The World According to Tiff Sniff

Meandering ponderings and wonderings on the state of things.

Pictures from the Tom Petty show

I've posted below my 3 favorite pics from the show last Wednesday. Adam took them all, so he's not in any of them, of course. Most of the shots of the stage are indistinguishable (he was using his camera phone), but you can see we were really there, and just how close we were. Try not to be too jealous. It's really not very healthy.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Posted by Picasa

Waiting for Tom to start his set Posted by Picasa

Melody REALLY doesn't like "Last Dance with Mary Jane" Posted by Picasa

I Have Discovered the Secret clearing my desk off every day.

Step 1: fill a large glass with something to drink. Tonight's choice was milk.

Step 2: Go to desk.

Step 3: Place milk beside your elbow as you do your last blog/email/headlines check of the night.

Step 4: Hit the glass firmly with your left elbow as you type excitedly.

Step 5: Watch the milk quickly flow toward your most important papers.

Step 6: Even more quickly, scramble to move those papers out of the way, preferably to the file stacker where they belong.

Step 7: Throw away contaminated junk mail, and wipe up milk with paper towels.

Now I can enjoy a remarkably clean and organized desk. I have to go pour another glass of milk, though.

Faith, Hope and Love

Anyone who has ever been to a wedding probably is familiar with I Corinthians 13 by heart - you know, the "love" chapter. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast. It is not proud, it is not rude, it is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrong. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always endures.
For anyone who cares, I can only recite that because of a quasi-Caribbean VBS song from years ago. Yes, I can still sing it; no, not for you.

Anyway, the last verse of the chapter has been on my mind all day: And now, these three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.

I have heard many sermons over the years about exactly what that means. For example, while we are on earth, we have faith in God, therefore the hope of His salvation, and the comfort of His love. But when we get to heaven, our faith will be revealed as truth and our hope fulfilled, so they will disappear, but we will still have love. Makes sense.

I think the three concepts fit together in other ways, too, though. This comes from a great conversation at lunch today with a new friend, about our struggles with identity and self-worth. I've blogged before about my college friend with bulimia. Essentially, the only cure for the disease is to find and believe in your self worth. Watching her struggle with it, working through the issues for myself, trying to learn how to deal with the extreme suckiness life hands out, I realized that true and LASTING self worth only comes from one place - a realization that God looked into my life, long before He ever created me, and still loved me enough to create me to sin, and then to die in my place. Wow. Nothing can ever take that away.

So today my new friend and I were discussing how we'd come to the realization that we are worth what we are not because we have overcome our imperfections, but because we just are here. And that our frailties, far from detracting from us, make us a part of who we are. Learning to accept those things, even if we don't like them, and to like ourselves overall anyway. She and I have walked a very similar path to get to that point.

It's hard not to compare yourself to others, but that doesn't make it any more right. So forgive me as I do a little comparing. We have another friend who is walking through the fire right now, dealing with whether or not she is going to learn to like who she is, or whether she is going to continue to fight against herself. It struck me that part of what I have learned is that faith and hope come in small steps.

For example: today I represented a man in child support court who owes $80,000 in back payments. Yes, you read that right. That's more than I owed when I graduated from law school. He was incredibly distressed, and had a hard time communicating with me, because all he could see was the number. (For the record, TN allows a parent or child to seek support payments until the child's 21st birthday. Like it or not, it's the law, and the mother had waited until the kid was 17, which led to the high number.)

Finally, I was able to break it down for him and show him that, yes, while he owed a lot, he didn't have to pay it all off at once. No one expected him to come up with that money today. But he does have to pay it off a few dollars a week. Actually, at $100 a week. Once he realized what that was, that he could easily do that, he calmed down and we were able to work out an arrangement.

Sometimes we have to just jump into our faith and let it take over. The first step in any hard thing is to have faith that you can handle it. Faith in yourself, faith in God to be with you, faith in your friends and family to stand beside you through it.

Hope takes over once you start the journey. Hope comes to us a little at a time. Break it down, and you realize you can handle small bits of life. One payment at a time. So take life that way, and you begin to hope that life can be a wonderful thing, that nothing is keeping you from being happy and content.

And then love comes in, and you realize that love has got you to where you are, and that there is more love waiting in the next part.

And the cycle begins again with the next step.

I think that you can't untie the three. Faith gives us hope, which enables us better to love, which strengthens our faith. Love is the greatest of these because it is love that we give to others; faith and hope we can only have for ourselves. But by spreading love, we can show others how to find the other two.

Family Tradition

My Uncle Dave is the chair of the Williamson County Fair. He and his cronies have put together the first one in 50 years, taking place next month. They have worked really hard to make it a big event, and it's going to be a lot of fun. I know I'll spend most of that week out there (August 5-13).

Now that I'm done plugging it...

I'm in my mom's office, taking advantage of her technology to get some work done. She has a copy of the Fair Guide on her desk, sent courtesy of my uncle. It has a schedule, map, all of the expected stuff, as well as several articles about the fair and its events.

One article is about the dairy tent cattle exhibition, and a Williamson County family, the Ozburns, who have a tradition in raising and exhibiting dairy cattle. Interesting enough.

But what made me laugh, what made me turn around straight to my computer and open up my blog, was the opening paragraph. The article is entitled "It's a Family Tradition!" and the opening graph reads:

When Hank Williams, Jr., made popular the song, "It's a Family Tradition", he probably did not realize he could have been describing the dairy show at the Williamson County Fair! (Copyright, Michael E. Smith)

For those of you not lucky enough to know the lyrics to the song offhand, here is the chorus:

Hank why do you drink?
Hank why do you roll smoke?
Why must you live out the songs that you wrote?
Over and over everybody met my prediction
So if I get stoned I'm just carryin' on an old family tradition

I know where I'll be hanging out at the fair.

Harry Potter

I went to the Davis-Kidd release party for the new Harry Potter book Friday night. The party itself was a bit of a disappointment, mostly because it was just way too overcrowded. Next time, DK, I recommend limiting the number of people you let into the party.

That being said, my friends and I had a ball. We all wore costumes - I was the Fat Lady, and my friends were Tonks, Fleur, Mrs. Figg, Ginny, and Hermione. One of us really should have won the costume contest; we looked great. As soon as I get pictures back, I'll post one. The girl who won had a decent costume, but sneered at me when I congratulated her on her win, so now I'm just bitter. We decided she must have put the judges under the Imperius Curse, since she was Bellatrix. (For those of you who haven't read the books, if you've made it this far, I'm sorry this post has made no sense. None of the rest of it will, either, so you can leave now. I won't be offended.)

So, of course, I read the book this weekend, finishing it last night. It was a little (dare I say it?) predictable, but enjoyable nonetheless. I felt like it was a filler book - moving things along just enough to get us to the big finish in Book 7.

That's not to say there weren't major developments - there definitely were some significant changes in Harry's world. I'm just saying that faithful readers of the series probably saw most of them coming. The way I saw it, there were a few big mysteries in this book: (warning - extreme boastfulness ahead)
1. Who dies? This has been a subject of a lot of speculation ever since Rowling said someone would. I saw it coming from early in the book. It was kind of obvious who was about to leave, based on events in that person's life throughout the book.
2. What is Malfoy's mission? Again, figured it out within the first couple of chapters. Of course, it's not what it looks like, but once a certain event happened, you knew it wasn't that. Then it became pretty clear what it was. Not that it wasn't still exciting, watching to see if the others could figure it out.
3. What is _____ up to? I think this question still isn't answered entirely, but can't talk about why without giving away significant plot points. Let me know when you've finished reading it, and we can debate this point, although I'm pretty sure I'm right. Of course.
4. Who is R.A.B.? If you haven't gotten there yet, you will. Not enough info to figure this one out.
5. Who is the Half-Blood Prince? Again, figured it out early, based on the Prince's characteristics as revealed through the nature of his communications, and their tone. Won't tell you any more, except that I knew going in that it would either be someone we know really well, or a brand new character we hadn't met yet.

This one had a lighter tone than the last couple, for all that the events were heavy. I enjoyed that aspect the most, I think. Book 5 is incredibly draining to read, and that interferes with my enjoying it. But Book 6 was a lot of fun. There are lots of bad things that happen, but lots of wonderful things, too. It seems like Rowling went back to the style she used in her earlier books, with more subplots, and events in the kids' lives that weren't affected directly by Voldemort. That was a good move.

A big thumbs-up to J.K. on another great chunk of this story. Now I'm going to go re-read it. Can't wait for the next one!

Even the Losers Get Lucky Sometimes

Mel's friend Adam managed to procure us 6th row seats last night, for free. So we were off to a great start, despite the horrendous traffic to get to Starwood.

We arrived partway through the Black Crowes set, but at least we got to see them a little bit. Chris Robinson looks exactly the same in person as he does on TV. They were great, really rocking the place. They finished their set, the roadies did their thing, and Tom and the Heartbreakers came out.

They just rock. There aren't adequate words to describe the experience. First of all, they are legends, so just being there felt important. Tom strutted around the stage as befits a true rocker, hamming it up and grinning like he owned the world. The other musicians, of course, are incredible as well. Especially the lead guitarist and piano player. It was unbelievable to see them perform. And, as we were so close, we could actually see it, and not just watch on the jumbotrons.

One of my favorite moments of the night was when one of the guys behind me yelled, "STEVE! STEVE!" His friend asked him what he was doing, and he replied "Steve is the drummer." So we were treated to repeated random "STEVE!"'s all night. It was hilarious.

At the end of the encore, the bassist walked to the front of the stage and, I thought, shook hands with someone on the front row. The rest of the band came forward and they all bowed and waved. Something flew through the air and landed near us, but I couldn't tell what it was. Then, the lead guitarist walked forward to the edge of the stage, and I saw him give his pick to the person nearest him. I realized at once what had been thrown. After all, Tom was standing pretty much directly in front of us, and the only other guitar player was at the far end of the stage. There were four guitar players altogether; I knew where two of the picks were, and that the third couldn't have been thrown to where we were by the guy at the end. So I looked around, and sure enough, there was a pick by a man's shoe. I leaned over and grabbed it. It has to be Tom's. The man next to us asked to see it, and I handed it to him reluctantly (I wasn't sure I'd get it back). He agreed that it was Tom's and gave it to me. It's in my wallet, and I'm going to frame it. I'm a nerd, I know, but I can't help it.

So, to sum up: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Awesome. Me: One very happy, tired chick.

Tom Petty is a god, and he knows it

So I went to see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers at Starwood tonight. Sixth row, about 5 seats off-center. It was great - they are legends for a reason. I'll have to post more tomorrow, after I get some sleep.

But I want you all to know that I caught his pick. It made my year.

Something new

I thought today that I might try to do
Something I've not tried, oh, since high school:
To write a piece entirely composed
In iambic pentameter. Suppose
My English teacher finds this here. Will she
Be proud, or will she most appal-led be?
Did William Shakespeare, back in the old days,
Think bloggers bored would emulate his ways?

To find the rhythm for ages preferred
By writers, poets, lovers, and the like,
And couple it with fourteen rhyming words
A sonnet to create of ancient type,

This blogger's creativity has drained,
And left her with a weekend-ready brain.

London Update

I got this email from my friend, Liz, who is in London. It gave me goosebumps, and I wanted to share her miracle with you all. God is amazing, and good, and active in our lives today. Here is proof.

Hey Friends,

It has been a day of distress for many people in Central London. I am so grateful for God's grace and mercy. His hand was guiding me. This morning for some reason I left my flat thirty minutes early to go to work at Age Concern on Edgware Road. I left the Earl's Court tube station for the Edgware Road tube station at a little past 8:15 am. I arrived at Edgware Road shortly past 8:30am. I usually leave Earl's Court at 8:30 am and arrive at Edgware Road between 8:50am and 9:00am. If I had left at my usual time today, then I would have been using the underground when the bomb exploded at Edgware Road.

When I finally got in touch with my family at 2:30 pm, my Mom said that sometimes God puts little thoughts of directions into our heads sometimes. He definitely put a thought in my head this morning to leave earlier than usual. There was no need for me to because I could have chosen to wait, but I went. God protected me all day. I am so blessed and grateful. But my heart goes out for the 33+ who unexpectedly lost there lives today. It just seems so ironic that yesterday I was in Trafalgar's Square during the joyous announcement that London won the bid for the 2012 Olympic games, and today I was a two minute walk from the Edgware Road stop where seven people lost their lives. I missed that tube by thirty minutes. I get chills just thinking about it. I cannot answer all of the why questions, but I do know that I grateful serve a loving God who protects his children. When I was watching the reports in the Leonora Centre, I asked God a question. (The Leonora Centre is a ten minute walk going north away from Edgware Road. This is where we went when we were evacuated today shortly after the explosion at 8:50 this morning.) I want to know this God, "How am I to be a vessel of your peace in a series of crisis such as these?" Pain and heartache have flooded the lives of many families today. Jesus is the truth. He gives life in his water and healing in his touch. These are things that I do know in a moment of peace or chaos. Please pray for the people who are hurting and those who do not yet know that they have lost loved ones. And the perpetrators, too.

I do hope that each one of you who read this e-mail are doing well. God's blessings.
Consecrated to God,


I've spent about 11 months in the UK, on three different school stays. Most of that time was spent in London.

One Tuesday, the last time I was there, I went to class as usual, went to lunch with friends, and went back to my flat to work on homework. About 2:00, my friend Andrea called me to say a plane had crashed in Washington, DC. I didn't have a TV, so walked around the corner, headed to the nearest internet cafe to check the headlines.

On the way, I passed an electronics store. I looked in at the TV's just in time to see the first tower fall at the World Trade Center. I broke down in tears in the middle of the sidewalk. I went into the store; it was a tiny place, maybe 300 square feet. The clerk and I stared silently at the horrors on the screen. Eventually two other girls on my trip, who lived nearby, walked by and saw me inside. We went together to our school's building to watch CNN and just be together.

(Coincidentally, the Afghanistan/Taliban embassy was two blocks from the building; we had to walk past it every day. After that day, I took the long way around the block. Eventually they all packed up and left.)

Others in our group told us of Londoners who had stopped them on the streets to see if they knew what was going on. Concerned citizens encouraged them to contact their families in America, and to find the rest of our group. Over the next few days, as the reality of the attack set in, we were surrounded with love and caring from this amazing city. I was lucky enough to attend both the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham and the service at St. Paul's Cathedral in honor of the people killed in the attacks. At both ceremonies, I was surrounded by Americans who lived in London, Americans who were on vacation but couldn't get home, and people from London and around the world who were crying and mourning with us. All of us held American flags, sang American songs, and stood together. Perfect strangers stopped me in the street to hug me and tell me they were praying for our nation.

Watching and reading all the news today, I sit crying for these people. London is another home to me, and my heart breaks over again with each new devastating picture. I pray for all of those killed and injured this morning, and for their families. I thank God for those who walked away, and pray that He will heal hearts and minds. I pray for those whose fates are unknown at this time. I pray for understanding in the hearts of the people who are rejoicing at this attack. I ask for wisdom in the leaders who will make decisions in coming days about what to do in response. I hope that those responsible can be found and prevented from harming others. I also hope that steps can be taken at the G8 summit to ease suffering worldwide, so that people will not feel that they need to take such drastic action to get attention.

I pray that all the people I know who are in and around London right now are safe, and that they will come home safely, too.

My sister's best friend is in London, studying and working for the summer. We were concerned, but finally heard from her, and she's fine, but had a near miss. She works on a street where one of the explosions happened, apparently, and fortunately had gone in a half hour early today. If she hadn't, she would have possibly been in the tube when the bomb went off. Thank God she's okay.

More Signage Wisdom

"It is better to prevent than to repent."

Really? I thought it was "easier to beg forgiveness than to ask permission".

Another good one

A church sign for the July Fourth weekend: "God blesses America - does America bless God?"


I stepped back in time today. My friend and I went down and spent the night at my family's farm in Minor Hill, TN, a small town in southern Tennessee. The farm is literally 7 miles north of the Alabama border.

The nearest "big town" is Pulaski, the Giles County county seat. More famously known as the starting place of the Ku Klux Klan, which my family has entirely ignored for the last century or so. After a wonderful morning of sleeping in, sitting outside listening to the birds, watching the trees, and baking in the sun, we packed up and headed back to Nashville, but we stopped in Pulaski for a bit first.

The town is very small-town-America, with one of the most beautiful old courthouses in the US in the center of a quaint town square. We drove around some of the side streets, looking at yard sales to see if we could find anything interesting. I drove us into a little neighborhood I'd never been in before, despite 27 years of trips to Pulaski. We noticed a cute little park with a historical marker, so we parked and went to see what it was all about. I thought it might be something related to the local hero, Sam Davis, but it was, instead, a memorial park installed where the area's first cemetery had been. It apparently had been quickly deteriorating, so in the late '60's, the town installed a park, and put the grave markers back as almost art installations. It sounds really weird, but it was very well done. Scattered throughout the little green were 18th and 19th century headstones and grave markers, and along the outer walls, flat headstones had been hung. I found the marker for a grave containing three of my relatives who had died as children in 1833. There was another headstone of a man who died in 1820 at 109 years old. It was fascinating.

Eventually I decided I'd have to come back when I had more time (and it was significantly cooler outside) and we went and parked at the square. We wandered around looking at the courthouse (which was unfortunately locked - it's amazing inside) and little shops, ending up at Reeve's Drugstore, eating at the soda fountain. Seriously. I had a chicken salad sandwich (with homemade pickles and homegrown tomatoes) with chips and a Sun-Drop for $3.95. The hand-dipped, mixed-in-a-blender milkshakes we got to take with us were $2.00. All around us were white-haired women eating lunch and catching up on gossip. The store shelves were filled with everything from the obvious pharmaceutics and cosmetics to second-hand vases and picture frames. I felt like I had woken up in 1962. I think I have never felt so all-American as I do today.

Happy Fourth of July, everyone!

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