Redenbacher’s kettle corn, ½ box of stale Honey Bunches of Oats cereal , 2 slices of wheat bread (the heels…we don’t like them so we just let them rot before throwing them out) and a sweet potato with roots growing in 4 different directions. My first thought…”I wonder if it’s too late to start a sweet potato garden with that thing.” My second thought…”Who am I kidding, I’ve managed to kill every plant I’ve ever cared for, including a cactus. It would be best to let the potato die an honorable death in the pantry.” Needless to say, I was lacking proper supply, and so I began a list of things I would probably want to have in case of emergency: (In case you haven’t noticed from reading my blog…I L-O-V-E lists!)

1. Peanut butter – it’s protein, it’s sweet, and you can spread it on anything!

2. Bisquick – umm HELLOOO!! You can make all KINDS of things from Bisquick like biscuits, dumplings, and PANCAKES!!! (Hopefully the disaster will have destroyed all of the weevils so they do not invade my Bisquick supply)

3. Vienna Sausage – this will be my treat for Brandon…he LOVES those things and I won’t buy them because of how bad they are for you. But in this case, I’ve decided to make an exception. I could potentially use them to bribe him into building on additions to our shelter or growing me a post-apocalyptic sweet potato garden.

4. Tony Cachere’s creole seasoning- it makes everything taste a little better. Besides, just because we are in survival mode does not mean we cannot enjoy a meal every now and then right?

I think that’s it. Don’t judge! I know it’s not much, but I think my bartering skills will get me pretty far. Think about it. If it were the rapture, I would be gone to take my place in heaven, having left a nice little supply for those suffering the end of days. If I’m attacked by aliens or angry terrorists, I could slow their attack by throwing Tony’s in their eyes. In the case of economic collapse, I could develop some form of Vienna sausage currency with which to buy other items. Fresh pancakes every morning would help me maintain my current figure, not to mention the fact that they would adequately appease the sasquatch appetite and keep him from trying to eat me. We could come up with games to play on my elliptical machine (because let’s face it, I couldn’t be so lucky as to have workout equipment destroyed in the end). And surely peanut butter could protect my skin from exposure to radiation!

Feeling good now! My plan is in place! Anybody up for some Doomsday Dumplings?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Mi Hermano

A couple of weeks ago, Brandon’s graduating 8th grade class took a trip through history along the east coast and we used this opportunity to piggy-back a weekend vacation to Boston so that he and his half-brother, Kristopher, could meet in person for the first time. As one of five siblings, I know how important it is to have a friend who knows all of your strengths and weaknesses, or who understands your sense of humor and laughs despite the fact that it was not very funny anyway.

I was overjoyed when I first spoke to Jennifer (Kris’ mom) and discovered that she was absolutely supportive of the boys getting to know each other as brothers. And so then there we were, together in Boston, getting to know each other as well, but mainly bonding through the similarities that exist between the boys. First of all…the obvious…they have the same eyes. Well actually, they are pretty much the same from the eyeballs up, but I’ll continue the list of similarities as follows:

~ SAME HAIR – cowlicks and all…gotta love those cowlicks!

~ SAME EARS – they are a tad oversized, a little crooked at the corners, but adorable nonetheless

~ SAME STRUT – I don’t know how many times Jenn and I found ourselves following behind the boys, and noticing that their bodies move in the exact same manner when they are casually strolling along.

~ SAME SPORTS & HOBBIES – basketball, video games, reading

~ SAME ALLERGIES – and allergy medication lol

~ SAME STORY-TELLING STYLE – yes, they are both verbose and excessively detailed in recounting the events of a day, or the contents of a show, game or story they have encountered, so much so to the point where they end up on a tangent of their own storyline, abandoning the original point all together

~ SAME OBSESSION FOR READING – constantly thirsting for the next book in the latest series of novels, devouring one book after the other with their appetite for expanding their horizons

~ SAME DEMEANOR – both personalities are ruled by traits such as being mild tempered, obedient, independent, intuitive, sensitive and funny

~ SAME STYLE – last year, each of them received a new pair of glasses. They each chose their own style and ran with it. As you can see in the photos, they chose the same.

~ SAME TASTE IN MUSIC – Alternative rock…including their “favorite band” – Green Day

I was all smiles during the trip as I noticed that Brandon’s little brother (3 years his junior) was beginning to idolize him in the small ways a 10 year old does. He would chose to wear the same color as Brandon, sit the same way, or even mimic some silly thing Brandon did. I was proud of my son as he strived to be a good example to his brother, and offer guidance on things that only someone “older” and “wiser” would know.

The weekend ended a success and the boys had a great time. We made commitments to get together again this year, and every year to follow.

I hope the boys know how important they will be to each other one day. I hope they really open up to one another as they grow older and develop a bond that cannot be broken. I hope they understand the sacrifices and efforts their mothers have gone through to keep them whole. I hope they had the time of their life!

I leave you with famous lyrics from the boys’ favorite band – Green Day

Another turning point; a fork stuck in the road.
Time grabs you by the wrist; directs you where to go.
So make the best of this test and don't ask why.
It's not a question but a lesson learned in time.
It's something unpredictable but in the end it's right.
I hope you had the time of your life.

(I bet it’s stuck in your head now right? Join the club)