You don't have to be friends with everyone

Sunday, 31 October 2010

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I'm a people pleaser, tried and true. I want those around me to be happy with my performance, my commitment to friendship and my work. Perhaps this could have something to do with my upbringing. We were taught to respect others, especially those who are older than us. Always be kind, always be accommodating.

Now, as a 31 year old woman, I can see where those teachings can allow naivety to blur normal social boundaries.

I have a neighbor who tends to come over to visit every time I'm in the yard and if he doesn't catch me outside, he'll just knock on my door.

At least twice in the past two months I've been in my back yard, once relaxing on the deck with a book, once by my fire pit chilling when he came for a "visit." I've tried going to the door with my cell phone to my ear (since I'm actually on a call). He doesn't mind. I've also shouted back to Kingsley on Skype "Honey, I'll be right there!" from the front door. This man doesn't seem to notice.

He seems kind-hearted, has a lovely wife and grandkids and is very helpful but I'm starting to cringe when he comes 'round and go inside when he pulls up to his home. That's not a nice feeling.

I should have set the boundaries when I first moved in but I wanted to be friendly, to make friends, to be seen as the "nice" neighbor. To respect others, even if they don't respect my need for privacy or personal space.

This isn't the only issue but I've found - it's only the men in the neighborhood that seem to be overly friendly. The ladies politely wave, chat for a few minutes when we're out doing yard work and listen as much as they talk. No female neighbor has EVER knocked on my door in the five months I've lived here.

Is it me? Yes. I'll blame myself for not being more obvious. If I don't want you to come round, if I don't want help, instead of being a people pleaser, I should just be HONEST. I am naive. I trust people and give them the benefit of the doubt to a fault.

Some people, I'm finding, expect more than friendship.

However, I'm learning. When you buy a house, you don't have to be best friends with those living around you.  Who knew?  If you are, that's an amazing bonus!

What about you? Do you spend time with your neighbors every week? What's "normal?" Am I just being rude?

Why I don't want guns in my home

Wednesday, 27 October 2010
Disclaimer -- I do not think I'm "right." I am not making a political statement. I'm just sharing my reasoning for not having guns in my home. My opinion is just that - my opinion. I realize what I say may not be a good fit for you or your family. Please feel free to post a comment. I respect what you have to say.

On the phone the other night, I was joking with my mom about getting my concealed carry permit. She said, "Seriously, Denae, why don't you?" My father owns guns and is a responsible hunter. My brother is an honorably discharged, decorated Army Reservist. I'm not afraid of guns and I grew up with them as a normal part of life.

My first year as a television news reporter at WYMT in Hazard, Kentucky, I covered a story that changed the way I think about guns forever. We had heard there was a shooting in the next county over (which is typical in Southeastern Kentucky) and I loaded up to check it out. When I arrived, a 17 year old high school star quarterback had been accidentally shot in the head by his father who was cleaning his rifle.  He later died at the hospital.

The son and his friends arrived home from football practice early and the father was cleaning his gun. He didn't usually clean it while the teens were in the house but he thought he'd quickly finish up while the guys grabbed a soda and sat down on the couch opposite the father. That's when the gun discharged. Sadly, there was a bullet in the chamber.

I have never witnessed such desperate weeping. It carved an impression into my brain and while at one point in my life, I wanted to own a gun, I feel overall it isn't right for me. Guns are designed to kill.

My father and brother give an excellent argument against my opinion - saying a gun can save my life if someone breaks into my home and also has a gun. They're right. I still don't want to chance killing an innocent person or my own child. My motor skills are best used to engage in social media, clearing out woods in the back of my property and tending to a garden.


Political candidates and old pictures

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Note: I am not endorsing this candidate. The website is "stamped" onto the picture.

We aired a story today about a female polictical candidate (for Congress) who posed with her then-husband years ago at a holiday party doing some pretty silly things.

Krystal Ball's ex was photographed wearing a sex toy on his nose (he was Rudolph) and a collar with a chain around his neck. The leash was being held by his then-wife who was wearing a Santa hat. It looks to me like they were in their 20s when the pictures were taken.

Would I ever pose for pictures like that or go out in public with Kingsley wearing a sex toy? No. Never. However, I'm not in support of a candidate getting flack for what she did years ago. I would be if it was illegal, degrading to another race or gender or unethical.

The photos were posted on a political blogger's web site and since then, they've been all over the internet.

Here's what Ball had to say in a statement released in early October:  "I have a message for any young woman who is thinking about running for office and has ever attended a costume party with her husband or done anything stupid on camera. Run for office. Fight for this country. Don't let this sort of tactic deter you."

What do you think? Should a political candidate be held accountable for racy photos? Should they apologize publically?

Don't forget the nude photos of Senator Scott Brown in Cosmo. Some analysts say they helped his campaign.

My first blogging lesson

Friday, 22 October 2010
I wish I had a bit more cash so I could donate it to Friends of Literacy, a charity I'm involved in Knoxville. We help adults learn how to read and specifically get a GED so they can get out in the work place and earn money for their families.

Since I don't have a lot of extra green, I can certainly donate my time which is what I did early this month. I auctioned off a Blogging Lesson with Wine and Cheese at our Writer's Hall of Fame fundraiser. Kem bid on it and won and invited three of her good friends to learn how to blog at her place. I brought the cheese and wine.

The ladies were excellent sports and stuck with me for the entire two and a half hours through reloading web pages, clicking on certain links and filling out profiles.

By the end of the night we all had new blogs and everyone knew how to start a new post, link to other posts and add pictures. Melissa even designed a poll question for her readers and posted it.

Next week I'm going to meet up with my friend, Ace. She's going to "pay" me with dinner. Fair trade!

Driving tests for older drivers?

Tuesday, 19 October 2010
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Driving to work this morning, I was behind a car on Tazwell Pike that began driving erratically. The driver swerved, slowed down, stopped on the highway without a turn signal on, abruptly turned right, drove over the curb and slammed to a stop in a parking lot.

Thinking the person may be having a medical emergency, I slowly drove past and looked over at the car to see what was going on. An older woman (appeared to be 70s) was driving with a bandaged left hand. She looked a bit dazed but was talking to her passenger. I drove on.

A short time later, also on my way to work, I stopped at a traffic light. The car next to me, which was being driven by an older man, likely in his late 70s, began crossing the intersection, through a red light. One lane had a green arrow but he did not. A car slammed on his brakes in the intersection, narrowly missing the car.  The car behind that one swerved around the two. The driver that ran through the light didn't seem to notice and continued through the intersection without braking.

My question: should states require driving tests and physicals (hearing, vision and dementia screening) for drivers, say at the age of 75?  I think so. Granted, my lovely grandmother who is in her 80s is sharp as a tack and drives well but countless others do not.

James MacPherson with AAA said in The News-Times article that "...warning signals that should help seniors decide not to continue driving include confusion while driving somewhere, having one or two minor fender benders, thinking the speed limit is too high, or friends not wanting to be passengers in their car."

Just last week, we reported on an 80 year old man who crashed his car through a store front. Instead of stepping on the brake, he accidentally stepped on the accelerator. Luckily no one was killed. Yes, it was an accident but crashes like this could be prevented.

The problem is, no one wants to take away a person's freedom to drive. But perhaps there should be a check and balance in place to protect those who may not be able to drive safely any longer as well as those of us who are very careful on the roads.



Monday, 18 October 2010
I have been a very boring blogger. Please forgive me for not updating daily as I know I should. How about a few random thoughts about the last week or so as a space filler while I think of something fascinating to blog about? Or, feel free to post a topic you would like to discuss and I'll stir up something.

*My friends and I made a fire in my backyard fire pit this weekend and I felt very "of the earth."

*I gave a blogging lesson for the first time last Wednesday and enjoyed every minute of it.

*Math skills do not come easy to me and I cannot remember what I learned in high school algebra.

*While making coffee this morning, I got out 2 mugs. I take this as a good sign that Kingsley will be here soon.

*I purchased and hung drapes in my living room, bedroom and guest bedroom by myself.

*Violet loves classical music so much she lies on her back with all 4 paws curled in the air when I play it.

Anything random in your life you'd like to share? Maybe it will inspire a blog post...

Chicken to Get Chickens

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

The idea of urban chickens has been intriguing to me since I bought my house and the Knoxville city council started debating. Supposedly now Knoxville home owners have the right to own up to six chickens for egg production. No roosters are allowed on urban properties and the birds cannot be used for meat.

Even though that's what I've "heard" the details are still sketchy and I put a call in to the city of Knoxville to get more information. The receptionist at the city office didn't know who I should talk to and after being transferred to county codes and then calling back for city codes, I remained on hold for 7 minutes. No thank you. I hung up and emailed the Neighborhood Codes manager, Robert this evening. I'll let you know what I find out.

We'll see how long it takes for this news to get to my handsome husband, but I purchased a chicken pen this week from a kind man in Knox County who has owned chickens for years. Most coops are $300 but I got the pen for $25. It will need a tarp for winter and maybe an additional chicken run.

Right now, however, I am paralyzed with fear. I desperately want chickens but am afraid of them dying, getting eaten, not liking their home or being too cold in the winter. If I could just find a "chicken mentor" in Knoxville, I'd have someone to encourage me and walk me through the first day of chicken motherhood.

The breed I'm most interested in right now is the Barred Plymouth Rock, an American breed which is dual purpose (eggs and meat). Aren't they pretty?

'Cry to me'

Monday, 11 October 2010
Solomon Burke (King of Rock and Soul) died in Amsterdam on his way to a concert. He was 70 years old. I do love jazz which often leads me to soul. This song is epic. Rest in peace.


Sunday, 10 October 2010
I have made several strong friendships with people I've met on Twitter.  How strange is that? I agree, very strange. However, this is how the modern age can impact social media users and I'm going with it.

Just this week I met up with @KnoxJamie, @LauraBower and @HillaryLake at @Crownandgoose. It was sunny and 80F and we sat on the patio (beer garden) and enjoyed a drink. The meeting also included lots of laughing.

One of the reasons for laughter was @KnoxJamie challenging our waiter to a game of Paper, Rock, Scissors in order to decide between menu items.

We were so excited to get out and celebrate the early days of fall, we snapped a few pictures. @HillaryLake wowed us with stories of her PhD assignments at The University of Oregon and @KnoxJamie talked about blogging and parenting two gorgeous little boys.

The other great part about my favorite hang out (located in the Old City of Knoxville) @CrownandGoose is a fabulous happy hour with amazingly cute wine glasses.

We also enjoyed fun live music by "Gin and Juice." The musician said "Gin" was running late.

Before the evening ended @LauraBower, who is a PR ninja, called over the owner of @CrownandGoose, Jeffrey Nash, and we discussed other developments going into the downtown area and he and I talked about days in London. Lovely girls night out (GNO).

Buyer's Remorse

Saturday, 9 October 2010
UPDATE 10/10/10 - I woke up feeling very silly for posting this rant. I am incredibly blessed to have a home with running water, electricity, washer/dryer, dishwasher... Buyer's Remorse thankfully doesn't last for long and likely hits when one is having a bad day. :)

Five months after buying my house it hit me:  This place isn't perfect and there are several things I don't like about it. I would like new windows, a privacy fence, the deck needs to be pressure washed and stained, my chimney needs a new cap and damper and the dead bolt has been stuck on my front door for two days in a row.

I've seriously been sneaking out like a bad lover in the mornings from my back door. I don't want the neighbors to see me and my front door challenge.  Today after using a knife, a sharper knife, a nail, a flat head screw driver which breaks into smaller sizes and a flash light, I was about to give up the good fight. I thought - if I unscrew the lock and take it apart it might be worse than just calling a lock smith and getting help. Thankfully, I just went ahead and tried it. After working on it for 20 minutes, I was able to take it apart, get the dead bolt sprung back and put it all back together. It works better than it did before.

Still. Owning a house is difficult.

I hired two 20 year old guys to cut my lawn three weeks ago because my push mower broke for the second time in a month and I didn't have the heart to face it again. The guys said they'd come by on Weds and cut my grass. When I got home on Weds, the grass was still high. On Thursday at 11am, I called them. Guys said, "We're on our way now." They showed up 4 hours later and I still had to weed eat the next day to get the spots they missed. The next week, similar situation. This week, they said they'd be here on Thursday or Friday. Saturday at 1:30pm they called to say they'd come by. I called back and politely said "No, thank you. I need someone more reliable." I'm not sure that I did the right thing but I was pretty annoyed and feel there is probably someone else available to schedule an appointment and be here - at least on the same day.

The weather is amazing today so I thought I'd open the kitchen window to let in some fresh air. I could only get it open about an inch. I've had two quotes for new windows but who really wants to spend thousands of dollars on windows!?

I wanted nothing more than to be able to buy a house. On my own salary, I could only afford a "cottage." It's the best for me in my price range and the first time homebuyer's tax credit is amazing but it is far from perfect.

How long does it take to get to the dream house and when you purchase said house, do you still have buyer's remorse? Is this normal?

Social Media - a Tool or a Drain?

Friday, 8 October 2010
A prominent person at my place of business today told me today he doesn't do much with things like "Facebook or Twitter." This was in a response to me suggesting he start a blog to discuss his hobby. He said, "I know the kind of person I am and I know that things like that drain a lot of my time."

I knew a debate wasn't going to help the situation since we are also decades apart in age but I explained that social media now allows reporters and producers access to story ideas, story sources and provides another way to build a relationship with viewers.

What do you think? Is Facebook and Twitter a "waste of time" or now integral to connect with others in a modern way? Can people still get by successfully without social media or should they attempt to embrace change?


Tuesday, 5 October 2010

I've really enjoyed watching Dancing With the Stars on ABC. This is the first time I've seen the show because I've either worked nightside or lived in London since the series started. Last night, Sarah Palin's daughter, Bristol danced well with her professional partner and mentioned her speeches on abstinence during public appearances.

She has a right to stand up for what she is passionate about and I appreciate her work to inspire teenagers.  Having said that, I do not agree with her message. I tweeted something along those lines and many tweeps wanted to know why.

Here we go:

I volunteered and was trained as a HIV/AIDS educator for high schoolers while a student at Carson-Newman College for a community service program I participated in as a Bonner Scholar. Along with another girl (Beth), I traveled to schools in East Tennessee and talked with teens. Part of the grant-funded program was a devastating video of teens who had contracted HIV and eventually died of AIDS. They interviewed throughout their illness and gave a final interview before dying. We showed the video and taught abstinence as a moral option (C-NC is a Christian college). That wasn't going to save lives so we also educated teens about sexuality and how they could actively protect themselves from HIV and pregnancy.

Teens are having sex even if they don't really want to.

Many "good" girls in the bible belt, like me, have probably stood at the front of their Southern Baptist church and pledged purity and abstinence to a congregation while wearing a small silver band as a sign of commitment to Jesus. (I don't remember many guys that participated in the same ceremony.) So even while some teens pledge to abstain from having pre-martial sex, there are powerful hormones, those who are not afraid to force their victims to break abstinence vows and others who just want to naturally explore the mystery of sex.

The pursuit of abstinence (while admirable) unfortunately can lead to pregnancy, intense guilt, sexually transmitted diseases and in extreme cases, death from AIDS.

If your daughter is in a situation where a guy (whom she "loves") forces her or pressures her into intercourse and she is not on the pill or carrying a condom, she is not protected.  A commitment to abstinence can lead to a lack of protection because there is no preparation for the experience.

I've lived through this. I've been an educator for a program which worked to publicize the deaths of teens who did not have protected sex and contracted HIV. We hoped to save others from the same fate through education.

Even Bristol Palin became pregnant in a moment of passion. She didn't have a plan to responsibly usher in the pressures of being a teenager because she relied on willpower to abstain.

Perhaps a campaign about waiting for while preparing for "smart" sex is appropriate. Is it fair to have unrealistic expectations for teenagers and not provide education on how to intelligently confront the hormonal changes they face?

My opinion is not right for everyone and I respect that. I have a unique perspective and felt compelled to share. Thanks for reading. Please forgive me for being so bold.

Cupcake Boot Camp

Monday, 4 October 2010

Out of choices which included getting a tattoo, bungee jumping, body piercing and spa treatments we decided to enroll in Cupcake Boot Camp at The Chopping Block, a cooking school in Chicago for Casey's birthday. We went to the Lincoln Square location and with 6 other women we learned from Chef Ethan.

We started with cheesecake cupcakes and put raspberries inside, under the filling. Chef Ethan also discussed vanilla pods (which we used for the recipe) and how rich the inside is.

We made 5 kinds of cupcakes: Cheesecake, Chocolate Cherry, Peaches and Mascarpone, Banana Peanut Butter and Red Velvet. I am going to ask for a mixer for Christmas because baking is fun!  It just takes organization, preparation and precise measurements.

Delicious baked goods also take a LOT of butter. Look at this picture. It shows the butter and cream cheese  amounts in our cupcakes and the butter for the milk chocolate butter cream we learned to make.

My favorite part of the cupcake baking process is measuring out the different ingredients - and of course taste testing. Chef Ethan taught us to combine our "dried" ingredients in a bowl and also the "wet" ingredients in a bowl and make sure every thing is measured out before we start the mixing process which usually includes the butter and sugar to begin with.

Here's a look at the final product. I certainly enjoyed filling the icing bags and getting the tips ready for frosting. Chef Ethan taught us to hold the bag with our dominant hand and get as close to the cupcake as possible.  We also learned how to make ganache which we dipped the chocolate cupcakes in.

Boot camp included four hours of sweat and tears (not really) but afterwards, I felt confident making cupcakes from scratch and even purchased some materials needed to make them (thermometer and icing equipment) for Halloween treats.

Chicago for Birthday Fun

Sunday, 3 October 2010
I flew to Chicago this past week to visit my best friend Casey for her birthday. We had a lovely time with all kinds of fun things on the "to do" list including visiting a fabulous new restaurant downtown: Girl & the Goat.

The restaurant is run by Chef Stephanie Izard, which if you follow Top Chef, you may remember from one of the first seasons. She won and has gone on to amazing success. The restaurant had amazing ambiance and we were able to step up to the bar and quickly order a drink (to me, this is a good indicator on how the night goes dining in an in-demand place).

Casey and I, Bert (her husband) and Carter (our friend) were seated close to the time of our reservation and we had a nice table next to the window. We started off by ordering from the "bread menu" which included different spreads. We went for the "hunk o' burning love butter with honeycomb." Good choice. I would also like to try the "roasted garlic white anchovy butter."

The food is served "family style" which means we all shared dishes that came out in a random sequence. I especially enjoyed the shaved fennel salad and the seared scallops with fried brussel sprouts. Bert ordered a bottle of prosecco for the table and the taste was perfect with different dishes.

We also ordered the smoked goat pizza, apple soffritto, black kale, ricotta and cipollini. The lamb sausage stuffed calamari, sweet garlic, sweetbread crisp, currant saor was also amazing! Tasty.