Saturday, February 27, 2010

I was wrong. It was cooler than that.

I was wrong about the meals for the Haitians project in two ways.

First, Kansas City wasn't adding to a million meals nationwide. 
We were assigned to make our OWN million. 
Whew, that is a lot.  I wonder how much will be done across the country.

Second, it was more than cool to be there. 
It was Hoover DAM(n) cool. 
I took pictures.  I have proof.
You know I like pictures more than words... *sometimes*.

The Boy and I went to the city.  I wasn't able to work my four hours, so The Boy and I worked one and half.  This was the first bumper sticker we saw when we parked so I knew I was in the right place, with the right people.  I have the same one....minus the floating earth.  :)
You sign in, get your FREE hair net and apron..,
and we waited just a few minutes in our line
to be assigned to one of the 48 tables.
They need 14 workers per table.
Meaning, in theory, 672 people are filling bags
at the same time.  Not including the red-shirted
support staff.
There were a lot of folks smiling.

This is Bob, our table manager.  He was so bossy!
But efficient and we got a lot done in our hour.
Don't tell Bob, but after we did an hour on table 46,
we defected to Table 1. 
Kind of like figure skaters from Russia in the 80's.
There was an order and funnel to put the ingredients into
the small sandwich sized bags.
First, power vitamins, then dried veggies (that was me)
then dry soy, and dried rice.
Everything is measured to the ounce. 
Then The Boy patted the sealed bags flat for packing.
Yeah, he isn't doing too well, hence the large
dark circles under his eyes.
This is what we created.  :)  One bag feeds six meals.
For the starving may I remind you.
See the veggies...
The words in the right corner say:
Not for sale.
This food is to be given freely
because Jesus loves little children.
Fortunately, Jesus loves big people too
so they get a box per family with a gallon
of water to make the soup/stew.
This is the magic gong they gonged every
10,000 meals we finished. 
It rang 6 times during our shift.
It is a SWEEEET sound.

Honestly, a little sweeter than
the Haitian music they were playing.
I think there was some relief
when the IPOD system broke.

At my table, I stood next to a NBC
tv news personality named Beth.
She was really really nice.

All sorts and sizes were there.  Kids whose parents
took them out of school.  Old people.
And this cute girl who was working...
from her wheelchair.
Numana is the non-profit food group who helped
make this happen with the Salvation Army.

Last, but certainly not least,
one cancer-surviving
Tom Allison was there.
Normally, I would say that red
 is NOT his color....
but for some reason today
(could it be the message?)
it looked Tom Terrific on him.  :)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Ever help feed a million people in an hour?

In my personal journal from 2004,
I recorded that the name of everyone I served a meal
or some sort of treat to in my home that year. 
Some were repeat "customers",
but my total list was 84 different folks.
That is a lot of food, dishes and time.
Worth every minute too.  :)

This weekend, throughout the United States,
the Salvation Army is planning a "dinner party"
of sorts for the Haitians. Since the people
of Haiti cannot come to our homes for dinner,
the Salvation Army has figured out a way
to bring dinner to them.  In a bag
about the size of a sandwich baggie.
(This is the marketing ad for the local Army here in Kansas City)
It is called A Million Meals.  Our goal here in KC
to have 12,000 people come together with in
20 hours and put together thousands of meal bags
to be shipped to Haiti.  Combined with efforts of
thousands of other helping hands throughout the US,
will total of a million bagged meals.

They are not asking for much for you or me.

One hour of your time.

They are asking for volunteers to come
(no, you don't have to pre-register--you just show up)
 and stuff bags(which looks very easy) for one hour.
Children are welcome with an adult.
This is the perfect opportunity for scouts,
church, regular folks, etc.. to help out.
Parking is free.  Hairnets are free.
Who doesn't appreciate a free hair net?  :)

I have planned to work four hours on Friday because
I have a little flexibility of time that most people who
are my age and are paid to work do not have.
I will let you know how it goes. 
What event intrigue this provides me...
being that I am an event planner and all.

If you live somewhere far from me,
check out the website of your local
Salvation Army.  There are
going to be stations throughout the country.

If you are in the KC area,
the project will be at the Amercian Royal Arena.
It will be Friday noon to 8 pm.
Saturday 8 am to 8 pm.
All are welcome.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Island of Madeira

There are 15 other people I can think of off the top of my head who are feeling sad today.  Sad like me.  Some of them are Portuguese, but most of them I am thinking of are Americans.  Amercians I have two things in common with--besides being American:  we were all LDS (Mormon) missionaries and we all lived on the tropical island of Madeira at the same time.

So what, you say?  What is it?  Where is it?  See that yellow dot on the left side bottom of this map?
That is Madeira.  The main city is Funchal, which I lived in for several months during my mission.
It is a very poor poor place that has one thing going for it:  extreme tropical beauty.  Many of the natives are quite impoverished and live in the hills.  Europeans call it the "Pearl of the Atlantic" or the "European Playground" and use it as such.  I think we saw more people from "The Continent" as it was called, except when we would attend church.  That is where we would see the most locals at one time.  Most who rode the bus to get there.

Funchal and the island of Madeira are washing away as we speak.  Some freaky storm has hit it, a land once visited by Christopher Columbus in the 1400s.  It is devastating to see on the news.  But you might not really understand HOW devastating.

These photos are mine from 1990 when I was there.   Here is the main river run through town.  If you watch this youtube post, about 35 seconds in you can see this same road literally being washed away yesterday.  :(

This is Sandesh, the 12 year old man of the family we rented a room from.  His mother had married her first cousin thus resulting in children with disabilities--serious eye deformanties.  The father took off and the mother was poor.  They weren't LDS, but rented each set of the two sets of us sister missionaries a room.  It was a pretty nice house for the area, but even for their decent living standard, no lawnmower. 
Sandesh had to cut the lawn with these clippers. 
A never-ending task for him.
Another way to cut grass was to use this mini sickle like on his shoulder.  I know, I look so different.  I was heavier (that 4 pm ice cream--gelato--cone every day may have had something to do with it!) and really pale.  This man was just sitting on the side of the road and what i liked about him where his hands, and that he had one tooth.  That was very common.
This man was a member of our church and had saved for two months to have a few of us missionaries to dinner.  We called him "Pai" --familiar portuguese for "father."  An endearing term.  He wouldn't let us bring anything.  He had to borrow dishes and napkins from a neighbor because he only owned a couple plates of his own.  He was so proud to have us.  Notice the floor.  I am holding the child, and that is the main floor--unevened dirt.  This was the whole house. The chests were like his clothing drawers, the walls were old boards and sheets of plastic.  Imagine this "house" trying to stand up against those water waves that are crashing down from Pai's home in the mountatins to those buildings in the city. 

I don't have pictures of the two men I miss the most:  Mercedo and Miquel.  Mercedo was the bus ticket conductor.  We had spiritual experiences with him that are burned in our souls, and we cried with him when he couldn't be baptised because he wasn't married to the woman he lived with.  

Miquel was a director of education for the region.  He saw us walk by a bar he was drinking in one night and he chased us down the dark street.  We were scared but it ended up he had dreamt of us nights before.  He knew us on sight.  We were teaching him when we were transferred from the island and never heard about him again.

Where are they today?  Are they safe? 

I know that Madeira will never get coverage that Haiti will (even though it has comparable poverty) and that to most folks, it will be some far away place that we wouldn't be able to find on a cheap map.  But not to me.  Those people were kind and giving, and may Heavenly Father bless them there and now, today.  There are a dozen Mormon missionaries who are thinking and praying for you here and now, today.  :)  Te Amo.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Fatty Catty

It has been a while since you have seen the rescue cat we picked up about a year and half ago.
His name is Smoke 

And suffice it to say that
he has grown a little bit!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wanna take a field trip? Will you go to the (man) prom with me?

I have been wanting to write this blog for a year.  Last year I attended my first man prom (car show), and wow, it sure was eye opening.   If you look at my blog from March 13, 2009 you can see some photos of women who attended the fun last year. 

Let me just say that whoever scheduled it this year wasn't really looking at the calendar.  It was the Opening Ceremonies (which a measley 3 billion people on the planet watch), the opening day of NASCAR, and of course Valentine's.

I thought you should see what happens at the man prom.  :)  I didn't really have a date of sorts.  Mr. Fun couldn't make it so I went stag, although I had some company along the way.

First and formost, I want to introduce you to the Prom King and Queen: 
Dave (Mr.The Noisier the Better) and
his very understanding wife, Carol.

Next, I got a ride in a smoooooothe machine called a '32.
(not to sound ungrateful, but it was 20* outside and
this car doesn't have any heat...)
It won "Outstanding in Class."
The View from the car
There is something you need to understand:
shiney and chromey
The more shiney, the more chromey... the better.
Uh, I don't know what to say about this guy here.
 We didn't have one at our prom so I
have no idea why this decorative piece showed up. 
I was a tour guide at an art musuem for a while, so
this is what I have decided.
Perhaps it is saying Satan likes car shows.
Maybe because Hell has flames and
there are a LOT of flames at a car show.
Flames, flames and more flames.
Who knew that Satan owns a
3 piece green leisure suit?
Notice the severed head.  Nice touch.
The Girl liked this plate.
One prom goer apparently was prepared for
some sort of after-prom plans.  This van was named
"Fornication."  It was creeeepy.
The prom king found this for his office.
That is a real taxidermied fish.
Here I am in the car voted
"Best of Class".  Hand built from scratch
by the Prom King Dave.
It is called a 1941 Willys.
For you prom men--843 HP.
For you ladies, that means your ears will
get destroyed if you stand within a 1/4 mile of it.
Notice that I dressed up for the occassion...
shiney, chromey earrings.
 Here is one for the road.
Amish at the car show.  With cell phone and Disney bag in hand.
Apparently the Amish like a 41 Willys.  :)
Check out Dave's website for more fun projects:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Random Acts of Kindness Day

I heard that February 17th is the official Random Acts of Kindness Day.  Today is the 16th but I wanted to give you some heads up so that you could prepare your acts today.  What will you do?  What will I do?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Go World

We have a saying in our family, quoted after
the "Cool Runnings" movie--
"I am feeling very Olympic today."

Living in Salt Lake City
and experiencing everything first hand
for SEVEN plus years of what it was like
to host an Olympics--
it seems very far removed from our life
here and now in Kansas City.

Mr. Fun wore his Olympic hockey jersey today
and took in my Olympic Torch in to work. 
He must be feeling very Olympic.

I can tell you want the people of Vancover are
feeling right about now--
exactly 45 minutes from the Opening Ceremonies
(which tickets to the 2002 Opening Cere.
were $1,000 a piece)

Those people are sooooo excited. 
They cannot wait for it to FINALLY begin.
They are tired.  They are worried about
the traffic plans.  They are worried about
security.  They are excited to see so many
people coming to the Games.  They are
wearing their Olympic pins and t-shirts.
Some have left town.  Some are charging
wayyyyy too much money for guests to
stay with them.  Some are planning to
work from home for the next two weeks.
Some are drunk at the downtown Olympic
Square already.

Here is a good luck wish to the people of Vancover.

You know, we could have gone to Vancover for Mr. Fun
to work for the Olympics.
We turned it down.  We wanted roots and stability.
Well, actually I did.  :) 

Moments like this make me think about our decisions,
and how we are where we are. 
I am glad we are here, because I can
still feel very Olympic here today
lounging on my couch in Kansas City.  :)

Go World.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Bob the Builder Award: I Used to be a Rice Bag items

The BC's I Used to be a Rice Bag Collection is flip flops and other items that are made out of recyclable detergent, rice and other types of storage bags.  These bags normally would end up in recycle bins on my porch or in some stinky "dump" (alaska term) somewhere.  However, this group is making stylish stuff from them.  Check them out:

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Need a scholarship? I have just the organization for you...

The Girl is a senior, which means she is searching for ways for people to give her free money.  You know, scholarships.  She already has her first two years paid with her A+ Missouri school program...a scholarship that takes four years to accomplish.  But who doesn't want to find more free money?  :)

She often sends links to ones she finds.

This is one I received today.  It cracked me up.  I think you will enjoy it too.

The American Nudist Research Library scholarship annually gives out a $1,000 scholarship to a high school senior or recent grad with at least three years of membership in a nudist organization. Winners are judged on their brief essay. (HER COMMENT TO ME:  Um. I don’t think I meet the requirements.)

Yep, it is for real.  Dang me for not enrolling her in that nudist program three years ago...
Sorry folks, no picture post today.  :)  For obvious reasons.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

"It's good to be the Queen."

I bet you didn't know that the Queen of the British Islands and Northern Ireland (formally known as the Queen of England....they got rid of that title over 300 years ago....kind of like the Artist Formally Known as Prince name...) and I are practically kindred spirits.

Yep, it is true.

How so?  you ask.  Let me illlustrate. 
(First, let me turn on the Glee soundtrack for my listening pleasure.  :)  )

Drumroll please:
The Official List of why Val and the Queen are kindred spirits:

We have both had sons.  Her's is Charles, and mine is The Boy.  Her boy has bigger ears than mine.

We have both been to England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.  I however doubt that she had a big fight with her husband in Scotland that way I did with mine.  :)

We both own fancy black coats.  I bet hers doesn't itch like mine.

We don't work 9-5 jobs.  I doubt she is asked "what do you do all day?" the way I am, though.

We both have driver's licenses but have people who drive us around.  I am not waving to my adoring fans, but more trying not to have a seizure and kill whoever is in the car with me.

Since we don't work, we don't pay into the tax system.  Which of course, that money will be gone when I would have been old enough to collect it if I had paid into it anyway.

Both have had big events in our early 20's.  She became the Queen.  I joined the Mormon Church.

Both of us have had some in-law struggles.  Her's are daughter-in-laws.  Mine have been because I am the daughter-in-law.

And perhaps the most unexpected commonality: 
We have both been invited to go to the United Nations this year.

Yep, you read that right. 

The Queen will be there in July.

I will be there the first week of March. 

Through some very unexpected circumstances, I was invited by my old friend, Alaska, to join her and her world wide women's organization for an international Women's Conference at the UN. 

I even have creditials.  That is UN creditials. Did I mention I have creditials?  :)

How does this happen to two girls from the Ridgeway (smaller than Soldotna--if you know Soldotna, you know that is pretty hard to do--we did have our own fire truck....and my father did appoint himself the King of Ridgeway...Wait, if my father is the King of Ridgeway, then the whole royalty connection TOTALLY makes sense!)
To be completely honest, Alaska said she felt inspired to ask
me to attend.  I have not worked with their group. 
I don't have much to offer.  No money.  No connections.
I am just a looney girl in a looney bin on Forest Avenue.

I will keep you posted.

As Mr. Fun and I have always said,
"It is good to be the Queen." 
Now you see why.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Insult to injury

Interestingly enough, since it seems like the "vultures" (bad luck as Dave calls it) in our life haven't had enough to feast on in January, the karma gods have sent a little more to Andersonville to shake it up.

Of course the three deaths of loved Grammies and Uncle in a month.  By the way, Mr. Fun tried to fly to Canada on Thursday to get to the funeral of Grandma Lila, but alas, he only made it to Dallas.  There were plane problems, weather problems, and they sent him back to KC.  They couldn't get him there in time and he missed it.  :( 

But now, the government wants to get in on the action.

We are being audited.  Not just your regular-way auditing either.

There is new governmental policy in act that if your medical insurance is taken pre-tax (Mr. Fun's is), you have to be able to prove every single "purchase" on paper (and they leave the clause on the paper that your medical receipt may not be enough "proof"--Nice loophole g men).  The medical visits, the perscriptions.  If you know anything about this type of medical insurance working, you know that you can only use the medical card for medical junk.  Not good enough says Uncle Sam.  They are afraid that people are using their untaxed medical funds with their medical cards at the grocery store to buy crazy know, sodas, meat, and panty hose. 

We are being audited for 2009 -- five purchases made at the pharmacy (the ONLY pharmacy I use).  One of the purchases being audited is for $.34 cents.  Yep, you read that right.  Can any one explain to me how the government can miss the $6 million dollars that Nicolas Cage owes, but thinks that I am buying a milk chocolate silk Dove bar instead of one of the Boy's 27 daily medicine doses? 

Doesn't the government know I don't like milk chocolate?  Sheesh.

My pharmacy has the documents I need to prove I am not a pre-tax pantyhose purchaser or breaking my new rule of no milk chocolate--even if it is Dove....but who is going to give me back the 44 cent stamp it will take to mail my proof that I didn't use my 34 cents illegally?

This purchase ought to shake them up next tax season:

As forementioned, the Boy takes 27 doses of medicine every single day.  No wonder his brains are not functioning quite how they used to.  One medicine is Gastrocom, and let's just say it is sort of spendy.  No, not sort of $19 sirloin steak spendy, but reallllllllllllly spendy.  I took a picture to proof it:

The Sun Fresh said that our $1810 monthly bill is a new store record.
We are really proud of our accomplishment.
Did I mention that was the co-pay?

Does the government really think I have the money
to buy pantyhose with my medical funds when I have this kind of
monthly medicine co-pay bill?