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As I See It

Behind The Facade Of China Olympics – Scratching Out A Living

Behind the facade of the China Olympics, millions are scratching out a living… burdened by hard labor.

The factory workers of China probably have it pretty good, compared to millions of folks who can’t leave their villages to travel to the coastal areas and big cities where most of the factories are located. Most of China is rural… and the people are subject to harsh conditions and hard labor… at least by U.S. standards.

Our party arrived at a particular country hotel late in the the evening. I was surprise to see such a nice hotel out in a rural area. We were told that the hotel was new and many American and European business men and women stayed there… and of course… China government officials.

Very early the next morning, my boss, and our interpreter invited me and another designer, Marie, to join them in a little hike. We walked across the street, around a bend and there before our eyes was
a scene so foreign that I felt like I had stepped back into another century… to the old China I had read about in story books.

We entered an old cemetery that was build on the side of a mountain. A steep stairway went to the top flanked by large above ground tombs. These above ground tombs are opened when a family members dies. I guess I assumed that the people would be buried underground… boy was I wrong.

At the entrance, we passed a gentleman who was busy chiseling a plaque or decoration for a tomb…by hand no less. No power tools here. (They must have sent all the power tools to Home Depot… not any left to supply the workers of China.)

These folks were lined up getting ready for their days labor… and I mean labor. The goal? Packing these bags of cement and materials to the top of the mountain. You have to be kidding. Note the young woman in the middle of the photo.

Here goes the first worker… with a few supplies. I was tired already

These bags of cement weight about 100 lbs. each. Notice the young lady. They make up to 20 trips a day… climbing hundreds of stairs. I don’t think they’d like to hear us complain about a “hard day at the office.”

The path was steep. Just getting up this high in order to take these photos wore me out… and these workers were just getting started for the day.

My question is this. Why are there conditions such as this… in a country that provides so many products that make our lives so easy? Why can’t the workers in China have a few of the same conveniences?

The hotel we stayed in proves that there is the ability to make conditions different for the masses. It seems to me that the only time convenience and luxury is apparent… is when someone is trying to impress others….kind of like the China Olympics wouldn’t you say? What a facade.

I’m not impress with a government that goes to such lengths to impress the world when it’s own people suffer from the lack of conveniences that would make their lives easier.

It doesn’t speak very highly for a “socialized government.”

I’m grateful to be living in the United States…. and I’m for protecting our liberties at all costs… what about you?

Till Later

Kathy Griffiths

Insightful Nana

P.S. One last photo of “scratching out a living in China.” This barefoot woman was breaking dirt clods with a hoe so she could plant a little garden. Just look at the size of those things. You see… all the roto tillers were sent to Home Depot… not one left for the average citizen of China.

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As I See It

Food At The China Olympics – Behind The Scenes

Food at the China Olympics will be amazing…Peking duck, Duck Tongue (still in the jaw, no less,) Pigeon Soup, Pig Tail Soup, and many more delicious choices for adventuresome attendees.

The first meal I had in China was scramble eggs with tomatoes in it. The second meal presented to our table was a fish on a plate… with it’s head on… and its eye staring up at me. I was a bit taken back. But…it wasn’t long before I got into the groove of the food and loved it. (Had to pass on the duck tongue though.)

We were generally guests of factory owners, who wanted to share the very best with us. We dined in the finest places. The offering generally look like the photo. Notice the small the plate in front of us. That’s because you eat once item at a time and don’t need trencher. Using the chop sticks, you lift the food on to your plate, eat it and serve yourself the next dish. I found the food to be very good… although very different than the Chinese food served in the states.

However… when your behind the scenes… the fair can be a bit different. The “real people” of China don’t dine the way we did. A simple bowl of rice… perhaps a few greens… and on occasion… a little meat is the standard for most of the people.

This photo is, a behind the scenes experience… in a rural factory. Yes…we’re in a bathroom… and yes… that is a squat toilet. (That squatting business is a whole other experience… and one I don’t care to repeat anytime soon.)

Yes… we’re still in the bathroom…and yes… those are chicken feathers. You guessed it. The meal, that we were invited to stay for, was being prepared in the bathroom. Puck the chicken… clean the chicken… cut up the chicken. Just outside the bathroom door… a young woman was getting ready to cook the chicken. Not a pretty site!

As gracious as the factory owner was trying to be… I had no desire to join him and his small staff for dinner. I whispered into my bosses ear… “I don’t think we should stay for dinner. The chicken is being prepared in the bathroom.”

After thanking the factory owner for offering to prepare a meal for us… we excused ourselves with, “Oh we just remembered… we’re late for another factory appointment,” pretense. Whew!

Now that we’ve moved from dining in China to “potty talk”… there is just on more thing you need to know… especially if your at the China Olympics, dining at a fine restaurant. Don’t squat on the western style toilets. No, No,…you sit down on them.

Yes, this sign was posted in the bathroom of a restaurant where we dined. It was a pretty nice place… and apparently, many locals… or the common folk… didn’t know how to use the bathroom properly, and this little sign was a reminder on how to use a “western style” toilet. Yep… I’m sure you get the picture.

I’m sure the Olympic guests will be served China’s finest foods … along with the American Hamburger. They most likely will never have the pleasure of being ask to stay for dinner… where the chicken is prepared in the bathroom. Of course… you never know what’s behind the scenes at the China Olympics.

Till Later

Kathy Griffiths

Insightful Nana

P.S. I bet that most of the China Olympic guests will never see a “squat toilet”. They don’t know what their missing… and I mean missing!

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As I See It

The China Olympics: Behind The Glitz And Glamour

Behind the glitz and glamour of the China Olympics are the many hands of people who labored diligently, for very little monetary gain, and many, under adverse conditions… to make it possible for the world to be entertained for a couple of weeks. In another few weeks the world will focused on other entertainment… other pastimes and China will be put in the back of our minds. “Easy come…easy go.”

I kind of fall into that category of “easy come, easy go” on a personal level. I’m a part of the “disposable generation” that uses a product for a while, then tosses it in a box for the Thrift Store. Many of the products I toss are “made in China.” I’ve had little regard for how they were made, or how many hands were involved in making an item for my convenience or pleasure. It’s a little like seeing the milk in the store… nicely packaged for my convenience… with no regard for the cow, or the process it takes to provide it for me.

One day… while in China… I was faced with a bit of reality …and I’ve never viewed products “made in China” the same again.


As artists, we had designed several products for the Christmas season… one being candle luminaries. The products were being produced in China. They were made of porcelain and my particular design was a snowman with small birdhouses at the base. While in China, we went to the factory to check on the process and review the shipping schedule.


Little did I know… when we walked in the door, my design… my snowman… would be in the middle of production. Hundreds of snowmen were in different stages of creation… from the mold pours, to the cleaning, and on to the kilns. I was taken back the shear number of people involved in the process and the conditions they were working in.


Being very over-whelmed by what I saw… I return to the van and wept. My heart was full of appreciate and gratitude for diligent, hard working, under paid workers. The consumer would not only benefit from their labors… but I would benefit from their work by receiving royalty on each item that was produced and sold.



I’ve never looked at products “made in China” the same since. I always wonder… who do the hands belong to that help bring commodities to my home… for my convenience or pleasure?

Till Later,

Kathy Griffiths
Insightful Nana

P.S. Hats off to the factory workers who have so diligently worked at very low wages to bring the China Olympics to the world. You’ve made your government look good… whether they deserve it or not.

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As I See It

Behind the China Olympics – China Factories

Behind the China Olympics, life goes on as usual for millions of people who work in the factories… producing goods for the world to buy. Most of China will not see the Olympic games because their villages don’t have television access. Besides… work does not slow down in the factories… except at Chinese New Year… when workers go home for a month.

Most company buyers of China’s goods don’t go into the interior of the country, where small rural factories produce much of the markets goods. Well lighted and clean shows rooms in cities such as Hong Kong and Shenzhen, represent most of the China factories. In other words… the buyers for Wal-Mart aren’t going to be bouncing around in an old van…hitting pot holes and… dodging folks who are on foot or riding bikes, in order to get out to where the goods are actually made.

My boss had been doing business in China for many years before the big market rush. He had developed relationships with many factory owners who invited him to come to their factories. For me to see the actual everyday workings of a factory was not only exciting but also quite disturbing. I mistakenly assumed the factories would be updated and automated. After all this country produces vasts amount of product for the world.

Boy was I wrong. Automation is the work of many human hands…. not machines. And, while some of the factories we visited were clean and organized… most were not.


The basket factory we went to was one of the most depressing sites I saw. Men and women were working in poorly lighted, dirty and cramped conditions. Each nail was hammered into the rim of the basket by hand…one nail at a time. No nail guns here!


Kiln dried basket slats? No way… how about sun dried…. thousands of slats drying out in the court yard.


The living conditions were deplorable… dirty open water next to the sleeping areas. No wonder they had mosquito netting around their make shift beds. Oh my gosh… and the flies.


When Chairman Mao, the leader of the Communist Party, initiated the Cultural Revolution… many of the teachers and intellectuals were taken from their classrooms and sent out to the country to be reeducated or in other words… “Agree with us or die.” Professor Tao was a Physics Professor at a university. He was whisk away into the countryside, locked in a closet for many weeks and suffered much persecution. When the Revolution was over… he did not return to the city but stayed in the country and built a factory. His factory produces small wooden trinkets that are exported to the United States.


Many of the factories are not equipped with good lighting. Notice, this woman is using the light to dry the goods rather than use the light to see by.


If the items needs to be painted… the worker methodically paints each individual item. Every detail is hand painted… one detail at a time.

Rusted metal was the rage. We designed small rusted shapes… stars, hearts, apples etc… that crafters could use to decorate with… (Some of the shapes were as small as 3/4 inch.) Problem… the rust would shed a little bit and leave a rust residue in the bottom of the package. Couldn’t have that…now could we?

So the factory was told that a sealer needed to be applied to the items so the rust would not come off in the packages. “O.K… no problem,”… came the reply from the factory.


When we came upon this scene… it broke my heart. These men were sitting in a small, poorly lighted room… applying clear shoe polish to each rusty star… both sides… one at a time. Thousands and thousands of 3/4″ stars were sitting in baskets waiting for the shoe polish to be applied. I couldn’t believe how cheerful and friendly the men were… pricked fingers and all. Go figure.

So… when I watched the Opening Ceremonies of the China Olympics… I thought of the thousands of hands it took to produce the show for our pleasure. Thanks… factory workers of China… You did a beautiful job… one bead… one stitch… one light… one firework at a time.

Till Later,
Kathy Griffiths
Insightful Nana

P.S. I would love to go back to China. A little of my heart is still there.

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As I See It

About The China Olympics – Should We Be There?

One night in China changed my thinking forever about the freedoms, opportunities, and conveniences I enjoy by being a citizen of The United States Of America. Because of my experiences… limited as they were…I have serious reservations about the Olympics being hosted in China. I keep asking myself… “How did this happen?”

The opening ceremonies at the China Bird’s Nest, was the finest display of showmanship ever presented to the world at the beginning of an Olympics. As spectacular as they were… I kept asking myself, “How many people have been forced to leave their meager homes, their jobs disrupted and their lives “accidentally” taken for the benefit of a suppressive government who is trying to convince the world…”We’re not so bad.”

For over 20 years, my business was designing products for the craft and gift markets. Going to China on business was an opportunity of a life time. The purpose of the trip was so we… as designers… could understand the production process of the products we were designing. Having that knowledge would help us simplify our instructions to the China factories so the finished products would meet our intentions and expectations.

Most of the China factories are not in the metro areas but out in the country side… in small rural villages where the labor conditions reminded me of the old photos I’ve seen from the beginning of the industrial revolution here in the United States. These small country factories are the backbone of China’s growing economy. Throughout the trip… my mind couldn’t help but ponder facts about China that I witnessed.

1. Most of the people lived at poverty level…especially in the rural areas. Over 1.25 billion people live in China. (Note: there are just over 300 million people in the United States.)

2. After almost 60 years of Communist power, the people are still at the effect of a powerful suppressive government that keeps them under control by violating many human rights.

I came home with so many questions. Just how did this happen to a country with smart, ingenious people? I immediately went to the bookstore and found 7 books on China which I read in a matter of weeks.

Several of the books were about the rise and take over of the Communist Government. The book, Wild Swans, is a excellent general over-view from a citizen’s point of view on the subject. A fast moving, comprehensive read. My two sisters, Sheila and Nicole, recently read the book and said they could hardly put the it down. They too, are wondering… “Why are the Olympics in China?”

The book China Wakes takes you into the everyday lives of people who disagree with the government… written by reporters who risk their lives by writing about what they knew and saw. Even though it was penned in the late nineties, conditions remain the same today… although China would like you to believe other wise. A real eye opener!

I will probably watch some of the Olympics this week… the glitz and glamour… but my heart will be with the people who have sacrificed much to welcome the world to their country.

Till Later

Kathy Griffiths

Insightful Nana

P.S. For the next two weeks… I’ll be sharing some of my China experiences…. my point of view and some photos that I’m sure you will not be seeing on T.V.

P.P.S. If you have any comments about the Olympics in China.. leave a comment. Love to hear your point of view!

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As I See It

Utah WordPress Computer Geeks…Along With Nerds

The Utah WordPress Computer Geeks… along with a few Nerds met in Salt Lake a few night ago. Now, I don’t consider myself a Computer Geek nor a Nerd because I don’t know enough to have the honor of such a title. I guess you can say… I’m a WordPress Nerd wanna-be.

My sister, Sheila and I decided to venture out of our comfort zone and network with some folks who might give us a little insight to all this WordPress business. When I first started to blog…my site was a Type Pad format… and that was a bit of a learning curve for me. But…Lordy… this wordpress business has me stumped. It’s a format for tech nerds for sure. WordPress plug-ins… what the… Plug them into what… and when I do plug ’em in.. they don’t work…so who do I call?

The WordPress forums are where the blind go to lead the blind. The last time I followed the forums advice… I eliminated my site altogether. You can just imagine how embarrassed I was to e-mail my webmaster and tell her my site was gone. “You did what?”

Come to find out… we were rubbing shoulders with some of the best. Joseph Scott works for WordPress… a bug exorcist. He’s considered a real guru… a true geek. You have to have an electronic twisted mind just to figure out his blog site joseph.randomnetworks.com. Way above my head.

Laura Moncur (she’s the gal in the red) of lauramoncur.org is the one responsible for putting the whole wordpress party together. A place where like minds can come together to chat and break bread. Thanks Laura for letting us wanna-bes crash your party.

Take a look at these two WordPress guys… they mean business. True to the cause!

We met a cracker-jack master marketer by the name of Jen. (she’s the blond)… She markets and launches products for the likes of HP…She and her two dogs workout of their home. She might be better known to folks as Naked Jen… from nakedjen.com She suggested I could be nakednana.com. Oh my gosh… not a pretty site. But…I would rate high in the search engines.

Geeks such as Matthew Reinbold of Matthew.reinbold@voxpopdesign.com were there… along with Stephen Shaw of sshaw@utos.com and Jake Spurlock from alpinepodcasting.com and overdriveblog.com. Stephen and Jake visited with us for along time and offered to be a resource for us. Thanks guys!

I wasn’t able to figure out who were the geeks and who were the nerds. I guess in time they’ll reveal themselves. Sheila and I plan to continue to rub shoulders with this little group… hoping a little nerd will rub of on us. Wish us luck!

Till later

Kathy Griffiths

Insightful Nana

P.S. Now that I think about it… I think my grandkids think I’m a little nerdy…but for different reasons.

P.S.S. If you know of any WordPress geeks around… let them know the big cheese of WordPress is coming to town in Sept. More on that when I have the details.

L

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As I See It

Standing Up For The Grand Old Flag

Standing up for the Grand Old Flag seems to be in question these days, as the flag passes by at parades or  is presented by a color guard at public events. For some citizens, American flag etiquette seems to have gone by the wayside at public events… as illustrated by an incident at a local parade recently. My friend Marie called and told me of an experience she had at the 24th of July Pioneer Day Parade in her community.


The color guard, displaying the American Flag, was approaching the area where she and her family were standing. A young fellow was walking along the parade sidelines asking folks to stand up and give respect to the American flag. A group of people refused to stand and were quite vocal about it. This response started a negative verbal confrontation between the “parade walker” and the folks refusing to stand. The “parade walker” insisted they stand in respect of the flag… and the “parade watchers” loudly rebuffed again. The confrontation went on for several minutes before the young man left and went on his way.

This experience led Marie and I to an interesting discussion… as we tried to sort this out.

1. Since when is it necessary to have a “parade walker” remind us to stand in respect of the flag? Are we so complacent, and apathetic that we’ve lost our patriotic spark? Or, are we so distracted by the kids, getting our chairs situated, our Diet Coke opened, answering our cell phones…. “We’re down on the left side of the street under the big tree… you can’t miss us”…. that we just miss it altogether? “Huh?… The parade has started?” “Did the flag go by?”

2. If it’s really necessary to have a “parade walker” shake us to our senses… he shouldn’t fight with the folks who refuse to rise. After all… the flag stands for a country that allows people to be “jerks.” Having a negative confrontation and insisting that someone must stand and esteem the flag smacks of a socialist country that doesn’t allow for protest.

3. Why in the world would “parade watchers” fight with a guy who is just doing his little job. If they didn’t want to rise, they should just keep their fannies on their chairs, their mouths shut and let the guy be on his way. It’s not that they didn’t stand that made them “jerks”… but the fact they had to announce to everyone around they were above the so called “audacity” of standing for the American Flag… by arguing with the fellow.

4. I’m sure if I had been there… I’d have been in the mix… yes… I’m a bit that way. After asking the “parade walker” to be on his way. I would have told the protesters that I would stand for them… proud for the flag of a country that allows people like them… to sit on their fannies when the flag goes by… and yes… even be jerks!

Both Marie and I spent time in China on business. We came home with a new appreciation for the American Flag and The United States Of America. There is no country in the world like it. We have people dying in deserts… trying to sneak into this county… just for a little of the opportunity we have here. Even with all the little glitches we have going on in this country right now… there’s not another place on the planet we would rather be.

That is just how we see it.

Till later

Kathy Griffiths

Insightful Nana

P.S. Now, if I can just not become distracted by the kids, my Diet Coke, and my cell phone… perhaps I’ll pay more attention to the color guard when they present “The Grand Old Flag.” “Stand?” “What did he say?” Did the flag go by?”

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As I See It

Harvest Time For Tomatoes

Harvest time for Tomatoes is generally from the third week in July until the frost takes them in the fall. So… the minute the tomatoes are ready to pick I’m right there with my salt shaker.

Tomatoes piled high in bushel baskets would sit on our back porch waiting for my mom to put up them into bottles. The minute mom’s back was turned, the big dark red juicy one on the top vanished into my pocket. With salt shaker in hand, I would duck behind the fence and take my first bite of the season. Oh my… what a glorious moment… juice running down my hand and all. To this day… my first tomato of the year is eaten warm…and whole. I manage to control the juice.

In the old days, we could pick a bushel at Camilla Holdaway’s tomato patch for $.50. After my marriage, a bushel of tomatoes was still a great deal at $1.50. Now, your lucky to get a bushel for under $15.00. Not hardly worth bottling at that price.

Oh my gosh… did I ever bottle tomatoes. Whole Tomatoes,Stewed Tomatoes, Spaghetti Sauce, Ketchup, Salsa, Snappy Tom, Tomato Juice, Chili Sauce, Green Tomato Relish. At least 8 to 10 bushels were bottled every year…and at that time, only two little boys were there to help us eat it all. Some how it all vanished by spring.

We even tried to plan our 4th child around the tomatoes season. We wanted a new baby… but not in September when the tomatoes were on! But… you guessed it… Katie was born on Sept 19th. God… in his great wisdom… knew I wouldn’t be canning tomatoes forever.

I still love a fresh picked tomato with salt. This year, when my single tomato plant in my container garden produced tomatoes, the watch was on for the red color to appear. I counted the days until one tomato was just the perfect red…than snap. No cooling off in the fridge and sliced nicely on a plate… no, no. My salt shaker and I appeared at the garden’s edge. A tomato just tastes different when it’s a bit warm and you eat it right from the vine. It’s just the best.

When September rolls around, and the sky is that wonderful azure blue, and there is a bit of fall in the air, the old hankering to bottle tomatoes comes upon me. My Chili Sauce is to die for and the Tomato Juice just can’t be beat. Hmmmm….just maybe….

Till Later

Kathy Griffiths

Insightful Nana

P.S. Now that the tomato harvest is on… it’s time for Spicy Tomato and Bean Fiesta. Recipe coming soon!

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As I See It

My Car Battery & Auto Service

My car battery died. I’ve been going get a little auto service on my car for several weeks now but just put it off. My battery fooled me because the lights would turn on and the windows would roll up but… if the car door was open too long… or the car wasn’t driven for a day… the battery would just not turn over the engine when started. So, after having kind folks jump my car battery several times, I got the clue that a new one was needed… and fast.

I made my last purchase only 3 years ago and knew the battery was still under warranty. I drove up to my local Auto Zone where the purchase had been made and experienced a lesson in “bad service vs good service.”

It was about 4:55 p.m. when I approached the counter and explained my circumstances. They looked up my information and sure enough the battery was still under some type of warranty and I wouldn’t have to pay full price. “Great… put it in,” I said.

The young employee said, “You can buy the battery but you’ll have to take it somewhere else to have it installed because I get off here in about two minutes.”

Turning to another employee, he said, “John, do you want to put in this lady’s car battery?” “Nope, I’m off at five,” came the reply.

Standing there speechless, I thought, “You have got to be kidding.” “Punks!”

Now you have to understand… this place doesn’t close until 9:00 p.m. and, the purchase of a battery includes installation. The night crew had not arrived yet.

There was a older gentleman standing behind the counter who did not appear to be an employee. He rolled his eyes, smiled and said, I’ll put her battery in… it will only take 10 minutes.” Now mind you… this guy didn’t even work there. He was there buying parts for his business which just happened to be, a mobile auto service.

By the time I finished my financial transaction… which took about 10 min because of the warranty thing… the fellow had my battery installed. Several new customers came in and guess what they wanted? Yep! Car batteries. The nice gentleman looked at me and said… “It looks as if I’m going to be busy.”

l ask the gentleman what was owed him… and of course, he said, “Nothing.” When I insisted, he said that $15.00 would be fine. I wrote out a $25.00 check and thanked him for his kindness. He gave me his card…and J Ryan Jones will be getting a call from me the next time I need auto service. Auto Zone won’t be seeing me again. Besides…Pep Boys is just across the street.

What these two young men don’t get is… the power of going the extra mile. Those who do a job just to get by will never experience the success of those who not only do a job well but give it a little extra. Eventually, what goes around comes around…. it’s a natural law.

Till Later,
Kathy Griffiths
Insightful Nana

P.S. By the way, my car battery only cost me $11.50. Even with the extra $25.00… that I was most willing to pay… the battery turned out to be about a $38.00 purchase. Pretty good considering batteries run around $80.00.

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As I See It

Rural Sounds Of Silence

The sounds of silence can’t be photographed… and it’s too bad. Oh what a stupendous picture it would make.

I just got home from attending our annual DiStefano family reunion in beautiful rural Tabiona, Utah. We spent a couple of days playing hard and having a good time. However… it’s over… I’m ready for a long winter’s nap.

After the extended family went home… a few of my own family hung around a little longer to unwind and relax. The difference between the “roar” of the crowd and a few quiet voices against a background of pure silence is astounding.

Most of the time, I’m not aware I’ve been submerged in the background noises of the city until I’m away… in a quiet place…then I find that flawless silence has a sound all of it’s own… and I love it. No cars whizzing by… no garbage truck racket… and no weed trimmer reverberation three blocks away.

The silence I’m talking about is, the wind in the trees, the snap of twigs as a deer prances away through the oak behind our trailer and the sound of rushing waters over the rocks at the river.

We took the kids to the river to play and you would think their playfulness would disturb the calm and peace. But no…. their voices seem to melt into the sounds of the river and nature. What a relaxing time.

I’m seriously taking a look at getting hooked up to wireless internet and taking my work to the woods… to our family retreat… on the face of Tabby Mt. There, I can sleep-in until 9:00… take a quiet walk… take a nap… work a little… take a nap… eat a lot… take a nap… watch “Gone With The Wind”… and go to bed early.

What a life!

In the mean time… I’m back in the city where I no sooner drive into my drive way than my neighbor comes running over to show me her son’s loose tooth… the phone rings and the Red Cross wants a donation… I water the pots filled with wilted flowers… the phone rings and I’m asked to take a covered dish to a funeral lunch.

Oh well.. back to the real world!

Till Later,

Kathy Griffiths

Insightful Nana

P.S. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all come to agreement… at the same time… and say, “Stop World… let’s have a moment of silence!” I wonder what that would sound like? Something like “Peace?”