Monday, May 29, 2006

What's a Boy to Do When He Graduates Kindergarten?

My son, Milesaballz, completed kindergarten this past weekend and has decided that it is about time I wrote an article that involved him. So what else can I do but indulge him.


Let's see, Friday Milesaballz had his end of the year ceremony where he gave an impromptu discussion on his frog habitat he made out of modeling clay. It was very detailed and surprising to me considering I did not even know he had prepared a speech on his own for this event. He received an award for perfect attendance and an award for being the most curious. His teacher is predicting that he will be a scientist. After the ceremony ,we attended a garden party. This took place at 0900 in the back of the school. For anyone who is imagining a stuffy affair, I assure you that it was not.

Saturday we had a nice lunch with his best friend, Lilly. Lilly is a beautiful Chinese girl. My son has even picked out two lillies at Lowes to plant in our flower garden to honor her. The last time we dined out with Lilly, she was all dressed up and her Momma said, "Lilly show them your walk." It really was quite a grand walk. Milesaballz put his hands in his pockets and nonchalantly said, "I see her walk."



Later in the day, Papa Bear and I took Milesaballz out to Folly. We had a great time, but the beach seemed to have a lot of litter, maybe it was the holiday weekend crowd or maybe it was because we went late in the day instead of early morning. What made me first take note of it was when Milesaballz picked up a large piece of folded aluminum foil. He insisted that it was a problem because the turtles might think it was jellyfish.

Sunday afternoon we took our weekly trek to Summerville to have lunch with Mammaw and Pappaw. Does anyone know how to spell Mammaw and Pappaw? This is a source of disagreement between Pappa Bear and me. It is not how either of us spell it, but it is phonetical enough that we do not argue over this version. Pappa Bear's sister was down for the weekend. That was a nice surprise.

Monday afternoon, we took the kids to Marion Square to see an art exhibit at Piccolo Spoleto. The weather was just lovely and we were serenaded by the Charleston Community band while viewing the art exhibits. Milesaballz stopped to relax at a water fountain with some Italian ice. He later told me that he was considering jumping in the water.


Here Miles is sitting in front of a painting by Floyd Gordon of Orangeburg. Papa Bear really liked this artist's work, but Milesaballz was not impressed. What child on the cusp of 6 is you ask? Well, soon after this photo was taken, my son took off toward art he did like. Did he gaze at such art in admiration? Oh, no....Several times he sought out the adult who appeared to be in charge of a particular booth and began letting the artist know exactly what he liked about their paintings and which works he liked the most. He would tell the artists that they were quite talented and inquired how long they had been painting. This happenned enough times...and sometimes before he had even checked out the paintings that I surmised that he just liked to engage in conversation and could care less about some of the paintings.


Milesaballz did like this painting and this photo. He could see how you might think he was standing in a field of sunflowers.


OK, this is a posed photo if I ever saw one. I did not pose my kids - they posed themselves.


This one of Lizzybut looks a bit animated. She, too, discussed art with one of Milesaballz's favorite artists. She took the artist to her favorite painting which was about $1200 and announced that she really loved it, but there was no way she could afford it. He told her that she would be able to one day. I patted her head and told her she needed to start saving now.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

She Aims, She Shoots, and She....SCORES!!!

My dear friends and fellow lurkers,

Sometime back you may recall that I was daydreaming about being given tickets to a SC International Trade Show luncheon because Stephen Colbert was to be the Keynote speaker for said affair. Well luck did favor me today as I was offered tickets to this event through Container Maintenance. Along with a wonderful coworker, I was able to bring Papa Bear. Our table was in the center, near the front, and by the Colbert table. In case you don't know, he has lots of friends and family in Charleston. What fun!

You say you want evidence that he and I were in close quarters? I am here to tell you that we were even color coordinated....and as for the evidence - Well! Will this do?

C'est moi, Stephen Colbert et Sharon (photo taken by Papa Bear)

My daughter is miffed as to why I didn't think to get her out of school early so she could attend.

Where I Probably Will Not be Posted

On May 15th the 89th OMS class began their training. I turned down an invitation to join this class. Recently, a member of this class posted their bid list. The bid list is a list of locations where the OMS specialists will be sent at the end of their training. Personal preferences, individual circumstances and the needs of State determine where you get posted.

Without further ado, here is the bid list:

  • Abuja, Nigeria
  • Beijing, PRC
  • Bogota, Colombia
  • Bratislava, Slovakia
  • Istanbul, Turkey
  • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Kuwait City, Kuwait
  • La Paz, Bolivia
  • Moscow, Russia
  • Nicosia, Cyprus
  • Paris, France
  • Rabat, Morocco
  • Reykjavik, Iceland
  • Tbilisi, Georgia
  • Tokyo, Japan
  • Warsaw, Poland

Nigeria and Malaysia are the only two locations that do not include language training. I'm beginning to thing that it may be better to not know the bid list of a previous class. The likelihood of getting so many dream choices again on the first go round seems rather slim at the moment.



Saturday, May 20, 2006

Fast and French

Let's see....it has been exactly 14 years since I have taken a French class. With very few opportunities to practice French in Charleston, I have become quite rusty. My co-workers encouraged me by giving me Mastering French as a graduation present when I completed my MBA coursework last August. My biggest problem is that I only listen to the audio tapes when I am in the car. I know I need to be following along with the book to get the most benefit, but I just have not made the time to do this. I'm certain it is because it's too clinical and I want fun.

So, I have come up with a plan to rejuvenate the idea of relearning French in my mind.
-I will go to more French restaurants.
-I will read books written in French aloud.
-I will teach my children French basics.
-I will be a francophile where wine is concerned.
-I will read French blogs

If any reader has a suggestion to add to my list that may work, please feel free to suggest.

Now that I have outlined my intent, I can tell you what strides I have made today on the French front. I have randomly chosen a number of French blogs to peruse. The idea of reading French blogs does interest me. I am looking for a resource that is not as clinical as language books tend to be. Clinical is boring. Real people, real lives, real ideas...now that does stir me. Hopefully, I will eventually understand all the unknown nuances that I am reading.

Next I took Mom and daughter to Gaulart & Maliclet for lunch.


Charlestonians generally prefer to call this great little cafe G&M or Fast and French - that way there is no embarrassing mispronunciation.




My daughter, who turned ten this weekend (notice the I'm in the two digits glow about her), ordered the Croq' Monsieur with an Orangina. The problem with this order is that she ordered it sans Dijon, sans le fromage...et sans le jambon. I did point out that a turkey sandwich was listed on the menu. She rationalized that then she would not have gotten her sandwich toasted.


Mom and I opted for the lunch special. It was chicken (and sausage) pasta salad with cantaloupe, bread and house wine. It was just lovely.




For our next course, we each sampled a different desert. Here we have pictured carrot cake with cassis sorbet, chocolate mousse and bourbon cake. Miss ten-year-old didn't care for the sorbet, so Mom and I split it. Yummmmmy. The cassis sorbet is a treat by itself. I don't think I need to mention the coffee. It is always heavenly.



After lunch, the three of us took a short walk. I didn't intend for it to be short, but the ten-year-old with us was antsy to get on with her day. Along Tradd Street we walked by this quant dependency.


We turned onto Legare Street where I saw this beautiful dream house in its entire Patina-esque splendor.

Our short walk ended after I stopped by 22 Logan to reminisce. This is where Papa Bear lived when I met him. It was directly above Schwetmann's (sp?) Lakeside Pharmacy on Broad Street.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Blogging: It's Not Just for Introverts Anymore

The tag line is brought to you by Heather of Moncks Corner Moments.


(photo by Janet Edens Conover)

The Lowcountry Blogosphere has only been in existence for one month and already it is obvious that we are putting a doin' the Charleston spin on things. In typical southern fashion, we were ready for an excuse to socialize. Hey, I know....let's throw a party!

(photo by posted by Joan and taken by Windviel on THE Mustang Rolling)

Left: Chuck (Chuckography), Harriet (GMLc), Eugene (Imablog), , Kelly (Microfamous)

Back: Janetlee (Kittens on the Keyboard - hiding), Erin (the redhead papers - hiding), Ad (Agricola), Dan (Conover on Media and Xark! ), Peg (bellascribe); Bill (Bill Hawkins),

Right: Heather (Moncks Corner Moments), Jason (Cavaliers and Roundheads), Dottie (Spoletoblog), Mike (Notoriously Nice Mike)

Front: Jason and Lisa (Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness), Janet (Xark! ), Joan (Walk This Way), Vera (Vera's Crafty Blog)

Conspicuously absent from the group photo is Geoff and his beautiful fiancée, Leigh. Weird, weird, weird! And do I here rumors of a harbor cruise next?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Giving Democracy a Chance

A big hat tip to Robert at Expat Yank who now owns one of my posts.

Last week, I commented on an interview with Madeleine Albright. The short spot she was given on the Colbert Report was obviously meant to promote her new book The Mighty and the Almighty. In the course of the interview all sorts of issues were brought up that included religion in politics, forcing democracy on other countries, and the powerful message having nuclear technology sends to the world.

I was hoping that my post would generate serious dialogue and offer a perspective that cannot necessarily be obtained from Stephen Colbert. Robert's response did offer a perspective that I can well appreciate. Thank you for that. I encourage everyone to take a moment to consider his argument and even offer one of your own.

Monday, May 15, 2006

JSTARS



My brother, my hero, is an Army major. He is shown on the left and is attached to an AF JSTARS unit. Currently, he is somewhere near Iraq and gets posted there approximately twice a year for 105 days at a time. This morning he sent me a few recent pictures.

JSTARS, with the aid of their ground looking radar, help direct air and ground troops to potential problem areas on the ground that include Improvised Explosive Devices, and troops in contact. They also assist with ground convoy radio support which assists with radio relay and some MEDEVAC rescues.



Here is my brother with his crew of 21 soldiers and airmen on board.

Friday, May 12, 2006

What Message Are We Trying to Send?

My soon to be 10-year-old daughter LOVES the Colbert Report. She will pretend to go to bed at 20:00 to get her little brother to go to bed, then at 20:30 she runs downstairs and changes the channel to Comedy Central. Yes, some of the themes and language are a little mature for her, but I think the overall message being relayed is worth the exposure.

Generally, while all of this is going on, I am at my computer going clickety clack. Tonight was an exception. Papa Bear and I were enjoying a leisurely after dinner discussion, when down the stairs ran our daughter. She turned on the TV just catching the last ten minutes of the Colbert Report. The last segment was an interview with Madeleine Albright promoting her new book The Mighty and the Almighty.

The publisher summary at audible.com states:

Does America have a special mission, derived from God, to bring liberty and democracy to the world? How much influence does the Christian right have over U.S. foreign policy. And how should America deal with violent Islamist extremists? Madeleine Albright, the former Secretary of State and best-selling author of Madam Secretary, offers a thoughtful and often surprising look at the role of religion in shaping America's approach to the world.

In The Mighty and the Almighty, Madeleine Albright examines the profound impact of religion on America's view of itself, the effect on U.S. policy of the rise of the Christian right, the Bush administration's successes and failures in responding to 9/11, the challenges posed by the war in Iraq, and the importance of understanding Islam. She offers a balanced but, when necessary, devastating analysis of U.S. strategy, and condemns those of all faiths who exploit religious fervor to create divisions or enhance their own power.

In this illuminating account, Albright argues that, to be effective, U.S. policy makers must understand the power and place of religion in motivating others and in coloring how American actions are perceived. Defying the conventional wisdom, she suggests not only that religion and politics are inseparable, but that their partnership, when properly harnessed, can be a force for justice and peace.


©2006 Madeleine Albright; (P)2006 HarperCollinsPublishers

What I inferred from the interview with Stephen Colbert, this former Secretary of State points out that though she believes in God and democracy, but such personal preferences should not interfere with diplomacy. She has no problem saying that she is on God's side, but to justify any national action taken with God being on our side is crossing the line. Madeleine Albright believes that our need to force democracy down the throats of other countries is an oxymoron. To say that we have a divine right as a country to impose our beliefs and our brand of democracy without regard to other religious perspectives in the world is typical of our political past, but that does not mean it should be so.

She concludes with reference to U.S. goals for the future of Iraq. Supposedly, one of our goals is to make Iraq a poster child for democracy. As it stands now, no country in the world wants to look like Iraq. Unintentionally, we have managed to send the wrong message to other countries. The message is that if you do not have nuclear weapons, you will be invaded. If you do have nuclear technology - as is the case with North Korea and Iran - then you will not be invaded. Russia and China have been in on this realization for years.

I do not think this was our intent, but can anyone argue the result differently?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Anticipation is makin' me wait......

I have been rather pre-occupied of late. I have a GSO Assessment mid-June. The odds are slim – even if I do pass – that I will be offered a training class this year. With this in mind, I intend to accept the next OMS invitation that is extended. I am about 80% positive that this means I will be moving temporarily to Arlington, VA within the next four months. By temporarily I mean 7 weeks minimum and possibly longer if language training is required. I will have no idea where my final destination in the world is until 3 weeks after training begins. This is no small matter considering I am forcing this move on a family of four. Relocation factors under consideration involve hotel vs. corporate housing, distance from the Foreign Service Institute, distance from the metro, bike trails, public parks, the elementary school, shopping centers, cost of parking, commuting logistics, and creating a memorable experience for my family that hopefully includes a view. In my current state of mind, a hotel suite with complimentary breakfast and daily maid service is sounding pretty good.

If you have a furnished apartment on the Potomac in the Rosslyn district that includes utilities and maid service so that I can submit a clean per diem invoice and you do not mind me not knowing when I will be arriving or departing – please drop me a line!

Friday, May 05, 2006

¡Feliz el Cinco de Mayo!


La mejor razón para ir a la SC International Trade conference:
(The best reason to attend the SC International Trade Conference:)

The Keynote speaker for the Luncheon on May 23rd is: Stephen Colbert!!



I have a feeling no one on the waterfront is going to have extra tickets to offer me for this event.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A file marked PERSONAL

Looking at my desk today and everyday, I know that I have to tame the chaos and get organized. Half glancing through my file drawer, I noticed a file in my husband's handwriting marked PERSONAL. Should I look? It is my desk and if it were that personal, then it should be in his desk. So I look.

Contents: Photos from when he went to USC, an old ticket, notes on Mills House Hotel bev naps, a thank you note, a letter and a poem that I wrote him in the Summer of 1992, a poem he wrote me soon thereafter, a poem for a previous someone that he even dated 2/14/90 and an undated one that I'm sure was also before my time.

I think I'll share:

This first one is the one dated 2/14/90. It also has a drawing with a heart. The heart has arms and legs running as an arrow darts towards it.


Red Rose Meets Cactus Flower

Where a rose is a lonesome place
Passion red and fading grace
Where cactus flowers
Pleasure comes
Year from day, hour on hours
Where roses lie with cactus flowers
There is beauty in a spreading space
Freedom comes to those wait – but
Bondage tides the waves of fate
Red roses and the cactus flower
Year from day, hour on hour

__________________________________________

Joe's Bar & Grill

(Just this side of the rise, in the valley below the hill)

You set’em up Joe and I’ll knock’em down
I kind of like this bar, it’s the best I’ve found
I’ll just stay here, get numb, be wiser.
I love to get numb. I hate being wiser.

You set’em up Joe and I’ll knock’em down
This bar is perfect to hide a poor clown
Who’s just had his guts kicked in – excuse me
Joe could you make that - double gin

When did it happen? Did I already know?
Could I have predicted like rain or like snow.
Well it’s rainin now and I feel the wind blow.
Who knows why the cold wind blows.

You set’em up Joe and I’ll knock’em down
I’d better take off right after this round.
The rain’s welling up in my throat
In my eyes there’s a drop for each of her lies.

It’s time to go home and lock the door
I’ll have a new bottle, I’ll drink a little more.
I’ll think about shelter from this storm of pain.
I need some peace, not another refrain
Refrain, that’s what I’ll have if I keep playing this game.

______________________________________________

In the Summer of '92, Papa Bear and I were at Amos's in Charlotte. With a bluesy jazz backdrop, dim lighting and a few cocktails....he turned to me and said "Tell me you love me." This was my reply. I think it captures my response to this question.

"Tell me you love me"

A chilling voice echoes – echoes
Resonating through the chambers of my reason
Sensations of desire take form
As the vibrations move through my body
The voice cradles my heart and stirs my soul

Awake –
am I awake?
In a dream – It feels like a dream
Your hand slides down my back
My body quivers –
I love feeling your touch
I slowly open my eyes – oh, you are so beautiful
Just to lose them in yours

“I love you” –
how I do love you

_________________________________________________

And finally, a poem written for me. I pressed him into this as he had written so many poems for past loves...wasn't I good enough for a poem?

The Joy to Be With You I See

(A Poem for Lisa)

Cascading down
Down hills of time of sand and ocean
Down moonlight and sunlight and freedom
Over white clouds on deep blue
Over you
Over me
The joy to be
With you I see
Cascading down

Monday, May 01, 2006

Doing the Right Thing

My employer offered me a promotion today. I turned it down.

Pablo, David, Sharon…..SSHHHHH!

Hi, I'm Lisa and I have had the same employer for eleven years. Early on with this company, I envisioned climbing the ropes in the Liner industry. I enjoyed my colleagues. I enjoyed international correspondence. I wanted to be successful. When I reached the sixth year, however, I realized that the one supervisor in the office was not leaving anytime soon and the RVP had previously advised that I could not be a manager without first being a supervisor. Women in this company are underappreciated, initiative is scarce, leadership is lacking, and training …what’s that? The only option I had was to acquire new skills on my own, so I went back to school to earn an MBA and to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up.

After a bit of ruminating, I tripped over the idea of the Foreign Service. You see, in the 1950’s and 1960’s my great, great aunt Lucille was in the diplomatic service. She was single and could get away with letting a wild hair lead her down whichever path her dreams led. Here I am, on the otherhand, married with children and dreaming about a similar life that includes dragging my clan around the world with me.

Hmmm I seemed to have gotten off track somewhere…Oh, yes..the supervisor. The supervisor gave her notice today. The operations manager knows of my goals and she knows that I only plan to be in Charleston a few more months. Even so, she asks me if I’d be interested in the supervisor position (did I mention I’ve been there eleven years?). I tell her no and that I intend to leave in July or September. I rationalize to her that if I leave in July, I would be leaving before the current supervisor leaves...and wouldn't that look odd.

Looking at the situation from a practical standpoint, isn’t it in the best interest for any company to train a supervisor who intends to hang around for a little while instead of reorganizing the office twice within a matter of months? I know it’s hard to put personal preferences aside. Yes, I would like a few months of increased salary and responsibility…which would, in turn, affect the grade and step of the DOS offer. What I don’t want is to make anyone think I might stay because of the promotion. It would send mixed signals to my coworkers and it would mean increasing my workload at a time I should be decreasing it to get my affairs in order and to train a new hire.

I am going to miss them. I was just looking at some office photos from about three or four years ago. At the time I was trying to find a more interesting background for us so I, umm,had everyone pose at different places around town. It would have worked, too...if only Nicole had straightened her hair that day!








I'm sure you would appreciate these photos better without us blocking your view. I know I have the plain versions somewhere in this computer. There are just too many files where they could be hiding.

Did I get off of the subject again?

Ha! Imagine me turning down a promotion. Who would have thought?