Thursday, January 31, 2008

Is It Just Me?

Is it just me or do Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton look like they're about to kiss in this picture from tonight's CNN-LA Times debate?

Frankly, this debate was a little too much of a love fest for my taste. I didn't expect them to claw each others eyes out, but they were constantly falling all over themselves and each other with all the saccharin compliments.

I know that things have been extraordinarily nasty lately and I've thought plenty of it was unnecessary, but this was the last chance for people to understand the differences between the last two Democratic candidates. I'm not sure the differences were highlighted as much as their similarities were. And similarities don't help voters make up their minds.

Luckily for you, I have made up my mind and will be issuing my endorsements on Friday or Saturday, just in time for Tsunami Tuesday.

On the Bright Side of Things

As I was outside shoveling tonight - my shoveling fairies haven't arrived yet so I shoveled not only my driveway, apron and sidewalk, but the sidewalk of 2 of my neighbors as well - I was fantasizing about Spring. Yes, Spring. I was fantasizing about Spring. You have your fantasies, I'll have mine.

Spring is one of my favorite seasons. To me, Spring is a time of renewal. I will get to plant my garden. I have more energy. Flowers start to bloom and the grass is green. The air is fresh. It's all just good.

That led me to come in and see just how longer we have until Spring. And the good news is that we have just 48 more days until the Spring Equinox.

And that's something to be grateful for.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

RIP Sheleata Kanatuna 1996 - 2008

Sheleata Kanatuna, a beautiful cat child of Tim and Tony, left his physical body this evening.

Please take a few minutes to visit his memorial at Morgan Terrace. You'll need tissues when you view the Memorial Slide Show Video and the Climb Every Staircase Movie, but take my word for it, you will be richer for the cry.

Mr. Kanatuna will always be fondly remembered for protecting guests' coats at Morgan Terrace parties and teaching the dogs - Long John and Buster Highmen - to bow to his excellence.

Mr. Kanatuna is survived by Tim, Tony, Long John, and Buster Highmen.

Betsey, Ross, and I send our deepest sympathies to our dear and loving friends at Morgan Terrace.

Rather than leaving condolence messages here, please leave your words of support at Morgan Terrace.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Sometimes I Miss DC

There. I said it. Out loud. Well, in writing on the Internet. That's pretty much out loud.

I get asked that question all the time, even 8 years after moving to Chicago. No, I haven't been back. Truthfully, I'm afraid if I go back, I'll never leave.

My heart is so full of wonderful memories of my years in DC and nights like tonight make me realize how blessed I was to live in such an amazing place.

Tonight is the State of the Union address by President Bush (almost 8 years later, I still find it difficult to put those 2 words together). I never miss the State of the Union. Never. I'll be curled up on the couch in less than 30 minutes, glued to the TV.

When I first moved to DC in 1993, my mom helped me find the perfect apartment. I lived in The Massachusetts House at 1234 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Apt. 917 (follow the link and look at the pic of the building - 2 floors from the top, 2nd apartment from the right - that was mine). My studio apartment had what I still believe to be one of the greatest views in all of DC - an unobstructed view of the Capitol Building.

I would lay in bed at night, staring out my picture window and imagine everything that had happened on The Hill that day. The awe of where I was never escaped me. One of the things I learned early on was that if the light at the top of the Capitol Dome was still lit, then Congress was still working. But only when the light was turned off, had Congress called it a day.

Laying in bed that cold night in January 1994, I watched President Clinton deliver the State of the Union. After the Republican response, I remember hearing Tom Brokaw or Peter Jennings (I didn't have cable, so it was one of them) giving post SOTU wrap-up and saying that Congress had called it a night. As I looked out my window to find the light was still on, America may have thought Congress had adjourned, but I knew better.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

All Politics Is Local

I don't know what I've done this winter to warrant the Snow Shoveling Fairies to visit my house on a regular basis, but whatever it is, I want to keep doing it. You see, all winter long, almost every time it snows, my anonymous Snow Shoveling Fairy shovels my sidewalk and, many times, the apron of my driveway, too. I don't know who it is, although I have a strong suspicion.

And that leads to my conundrum.

As a strong supporter of the political process, I always vote in every election and I enjoy having yard signs for the candidates of my choice. This year, however, I'm a little concerned about voicing my political opinion.

No, I'm not concerned for my safety and I'm not wavering on my candidates. My concern is far more basic than that. Let me start at the beginning. I live in the heart of GOP Country, and I'm not exactly one of them. As a matter of fact, I'm about as liberal as a person can get. I believe we should all help each other out, that we give far too much corporate welfare to big businesses and the wealthy, and that I should be able to control my own body. My neighbors, by contrast, are all flag-pin wearing, church-going, mom-and-apple-pie loving, vote-against-their-financial-interests Republicans.

And this is where my problem lies.

Do I put out a yard sign in support of a Black Man or Woman for President and risk my sidewalk and apron being shoveled or do I just keep my mouth shut and continue to enjoy my (almost daily) visits from the Snow Shoveling Fairy?

Since neither Obama nor Clinton is going to start shoveling my driveway (or send their lackeys to do it), I think I'll just keep my mouth shut, as much as it pains me.

All politics is truly local.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

We Interrupt the Regularly Scheduled Cold and Snow . . .

. . . to inform you that Spring Training is right around the corner.

Pitchers and Catchers report to Spring Training in 22 days and counting.

The rest of the players report a few days later.

Spring and Summer can't be too far away.

Go Cubs!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

I'm Famous!

I thought it was a big deal when, as a high school senior, I appeared on the Today Show on January 1, 1989. I thought it was a bigger deal when I had the privilege of working the Green Room at President Clinton's 1997 Inaugural Ball and got to meet all kinds of cool people including Stevie Wonder and Jimmy Smits.

But both of those things pale in comparison to what happened tonight!

Tonight my dear friend Tony published my recipe for Frango Oatmeal Cookies on What's Cooking In The Frisky Kitchen!

Thanks Tony! xoxoxoxo

Friday, January 18, 2008

Turkey, Lettuce, Tomato, Mayo, PB&J

Last night, I attended a Chamber dinner at the Sheraton Chicago Northwest. No matter how often I attend functions there, I am always reminded of when I lived there as a kid. Yes, I was Eloise.

When I was 10 and in 5th grade, our house burned down (no one was hurt and we rebuilt the home, thanks for asking). During reconstruction, we lived at what was then the Arlington Park Hilton (now the Sheraton Chicago Northwest).

Life at the Hilton was fabulous. We had a huge suite, an indoor pool, and a restaurant that would cater to just about every whim we had. Every morning, I would call the restaurant and have them pack lunch for Dave and me, which we would then pick up when we stopped in for breakfast.

Dave and I got the same thing everyday for lunch: Turkey, Lettuce, Tomato with mayo on whole wheat for me and peanut butter and jelly for him. Inevitably, our lunch would also include fruit and a cookie as well. Our lunches would always be packed together and we simply divided them up at lunch.

One particular day, we decided to have lunch with Mom, so we took our Hilton-made lunches and walked over to what was left of our house - just 2 blocks from school. She was happy to see us and take a break from supervising the demolition of the remains of our home. Imagine our surprise, however, when we opened our lunch to find one sandwich containing turkey, lettuce, tomato, mayo AND peanut butter and jelly. It seemed that the man I spoke to in the kitchen that morning was new and had misunderstood my order.

Needless to say, we did not end up eating that sandwich. I don't remember what we ended up having for lunch that day, but I do remember it involved a lot of laughter.

And yes, the food has improved at the Hilton (now Sheraton).

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sometimes Only Mom Will Do . . .

Most of the time I like being an adult. I love what I do for a living. I can handle paying bills, doing housework, and all the other things required to maintain a home. I usually even like grocery shopping. And even the scary noises aren't so bad.

But there's one thing that, no matter how old I get, will just plain suck without my mom.

Being sick.

When I was a kid and I was sick, my mom would do what probably every mom did - she took my temperature, made my room nice and warm and cozy with extra blankets and a heating pad in my bed, made me soup, and of course, gave me medicine or take me to the doctor. Usually, her extra attention alone made me feel better. She was the best.

Now that I'm an adult and I'm sick (it's really just a cold with swollen glands, sore throat, mild congestion, aches, and chills, but I feel miserable anyway), I've got to take care of myself. And my motivation to make soup is nil. I'm not hungry. And my body aches too much to walk to the cabinet and get more medicine. And somehow, no matter how many pillows and extra blankets I stuff into my bed, it's just not as cozy as when my mom did it. And then, of course, there's the whole issue about work. I should be working today and I've worked some, but I just feel too icky.

I'm not complaining about being sick. My well laid plan says I'll be better tomorrow. I'm not even complaining about being alone and having to take care of myself. I'm reminiscing about how lucky I have been to have a great mom who spoiled me when I was sick.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

FREE Museum Days!!!

One of the things I absolutely love about Chicago is the world-class museums we have here. From the Art Institute to the Shedd Aquarium to the Chicago History Museum, there's really something for everyone. The only catch is that all of it comes with a (frequently hefty) price tag.

Until now.

Free Days at the museums are here!!!!!!!

Museum of Science & Industry
January 12-31 (that's NOW!!!!!!!)
February 29
June 17-22
September 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, & 30
October 31
November 27 (Thanksgiving)
December 24 (Christmas Eve), 31 (New Year's Eve)

Adler Planetarium - the museum is free on these days, but there is a charge for any of the shows
January Discount Week - January 12-18 (that's NOW!!!!!)
January Mon & Tue - January 20, 21, 28, & 29
February Discount Week - February 18-22
February Mon & Tue - February 4, 5, 11, 12, 25, & 26
June Discount Week - June 15-20
September Mon & Tues - September 15, 16, 22, 23, 29, & 30
October Discount Week - October 6-9
October Mon & Tues - October 13, 14, 20, 21, 27, & 28
November Mon & Tues - November 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18, 24 & 25

Art Institute of Chicago
Target Free Thursdays - Thursday evenings are free from 5-8pm

John G. Shedd Aquarium - free general admission, special shows are an additional fee
January discount week - Jan. 12-18 (that's NOW!!!!!)
January Mondays and Tuesdays - Jan. 21, 22, 28, & 29
February Mondays and Tuesdays - Feb. 4, 5, 11, 12, 25, & 26
February discount week - Feb. 18-22
June discount week - June 15-20
September Mondays and Tuesdays - Sept. 15, 16, 22, 23, 29, & 30
October discount week - Oct. 6-9
October Mondays and Tuesdays - Oct. 13, 14, 20, 21, 27, & 28
November Mondays and Tuesdays - Nov. 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18, 24, & 25

Chicago History Museum
Free on Mondays

The Field Museum
January 14th
March 10th
April 14th
May 12th
June 9th
July 14th
August 11th
September 8th
September 21st – 26th
October 13th
October 26th – 31st
November 10th
December 8th

My advice, take the week off, pull the kids out of school and hit all the museums. Trust me, you'll be richer for it and they will receive a greater education than they could through textbooks. Travel back in time with a visit Sue at The Field Museum on Monday morning and then visit the Crossroads of America exhibit (make sure you download the free audio tour on your iPod) at the Chicago History Museum in the afternoon. On Tuesday, spend the day at the Shedd Acquarium and since the museum is free, there's no reason not to spend a little dough on the Oceanarium. Reach for the stars on Wednesday at the Adler Planetarium. During the day on Thursday, return to the Shedd Acquarium or Adler Planetarium for a more-indepth visit. Just wrap it up by 5 and then visit the Girls on the Verge exhibit at the Art Institute. Finally, put yourself inside a real U-505 Submarine on Friday at the Museum of Science & Industry.

If you go, wear comfy shoes, stay hydrated, and be prepared for long lines and crowds. Also, pack your own lunch and snacks. Food at these places is notoriously expensive. I would imagine cool free stuff like this won't be a secret for long.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Life Lessons From Hillary Clinton's "Comeback" In New Hampshire

As I watched the New Hampshire Primary returns come in on Tuesday night, I believe that I was as surprised as many other people across America. Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) won with 39% of the vote and Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) came in a close second with 37% of the vote. Interestingly, they will both receive 9 delegates from New Hampshire.

What made Senator Clinton's victory so surprising is that just the day before the election, every major poll and pundit predicted an Obama victory with at least a 10-point spread. The pundits were asking whether Senator Clinton would even be able to move forward to South Carolina and Nevada (the next primaries). Senator Clinton's own campaign was trying to manage expectations with statements about if they came in 2nd by less than 10 points, that would be a victory.

And then the unexpected happened. Senator Clinton won.

So as I watched the night unfold, I thought about what life lessons could be learned from her victory and determination. The list below is by no means all inclusive. There may be more life lessons and I'm open to suggestion. I'll expand on each lesson later, but for now, I wanted to get the list out there.

1. Never give up.

2. Work from your heart and not your head.

3. Let your passion be felt.

4. Connect with people as individuals.

5. Find your voice - even if it takes 60 years.

6. Take risks.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Politics Is In My Blood

Growing up, I learned about politics sitting at the knee of my paternal grandfather. He lit a fire deep within me with his in-depth explanations of the 1980 Republican National Convention and why Ronald Reagan would change the world. Although I've come to disagree with his beliefs about just how great Ronald Reagan was, I still love politics today. In fact, it runs through my blood. The political game is in my soul. If not for my grandfather, I might never have gone to Washington DC in 1993. And we all know how well that turned out.

I have never missed an opportunity to vote. In fact, I don't think voting is a privilege. I believe it's a duty. I believe that we are all obligated to learn about our political candidates - local and national - and vote in every election. And I can't understand why people don't vote.

I have volunteered on numerous political campaigns at all levels, was even fortunate enough to work in a paid position on a state-wide campaign in 2002, and even worked on the Inaugural Committee after the 1996 Presidential Election. I LOVE POLITICS.

Politics is such a part of my soul, I even named my cats Betsey and Ross.

What I love even more is how people get involved and it becomes so personal for them. I have a young friend who worked for Obama in Iowa and got out 90 votes for him in her precinct (34 came out for Edwards and 9 were undecided). She's 19 and this was her first election. I'm so proud of her for being so involved. When I saw her this summer, I recognized the way her eyes danced when she spoke about the candidates - it's in her blood too. She was very knowledgeable and obviously put a lot of thoughtful consideration in her choice. It had become personal for her.

I also love the people of Dixville Notch in New Hampshire. They have the first in the nation voting tonight at midnight (eastern time) and then again on November 4th. Dixville Notch is this tiny town in Northern New Hampshire, just south of the Canadian border. They have 16 registered voters. And at midnight, all 16 will vote. You read that right - Dixville Notch has 100% voter participation. And it's a big deal. Whole families come out. The kids are excited. Once all 16 voters have exercised their right, the ballots will be counted and the results will be made public.

You may be familiar with Dixville Notch from The West Wing, although in The West Wing, Dixville Notch was called Hartsfield's Landing. One of my favorite episodes.

If you haven't decided which candidate you will support yet, I urge you to familiarize yourself with each of them and to vote on February 5th (or whatever day your state primary is held).

Here are some links to help you:

Transcript of the ABC/Facebook Democratic Debate - January 5, 2008
Transcript of the ABC/Facebook Republican Debate - January 5, 2008
Meet The Candidates from ABC News

And some quizzes that think they can help you narrow down the right candidate for you:
Select A Candidate
Presidential Candidate Selector
The Vote-by-Issue Quiz

For even more information on the candidates in many races, check the list of political websites at the left.

UPDATE 1/7/08 11:10pm CT: Dixville Notch voted. Voting started at 12:00am ET and ended at 12:02am. 17 votes were cast because minutes before voting started a new registration was received. Here are the results:

Obama - 7 votes
Edwards - 2 votes
Richardson - 1 vote

McCain - 4 votes
Romney - 2 votes
Guiliani - 1 vote

Living Oprah

I found a very cool new blog today and am so excited that I just have to share it.

Living Oprah is documenting the 12-month experiment of one woman to live according to the Gospel of Oprah. She is going to live her life based entirely on the advice of Oprah - on her TV show, magazine, and website. Living Oprah will document her life including the costs - financial, time spent, and energy expended - to "Live Your Best Life" as prescribed by Oprah.

Why would anyone embark on this journey you wonder?

The short answer is that Living Oprah believes Oprah is the most influential public figure today, but wonders, if simply because of her astronomical success, Oprah is really in touch with the typical American woman and if we are all a little too quick to let Oprah tell us what to do.

I, for one, can't wait to see what the year has in store for Living Oprah and will read her blog regularly. I have many of the same questions Living Oprah does and even wonder if Oprah unintentionally sets us all up for failure in attempting to emulate all of her greatness.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

I'm a Big Chicken

There's a reason I don't read mystery novels or watch scary movies. I couldn't read Nancy Drew books at night when I was growing up because I would get scared. I've never picked up a Stephen King novel and sometimes even the suspense in a Brad Meltzer novel freaks me out at night. And please, when I'm visiting you, do not tell me about the woman that died in your house 6 months before you moved in (Dave & Linda - are you listening???). I will NEVER get to sleep. I will lay awake all night imagining all sorts of things.

That's right, I'm a 29 36 year-old chicken.

Tonight, I had a great night at Tim and Tony's birthday party for Elvis, or as I kept referring to it, an Epiphany party. I had a few cocktails, but stopped drinking at least 2 hours prior to Christopher driving me home. I ran into some old friends, one I hadn't seen in 15 years. It was great to catch up.

So completely sober, I crawl into bed about 2:20. As I lay there reviewing my gratitude list in my head (yes, I do this nightly), I hear this horrible crash. Ross, who had previously been snuggled up against me, and Betsey, who had been at the foot of the bed, were now firmly positioned under the bed (where better to fight potential terror threats?). I reach for the phone, but resist my urge to dial 911. I'm a grown up after all and it can't be anything. Plus, I live in the suburbs. I calmly get up and just peak out the window through the slightly ajar shutter. I can see nothing but darkness.

And then it happens again. BOOM.

Before I know it, I'm stammering on the phone with 911, barely able to utter my own name. I'm terrified. The sweet woman on the other end of the line was so calm asking me questions - was I alone? was the noise from inside or outside of the house? were any pets barking? Before I could finish answering, the cops were on their way.

About 5 minutes later, I could see a man walk up my driveway. He had a big stick in his hand and barely paused at the car in my driveway. He just headed straight for my backyard. I hadn't seen any cop cars pull up, so now my terror level has gone from 8 to 15. With my heart now beating outside my body, I call 911 again to report the "intruder." Another nice woman assures me that it is in fact the cop. He's gone to my backyard to look around, as is standard protocol before he comes to chat with me.

As I continue my vigil on the front yard, I am suddenly surrounded by Arlington Heights' finest in no fewer than 3 cars. And then the doorbell rings. Betsey, Ross, and I were so startled we hit our heads on the ceiling. I try to remain calm as I walk to the front door to speak with the officer.

He was so nice and reassuring and asked me a few questions about the noise but said he saw no footprints anywhere around the house. As I'm answering, I suddenly see the culprit laying on the ground, not 5 feet from my bedroom window. And now I also see the entire platoon of officers walking up my driveway. And my terror has suddenly switched to sheer embarrassment.

What has just caused me so much agony you wonder? Falling ice. Three huge pieces of ice that had been on my roof, and because of the record thaw we are experiencing this weekend, had slid off the roof and landed on the cement outside my bedroom window.

The cops were all relieved because they were expecting to see a car driven into a tree on the parkway. I was just embarrassed. They told me they hoped I got to sleep tonight and off they went.

The thing is that even as I write this my hands are still shaking. Yep, I'm just a big chicken.

UPDATE 1/8/2008: So I've taken a little ribbing for this and it's ok. I can handle it. I can handle the wellness check I got yesterday during a rare January thunderstorm (I love thunderstorms, for the record). And I can handle the insinuation that my friend's 3 year-old daughter is braver than I am because, although she was also woken up by falling ice on Saturday night, they did not need to call 911. Of course not, my friend is a cop and would have been laughed out of the department.

Friday, January 4, 2008

I Love Warm PJs!

I so need this!!!!! It's been cold enough to slaughter pigs lately and anything that helps me keep warm at night is a bonus. Warm PJs are the BOMB!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Jessica Gardner IS Good For You!

Even the advertising world thinks so!

Jessica Gardner
IS Good For You.

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America's Most Trusted . . .
Little Merry Sunshine.

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and possibly the truest thing ever said on the internet . . .

Little Merry Sunshine Stays Sharp 'til The Bottom of the Glass.

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Thanks Tim & Gourmet Goddess!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

2007 - A Year In Review

2007 has been a year of many blessings. That's not to say it's all been good, but even sadness always has a silver lining.

This year I entered the exciting world of blogging. I've always written, but historically, my writing has been private and for my eyes only. For me, blogging has been a huge leap of faith - would anyone care what I had to say? how would people like my style of writing? - and it's turned out great! Despite a lack of comments, I have a small, but growing regular readership and receive new hits from around the world daily. Maybe one day I'll see my dream of being published fulfilled. For now, though, I'm happy to be "self-published" on my blog.

I also discovered the joys of gardening in 2007. I grew three types of tomatoes, iris, lavender, geraniums, primrose, hastas, and quite a few other plants that thrived under my loving care. Next year, I think I'll give it another shot.

My Mary Kay business has grown by leaps and bounds this year, and I was the proud recipient of some very prestigious awards at our annual awards event. I was #1 in sales and team building in both my unit of over 100 consultants and our area of over 500 consultants. The award that meant the most, however, is called the "Miss Go Give" award and it's given annually to the Mary Kay Consultant who best personifies the Golden Rule philosophy. It is also the highest award given in Mary Kay. In the new year, I will earn a Mary Kay car and finish directorship qualification.

Dave moved back to Michigan this year, which saddened me, but was the right move for him. His carpentry business is thriving and he's in high demand. He's much more of a small town guy, while I'm a big city girl. He loves being able to hop on his bike or windsurfer, while I love being able to go to the opera or a museum. Although living close to my family is high on my priority list, he's only 6 hours away and we see each other about every 6 weeks or so.

Speaking of Michigan, Dad, Dave, & I spent a week at Watervale in August, as we always do. It was great to catch up with old friends, but my fun was tempered with Nana's near-death and hospitalization.

Due to severe illnesses in May and August, Nana now lives in a nursing home full-time. She is unable to walk, sit up on her own, feed herself, and can barely hold her head up when she's being fed. She has good days and bad ones, but I'm grateful that she's happy in her mind. Whether she's fishing for catfish, designing dresses for herself or mom, talking to her (long-dead) parents, or in Heaven with God and Jesus, she's chipper. Sometimes she knows me, but mostly she doesn't. Mom visits her regularly and has been an amazing advocate for her. If not for Mom, Nana would have died a very painful death earlier this year. I know Nana's time is short, but I'm eternally grateful she's still with us and that I was able to spend a beautiful Christmas with her.

My neighbor Joan Green passed away on Halloween. To call Joan my neighbor doesn't begin to convey the importance she held in my life. Joan and her family were my family. She was a second mom to both Dave and me. The night my mom tried to kill herself, Joan kept an eye out for Dave to come home from the hospital and when he wasn't home by midnight or so, she went over to find him sitting alone waiting patiently for the doctors to speak to him. Because he was 17 and a minor, no one would speak to him and give him an update on Mom, but once Joan arrived, she was able to get the doctors to talk and let Dave see Mom to know she'd be okay. Joan was always there for both of us no matter what. And although Dave was closer to their family than I was (they had a son Dave's age), I've always known I'm a member of their family too. I'll always be grateful that both Dave and I were with her until the end and got to tell her how much we loved her.

Betsey and Ross turned 11 this year and are still healthy, happy, and active. I expect that they may start to slow down and begin to show their age at some point, but fortunately, that hasn't happened yet.

I've had the great fortune of reconnecting with many old friends this year - Kelly, Karen, Rick, Joni, Steve, Jeff, Matt, and many others. Tim also talked me into attending the Lake Forest College Homecoming Reunion in October. I hadn't been to any events at the College since graduating 14 years ago, but I am so glad I went. I ran into a number of old friends, one of whom I saw again over Christmas. I won't miss any LFC events in the future. It's always fun reuniting with old friends and catching up on the many adventures from our lives.

My gratitude list runs long this year and is filled mostly with the relationships that enrich my life. If you're reading this, you've probably enriched my life in some way this year and I thank you and love you for being part of this great adventure.