Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Attention, Tiger, Moogie Has a Plan to Save Your Lunch

I know he's probably very busy with rehab after his surgery, but I believe Tiger Woods is missing a golden opportunity this spring.

He has, over the years, avoided a number of the smaller tournaments on the PGA schedule, for whatever reason. I recall an open letter to Tiger on the editorial page of the Times-Picayune a number of years ago. It was from a self-identified little old lady. In it, she implored Tiger to come to New Orleans and play in the Zurich Classic, (or maybe it was the HP Classic, before Zurich became the named sponsor, but I digress) telling him that seeing him play in person was one of the few things she really wanted to do before she strolled through the Pearly Gates. He hasn't played there yet.

Phil Mickelson hasn't played there often, but in 2006, the year after Katrina, he went to New Orleans with his whole family, did some work on a playground, and made a substantial cash donation to relief efforts. It bought him immeasurable good will in the Crescent City.

Tiger hasn't played the FedEx St. Jude tournament in Memphis either. As a matter of fact, there are a quite a few of them out there where Tiger has never teed off, and that has ticked off quite a number of his fans. Hence and therefor, I offer Moogie's suggestion for the Tiger Woods Tour of 2014:

Yo, Tiger! Take a little trip to all the tournaments scheduled this season while you can't play, and make personal appearances. Sign a few autographs, kiss a few babies. It would do wonders for your reputation, and give a huge boost to the tournaments' coffers and attendance. You could let your girlfriend, Lindsey, tag along; she could sign a few autographs, too.  Let people take pictures with your cute kids. You'd be a huge hit! And, you could keep your name out there in front of the public -- you don't want to fade from memory now after working so hard to get back in golf fans' good graces following your, er, misadventures that landed you in the sex addiction clinic and divorce court.

It's a capital idea! I'd settle for a small percentage of your next purse as compensation. C'mon, Tiger. Wise up!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Civil War Within the First Amendment

I most emphatically do not share the views on race that Clippers' owner, Donald Sterling, expressed in a recorded private conversation. If given the chance to get to know Mr. Sterling personally, I probably wouldn't care much for him and would choose not to associate with him for many reasons. From the revelations of recent events alone, one can discern that he's not just a racist, he's a cheating, bullying, misogynistic racist.

That said, the death sentence and pay-for-your-own-execution imposed upon him today by the NBA disturbs me. I think it has to do with the evolving trend to consider one person's opinion as more important than another's; one person's "feelings" being more worthy of validation than another's. Political Correctness.

The First Amendment to the US Constitution protects the rights of American citizens with respect to: the establishment and free exercise of religion; a free press; the right to assemble peacefully and to associate with whomever they please without interference from government; the right to contact government representatives; and the right to free expression.  (Wikipedia.)

What the NBA did today, essentially, elevated the opinions and feelings of a group of people above Sterling's. Mr. Sterling should be allowed to express his opinions -- especially in private -- no matter how reprehensible they may be. But, here's where it gets a little complicated -- others, who do not share his views, have the right not to associate with him. This includes the NBA.

Perhaps that's how the issue should be framed -- we do not desire to associate and do business with a man who adheres to a doctrine with which we do not concur. If this is what the Commissioner intended to relate in his press conference, it didn't come across that way. Commissioner Silver stated that the League had determined "the hateful feelings are those of Mr. Sterling.The views of Mr. Sterling are deeply disturbing and alarming." Hateful feelings.

Condemning someone's feelings because they differ from yours, and rendering someone else's feelings superior, is just one step ahead of creating a Thought Police Force. Isn't "diversity" one of the goals of modern society? Shouldn't that include diversity of thought?

Maybe I'm making too much of it, but the tone of the whole kerfuffle gives me the creeps. Maybe my Inner Libertarian has surfaced.

By the way, does anyone else find it amusing that Mr. Silver condemned Mr. Sterling? Maybe Mr. Silver is just jealous that he's merely plated and not solid sterling.

Sorry. Someone had to say it.

And, does anyone else wonder where the coverage of John Kerry's gigantic gaffe concerning Israel (also uttered in private) might have gone?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Moogie Dodges a Bullet, or a Mortar Round

The tornado warning sirens went off last night. Pepper, the dogs (after we convinced Mysti to come out from under the desk in Pepper's office), and I went downstairs to our "safe place" where we remained for a good thirty minutes as the sirens went off and back on. And off and back on. And off and back on. We're pretty sure the cell passed overhead nearby, but we were spared any damage -- we didn't even get any hail(to the relief of the newly planted plants!). The lights also stayed on -- just a couple of flickers. We lucked out.

The good people some 20 minutes from here didn't, including some of our long-time friends from the National Guard. This is near where their new house used to stand, next door to their son's home. Their new brick house. Both houses are now little more than piles of rubble.

Thank God they weren't physically injured. Many Guard friends, including us, offered them a place to stay, but they went to their daughter's. That's probably for the best. The death toll has been revised down to 14 from 16 (because two people were counted twice), but the Governor expects that number to increase.

Weather experts are speculating that the tornado will be classified as at least an EF3. Pretty powerful. It's so very hard to see all this devastation -- the poor town of Vilonia was wiped out yesterday after re-building following an EF2 that hit in 2011. The emotional toll is heavy -- even on those of us who were spared. All we can do to help right now is to donate money to relief agencies -- State Troopers and the Guard are keeping non-residents out of the hardest hit areas to prevent looting and other wrongdoing by scammers who invariably show up to capitalize on disaster. Or to gawk. Been there.

To lighten up a bit, this is a picture that Younger Daughter posted on Facebook after the all clear -- it's Grandbaby #5, and it's captioned, "Baby's first tornado. It's an Arkansas thing."

Sometimes we just need to hang onto a sense of humor. And to train our kids about storm preparation -- #5 has his flashlight and some fruit snacks.

Welcome home to Tornado Alley, Moogie and Pepper, after 14 years in Hurricaneville. I don't think I'd like to be our neighbor if given a choice -- we seem to be storm magnets.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Young, Foolish, and Felonious

My goodness. Moogie seems to have been the Negative Nellie the past few posts.

I don't see that changing today.

It's just that there is sooooo much stupidity out there. And so much of the stupid originates in the criminal justice system.

It seems that Arkansas has a relatively new law making it a felony to "exchange sexually explicit material involving anyone under the age of 17" or to distribute, possess or view "matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child." Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Now, don't get me wrong -- I don't have a problem with the law, per se. It's a perfectly acceptable function of government to protect children from  those who would exploit them, for whatever reason.  But, when government uses laws like this to punish children, it overreaches that function and sets young people on a dangerous path that can affect them for the rest of their lives.

Yep, the Jacksonville Police busted three young teenagers who had been "sexting" with one another and charged them with felonies. The sexted videos had been messaged to other kids, too. The kids are a 14 year-old boy and two girls, ages 13 and 14. In other words, they are young enough to be daredevils, ignorant of the law, and foolish.

I have a problem with enforcing laws upon a class of people the laws were designed to protect -- in this case, children under 17 years of age. At least the kids were charged in Juvenile Court instead of County Criminal Court. Hopefully the Juvy Judge will find a way to make this felony expungeable so these kids aren't stamped with a Scarlet "Felon" from the get-go and for the rest of their lives. Their reputations are already trashed. Even if the offense was committed by their own doing, they need to be made aware of the ramifications of the transgression without bearing the full clout of a felony.

The Legislature needs to work on this statute a bit -- give it some much-needed tweaking. But, oh nooooooo. They're too busy debating critical matters like the constitutionality of requiring Voter ID and whether we should have more biking paths.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Moral of the Story: Don't Roast Other People's Weinies

It appears that New Orleans doesn't have an exclusive lock on bizarre crimes.

A former Little Rock Police officer (he was a former officer because he had been fired after multiple suspensions) died early Friday morning in the yard of a blogging hot dog vendor.  For real.

The Democrat-Gazette reported on the crime in Saturday's edition -- the Comments are rather enlightening. Here's the skinny:

It seems that a Mr. Ean Bordeaux, who goes by the nickname "War Chief" of the Creole Houma-Choctaw Nation, makes his living running a hot dog stand in the River Market district. (Side note: His cart sells "Willy Dogs," which is kinda amusing since his assigned spot is on President Clinton Drive. "Slick Willy" -- get it? Heh. I wonder if he did it on purpose.)  Mr. Bordeaux also publishes a blog entitled, "Corruption Sucks," in which he recounts what he perceives as central Arkansas officials' misdeeds. "Syndicated  Social Justice Worldwide." (Caveat: Mr. Bordeaux uses rather -- ummm -- colorful language.)

Some years ago, Mr. Bordeaux witnessed then-Officer Todd Payne brush off a bar fight while on duty in the River Market by refusing to interfere or help the bar's owner. Bordeaux blogged about the event, and other of Payne's misadventures. A lot. He continued to blog about Mr. Payne and his wrongdoings even after Payne was fired by the LRPD in 2010, the most recent post being entered on March 1 of this year.  A scrolling banner proclaims in red, "This page will be updated regularly." He refers to Payne as Joel "Creepy Todd" Payne. Payne apparently was, indeed, rather creepy. Payne apparently also took major offense to Bordeaux's attentions.

In the wee hours of Friday morning, Bordeaux was awakened by his dogs' frantic barking. He checked a security monitor and saw his Willy Dog cart -- his Willy Dog cart that was equipped with a propane tank -- ablaze in the backyard, adjacent to the house where his four children were sleeping. He dashed outdoors, put out the flames with his hands, and called 911.  While awaiting the police, Bordeaux saw a man wearing a hat and mask pouring lighter fluid onto the cart. He chased the man, tackled him, and held him down until police arrived. When unmasked, it turns out that the man was Creepy Todd, a rather portly fellow, and that Creepy Todd was dead. (Facts in addition to those published by the Demo-zette are courtesy of Forbidden Hillcrest, an amusing local blog about "Little Rock crime, history, and weirdness." Also, a trashy blog, Americans Against the Tea Party.)

Mr. Bordeaux was questioned, but has not been charged.

I think this incident qualifies for the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" file.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Police Beat -- A Dilemma in Mom Jeans (or perhaps something a little more provocative)

Saturday's Democrat-Gazette reported the arrest of the 34 year-old mother of four (ages 8, 9, 13, and 14) on Friday morning. It seems she had sent the 9 year-old from the Motel 6 where they were staying on an errand  to the grocery store, "unsupervised."

The young man was picked up by police as he crossed at a busy intersection about a half-mile from the motel.

The mother was charged with "second-degree endangering the welfare of a minor." She told police that she "didn't realize [she] couldn't send her 9-year-old to Kroger by himself."

Okay. I may sound a little harsh here, but, I didn't realize you couldn't do that either. I know times were different when I was a kid, but we walked all over God's green Earth at that age.  Heck, Pepper was even hunting by himself at that age. With loaded firearms! (Of course, he lived out in the country then, so hunting/discharging a weapon was okay, and he was "supervised" by his trusty beagle.)

How about if you send your kid to the neighborhood pool or playground on foot? Could you wind up in the pokey for that? How about letting him walk to school? Is it the purpose of the trip or the distance from Mom that criminalizes the dispatching of a youngster without supervision? Does it really matter? Should it?

And, yes, I certainly understand that there are bad people out there who would harm a wandering kid. That's why you teach children about stranger-danger and have a "safe word." And one has to wonder why mom-of-the-year chose the 9 year-old rather than the 13 or 14-year-old.  But . . .

I'm really not liking these times in which we are living.

(Of course, the facts that the mother was wanted on outstanding warrants for unpaid fines and contempt, and that she lived in an "interesting" part of North Little Rock in a motel, might have contributed to her arrest, so I'll cut the NLRPD a little slack. Nonetheless, we now have four more kids in "the system," one more single parent behind bars, and a very slippery precedent. It's genuinely complicated.)

I'm shaking my head, both in agreement and WTF.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

May the blessings and promise of Easter be with us all.

Love, Pepper, Moogie, Mysti, and

Bouie Cottontail.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

April Showers and April Flowers

Have I mentioned before just how very fascinating the yard is at Moogie's Manor?  Spring has been a season of continual discovery.  Something new pops up every day!

There are several varieties of Maple.  This is the flower/seed pod from one of them. How pretty is that!

The Harry Lauder's Walking Stick that was featured here so prominently during the ice storms is interesting in the Spring, too.

My herb garden survived the gully-washer of a rain that we had a few nights ago -- and the dips into sub-freezing temperatures.  I think I'm going to give peppers -- both bell and jalapeno -- a shot. Bunnies and chipmunks don't eat peppers, do they?  After that rain, we now understand why it is so difficult to keep mulch in the downstairs flower beds.  We could have done a little white-water rafting if we had been so inclined!

Wishing you a glorious day before Easter.  I hope you get all the jelly beans your little hearts desire.  I'm off to babysit with #4 so his parents can have an early 4th Anniversary celebration.  Can you believe it's been FOUR years?!?!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Some Funnies From Today's Inbox

A wife asks her husband, "Could you please go shopping for me and buy one carton of milk and if they have avocados, get 6. 
A short time later the husband comes back with 6 cartons of milk.
The wife asks him, "Why did you buy 6 cartons of milk?"
He replied, "They had avocados."
If you're a woman, I'm sure you're going back to read it again!  Men will get it the first time.
My work is done here.
Water in the carburetor.
WIFE: "There is trouble with the car. It has water in the carburetor."
HUSBAND: "Water in the carburetor? That's ridiculous " 
WIFE: "I tell you the car has water in the carburetor."
HUSBAND: "You don't even know what a carburetor is. I'll check it out. Where's the car?
WIFE: "In the pool"
25% of the women in this country are on medication for mental illness.
That's scary.
It means 75% are running around untreated.
Husband and wife had a tiff. Wife called up her mom and said, "He fought with me again, I am coming to live with you."
Mom said, "No darling, he must pay for his mistake. I am coming to live with you.
Today's Short Reading from the Bible. 
From Genesis: "And God promised men that good and obedient wives would be found in all corners of the earth."
Then He made the earth round...and He laughed and laughed and laughed!

*rimshot*  Thank you. Thank you very much. Hope your Good Friday is full of blessings.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Foxy Fella

Elder Daughter couldn't stand it.  Tyson, their boxer boy, had never been an only dog and was grieving badly for his four-legged sister, Pippi, so guess what?

Meet the newest member of ED's family, Rusty!

He is a 10 month-old rescue from a litter that was touted as a dachshund-chihuahua mix, like Pippi. ED swears that all his littermates look like black dachshunds. She couldn't force herself to get another black dachshund yet, so she set her sights on Rusty. And he fit right in with the family -- although Grandbaby #4 is having a bit of difficulty learning not to get all up in Rusty's face.

Pippi is still a part of the family, though, and always will be.

So, what do you think?  Dachshund/chihuahua?  I'm pretty sure there was a fox in the woodpile.

Welcome, little Rusty Roo!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Moogie Cranks Up the BS-O-Meter: WoW!

So there's a "War on Women," is there?

Perhaps we should refer to the Meme of the Day as the "Reprise of the 'War on Women.' "  After all, the issue seemed to go dormant after the 2012 elections.  It seemed to have gone dormant, that is, at least until the 2014 mid-terms cranked up in earnest and the Left needed a hook to distract voters from serious issues. Railing on about a vicious War on Women sounds much sexier than defending Obamacare, or the IRS, or Benghazi. Or armed-to-the-teeth Federales waging a hot war on a cattle rancher in Nevada. Or the US role as a Global Super Power sinking slowly into the sunset with the Young President at the helm. Shall I go on?

The Wiki defines War on Women as "an expression in United States politics used to describe certain Republican Party policies as a wide-scale effort to restrict women's rights."

Oh. Republican policies.


Having lived and worked as a professional during a time when women's rights were genuinely restricted, or marginalized at best, and recognizing gender discrimination when I see it, I'm calling BS on this one.

Is there an imbalance between the wages paid to men and and those paid to women? I have no doubt. Is it caused by one's reproductive parts? Unlikely. It's more plausibly the result of differing skills, experience, and any number of other variables. Does it always smell "unfair?" Probably.

Would a shiny new (in addition to the laws and regs already on the books) Federal law prohibiting employers from paying men and women differently for similar work see an end to such practices forever and ever? If you believe that could happen, I'd like to offer you a ride on my prize-winning, thoroughbred race-Unicorn at a discounted rate. Just drop me a check in the mail.

It's difficult to believe that people are so shallow, uninformed, and gullible that they would jump onto this bandwagon. It's almost as difficult to believe as watching War on Women "opponents" prattle on about their cause with a straight face. They can't really believe what they're saying, can they? They have to know that it's all just a Game of Politics? District of Columbia Sleight of Hand. Hot-Button Pole Dancing. The Capitol Hill Razzle Dazzle.

Come on, people! You're being played for patsies. Grow up!! There are legitimate issues out there.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Being "Thankful For My Family" Doesn't Begin to Describe How I'm Feeling Right About Now

 The funeral was yesterday.  My heart broke for those parents whom Fate had led to sit in front of an open casket, draped with both a folded American flag and an Arkansas Razorback flag, bearing the body of their 24 year-old son. My heart broke for his siblings.  My heart broke for the love of his life and mother of his child. For his son and extended family. For his brothers and sisters in arms. For his church family. For every parent in that room.

The slide show celebrating his life brought both tears and laughter. The three different preachers got their message of salvation across. The music was both iconic and touching, ranging from "Amazing Grace" to Kenny Chesney to Christian rap, among others. I must admit, I've never heard Christian rap before. It was interesting.

The whole service exhausted me. And it terrified me, as you will see, with good cause.

SIL#2 and Younger Daughter sat beside #2's mother in the front row.

The evening before, Wednesday evening, my precious young family was on I-30, on its way to the visitation, in stop-and-go rush hour traffic.  #2 was driving their 6 day-old Toyota Venza while YD sat in back with 10 month-old Grandbaby#5, without wearing her seatbelt so she could more easily tend to #5. (The car was their second brand-new car in less than a month, by the way, because the first one turned out to be a genuine, irreparable, dangerous lemon. This one was much better.)

SIL#2 had come to a safe stop, along with the flow of traffic, and (fortunately) within a reasonable distance from the car ahead of him, when YD saw him coming. She flung herself over the baby the split second before she felt the impact.

Daughter was slammed around the back seat; SIL#2 smacked his head on the windshield, even though he was wearing his seat belt. No air bags deployed. Thank God for a strong car seat -- a little fear was the worst that the Grandbaby suffered. The new car was, of course, rendered not drivable, but SIL managed to get it limpingly to the shoulder anyway, and without being driven into the car in front of them..

The unlicensed, non-English-speaking driver, with no insurance, who plowed into them at 50 mph in stop and go traffic told the State Trooper, before he was taken away on a stretcher to be treated at a hospital at taxpayer expense, that he had just consumed "solamente tres cervezas." (Only three beers.) And, we all know that "solamente tres cervezas" probably means several mas cervezas than tres.

Is my rage showing?

Pepper pulled into the driveway from running with Grandbaby#1 just as I was pulling out, so he hopped in the car with me and we got to the kids, during rush hour, in record time. I took #2 an ice pack. I'm not sure it helped him, but it helped me to be able to do something.

Today, the day after that sad, sad funeral, just remembering that phone call from Younger Daughter and its aftermath has opened the spigot on my teary faucet. I have sent up countless prayers thanking my good God for sheltering my family and preventing what might have been. My Facebook post thanked God and Toyota for their safety. The kids went to the ER later Wednesday evening with #2's father and his wife and checked out fine, but for the whiplash. They took a goofy photo there that showed them trussed up in neck braces, grinning and flashing thumbs up. YD texted the pic to me and Elder Daughter, captioning it as this year's Christmas card photo. I think the good drugs had kicked in by then.

They were stiff and sore yesterday, and SIL#2 still has a pretty impressive goose egg on his forehead, but they could have been so, so much more worse off. I can't imagine the panic that SIL#2's mother must have felt when she got that call from #2 explaining why they couldn't make it to the visitation.

The stress level at Moogie's Manor is running pretty high right about now, and we can't really put all of this behind us until Tuesday. We will bury that young man in the VA Cemetery on Tuesday -- the first day available for a burial. Pepper worked his contacts to smooth the process for the parents. Thirty-five years of military service pay off in the most unusual ways sometimes.

So. I need to turn my thoughts to happier places in my mind. How about more Spring flower pictures?

This is the bed in the side yard.  We put in the geraniums and croton earlier in the week. The pop of color makes us happy.

This is another view of the bed. The Son and his family gave me that Bottle Tree for Christmas. I really like it. Annnnd, I've added a couple of bottles to it since Christmas!  ;-)

I love the white azaleas beneath the Japanese maple at the top of the driveway.

This is the white dogwood and its companion Japanese maple beside the front door as seen from the dining room windows. I took this pic yesterday because gazing at this natural beauty reveling in the filtered sunlight gave me such a sense of peace.

Tell your loved ones how much they are loved. We are not promised tomorrow.

I hope this is the end of that Case of the Creeps I posted about in March. I think I'll go play in the dirt some more.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Little Dirt Under the Fingernails Can Be Pretty Therapeutic

A Louisiana friend swears by the notion that on gorgeous days like today, by day's end you should smell like dirt. Pepper and I are doing our best. Spring is bustin' out all over at Moogie's Manor!  Look at these gorgeous trees that greet visitors from their spot next to the front door.

When we moved in late June, the Japanese Maple was identifiable, but I didn't really pay much attention to its companion tree.  We didn't realize that it's a magnificent, mature white dogwood until a week ago.  Wow! What a color contrast! There are Encore azaleas, too, and we put in an orange Hibiscus a few days ago (because I'm pretty sure the big Firecracker plant didn't survive the winter). I can't wait for the peonies to bloom!

There was not a whole lot of dirt at Moogie's Mansion, and that caused me to have to grow my herbs in containers where they didn't always survive the brutally hot summers. So, I'm understandably super excited to have tons of rich soil, brimming with friendly earthworms at the Manor!  You probably can't tell from the pic, but in the two beds I've put in sweet basil, lemon thyme, rosemary, both curly and flat-leaf parsley, lavender, chocolate mint, and chives!  They're already growing!  I'm thinking that I need to add a little cilantro and dill now, too. There's also a new baby gardenia in the curve of the back bed to give us a little gardenia action before I plant JB's in the front side-yard next fall.  I'm letting it grow strong in the controlled indoor environment before subjecting it to the whims of Mother Nature.

We lost our minds yesterday and went to Home Depot (which honors the military discount now, by the way, so they no longer have to bite me) where we invested in three flowering fruit trees and a pink dogwood. Pepper planted them this morning while I was out, so he'll be stove up for a few days.  He put the peach next to the hibiscus and hydrangea we planted earlier in the week. I also added some solar landscaping lights.  I'm looking forward to this evening to see how the configuration looks.  That's a good thing about solars -- you can move them around if you need to. And, you can bring them indoors when you have a power failure and don't want to bust out a bunch of heat-generating candles. (Helpful Tip of the Day!)

We also got some hanging baskets for the deck and colorful plants for the containers. One of them is a fern. I'm a little leery of the fern -- I've never been successful at keeping them alive in baskets, so we shall see. This one will be in a nice shady spot when the trees get through leafing out so it at least stands a fighting chance.

It's good to immerse oneself in happy, life-affirming things after a week like this. Please think of Younger Daughter and SIL#2 tomorrow -- the funeral will be in the afternoon.

Then go play in the dirt.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Operating With a Heavy Heart

I've been AWOL.  Not really sure why. All I know is that I've been very introspective the last week or two. I've reached a stage in my life where time seems either to stand still or move past like a blur.

Last Thursday, my Daddy celebrated his 85th birthday!  Well, we celebrated it -- he tolerated it.  Pepper and I took lunch to him and had a nice visit.  He even agreed to come to our house on Sunday for a belated cake fest with his grandkids and great-grandkids. (Daddy has advanced COPD and requires three lung treatments per day, plus oxygen, so his trips out are few, even though he still drives during the day.) Everyone was going to be here -- what fun!

Except . . .

Except that  the previous Saturday, SIL#2's 24 year-old stepbrother was gravely injured in a horrific motorcycle accident.  He had been in what was supposedly a medically induced coma in ICU, undergoing tests and surgeries to stabilize his battered and broken body.  His father posted photos of the Crotch Rocket, before and after, on his Facebook page.  If you hadn't seen the Before photo, you wouldn't have been able to tell what was being featured in the After photo.

Daddy had already gotten here when Younger Daughter called.  They had been summoned to the hospital and wouldn't be able to come over.  Four hours later, Chris was gone, leaving behind a shell-shocked and grieving family, including a three year-old son.  He survived deployment to Iraq, but not Interstate 440.

Time stood still for his family for more than a week.

Now, time paces inexorably forward and the healing struggles to begin.  The family has a very strong faith and knows that they will all be reunited in the next plane. But, even holding onto that promising certainty, they are hurting. And we hurt for them.

Elder Daughter is also hurting for the loss of a college friend the day before the accident -- a sorority sister who always stood beside her -- and who left this world by her own hands.  She grieves the loss of her friend, yet the friend's passing gave Elder Daughter the impetus to communicate with their pledge class, and, in the process, to exorcise -- in a healthy way -- some demons she's been carrying around for years.

So, even though it's Spring and life is popping out all around us, a cloud hovers over the sun.

Still, I just walked down the hall and spied a little stuffed hippopotamus (or "hickeymapotus," as Elder Daughter used to say) hanging out by a door, where Grandbaby #4 left him yesterday in all his toddler busy-ness.  How can seeing that not bring a smile to the face?  There is joy yet in this sometimes cruel world. And, I intend to hold onto that joy.  So, here is the picture I posted to my Facebook page yesterday while the party was going on, captioned, "Pants and shoes?  I don't need no stinkin' pants and shoes at Boompie's 85th birthday party!"

And time marches on, clutching joy in its weary hands.

Don't you just want to smooch that precious, innocent face?