Saturday, January 31, 2009


I knew our income tax situation this year wasn't going to be pretty. But it was nice just to assume that for a while and not see the cold hard facts in black and white. Or red and green. Whatever.

We usually get a pretty significant refund at income tax time, because we allow the government to take more out of our regular paychecks than they should. We KNOW the conventional wisdom says not to do this. We KNOW we are allowing the government to keep our money for a year without paying us any interest. We KNOW that we could make some interest on it if we put it aside every week/month and saved it.

But we also know we won't do that.

We do commit a pretty significant amount of money to savings anyway, and we really don't mind helping out the government with our measly few thousands every year. They do so much for us. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

We usually take a spring trip with our income tax refund, or occasionally we use it to improve something in the house. One year we used it to put a privacy fence around the swimming pool. But we usually spend it on a vacation.

We knew this year would be different. I went back to my part-time online teaching job, which is considered contract labor and does not have taxes taken out of it. I was smart enough to set aside 1/3 of that pay every month (well, almost every month) with the anticipation of having to pay taxes.

Then we won that damn Harley. Don't get me wrong; I'm not complaining about winning a Harley. But that is also considered "income," and they didn't take taxes out of it either, unlike the folks at The Price is Right who deduct the taxes before you leave the stage.

So we're getting slammed this year with a tax bill of more than a couple thousand dollars. And I really shouldn't mind. We sort of broke even, after all. When we won the Harley, we sold my Honda, and we used THAT money to pay for the trip to the Dominican Republic we're going to take in April. We can pay the tax bill with the money that I set aside just for that purpose, so it all evens out.

It just doesn't FEEL like it.

Friday, January 30, 2009

I Didn't Want THAT Color.....

You know, it's the little things that motivate me sometimes. I wrote a few days ago about my cycling goals for 2009. I want to double my monthly mileage from last year every month except for January (when I had 0 miles) and June (when I had 367.37).

I was determined to get a ride in during the month of January. Not just so I wouldn't have a big fat zero on my log, but also because I realized that in the yearly comparison graphs, I would have a whole new color.

So I went out and rode yesterday just to get a new color. Please don't send the men in white coats to get me yet.

I wasn't really sure I wanted to ride. The weather was beautiful, but it was still a bit cool and slightly windy. I don't DO wind on my bicycle.

I stood in the yard with my hands on my hips, debating whether or not it was really worth it. I already had the bike out and had aired up the tires, so that excuse was gone.

Then I remembered that I would get a new color. That inspired me enough to get on my bike and actually pedal. I use a GPS, so I couldn't just say I rode "about" 10 miles. I actually had to ride.

I have a sweet little route with little traffic (but lots of train tracks, and I managed to get stopped by the same train TWICE) that's just over 10 miles. Perfect for a late afternoon ride. Plus it has this sweet little downhill section where I once reached 37 mph. Yesterday I only hit 33, but I didn't want to go fast because it was COLD! I just realized I used the word "sweet" twice in this paragraph. I don't think that's allowed.

It actually felt good to be on the bike, and I would have ridden longer except I knew that when the sun dipped beyond the tree line, I was going to be miserably cold. Did I mention I don't do cold?

And this is my reward.

See that little blip above the "1" that is of some undetermined color? That shows my mileage for my one and only ride so far in 2009. I was hoping for a vibrant, lively color like the ones for 2006, 2007, and 2008. A sunshine yellow would have been nice. Especially since that is my very favorite color in the whole world. Or a soothing lavender color. Even orange would have been okay, and I do orange even less than I do cold.

I think that little blip has bar graph envy.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Happy Birthday, Nurse Jane.....

Happy birthday today to my eldest sister, Nurse Jane. She only became an RN two years ago, after several other careers in her life, but she has always been a nurse.

She was the one who bandaged my knees and elbows when I was young. When a creepy kid who lived in the same trailer park we did threw one of my shoes into the swimming pool in the dead of winter, Nurse Jane dived into the green, freezing cold water to retrieve it. We didn't have multiple pairs of shoes, and she saved me a serious ass-whipping on that occasion.

I have a distinct memory of a scraped knee when I was probably 5 or 6 years old. I was sitting on the washing machine getting my knee bandaged up, and Nurse Jane was blowing on my knee to take the sting out of whatever evil substance our mother had punished me with. HER sympathy was usually of the you-shouldn't-have-been-doing-whatever-you-were-doing-to-get-hurt variety. In my childlike innocence, I said through my tears, "Jane is the best blower in town."

I was grown before I realized why everyone else fell on the floor laughing hysterically.

Nurse Jane got married when I was only 6, and I had no idea what a honeymoon was. I kept hearing them talk about a honeymoon, and I convinced myself that they were going TO the moon. I remember getting quite hysterical at the reception, because I was sure I was never going to see them again.

I used to spend my summers with Nurse Jane and her kids, and I'm sure there was at least one time she wanted to kill me. Not only did I want to stay up all night and sleep until mid-afternoon, but I wasn't very reliable. (I would later prove to Katydid as well that I wasn't a reliable babysitter.) She and her husband lived waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay out in the boonies, and there wasn't really a lot that could happen to my niece and nephew other than the usual setting the house on fire or swallowing drain cleaner. So one afternoon when I was SUPPOSED to be watching them I sort of dozed off on the sofa instead. My nephew didn't swallow drain cleaner or find any matches to set the house on fire with, but he did find a bucket of tar. Tar. Yes, tar. As in Tar-Baby. As in stuff they pave roads and patch roofs and perhaps put shingles on with. As in stuff that can only be removed from a toddler's legs with copious amounts of gasoline. It's a wonder Nurse Jane speaks to me to this day.

I had a job interview a few years ago with a principal, and I went in there all ready for the questions about discipline in my classroom and how I assess progress and all that malarky. I was ready for it. What I was NOT ready for was the question, "Who are your heroes?" I didn't expect that at all, but I recovered quickly enough to say, "My sister." Mainly because Nurse Jane would have known what to say in that situation.

She always knows the right thing to say. And do. She takes care of everyone in the family, and she can step in and put any disaster to rights. You know that joke about how things would have been different if it had been Three Wise WOMEN who visited Baby Jesus in the manger instead of Three Wise Men? That joke has Nurse Jane written all over it. She would have taken charge and history would have been completely different.

She and Katydid were the ones who kept Mom from killing me when I got suspended from school in the 10th grade. They were my other moms, and I'm so glad I have them in my life.

Happy Birthday, Nurse Jane!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Things I'm Not Very Good At.......

  • Scuba diving -- It's just unnatural to breathe underwater. We've been told all our lives not to do that. I tried to learn many years ago; really I did. We only went down a few feet in a lake, and the people who were on the bank watching our air bubbles said I took two breaths to every one of the other person's. At that rate I figured I could never go down very deep anyway, unless I hauled about 5 spare tanks of air with me, so I said screw it and stuck with skydiving.
  • Skydiving -- I could jump out fine, and most....a lot.....some...... of the time I could land fine, but I just could not hook up with people in the air. And that's sort of what it's all about in the skydiving world. Having 66 solo jumps (okay, a few of them were attempts at 3-ways, but most of them were solo) is sort of like riding in the Tour de France with training wheels. There was that one time that I couldn't find my ripcord..... And on my 13th jump, when I was so freaked out by the number 13 that I wound up hanging upside down under a perfectly good canopy.... And my last jump, when I jumped with a jumpmaster and he was earnestly trying to convey something to me in freefall. I kept getting closer to him, trying to understand his wide eyes and his hand motions. Seems he was trying to tell me to "PULL!!!!!!!!!!!" He pulled my ripcord for me, the ultimate embarrassment in skydiving.
  • Hiding my emotions -- If I like you, you'll be able to tell. And if I can't stand you, you'll be able to tell. And if I'm pissed off or excited or depressed or angry or worried or pensive or confused you'll be able to tell too, because I just cannot hide my feelings. I would be great testifying under oath, but I would be terrible at poker. Except 3-card poker, where it really doesn't matter if you jump off your stool because you got a straight flush.
  • Keeping my desk clean -- It doesn't matter if I start out with a pristine desk and can actually see the wood (or whatever my desk is made of; I'm really not sure), in no time at all it will be covered with stacks of papers and books and tardy slips and lunch order forms and print-outs of every draft of a project I'm attempting to post on my wiki. I occasionally make an effort to put everything in file folders, but pretty soon they're scattered all over my desk too. I rarely lose things; it just sometimes takes me a while to find something specific.
  • Keeping my house clean -- Don't get me wrong, it's not filthy or anything. I keep the laundry done and actually fold it (most of the time) and put it away (all of the time if it gets folded), and I wash the dishes every night, and I make up the bed every morning. We don't have clothes lying all over the place, but we do have a considerable amount of clutter. I sweep and vacuum and mop occasionally, but not every week. We tend to put things down in the nearest place, and that is often the kitchen table. Luckily the table seats four and there are only two of us. That means the other two places hold neat piles of mail and other stuff that needs to be dealt with but just not right away. The piano also lends itself to things getting put on it, like the instructions and the stand for the Wii. At least they hide the dust. Sort of.
  • Getting to school on time -- That's a new one. I have always been the kind to get to school at least 30 minutes before I had to be there. The most punishing school schedule I ever had required teachers to be at school at 6:50. And I was usually there at 6:20 or 6:30 at the latest. Now I don't have to be there until 7:45, and I've been rolling in around 8:00. It's not that I'm lazy or I'm watching television or wasting time, either. It's that I usually convince myself that I can do JUST ONE MORE THING before I head out. Grade one more online assignment. Read one more blog. Try the slalom ski activity on the Wii Fit one more time. Crochet one more row. Read one more page in a book. So I cram all this activity into my morning, and then when I should be making last-minute preparations for departure, I'm getting in the shower. Then it's make-up, hair, dress (if I don't have to throw ironing in there somewhere), and oh crap, I need to make something for lunch. When did I turn into this person? I feel guilty, and it's not even like I'm shirking my duty or anything. Our students don't report until 8:45, so I'm not leaving them standing in the hall waiting for me or anything. I keep telling myself I'm not going to be late, and then I just can't make myself stop whatever I'm doing and get going.
  • Asking for help -- I'd rather kill myself trying to do it alone, thank you very much.
  • Multi-tasking -- Uni-tasking is often more than I can handle. I used to think I could multi-task, but either I've changed or I was just lying to myself. I did once manage to transpose a piece of music to a different key WHILE I was playing it on the piano AND harmonizing during a church service, but that was a fluke.
  • Saying the right thing in stressful situations -- I can always think of something brilliant that I SHOULD have said, but the necessary words just don't come when they should.
  • Giving advice -- I can listen and sympathize, but I really suck at telling people what they should do in a given situation. I don't know if it's because I feel unqualified based on the sheer number of screw-ups I've had in my life or if I don't want to be the one to blame if things don't go well.
  • Knowing when to end a blog post.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Some Randomness from My World....

A couple of random, unconnected things from my world today....

First, a funny story from a student. Not one I'm particularly fond of (I guess it's okay to admit that), but she made me laugh so hard today I almost cried.

Students in the last class of the day started talking about different whippings they got from their parents as children. Of course I had to interject my story about my mother spanking me with the butcher knife.

But this one girl said:

"My grandma would chase me with a broom handle. I learned to run to a part of the room where her oxygen tank wouldn't reach."

Oh my God, the mental image of that.


When I got home, we had junk, direct mail advertising (we're not supposed to use the term "junk mail" in our family) from one of the local funeral homes.

Seriously? Advertising funeral services? And really, just how does a funeral home compete? Do they bundle their services like the phone company? Offer interest-free financing for 18 months? Tell people to call in the next 20 minutes and they'll throw in a handy slicer-chopper-dicer-shredder-origami machine? Offer a 100% money-back guarantee? Have a price war, like some gas stations? That would be pretty funny. "I don't really need any right now, but I'm gonna pull in and top 'er off just 'cause it's so cheap."

I know the economy is bad all over, but I don't think THEY have to worry about business falling off. Or going under.

I'm hilarious.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Navy for Moms.....

Sweet Girl sent me a link a couple of months ago to a website called Navy for Moms. As you might have guessed by its clever but oh-so-subtle title, it is a website for moms whose children are in the Navy. They are a warm and friendly bunch, and I immediately felt welcome and a part of this huge family.

I have only joined two groups so far: Moms of Daughters in the Navy (which is listed as "Mom's of Daughter's and I almost didn't join because I am a grammar snob and can't possibly be a member of a group who so blatantly misuses apostrophes) and Georgia Moms. The Georgia moms got together for lunch this past Saturday (well, some of them anyway), and although I'm not usually all about going somewhere where I won't know a soul, I enjoyed it tremendously.

It struck me as I was driving home that none of us talked about what WE do for a living. Some of the dads were there, but the talk was all about the kids. I was one of only two there who have daughters in the Navy, and I was the one whose child has been in the longest. Yet most of the other moms seemed to know a lot more than I do. I'm going to chalk that up to their being moms of sons, who are by nature reluctant to hand out details, and therefore the moms have to do a lot of research on their own if they want to know anything.

Sweet Girl tells me a great deal, but the information she shares usually has a lot of letters in it that don't make real words, so my eyes tend to glaze over a lot. "My LPO told my XO that I need a BAH form, but no one seems to be....."

I wish I had known about this website when Sweet Girl first signed up. I might have known how to handle it better when she decided a month after signing that she wasn't going. We talked to her recruiter, who said they actually wouldn't MAKE her go if she really wanted to back out. That was news to us. And we kept it to ourselves.

Because we thought that since she had made a commitment with full disclosure, she needed to honor it.

Two weeks before her ship date (I TOLD them giving her seven months to think about it was a bad idea), I went to the recruiter's office with her and pretty much sat there until she agreed to go.

I felt like a terrible mother. What kind of person insists that her only child go off to serve in the military during wartime? I wonder how often that kind of thing happens? It would have been nice to have others to bounce my conflicting emotions off of during that stressful time. Oh, and never mind I was also working on my doctorate. The day I left her at the recruitment center and drove away, I thought the world might come crashing down. But that day actually came a couple of weeks later, when a box arrived at our house and it contained the clothes she had been wearing when I dropped her off.

Another time I could have used a cyber support group was in the fall of '07, right before Sweet Girl was deploying to the Persian Gulf for seven months. It happened that she was leaving just a few days after the annual Georgia-Florida football game, for which tickets come at a premium and during which there are NO PLACES to stay in Jacksonville. At least not ones that mere mortals can afford. I thought it was excellent that my child had a new condo in Jacksonville. She wanted to go to the game, so I bought tickets ON EBAY, FOR GOD'S SAKE for the two of us.

Then two weeks before the game, she decided she didn't want me to come.

"But what about the tickets?"

"Oh, you can just sell them."

Screw that. It's the game of the year. Everybody wants to go to that game. I'm not selling my tickets.

But I clearly had no place to stay. She didn't want to see me before the ship left. In her words, she "didn't want to see me get emotional."

But what about the football game? Really, I'm not the emotional sort, unless it comes down to not going to a football game that I really wanted to go to.

There was no budging her. Little twit. I definitely was NOT calling her Sweet Girl right then.

Katydid bailed me out and said she would go to the game with me, and we drove the six hours down there the morning before the game. There I was, in the same town as my only child, and I didn't get to see her. Katydid and I had a wonderful time, and it was worth every minute of the drive, because FOR ONCE we beat Florida and it was nice to be able to drive home with the flags still on the car. Instead of hiding them under the floormats, which is what we had to do this past year.

But I couldn't get over the fact that my child didn't want to see me. It felt a lot like when my college boyfriend broke up with me. I couldn't get either of them to tell me why. (I should have gotten even with him and made HIM her father.)

We did talk in the few days leading up to her departure, but I was still depressed and hurt and mad and sad and confused and frustrated and full of self-doubt.

She called me at school at 8:00 AM on the day her ship was leaving and said, "They've just closed the doors." I wasn't ready.

And although I was surrounded by friends and family who supported me and sympathized and wanted to swim out into the Atlantic and jump on that aircraft carrier and beat her little butt, it would have been nice to have a support group of moms who had been through that kind of thing before.

I'm keeping that group bookmarked, because I'm almost certain it's not the last time she'll break my heart.
That's my girl, in the middle, manning the rails when the USS Harry S. Truman returned from seven months in the Persian Gulf, June 2008.

I swore I wouldn't be there when the ship returned, but of course I was. Because moms just have to get over it. Navy moms included.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Cycling Goals for 2009......

I use an internet cycling log (of course) to keep track of my mileage every year. It's very motivational to compare each month (or even week) to where my mileage was this time last year and the year before that and the year before that. I could put in my data from 2005, but that's just way too much trouble.

In 2007, my goal was 2000 miles and I missed it by TWO MILES!!!! On December 31st, I told Hubby I was going to ride my bike up to the middle school and back just to get my miles in. But it was raining and visibility was poor, and I decided it wasn't worth getting dead just to say I had met my mileage goal.

I didn't do nearly that well last year. My total for the year was just over 1000 miles (sigh). And over a third of that was on BRAG, so it's not like I was busting my butt (pun intended) in any given month.

So my goal this year is to double my monthly mileage, with the exception of two months: January and June. I didn't ride any at all in the month of January last year, so doubling nothing won't get me any progress. In June I rode 367.37 miles (you bet I'm counting those 37 hundredths), and it might be tough to double that. Still, if I do 5 out of the 7 days of BRAG and Katydid and I manage to ride in GOBA (that means we can't take the layover days off, Katydid. I'm just sayin'), I guess I could potentially double that one too.

But I really need to get a ride in during the month of January, even if it's a short one. And I've only got this week left. Saturday I'll be in Atlanta from 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM, and I doubt I'll feel like taking a little spin by the time I drive home.

Maybe a late afternoon ride when I get home from school one day this week. Yeah, that's really gonna happen.....

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Numbers Game....

I don't consider myself particularly superstitious, but I play games with numbers all the time.

It started when I was a teenager, when my cousin and I started making wishes when the digital clock read 11:11. Consider that this was when digital clocks were relatively new. If you're younger than 40, shut up.

Then I transferred it to my bicycling. I don't make wishes, but I consider it a good sign (of what, I don't know) if I look down and catch my bicycle computer at the 11.11 mile mark. Then I decided I could have other lucky/good karma/wish-making numbers if I wanted to. I mean, it's my retarded game, I can have all the rules I want to. So I started including the number 407, because that's my birthday. If I get off the elliptical or the treadmill and I've burned 407 calories, my first thought is that because I hit the lucky number, I might actually lose a pound or three. My second thought is that I'm dripping in sweat and my face is tomato-red.

One time on BRAG I rode a century by myself. Not alone as in I was the only person riding it, but I didn't have a riding partner. So I spent the time by playing numbers games. Cycling is such a mental thing, and it helps to have something to think about besides the fact that you once thought it was a big deal to ride 10 miles, and now you're going to do that 10 times. On that century ride, I happened to catch the odometer at 11.11, 22.22, 33.33, 44.44, 55.55, 66.66, 77.77, 88.88, and 99.99. It's not a huge deal, but it felt like an accomplishment to me. It's not like you look at your odometer all the time. And it's not like if you miss it you can go back and reverse the odometer.

I realize some of you are thinking I'm on crack at this point. That's okay.

One reading I do NOT like to see is one with three 6's in it. I've never ridden my bicycle that many miles, but I don't like to look see the computer when I've ridden six miles and 66 hundredths. Note that I don't even like to type it.

This thought that next one, seemingly random, are actually connected. Just in case you haven't already given up and gone on to other less insane topics.

Today we had one of those lovely days that we often get here in Georgia during January and February: beautiful sunshine, and temperatures in the 60's. I was gone most of the day to a Navy for Moms luncheon (more on that later), but when I got home there was still plenty of warmth, sunshine, and daylight left.

I couldn't resist, so I got the Harley out. It was the first time I've been on it since Thanksgiving, and I wasn't absolutely sure it would even crank on the first try. It doesn't have a choke, so I didn't know how to crank it if it seemed too sluggish. Not to worry -- it fired right up as if I had ridden it only yesterday.

I wasn't going far; just a short ride to feel the wind and satisfy my need for speed. Which I rarely get on my bicycle, mind you.

I noted that the odometer on the Harley read 663 miles when I started out. I made a note to self not to look at the odometer until I had ridden at least 4 miles. Just not to take any chances.

But sometimes I don't listen to my notes to self. I looked down at the odometer, and it read three 6's. The evil number. Sign of the devil.

Like I said, I'm really not that superstitious. But I do avoid that number if I can. Call me crazy. Again.

I said to myself, out loud, "I really didn't need to see that." I'm especially reluctant to invite bad karma when I'm riding my motorcycle. I figure I'm already taking enough chances as it is.

So I told myself not to look at it anymore.

Only I did. Two times. Three. Four. Five. Six. Oh God, there's that number again. I don't know how that mile stretched out that far, but it seemed like it would never change over.

I finally arrived safely back at home. Bad karma and all. Happily, I will never have to worry about seeing THAT number again. On this motorcycle, anyway.

And this is one of those blog entries that I'm tempted to erase completely rather than post.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Nothing Like a Perfect 10.......

Unless you're Courtney Kupets, and then you get TWO perfect 10's in one night. The girl is just awesome. A perfect 10 on uneven bars, and then a 10 on balance beam. Seems to me that balance beam would be the hardest place to get a 10. She's back this year after missing most of last season with a ruptured Achilles tendon, and it's like she never was gone. She picked right back up where she left off. Wow.

Grace Taylor came close to having her own 10 on beam, but it was a 9.975. A 10 from one judge, but 9.95 from the other.

And on top of that, it was a win, and an SEC win over a team who loves to hate us. And the feeling is mutual. Our coaches hate each other, and it's always a scrappy meet.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Jobs I Didn't Wind Up With.....

When I was an undergrad, I said there were two things I would never do: 1) I would never be a teacher; and 2) I would never go to grad school.

I graduated from college and made about $5.00 an hour as a medical transcriptionist at the college veterinary school. What a great way to put my degree to work!

My bachelors degree was in English. Not education, because I was never going to be a teacher, but just English. You know, the degree you can get just for reading a bunch of books, sitting around discussing said books (if you actually read them), and writing some papers.

What, pray tell, does one do with an English degree? Besides the obvious career path of medical transcriptionist, I mean.

I started college with the idea that I was going to go to medical school and be a pediatrician. That's a goal of most middle-school students, but they usually grow out of it and start thinking of something they are really suited for. Not me. I carried that baby all the way to college, into the Honors Program.

I had just turned 17 two months before, and I started college 10 days after my high school graduation. I had a diploma but no sense.

When I met the esteemed Mr. College Calculus, my ideas about medical school were pretty much over. As was my brief tenure in the Honors Program. Even if I had survived calculus (whatever the hell it is, anyway) and college chemistry (the periodic table still makes no sense to me) and a Friday afternoon chemistry lab from 3:30 - 6:30 (weren't they aware of my busy social life?), I never would have survived medical school. I didn't have the drive, the ambition, the cut-throat nature of that kind of competition. Oh I could do it now......I would THRIVE in that environment now. But not then.

I toyed briefly with the idea of a journalism major, because I enjoyed writing and my high school teacher told me I was good at it. One of my first English professors told me I sucked at it and I might want to think about a different major and maybe even a different university in a different state. Not really, but he really hurt my feelings.

I thought I would major in journalism with a focus on magazines and move to New York City and become some editor-type person and continue my busy social life. It's still not out of the question, although I'm going to have to find some New York City bars where I can find a lot of partying action before 8:00 PM. I've still got to adhere to my bedtime.

The one career that I still hold out hope for, however, is a writer. I have this book in my head that I think about every night (almost) before I go to sleep. I develop the characters, keep the plot moving, work out some conflicts. It's changed a lot over the past 10 years or so, and I'm always sure it will sell. Maybe even be developed into a movie. And they'll ask me to consult on the screenplay, and I'll be there at the Oscars, thanking Roger Bailey (my high school English teacher) and telling that college professor to go to hell.

The problem is that I can only "work" on this novel while I'm lying in bed in the dark. And I can't figure out how to type like that. Sitting up, in the light of day, it's gone.

Maybe I should just file that one with the pediatrician and the magazine editor.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Crazy Dream #2.....

Last night I dreamed (dreamt? I hate that word) that I was riding a bicycle with one of my students, whom I'll call KK. I suppose we were riding the tandem, and Katydid will be pretty pissed that I let someone else be my stoker, even in a dream.

I have no idea where we were, but there was a huge DOWNhill. And it led to an even steeper downhill. And the road merged with another road on a blind curve, and we went flying down the hill and into the other road without me even being able to see whether or not a car might have been coming. The pavement was wet.

I remember screaming to KK, "Hold on!" As if she had a choice of doing anything else.

I told KK about my dream today at school. I think she went to get her schedule changed.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Brother Bobby......

I know events of today have a huge historical significance, and I feel somewhat guilty that I'm not writing about those. I also feel somewhat unqualified to write about them. I'm not very politically aware, nor do I usually care very much who happens to be sitting in the Oval Office. I pretty much feel sorry for all of them and wouldn't take that job on a dare.

But today would also have been my brother Bobby's 57th birthday.

I can't even fathom that. You would have to have known him to know how impossible it would be to picture him at 57. And I didn't know him very well.

Bobby went to Vietnam. Willingly. In fact, he wanted to go so desperately that because he had a kidney disease that might have kept him out of the Marines, he had a friend give his urine specimen. In one of life's great ironies, our mother later married the father of that friend, so his urine donor would have been his step-brother. If Bobby had lived.

In another of life's great ironies, Bobby came home safely from Vietnam, only to be killed in a motorcycle accident the following year. He was exactly two months from being discharged from the Marines, and he was looking forward (as I remember it) to getting on with his life. I think as desperately as he wanted to get IN the Marines, he was eager to get out. Disillusioned, perhaps, or maybe just tired of it all.

I was only 11 years old when Bobby died, so some of these memories are jumbled up mixtures of misunderstandings in some cases and being too young to understand in others.

Some details of that day, however, are imprinted on my mind with a branding iron.

We had just moved into a new rental house the day before, my mom and I. She had finally left the abusive bastard she dated for four years and only stayed married to for eleven months. I remember people being in and out of the house, sisters and brother and aunt and uncle, only I really wasn't paying much attention to the goings-on because I had discovered a creek out behind the house.

It was June, and I was wading in the creek. Wearing a red dress with white polka dots that came down to my ankles. This was in the early 70's when mini-skirts were all the craze, which makes it all the more retarded that I was wading in the creek in an ankle-length dress.

I must have processed some of the comings and goings, because I looked up and noticed that my sister, who had just left our house headed home to hers, was back. I don't know why that struck me as strange, but it made me curious enough to leave the creek and go back to the house.

When I came in the back door, it seemed that everything and everyone just froze. They all stared at me for a minute, and then there was a flurry of activity.

My aunt was making me take off the ridiculous long dress and put on something else. It was a brown dress with a plaid bodice, and it was the butt-UGLIEST article of clothing you would ever want to see. I would have looked much less ridiculous in the granny number I was wearing in the creek. Maybe she thought it was a costume or something. She couldn't find my shoes, and she said never mind, I could just go barefoot.

I should have known then something was terribly wrong.

Only the basest of people went out in public barefoot.

We went to the hospital, and I guess somewhere along the line I ascertained that Bobby had been in an accident. He had wrecked so many cars in my young life that I don't remember being particularly surprised or upset that it had happened again. I was just annoyed that when we got to the hospital, they said only my mother and one male relative could see him. Nurse Jane became almost hysterical at that, so I knew better than to ask if I could go. I was way down the pecking order from her, and if she couldn't go, I knew I didn't have a prayer.

The waiting room was packed with people I knew. Then I heard Katydid on the phone with our father, trying to make him understand. I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing he was drunk, because Katydid got frustrated with him.

Then I heard her say, "Daddy, Bobby is dead." And she said something about a motorcycle.

I thought in my 11-year-old brain, "Now that's just wrong. Telling the man his son is dead just to get him to come to the hospital. She has stooped to a new low."

So when she got off the phone, I asked, "Why did you tell Daddy that Bobby was dead?"

Katydid was very puzzled. After all, I'd been right there the whole time. "But he IS dead."

And that's when I knew.

See, there was a reason for the confusion. Grown-ups don't tell kids everything, and rightfully so. I only knew the bits and pieces I had picked up from the snatches of conversation I'd heard that day.

Bobby had also been in an accident the night before. He totaled two cars, both of them his. He was driving one of his cars home from Camp LeJeune and he was towing another one. Somewhere around Columbia, South Carolina, the tow bar broke and flipped both cars. Daddy had to go get him in the middle of the night, and I remember hearing Daddy say later that when he saw the condition of those two cars, he wondered how anyone escaped alive.

Less than 24 hours later, Bobby was dead. He was trying out a motorcycle his friend had just bought, only intending to ride it around the block. He was wild and reckless and a daredevil, and I'm sure he was probably doing something foolish or careless or just plain stupid. Or maybe it just wasn't his weekend.

He was only 20.

The last words he ever spoke to me were on the telephone. He said, "See ya, Fats."

And that's okay.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Epiphany, and Not the Good Kind...

I went to an aerobics class this morning just for the sake of taking a break from the treadmill/elliptical routine. Doing the same old thing every day, I just felt like I was on a..... treadmill.

Woo hoo, I can hardly stand myself I'm so funny.

I hadn't taken a class from this particular instructor before, and I wasn't sure I was going to like her. She kept forgetting the steps and having us start the sequence over. I know it shouldn't bother me, because we're going to keep moving for the entire 60 minutes. It's not like if we get it right we can go home early; that's against the by-laws of aerobics. But at the end she DIDN'T say, "Okay, grab a mat and we'll finish up with some abs." Therefore I decided I liked her very much.

That has nothing to do with this post and I don't care.

I was really getting into the routine, stepping high and kicking like the skinny girls, swinging my arms, and wishing my face weren't beet red before we finished the warm-up part. I was burning those calories, swinging my arms and.... oh, I already said that.

Swinging my arms..... that's when I went, "Whew, something really stinks."

That's when the epiphany occurred.

I had forgotten to put on deodorant this morning.

Now before you go crucifying me for forgetting that absolutely necessary item, remember that I am a creature of routine. And I was out of my routine this morning. I did get up at the usual 5 o'clock when Hubby got up to go to work. But I didn't shower at my usual time. I mean really, who showers BEFORE going to an aerobics class? And I always put on deodorant after my shower.

Anyway, a decent person would have left the aerobics class and gone home to rectify the situation. But I was the (ahem) largest person in the class, and I didn't want any of the others to think I left because I couldn't hang with them. Beet red face and all.

So I stuck it out. I just did the rest of the class with my arms pinned to my sides. But I still jumped and kicked with the best of them.

I'm sure I resembled the Irish Riverdance people doing aerobics. On crack.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Hubby's Sensitive Ears....

And no, I don't mean in an erotic way.

He really likes least he likes the music he likes. He's a genius when it comes to old, old, OLD country music. He can hear just a couple of bars of a song and tell me the name of the artist and the song immediately.

But if he doesn't like it, he won't tolerate it. He's a button-pusher in the car. He particularly doesn't like the female "country" singers of today because they, in his opinion, do nothing but scream. There are times I have to agree with him.

Unless he's at a live sporting event, he refuses to listen to the national anthem. (The only exception is when Billy Joel sings the national anthem at the Super Bowl, when I put my foot down. Did you know that Billy Joel is the only person ever to have sung the national anthem at TWO Super Bowls? Just thought I'd throw that in there.)

He's not un-American or anything. He just hates it when the singer drags it out for fifteen or twenty minutes and adds in notes that don't belong there. I have to agree with him on that one.

The other exception is if the national anthem is being played by a solitary trumpet or is being sung by a young child. Or perhaps a group of children. He's a sucker for children. He doesn't want any more children; he just adores them. And they adore him.

Tonight I was getting dinner ready just before the Pittsburgh-Baltimore game kicked off, and I heard the stadium announcer ask the audience to please rise for Martina McBride to honor America blah blah blah blah.

I heard Hubby from the living room, "No, no, no, no, no, no, not on my television, not in this lifetime" and I had to laugh. Not only was it the national anthem, but it was being performed by one of his least favorite "screamers." When I begged him to turn it back on after a sufficient length of time, he bet me two dollars she was still dragging it out. (They were in a commercial break and he owes me two dollars now.)

The picture below is one of my favorites. We were at the racetrack in Charlotte (if I do go to Hell, my punishment is going to be watching NASCAR endlessly), and Hubby couldn't stand the noise. He put his fingers in his ears. The race hadn't started yet; the American Idol folks were singing. He would never sit down during the national anthem, nor would he keep his cap on. He may hate some singing, but he's not completely uncouth.

I wish you could see all of his legs. Those are the sexiest man legs I've ever known.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Houston, We Have a Problem....

Seven people on treadmills today (I tried the elliptical and LOVED it).

Three of them were watching the Food Network.

I think we may be getting to the root of the problem.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Customer "Service".........

I usually try not to be too hard on people who work in the retail business. I know with the economy the way it is that a lot of people are grateful for any job they can get, and they may not be in what they consider their life's work.

And I usually try NOT to say exactly what is on my mind, even when I'm frustrated. I usually smile politely and make faces behind their backs when they can't help me.

This evening Hubby and I were at a large home improvement store where the dominant color is orange, the product of the weather having been too cold for hubby to play golf today. He sat at home and A) thought of things WE could do to the house; and B) thought of ways to keep me from sitting down and having a nap when I came home from school today.

It is dangerous for me to go to the big orange home improvement store, because I want a new everything. I don't really want to make improvements; what I really want is a new house. But every time I mention a new house, Hubby asks either "Will you write?" or "Will you come visit?" and I give up in frustration.

Tonight's quest was for new faux wood blinds for our bedroom. We have them in the living room, and I love the way they look. So much better than the cheap vinyl ones that have been in our house probably since Jimmy Carter was in office.

Hubby being Hubby, he found some blinds just like what we wanted on the Clearance rack. There was nothing wrong with them; they had been cut to a customer's specifications and therefore were discounted.

But we couldn't figure out what "Clearance" or "Discounted" meant in real dollars. We could find the regular priced blinds, but we had no idea just how much the Clearance ones were.

So we called over a helpful lady in her orange apron. In response to our question, she said, "I don't work in this department, so I don't know. But if they're marked, I can figure it out."

I couldn't help it. The words were out before I could stop them. I didn't mean to be mean or sarcastic, although both come somewhat naturally to me at times. Particularly the sarcasm.

"If they were marked," I replied, "we could figure it out ourselves."

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bad Day or Bad Decisions......

I have been wondering lately whether we really just have bad days or if sometimes we CREATE bad days. Obviously some things can't be helped, but I think there are times when we compound things by the way we respond/react to them.

One thing that is certain to create a bad day (or afternoon) for me is to get out of my routine. We only had a half-day with students today, so we spent the afternoon scheduling. By 3:45 we were quite punchy -- and not finished with scheduling. And I forgot to go pick up the sullen teenager who is my husband's granddaughter.*

Luckily we only live a mile from her school, so hubby was more than willing to go pick her up. And I was able to text her and let her know he was on his way.

Then my car went all retarded, which it isn't really allowed to do since it isn't PAID FOR YET. Where the odometer SHOULD show, it had this weird message about isobars and Apgar scores. Not really, it said "TEST." Okay, do I need a #2 pencil or what? When I pushed the "Reset" button, it scrolled through about a gazillion things that might have been written in Swahili, and at one point it gave me a part number. And it wouldn't stop scrolling through all those things.

So now I'm not only leaving school later than usual, I have to stop at the Ford place to have them check on my car.

Which would be a lovely time to run down to the Y, which is adjacent to the dealership, and get my exercise in. Only I didn't plan ahead and bring my clothes. I know, I know, you can't plan car trouble, but I had sort of thought about stopping by the Y anyway. So I have to just sit and watch the coverage of the plane that went down in the Hudson River today and listen to the news anchors speculate on how bad it COULD HAVE BEEN if a gazillion things had been different. They seemed disappointed that there was no carnage to report. They rank right up there with Mr. Weatherman in my book. Except for Robin Meade, who is the Queen of television news. But I digress.

Not too many things drive me madder than having to sit somewhere and wait. If I go to get my oil changed, I take a book. Or my crocheting. Or my laptop. But not having planned this particular trip to the dealership, I had nothing with which to pass the time. I can only play so many games of Brickbreaker on my Blackberry and consider it time well spent.

I won't bore you with ALL the details of my afternoon/evening, because when I started this blog I swore to myself it would not turn into a this-is-what-I-did-today blog.

I decided to prepare dinner first (black bean soup and cornbread - yum) and then go BACK to the Y (where I had practically just come from, remember), during which the following occurred:

  • I dropped the food processor blade down the front of my off-white blouse as I was removing the BLACK BEANS from the processor. Today was the first time I'd worn that blouse.
  • I put a bowl in the sink to run water in it and turned around to stir the soup, not noticing that the bowl was A) sitting above the rim of the sink; and B) tilted backward toward the faucet. If you're wondering just how far water can chase itself, the answer is the full length of the kitchen cabinets. BEHIND everything.
  • I put on my sneakers in preparation for my treadmill session to come, not noticing that they were still bearing several pounds of dirt/sand from my walk in the park yesterday. I only noticed it after several laps around my kitchen. Which has a white tile floor. If you're wondering just how many square feet of kitchen floor you can get dirt on while preparing dinner, the answer is every single one.
I'll be the first to admit that none of these incidents is life-threatening or horrible or even really worth blogging about.

I caught myself wanting to throw up my hands and say, "Oh GREAT! This day just SUCKS!"

But I stopped myself.

Because the whole day didn't suck. Besides, some of these things happened because I was trying to hurry and adjust my day after the routine had been disrupted. And I was too stubborn to, say, pick up a Subway sandwich on the way home from the Y and forget about the black bean soup.

Hence my theory that sometimes we create our own bad days.

Tomorrow I plan to create a good one.

*She's not really that sullen, compared to a lot of other teenagers. But she is 14, so everyone and everything is "stupid." At least they're not "stewpid." And it's not that I don't consider her my granddaughter too. But my step-daughter is only 8 years younger than I am, so it's hard for me to feel like a real grandparent.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Not a Responsible Baby-Sitter.....

Something someone said at school today reminded me of this story. Katydid may not remember it, and it's pretty risky for me to remind her. It's not too late for her to kill me.

I was babysitting her son on New Year's Eve. That means he was seven months and two days old, and I was all of sixteen. I considered myself responsible and mature and dependable. Hah!

My friends Jason and.......I think his name was Ron....... came over to Katydid's house to see me, since I couldn't go out and celebrate New Year's with them. Only their car slid off into the ditch at the end of Katydid's looooooooooooooooooooooooong driveway. They tried to get it out of the ditch but they couldn't, and somewhere in the middle of all of this they took off their shoes and walked up the driveway to get me. They had rolled their pants up to their knees, and their legs were COVERED in mud. It was freezing cold outside.

I had to take them somewhere, although it's a little fuzzy as to where I was supposed to take them. Somewhere to get another car, I suppose. I don't think they were drunk; neither of them could drive worth a hoot on a GOOD day.

So I bundle my nephew up in his little snowsuit, put his car seat in the back seat of my car, and haul these two guys somewhere in the middle of the night on New Year's Eve. He looked like a miniature Michelin man in that snowsuit. Bundled up, all strapped in, and the only things he could move were his eyes. He didn't cry or anything. And luckily he couldn't talk yet, or I'm sure he would have asked me, "What the hell are you THINKING, taking me out in the middle of the night?"

I took Jason and maybe-Ron wherever they needed to go and headed back to Katydid's house. I was a mile away when..........she intercepted me at the gas station about a mile from her house. Damn! So close! She had seen my car and, rightfully so, stopped to see what the hell was going on. Personally, I would have killed me. I would have dragged me out of that car and beat me unmercifully. I would have cried and cursed and said in our mother's best voice, "HOW could you be so STEWPID?" (Because our mother can say that word with more venom than any curse word. I think she'd rather us be criminals than "stewpid.")

Katydid, however, was very calm and rational. She simply rolled down her window and said to me, "I'm sure there is a very good explanation for this, and I'll wait until we get to my house to hear it."

Sixteen years old. Driving around in the middle of the night. On New Year's Eve. With a baby. Good Lord.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Dear Mr. Weatherman....

First of all, I know it's your job. You get paid to come on my television and tell me bad news. You are obligated to stand in front of your weather map with your isobars hanging out and inform me that the temperatures in the balmy South are going to dip into the teens toward the end of this week. You are required to inform me that in some parts of the state away from the metro area the temperatures may actually drop into the single digits. As if a degree or two one way or another makes any difference at that point. You feel compelled to inform me of the vicious winds that will whirl all day and all night, winds that I abhor with a passion that is second only to the loathing that I feel for cold temperatures. You are only doing your duty to remind me to bring tender plants and pets inside and check on the elderly.

I understand that. I really do. And I try not to resent the fact that you keep your job (and your make-up person and your hair person) even when you are wrong 50% of the time. I wish I could keep MY job based on guesswork.

I get that it is your job to tell me just how miserable I'm going to be later this week. You just don't have to look so damn happy doing it.

Hubby swears there's a reason they only show weather forecasters from the waist up, and it has to do with the pleasure you appear to derive from imparting such dire predictions on the mostly unsuspecting public. I'm beginning to think he may be right.


**I apologize to those of you who live in parts of the country for which these temperatures are normal. God did not mean for me to be this cold; that's why He put me in Georgia.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Treadmill Woes....

Naturally right after I went on this latest exercise kick my treadmill went on the fritz. I'm sure the motor is probably caked with dust from all the months I HAVEN'T used it, but now of course I am all determined to have it fixed. I mean, if you have something like that you want it to work, even if you never use it. You want it to be functional JUST IN CASE. Things are just supposed to work. Like the pepper grinder I bought hubby for his birthday. But never mind about THAT.

During Christmas break I used the treadmill twice for an hour each. Trying to make up for the past few years that I haven't used it, I guess. (Side note: I haven't been slovenly or completely sedentary during those years. Hubby just wouldn't let me put the treadmill back on the new hardwood floors. So I have been forced to walk in the park. Even when it's cold.)

The second time I used it, the motor cut off and the display went blank after an hour. I figured it was just exhausted, and never mind that I wasn't finished watching Chicago. The next time I tried to use it, it cut off after about 30 minutes. The next time it was 15. I found a little reset button (fuse?) on the front of the treadmill, and I discovered that I could reset it and make it run for a little while longer. Then it cut off after a shorter and shorter period of time, and after a while it started reaching out to smack me on the hand, as if to say, "Look stupid, I'm shutting off because there's something WRONG! Don't you get it?" So I decided having a repairman come to the house was cheaper and better than having a fireman come to the house.

But that left me with no way to exercise on the days when it was raining or the two days when we couldn't go to the state park across from our house because they were having a DEER HUNT for God's sake. So I was forced to start going back to the YMCA, where I have been cheerfully sending my monthly payment for the past few months that we haven't gone. Well, I haven't actually been SENDING it. They just suck it out of my bank account on the first of every month. But I digress. As usual.

The Y has these state-of-the-art treadmills that do all these calculations and simulate hills and have a fan that would actually help cool you off while you're walking, if you were taller than say 5'2". In which case the fan helps keep the air directly above your head nice and cool. How sweet of them.

These treadmills also have televisions on them, and I was smart enough to take my headphones so I could watch while I walked. Only I wasn't smart enough to get on a treadmill where the television actually worked. I watched the snowy screen for a while, and since there was no "off" switch, I was forced to plug in my MP3 player. That still helped the time pass more quickly, except I was sure that the other walkers (and runners, those people I love to hate) were cutting their eyes in my direction and feeling sorry for me because my television didn't work. Then I dropped my MP3 player onto the treadmill belt, and it was promptly launched into the shins of the person behind me. Not really, but a girl did stop to pick it up from the floor behind me. Luckily I remembered to step off the moving belt while she handed it to me.

The next time I went to the Y to use their treadmills, I made sure I checked for a working television screen before commencing my walk. Don't call ME a slow learner. I'm figuring this thing out. So I started walking, headphones in place, scrolling through the channels. Only the SOUND didn't work. Once again, I plugged in my MP3 player, but I pretended that I was watching the television. I even chuckled once in a while to convince the people around me that I was indeed lucky enough to have a working television. I just hope they didn't notice that my headphones were not indeed plugged into the treadmill.

I promise there's a point to all this blather. And here it comes: What is the etiquette regarding complaining to the attendant on duty that the television on my treadmill didn't work? Or the sound didn't work? I'm trying to picture myself in that position. Like Jesse, the girl who works in the fitness room. She works another full-time job, and then she comes to the Y to help out and be a fitness coach and answer questions from people like me who are too dumb to figure out some of the equipment. If I were Jesse and someone came to me because the television wouldn't work on his or her treadmill, I think I would put my hands on my hips and say in my most sarcastic tone, "Oh, you came here to WATCH TELEVISION. I'll get right on that for you."

Jesse's much nicer than I am. Still, I'm not taking any chances. I'll just keep pretending, and maybe once in a while I'll luck up and get a treadmill with a working television AND sound.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

My Childhood Injury.....

I shamelessly stole the idea for tonight's blog topic from my blogger friend Maggie. She and HER friend Hecate are using writing prompts from this book for their blogs. They are sending each other their writings each week and then posting their favorites, along with a link to each other's blogs. I did get permission from Maggie to use this idea, and she said she would send me the topics each week.

I have so many childhood (and adult) injuries that it was difficult to pick just one. Many of them were caused by my own stupidity. In a few months when I'm pretty sure everyone has forgotten that I've already used this topic, maybe I'll write about another one. It's my blog, I can do what I want to.

When I was about four years old, my eldest brother had a chemistry set that he would use to heat up glass rods and bend them. Why anyone gave him anything that involved fire and/or chemicals is a mystery to me. But I was unaware that this was anything scientific. I only knew that the glass rods fascinated me after they were bent into little half-moon shapes.

Aside: Several people have asked me how I can remember intricate details from very early in my life. I have a very simple answer: I don't know. But those details are stuck in there, and no amount of defragging the hard drive will get rid of them so I can make room for information I can really use. Like where I put that USB cord I was supposed to send with one of my eBay sales items.

One day I was taking a bath, and I spotted one of Bo's bent glass rods on a shelf or something. I don't consciously remember making the decision to try that myself, and I don't know how I knew where his stuff was. But I climbed from the bathtub and went and got one of those glass rods. I have a distinct memory of climbing back into the tub and seeing my little wet footprints all over the hardwood floor. I was thinking to myself, "That is probably going to get my ass beat." Only I didn't say "ass" back then, not even to myself.

Another aside: Where was whoever was supposed to be watching me in the tub? I was the youngest of five children; surely SOMEONE had been charged with the duty of making sure I didn't drown. Or try to bend a glass rod over my knee.

It just seemed the most logical way to accomplish that magical feat. Of course it wasn't, and I have the scar to prove it. I'm sure whoever was supposed to be watching me came pretty quickly when I started screaming. And when he/she saw the wet footprints and the bloody bathwater (wasn't that considerate of me to bleed in the bathtub?), I'm sure he/she thought, "This is probably going to get my ass beat."

You can read about Maggie's injury here.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Fred and Francis....

When Hubby and I first married, we often hung out at the local Moose Lodge. Not only was it fairly convenient, but it was the one place we were SURE my ex couldn't show up, since he wasn't a member. That was important then, because ex was A) bitter; and B) psycho. Now he's just psycho. We don't hang out there much anymore because A) we don't like the smoke; and B) we figured out it wasn't really that much fun.

There was a couple at the Moose with whom we were casual friends. Casual as in we knew their names, and we would occasionally shoot a game of pool with them. Not too often because I suck at playing pool, and I don't like to do things I can't win at. After a couple of Zimas with grenadine, however, I could be convinced to play because I would have forgotten that the week before I hadn't been able to make anything except the cue ball and the other team's balls. But I digress.

This couple......let's call them Fred and Francis.......were always at the Moose. They were probably in their 40's, both fairly good-looking. Although he was a double-wide salesman then and has gone on to sell cars, and he looks the part. I apologize for the generalization. And for the fact that none of this has anything to do with my story.

Like many men (people?), Hubby will often say things when he's had a few beers that he wouldn't ordinarily say. One night we were leaving the Moose fairly early, and Hubby announced to those nearest us that we were going home to swim. Those nearest us happened to be Fred and Francis. "Why don't y'all come over and swim at our house?" he said.

Hubby was at this time wearing a protective brace on his ankle due to a bad sprain he suffered when he fell off a ladder. Bless his heart, he was trying to be a good son, cleaning out the gutters at his mother's house. And I was trying to be a good daughter-in-law, keeping his mother engaged in conversation so she wouldn't tell him how to go about cleaning out the gutters. Instead of holding the ladder. He wound up coming down a lot faster than he originally intended.

Fred and Francis looked at each other and agreed that it might be fun to come swim at our house. We left immediately, and they were right behind us. We got home and changed and went out to the pool. We waited and waited and waited and waited and waited....... It wasn't annoying to wait for them or anything, since we were after all A) at our house; and B) in the pool. But we were kind of curious as to what was taking them so long.

Finally they arrived, and Sweet Girl showed them through the house and out the back door to where the pool was. (Why aren't pools ever in front yards? Just curious...)

Seems what took so long for Fred and Francis to arrive was that they had stopped by their house. To get.............towels. They showed up at our house with towels. That they got from their house. That's important.

Because what they DIDN'T bring were swimsuits.

We couldn't figure out why it took a while for them to get in the pool. Fred finally stripped down to his Fruit of the Looms. (God, I was SO glad Sweet Girl didn't venture out there.) Francis just went swimming in her clothes.

Talk about awkward.

They didn't stay long, but it was the longest however long it was I've ever spent.

When they finally left, Hubby and I just looked at each other, puzzled as to what made them think it was THAT kind of invitation.

Then it occurred to me that the invitation was issued in front of everyone at the Moose Lodge.

If Fred and Francis thought it was that kind of invitation.......................................

........................................did everyone else think that too?

Oh. My. God.

We're really not that kind of people.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Excuses, Excuses....

It's waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay past my bedtime and much too late to write anything of coherence. But I feel obligated to post every single day, so I'll just post this poor excuse for not posting.

To make up for it, tomorrow night I'll post a story about a couple whom my husband once invited to come swimming at our house, prompting me to kick him in his brace-encased sprained ankle.

First gymnastics meet of the season, and WE SUCKED. Fortunately for our team, we sucked less than the other team, so our pitiful little 195.425 held up. It pains me to write that score. I would not want to be those girls Monday morning. Hell, they might already be running suicide sprints even as we speak, er, type. I especially wouldn't want to be the two who fell off the floor. I can understand falling off a four-inch balance beam. Or missing the high bar after turning a flip or two. But falling off the floor makes sucking take on a whole new meaning. I know it's early. We've got a long way to go. And an SEC contest next Friday night in hostile territory. Sigh.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Longest Week in History....

Is it just me, or has this been the longest week in history? Or maybe it's just those of us who had two weeks off for Christmas, and the ONE week we've been back seems like it has been exponentially longer. I just like using the word "exponentially."

I was once on the attendance appeals committee at our local high school, and parents had to produce documentation and explain why their little darlings had missed too many days. That was the only way for students to get credits that had been denied due to attendance.

In one such letter, a parent had written that while she acknowledged that her child had attendance issues, he/she (I don't remember which one it was) had "improved exponentially." As soon as we got to that word, I said to grant him/her the credit. I was in awe of a parent who would use that word in an appeals letter.

But I digress...

It hasn't been a difficult week at all. We're still finishing up first semester, so classes are small and students are scrambling to finish all their assignments. Too bad some of them waited until the eighteenth week instead of scrambling from the first week. So I can't really say it has been stressful or more work than usual or anything.

It just seems like an awfully long time since I got up Monday morning to go back to school.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

But We'll Still Be Okay.....

I can't say I expected both our quarterback AND our star running back to enter the NFL draft today, but I can't say I'm exactly surprised either. And I'm not as upset about it as I thought I would be. We'll be fine without them. Most of our fans are disappointed that we didn't win a National Championship this year. I keep hearing talk about our "disappointing" season. Hellooooooooooo?????? 9-3 isn't a terrible record. Undefeated is almost unheard of, and what good did it do Utah anyway? Okay, so the loss to Tech was embarrassing and demoralizing, but I think the wind had just gone out of our sails after Florida, so it was almost inevitable.

I wish both Stafford and Moreno the best. Stafford will probably go to the 0-16 Lions next year. They can take a chance on a rookie quarterback, because the only way to go for them is up. The Falcons didn't do so badly with a rookie quarterback this season, although I'm pretty sure there are some fans who are disappointed because they only made it to the first round of the playoffs. Helloooooooooooooooooo????? This is the same team that only won four freakin' games last year (I think). Making the playoffs at all with a rookie coach, a rookie quarterback, and the shadows of a criminal former quarterback and spineless former coach hanging over them was quite an achievement.

For those of you who aren't football fans, I apologize. Starting this weekend, it will be all about gymnastics. I'm just warning ya.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My eBay Revenge.....

Well, I'm not sure it really counts as eBay revenge. Because it will take me many years of selling to catch up with what I've spent on eBay over the years.

Still, I was right proud of my modest success today. Last week on pretty much a whim, I listed six things on eBay, mostly stuff that was sitting around collecting dust. Stuff I'm never going to use again, and I really can't imagine anyone else having a use for either. Four out of the six actually sold today. A transcription machine that I used to transcribe the audiotapes for my dissertation. An external zip drive that I had to use to save huge yearbook page files on before there was such a thing as a flash drive. Season Six Part 1 of Sopranos. A Minolta 35 mm camera that uses FILM, for heaven's sake.

Now all I have to do is package up the goods and ship them off to their new owners. And sit back and collect my $173.38. That's enough to buy Rock Band 2 for the Wii. Hmmmmm......

Hubby better keep his eye on the million golf clubs that live in our basement. I'm sure someone else out there needs that many left-handed clubs.....

Monday, January 5, 2009


I am fascinated by the phenomenon of coincidence. Like years ago when Katydid flew to Florida to see the space shuttle launch from the rooftop of Nurse Jane's condo. She fainted 8 seconds before liftoff and missed the whole thing. That's not the fascinating coincidence part. (Although it's really funny and I tell it often, usually laughing uproariously. Sorry, Katydid.) Back here in Georgia, I fainted the same morning. For no apparent reason. I wasn't sick, I wasn't pregnant, I wasn't startled by a rodent or a burglar, I just fainted. With electric curlers in my hair. Weird. Not to mention painful.

Even longer ago, before there was such a thing as three-way calling, we managed it one day by accident. I called my sister, she called Mom, Mom called me (or some combination of those three), all at the exact same time. And we all got connected. It was bizarre. If you didn't know there hasn't always been three-way calling, please shut up. We also used to have rotary dials and we had to go to the phone company to pick out a phone. And "rent" it.

Today's coincidence, however, doesn't even involve me. I read this story in the paper this morning about two women who took photographs of the same cloud at the same time, and they didn't know each other. That may seem strange enough. But they were in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania at something called Musikfest in 1990. And they met in 2007 in the small town of Winterville, Georgia. Somehow the conversation turned to Pennsylvania, Musikfest, and the photograph of the cloud. Keep in mind that neither of these women was a photographer; the cloud just happened to catch their interest. And their lenses.

They determined that they were at practically the same angle, but probably a quarter of a mile apart. And they had to have taken their photos within milliseconds of each other, because the cloud changed so quickly that one of the women didn't even get a second shot.

And these two women wind up 17 years later approximately 753.31 miles down the road from where the picture was taken (I guess for one of them it was 753.06) at the same potluck dinner.


Sunday, January 4, 2009

My Online World.....

In addition to returning to my "regular" teaching job tomorrow, it is also the first day of the semester in my virtual school job. I have 7 students this time compared to 33 this time last year. Since I get paid per student, maybe I should be disappointed, but I'm not. I'm teaching Contemporary Literature now, which I not only enjoy more than early English literature, but because it's an elective course, the students tend to be more serious and attentive to their studies. When I was teaching English literature, I typically had about a 50% failure rate. It was mainly because schools signed their seniors up to take English Lit (required for graduation) out of desperation, and typically those students were the very ones who should NOT take an online course. I think the perception for many of them was that it would be "easy" to take a course online. All you have to do is log onto the computer, right? Wrong! Imagine how shocked -- SHOCKED!! -- some of them were to learn that they actually had to READ and WRITE ESSAYS and TAKE TESTS.

I think some of them also think that we don't actually grade their work. I had two students from the same high school once (our students come from all over the state), and I received a homework assignment from one of them, some questions over a reading selection. I was reading along in her answers, thinking to myself, "I've read this somewhere before." Then I came to a part where it said, "Good answer. Your answer clearly shows that you....." The little imp had used her fellow student's file and DIDN'T BOTHER TO REMOVE MY COMMENTS FROM IT.

Another time, in summer session, a student had fallen behind, and she was really facing the wrath of her mother as the semester drew to a close. She was only receiving partial credit for the assignments she turned in late, and they were pretty crappy to boot. Then on the essay portion of her final exam -- HER FINAL EXAM -- she copied and pasted huge chunks of text from Wikipedia. Not only would I have noticed because she left the FOOTNOTE NUMBERS in her answers, but she also "discussed" at great length The Great Gatsby. Which was A) not a novel we read that semester; and B) an AMERICAN novel, not a BRITISH one.

Once a student called me at the beginning of the semester, in a real tizzy. She was upset because she was not supposed to be in my course; her school had signed her up for the wrong one. Seems she was supposed to take British Lit because she needed it for graduation, and the dummies at her school had signed her up for ENGLISH Lit.

It felt strange the first few days after fall semester ended, because I wasn't tethered to the computer for an hour or so in the morning and a couple of hours in the evening. I sort of felt lost, like I did when I finished my dissertation. "What do I do with all my time?" Naturally I found a way to fritter away many hours. And then it felt NORMAL not to have to log on every day and grade assignments and check email and all that jazz. But now it's time to get back into the groove and train some new babies about the online world. Four out of seven of my students were the same ones I had last semester, so it won't be exactly starting from scratch. I'll just have to stay ahead of them in the reading and assignments.

And I actually do better with a routine. I'll just keep telling myself that.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

It's All About the Smiley Faces.....

I have been using a website that I stumbled upon while searching for bloggers with the interest area of "weight loss." I'm still looking for that magic key that will make me lose weight just because I want to, NOT because I exercise more and eat less. Like many things, I may be the last person in the world to discover It's not a free service, but it's much more reasonable than some that are out there. It allows you to enter your measurements (gasp! -- which I have declined so far), weight, exercise, and food consumed. Like most things I begin, I've been....somewhat.....obsessive about it so far. Maybe that's why I abandon things sometimes; I drive myself crazy obsessing about them.

But I decided NOT to turn this blog into a look-how-much-weight-I-lost-or-gained or here-is-what-I-ate-today blog, because that's just..... well..... obsessive. And you probably don't care. I will offer periodic updates as to how it's going. I would really like to lose 35 pounds. I actually enjoy exercising, but unfortunately I like eating a lot more. If I forget to update, you can remind me. Or you can assume that I have abandoned all hope and decided just to remain fat.

One cool feature of is that at the end of the day, it gives a report of where your weight would be in one month and three months if every day were like today. It also tells you, if every day were like today, the date at which you could expect to be at your goal weight. Mine has varied from August of 2010 (eating out at Logan's last night sort of threw that one off) to May of 2009. Sort of a different tool.

This post isn't really about determination, dedication, dieting, nutrition, or any of those other boring things.

It's about what motivates us.

On this website, as you enter calories consumed and burned, you get a daily report. It gives general statements about progress so far, and it gives smiley faces and frowny faces. So far I've gotten frowny faces almost every day because I've consumed over 2400 mg of sodium. I just can't figure out how to cut sodium out. I've always known that I should eat less sodium; but now I'm trying harder. Why?

It's all about the smiley faces.

I've gotten smiley faces every day for exercise, because I make myself exercise so I can get a smiley face. Not because it's good for me or I should be doing it anyway, mind you.

It's all about the smiley faces.

I've also received smiley faces every day for water consumption, because that's just about all I drink anyway. I've abstained from beer for the past 5 days because I didn't want to enter those calories into my food log.

I've received frowny faces two times for eating TOO FEW CALORIES. What's up with THAT? That makes me look at my caloric intake at the end of the day and go back to the kitchen if I haven't consumed enough (rare occasion though that may be) because I DON'T WANT FROWNY FACES.

It's all about the smiley faces.

I'm a grown woman, nearer to 50 than 40, college educated, and self aware. Why is it that the smiley faces will motivate me to do/not do things that common knowledge and years of research have NOT motivated me to do?

It's all about the smiley faces.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Feeling the Panic...

...of Christmas break being almost over. There's still so much I want to do: crochet, nap, exercise, play with my Wii (it finally came today, but it's still in the box), read, crochet, nap, exercise, play with my Wii, read, crochet, nap, exercise, play with my Wii, read...... and repeat if necessary. I love Christmas break, and I know I should be grateful for all the breaks from school we teachers get, but it seems no matter how many days off we have, I always want JUST ONE MORE. I think I remember posting a similar sentiment back in August when the summer was over. Looking on the bright side, however, due to our late start and retarded schedule, we won't have to start a brand-new semester on Monday; we'll finish up 1st semester over the next two weeks. That's better than returning from Christmas break with a brand-new bunch of students and a brand-new schedule.

I'm really not lazy; I just like the freedom of operating on my own schedule. Drink my coffee in a leisurely manner, piddle around, not wear make-up (or a bra).

Retirement is only three and a half years away. And I still have tomorrow and Sunday.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Image courtesy of

The movie, not the city.

I am a big fan of musicals, and I had seen Chicago before. Richard Gere is yummy even when he's dancing and singing. Or maybe ESPECIALLY when he's dancing and singing.

I watched it again today while I walked on the treadmill. (Yes, I'm attempting to start the New Year off right. But I got a head start and began my new program on Dec. 30th.) I don't know if it's because it's a musical or if I'm just this way about any movie, but I caught things on the second viewing that I didn't get the first time around. Maybe that's why I can always watch movies twice. Or thrice. Or...... What is the word for four times? Never mind.

I had to turn the sound way up so I could hear it over the treadmill's motor, but that was okay. I got all wrapped up in the movie. Normally the time I spend on the treadmill is like having my fingernails pulled out. I watch the clock creeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep along and wonder how much longer I'll have to endure the torture. This time, however, the time just flew by. Before I knew it, I had walked for an hour. I really wanted to finish the movie, but it was time for hubby to come home and bowl games to start. (I do still have my priorities.)

I can't wait to finish the movie tomorrow.