Friday, October 31, 2008

License Plates...

We collected license plates on the way down today. Mostly to make us forget that we lost an hour of time outside Atlanta. Sitting still on I-75. Ugh.

As they say on Dancing with the Stars, in no particular order:
  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • Michigan
  • Colorado
  • Arizona
  • Maine
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Ohio
  • Nebraska or Nevada....not sure which one
  • South Carolina
  • North Carolina
  • Alabama
  • Tennessee
  • Georgia
  • Florida
  • Mississippi
  • Oklahoma
  • Texas
  • Missouri
  • Minnesota
  • Wisconsin
  • Arkansas
This in addition to the four thousand, six hundred, fifty-eight license plates we saw from Ontario. Is there anyone left in Canada?

Okay, so there wasn't much to do on the ride down.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Foot in Mouth.....

I often leave myself wide open for ridicule or criticism, and I usually look at hubby and say, "Whatever you're thinking, DON'T say it."

Sometimes, though, I render myself speechless.

I've been telling people all week that our tickets for the game this weekend are so far up in Jacksonville Municipal Stadium that we'll be right up there next to the Goodyear blimp.

As I was packing our suitcase tonight, I asked hubby what he was wearing to the game, red or black. He said, "Red. I've been telling everybody I would be the one on the Georgia side in red." (Ha ha)

I said, "Did you tell them you'd be right up there next to the blimp?"

To his credit, there was a long pause. I don't know who laughed harder.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I Swear, It's a Sickness.......

It's a disease, and I can't help it. I've tried every cure there is, but I'm not going to fight it anymore. I'm just going to give in and wallow in the ups and downs of the misery that an addiction creates.

After dinner tonight, I practically slung the dishes in the dishwasher and then crept stealthily up the stairs, hoping hubby was so engrossed in television that he wouldn't wonder what I was doing. He doesn't understand my addiction, and he doesn't know how to help me. Most of the time he goes along placidly, but sometimes he puts his foot down. Tonight was one of those times, which is why I had to sneak upstairs.

I gingerly picked up the remote control and tuned the upstairs television to a college football game.

From 1980.

A game which I attended in person.

It's one of the most replayed games in college football history, particularly the play when UGA had a 3rd down and 10 from the eight yard line, when Buck Belue hit Lindsay Scott for a 92-yard touchdown run to seal the victory over Florida and keep Georgia undefeated on their way to a national championship. It lives in the annals of Georgia football lore, particularly the recording of the inimitable Larry Munson calling the play.

It is replayed every year during the week leading up to the UGA-Florida game in Jacksonville, and I watch it every time I can. I tried to get hubby to record it tonight, but you have to stay on the same channel, and for some odd reason he REFUSED to watch a football game from 28 years ago whose outcome he already knows. Men.

I tell myself it's just a game, but I don't listen very well. I get overwrought and overanxious, and that's just in the days leading up to a game. Last week I thought I would have to be sedated before UGA played LSU. When Georgia intercepted the ball on LSU's first play from scrimmage and ran it back for a touchdown, I jumped up and screamed, the cat took off hissing, the dog took off after her barking, and I burst into tears.

Katydid and I were there last year for Georgia's improbable victory over Florida, and we didn't have our voices for days.

I swear I didn't choose to be this way. ***I'm not making this up.*** One of my earliest memories is of me sitting on the floor in front of a black-and-white television watching a football game. I had volume "F" of the encyclopedia open to "football" because it had little pictures of the referee's signals and what they meant. (This is in the days before the referees wore microphones.) I couldn't have been more than 10 years old. Okay, so I didn't understand it all. I thought a "screen pass" was so called because it didn't go further than the size of the television screen.

Hubby and I are going to Jacksonville for the Georgia-Florida game this weekend, staying with Sweet Girl (who wouldn't let me stay at her house for the game last year and even had the audacity to suggest I sell my tickets, but that's for another post).

I will try my best to tone down my anxiety, my nervousness, my excitement. Because hubby isn't so convinced that it's a sickness.

He just thinks I'm nuts. Men.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Happy Birthday, Brudder.......

Today is my brother's 51st birthday. He is unfortunate enough to be the only surviving male with three sisters. We had another brother, but that's a story for another post. As soon as I locate a picture that perfectly captures his personality, which I know I have here somewhere. It's not digital, though, so I have to figure out which box it's in and scan it.

Jack and I are the closest in age, but I never really considered us close when we were growing up. Since he beat me up and tormented me all the time, I thought he didn't like me. I was grown before I realized that beating me up was a privilege reserved just for him, and he would probably have killed anyone else who bothered me. But he protected me from afar, and I thought he didn't like me. I thought he was embarrassed to have me for a little sister.

As I have mentioned before, we lived some of our formative years in a trailer park. Even though we are three and a half years apart in age, apparently we looked enough alike that some people in the trailer park thought we were twins. Some referred to us as "Springy" and "Nappy." I don't know which one I was.
Once he put me in the dryer at the laundromat in our trailer park, and he held the door shut until I promised I wouldn't tell on him. (And of course I did, just as soon as I escaped.) If he'd had a dime, I know he would have turned the damn thing on. He's probably the reason I'm not fond of being in small spaces today.

Another time he busted my lip with a class ring. For some reason, I was the one who wasn't allowed to go to the basketball game that night. As Mom put it, "You must have said something to deserve it."

Jack was mischievous and unlucky, always a dangerous combination. When he was a teenager, he and a friend broke into our high school and vandalized it. Jack also tended toward dumb friends. The friend who broke into the school with him spray painted his girlfriend's name everywhere. Not that they wouldn't have gotten caught anyway, but I'm just sayin'. Jack got probation for that, but he violated his probation and spent some time in our county jail. I would ride the bus to the jail some afternoons and visit him there, and Mom would pick me up on her way home from work. I've been tempted to send that tidbit to Jeff Foxworthy.

One afternoon when I got off the bus the sheriff met me at the door. He was a big, imposing man, and naturally I was afraid of him.

"Visiting hours are on Sunday," he said.

"Uhh......okay," I stammered.

There I was, miles from home with no ride for a couple of hours, and I couldn't even visit my brother. Even if I had summoned the courage to ask to use the phone, Mom couldn't have left work early to come get me. So I just killed two hours sitting outside the jail.

Jack is a charmer, and he became a trusty of the jail. He would drive a deputy's car the few miles to the cafeteria that provided the inmates' meals. He took the cars to the local car wash and cleaned them up. When I went to visit him in jail, he was usually sitting in the office with his feet propped up on a desk.

Evidently he took his trusty position a little too far. I didn't know what was going on the day the sheriff met me at the door, but apparently Jack had acquired a ........ key to the jail. He was only a prisoner during the day. At night he left and had a grand old time, as long as he was back in the morning. The plan would have worked indefinitely, if another inmate hadn't .......... escaped ....... about that time. I distinctly remember Jack saying, "Sumbitch said he'd come back."

That got him some time at the "big house," which wasn't a maximum security facility or anything like that, but it sure woke him up. I think he spent about a year there, earning his GED while he was there. He made the highest score anyone there had ever gotten, I think. He said that made him the valedictorian. To this day he refers to that institution as his "alma mater."

Before my ex and I got married, he and I were out one night, WAY too late on a school night. It was my first year of teaching, and Sweet Girl had spent the night at Mom's house. At around midnight, I turned to my ex and said, "Something is wrong." I didn't say it with any forethought, and I was a little embarrassed that I had blurted out such a foolish thing. "What are you TALKING about?" he scoffed (one of the MANY reasons he's an ex). "I don't know," I said, "but something is just not right."

I took him home and headed to my place. I couldn't shake the feeling, and I almost went to Mom's house to spend the night rather than go home alone. But Grandmother was visiting, and I didn't want to disturb the household any more than necessary. So I went home alone, uneasy and jumpy.

The next morning Mom called to say Jack had been in an accident the night before. He had been thrown from the car, and he had lain there for about three hours before someone found the accident. Had I gone to Mom's house the night before, I would have been the one to find him.

****The next part is not for the weak of stomach. You've been warned.****

When Jack was thrown from the car, he skidded on the pavement alongside it. He remembers pushing away from the car to keep it from running over him. You know how tough a dollar bill is? Well, he had a ten-dollar bill IN his wallet, IN his back pocket, and it had a hole in it from his skidding across the pavement. You can just imagine how the other side of his butt looked, the side that didn't have the wallet for padding...

Somehow his leg got broken, too, but he didn't know it. He wasn't aware that the bone was sticking out. He tried to get up and walk, and he ground the bone down into the pavement. (I warned you that this was not for the weak of stomach.)

Jack had some firearms in the car (I didn't mention that it was MOM'S car he was driving), and he wasn't supposed to have them due to his stint in the big house. So when he realized he couldn't walk, he CRAWLED to the car and got them out, CRAWLED up into the woods and hid them, and then CRAWLED back to the car to await rescue. It was early December, the first really cold night we had experienced that year, and that is probably what kept him from dying right there on the side of the road.

He was out of work for a year, and there was a time when we thought he might lose his leg. Bone fragments continued to work their way to the surface for many months after his accident. His leg isn't pretty, but he's glad to have it. And I'm glad the cold kept him alive that night. I have always wondered if anything would have been different had I followed my gut feeling and gone to Mom's house that night.

We live about an hour apart now, and we don't see each other as much as we'd like. Jack is more settled now, but he still has his wild side. He still loves cars and motorcycles, and he is still charming. When his daughter got married, all three of his wives attended the ceremony. He had a grandson and a daughter born the same year, five months apart. He loves jokes and sports and his family. Every time we talk on the phone, he never fails to say, "I love you." And it never fails to choke me up.

Happy Birthday, Brudder!!!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Is it still stealing if it was mine to begin with?........

I have a favorite pen. It writes well, it has a comfort-grip, and it has a certain heft to it that I like. I'm pretty sure I could use it as a weapon if the need arose. Hubby got it in one of the many Pepsi promotions they do each year that involve giving away merchandise but not pay raises. Mainly merchandise like caps, t-shirts, and key chains. And the occasional Harley.

Not only does it boast the proud Pepsi logo on it, it also has the NFL logo on the end. But it didn't photograph well and really has nothing to do with this post.

I went for a pedicure one Saturday at my favorite nail place, but not a $300 pedicure this time, thank goodness. The young man sitting at the nearest station said from behind his face mask, "wrngrj jliewaj qwaomvpz" which I took to mean "Sign in please." (I am NOT making fun of his culture or his language; I AM making fun of the way people of all cultures sound when they are speaking from behind a face mask. So there.) There was no pen on the clipboard, however, so I took mine out of my purse.

After I had finished being pedicured and had paid, I reached for my pen to write down the debit amount in my checkbook, lest I get into trouble balancing my checkbook. My pen was not in my purse, and I realized I had left it on the clipboard after signing in. I went back to the desk, but my pen was nowhere to be found. I didn't ask anyone, because they were all busy mumbling behind their face masks, but I looked on the clipboard and in the little cup where they keep all their forgotten/stolen pens.

I departed slightly depressed. It wasn't like I could just go to Wal-Mart, which is right next door, and buy a new pen. It was the wrong season for Pepsi to have an NFL promotion, and who could say they would actually be giving away pens if they did? And who could say I could trick hubby into giving me ANOTHER one, in addition to the Harley? My favorite pen was just gone.

A few weeks later, I went back for another pedicure, and as I went to sign in......... THERE WAS MY PEPSI/NFL PEN!! It's not like it was a similar pen. It's not like there were pens like that all over the county. It was mine. I was in a quandary. What should I do? Explain to the nice young man behind the face mask that this pen was mine, that I had left it the last time I was there? Or just suck it up to bad luck and kiss my pen goodbye.....again?

I did neither. I signed in, and then I nonchalantly dropped the pen into my purse and had a seat in the waiting area. I didn't pause or miss a beat. I looked like the professionalest of all professional shoplifters. I'm sure my face flushed red, and I was afraid to look up because I just knew everyone was staring at me. The whole time I was getting my pedicure, I alternated between smugness that I had my pen back and guilt that I had in essence stolen from the nail salon.

I don't think I waited long enough for my toenails to dry completely.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

New Vocabulary......

Team Chi-Chis (minus Katydid) rode our bicycles 48 miles in the wind today, so it's off to bed early. Before I retire, however, I feel obligated to pass along some new vocabulary words that we picked up on the bike ride today. Actually, we made them up.

  • Goobered (verb, past tense) - Passed on a bicycle by a goober.
  • Goober (noun) - Any male of approximately 10-14 years of age, depending upon stage of puberty. Also applies to males of any age depending upon attitude and behavior. (Immediately follows the "little bastard" stage, according to hubby.)
  • Spinnerized (verb, past tense) - Passed on a bicycle by a spinner.
  • Spinner (noun) - Male bicyclist with extremely hairy legs who continues to utilize the cycling method of spinning, even when on flat ground or going downhill.
  • Spin (verb) - To pedal easily and quickly in a lower gear, usually used for going uphill. You make zero progress, but you LOOK like you're doing something.
  • G.G.ed (verb, past tense) - Passed on a bicycle by a G.G.
  • G.G. (noun) - Girl goober. She didn't qualify for the title by gender OR age, but she was labeled such due to a miscommunication, so G.G. she is.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I Struggle Against OCD......Really I Do.....

I only show signs of OCD about SOME things. My house, for example, is NOT neat. Things are out of place everywhere. Furniture is dusty. The floor is (relatively) clean, but only because I just swept it. The table beside my chair holds everything from my camera to the two books I've been using in my online course to my huge container of water.

Some things, though, I cannot get a handle on no matter how hard I try. My dishes, for example. First of all, as you can see the plates are square.
The flower, of course, has to be pointing in the right direction, up and to the left. On all of the plates. And salad plates. And bowls. And cups and saucers and serving pieces.

It doesn't matter if the plates are on the table, in the china cabinet, in the sink, or in the dishwasher. They all have to have the flowers pointing the right way. When Sweet Girl is home she invariably tries to sneak and turn my plate upside down. Or she puts them in the dishwasher upside down. And I've tried to let it slide, really I have. But almost as an involuntary response, I find myself robot-walking to the dishwasher and turning them right side up. Sigh.

And the wash cloths. Oh brother. Several years ago I threw out all our threadbare washcloths and bought two sets of new ones, both sets having 2 wash cloths of each of several different colors. Really I'm not THAT OCD about them.......when doing the laundry, it's just as easy to pick up the other blue one when I've just folded a blue one. And if I pick up every wash cloth with the label on the upper right hand side, well I'm sure that's just a coincidence. Never mind that today I nearly went beserk because one of them was missing a label. And I've turned the linen closet upside down looking for the missing orange one. And I don't even DO orange. When I put them back on the shelf, I only take the clean ones and put them underneath the other ones to keep them all used equally.

Hubby doesn't help matters. We have double blinds on our living room windows, and he consistently and irritatingly opens ONE SIDE. Why? I know he would say it's because he only needs to see out one window. I try to wait until he's not looking and open the other side. But sometimes there I go, robot walking to the window, crossing right in front of his line of vision, opening the other blind against my will.

Good Lord. Some things I just shouldn't admit about myself. I'm going out next week and buy 12 yellow washcloths. And my next dishes will be white.....and round.

Friday, October 24, 2008


This is what I learned about the woman eating in the booth behind us at Applebee's today:

  • She's voting for George McCain (whoever THAT is)
  • She thinks Obama is Muslim
  • She lives with a boring person
  • She has some relative/acquaintance/victim named Phillip, whom she also calls Phil
  • She uses the "F" word a lot
  • She thinks it's her right to know whom everyone she comes into contact with is voting for, including the host or hostess and every waiter or waitress
  • Phillip should spend more time with his son
  • She talks with her mouth full
  • She's tired of the same old f***ing s**t all the time
  • She doesn't need a cell phone for a long-distance conversation
I could have used an extra dose of blood pressure medicine today.

*Too Much Information

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ready for Retirement? Or not......

Being on Fall Break this week has given me a little taste of what retirement might be like. Granted it's still 3 years away, but it's never too early to start practicing.

Hubby also had the week off. We picked this week for his final vacation of the year because we originally thought we might take a trip to Las Vegas. It's hard to know in December, when he has to submit his vacation request, what our plans for 10 months later will be.

We've slept in. Most days I got up before hubby did, around 7:30. He has slept until 8:30 or so, which is almost unheard of for him. I got up and made the coffee and got first shot at the newspapers. I didn't dare touch his Sodoku puzzle, though.

We cleaned out the basement (mostly), taking a load of junk to the landfill, and we planted juniper on a steep hill right beside the pool that for some reason I always have to mow with the push mower. I inevitably fall down the hill, but luckily I haven't hurt anything yet.

Yesterday and today hubby went to the golf course, and I was thrilled to have him go. I assure you that he's still the world's last perfect man, but I was craving some "me" time. I got caught up on my online grading, I read some in the fourth (and thankfully LAST) vampire book, I watched a football game that I had recorded from last Saturday (it's so refreshing when I know the outcome and don't have to get upset), even though I also watched it live, and I played computer games. Best of all, I took the Gusman to the park and we walked for about an hour. I took my camera, but the fall colors aren't really here yet.

I think what I've learned for retirement is that I need a routine, and we both need things to do separately from each other. And I need a housekeeper to come in once a week, because that is NOT something I'm gonna do in my free time.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Big Old Bag of Duh.......

I know it isn't nice to make fun of those less fortunate.......

But when those less fortunate make three or four times my salary, I think they're fair game.

A certain collegiate gymnastics coach of my favorite team in the world recently spent three days in the hospital, a victim of.............................



She ate a spoonful of grits straight out of the microwave, and in doing so burned 8 inches of her esophagus.


How in the hell does one manage that? Really, how? Just in case you might think I'm making this up, here's the proof.

I'm sure she's a genius when it comes to gymnastics. Or maybe she's a genius when it comes to hiring assistants, because her teams have won 9 national championships. But every time she opens her mouth (before it was just to speak, but now I suppose I'll have to include eating grits), I cringe.

Many go to the meets just to see what she'll be wearing THIS time. She jumps around on those mats wearing shoes like the ones above. At an away meet last year, she came BOUNCING over to the spectators and said breathily, "Oh my gosh, I had to borrow this dress from _______. I forgot my clothes! Can you believe I forgot my clothes? I'm so embarrassed......I don't dress like a teenager!"

Since when?

Her team is warming up for a conference meet, and she's worried about her clothes?

At the sneak peek before the season started last year, she spent a lot of time explaining the different rules of college gymnastics to the crowd. Only she didn't know some of them. She had to get help from one of her assistants.

At the same meet where she "forgot" her clothes, she nearly went crazy when one of our gymnasts' routine was given a START value of 9.8. Uh.....we don't DO 9.8's. It was the last routine, and she almost chased the judges all the way to the.......wherever the judges go following a meet. Besides a bar. A judge explained why the routine was not awarded a start value of 10.0, at which point she slapped her forehead like, "Oh silly me!" Not, "Oh my gosh, it's my JOB to know what elements must be connected and this girl has been doing this routine all season and this is the first time we've noticed that it's missing a major connection and I hope I don't get fired for this." No, just "Silly me!" Or, more likely, "Silly girl! She should have known her routine wasn't a start value of 10.0."

I'm sorry; I didn't intend to be this harsh at the beginning of this post. I just have NO PATIENCE with airheads.

It's official......I'd rather have my brains than her money.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Gotta Love Money....

I sold my motorcycle today. It was a bittersweet experience, because it was, after all, my FIRST motorcycle. And I would have sworn it would have been my ONLY motorcycle. Who would have predicted that hubby would win a Harley? And give it to me? But we were up to 4 motorcycles in the basement, along with assorted other junk that I will post about in the future, and we needed the room. Talented as I am (ha ha ha ha ha ha), I can only ride ONE motorcycle at a time. And anybody I know who is remotely interested in riding a motorcycle already has one. Except my brother. For some reason, he is between Harleys at the moment. But he would never have stooped to owning a Honda Shadow 600 anyway, much less one with an ENGINE CAGE.

I sold it to the same dealership where I bought it, and they not only gave me close to what my dare-I-hope-to-get-this-much price was, they also refunded $400 of a service plan that I prepaid for when I bought the bike. If I had sold it to an individual, I would have just been OUT that money, because the plan was not transferable.

So now instead of taking money out of my savings account to pay the DEPOSIT on our spring break trip next April, I can use the windfall from selling the motorcycle to pay for ALL of the trip. There just aren't too many things in the world better than going on a trip that's already paid for when you go.........

Monday, October 20, 2008

8 Seconds from Certain Death......

I must offer a disclaimer about this post. The pictures are not from the same day as this story. In fact, the pictures are not all from the same day. They are, however, mostly of me. And I offer them here just as visual support.
Someone told me I looked like the Pillsbury Dough Boy in this picture. This was before I had my own custom-made jumpsuit and my own helmet. They didn't make me look any more attractive, but they were certainly more colorful. That gadget in the middle of my chest is an altimeter. It shows distance from the ground in feet. You don't want to get into the red zone...
I never found out the real name of this aircraft, but we called it a Caravan or Skyvan. I only got to jump out of one like it one time. It held 25 skydivers, and I was number 25 out of the tailgate. You just sort of walked to the back and stepped off into nothingness. I loved it. As other groups jumped, I kept inching my way toward the door. My jumpmaster said, "It's not our turn!" and I replied, "I want to SEE!" It was so cool, seeing all those falling bodies from above.
When I first started jumping, we used those old, round, military canopies that could not be steered. You could turn into or with the wind, but you were pretty much at the mercy of whatever direction the wind was blowing. And the accuracy of your spotter.
I laid off skydiving for a few years, getting married and having a baby. I remember my rather old-fashioned doctor patting me on the hand on my first pre-natal visit.

  • Dr. Van: Now, we aren't as careful with pregnant women as we used to be. Anything you did before, you can do while you're pregnant. Do you participate in any sports or activities?
  • Me: Well, I skydive.
  • Dr. Van: For God's sake, don't skydive! Are you crazy?
But when I found out they were letting students jump the ultra-cool, square (okay, rectangular, but we called them square) canopies, I had to go back. Back when I started, you had to have 50 jumps under your belt before you could jump a square.
These pictures were taken on one of the rare occasions that I actually landed somewhat near where I was supposed to. I have no sense of direction on the ground, and when you throw in another dimension, well, I'm pretty much lost. I was doing well if I could spot the AIRPORT from the air. You would think all the airplanes would give it away.
But not really CLOSE to the spot I was aiming for. I don't remember whose parachute that is in the foreground; perhaps a jumpmaster's. That's me way off in the distance. Probably busted my ass (I usually did), but I am already up and gathering up my gear in this picture. We could not detach from our rigs; we had to bundle them up and carry them back to the packing zone. For me it was often quite a distance to walk.

On the particular day in question, I was using a rig that I had used many times before. I had learned how to pack it, and it felt right on me. Besides, there was just something comforting
about wearing the same rig week after week.

[I have just spent the last 15 minutes looking for my old log book in an attempt to be true to the details of this post. But I can't find it, so I'm going to go on memory.]

We jumped from probably somewhere around 8000-10000 feet. My jumpmaster followed me out of the plane, and we probably attempted some maneuvers where we grasped forearms, etc. I say attempted because I SUCKED at those maneuvers. It isn't as easy as it looks to just reach out and touch someone who is falling, just like you, at 120 mph.

I waved off at the proper altitude, because regardless of what they show on television, skydivers are NOT supposed to be close to one another upon deployment of their parachutes. It's just too risky, because the canopies can become entangled, etc.

I must say that I did NOT follow the proper protocol. The correct sequence was "arch ........ look ....... reach ....... pull!" I was supposed to make eye contact with my ripcord handle BEFORE attempting to pull it. Problem was, the handle was located on the belly band of my rig. It was held in place by a piece of velcro. (You would NOT believe how much of a parachute is held together with velcro and RUBBER BANDS!!!!) And I had these ....... how do I say this delicately ....... BOOBS that got in the way of my actually being able to see the ripcord handle. So I got into a rather bad habit of just feeling for it. It was always there. Except this time it wasn't.

The little plastic handle wasn't where it was supposed to be. I grasped again. And again. And again. By this time, I was tumbling wildly, haven broken out of my stable arch position with probably the second grab. You don't really want your parachute to open when you are tumbling wildly. Except you really, really want it just to OPEN.

Because I am typing this post, you can probably tell that I did at last locate the handle, but I'm sure it was sheer luck. The rig I was jumping had an AAD (Automatic Activation Device) on it, and it was supposed to fire my rig in the event I was still traveling at terminal velocity when I reached 2000 feet in altitude. Apparently it failed. We weren't supposed to rely on them anyway; I think their primary purpose was for skydivers who lost consciousness during freefall (injury or just being scared s***less) and afford them a slight chance in hell of reaching the ground relatively uninjured. Or at least undead.

The owner of the drop zone watched in horror as I screamed toward the ground, and he estimated that I probably pulled the ripcord at around 1200 feet. I did some research once, and I believe that was 8 seconds before I would have hit the ground. As a student jumper, I was supposed to pull NO LOWER than 4000 feet.

I didn't experience any harder a landing than usual (that's the first question people always ask me about that episode), because a canopy that is allowed to inflate fully is probably going to offer the same speed regardless of WHERE it was opened. When I landed, I immediately took off my helmet (because I wasn't allowed to take off my rig, of course) and hurled it across the field. I had already had my moment of relief once I saw that beautiful expanse of nylon over my head in the air. Now I was pissed off. Angry at being stupid, angry at having witnesses, angry at being almost dead.

I dreaded facing Banks. But he didn't fuss at me. He was too busy reaming a new one for my jumpmaster, who had apparently CHASED ME and attempted to save me. Banks screamed at him, "Just what in the hell were you going to do with her when you CAUGHT HER?????"

It turns out that the velcro on the belly band of my rig had pretty much worn out, and although it held the handle in place on the ground, it was useless at terminal velocity. The handle had blown around behind my back, and if I had only had the presence of mind to find the cable and follow it around, I would have been fine. But when the handle wasn't where it was supposed to be...... well, let's just say all presence of mind went right out the window. Or into the wild blue yonder. Whatever.

But I didn't find that out that day. I jumped the SAME RIG the next weekend, figuring that I was obligated to "get back on the horse," as it were. What were the odds that the same thing would happen again?

Odds were approximately 100%.

I couldn't find the handle again.

But this time I knew where the RESERVE handle was, and I didn't hesitate to use it. When that beautiful, old-fashioned, ROUND canopy opened above my head, I was so happy to see it that I forgot to be embarrassed at the same thing happening again. I forgot to be embarrassed that everyone on the drop zone was aware that someone had used a back-up parachute. I forgot to be embarrassed that it was a "first" for me, and anyone who experienced a "first" was expected to buy beer for everyone on the drop zone after the planes had been tied down. I forgot to be embarrassed that I didn't have enough money to buy a case of beer.

I reached up for the toggles to "steer" the reserve canopy toward the drop zone, and someone had written on the little wooden toggles:

"You're okay."

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Our Sweet Suite....

We've been to this casino a number of times, and I think they can see us coming. "Here come the suckers who will give us all their money before they leave.......Give 'em a nice room to lull them into complacency!"

This is the nicest suite we've ever had. This is a shot of the bedroom. Fairly nondescript; requisite television, nice bench seat underneath the window. We were on the 10th floor.

Below is a shot of the bathroom. Double sinks. If I were picky......and I'm really not......I would question why they put the hair dryer on the left side of the counter (out of sight in this picture) and the make-up mirror all the way on the other end. Toilet was behind the door to the right of the picture.

We had both a shower and a tub with jacuzzi jets. It wasn't.........quite..........big enough for two. I really like the glass shower. Unfortunately, if you left the doors to the bedroom open, there was a mirror right in front of you while you showered. I tended to shower with my eyes closed.

This is the "kitchen." We didn't have a refrigerator, but we did have a sink and a coffee maker. and the ice machine was right outside our door, so we didn't have to go far to fill up the cooler.

Below is the OTHER bathroom. Seriously. It was right inside the door to the suite. Like maybe it was for those times when you come back to the room and just hope against hope that you can make it to the bathroom in time. Or maybe it is designed so that couples don't have to argue about who is going to follow whom in the bathroom.

This is the living room, with ANOTHER television, a desk where I theoretically should have been able to get lots of work done (internet wouldn't work in the room, for some reason, even though it had a hub plug-in for it), and a table where we could have eaten room service if we had spent enough time there.

This is a view out our window of the restaurant at the top of the "moon" to the right. We've never eaten there; we don't usually take proper clothes for a dress-up restaurant.

This is the other casino across the street. They are part of the same resort. Actually, the one across the street was the only one, and they needed a bigger one. So they built one across the street from it and built a bridge from one to the other, complete with moving sidewalks. You can go from one casino to the other without ever going outside.

The casino across the street also has a very nice jewelry store there. I'm not allowed to go there anymore.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Best Laid Plans....

I should know by now not to plan things too strictly. I only get frustrated when they don't work out. We are in a casino in Mississippi, and hubby is playing golf. I had it all figured out.......while he was playing golf, I would catch up on my online grading, catch up on my blog reading (but not necessarily in that order), and surf the net for a while before the UGA game comes on. Then I would watch the game in our room, because after all, although I've proven that it IS possible to sit at the three-card poker table for nine and ten hours at a stretch, we also have all day tomorrow to kill with NO GOLF, so I'm pacing myself.

The game, however, is on regional television (THANKS, Vandy, for losing LAST WEEK), and may or may not be carried on the televisions here. If it is, I'll have to sit in the bar. It's relatively..... no, make that completely..... dangerous for me to sit in front of a video poker machine for three and a half hours in a place where the drinks are free. And I don't think you're allowed to just sit there and drink and NOT gamble. That would pretty much put them out of business, I think.

But the internet won't work in our room. Granted, it's a nice room...... I'll post pictures later, because the suite we are in is larger than my first apartment. I wanted to wait until housekeeping comes in first. Nothing more vulgar than posting a picture of an unmade hotel bed. Well, there probably ARE more vulgar things in the world, but..... Whatever.

So I'm sitting in the cafe next to the casino floor using their wireless service. But there are no televisions nearby, and the wireless doesn't extend to the bars. Arrrrggggghhhhhhh!!!!! What a problem-filled life I lead. So here are my choices:

  • Go the bar anyway and hope the game is on. And hope I can win enough to stretch out my time there for the whole time the game is on.
  • Sit in this cafe and follow the game online and hope there aren't customers who actually want to sit down and.....I don't know, eat?.......
  • Scrap the whole ballgame idea and go to the 3-card poker table, where my favorite dealer Penny is probably already on duty.

I've got an hour to decide. Maybe I'll go grade some assignments.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Wicked was.......well.........wicked.

I knew the basic premise of the story, but I didn't expect it to be so damned funny. I'd love to go again. Just not on a school night.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Is it just me, or does anybody else feel OBLIGATED to use all five pieces of a new 5-piece luggage set? I mean, we're just going out of town for the weekend, and I'm trying to think of a use for all five pieces. One is apparently designed to hold a man's shaving things, but hubby is apparently attached to the shaving kit he has used since 1966. Seriously. I'm not making that up.

One piece is perfect for a woman's cosmetics. It has waterproof zippered compartments and a mirror and everything. I feel compelled to use it. But I always use the same shower organizer that I take on bicycle trips, because it has everything I need in it. Extra toothbrush, moisturizer, facial cleanser, lip balm, etc. It's always packed, so I never have to worry about leaving anything. Yet here I am feeling the necessity to unpack it and repack everything in this new bag, because I'm SUPPOSED to use it.

It's like my purse. It has lots of pockets, and I feel like I'm not using it to its full potential if I don't use every single one of them. It has a little pocket on the side designed for a slim cell phone, but my Blackberry won't fit in it. I feel like I am letting it down every time I carry it, because I don't have a cute little slim cell phone to put in that pocket. I have an old cell phone around here somewhere that is the perfect shape. I may put it in that pocket just so it will feel needed.

My book bag has a plethora of pockets, and I went around trying to find things to put in each one of them. It has a pen holder, so I tried to find a pen to put in it. But not my favorite Pepsi NFL pen that I had to steal back from the nail salon, because I'm afraid I'll lose it. I only use the book bag to go directly from my house (where I have plenty of pens) to school (where I have even more pens). So why do I feel obligated to use the pockets?

Perhaps one of those pockets could best be used to carry a little bitty, pocket-sized therapist.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Why I Missed Homecoming My Senior Year.....

First of all, you must know that it wasn't JUST that it was Homecoming. Or our senior year in high school. It was that my BFF Jason was student body president and I was treasurer, and we pretty much put the whole homecoming show on by ourselves. Not that no one else would help......we were just control freaks. Jason was a perfectionist on top of it all, and he was convinced that no one else could do anything as well as he could. In most cases he was right.

I didn't have my own car yet, and it was one of those rare occasions when Mom let me take hers to school. I was under strict orders NOT to drive it to the huge metropolis of.......Athens, Georgia. I could drive it to school and home, but not to Athens. But Jason and I had to pick up decorations. In Athens. And he didn't have his car that day either. So naturally we drove to Athens to pick up the decorations and whatever else we needed to pull off a Homecoming event.

Naturally the car picked that day to blow a hose. Or a gasket. Or something. Whatever. It ran hot, we had to call to have someone pick us up, yada, yada, yada.

I don't remember if this was one of those occasions when Mom "beat me half to death" or not. (I never could figure out that expression......why just half? But it was one of Mom's favorites.) I am certain, however, that she cursed and screamed and then declared that I could not go to Homecoming.

In her defense, let me interject here that Mom had a lot on her plate at this time. My stepfather was dying of cancer, and they had only been married four years. As it turned out, he would die the next week on their fourth anniversary. Life pretty much sucked for her then.

Not only had I been instrumental in putting together the Homecoming activities, I also marched in the band as a member of the drill team. It was a small drill team -- I was 10% of it. And it was our last home game. Of our senior year. And I couldn't go.

So I was slightly upset when I called Jason to tell him I couldn't go to the game, couldn't march, couldn't go to the dance, nothing. No......upset does not do it justice. I was hysterical. Life as I knew it had come to an end. Jason could barely understand what I was saying. In fact, he grossly MISUNDERSTOOD.

Brave soul that he was, and being almost a member of the family, Jason took the desperate measure of coming over to my house to plead with my mother. You don't understand what nerve that took. NO ONE pleaded with my mother. My friends avoided SPEAKING to her if they could. There is a judge in our hometown who is still TO THIS DAY terrified of our mother, and he's now in his 50's. All because of an incident involving Katydid when SHE was in high school. You'll have to ask her about that one.

So here's Jason pleading and me squalling (squawling?) and Mom dealing with a dying husband and my grandmother sitting on the couch pretty much clueless about anything that was going on. And that was BEFORE she had Alzheimer's.

In pretty much a miraculous occurrence, Jason convinces Mom to let me go to Homecoming. But by this time I have been crying for HOURS, my eyes are swollen SHUT, and I don't have time to make myself presentable to perform in front of the tens of people who would be at the game. All right, maybe hundreds. I refuse to go and head off down the hallway to my bedroom. Jason is now pleading with ME, at which point I say, "Look at me!" Meaning that I look so bad that I can't possibly be seen in public.

Let me back up just a tad. Remember when I called Jason and I was hysterical? See, he thought only one thing could have made me that upset. Nothing so trivial as not being allowed to go to Homecoming. He thought my stepfather had died. So before he came to my house he went by the school and told everyone there that Daddy had died. Wait, this gets even worse.

Jason gets to my house, and I'm crying, but I'm the only one. Mom is washing dishes, Grandmother is sitting on the sofa watching television, and no one else is there, not my sisters or my brother or any of my stepbrothers. When Jason follows me down the hall toward my room to try to talk me into going to Homecoming, and I say, "Look at me!" he thinks I said, "Look at him!" At which point he looks into my parents' bedroom and sees my stepfather lying there...............asleep.

In Jason's mind, my stepfather has died, we have left him in the bedroom, and NO ONE HAS BEEN CALLED. Grandmother is watching television, Mom is washing dishes, I'm crying, and the whole damn family has lost its collective mind.

Poor Jason. He had a lot of explaining to do that night. He had to go back to school and tell them that no, my stepfather had not really died, and try to explain why he thought he had. The story became funnier through the years every time we told it. I can still see the look on Jason's face when I said, "Look at me!" and he thought he was looking at a corpse in the bedroom.

But I still didn't get to go to Homecoming.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Strange Injuries......

Luckily, I haven't suffered many injuries in my life. The ones I have had, however, have naturally tended to be strange. I've always been (fairly) active, and you would think that would make me more prone to accidents and injuries. But no, most of the time when I've been hurt, it hasn't had anything at all to do with sports or other physical activities. There was the (I think) broken tailbone when I had a bad landing while skydiving, and another incident in that sport in which I think I was about 8 seconds from death......but that's for another post.

I have dislocated both knees multiple times. The first time was in high school, and I WAS trying out for cheerleading on that particular occasion. Nothing more embarrassing that trying to do your best split in front of half the high school and having your knee pop out of place. The next time I dislocated it I WAS playing softball in a cow pasture, but COME ON.....I merely bent down to pick up the ball. It's not like I was sliding gloriously into second base or anything. I wasn't even in the batter's box. Oh wait.....we were in a pasture. Never mind about the batter's box. Or second base.

The next time I dislocated my knee was the last quarter of my senior year in college. And I stepped off a bus. Seriously. There I was, in front of all those people, and I collapsed to the pavement right in front of the bookstore. On the first day of class. How lucky for me that my classes alternated between North Campus and South Campus. Fifth period South, sixth period North, seventh period South, eighth period (Women's Glee absolute favorite, and I'm NOT being sarcastic this time) North. The campus bus stops could not have been placed LESS conveniently for those four particular buildings. I hauled my arse across the bridge all those times ON CRUTCHES for two weeks. And then with a cane.

I even insisted on going to a UGA football game on crutches, although the doctor did talk me into leaving my leg brace at home. We left the tailgating spot an hour before kickoff (for the life of me I can't remember which friend was kind enough to go with me, but whoever you are I LOVE YOU STILL), and I missed first quarter. Left the game at the end of third quarter, and there was nary a piece of chicken left when I got back. I think they had constructed some new dorms by the time I got back.

I managed a few years injury-free, except for the aforementioned tailbone thing, until Sweet Girl was around 5 years old. As a favor to a friend, I was attending a school event at the middle school where I taught. Naturally I took Sweet Girl along with me, because I thought she needed the cultural experience of a middle school orchestra concert. Whatever. She was at that stage that all children go through, namely collecting bathrooms. Every new place she went, she HAD to use THAT bathroom, because it was a completely new and thrilling experience. She also HAD to bring along a stuffed animal, because that was something else she does. Did. Whatever.

It was a stuffed rabbit on this occasion, and I'll tell you why I remember that. Sweet Girl was sitting on the toilet, probably not doing anything useful, and I was relegated to the job of holding the bunny. (Was I relegated to the job? or was the job relegated to me? I'm too tired to look it up.) Then she needed toilet tissue, and I stuck the bunny BETWEEN MY KNEES and TURNED TO GET THE TOILET PAPER. Very bad idea. My knee popped out, and I hit the floor.

In her defense, Sweet Girl thought I was trying to entertain her. I guess that's the only reasonable explanation for why her mother was suddenly sprawled on the floor in the stall of a middle school bathroom. So she laughed. Hilariously. Uproariously. Until she realized I was crying, at which point she extended her little bitty hand to me and said, while still sitting on the potty, "Here, Mommy.....I hep you up." (Note: she said "hep" and not "help." I'm trying to be historically accurate here.)

The last time (and please, God, DO let it be the last time ever) I dislocated my knee was a couple of years after hubby and I got married. I was mopping the floor, and I still don't know if I stepped in some water in my Keds, or if it would have just happened anyway. There I was AGAIN, lying on the floor and crying in pain. With no one else here. Sweet Girl was at work, hubby was at work. When he got home, hubby was very sweet to fix me an ice pack and fetch my well-used crutches from the basement. When I told him what had happened, he said, "You should have known better than to try something new."

My mother-in-law said it was because I was mopping on Sunday.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Some Cycling Questions.....

Why is it ALWAYS a headwind? We leave from camp and do a loop ride, coming back to the same location. And the wind is ALWAYS in our faces. Hubby says the phenomenon is the same on the golf course.

And something else I've always wondered about. It may have a physiological explanation, but I'm baffled by it.

Why do I hunch my shoulders when I ride? It takes energy to work those muscles. My muscles are already tired. Wouldn't it be better for them if they just relaxed? The more tired I am, the more I hunch my shoulders. Why is that?

I've also heard some of the dancers on Dancing with the Stars be admonished for not relaxing their shoulders. I can understand that.....they're probably nervous. But I'm not nervous on my bike. I'm just TIRED. So why do I use ADDITIONAL energy to hunch my shoulders into an abnormal position? Hmmmm...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Just Plain Old Rough.....

We had to make the decision about which route to take fairly early in the ride. We couldn't decide between 48 and 63 miles. We were going to flip a coin, but we couldn't find one in ANY of the four bags that we have on the tandem. The best we could do was some kind of pill in a blister pack. If it landed pill side up, we were going to ride the 63-mile route. If it landed pill side down, we would ride the 48-mile route. (I think we were both secretly hoping that the weight of the pill would make it land that side down. No such luck.) Even in 25-mile-per-hour winds, it landed pill side up. So we were thereby obligated to ride the longer route. Okay, they may not have been 25-mile-per-hour winds. But they were pretty stiff and brutal, and they hung around all day long. Our total mileage wound up being 64.01. I will defend to the death my right to claim that .01.

You can tell it was a Georgia football Saturday. Here we are with our friend Cathy at a rest stop.
You can tell a man took the picture for us, because he didn't make it from the waist up only.

We stopped to take a picture of this guy. (I guess it's a guy.....I didn't get THAT close.)
He started "gobbling" at me, and I tried to catch it on video. But all you can hear is me imitating him poorly, trying to get him to do it again. I was going to include it here anyway merely in the interest of full disclosure, but I'm not patient enough to wait for a BAD video to load.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Roughing It.....

I was really bent out of shape at not being able to blog last night. I had my laptop in my tent, and there was a wireless network in range, but it was called "apfootball" or something and it required a password and I've never been much good at hacking into networks. I'm doing good to get into my own.

This is where I camped last night. Katydid didn't come down until this morning, so I was alone. I watched another episode of Carrier, and I found that I didn't get nearly as emotional watching it as I did when Sweet Girl was gone for seven months on her own aircraft carrier. It is an awesome series; very real.

I have referred to my tent as a "tentdominium" because it is supposed to sleep 6 or 8 people. I use it alone, or I use it when Katydid is here. I just like it because you can stand up in it, and dressing in spandex is so much easier when you can stand up.
There was a tent behind mine this time, however, that made my tent shrink in shame and cower in fear. I don't have a good shot of it, (it's off to the left in the picture below, but you really can't get a good idea of its size) but it had separate rooms. And I think it had an elevator.

If you look carefully at the front of the tent, you will notice that we sometimes ask the tent to double as a clothesline. It's embarrassed, but it does it anyway.

You have to look carefully, but the picture below shows why we are not camping in the same place tonight. It's right above the roofline of the tent.
See the reddish-brown that shows through the trees? Here, let me give you a better angle.
See the train cars in this shot? Yeah, the train went through approximately every thirty-eight seconds ALL NIGHT LONG. Okay, MAYBE that's an exaggeration, but it's possible that it isn't. I had to move over one time to let the train come through my tent. I had in earplugs, but they only dulled the sound so much.

So this is where we are camping tonight.
It takes care of several issues:

#1 -- It has internet. My idea of roughing it is when you actually have to plug the internet cord into the computer. We have wireless here. I can blog, check on my online students, shop for a Billy Joel CD that has become hopelessly scratched, or check out the college football schedule for tomorrow.

#2 -- It has electricity. I went without my CPAP machine last night for the first time since April. I didn't sleep very well. I kept waking myself up because I stopped breathing. This morning I discovered an electrical outlet on the pole right outside my tent, but I was going to have to go buy an extension cord for it to reach into the tent.

#3 -- It has a bed. Either I brought a defective air mattress, or I exceeded the weight limit on the Coleman inflatable mattress that I brought this weekend. I had to borrow a pump to inflate it, and I woke up with my butt on the cold, hard ground last night.

This roughing it is exhausting work.

This picture is from our ventures around town today. I would put this in the "Big-Old-Bag-of-Duh" File.If you are going to spend the money to have lettering on your window, wouldn't you at least think about having someone proofread it?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Haven't Started Packing Yet.....

I'm leaving tomorrow right after school to go ride a tandem bicycle with my sister for 3 days. I use all of my personal days every year for bicycle rides, and this is the first one this year. I've known for 3 months....actually, longer than that..... that I was going this weekend, and yet I haven't started packing yet.

I was going to put the tandem rack on my car tonight, while hubby is here to help me. But it's pouring rain, so I'll have to do it in the morning. In the dark. Oh well, at least I don't have to load the bike. I'm picking that up from the bike shop on my way out of town. Lord, I hope I don't forget to pick up the bike....

I have brought the tent and my air mattress up from the basement, along with my largest duffel bag. We're actually hoping to "camp" inside, but I'm taking the tent just in case.

I really like the weekend rides, because there is much less pressure in the packing department than for the week-long ride. I'll have my car with me, so I can pack just as much as it will hold. And since it's an SUV and my sister will be coming down Friday morning, I've got LOTS of room. And if I forget something, we can always go to town and buy what we need.

One year I had to go to the local Wal-Mart and buy: underwear, sports bras, a hairbrush, and a boombox. I had stopped on the way to school that morning and made sure I had batteries for the boombox so I could listen to the UGA game on Saturday afternoon. Then I forgot the boombox.

We'll be on the campus of a semi-small college (or maybe it's officially small; I'm not sure), so I'm hoping they have wireless internet. Otherwise we'll have to trek to town and search out a hot spot just so I can post my blogs tomorrow, Friday, and Saturday. Oh yeah, and so I can check on my online students and grade their work.

You never know what the weather is going to be like this time of year for this particular ride. It could be 90 degrees and sunny, or it could be 60 degrees and rain all day. Another thing I like about the weekend rides as opposed to the week-long ride is that we start and end at the same place every day, doing loop rides. That means we can choose anywhere from 12 miles to 60-something. Actually there's the choice of a "century," but we haven't done 100 miles in a single day on the tandem yet. And I don't think we'll be starting this weekend.
Here we are at the end of BRAG last year, along with Sweet Girl who came up from Jax to see us at the end of the road. We had just ridden 400 miles across Georgia in the blazing heat, and we're smiling in this picture. Further proof that we are insane. BRAG ended on Flag Day, hence the flag jerseys.
We always wear matching clothes on the tandem, because.......just because. I think it's a rule for tandems, or maybe a law. I'm not sure. Of course, it just makes people think even MORE that we are a......couple.......instead of sisters. And we don't care. Our shoes don't match in this picture because that's the year I went off and forgot my cycling shoes. (For you non-cyclists out there, you can't just wear sneakers either. Cycling shoes have cleats on the bottom that snap into the pedals, keeping your feet attached. I call them suicide pedals.) Katydid just happened to have her cycling sandals in her car, along with her regular cycling shoes. Luckily we wear approximately the same size. This is NOT the same year I forgot my bras and underwear. Good Lord, hubby may be right about me being scatter-brained.

We are probably smiling in this picture because that was the day that our route took us by the Oreo Cow Farm near Madison, Georgia. The owner greeted us at the gates to his farm with free Oreos......and beer.
But the picture below is my all-time favorite cycling picture. I took it of Katydid from my bike while we were riding on the Withlacoochee Trail in 1999, the only year we did Bike Florida. I took this on a whim, while I was riding, with a disposable camera.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Not a Fan of Halloween....

My neighbors have a huge inflated jack o'lantern in their front yard, one of those that stands up as long as the air is blowing in to it, but looks like an orange discarded hankie on their front lawn when I take the dog out in the morning. When Missy encountered it, we almost had to take her to a kitty psychologist. She is terrified by much smaller things than huge inflated jack o-lanterns.

Two houses on my way to school that are right across from each other have their front porches decorated with strings of Halloween lights.

Another neighbor has a veritable plastic pumpkin garden in her front yard, along with assorted other decorations. The trees with Halloween decorations hanging in them really creep me out.

I don't know why I just don't care for Halloween. I hate it when the students come to school in costume, and I hate it more when the adults join in the "fun." Don't get me wrong....I'm all about fun, and I have been known to participate in the costume business. I just don't LIKE it. For one thing, I'm not very good at it. When we were young and lived in the trailer park, we usually couldn't afford store-bought costumes. So we went as ghosts. With no eye holes, because Mom would never deface a perfectly good sheet. I made that part up, but don't you just love the mental image of us staggering around a trailer park with grocery bags, blind because we didn't have eye holes? If we didn't go as ghosts, we went as hobos. That's easy. Just put on your raggedy "play clothes" that you were supposed to change into when you got home from school. And smear some dirt on your face. So my creativity never extended to Halloween costumes. I'm still crippled by it.

I hate it when Halloween falls on a school day. First of all, the students don't understand why they don't get THAT holiday off from school. These are high school kids, mind you. Halloween just gives them an excuse to be stupider than normal, all in the name of "fun." And I always hear about them going trick-or-treating. They are 17- and 18-year-olds, fercryingoutloud. Then there are the ones that use Halloween as an excuse just to go out and be mean, wreaking havoc and destroying property. Fun. Huh. This year Halloween falls not only on a school day, but a Friday. Good lord.

Wait............that's the day before the Georgia-Florida game. I won't be there! Yippee!!!!

I don't hate Halloween because I think it's a pagan celebration or because I think it breeds evil in otherwise sensible teenagers (the evil is already there, trust me) or because I think it is anti-Christian or any of that. I just can't get my mind around the concept of putting on a costume (or not) and going around begging for candy that they don't need.

Those of you with little kids, I know it's different for you. I did the Halloween thing when Sweet Girl was young. We lived waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay out in the boonies on a dirt road, so I would drive to the most affluent neighborhood in our county and let her trick-or-treat there. It was the safest thing to do. If we had to depend on our own closest "neighbors," she would have come back with a six-pack of PBR and a tin of Skoal.

Then there's that whole Charlie Brown thing. You know the one, where they all go trick-or-treating and Charlie Brown always gets a rock? What's up with THAT? You know all the kids are out trick-or-treating, so it's GROWN-UPS putting rocks in Charlie Brown's trick-or-treat bag. Those bastards.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Planning My Life Away....

Hubby and I have planned our Fall Break to a casino in Mississippi in two weeks. (Whoever came up with the idea of a Fall Break for public schools, I think I'm in love with you!)

We have also planned our Spring Break trip to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. It's the only place we've ever vacationed that hubby said he would like to go back to. He's loved every place we've been; he usually just thinks that with all the places in the world to see, once you've seen one you don't need to go back there. I, on the other hand, would vacation in Aruba every single year.

Katydid and I have planned an April trip to Nashville for the SEC gymnastics championships. Which makes me want gymnastics season to start. And I'm hoping our other sister will go with us too.

I feel like I have just wished/planned an entire year away. Sheesh, we're not even done with college football yet.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Pets Part 2.....

As I mentioned in a previous post, we had not had much luck with cats in our family. When Sweet Girl was a senior in high school, we decided to try again and raise a kitten to be an inside cat. We found an ad in the paper for a free kitten, and she and I went to pick it out. We brought home an adorable ball of fluff whom we named Olivia. Until we took "her" to the vet the first time and renamed him Olive. Hubby called him Brutus, as he had most of our other cats.

Hubby made the mistake one day of saying if we ever got another cat, he would want a little gray and white girl. When he and I returned from vacation in Aruba that same summer, we had a little gray and white girl. Sweet Girl doesn't take casual comments so casually.

I maintain that the gray kitten, whose name is Missy and hubby calls Little Brutus, may have been taken from her mother too soon. She was a bit of a ...... how do I say this politely ....... slow learner. But she's sweet, and we soon had reason to feel even more tender toward her. One day when she was still just a baby, she started acting strangely, even for her. She was hiding from us, and she wasn't eating or drinking. We took her to the vet on a Saturday morning, and he called us soon thereafter. Seems Missy had swallowed some quilting thread, and it was looped under her tongue, with both ends disappearing down her throat. The vet said the first thing he would have to do was x-ray her to make sure there wasn't a needle attached. Ouch. Then he said he would probably have to do surgery to remove the thread, because he couldn't be sure to what degree it had become involved with her intestines.

The surgery was a success, and everything was fine for a while. Missy woke us up one night twitching and spazzing and making some very strange sounds. Hubby thought she was choking on something again, so he (unwisely) stuck his finger in her mouth. What she was actually doing was having the first of many, many epileptic episodes. They always occurred while she was asleep, usually on our bed. What a rude awakening in the middle of the night. She had one once, though, when she was asleep in her window seat, and thudded to the living room floor. Ouch. You know that old saying about a cat always landing on its feet? Doesn't apply during an epileptic seizure.

Her vet said it was not necessary to medicate her unless her seizures became more severe and lasted for longer than a couple of minutes. That's a looooooooooooong couple of minutes when you're watching a cat seize. He also said she wouldn't grow out of the seizures ...... but she has. It's been several years since she had a seizure. Knock on wood.

Olive never really had any health issues, except for what would be called morbid obesity in humans. He weighs more than our dog, Gus. And while Gus is a Pomeranian, he isn't a tiny Pomeranian. Olive is just a ..... healthy boy.

Then one weekend HE began acting strangely. He wouldn't eat .... yeah, that was our first clue .... and he started hissing at us, at Missy, at the world. He wouldn't move. I thought we were going to just watch him die right in front of our eyes. I took him to an emergency clinic on Sunday morning (yeah, that's not cheap), where they x-rayed him and said he had "soft" knees. He had probably jumped off something and dislocated his knee, and it would be an ongoing problem. They sent me home with the x-rays and told me to see our regular vet if he didn't get better.

He DID get better, at least for a couple of months. Then one weekend he started doing it again, and we were able to get him in to our regular vet. I took the x-rays the emergency clinic had taken and dropped him off at the office. The vet called me a couple of hours later, and while he isn't one to display a lot of emotion, he sounded a little incredulous. He was still looking at the x-rays while we were on the phone.

"This cat has a broken hip," he said. "I don't know how they didn't catch that."

He said the only thing to do was surgery, and I okayed it. Then he called me back a little while later, and said, "Uhhhh..... you're not going to believe this. BOTH hips are broken."

We have no idea how an inside cat managed to break both hips. The vet repaired both of them at the same time, and Olive recovered nicely. The vet told me to make a pallet for him in the bathroom and move his food and water in there with him, because it would be a while before he could navigate the stairs again. Olive was back downstairs before I was. He was a little embarrassed, however, at having the hair shaved off his back-end.
To be continued.....

Saturday, October 4, 2008

I Have A Worse-Than-A-Cold........

There really ought to be a better name for this than a cold. When you tell people, "I have a cold," they cluck, say "Oh I'm sorry," and then when you aren't around, they go, "Wuss. Wimp. Pansy." I know this because it's what I say when someone ELSE has a cold.

Unless they are my world's-last-perfect-man hubby, who when I told him I wasn't feeling well, said, "Oh, my poor dear darling, please don't give it to me." Except without the "Oh, my poor dear darling" and "please" part. (Apologies to Pioneer Woman, from whom I shamelessly stole that line. She has thousands of readers; it's not like she's going to wander over here and see that I've plagiarized her.)

There really ought to be a more descriptive term for the way I feel, but not quite as annoying as the old Nyquil commercials about achy feeling, stuffy head, runny nose, scratchy throat, blah blah blah blah. I think it's why so many people say they have the flu when they don't. It just SOUNDS better and generates more sympathy that just a nasty old cold. I'll bet when we have than flu pandemic that they are predicting will hit the U.S. in a few years, it won't really be the flu at all. It'll just be a common cold pandemic. And bird flu? Just the common bird cold.

I felt guilty calling my friend Rozmo and telling her I wouldn't be riding my bicycle tomorrow after all. "I have a cold" just isn't excuse enough to get out of a 66-mile bike ride. I should have said, "I have the flu," but she would have wanted a doctor's note. "My nose is runny, I keep sneezing, my throat hurts, my eyes are swollen, I've been coughing, my sinuses hurt," all sound like poor excuses not to go ride. The coughing was the deal-breaker. It's nearly impossible to ride a bike and cough at the same time, at least without endangering the lives of everyone around me.

If I miraculously feel better at 5:30 tomorrow morning when hubby goes to work, I'll suck it up and go ride. But I hope no one wakes me up at 5:30 and asks if I'm feeling better. There is the distinct possibility that the cold will go downhill and I'll have to call in Monday morning with the flu. Cough, cough.

Friday, October 3, 2008

High School Football......

We live in a county where there was only one high school for....... like forever. Then when Sweet Girl was a junior, they built a new high school and she had to go to the new one. Her life has never been the same, and she blames it on me. (I changed teaching jobs, she could have gone to the one she wanted to if I'd stayed in the county, everything is always the mother's fault.)

Of course when the new school was built, the football team basically sucked, but now they have come into their own. And they are doing very well in the region. Tonight was the annual game between the two schools, held at school #1. Hubby and I went because A) there isn't much to do around here on a Friday night; and B) we could both get in free on my teacher's badge. Besides, the ticket lady was a band mom when I was, so we probably could have gotten in anyway.

We were a little conflicted about which side to sit on. Hubby and his daughter went to school #1, but Sweet Girl graduated from school #2, as will hubby's granddaughter, who is currently in 8th grade. My school has students from BOTH schools, who are technically still enrolled in their "home" schools, so I don't feel a particular allegiance to either one. Or I feel an allegiance to both. Whatever. It's way too confusing to figure out, so don't even try. But one of my co-workers has a child who goes to school #1, and that's the side they were sitting on, so that's where we sat. On the losers' side. It was pretty quickly 28-0 in favor of school #2, and they were making it look easy. Hell, it WAS easy. We left at halftime, when school #1 did manage to score a touchdown....but the extra point was blocked. It was that kind of a game.

On a positive note, there was NO traffic in town, because everybody was either at the football game or breaking into the homes of everyone who was at the football game. (Just kidding, we don't really have THAT big a crime problem. I just thought to myself during the game that it would be a great time to go on a crime spree in our little town, because so many people were at the game, and so much law enforcement was on hand to keep any "riots" from breaking out between the two schools.) We made a stop at CVS to get something for this nasty cold I've got, and the usually annoying traffic downtown was nonexistent.

I've come full circle from high school. My Friday night social life has reverted back to high school football. Only now I'm too paranoid to drink a beer before the game.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Losing a Diamond Ring...

This is one of those "remind me to tell you later" posts that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago....

Fifteen years ago yesterday, I lost my diamond engagement ring. (Don't ask me why I remember the date, I'm just weird with numbers that way. I remember license plate numbers of friends from high school. WHEN we were in high school. But don't ask me where I put my car keys when I got home today....)

Almost just like the weather we had yesterday, it was the first crisp fall morning here in the South, probably the first morning we had to wear jackets. I was a little distracted. Not only because it was Friday, but I was going to buy a new vehicle after school. Alone. Because although I was married at that time, I was mostly single. And a woman was coming to school to talk to me about being an adjunct instructor at our local technical college. I figured I wasn't doing enough already, teaching high school full-time, raising a nine-year-old, coaching the high school swim team, and teaching a Weight Watchers class one night a week (that was before my relapse). For some reason I thought I, welcomed.....the additional challenge of teaching remedial reading at the technical school. Whatever.

Sometime during the day I realized my diamond engagement ring was gone. I didn't panic, not at first. I figured that in my distracted state, I must have neglected to put it on that morning. I got through the school day, stopped and bought a truck that afternoon, took the person who was to become my ex to pick up HIS truck, and then I went home to search for my ring. It was not in the jewelry box. It was not on the dresser. It was not on the sink. It was gone.

When ex came home, I was crying. Uncharacteristically for him, he asked, "What's wrong?"

"I've lost my diamond."

First he thought I said "I've lost my mind," referring to the fact that I had bought him a truck. His misunderstanding was probably closer to the truth.

When he ascertained what I was really upset about, he sort of scoffed. "I'll buy you another one," he said. Yeah right. WHO just bought WHOM a truck? WHO made more money? WHO was now working one full-time and two part-time jobs? But I digress.

In his defense (and I don't do that very often), it's probably the same thing most men would have said. They don't understand. They think if you lose/break/damage/tear up/get tired of something, you just get a new one. An engagement ring isn't something you can replace. Especially not this one. The diamond had belonged to my mother, and because that is my birthstone, she had promised me right out of the womb that I could have it for my sixteenth birthday. That ring was one of my most prized possessions. I had the diamond set into a more contemporary setting when I got married the first time. How gallant of him to offer to replace something that he had no part of in the first place. Here I go digressing again.

I was beyond distraught at the loss of my ring. I had recently lost 50 pounds, and it never occurred to me that I needed to have the ring resized. It hadn't been slipping off, but the cool weather on that morning must have made my finger shrink just enough.

I told everyone who would stand still long enough to listen that I had lost that ring.

I took a day off from school and cleaned the house looking for my ring. I looked under the stove and refrigerator. I pulled back the sides of the waterbed mattress, and if I hadn't been confident that it couldn't have worked its way underneath the rubber mattress, I would have drained the damn thing.

I searched the car and the yard.

I emptied the vacuum cleaner bag.

I examined the inside of the washing machine and dryer.

I was just before accusing ex of pawning it, because I am 99.9% sure he did that with a dinner ring of mine AND my college ring. Hate is such a strong word.......and sometime it isn't nearly enough.

I made an appointment with a hypnotist. I'm not kidding. I knew that it was possible it wouldn't get the ring back, but I was determined at least to find out exactly where and when I lost it. It was going to cost $75 to be hypnotized, and believe me, I didn't have $75 at that time. That's how devastated I was.

Two weeks after I lost the ring, I was sitting in the bleachers of the football stadium watching my swim team members run laps. One of the girls didn't feel well that day, so she was sitting next to me. I was still brooding.

"Are you missing a ring?" she asked, looking at my left hand.

How in the world does someone notice something like that? I'm not a noticer.......except of license plate numbers and random dates.

I gasped. "Yes," I replied, distraught all over again. "How did you know that?"

She shrugged. "I found one in the parking lot this morning and turned it in."

She described the ring perfectly, a center stone with smaller stones on either side, with a thin yellow gold band. She said it appeared to be a little scratched, like maybe it had been run over at least once. I burst into tears, scaring that little girl almost to death.

Two weeks. It had lain in the parking lot of this almost-inner-city high school for TWO WEEKS, and not only had someone A) found it; and B) turned it in but...... C) it was someone I knew who NOTICED I WAS MISSING IT. (She must have been the only person in the entire school I hadn't told at that point.) What are the odds?

She said she had turned it in to the bookkeeper, who had left for the day by the time this conversation took place. I called my sister, boo-hooing to the point that she almost couldn't understand what I was saying. I couldn't sleep that night. I was at school early the next morning, because I knew the bookkeeper arrived early. I tore into her office, teary-eyed and trembly-voiced.

"Did someone turn in a ring to you?"

"Yes," she said. "Was it yours?"

"Yes," I blubbered.

She didn't even make me describe it. She said, "Here you go."

And she took it off her hand.