Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy 125th birthday, News Sentinel!

An open letter to the News Sentinel:

Dearest Knoxville News Sentinel,
Happy 125th birthday! I'm so glad to have been a part of you.
It thrills me that you still survive despite setbacks and uncertainties in the newspaper industry.
I have you to thank for my love of East Tennessee, you know. After all, you gave a New York City girl reason to come South.

I wasn't planning to stay in East Tennessee any longer than three years but somehow, you sucked me in with decent pay, wonderful friends and a fantastic newspaper career. Nine years later, I'm still here and it's looking like I'll be sticking around these parts for a while longer.

I pray that you would thrive and continue to be a blessing to others as you have been to me.

Sincerely and with gratitude,
Lola Alapo
(News Sentinel employee from January 2003-July 2011.)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Celebrating Sara

A hat tip to my friend Sara for trying something new today -- she ice skated for the first time.
What a way to kick off another year of life! YAY for new experiences :)

Sara had a birthday this week and I wanted to celebrate with her. I asked what she wanted to do in addition to eating a meal together. I also threw out a few suggestions, ice skating being one of them. Her eyes lit up and she told me it was something she had never done but it was on her list.

Well, my own eyes lit up because it's one of my favorite things and I would get to experience it with her.
I knew just the place, too. Every year between Thanksgiving and New Year, Knoxville's Holidays on Ice comes to Market Square downtown. A covered ice skating rink decked in Christmas lights is set up right in the middle of the square.

I was so proud of Sara. She was determined and she did a great job of maintaining her balance. She did not fall once.

She enjoyed herself ... or at least that's what she told me. She could have just been saying that to make me feel better about making her do this ;)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Unicorn meat, anyone?

My thanks to the University of Tennessee for providing the fodder for tonight's blog post. I saw many things on campus this week that made me laugh.

The unicorn meat (excellent source of sparkles!) was one of the Dirty Santa gifts exchanged during my office's holiday party. Opening the can revealed this:

During the same party, another colleague unwrapped this bacon tuxedo puzzle. Everyone definitely needs one of these :)

The best thing, however, was this sign I saw at the College of Architecture.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Surprise at my door

I came home from Taekwondo last night and found this on my doorstep.

I confess that I was suspicious and my guard was up when I saw it as I pulled into the driveway.
I couldn't quite tell what it was. The reporter in me was imagining all sorts of craziness. (Bomb?)
But as I approached it, I quickly relaxed and a grin replaced the frown on my face.

My friend Julia had driven way across town to give me this. It was such a kiss from God and an invitation into more of Him.

The surprise left me quite speechless (a rarity, I assure you). For a good five minutes, all I could say was "wow." And then I would laugh and try to formulate words and all that came out was "wow."

What's inside, you ask? Something for me ;)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Officially a voter. Woo hoo!

My voter registration card arrived in the mail today. Woo hoo! Finally!
Yet another bonus of my U.S. citizenship.

I registered to vote at the drivers license place the day after my October naturalization ceremony. The clerk told me the card would arrive within three weeks. I waited and waited ... and waited.
I had hoped it would come in time for the Nov. 8 elections that swept Madeline Rogero into the history books as Knoxville's first woman mayor.

December came and I got impatient. So I called the Knox County Election Commission to inquire about my card. In doing so, I learned something new. Tennessee law mandates that all election commissions in the state must stop processing voter registrations about a month before an election. This gives them time to  get ready for early voting and election day. Who knew!

Well, no worries. There's next year and the presidential elections.
Come on, November 2012!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Together again!

I got a sweet treat tonight.

I had the wonderful pleasure of hanging out with Caroline and Rachel, the girls in my small group.
We three haven't met as a group since early November when Caroline was hospitalized due to preeclampsia. Andy, her little one, was delivered Nov. 11 at roughly 26 weeks. He just celebrated his one month birthday
(Oh, Caroline is one sandwiched between Rachel and me.)

What an honor it's been to walk this crazy journey with Caroline and her husband Lawrence.

The cool thing was, although we three didn't meet, we were constantly praying for one another and still doing life together. (YAY for the technology that is email and text. By the way, there was a day I was missing Caroline so much that I snuck over to her house for a hug.)
Rachel and I got together a handful of times without Caroline. Each time, we were hopeful that Caroline would be able to join us. Tonight, she did.

I'm thankful for community.
I'm thankful for the back booth at Panera.
And I'm thankful for fuzzy iPhone pictures that capture the moment's joy!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Bacon art

This definitely take the prize for the most impressive thing I've seen today.

I stared at this for a few minutes when Facebook friend Christie posted the first pic. I finally figured out what it was.

Then, I smiled and I smiled and I smiled.

Vincent Van Gogh would be proud that his masterpiece "Starry Night" has inspired such creativity.

Drooling yet?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pearl Harbor Day and a birthday

My friend Josephine is 95 years old today.

She was celebrating her 25th birthday when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on this day, 70 years ago. It signaled America's entrance into World War II.

I was curious about Josephine's experience and what she was feeling on what should have been a day of joy. So, I interviewed her.

Josephine was a housewife and mother of three in Berkeley, Calif., on Dec. 7, 1941. She was in shock as she heard the news of the attack on the radio.
"It was incredible that this would happen," she said. "It was such an impractical thing...and it seemed like such a foolish thing for the Japanese to do. They were taking on something that they couldn't finish."

She added: "None of us doubted what the outcome would be: a very disastrous encounter."

I'm thrilled that Josephine lived through World War II and subsequent conflicts. How neat that we were able to become friends decades later.

To celebrate her birthday, Josephine and I went on a date to Panera on Sunday afternoon.

I love people like Josephine because I can touch history through them. She reminds me of my grandmother. I want to record their stories.

After our chat, Josephine thanked me for interviewing her.
She said with a chuckle: "I can see that your newspaper days are still with you."

Ve vant your blood. Muahaha.

Last month, I wrote about Andrew, the precious babe of my dear friends, Lawrence and Caroline.
The little guy is now 3 weeks old. He's had his ups and downs but he's still fighting the good fight in the University of Tennessee Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

A blood drive is being organized Saturday, Dec. 17, at Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church, 9132 Kingston Pike, to help defray the cost of the blood Andrew is receiving.

My precious friends in East Tennessee, won't you participate in giving this gift to my little buddy this Christmas?

The event will be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. You may sign up for a time slot here. If you're having problems logging in or signing up online, please contact Katie Smith at

If you can't come on Dec. 17, you may go to the Medic Downtown or the Medic in Farragut. You may also check for a different blood drive at the Medic website. Please be sure to give in Andrew Chermely's name.

Medic Downtown, 1601 Ailor Ave.; 865-524-3074
Medic Farragut, 11000 Kingston Pike., 865-671-0836

Thank you for being a part of this dear family's journey!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Black ninja ... santa

Yep. You read and saw that correctly.

I've been eyeing these Christmas ornaments for some years now. I liked them immediately when I saw them in the display case at my Taekwondo school.
I decided to make them my Christmas gift to myself this year.

You're shaking your head, aren't you? You never know what you'll find on this blog ;)