Friday, September 29, 2006

Annabella is here! She came nearly 3 weeks early. She was born Friday, Sept. 22, 2006. 5 lbs 8 oz, 17.5 inches long. She is just beautiful! And teeny tiny!

The last time I posted on here was one day before she was born. She was still in my tummy. I went into early labor at 1:30 a.m. Friday. She was born at 8:16 p.m. that night. It was around 2:30 p.m. when things really started happening. I had an OB appointment scheduled at 11:15 a.m. that day, and we kept that. I was dilated 1 cm at the time. I didn't know if I was in for a LONG weekend or what. We went to Arthur's Garden Deli for lunch. Got lots of stares when contractions hit. Then we went to Target to get the other car seat for my parents (we wanted to get another base only, but they didn't carry our brand--so for $10 more, we got a base and seat). Contractions started getting more major. The nice lady at the Starbucks counter gave us water. When we started walking around again, we headed to the Bootique--the Halloween section and my favorite. I was not enjoying it much, though. We ran into our friend Tracey T. there. I remember talking to her but not about exactly what.

The OB had said to call in once my contractions were under 5 minutes apart for more than an hour. They certainly were at Target. She said to head over to the hospital. See, it works out that my OB, general practitioner, the hospital and Target are all in the same area. The OB is right across from the hospital, and Target is in the strip mall to the left of the OB. How handy! We wanted to stay close.

When they checked me at the hospital, I was dilated to 4 cm. They admitted me. It was at this point I told them I wanted drugs. Actually, by the time we were at Target, I was convinced I wanted them. All my plans of having a totally natural birth went out the window, and I was more than willing to push them out.

By 6:30 p.m. I had had my "take the edge off" drugs (one dose at about 4:30 p.m.). When they tell you it takes the pain away but you still feel the contractions, they mean it takes a little pain away, you feel the contractions and every other one kicks your ass. Ouch! At 6:30 to 6:45 p.m., the doctor on call for me (Dr. Pagadala) broke my water. Whooosh! Right as she was saying, "Now that your water has released, the contractions are going to have more bite to them," I felt like a shark had a hold of me. "Oh, my god! You weren't kidding!" Or something along those lines. Soon after, the nurse had me get on the birthing ball. I was to rock back and forth sideways, which would help get baby into position. It sounds easier than it is. For those who haven't gone through the birth experience, imagine trying to sit or rest comfortably with someone's head coming down your birth canal. It's not comfy to say the least. Bill, my husband, was sitting behind me putting pressure on my low back, which helped me a lot. He was trying to get me to rock and at one point I said in a near-Exorcist voice, "I DON'T WANT TO." And he said okay and backed off for a few minutes. Aside from little things like that, I never blamed him for my pain or anything. I was in the zone women talk about.

Here's the deal about the zone. It almost feels like an out-of-body experience, but the thing is that you aren't out of your body--you're deep inside it. It's like you're there experiencing the pain and near delusional, and the rest of you is focusing on your body and your body only. That's the primal part. You don't care what bodily functions happen as you're pushing, that you're pouring with sweat, that your body is moving in weird ways (my one hand was reaching out and waving around most of the time, like I was trying to conduct the pain away).

After being on the birthing ball for a little while, I told my mom or whomever was listening (by the way, my husband, mother and father were with me the whole time) that I was pushing. "I don't know if I should but I am." So Mom got the nurse who said to stop. She got me on the bed again to check my dilation, and she said, "Oh! Yes, it is time for you to push! I'll get the doctor." So I had progressed fast once the waters broke and the ball rocked the baby into place. Since early on, I had effaced nicely, so it was all a matter of the cervix opening up. That water was holding me and baby back. We were ready.

Birth was not what I expected. It didn't matter how many books I read, websites I looked up or subscribed to or people I talked to. It really did not prepare me. Of course, she did come early. Still. I thought you would push push push until the baby came out. I had read/heard that you get to rest between contractions (because that's when you push), but it didn't register with me at the time. I kept feeling like if I didn't keep bearing down, she might slide back in, and I'd have to start over again! So I wanted to clench to hold her in place.

Then Bill and my mom started saying they could see her head. Dad was at my head placing cool wash cloths on my forehead (and in my eyes!). He also held my head down to push my chin to my chest, which I just couldn't do. Mom and Bill held my legs for me. I gripped onto the handle bars on either side of me to bear down like nothing else. I could hardly move them a couple of days later. But when they kept talking about her head, I was sure it would be over soon. To them it was, to me the pushing session were never-ending. Then once her head came out, I thought she'd come on through ... and the doctor said, "One more push." Aaahhhhh! But I did it. Just when I didn't think I could do anymore. And I'd been thinking that since mid major pushing.

At 8:16 p.m., the most beautiful baby I have ever seen was born. She is incredible. She is worth all the pain and more.

I didn't even have an epidural, which earlier that day I was thinking would be a very nice option. So aside from one dose of pain meds, we had a natural birth. It was an amazing experience, and I am so blessed to have shared it with the support team of my husband, mother and father. Before hand I thought it might be weird to have my dad there, that he would be uncomfortable and maybe I would. But no. It was more than natural to have them there. It has bonded us all so much closer together, and we were close to begin with. As my husband said, "I can't imagine it any other way.

That's Annabella Clementine Powers-Douglas' birth story. Today she is one week old. We had some feeding/weight loss issues earlier this week, but we've figured it all out with the help of visiting nurse Salli and Kathy the lactation consultant. And the Medela breast pump. I've been dealing with some chills, fever and earache. Funny, I don't remember my ears' involvement in the birth process.

I'm just now getting *a little* caught up on e-mail stuff. It's not been my priority, really. :-) But other people have sent me payments for items and magazines, so I've got to take care of it sometime soon.

Here are some pictures of our angel.

In love with my little girl,

Thursday, September 21, 2006

How Madonna Ruined My Night

I'm telling you, that Madonna can ruin a perfectly good evening. I had a dream last night where I was hanging out with a bunch of people, friends and such, and Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes and their baby stop by. In the dream, Tom and I are old pals. And as I give him a hug hello and coo over the baby, I'm thinking, "You know, I've known Tom a long time. So he's gotten a little kooky acting. He's still my friend." And we go on to have a lovely evening reminiscing and catching up.

Then the whole group of us decide to go out for dinner. It's Thanksgiving and dark out and rainy. We decide to go to Shogun, this sushi/hibatchi grill that's not to far away. Only in the dream it's a totally different place. It's supposed to be open, but it looks closed. Fortunately, we're in good with the owners and they insist we come in--all 20 or so of us. So we all start piling out of our cars, and who pulls up in some crappy old green beater of a car but Madonna (and, I think, Lindsay Lohann). She not only is uninvited but also pulls right up to the door and PARKS her car in front of it sideways! And I'm thinking, "What a cow!" Then I'm all, "Madonna, what are you doing? You can't park there. It's raining, some of us are pregnant and it's totaly illegal!" She just gives me this "I don't care, you peon" look and walks inside. And then I'm all, "Who invited Madonna anyway?" No one fesses up.

Aside from the cow, it's a lovely time. Great food. I remember picturing lots of red and black lacquer in the decor. The real Shogun is all blond wood and white. Totally different.

And now for something completely different ...

Baby update:

We are officially 20 days until d-day. Less than three weeks, friends! Holy cow! (and I don't mean Madonna) She's dropped a little but not a lot yet. Bill and I are still getting the house ready. The nursery is still crazy with stuff. After three showers, it's a bit full. I'm not complaining, though! We have just about everything we need or want for the upcoming arrival. I'm currently on the prowl for nursing undergarments and shirts that a) fit and b) don't cost an arm and leg. Apparently the nursing garment industry thinks that the only women who get pregnant are between a size 6 and 10. If you're a curvy gal like me or little and tiny, you're screwed.

One thing I didn't realize until I was a million months pregnant was that because all your internal organs get pushed up, it expands your ribs. I'm broad-chested anyway, and now my bra extenders need bra extenders. It is so lame. And if I'm lucky enough to find a bra that fits around my ever-expanding chest, it is assumed that my cup size is equally enormous. Not the case. Well, not yet anyway. If I could fill in a DDDD size cup, I doubt I could walk upright.

I went shopping at a place called Vintage Baby yesterday. It's a consignment store. There is one close to my work and one close to my home. I found a nursing top, which is in my size and I hope fits. It's really hard to tell if something will fit you post-baby when you have said baby still bulging in your belly. So for $6.99, I thought what the heck. I can always consign it back. They carry baby and kids clothes and stuff as well as maternity and every once in a while nursing clothes. Of course I also saw the cutest Christmas dress in red velvetine that should fit the baby for the holidays. I couldn't resist. I'm telling you, baby clothes are made by evil people passing as innocents. They make all these adorable outfits that a baby will maybe be able to wear two times then grow out of. And most are generally not that pricey (some are, though), so you think it's fine. But it's not. And suddenly you have a closet FILLED with tiny adorable outfits! They multiply like rabbits on speed! And if you're a first-time parent, you get twice as suckered in. And you don't know exactly what sizes to buy. Buy them big, but how big? I'm telling you, it's a huge plot. And my husband and I keep falling for it. Bill bought the baby two Halloween caps (little ghosties), a pair of boo socks and a boo onesie in less than an hour at two different stores. That's on top of the Halloween cap I bought the day before that looks like a witch hat. Weeks before, we couldn't resist a "Baby's first boo" onesie and "I love my mummy" bib. And during shower number two we got another Halloween onesie and bib from a friend who knows how much I love Halloween. It's a coup.

In cemetery-related news:

Epitaphs Magazine is plugging along. I'm editing right now and starting layout stuff. The plan is to get it to designer Kristie within a week.

One thing I need to do is pack my camera along with me wherever I go. I keep seeing cool cemeteries I haven't been to but have no camera to capture the moments. What kind of taphophile am I anyway?

In other news:

I'm getting back into the jewelry-making swing. Actually I'm currently focusing on making beaded bookmarks (or book thongs like you see in mall bookstores). If you are in the market, And the Bead Goes On (my friend Tracey's super-cool business), sells them for $3 each (instead of $6.95 everywhere else!!!). Great for Christmas and birthdays! I can hook you up! I can also hook you up with beautiful and affordable jewelry if you are in the market. You can see examples of what we make in issue #3 of Epitaphs Magazine (ad is on the inside back cover).

I'm shamelessly promoting this stuff because a) it's great stuff and b) because it's how I'm earning baby savings. I'm doing what I can to save up money for when my paid maternity leave ends. I'd really like to be able to be off through most of December (if the baby is born on time or late). If she's early, I want to be able to have at least a week's salary to get me paid through the Thanksgiving break without having to come back. It's all up to baby when I get off. That's the great unknown, not knowing exactly how to plan for this. I'm working all the way up until I have her.

Well, that's the scoop. My mom is coming over to talk baby stuff and go over the house with me to see what we can get done. I still have baby brain. Words fail me when I'm talking sometimes. At least when I'm typing things move a little smoother. For a few weeks there, it was a wonder that I was able to string two sentences together. I don't know how I did the work projects I did. Perhaps I was on marketing auto pilot.

Have a great weekend, everybody! Fall is here! At least in the western Illinois region, and I'm loving it. It's my fave time of year. Love it!


Monday, August 28, 2006

Hurricane Katrina: A Year Already?

How can it be? One year ago today the hurricane hit the Gulf Coast and changed our country. After 9/11, we watched a country come together in horror, patriotism, sadness and anger. When Katrina hit (soon to be followed by Hurricane Rita), we were in disbelief at the devastation and then at the lack of action by FEMA. But what we did see were thousands of people--mere citizens--giving of themselves and doing what they could to help their Southern neighbors. Some opened their homes to extended family members, friends or even strangers. Donations poured in, trucks were driven down ... all while the government stood around wondering what to do. I know I will never forget the people I saw on TV as they stood on their rooftops, waiting and waiting in 100-degree weather to be rescued from the flooding. And how was it that the government said they couldn't get through to help people, but the media was all over the place?

In December, I visited New Orleans because I had to. My family didn't want me to go; my husband didn't either, but he knew I had to. I talked to people about their city, their losses and their hopes and fears for the future. I helped with some cemetery clean-up work. I met more people whose goodness and love for the city outshined the devastation I saw. I heard the anger in some residents' voices as they questioned why folks were running around with cameras like it was a tourist attraction when they were still being told that they wouldn't have electricity for weeks or months.

The first time I visited New Orleans in 2003, I fell in love with the city. I felt the seduction of the sounds and smells and feel of it. It changed me with its romance and made me a romantic. When I came back after Katrina in 2005, it changed me again. I saw devastation and war zones--where nature took out its aggression on houses and trees and anything else in its path. But most importantly I saw determination in people's eyes who had lost so much. Not only were they intent on surviving and bringing their beloved home back, they were determined that the good times they've been so well known for would continue. While they may not have had much left, they would certainly find what they needed to make you one hell of a meal because you are their guest and that's one of the many things they are known for. Southern hospitality even in the wake of two hurricanes.

Those of you who know me know how much I love this city. I have great admiration for the city and her people. It's not just the amazing cemeteries, the oyster po' boys, the music, ghost tours, beignets and cafe au laits (which are more than enough on any given day to get me going!), it's the people. It's the history. The attitude. The everything. No matter what you know about New Orleans, it's always going to surprise you somehow.

Today I received an e-mail from, a great progressive movement site that is all about what is right and just. I've been on their mailing list for a few years now. Today they sent out an e-mail promoting a new book produced by the ACORN group, which is working to protect evacuees' rights and rebuild New Orleans right. The book is called "It Takes A Nation: How Strangers Became Family." According to the e-mail, the book features "amazing and moving first-person interviews with Katrina evacuees and the donors who took them in, and evocative photos of the folks involved and the aftermath of the flood." Illinois Senator Barack Obama wrote the forward. If you buy it through them for $20 (it retails for $25), ALL of the proceeds will go directly to ACORN. Not a bad deal. Of course, I'm ordering a copy today.

More information on and "It Takes A Nation: How Strangers Became Family."

I also sent ACORN an offer for free advertising space to promote their program to help the families of New Orleans. They are doing some fine work, and I'd like to help continue that.

I'd also like your opinions. They have a "Spread the Word" area on their site with things you can do to help out. One of which is "Adopt a House" in New Orleans. What you do is have a fundraiser, bake sale, etc., to raise money to donate to them. For $2,500, a group can "Adopt a House." That is how much it costs to gut a single house--covering the cost of tools and protective gear used by volunteers and displaced residents, permits, and insurance. More than 300 volunteers a month come to New Orleans to help rebuild (volunteers, not paid people). ACORN is currently able to gut five homes a day. That is amazing.

While I am way pregnant and won't be able to go to New Orleans for quite a while, I still want to help out. This is where you come in. What do you think about having a "virtual bake sale"? For a donation, a person can purchase a "virtual baked good" (ex. a "cookie" for $5, "brownie" for $10, "piece of pie" for $15, etc.). The person would receive a graphic of the virtual baked good for his or her site, e-mail, etc., and all the money would go to "Adopt a House."

That is my proposal and I would love to hear what people think about it. Would anyone be interested in such a fundraiser?

You can send me a response to this post, or e-mail me directly at You know how much I love to hear from people!

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Forget the niceties ...

This is what I ended up sending to the evil jackass of ebay:

After 500 transactions on ebay, this is the worst transaction I've
ever been through. You didn't even send the packages until 4
days after I paid you and sent them media mail, which takes
longer--and then use the 7 days after payment limitation as an
excuse. I didn't receive the second box until Aug. 21!
And it still wasn't complete. Mistakes happen, and I accept that,
but don't stand by stipulations that are null and void when you
set the situation up where I wouldn't receive the item for 3

I still want the missing table top sent, which I hope to receive
before my baby arrives. You have no idea the stress you're
putting me through as an 8-months-pregnant woman. You sent
a different item than the one you listed, which is fraudulent. You
did not sell as seen. You switched items. The proof is in your
listing photos and in the photos I have taken of the table.

Send the table top.

This is what he replied back:

was shipped parcel post. i dont care how pregnant you are stress is no answer. sold as is. no refund.

I don’t know if this means he actually shipped the table top or is talking about what he shipped before, which was media mail. I hope it has been shipped. He probably crapped on it first. And on top of being an ass, he can’t spell or even offer a solid retort. I am a far superior person in intellect and probably in taste and style. His mother was a hamster, his father stank of elderberries, and I fart in his general direction. And I think he has fleas. Once we receive the table top and I leave SCATHING negative feedback, I am done with “mister” jaredb88989.

Bill and I are going to purchase a replacement chair cushion from Babee Tenda. Hopefully we won't have to buy a table top, too. So much for a decent deal on this table. Perhaps we can have a ceremonial burial of the cushion. Grave of the Unknown Babee Tenda cushion.

If any of you know a Jared in Rhode Island who thinks he's awesome, slap a "kick me" sign on his back. And then slap him again.

I feel much better now after my rants. My husband can stop worrying about me.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I used to love ebay. Now I'm not so sure. Bill and I paid a big chunk of money for a Babee Tenda table. It took 21 days to receive it (the guy sent it media's a table!), and it's not only stained and mildewed, it's also not even the right table!!! It's a different one than the photos showed on the listing! And the seller is saying that I didn't contact him before the 7 days after the listing ended to complain. He didn't mail it until after that! We paid $230 with shipping on this item (which goes new for $550). He said it was "almost new" and in "good condition." Now he's saying too bad. If you are in the market for a Babee Tenda table, please let me know so I can tell you this jerk's ID. I wanted to post it here for people to see and avoid (or lynch), but that would be nasty. And even though I am 8 months pregnant and have dealt with some recent illness and health scares and am QUITE emotional, I won't stoop so low.

What a total jackass, taking advantage of a couple having their first baby and not exactly having money to spare. So much for my continued love affair with ebay.

Time for me to move on and stop being stressed. Otherwise Bill is going to get a tranquilizer gun and get me!


Thursday, August 10, 2006

Attention: Taphophiles! This is an event you don't want to miss!

Thursday October 19, 2006 - Saturday October 21, 2006
Death & Loss in America: Colonial Era to the Present; Museum of Funeral Customs Symposium
Springfield, Illinois

The Museum of Funeral Customs will host “Death & Loss in America: Colonial Era to the Present,” a special symposium addressing scholarly research in the subjects of death, funeral customs, interment, grief, and mourning in North America from the Colonial Period to the present. Held at Springfield’s Crowne Plaza Hotel, October 19-21, 2006, the conference brings together representatives from a broad spectrum of disciplines, including funeral service professionals, museum professionals, academic historians, sociologists, psychologists, archaeologists, anthropologists, cemeterians, theologians, and graduate students, to examine the subject broadly, share current research, discuss common interests, promote networking, and disseminate material.

The Symposium includes several concurrent sessions of paper presentations over the three-day format, an Open House Reception at the Museum of Funeral Customs on Thursday evening, and a Friday evening banquet with independent author Christine Quigley delivering the keynote address, “The Body as Memento Mori.” Additionally, licensed Illinois funeral directors can earn up to 13 hours of continuing education credits towards their license renewal throughout the Symposium. The registration fee for attending all three days is $100 if registering by October 1st ($150 if after the early-bird deadline), individual day registration is at $50 per day ($75 per day after October 1), and $30 ($55 after October 1) for a student registration with a copy of a valid student ID. The banquet is $30. Inquiries about the Symposium and registration can be made by phone at 217-544-3480, or by e-mail at


Unfortunately, I WILL be missing this event, but I want to hear all about it when it's over! My excuse? Well, since all I've been writing about lately has been my baby, you can probably figure that out. Annabella is due Oct. 11, so ... And I think I shared that I originally had a paper proposal for the symposium accepted. Oh, well. There's always next year! I do encourage all of you who can to go, as it's going to be a great event. If you haven't been to the museum yet, it's a real treat. Very well done. And if you do go, I'm going to of course want someone to cover it for Epitaphs Magazine! If anyone wants to do a write-up, let me know!


As far as cemeteries go, I haven't been out to visit any for a long while. I did teach a class on gravestone rubbing last month, though, and that was pretty cool. It's exciting to meet new taphophiles, especially ones really into their family genealogy and cemetery preservation. The recent heatwave has kept me inside as of late, so I haven't been out and about among the graves much this summer. I feel like I have a little bit, though, due to the images people have been sending for the website and magazine.

Speaking of which, I'm in the process of updating the Featured Photos section of It was taking too long to load, so now I'm transitioning to thumbnails. I've been swamped with major events at and for my day job, so my time has been limited. Summer is a huge season for the college. Weird, huh?

Bill and I also started our childbirth/lamaze class this week. I didn't realize it was lamaze when we signed up, which is no problem. I just didn't know. I am focusing on hypnobirthing. I'm doing a home study class to prepare for the birth. Both techniques are all about relaxation and reducing fear and anxiety, so it's all good. Maybe when it cools down I can practice hypnobirth in one of my favorite cemeteries. That always relaxes me! (Don't worry, I don't plan on having the baby in the cemetery. My husband would freak out at even the mention of it!)


Friday, August 04, 2006

More pics! From the zoo.

Of course as I've typed this and added the pics, they are all in a different order than what I've written here. But I'm not going to let my OCD behavior make me change it, because I have faith that all of you will know what's what. :-)

These pics are from Father's Day when Bill and I went with my mom and dad to Niabi Zoo. There is even a cemetery-related photo in here! It's a memorial to Kathy Sha-boom, the elephant and long-time mascot of the zoo.

Pictured here are my dad and Bill showing off their wingspans. Then there's Bill with an emu. Bill also had a good time feeding the fish and the ducks. And, of course, there are the monkey face pictures. A must at any zoo.

That's my mom hanging out with the hippo. And there's our new monkey friend.

Now it's finally time for pregnant Minda photos!

First is Minda and baby checking out baby's wingspan at Niabi Zoo. This was right outside the Bald Eagle area. So far, the baby doesn't have a huge wingspan. Thank goodness.

Then we have Minda's eye view. This is what I see when I look down at my belly.

And this is my baby belly in profile.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Sighing Man

I can hear him in the basement through the vent in the living room. I've never seen him, but I know he's there.

He lives in the furnace. Perhaps "live" isn't the right word. At night when the central air conditioning turns off (which it currently doesn't due to the heat wave), I hear him sigh. I imagine he's used to the heat of the furnace. Just weeks ago we had the unit checked because the air wasn't working properly (it's still struggling with the extreme temperatures). After it was fixed, I started hearing the man. He doesn't speak; he only sighs or makes other breathing noises. His movements rattle the insides of the furnace. He's definitely in the furnace and not the A/C unit, because that is located outside, and I hear him very close to me. The vent is only a few feet away from my favorite chair.

I don't know how he got there, how long he's been there, or who he is. He could be Howard Lane, the elderly man who lived in our house with his wife before his death many years ago. We still receive an occasional piece of his mail. Why he's chosen to spend his afterlife in our furnace (we had it newly installed when we moved in) is beyond me.

When we first moved into the little yellow bungalow five years ago, it was immaculate. The Lanes kept a tidy house. Off-white walls with off-white wall-to-wal carpeting connecting the living room, dining room and the two bedrooms. There were plastic coverings on the living room furniture, though it looked as if no one was allowed to sit on it or possibly even breathe on it. According to the realtor, a neighbor lady who assisted Mrs. Lane after Mr. Lane's passing said the elderly lady spent almost all of her time in the kitchen.

The day the realtor showed us the house, my husband and I looked at each other and knew instinctively that between the two of us and our two cats (which have since become three) that the house's pristineness stood no chance. By this time we had already decided that we wanted the house. We knew within the first five minutes of being inside. We were going to buy the house, ghosts and all. Of course at the time we didn't know there would be ghosts.

I say "ghosts" because there is more than just the man in the furnace. The other ghost is smaller, if it's possible to measure a ghost. I've encountered it off and on since the first month we moved in. I've felt it move past me and have barely seen it out of the corner of my eye. At first I assumed it was one of our cats speeding around, but then I would find them in another room sleeping. I couldn't imagine what it could be since there was no way the Lanes had had a pet. The house was too immaculate for pets. At least that's what I thought until I inspected the basement more closely.

While going through the left-over artifacts in the basement, I came across a nearly full bottle of dog shampoo. I thought it couldn't really belong there and that someone else had left it at the house. It really didn't make much sense, but it's what I figured. Upon asking a neighborhood boy, though, he told me that, yes, the Lanes did have a dog. A small one. Apparently the dog was as much of a neat freak as its owners. He probably sat in the kitchen--and only in the kitchen--with Mrs. Lane and wiped his paws anytime he came in from outside.

The dog still appears from time to time. Usually when I am standing in front of the sink in the bathroom. Our cats often take turns rubbing against my legs while I'm in there (they actually get quite upset if I--heaven forbid--shut the door without allowing them to join me), but there are times when no cat is around. I have a distinct feeling that the dog was a he. While I have no idea what type of dog he was--aside from small--I picture him as a small terrier. Like Benji. That's only because that is the type of dog that was pictured on the shampoo bottle I found.

My husband isn't quite sure what to think about all this. I asked him if he ever heard the man in the furnace the other night. Instead of giving me "the look" (that says "what weirdness are you spouting now?"), he flippantly said that it could be Mr. Lane. But I could tell he didn't really believe it. He's open-minded, but he's kind of a "show-me state" kind of guy. Perhaps he'll hear the man in the furnace the next time it's cool enough for the air to shut off.

Until then I go about my usual days of watching TV, making jewelry, reading, writing occasionally, telling the cats to knock off whatever antics they are doing, and any number of other things I do at home. I say hi to the dog when I sense him and move along. There are no threatening feelings here. We can all co-exist in peace.

Right now I hope for a break in the heat so that the air can take a well-deserved break and Mr. Lane can breathe easy again.

7/25/06 - 8/2/06

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

I feel the need to post more often. At least I have lately. For a while I posted here and there, off and on. Now the more my brain is filled with so much stuff that it's spilling out, I suppose this is as good a way as any to help filter it.

I spent nearly a half an hour at the post office today after work. Since I left late, I knew I was cutting it close and that I was probably going to really annoy some postal workers. I had 55 magazines to ship out. I had stayed up until 11 p.m. last night stuffing them into envelopes and labeling them and knew many people were eagerly awaiting the new issue. Considering our subscribers, keeping the desk people at the PO 10 minutes late isn't a HUGE issue. But to them it may have been. I hope it wasn't too much of a bother. They were pretty kind about it. So that they might be less annoyed with me, I waddled more exaggeratedly out the door and held my belly. Sympathy for the pregnant lady overrides annoyance? I waddle anyway, so it's not like I was totally making it up.

So the magazines are on their way. They are also on the way to the three people who purchased issues since yesterday. And I'll be sending an invoice momentarily to a shop on the East Coast who's been carrying the mag for a little while, Teardrop Memories, which you will learn about if you read the new issue.

If you're reading this post anytime around the time I post it, you are probably sweltering. Our central air is fighting the good fight but just doesn't have the oomph it used to. Freon was added not that long ago (pretty sure I spelled "freon" way wrong), but this heat is just too much for it. Last night I only slept a few hours and am hoping to make up for it tonight. I've been sleeping snuggled up to an ice pack the last few nights. Trying to cool the pulse points. Last night I tried to cool ALL points. Just didn't work. If I had 21 ice packs then maybe.

Lately I've been a little scatter-brained. The heat isn't helping. Too bad global warming "doesn't exist" (according to some politicians); I'd blame that. Yes, I'm ticked at the human race. We've been energy and consumer crazy for centuries and have decided that we don't need to take responsibility for our actions. Since the Industrial Revolution, we've been on a downhill slide in many ways. Don't get me wrong, I am THRILLED with the invention of air conditioning, cars, the Internet and such. Technology is groovy. But, as Spider-Man's uncle says, "With great power comes great responsibility." Humans have been so busy for hundreds of years wondering "can we do this?" and not asking "should we?"

Ah, but I could go on and on. And I'm sitting here in air conditioning while there are folks with none. How sad to hear on the news, "check on elderly neighbors during these heat advisories" as they might be sick or dead.

Other things I could go on and on about are the futile wars overseas. When in history have there not been wars over religion and hatred? Especially in the Middle East. And what makes ANYONE in America think that we, whom many countries hate for our egos and excess and debauchery, can bring democrazy to an area of the world that doesn't really want it?

I recently read a paper a friend of mine wrote about Hitler for a class she is taking. She was actually doing a comparison between Hitler and Martin Luther King Jr. The similarities were in how they both were able to reach massive audiences and sway them with their words and personality. I'm not doing her paper justice, but it's not as way out of a comparison as you might be thinking. Both King and Hitler were charismatic leaders. Both have made impacts on history--though on opposite ends of the spectrum.

Today I read an article on about Mel Gibson's drunken, anti-Semitic tirade. The entire article, which I highly recommend, can be read here: "Mel on the Cross" by Neal Gabler. The article doesn't just talk about Mel's disorderly conduct and horrible rant of hatred; it talks about we Americans say we don't condone hate, but our actions show that we really don't condone is outward, blatant signs of hate. Hate and intolerance are still rampant.

Gabler writes:

"Sexual peccadilloes and frat boy stunts are forgivable. Hate is not. No matter how many people may harbor the same sentiments as Gibson, hate speech has typically been condemned, and no matter how often hate raises its ugly head, it has usually been beaten back by the forces of relative enlightenment in journalism and the federal government if only because it fails to comport with how most Americans want to see themselves.

"Thus when the Ku Klux Klan was revived after World War I, it met general opprobrium even as it professed to be carrying the cudgels for morality and even as it was taking over several jurisdictions, including the state of Oregon. Thus when the popular and populist radio priest of the 1930s, the Rev. Charles Coughlin, began spewing anti-Semitic bile, he was quickly quarantined by the Roosevelt administration, which pressured the church into removing Coughlin from the airwaves after having successfully pressured radio networks into dropping his national broadcasts.

"Thus even as racism was the prevailing order of the South, blatant racists like Sen. Theodore Bilbo of Mississippi were excoriated in the national press and ostracized by polite society. ... Call it hypocrisy, but it was hypocrisy that underscored just how uncomfortable Americans were with overt, publicly declaimed hate.

"Or so it was. Mel Gibson, however, does not operate within that elevated environment, because America itself has changed -- one might even say has been radicalized -- since the election of George Bush. The merger of evangelical Christianity, which has long had a tinge of racism and anti-Semitism, with right-wing Republicanism has had many effects on American culture and politics, but perhaps the foremost among them is that it has legitimized attitudes that were previously considered illegitimate by the custodians of the social order."

That was a longer excerpt than I intended at first to include, but I think it tells the story. An eye-opening one at that. Gibson's tirade was shocking and embarassing. As my friend Tim says, "Just because a person is rich and famous doesn't mean he's happy. I'll take my life over it any day--debt and all--because I have my family and we're happy."

My husband, Bill, told me a few days ago that he's worried that I get too upset over things I can't control. That it's not good for me or the baby. You know, things like work issues, politics, things in the news. I see it as a natural response. My theory of the world is this: "Common sense is not common." I'm sure there are tons of people (majority ruling, I'd bet) who go to work and think, "Well, we could do it this way, but that would make sense. We'll most likely do it the hard way." Just try not to get frustrated in those instances. And as unorderly as I am (I'm a messy pack rat), there are certain things that I am a perfectionist about. My writing is one of them. The magazine and website, etc. When it comes to those, typos bother me. Mistakes tick me off. But the thing that really gets me, in whatever situation (work, family, etc.), is lack of communication. I do my best to communicate the things people need to know. Lately I've been annoying myself because some things have fallen aside due to pregnancy issues. It bugs me. When I'm responsible for something and I either make a mistake or slack on something, it really bothers me. I've been called on things before. I could make up a ton of excuses, but lately I've just been fessing up to those things I need to with the hope that people understand that I'm only human. And humans are freaks and we make mistakes.

For example:

- Keanu Reeves (who I adore) in "Dracula" (what was anyone thinking with that one??)
- Grease 2 (it was on TV this weekend ... loved it as a dumb kid ... got over it)
- plowing through way too many pints of Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey the summer after college graduation, therefore gaining a Chunky Monkey butt (a sad yet true story)
- Milli Vanilli
- Al Gore saying he invented the Internet (love ya, Al, but d'oh!)
- the Darwin Awards
- getting a tattoo with a boyfriend/girlfriend's name on it (Johnny Depp had "Winona Forever" on his arm, I believe. After that relationship died, he had it altered to say "Wino Forever")
- Adding a third cat to the mix in our house--which led to the great peeing incidents of '06. But we love her and can't just get rid of her. So we're dealing.
- Deciding to start a cemetery magazine while at the same time finishing "Cemetery Walk" and planning all the stuff that went with that. That was crazy talk! And co-organizing a live cemetery walk at a local cemetery at the same time. And teaching classes. And working fulltime. And ...

You get my point. We all have our issues and we all make our own mistakes. That's what life is about, right? Making mistakes, learning from them and loving life no matter what it throws at us. I used to say in college that life was just a series of things we have to get over. But that's rather pessimistic. Sure life has up times and down times. I'm fortunate to have a supportive family and group of friends as well as an amazing husband to share my life with. I'm very fortunate. I also have a group of people who cheer me on in my extra endeavors--all my taphophile friends! You guys make all the efforts I put into Epitaphs and the website and other things worth while.

And on that thankful note, I'm going to sign off for the night. Baby and I have some sleeping to do soon!


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I am happy, relieved and peeing a lot.

I have news to share. I DO NOT have gestational diabetes! Hooray! A little over a week ago I went to see my OB for my glucose test. The results came back high (156, and they do the 3-hour glucose test if it's over 136). I was very upset by the prospect of having gestational diabetes. Would the baby be healthy? What would I eat? Would it be enough for her to be healthy? It seemed everything I read gave only basic information and was scary. "Gestational diabetes is the most common ailment in pregnant women. It's not good and can cause high baby birth weight, leading to cesarians or broken baby bones from being too big for the birth canal ... or stillbirth." WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?!?! And that's where many of the books I picked up ended on this topic. What a frightening, horrible thing to do to a pregnant woman! And it's so nice to scare pregnant woman.

I was on the Web searching for information on what I needed to do if I did have GD, and it was just no real help. One of the few times my friend the Web has let me down. It's been a rough week and a half. I went in to the hospital Saturday morning for the 3-hour test. If you haven't had one of these or don't have a woman in your life who has, it goes like this. You fast for 12 hours. Then you go in and the nurse gives you a bottle of a chilled drink (mine was about 8 oz of orange-flavored stuff). The drink is like soda pop syrup. If you've ever had Coke syrup for a queasy stomach, you get the idea. But imagine 8 oz of it. I certainly haven't craved orange pop since.

Oh, before you drink the stuff, they take your blood so they have the fasting version of it. Then you drink the stuff and go sit in the waiting area for an hour. Then you go back in to have more blood drawn. Then you go wait an hour. This repeats until you've been stuck a total of 4 times with a needle and have hung out for 3 hours. It's not terrible, but there are a lot of other things I would have rather been doing. At least my mom was there to pass time with me, then Bill came and spent the rest of the time. I had also brought along my jewelry supplies, since I figured I could "work hard for the money" while waiting since I wasn't able to make the cold hard cash at the Farmer's Market like I usually do on Saturdays.

The good news is that the lab was super quick with my results; they sent them to my OB Monday. The great and awesome news is that I don't have glucose problems. No diabetes, gestational or otherwise. And, I tell you, I was worried. I'm sure you can figure out why with the above rant.

So I'm happy. And I'm also happy nothing is wrong with me otherwise. Here's the rest of the fun stuff. Last Thursday morning I woke up with weird cramping. I didn't know if it was Braxton-Hicks contractions (the "practice" contractions I had heard a little about that pregnant women get) or if something was wrong. They were kind of painful like menstrual cramps, though at least not horrible. I had no other symptoms except for lower back pain/soreness, but that's typical. I waited around until 8:30 a.m. when my OB's office opened and gave them a call. I was scheduled to come in that afternoon. So I went to work for a couple hours and then got a call to come in to the OB early at 11 a.m. instead due to an emergency surgery the doctor had scheduled. Mom met me there and went in with me. I was hooked up to a baby monitor for her heartbeat and a monitor for contractions, which was high up on my abdomen. I told the the sensations were actually very low, but they hooked it up high.

It turns out they were not contractions and probably not Braxton-Hicks, but quite possibly the cramping was caused by the bladder infection they discovered I had. Yuck. Not fun. That totally made sense though since I'd been super cranky all week. Nothing like one of those to ruin your mood. Now I'm on meds and finally feeling better (almost a week better). But not before I had the sensations again throughout the weekend and then a whole bunch of times yesterday. The OB said to come in again just in case. But they still weren't contractions, thank goodness, but now they think they are ligaments pulling as my body stretches for growing baby. It's always something! I need to post a pic of pregnant me so you can see the belly I've got going on. It's huge!

So this is all that's been going on on top of regular work, jewelry work and trying to get the magazine out to the masses. It's STILL at the printer! They are really bogged down with other projects. I use the Print Center at the college I work for (Palmer College of Chiropractic--I'm an 11-year employee!), and this is a big crunch time with our huge homecoming event coming up in a few weeks. So I apologize to those of you who are waiting impatiently or patiently for the next issue. It will be out soon, I promise!

I'm also working ahead on the fourth issue so that it's in the bag by the time the baby gets here. So if you have anything you want to submit, do it soon. It's really staring to come together.

All right, my lunch is over and I've already written a novella here. I just have so much to say! :)

I will post some pics of baby Annabella's 4D ultrasound when I locate the CD. I'll also get a pic of myself up soon so you can see me in my pregnant glory.

Hope everyone is doing well!


Monday, July 17, 2006

Things that make me cranky ...

I am just under 7 months pregnant, and I should be happy and glowing. Instead I am cranky and sweaty. It was already 80 degrees when I woke up this morning and will be around 100 as the day goes on. In the Midwest we have this little thing most call humidity. I call it a living hell. As I write this, I am snacking on ice cubes. I think that if a person has to be this miserable (I slept snuggled up with an ice pack last night to relieve some of the heat), that person should at least be in someplace awesome--like, say, New Orleans. The high for NOLA today is going to be 90. Our high is going to be 99. I'd rather be in my favorite city eating po' boys and beignets and drinking virgin hurricanes (if they have such a thing) than in this armpit. If it's going to be this frickin' hot, I'd rather be in New Orleans.

Another thing that makes me cranky is that we had our air conditioning fixed a month or so ago, but the air can't compete with this heat. Our house hasn't cooled below 80 in more than a week. Hopefully Bill will be calling the AC guys for them to fix it. Of course, I'm sure they are more than a bit busy right now.

The third thing that makes me cranky is spammers. Evil spammers have infiltrated my website survey for So I took the sucker down, even though it's a useful tool. Silly me thought it would end all the spam. Here's how it goes. These idiots get into people's surveys and answer EVERY question with their website address. I've gotten gambling site spammers and a host of others. Let me tell you, this DOES NOT make me want to visit their sites. It makes me want to hack them (if I knew how) and destroy them. Okay, well, not really. But it does make me mad. But I thought that taking down the survey--and I mean erasing it from existence--would stop the insanity. It did not. I'm getting just as many as before. Maybe 30 a day or more. So the info must have been passed on to a list. I'm not sure how to stop it. So my mail box fills up with the worst and stupidest spam ever.

So I guess this doesn't make the most happy-go-lucky post I've made, but it's a nasty hot summer and I'm pregnant. In two days we'll be starting our 3rd trimester. Mid October will come pretty fast now.

The good news is that the 3rd issue of Epitaphs Magazine will be at the printer tomorrow. And for those who ordered copies of "Cemetery Walk," those books have come in and will be mailed today.

I hope everyone is staying cool and enjoying life. Now that I've cooled off, I'm feeling much better about things.

Later gators,

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Babies, Ghosties and Chocolate Pudding and Bananas

Annabella is moving around a lot today. It could be the bavarian cream-filled donut and strawberry fritter I ate earlier today. The thing is that I woke up this morning from a dream in which I was eating a whole bunch of delicious gourmet pastries. By the time I left for work, I was craving pastries so bad that I HAD to stop at Schnuck's grocery store for donuts. Not gourmet pastries, but good enough for me. So that was my morning. But I did have an Ensure Healthy Mom shake drink, too. I wasn't totally bad.

I'm wiped today. Maybe it's a sugar crash. Maybe it's all the stuff on my mind. Both, probably. My husband's job doesn't seem to be so long term. One of our cats has pee issues (she's very insecure and her arch nemesis--our newest cat--constantly ticks her off). Bills, bills, bills. Making sure the summer issue of the magazine gets done ASAP. Making more jewelry (which I can do tonight as hubby is working ridiculously late hours tonight). Getting the house baby ready. Getting the house ready for our Tastefully Simple party in a week and a half. Regular work. Blah blah blah. You know, the usual.

Anyway, over lunch I read my pal Shane Brown's article in The Leader, one of our local newspapers, which was about his experience with a group of ghost investigators. First he wrote an article on DIEPART, the Des Moines, Iowa-based group, then he wrote his column on his experience joining them on an investigation.

Here's the link to Shane's blog. Unfortunately, he has yet to post his ghostie column. But he's such a hoot to read that I recommend that you visit and check out his stuff.

I checked the Argus/Dispatch site (, but didn't see anything regarding either article. It's probably in the you-must-pay section.

Anyway, I contacted the ghost investigators to see if they would be interested in being interviewed for the fall issue of Epitaphs Magazine. Who knows, maybe I will be able to go on an investigation with them! How cool would that be?

Here is a link to their site:

As for the last part of my title for this installment, I just have to say that taking a fresh banana and dipping it into chocolate pudding is fantastic. I highly recommend it. And here I sit with a banana on my desk and no pudding in sight. I weep.

Well, maybe it's not that bad, but that pudding sure would taste good. It seems baby Annabella has as much of a sweet tooth as her mother. Wish me luck in a few weeks on my glucose test! Must lay off the sugar before that happens.

Epitaphs update: I should be getting the proof today and we should be going to print soon!

My next wild idea: I'm contemplating the possibility of becoming a Tastefully Simple rep and having those parties and such. I'm afraid I'm becoming very domesticated. It's a little scary and weird. But I'm all about the weird, so I guess it's okay. What do you guys think? Can you imagine me going home to home and giving Tastefully Simple parties? Does that totally freak you out, or what?

Until later,
Minda and baby Bella

Monday, June 12, 2006

The nursery.

Here are some photos of the nursery so far. Since it is 11:30 p.m. and WAY past my bedtime, I'm going to post some of these pics sideways for lack of time. I usually go to be by 10 p.m. and read, but tonight I got caught up in baby registry stuff. Bill and I are registered at and, and it has been super fun zapping stuff in the stores or clicking on them online. Babies need a lot of stuff! Right now I'm using our registries as lists of things we want and things we MAY want. It's a great way to keep track of things while we browse around. If you go to Target, you will see the Classic Pooh theme we're using in the nursery.

Well, Shakespeare and Nola (the cats featured on the nursery chair) are going at it AGAIN. Nola is a total brat. Shakespeare is mainly trying to herd me into bed. She's Nanny Shakespeare, you know.

Good-night all!

It's a GIRL!!!

We had our ultrasound on Thursday, June 8, and found out our baby is healthy, wonderful ... and a girl! Her name is Annabella, and here are her first pictures!

Beaming with love,

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

What a Croc: Crazy Dream and Crocs

Yesterday I finally went out and bought my second pair of Crocs. If you don't have a pair of these odd-looking yet wonderful shoes, love comfort and hate stinky shoes, go out and buy some right now! Usually I'm not all about going for what's trendy or the "in" thing, but these are some pretty fab shoes. is where you can check them out. But they are sold all over, in places such as Coach House, Hallmark stores and other random places. The cool thing is that no matter where you go, they are $30. Doesn't matter if you go to a hoity toity place. They must be sold for $29.99 or $30. And while I feel like a betrayer of my longtime favorite shoe maker, Birkenstock, I must say I do prefer my Crocs even to those. I'll tell you why.

They are bacteria-resistant. I'm not kidding! I wear a lot of shoes with no socks, and these just don't stink! I've had my first pair (sage beach style) more than a year and still no smelly shoes!

They have non-marking, slip-resistant soles. They were originally made for boating.

They float! They are made of sturdy foam and weigh a total of 6 oz. They weigh nothing!

They are totally comfy and wear well. Orthotic molding and what have you. My old pair still fits me great and have not broken down. I just bought the navy beach style ones yesterday to have another color.

Plus, you buy them roomy. So this way if my feet swell with pregnancy, I should still be able to wear them.

Okay, so I'm waxing poetic about shoes. But it's great to buy a pair and not have to worry about breaking them in. And now that my body is changing all the time with nearly 22 weeks of baby on board, it's nice to have comfort in the shoe area.

Speaking of baby, we have our ultrasound in 2 days!!! We are soooo excited. My parents are, too. They're coming with us to see the little baby. As of tomorrow, baby will be 22 weeks along. Then in 5 more weeks, we'll be in our third trimester already! Time is flying.

We are still back and forth on a boy's name. Bill keeps offering up ones like Otis and Nigel. We were liking Benjamin a lot, but Bill has a long-lost nephew of that name, and he wants the baby to have his own identity (even though he hasn't seen this nephew in ages and I've never even met him). But I understand. We are pretty set on our girl's name. Though, like my mom points out, we could totally change our mind once we see the kid in person.

We watched "Awesomely Bad Celebrity Baby Names" or something like that last night on VH1. It's safe to say we will not be naming out baby Pilot Inspektor, Coco, Heaven, Godd'iss Love something, Denim or Diesel. I'm all for different names, but some names are just silly. Take Banjo, for instance. Yikes.

If you are wondering about the dream mention in the title of this post, it's because I'm having totally wack dreams as of late. In one, I yelled at all the uppity ups I work for, told them off, then quit. ACK!!!! I like my job! I like working here! Sometimes it's a bit crazy, but where isn't? But, boy, I really gave it to them in the dream! Then this morning I woke up from a dream in which I was totally cranky in it, and then got worse.

I was in a mall looking to buy a microwave. It's not that I need to buy one in real life. Ours is fine. But I had to buy one in the dream and went to this super lame store in the mall. Everything was everywhere and not organized. So I finally got the attention of a sales person who was a young, very tall guy. He was also completely clueless. "Where can I find the microwaves?" I ask. "Um. (silence) Um, yeah. (silence) They're, um, right over here," doofus says and points to a mini refrigerator. And then to another one. "One of these should work for you." "That's a refrigerator," I say, starting to get super annoyed. "Yeah, and it should work for what you need," he says, wanting to not have to help any customers, especially me. This is when I lose it.

"What part of microwave do you not understand?!?!?!?!?!" I yell at the doofus. "I want something that heats things, not cools them down!!!!!!" And I storm off and find another person. "Where are your microwaves? I need a microwave!" New doofus: "Um, we have one over here and then some way over there." This is by far the stupidest store I've been into. But for some reason, I REALLY need a microwave and I end up buying one of them.

For you dream interpreters out there, I don't even want to know what these dreams mean! :-)

On the Epitaphs Magazine front, issue #3 is with our designer. Go, Kristy, go! It will soon be with the printer. There's the potential problem right there. We are fast approaching the end of the fiscal year for our printer, so they are super booked. So cross your fingers that the issue comes out by the end of June. Otherwise, all will receive their copies in early July. It won't be the end of the world if it happens, though. This baby is helping me put things in perspective.

Here's wishing you a good week!


Friday, May 19, 2006

Eudora Welty and all that jazz.

Bill and I went to the Figge Art Museum, Bill's current employer, last night to see Jazz at the Figge, featuring the Charles Davis Quartet. It was a lovely evening, especially since we were also able to see a portion of the current exhibition: "Passionate Observer -Eudora Welty - Among Artists of the Thirties." Here's a link to some of her images. They are fantastic.

Examples of Eudora Welty's photography

Black and white photography is my favorite artistic medium. Especially of people and the capturing of moments. I think a lot more can be said in black and white. The lack of color allows your mind to fill in the colors on your own. There's more depth. The shadows are deeper.

After viewing part of the exhibition and then sitting in the auditorium waiting for the jazz to begin, I wrote this in response to Welty's work:

She gazes at me from her place on the wall.
She doesn't know me and I don't know her,
but it doesn't matter.
Her stare--blatant as only two stranger can share--goes through me.
In an instant she knows not only who I am but what I am.
She can see the blood in my veins and how my heart palpitates at the thought of her.
She knows my secrets.
Her stare deepens, but she doesn't speak. I don't speak.
My tongue is gelatin. She is still. Life. Caught motion.

I walk away, leaving her with what she knows.
I want to take her with me, but she is not mine to take.
She doesn't need me. There's no ownership.
I walk away leaving a part of myself behind.

"Portrait--A Poem"
by Minda Powers-Douglas

Before the jazz quartet started, I felt the baby flutter.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

"Take three breaths."

That's the advice I received today from my friend T.C. after he read my blog. Yes, he's right. I need to chill. My first step in this direction was to talk to a friend who is very centered and who advised me to do some throat chakra exercises. That has helped some. Then a few minutes ago I schedule an appointment at the massage therapy school for tonight. So the baby and I will go in for a one-hour massage then go home and watch our favorite TV show "Lost"--breaking only to check on the last few minutes of "American Idol" to see who's been voted off the island. Luckily, the vote-off show is not one you need to watch all the way through. It's actually quite on the cruel side. As to who I think should win, any of the three deserve it. I like them all. I'm partial to Elliot and Taylor, though. But Katharine is very good. The cool thing is that not one of them is really pop idol material. Pop is not any one of their strong suits. Taylor is soul, Elliott is R&B, and Katharine is an old-fashioned torch singer. They are not Britney/Justin wannabes, and that is cool by me.

Baby update:
Today we are officially 19 weeks along. I have still only felt the baby move once, and that was a few weeks ago. I figure the baby will move when the baby's ready for me to feel it. The nursery is painted and looks wonderful. Bill and I also picked out butter yellow curtains and have those hanging up. The cats think the room is being redone for them, especially Nola. While we were painting (Mom, Dad, my aunt Connie and cousin Sheri--THANK YOU!), Nola stayed in the room almost the whole time. She also got paint on her paw and ran around like a maniac. A little bit later I found the place under the window (where she had been lounging) where the paw print was. She is such a mega dork. India, our middle cat, also thinks the room is for her. She likes to lounge on the floor like queen of the world. Shakespeare, our oldest and my long-time girl, owns the entire house, so it's no big deal to her.

Bill and I have also decided on baby names for a girl and a boy. That is a major relief for me. Takes some stress off. Because what if the ultrasound on June 8 showed us the baby is a boy? And all we had was our girl name picked out! And even if the boy name changes later on, at least I'll know what to call the baby for the time being. It is a relief.

I'm back in the jewelry business. I took the weekend off due to nursery stuff. Tracey and I also didn't go to the Farmer's Market because of the rain and how cold it was on Saturday. I'm going myself this weekend, as Trace and John are heading to Phoenix on Thursday. It's supposed to be nice and 70s Saturday, so it will be lovely. Let me see if I can get the link to work this time to Tracey's website. I had it wrong in a previous post.

Now you far away friends can see what I'm working on all the time! I make the silver plated stretch bracelets in adult, teen and youth (or as I call them "cutie") sizes. They are the best bracelets! And they're only $5! The cuties are only $3. If you go to Tracey's site, you can click on the pics and see bigger, more clear photos. The one I have on here is pretty dark.

So this is my part-time job. I love it! I enjoy it and make a pretty good little cut. Plus I get to work with a good friend and make pretty things. It's low stress, too. Very important. And I can sit on my couch and make them in my pajamas if I want to! Of course, keeping Shakespeare out of the beads and stuff is a little difficult sometimes. She does love pretty things.

Epitaphs Magazine update:
I am ordering a limited printing of issues #1 and #2 this week. Copies will be sold at the Association for Gravestone Studies annual conference next month in Pennsylvania. I will have a small number on hand as well. For issue #1, this will take care of the long-time back orders we've had and leave me with a small handful of extras. But when they sell out, they sell out. I'm not printing anymore. This will be the case with issue #2 as well.

Issue #3 will be out in late June. I'm editing it right now. The articles are great, and we got a number of really good photos sent in. Thanks to everyone who took part!

Well, my co-worker is ready to go (he's a late-stayer) and I left my office keys at home. So I'm out of here. Off to my massage!


Sunday, May 14, 2006

So much going on. Happy Mother's Day.

We painted the baby's room yesterday. It looks lovely. Now the computer room is filled with the rest of the stuff from the baby's room I haven't found a place for yet. It never ends! And I want to haul stuff out of the house into the garage and move other stuff back into the nursery, but my husband says no way. Yes, I'm pregnant and it would be dumb, but I just want to get it all done. And his schedule is so ridiculous lately. He has a "day" job but also works Saturdays and Tuesday and Thursday nights. And since he's a caricature artist, he's also working at after-prom parties (4 weeks in a row) from around midnight to 3 or 4 in the morning) on Saturday nights. Today (and yesterday) he's working at the museum booth at the Beaux Arts fair in downtown Davenport. Aside from the fact that he's working long, thankless hours (7 days this week with no break), it's only been 47 degrees and rainy out for days. He felt like he was getting pneumonia yesterday! To top it off, because people aren't stupid and taking their kids out in this mess, they only had 28 people stop by their tent and do the activity they are offering. He was there from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thankless and ridiculous.

Just because they've ALWAYS had this fair on Mother's Day weekend doesn't mean they still should. Many years ago, May was pretty nice in this Midwestern area. But in the past 10 years at least, it's always been crappy. So move the date down! People are wasting their time and money setting up their booths with their fancy arts just to be rained on. It's so silly.

So, anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing my husband for more than an hour or two at a time. And half that time he's fallen asleep because he's so tired. It's getting to him and it's getting to me.

How am I doing? I'm 18 and a half weeks pregnant, I'm dropping weight instead of gaining it, and I'm having panic attacks. Work is stressful, my husband is miserable but keeping his chin up, the house is a wreck, my mind is spinning all the time, I have a magazine to produce right now, I just got an e-mail from a woman who received her copy of the magazine but not the book (which I am sure I mailed in the same package...argh), my uterus is stretching and does not feel pleasant at all, etc.

The panic attacks suck. They basically are making me feel like my throat is closing up. Almost all the time. I had problems with these before, a few years ago. Bill says I need to take more time to just relax. And I do. But I have so much going on. I've got the new magazine issue and old ones to reprint. I've decided though that once I do this reprint of issue #1, that is it for that one. People have been on hold for it for a while, but I haven't had enough to warrant a print order yet. Now I do, but once these are gone, they are gone. Limited edition or what have you. One thing I'm learning is how to know when to say when. When.

As to anything else cemetery related, the magazine is it. And any help I can get on that front with people sending in articles, photos, poetry, etc., will be great. And advertisements. My dream of getting the price of the mag lowered by getting a nice number of advertisers per issue is not coming together at all. I blame awareness of our super-cheap ads and the economy. If you have a small business, how can you even afford to keep it alive right now? It stinks. But let me tell you how "thrilled" I was to hear that Congress and the President are passing through yet another tax break for rich people. Well, that's just fab! While the rest of us are selling plasma to get by, the rich keep getting more help. Save the rich people! They pay more in taxes than my friends and family and I make in a year--all together! I don't know who voted this man into office (except himself), but he is far from "for the people." Our government is adding to my panic attacks. And don't get me started on the panic the media is trying to create over the bird flu pandemic possibility. Doesn't it seem like every time one of our presidents slides in popularity or starts/continues a war that some form of panic-inducing issue is brought up to scare us all? I know all about the bird flu; I read the book. It's called "The Stand," and Stephen King wrote it. All the stuff they're saying about it sounds just like the horror book. Captain Tripps is on the way so they say; and if it's not, the government will make it so.

Enough of that rant. It's just that I'm sick of hearing my dad and others go on about how a TV movie says that if the bird flu hits (which could be around THE BIRTH OF MY BABY), that it will "circle the world three times," blah blah blah. It's a scare tactic. A nation or world full of fear is easily controlled.

Well, I better start working on organizing this house again. I plan on bundling up and visiting my husband at his booth, too. Poor guy wore his winter coat today!

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Baby update - Week 17

This is from

"How your baby's growing: Your baby weighs about 5 ounces now, and he's around 5 inches long — about the size of a large onion. He can move his joints, and his skeleton — until now rubbery cartilage — is starting to harden to bone. His sense of hearing is also developing. The umbilical cord, his lifeline to the placenta, is growing stronger and thicker.

"How your life's changing: With more weight up high and out in front of your body, you may feel a bit off-balance as you walk around. Store away your high heels and wear low-heeled shoes to reduce your risk of taking a tumble. You're likely to feel protective of your tummy, and that's good. Trauma to your abdomen could be harmful to your baby and dangerous to you, so be sure to buckle up when you're driving. Keep the lap portion of the seat belt under your belly and very snug across your hips for maximum protection."

So my baby's an onion! Oh no! :-) Last week, the baby was the size of an avacado. Much less stinky.

I can feel how my uterus is growing to accommodate the growing baby. I feel a stretching sensation and have for the past few days or so. It feels like mild period cramps. Our next OB appointment is on Monday, and I believe Bill and I will be able to schedule our ultrasound then for sometime after 20 weeks. Everything is getting so exciting!

We have the paint for the nursery. It's a soft, pale green called Clair de Lune by PPG (I tried to find a sample of it online, but no go). We plan on painting the weekend after this one. But the house changes have already begun. Bill has been cleaning like a madman. It's great! And my dad came over last weekend to install a shower for us. Ever since we moved in five years ago, we've only had a bathtub. It's an old house with a clawfoot tub, which is cool. But the rounder I get, the harder it is to get in and out. So Dad saves the day!

We have the nursery furniture ready to go, though still in boxes until we finish painting. It's the Ellis collection from Simplicity. The crib is pictured above. We also have the matching dresser and changing table dresser. We've decided on the Classic Pooh collection at Target, though I still registered for this cute Safari set. I don't want everyone to think we only want Pooh stuff! Besides, the other set is sooooo very cute. Plus, it's not like we're going to be all "get us only this!" on things. Gifts are gifts, as far as showers are concerned. We'll be thrilled no matter what.

So that's the latest in baby news. I'll keep you posted!

As far as writing is concerned, I've put the New Orleans cemeteries book on hold and have also set aside the fiction ghost story for a while. I'm currently focusing on getting the nursery ready and preparing for the baby. I'm also working for a friend by making jewelry. I really enjoy doing it, and the pieces are gorgeous. She actually has a good side business going. We're going to start going to the local farmer's market again this Saturday. Tis the season! We had a lot of fun last year there. I'm also helping her with jewelry parties. The nice thing is that her stuff is beautiful and inexpensive. $5 for a bracelet! If you want to support my friend Tracey's small business (and me!), check out her site at This link may not be working right now, though. I was having trouble accessing it today. More on all this good stuff later.

Monday, May 01, 2006

My own personal boycott


First, I suppose this post should be offering a happy May Day or Mabon. It's a celebration that spring is here and that all the blossoms and green things are finally appearing after many dreary months. So hooray!

The original reason I decided to post this morning is because of a movie. Again I am venting about something in the entertainment industry. This time it is the movies that have my attention.

A movie fan since perhaps birth and a strong proponent of freedom of speech, I am adamantly protesting a current release. "United 93" has upset me since I first heard the film was in production--so has the Oliver Stone movie about the twin towers, which is due this summer.

I first saw a full preview for "United 93" more than a month ago when I saw "Inside Man." I was appalled. This terrible tragedy happened less than five years ago, and we already have people capitalizing on the loss of lives, the families of those who were killed, and the emotions of the American public.

There is an article on Yahoo today about the release of the film and quotes from people who went. One man said the film should be released because "it's too soon to forget." Exactly how many people have forgotten what happened on Sept. 11, 2001? How many people have forgotten one of those most horrifying events of American history? Are we all that stupid and forgetful? Do people assume that all of us have a form of ADD? Yes, it IS too soon to forget, because WE HAVEN'T. Movies like "Saving Private Ryan" are important because there are generations in existence that have no idea of what happened during WWII. But any of us who are old enough to attend "United 93" REMEMBER the events of that day all too well. Why do we need to be "reminded" of it in such a horrific way? Because someone saw the chance to make money off of it. I do not believe the filmmakers were being totally honorable in their intentions. We all know what this country is built on--capitalism.

"It's too soon to forget." How ridiculous that statement is. When will it be soon enough to forget? It never will be. We don't need to be patronized. What we need is to come together as a nation and figure out how we can make the world a place where things like this never happen again. That is how we can truly honor those who lost their lives in this horrible tragedy.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

How a perfectly entertaining show can ruin the world ... or at least your day.


So this season I'm an American Idol fan. I've been enjoying the show and keeping up with it for the most part. Last night I missed the performances but did at least see the recap. And I did vote for my favorites. Actually I voted for everyone EXCEPT the bane of this year's Idol--Kellie Pickler. Pickler is exactly how a perfectly entertaining show can ruin the world.

This doesn't have anything to do with cemeteries, but as it does have to do with the demise of good taste, I'm going to share.

Kellie Pickler does have some talent. Not as much talent as she thinks she does, but she does have some. The thing is, she is not anywhere near the caliber of the rest of the contestants. But she is cute and she is blonde. Something about this country puts out the vibe that blonde = good (i.e. sexy, something to strive for, something to be jealous of, etc.). She is also country. I'm not a contemporary country fan and freely admit that. But that is not the reason why I dislike Pickler so much. She can sing country, and good for her for that. So can a lot of people, though. And a lot of Americans like contemporary country. That's there deal. But I do have to wonder if a large number of Americans also equate country as equaling good. Whether it truly is or not.

Some examples of good country are Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Allison Kraus and Union Station, etc. Classics. Your Hank Williams, Gene Autry and such. My grandfather was in a country/cowboy band back in the 1940s and 50s. Real country has soul and roots. Line dance style music really can't compare. But I digress.

Back to Pickler.

This is what shakes my tree the most--how phony she is. "Salmon" with an L. "I can't understand your accent. I don't have an accent." "I never had a _________ before." No one is that stupid acting unless they have a purpose. Her purpose is to win people over with the dumb blonde stereotype. Granted, there are people who say she is charming or think she is funny. For me, shallow people are like migraines. I don't want them around.

Consider the image this girl is projecting. I did a search online to see what exactly it is about Pickler that is getting her votes on AI. There is a contingent of people like myself who say she is annoying, fake and needs to go. Then there are the people who follow and vote for the worst person on Idol to see if they can prove that the producers will keep bad people until almost the end and then not let them win. I see what they are trying to do, but it ticks me off. There are people who really enjoy the show and want the talented ones to move forward. I'd rather move forward and see how it plays out for real.

Then we have the "We LOVE Kellie!!!!!" fans. They think she is nice and sweet and can sing like a bird. They say she is just wonderful. I found these fans on the Idol site on Pickler's message board. These are the 9-year-olds. Mainly girls but also boys. The image this Pickler is projecting is this: it's good to act stupid, it's good to be pretty, and it's okay to be mediocre if you act stupidly "charming" as long as you're pretty. I taught Girls Make a Difference workshops for five years to help girls understand that they are valuable people who contribute to the world around them. That's it's not about fitting into whatever mold of beauty is currently popular, it's about being yourself and respecting and loving yourself for who you are.

Can you see now why I can't stand Pickler?

Young girls have a hard enough time living day to day and dealing with the pressures of life that they don't need bad role models on the TV shows they enjoy. When Girls Make a Dif was still in session, Britney Spears was at the height of her popularity. She was also a "Slave 4 U" and wore very little clothing. She was quoted as saying she didn't ask to be a role model and therefore didn't need to take responsibility for the influence she had on young people, especially girls. But the thing is that she DID have influence and it didn't matter if she asked for it or not. With great power comes great responsibility, as a wise comic book character once said.

Our young people are precious. All of us are responsible for all of them. They are too important for us to neglect just because some of us want to "make it big."

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Epitaphs Magazine issue #2 is DONE and SENT! And thank goodness for that. This issue was driving me bonkers! Don't get me wrong, it's a great issue. The thing was, it was like it had the curse of the Black Pearl on it. But all delays aside, it's out and I'm sure you'll be pleased with it.

In this issue you'll get to meet our designer, Kristine. I think you'll agree she does exceptional work. You'll also see some familiar writers, some new ones and a couple of photographers named Jeffrey.

As for issue #3, work has already begun on its production. Even though #2 was late by a few weeks, we are still going to release the May issue on time. Then we'll have the August issue. But I'm not going to make any special promises about the November issue, as my baby is due Oct. 11! I'll do what I can. :-)

Which brings me to something interesting. If you've visted lately (and our steady visits say people have), you may have noticed that I posted that I will be selling some funerary items on eBay soon. It's funny, ever since I found out I was pregnant, I've had the desire to get rid of many of my funeral home collectibles. And I haven't been diving into cemetery literature like I usually do. It must be a maternal instinct to keep even the notion of death away from my child even before the baby is born. It, of course, also doesn't hurt to earn a little bit of cash for when the baby comes. My biggest concern, aside from my chld, is that these items go to good homes. My original plan was that if I kept these items as a collection that I would eventually (many, many years down the road) will them to the Museum of Funeral Customs in Springfield, Ill. These special items tend to be tossed out like so many other promotional items that people think of as cheap plastic crap or what have you until decades later when they have an interest again. My main concern now is that they find good homes. If you are a collector and are interested in some of my items and would like to make an offer off of eBay, I would be willing to talk, too. I'm always up for a fair deal.

By the way, this is a totally different subject but also very important. In the current issue of the International Cemetery and Funeral Association's magazine has a book review of "Cemetery Walk" and also mentions the magazine! It's a favorable review, and I hope it inspires a lot of interest in the book, mag and Web site. I've already had one survey filled out from an ICFA member. Super sweet!

I hope all is well in your parts of the world. I feel like I'm getting back in the swing of life as the baby hormones start balancing out. As of tomorrow, I'll officially 11 weeks along.

Happy cemetery haunting,

Monday, March 13, 2006

We're having a baby! Wow and holy cow!

A few weeks ago, my husband Bill and I found out we are having a baby. This is our very first. I'm 33. It has been a life-rocking experience so far. I've gone from "Oh my gosh this is so exciting! We've wanted this for more than a year!" to " is freaking me out." It seems like all people talk about is how wonderful and what a blessing it is, yet they forget to tell you the part where you get totally freaked out about it.

Don't get me wrong, it IS a blessing and we are thrilled. It's a very strange kind of thrilled, though. And let me tell you why.

Bill and I tried for a year or so then decided to just forget about it. Within two months, surprise! No wonder I felt so yucky. No wonder I couldn't concentrate on anything. Mind you, I was finishing the second issue of Epitaphs Magazine at the time and also working on my book proposal for my project on post-Katrina New Orleans cemeteries. I got the magazine off to the printer (then experienced problems with it I'm STILL dealing with) and got all of the proposal written except for the 2 sample chapters. But I couldn't concentrate. I was so frustrated. And this was before we knew officially I was pregnant. When I figured out what was probably going on, it was only a couple days before we bought a test. On Feb. 13 the test was positive. Talk about not being able to concentrate! It was freaky!

Ever since then, my mind is still not on track--and those of you who know me know that my mind has lots of tracks. Well, that's changing, I'm sure. And my big plans for 2006 are changing as well.

First, I've been "threatened" by both my husband and my mother about even thinking about going to New Orleans. Between the yuck that may still be down there--especially in the cemeteries--and the heat, my estimated couple of trips are now postponed. As for the status of the book, I'm not sure how that will go. I've lined up a lovely photographer, Jeff (whose work is in the upcoming issue of Epitaphs), to do photos for me if the book is still a go. Of course, I can make no promises to anyone or even myself about such big projects as that for quite a while.

Second, I was so very excited about becoming a celebrant. I was going to sign up for training this September. I'm due Oct. 11. So much for celebrant training!

As far as Epitaphs Magazine goes, all will continue as planned. I'll be starting on the third issue soon, once I get the second issue mailed. This week, I hope hope hope. I know people are frustrated that it hasn't arrived yet. I'm with you on that one.

So, anyway, if any of you cemetery fans are reading this, you have just received a little peek into my world right now. Aside from a lot of nausea, I am doing well. On Wednesday I will be 10 weeks along. Today Bill and I went to the OB for the first time. She also found the baby's heartbeat! It was really amazing. Just think, a new little taphophile will be joining the world soon!

As you can guess, this blog will have a lot to do with baby stuff for a while. But I'm going to still keep it geared toward my regular stuff as well. It's all entwined. I'm looking forward to nice weather so I can get out into some cemeteries again. I think a good dose of gravestones will help me finish my book proposal or at least figure out where the future of my writing is going to take me. I'm not giving up on the New Orleans cemeteries, though. It just may take me longer than I originally planned to write the book. As you know, New Orleans is ALWAYS calling to me.

All the best and happy cemetery haunting,

Minda and the munchkin

Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Celebrant Plot Thickens

I told Mom on Monday about my plans to become a celebrant and take the training in September. She thought it was really cool. Then today, the following Sunday, Bill and I went to breakfast with Mom and Dad, and Mom asks me if I want to go into business with her. She wants to take the celebrant training with me! How cool is that? So we're both going to Minneapolis in September.

If I haven't given the information on celebrancy, do check out Pam Vetter's site: She's a super-cool lady and the reason I'm making this life decision. Well, at least the initial catalyst. It was the article I read about the ceremony she performed for Richard Pryor that caught my attention. She has been absolutely wonderful since I first contacted her, too. She's been willing to offer advice and answer my questions. If you are in the California area and are looking for someone to perform a ceremony for you, please contact her. She's great!

As anyone who knows me well can tell you, I'm a research junkie. Unfortunately I'm finding that there is not a whole lot of information available on celebrancy at this point. While it is big in Australia, it's still growing in the States. But I can be patient.

Plus, it's not like I don't have plenty going on right now. I'm still working on my book proposal, I just turned in my presentation proposal for the Museum of Funeral Customs symposium this fall ... and I'm now taking a painting class. Yes, you read right, a painting class. I haven't painted since junior high. Wait. I take that back. I painted a costume design in my Theatre Design class my senior year of college. We used gouche paints. But before that, the last painting I did was of a clown in orange tones with acryllics.

So this is the perk of being married to the studio art coordinator for the Figge Art Museum. Employees and their families can take classes for free. What a deal! Once I get a piece finished, I promise to post it on this blog. Then you can laugh amongst yourselves! :)

Well, it's time for me to get back to proof-checking the second issue of "Epitaphs Magazine." The fans are waiting.