Green Solo cup. I fill you up.

Happy Superbowl Sunday, ya’ll.

Ok, ok. There was only lemonade in the cup. And we were celebrating a friend’s birthday with the game on in the far background.

I’ve been inspired by red solo cups for years. This cheery green one just begged to be photographed.

Photo Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth. Taken with my iPhone4s using the Hipstamatic app.


One of the amazing, fabulous, so-cool-I-can’t-believe-it aspects of our new apartment is a real, actual, honest to goodness wood burning fireplace.

No pellets. No gas. No “oh it’s just for show we don’t use it.”

A real fireplace! With fire! From a log!

Yowza! [ insert cavewoman grunt here ]

Fire, good. Warm. Unh-huh.

However, since there are several units in my building, and who knows what sort of yahoolios I have for neighbors, today I called my insurance agent and double checked that I’m super duper double covered for such things as fire. And you know…burning.

Turns out that I am covered, and that’s good. I was raised with a healthy respect for fire. When my mom was just a little girl, her brother was using a burn barrel (or maybe burning leaves, I can’t remember) and he accidentally set several large farm fields on fire. My mom can vividly recall the huge flames and ever since she’s kept a healthy distance from any sort of fire.

So of course, my dad used to load up our 1970’s burnt orange free standing fireplace with lots of sappy New Mexico piñon logs. Then he’s say “what?” when mom mentioned that maybe that was a little too much fire for such a small fireplace.

I mean, as a kid I learned how to make a darn good campfire and over the years I’ve always really enjoyed cooking over fire (both bbq and camping), however, in my adult life, I have never lived anywhere that had a fireplace. Most apartments don’t offer this feature because the property owners don’t want to assume the risk.

Last night, I pondered while looking at this particular fire:

The first fire in our new place!!

For as much progress as we have seen in the world including technology, medicine, engineering, etc…meaning, of all the amazing tools that we, as humans, have at our fingertips, it’s still the tool of the caveman that can wipe the whole thing out.

One flickering flame. One spark from a burning fire is a lifechanger.

And so today, when my insurance agent asked me the all important question “what is the distance to the nearest Fire Station” and I answered “less than a mile,” at I first felt worry over having to even discuss the probability of tragedy. Then I felt thankful that the fire station is so close. Then I felt doubly thankful for all the people who work at that fire station and are willing, as a normal part of their job, to come and save me, and The Good Man and, yes, even The Feline, from a possible terrible situation.

Being a human is full of risks. Even if I choose not to use my fireplace, I can’t control all the others in my building. So yeah, I’m going to use that fireplace and I’m going to stand in front of it and warm my rear end. I’m also going to be very careful and very respectful.

And very grateful.

Regarding the fire, the Feline says, “where you been all my life?”.

Yes, that’s a box of Duraflame. Real logs are on the way.

Except where noted, photos Copyright 2012, by Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the far right column of this page. Photos taken with an iPhone4s and the Camera+ app.

Photo at the link to the freestanding orange fireplace is from That is not a photo of my family’s home.


I’m heartbroken over the news of the passing of Etta James.

Forget “I Will Survive”, that’s for amateurs.

Her music is the ultimate “helps me feel strong when I feel weak.” I have both sat and cried and stood and danced listening to her music.

She will be missed. Through her incredible library, never forgotten.

Management 101

In November, I got to thinking about the end of the calendar year and how hard my own work team has been pulling to keep our program going, supporting end users, and picking up the slack when others have left the group.

They are a resilient little team (I mean little in numbers) and I’m proud of them.

I asked the Boss of my Boss if we had some sort of recognition program. He said, “oh yes, we do spot bonuses. Talk to so-in-so and they can provide you with some gift cards to hand your employees.”

I was pretty stoked. I figured these gift cards might be $100. Or maybe, you know, $50. Not much, but enough to make a difference.

So I contacted so-in-so and wrote up my justification and was handed some gift cards.

They are $25 each.


Ok, I know $25 is still better than a kick in the shins, but I worried that handing out $25 would be less of a thank you and more of a “why bother”? Given how hard this crew has been working and the success they saw last year, would a $25 gift card be an insult?

Unfortunately for me, it turned out to be all I could do for my employees under “official” program at of my very cheap frugal cost-conscious company.

This week, with everyone back in the office after the holiday break, I decided to hand out the gift cards along with a hearty thank you.

I went to each person on my team and I talked to them about how hard they worked and said “I’d like to give you this. I’m sorry it’s not very much, but it’s the best I can do under the official auspices.”

Every member of my team was incredibly grateful and dare I say excited to get an “official” bit of recognition for a job well done.

As one woman leapt from her chair to hug me and thank me over and over, I was stunned.

How could she be so thrilled over a puny $25 gift card?

I puzzled over it and thought about it and pondered.

Today, on my afternoon walk around the lake, I figured it out.

These wonderful, hardworking, amazing people are simply happy to be recognized.

This is the power of saying (and meaning) the words Thank You.

I knew this mattered, I really did. I try very hard as a manager to remember to say thank you and mean it. But even I forget.

My very humble team gave me a good lesson. They took me back to Management 101, and for that I’m filled with gratitude.

(Should I remind my own manager that I also tend to work harder with a few “thank yous” along the way?)

Image via Abstruse Goose.