Thursday, December 25, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

It's Christmas!

We know Christmas is coming when the gingerbread comes out at my brother's house.

Last night we constructed the Christmas train. Well, my brother Jason constructed while Charissa and I decorated other cookies and Elizabeth ate them.

Check out the gingy festivities!


Jason constructs the Christmas train.


Elizabeth decorates her cookie.


Christmas Gingerbread!


My Christmas Gingerbread Man in his lovely Christmas sweater by the Christmas train.

Amtrak Stuck

Two days after I took my inaugural trip on Amtrak from CHI to GRR, which was ever so smooth, the train became stuck in Holland during the winter storm last night (Sunday). The four-hour trip became 15 hours.

Read the story here.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Amtrak Superliner

So, I took the Amtrak train from Chicago to Grand Rapids last night. This was my first trip with Amtrak and I was a bit skeptical. One hour into the 4-hour trip I was sold. Here's why:


The Amtrak Superliner
The holiday traveler's best friend

1) At the train station: Tickets obtained by Quik-Trak with the bar code provided by e-mail. Enter the boarding lounge and wait for train to be called. No security lines (which could be a bit disconcerting if dwelt on). You can arrive within 30 minutes of your train, get your ticket and walk right on.

2) Baggage: This particular run (CHI-GRR) doesn't have baggage check so I had to carry my large suitcase, which I was really tired of doing. BUT I was able to stash it on the first level of the train car and go right up to a reserved seat. It was easy to grab on my way off the train. No waiting for baggage handlers to bring it out. This was a HUGE bonus for me after waiting 30 and 50 minutes respectively in Nashville and Chicago for this same suitcase.


3) Seating: I was on an Amtrak Superliner. My parents have used this run before but did not have the Superliner; their train was more bare bones. If you take Amtrak and get a Superliner, you can expect comfortable seating with LOTS of legroom. The seats recline with leg rests.

4) Cabin: The ride was smooth and quiet, give or take a few light conversations around me. The best part is that you can keep your cell phones on, unlike the airplane, so there is internet and text messaging to be had. A good distraction on the 4-hour ride.

5) Weather: With the weather as crazy as it was in the Midwest yesterday (Friday), airplanes were grounded and flights canceled. But not the trains...they were running!

6) Cost: My round-trip ticket cost $94. Certainly there is not a plane ticket (CHI-GRR) to be found for that price.

Like I said, I was skeptical at first but it didn't take long for me to become a believer. I think if I ever need to get somewhere within a four-hour radius, I'll look up Amtrak first. Adding up the time it takes for arrival, check-in, security, boarding, flight and baggage claim with airlines, the train makes a whole lot of sense. And it's a whole lot more comfortable, too.

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Note From "Gandforth"

My mom told me that my niece Elizabeth calls my Siamese cat Gandalf by the name "Gandforth." I told her that sounded like the name of an old British Butler. As in, "Gandforth, please bring me a cup of tea."

Anyways, here's a new note from the cat:

Hey, Mom,

Just wanted you to know that I can't wait for you to come so I can do this on your lap.

You know that kid that comes here? Well, she thinks she should hug me and she can't even call me by my name.

You see, Tia was always using Grandma's lap as a roosting spot and I didn't like watching her getting her belly rubbed. I have taken over that spot because I'm bigger and can push her out by flopping on her.

See you soon. Can't wait for your lap.

Your lap cat,
Gandforth

Saturday, December 13, 2008

What Type Are You?

Saw this, the Typealizer, on my friend Grant's blog. It supposedly defines your personality according to the words it reads on your blog.

Was curious....

ESFP - The Performers

The entertaining and friendly type. They are especially attuned to pleasure and beauty and like to fill their surroundings with soft fabrics, bright colors and sweet smells. They live in the present moment and don´t like to plan ahead - they are always in risk of exhausting themselves.

The enjoy work that makes them able to help other people in a concrete and visible way. They tend to avoid conflicts and rarely initiate confrontation - qualities that can make it hard for them in management positions.

***Close but I'm pretty confrontational.

Friday, November 28, 2008

This Picture Makes Snow Likable

I don't like snow. You know me, you know that. But if I were inserted into this picture, I might find it bearable for 10 minutes, maybe 15. Two of my favorite people in the world, my dad and my delicious pink niece.

My Cat Is Thankful Apparently

My cat Tia sent me a Thanksgiving note. And by the looks of her in the picture, she really likes living with Grandma and Grandpa.



Happy Thanksgiving, Mom!

Grandma's lap is sooooo comfortable after a meal like that.

Love You

PS My brother keeps picking on me. Grandpa doesn't even try to make him stop. Tell him to leave me alone. OK AND the dog, Bailey, is coming for the weekend. I can't stand her. Help! Come here and rescue me.

Your wonderful cat Tia

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A New Currency

Seems there could be a new form of currency for bill paying out there. Drawings! And you don't have to be some great artist to make it work. Read how this guy tried it here.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Wildfires

I’ve always known that you don’t want to mess with fire. It has this strange and wild (at times uncontrollable) quality about it. That’s even more real to me after this fall in Los Angeles. Obviously, until now, I’ve only watched from across the country at these “wildfires” burning in Southern California. But this weekend especially it became a little more real and a little more sad; these sets of fires are really out of control and destructive. When you know the areas and live close to them, when you know people who live or work there, when you go outside and smell what smells like a giant campfire and see smoke just blanketing the air, it hits home.

A bunch of friends and I went to see the new James Bond movie Friday night. The movie got out around 11:15 p.m. As my three friends from Pasadena and I were going out to the car, we looked out from the parking garage and could see this orange glow on the other side of the Valley. It was a good 20-mile distance across the Valley from where we were in Sherman Oaks but we could tell – that was a wildfire, and we’re all pretty new residents in SoCal. I checked the L.A. Times website on my phone and sure enough, a wildfire in Sylmar, the exact direction we were looking, had started around 10:30.

By morning that fire we saw, which had only been covering maybe less than 100 acres, had grown to over 2,000. The number of homes and people evacuated by morning was tremendous. Not much later, we hear news about fire in the other direction from Pasadena, in Orange County. This one, too, absolutely ravaging the area.

Here’s a map of the area:

View Larger Map

I have learned a lot about the science of wildfires this fall. The Santa Ana winds blow fiercely over the mountains toward the ocean. And no joke, a windy day in Pasadena with the Santa Anas is pretty ridiculous. And the air is dry, dry, dry – I have the worst static-y hair right now (also ridiculous). Embers fly in the wind and can make a fire skip about and grow in no time at all. That’s how fires can “jump” 10 lanes of a freeway, something that would seem to be an OK barrier.

Watching pictures of the fires up in Santa Barbara on TV Thursday night was crazy. They had 75 mile per hour winds; there’s no fighting that. That fire just goes where the wind blows. Ridiculous is the one word I get stuck on.

And then I get sad for the people who are losing homes, cars and stuff. It’s one thing to say, “It’s only stuff.” But that’s when it’s not your stuff. There is sadness and loss hanging in the air, like the smoke. Everybody feels really bad because there were so many situations where firefighters just had to evacuate because the fires were so large and unfightable.

Here’s a picture coming west on the 210 to the 118 on my way to church this afternoon. This smoke is from the Sylmar fire.



And this picture is of the San Fernando Valley (“the Valley") on my way to the Dream Center this morning for church. The smoke is just sitting in the valley air.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

New Story Posted

The story I wrote on Hillsong United from my trip to the Hillsong United Conference back in August is now online here.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Have you ever seen a starfish move like this?

Mom McKellar (a.k.a. Mom #2) sent this picture she captured while walking the beach one morning recently in Charleston, SC. It's a starfish crawling across the beach. How amazing is this?

Mexico

Here are a couple pics from Mexico in no particular order:
Lois and I, the Pasadena girls

A giant statue of Jesus on the hills overlooking Highway 1 going down the coast of Mexico

Gasoline pancakes (the first batch, which five of us were lucky and early enough to get, were good; later batches, which the rest of our group received, tasted like they were cooked in gasoline)

The Attention a Status Update Draws

Forget a book. I'm just going to comment on life and things via Facebook status updates. You can draw a lot of attention from them. Today's was based on a dream I had that made no sense but made me wake up laughing hysterically.

Jackie woke herself up laughing hysterically at something someone said in a dream.
4:56am - 8 Comments


Jeanie Mauney Smith at 4:59am November 10
That's the way I'd like to wake up on a Monday!

Shelby Sundling at 5:23am November 10 via Facebook Mobile
you always crack me up!

Jackie Chapman at 5:52am November 10 via Facebook Mobile
And I'm still chuckling at it. :D It IS a good start to a Monday!

Beth Hall Allison at 6:14am November 10
Ha! That made ME laugh. Wait, was it me that said something funny in your dream? 'Cause, you know, I am THAT funny that I transcend into dreams.

Erika Chambers at 7:08am November 10
do you remember what it was? did it make sense in the real world? my dreams almost NEVER do.

David Campbell at 8:01am November 10
Did it qualify as a "that's what she said" statement?

Jackie Chapman at 8:34am November 10
Doesn't everything qualify as a "that's what she said" statement, David? Though in this case I'm not sure...

Jackie Chapman at 8:40am November 10
I do remember what was said, though I don't remember the context or the whole dream at that. It wasn't Beth talking. It was an Indian cab driver who said (I've started laughing again), "Anytime you attach something to the hood [pointing to the hood of his cab], you can't return it [meaning the car]." That's all I remember. And I woke up laughing so hard, just like I am now. I have no idea what I was attaching to the hood of a car or why I was in the street talking to an Indian cab driver or what he had attached and tried to return in the past. All I know is that I laughed hysterically for about 60 seconds.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Kidney for Dann

I just received some most excellent news today! One of my best friends in the whole world, Leslie, will be able to donate a kidney to her dad!

The McKellars (Mom, Dad, brother Mark and his wife Andrea, along with Les) are my second family. Dad (a.k.a. Dann) has been looking for a kidney for a couple years now. He had his first transplant 13+ years ago and that kidney served him well, lasting longer than most expected. It's been a long and difficult wait with many, many prayers but now Mom McKellar sent out this note today:

"We just received confirmation that Leslie has been accepted by The Mayo Clinic as the donor!

"The original test revealed a health concern with Mayo's doubt of its accuracy. Follow-up test results showed Leslie in perfect health.

"Dann talked with Leslie's doctor at Mayo, who says he's confident Dann will be receiving a strong, healthy kidney with great potential for a successful transplant and better quality of life.

"To say we are incredibly happy, and grateful to Leslie, is an understatement.

"Many questions, and not many answers at this point. I'll keep you all updated on the progress, timing, etc.

"Thanks for your hopes & efforts to be the kidney donor, words of encouragement and your continued prayers. This is a miracle."

Now for transplant prayers for Les and Dad!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I Could Be in Trouble

I've been trying to break the habit but now I'll really have to work on it.

No-text Law Goes Into Effect January 1, 2009

Starting January 1, 2009 a new law will go into effect where writing, sending, or reading a text-based communication while driving will be against the law for all drivers in California.

This new law applies to electronic wireless communications devices used to manually communicate with any person using text-based communication, including, but not limited to, communications referred to as a text message, instant message, or electronic mail.

Violating this law is punishable by a base fine of $20 for a first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense. With the addition of penalty assessments, fines can be more than triple the base fine amount.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

S'mores on Sunset Blvd.

This might be a little known fact, but you can roast a s'more on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood.

I met three of my radio friends for dinner on Friday night at the Saddleback Ranch down in Hollywood. Our buddy Jayar was in town for the weekend. Fun times. My friend Bryan is the PD at KSGN/Riverside, CA, and he's a professional photographer. He took some photos of our merry little group roasting marshmallows for our s'mores.


Pictured are (l-r) me, Lara Scott (middays at The Fish/L.A.), Bryan and Jayar (afternoons with The Joy FM/Sarasota, FL).


Yes, we were intentionally trying to burn the mallows.

A Sign of Fall - School Photos

Well, my mother strikes again. She sent me my cats' photo for this school year. Not sure what yearbook they're going in or what school they even go to. I do know that my cats are brilliant.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

QUOTE

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace,
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

~William Cowper

Dear brothers and sisters, you must be patient as you wait for the Lord's return. Consider the farmers who eagerly look for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They patiently wait for the precious harvest to ripen. You, too, must be patient. And take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near.

Don't grumble about each other, my brothers and sisters, or God will judge you. For look! The great Judge is coming. He is standing at the door.

For examples of patience in suffering, dear brothers and sisters, look at the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We give grat honor to those who endure under suffering. Job is an example of a man who endured patiently. From his experience we see how the Lord's plan finally ended in good, for he is full of tenderness and mercy.

~James 5:7-11

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Watch What You Say

Blessings are not quite the same as prayers, because the person addressed is not God but other people. You look them in the eye, as it were, and say, ''Grace be to you.'' There is however a prayer-like quality, because implicit in the blessing is the appeal, ''O God, make these very words of mine a means of grace from you.'' (John Piper)

Hmmm. Wow. I'm more of a conduit of God's when I bless someone or say, ''Grace be to you.'' I'm actually asking God to open up a conduit of grace to them. And because we live by faith in future grace, those are powerful words to be uttering. I'm suddenly in on God's work, what he's doing in someone's life.

So when you say, ''God bless you'' or ''Grace be to you,'' remember what you're asking. Maybe say it more often...people need God's grace.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Faith by Future Grace

Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern. (Matthew 6:32-33)

Monday, September 1, 2008

So my brother-in-law Dick sends the following picture with the caption: Where is it written that you need water to snorkel?



To which I email back: I think it's written in the general rules of snorkeling - or at least in Wikipedia....

Snorkeling (British spelling: snorkelling) is the practice of swimming at the surface of a body of water while equipped with a diving mask, a shaped tube called a snorkel, and usually swimfins. In cooler waters, a wetsuit may also be worn. Combining these tools allows the snorkeler to observe underwater attractions for extended periods of time with relatively little effort.

Dick replies: And if I am correct the Human Body of Water (98%) completed for me
All that is necessary...fins are there.

To which my brother Jason replies: Wiki is good, but Merriam-Webster's can be counted on for the definitive answer...

Snorkeling
One entry found.

snorkel[2,intransitive verb]

Main Entry:
2snorkel
Function:
intransitive verb
Inflected Form(s):
snor·keled; snor·kel·ing Listen to the pronunciation of snorkeling \-k(ə-)liŋ\
Date:
1949

: to operate or swim submerged using a snorkel

So, as I read it, you need to submerge yourself into your own human body of water and operate with a snorkel. That's a photo-op I shall await with great anticipation!

Jason

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

So, it's been a month since I've posted anything. Wow.

Right now I'm in Michigan with family. I've already been here almost two weeks and I have another five days to go!

Today we hit the shops in Holland, MI. Got a dress for next year's Oscars (crossing my fingers) for only $5! And it's a really rad dress.

Wish I could scrounge up some stories for you but I'm too busy playing with Elizabeth....

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

That's What I'll Be Having

Last night I had dinner with some friends at a little Italian restaurant. Our server (and her shadow) took drink orders and came back to tell us the specials as we were looking over the menu, chatting and deliberating.

One of the guys, Kevin, made a couple inquiries about the salmon and linguine dish. Kevin has good manners and is 'ladies first' when appropriate so it sounded so silly and odd when he closed his menu, set it down in front of him and lazily and happily said, 'Well, that's what I'll be having.'

I realize he was probably just voicing his decision but it also sounded like he was ordering and the server followed it with, 'Would you like a salad.' 'Yes, that would be great.'

Done. Kevin had ordered and inadvertently made it a rush for us to decide. The rest of us are like, 'Uh, are we ordering now? Cuz I have no idea what I want.' I for one needed to hear the specials again and needed to know what vegetables came in the bowtie pasta with pesto sauce and chicken (by the way, there was no broccoli in the dish as advertised).

Afterward we walked down to Yogurt Delite. We walked in and focused on the flavor menu. Kevin, though, walked right to the counter and ordered chocolate on a cone. Guess he was just in a decisive mood last night... And of course none of us could resist the follow-up comment, 'Well, guess that's what he'll be having.'

Monday, June 30, 2008

This Cat Is Brilliant

Hi, Mom,

Thank you for our gift. We will think of you every morning. Tia tries to make Grandma get up at 6:00 a.m. for treats but she just pretends she's sleeping. Tia won't let her get away with it though; she just hits her on the cheek with her paw. But Grandma still doesn't move until she feels like it.

Grandma says you're coming home in a couple weeks. We can't wait! Can we go home with you? Grandma and Grandpa make us do our chores. It's hard work leaving all my hair all over the house. They just don't understand. Tia likes to stretch out on Grandma's lap but if she is always gone to the cabin who's lap can she use?

I really got Grandma good last night. They finally came home from THAT CABIN and I laid on her lap. I showed her. Go away and leave us! I made her pet me and left her lap full of hair!

I'd better go before Grandma catches me typing this. I'm going to take a nap. If I just lay around she's going to make me clean the litter off the toilet seat.

Love,

Gandalf

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Cali Girls



Some of my girls in California at our friends Josh and Brittany's wedding in Simi Valley: Lena, me, Emily, Crystal and Jessica.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Another Fifteen Minutes

I don't mean to get on TV now. It just happens. [Smile]

My friends Sonya and Erika came out to visit me in L.A. last weekend. We had a real good time. I got tickets for us to go to the Thursday afternoon taping for "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno." We got to Studio 3 around 3 o'clock and already there was quite a line. It was bloody hot standing out in that sun.

After we'd been standing there for about an hour, they started letting people in - first, those on the guest list who didn't have to stand out in the sun, then all us lucky folks who did. They give out more tickets than they have seats for the show and we almost didn't make the cut-off. The line got to about a dozen people in front of us and they stopped it. The NBC people would radio back and forth, "Send in 10." So, then it was the couple in front of us. They got in. "OK, send in the three." YES!

We get inside and the production guy points to an usher and tells him, "Third row." In we walk and get the three seats in the third row right in front by the "Tonight Show" band. Rad.

So, as John Melendez is doing his opening stuff to warm up the crowd and they do "Strange Audience Member Talents," the police officer that apparently is stationed there for the taping comes over to me and says, "Let me give you a tip. When the band starts playing, go right down to the front by that step and you'll get to shake Jay's hand when he comes out." I was like, "OK! Anything to spice up the fun here." The girls couldn't hear him so we decided they would just follow my lead.

So, the show starts and the officer taps me on the shoulder and says, "OK, go!" The band starts playing so I get up and go to the stage. Erika and Sonya are right up there, too. Jay is introduced and he comes out from backstage and does his "shake hands with the audience" bit. It's not really a handshake because he's moving so quickly - it's more like a side high five.

It happened so quickly that it was over when it started. I don't even remember seeing the camera. So we went back to our seats and enjoyed the show. It was fun!

Afterward, I called Beth and sent some text messages to people about us probably being on the show. Erika and Sonya called a bunch of folks, too. So, we head back to Pasadena to get some dinner and look around Old Pasadena, do some shopping, etc.

Just after 10:35 Central Time, I start getting texts: "I saw you!" I was updating my Facebook/Myspace statuses with the fact that we'd been spotted and say Beth's update that she had also seen us. So, I called her. She was in the middle of typing up an e-mail about everything that had played out. It's pretty funny:

FROM: Beth Allison
TO: Jacqueline Chapman
SUBJECT: Cutest Thing EVER!


So much just happened in the last 3 minutes! Let me give you a play-by-play!

All of the kids piled in my room to watch you on TV. Luke asked if it was the Oscars. Ha!

We saw the three of you right away – well, we had trouble seeing poor little Sonya! But we ran it back several times and watched. The one thing that stuck out to me was that Sonya got DENIED. It made me sad!!! She stuck her hopeful little hand out and he just walked on by. Sadness!!! The other thing that stood out was the conquering look that Jackie gave the camera just after shaking Jay’s hand. So cocky!!!! Must be the hair...

Luke said “Why is her hair short?”

Abbey and I were screaming and yelling excitedly and I yelled for Aaron to come.

He was in the playroom hanging pictures. He came running upstairs holding his head. Apparently when we screamed for him to come here, it scared him and he hit his head on the ceiling. I asked him if he was ok and his response was a grumpy “I’m hurting. What is it?” He wasn’t as excited as we were to find out what it was...but once he saw you all he was really happy. :-)

He left and Abbey and I were laughing and running it back and all of a sudden a guttural growl came from the bottom of the bed as we hear Lincoln say “Don’t laugh at her!!!!” We are like “WHO??” And he said “Jackie! Don’t laugh at her!” We explained that we weren’t laughing AT you, but just excited about what was happening. Ha!

Anyway, congratulations on your brush with fame. You all three looked FABULOUS!!!!! I’m so proud.

Love,
Beth


So, I've only seen the online version. Beth is going to burn it to a DVD for me so I can show my family. And for the record, I didn't catch the camera with a cocky look. I don't even remember seeing the camera.

And it's funny that Beth saw Sonya get denied by Jay because that's exactly what Sonya said: "I was denied." That became the weekend's joke. "Well, at least I was denied by Jay Leno."

But that's the story!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Importance of Understanding Pink


My niece Elizabeth will be 2-years-old on July 31. I cannot wait to celebrate with her. And I know exactly what to get her - something pink, anything pink. Pink will do nicely.

My brother is rather beside himself as he realizes that his daughter believes all should be pink. He recently came to the realization that she's not confused when given something purple or green and she calls it pink. He realized (or maybe he was told?) that she would actually prefer whatever is purple or green to be pink and tells him so. "Pink." As in "Dad, I would like this green Lego to be pink. Make it happen."

Ah, sweet Elizabeth, we shall have fun in a few weeks, torturing your dad with all things pink.

I told Jason not to worry. When she reaches her 30's, all things will be green or blue. At least those are colors this aunt loves now.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Week Off

This is my week off in between quarters. I start summer quarter next Monday, June 23. I'm actually looking forward to it because I'm doing IDLs rather than actual on campus classes so I'll be studying at my own pace for about 13 weeks. I just need to turn in all my work by September 19. We'll see how this works out...

Only five weeks and I'll be traveling to Michigan. I'm going to be there for almost three weeks (!) which is an extremely long visit for me. I'm sure it'll be great though. With a two-year-old niece to play with, how could it not be?

I can't believe almost six months has gone by since moving to California. Time flies. And I'm doing my best to make sure that I'm taking it all in, applying the lessons, writing down the lessons and just all around wondering where this all leads...

Today's good news: I got an A in New Testament: The Gospels.

New Haircut

It's official...summer is here...or something like that. My hair is now officially the shortest it's been in 12 or more years.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

My babies

For those who don't know, my parents are watching their "grandcats" while I'm out in California (no pets allowed in campus housing). I periodically get notes from the cats and pictures from what must be the proud grandparents. Here are my babies, quite literally:

Gandalf napping in the baby bassinet:


Tia napping in my niece Elizabeth's crib:


This one is not staged. Tia will actually jump up and sit in Elizabeth's high chair (she must be hungry; her tongue is sticking out):


Tia helping Grandma with eBay:

Saturday, June 14, 2008

He was in a band

I was sitting outside Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf reading for class. And this guy looking all rock star came out to a table next to me. He set his coffee down and took off his aviator sunglasses to clean them off and one of the glasses popped out and clanked around on the sidewalk.

He tried so hard to play it off and be real nonchalant about it which made it even better. He casually bent down and picked it up, sat in his chair and put it in his lap while he cleaned the other lens. I didn't see it fall out - I just heard it and thought I wonder? So when I looked up, sure enough, I could see the two pieces in his lap.

Then I couldn't help but overhear his LOUD phone call - he's in a band.....

Wishing someone was there to share the moment. It brought a smile to my face all day. That was what I call real funny.

Rabbits

The boys have rabbits - or a rabbit family.

This is Luke and Zoom.



This is Zack and the rabbit family.

What's the word?

I had an funny and interesting 'talk' with my friend Jessica out here in Cali. I posted a status update on Twitter/Facebook: "Jackie has decided that honey yogurt is 'blech.'"

Jessica whose first language is not English (she is from Honduras) sent me a message on Facebook:

"What is blech? couln't find a translation.
this is the definition, but...was that what you meant...

Blech
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - Cite This Source

A blech (from the German by way of Yiddish word for tin or sheet metal) is a metal sheet used by many observant Jews to cover stovetop burners (and for some, the knobs/dials too) on Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath), as part of the precautions taken to avoid violating the halachic prohibition against cooking on the Sabbath by stirring the fire."


HA! I answered:

"You're the best. 'Blech' in my mind is more of a sound effect that means gross. :) When I gag on something that doesn't taste good, I stick my tongue out and say, Blech.

It works with the sheet metal definition, too. Eating honey yogurt would be like eating sheet metal."


I have taught Jessica a new 'English' word.

Blog Redesign

I figured after three years it was time for a new look...kind of like what I have in store for myself later this week....

I'm still tweaking the colors, trying to decide what I like best (for now). Overall, my whole motto is, keep it simple.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Oliver & Sally

This blog's characters:
Oliver - Shelby's younger, more agile cat - played by himself
Russ Lathrop - Shelby's "boy" - played by himself
Zilda - Shelby - played by herself
Me - Me - played by me
Stunts by Sally and Lizzy
No creatures were harmed in the making of this blog - except for Lizzy's tail

Saturday morning (5/17) I got a text message from Nashville:

Russ Lathrop (5/17 9:46 a.m.):
Oliver just caught a salamander!

Me (5/17 9:53 a.m.):
As in with his teeth? What’d he do with it?

Russ Lathrop (5/17 9:56 a.m.):
He came strutting across the yard with his captive in his mouth ready to offer it up as a sacrifice to his beloved human. Then dropped it to play some more…until Zilda grabbed him so we could leave.

Me (5/17 9:53 a.m.):
And beloved human said what?

Russ Lathrop (5/17 10:00 a.m.):
Good kitty!

Me (5/17 10:30 a.m.):
Yes good kitty – is the sally dead?

Russ Lathrop (5/17 10:33 a.m.):
Nope… Escaped the throes of death by mere moments only by the whim of merciful Zilda…much to the chagrin of a reluctant kitty.

Here is a picture of the mighty hunter and his prey, Sally.


The Sally is under his left paw. Either Oliver is showing us his ferocious side with that face – or the sun is in his eyes.

Fast forward two days and I receive this picture share:


No, that's not a hairball that Oliver is looking at. He has another captive.

Russ Lathrop (5/19 1:04 p.m.):
Oliver brought his temporary detainee into the house as I was trying to get out the door to the airport. Said detainee was mercifully released…sans tail!

Two amphibian/reptile-like creatures in two days. Great stories of the mighty hunter Oliver’s exploits to tell your children and grandchildren. A true American fighting off terrorists Sally and Lizzy, I thought.

Then my new California side kicked in and I began to wonder if there was more to these hostile actions? What effect had L.A. had on Oliver? Is he a victim of absentee parenting? Did he escape the Hobbit Hole while Shelby devoted her life to Oscar and get mixed up with the bad cats of Compton? How did we get here? And I say “we” because it literally takes a village to raise these cats…

Me (5/19 1:11 p.m.):
Have you witnessed him throwing any gang signs?

Russ Lathrop (5/19 1:18 p.m.):
He has been wearing really loose, low riding jeans. Runnin the streets w/strays. He may even be responsible for recent “tagging” in the Fido Alley

We may never know the answer.

What we might know though:

from Russ Lathrop
to Jacqueline Chapman
date Tue, May 20, 2008 at 6:51 PM

Upon further investigation, I believe Oliver’s Temporary Detainee was a Ground Skink. “The Ground Skink is sometimes mistaken for a salamander, but unlike a salamander it has scales.”

Russ

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

New Album Review Posted

Just had an album review posted here:

http://www.cmcentral.com/reviews/7877.html

Sunday, May 11, 2008

My Mother's Day Card From Gandalf


Happy Mother's Day.

i just wanted to show you what I do for my chores. Here I am leaving my hair and litter on Grandpa's chair.

Hope you have a Happy Mother's Day and I can't wait to see you so I can leave my hair on you.

Love,

Mr G

My Mother's Day Card From Tia


Hi Mom,

This a picture of me doing my chores. I'm doing my weeks washing stretch while I sleep on Grandma's lap. Actually, I'm only doing a 1/2 weeks washing. I didn't feel like doing the whole stretching out thing for Grandpa to take a picture.

Happy Mother's Day

Love Tia

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Tale of Two Squirrels

"A Mouse Tale" happened back in March.

And I kid you not that six weeks later, I witnessed this on the streets of Pasadena, too.

I was out for my Sunday morning walk through Pasadena - a weekly ritual of mine. I was coming up to the corner of Del Mar and Los Robles, about five blocks down from my apartment complex. I was waiting to cross over Los Robles to head three blocks to my Starbucks and then the final two to my apartment with my morning coffee.

As I was waiting for the light to change, I saw ahead of me down Del Mar, on the other side of Los Robles, two squirrels in the grass looking for the opportunity to cross Del Mar. They were not at the cross walk like the mouse from my previous story. They were preparing to jaywalk.

So, the coast was clear from both directions and the first squirrel took off. It did not wait for the second squirrel to decide anything - it ran and made it.

Meanwhile, the second squirrel almost left with the first squirrel but ended up hemming-and-hawing over it all. One foot down off the curb, pulls it back up. Down, up. Down and go! By the time he decided to go, a car was coming down Del Mar on the far side of the street - right where the second squirrel was headed. He kept going. Stopped in the center lane...briefly. Then made a run for it. You've never seen a squirrel run. He made it just in time.

But I think, lucky for Squirrel No. 2, the car saw him indecisively wonder where to go next in the street and slowed down.

Or was it the red light the car had that slowed it down? The light changed and the car continued on. I crossed and wondered, "What is it about Pasadena rodents that make them take on the streets like that?"

A Mouse Tale

[This is dedicated to my sister Jennifer who so valiantly killed a mouse recently by slamming it against a cupboard wall with her food processor.]

A true story. I watched it with my own eyes.

I was coming up to a street corner and saw a mouse starting to run across five lanes of traffic. During morning rush hour, no less. I thought for sure he made his death wish.

I watched him as I waited for my walk signal in the opposite direction. He made it halfway easy enough since he had the walk signal but when the light changed, he was Frogger – darting forward, left, right, left, right, forward, wait, slow, stop!

I watched his progress with such amazement that I almost forgot to walk on my own walk signal, and I found myself looking back as I crossed to see how it all played out. I thought for sure his doom was certain with only lane to go. “Oh! Watch the silver mini van!” I actually said under my breath.

He stopped in the middle of the lane. I wasn’t sure if he stopped or if a tire helped him stop. He was not moving. I didn't think he'd been hit but maybe he had. Or maybe he was just in shock from his near-death experience.

“Come on, come on, little mouse!” I muttered, when suddenly he popped up and scurried across the last lane. Success! He actually made it. Crazy lucky mouse!

I felt like cheering or something but contained myself to a smile and a giggle. I couldn’t wait to tell my sister my mouse story – mine had a happy ending. Hers, not so much, at least for the mouse. Jennifer was semi-pleased with the outcome.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Friday, February 29, 2008

Laughs - In Particular, My Laugh

Someone paid me the best compliment this week. A co-worker emailed me Tuesday and said, “I love hearing you laugh. You should be here everyday.” (I only work at the Malibu office on Tuesdays; I guess my laugh carries around the corner.) I emailed back and said, “Thank you – that’s the nicest thing I’ve heard all day. I love laughing – life is too short to be grumpy.”

It was his follow-up that got me: “Your laugh is pure joy and dazzling.” For a co-worker who doesn’t know me that well, this really struck me. I don’t know much about the science of laughter but I guess that it reflects what’s happening inside, on a deeper, maybe subconscious, level. And to think my laugh reflects pure joy and is dazzling to him – well, I can’t think of a nicer compliment. I want my outlook on life to be pure joy, no matter what happens around me ('rejoice' says the tattoo).

(Laugh is a funny sounding word in itself.)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Being a Seat Filler

I had a good time filling the Second Mezzanine, Center Section, Row G, Seat 1 seat. I had a great view of the stage. I was bummed that I didn't get to be a 'regular' seat filler down front but better luck next year, I guess.The show was pretty good and John Stewart did a good job hosting.

Star sightings this year: John Travolta and Kelly Preston (second year in a row), Anne Hathaway (second year), Jon Stewart, Katherine Heigl and Seal and Heidi Klum. No Johnny Depp - boo hoo! I was in the same room - I think that counts for something.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

New Story Online - New Apt

A new story was posted online recently: a quick interview with artist Phil Wickham. Check it out in the links to the left.

Also, moving into my new apartment in Pasadena...yay! Finally, I'll get to unpack my suitcases after a month!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Happy Jackie Chapman Day

Today is January 10 - the official Jackie Chapman Day in Nashville. In fact it's the 10th Annual Jackie Chapman Day.

I moved to Nashville 10 years ago today and each year since I have celebrated my friends in Nashville. So, if we met in Nashville and we're friends, today's your day as well. And even though I'm in L.A. for now, we can still all celebrate.

Love you all!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Life in L.A.

So here I am in Silver Lake, CA, just down the way from Pasadena. I've had one day of class, one day of work in the home office in Malibu and two phone conversations with UPS regarding the packages they have not been able to deliver - looking forward to another day of class tomorrow, no more office work until next week some time and six packages arriving on Thursday.

My drive out here was long, uneventful and many parts beautiful. We arrived Thursday night with the rain and found ourselves mostly indoors for the weekend. Leslie flew back to Atlanta Sunday morning and Shelby and I took the day to acquaint ourselves with Pasadena - it was so helpful.

Monday classes started. I got my parking pass and went to class (two actually), bought some books and came home to do some work. Overall a good day and a good start to the school year.

Not much news beyond that...