Friday, July 31, 2009

G'Day Mate.........

Hubby and I had dinner tonight at his favorite place, the steakhouse where they have a map of the world upside down and sell wonderful deep-fried onions. You know the one.

Our waitress kind of got on my nerves. She kept "checking" on us, and she kept interrupting my answers to her questions with an explanation of what it was she was asking.

I told Hubby she was getting on my nerves, and he said, "Better than some." [He's a man of few words.]

So that made me feel bad about saying she got on my nerves. And I overtipped her. Perhaps it worked for her.

Being there reminded me of way back in 2001, the day after 9/11.

Hubby had to be in town for a meeting, and I was there for one of my graduate classes (that was the semester I thought it might be a good idea to take TWO doctoral courses, one which met on Mondays and Wednesdays, and the other on FRIDAY NIGHT!!! What was I thinking?). Hubby suggested we meet at the Australian-themes steakhouse for a rare mid-week dinner out. I jumped at the chance because I basically will jump at any chance NOT to cook.

When I got out of school, I had a message on my cell phone from Hubby saying the meeting had been canceled. He said something like "Apparently they are afraid we'll be bombed by some terrorists."

I was disappointed but not devastated. I went on home after school, but Hubby was not there. I waited for a while, thinking he might have gone to the golf course to move the tees. That was how he earned free golf back then.

I waited some more, puzzled by his absence. Then it occurred to me to listen to his message again.

It was from the day before, the day the 9/11 attacks occurred. The meeting had originally been scheduled for Tuesday.

I called the restaurant, because Hubby didn't have a cell phone back then. [Does anyone notice how many of my stories are due to the absence of Hubby's cell phone? Perhaps if I run into a dry spell, I'll just take his phone away.]

[Ring, ring]

Person: _______ Steakhouse.

Me: Hello, I'm wondering if my husband is there. He'll probably be sitting in the bar. His name is _____ ______.

Person: What does he look like?

Me: Ummmmm...... [How the hell are you supposed to answer this question anyway?]

Person: What color hair does he have?

Me: He doesn't have any hair. He's probably wearing a cap.

Person: What is he wearing?

Me [What went through my head]: I don't know if he's wearing his Pepsi uniform or regular clothes.

Me [What I actually said]: I don't know. The last time I saw him he wasn't wearing any clothes at all.

We exchanged a few more of these questions and non-answers. Then --

Person: There's only one guy at the bar. I'll go see if that's him.

Couldn't we have skipped most of that?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bone Tired.......

I am tempted to have a "Wordless Thursday", but that would be cheating and not alliterative at all. Besides, having just had "Wordle Wednesday" yesterday, it would border on just being plain sorry. And in my mother's world, being "sorry" is the worst thing in the world you can be. [Oh, if you could just hear how she says it. The intonation takes on its own meaning. Perhaps I'll try to get her to say it and record it one day and post it.]

We had our Open House today from 1:00 to 7:00. In a way it was good to stretch it out over that time, because I never had more than one student at a time, and I got to sit down with each one individually.

The bad part was that the county folks turned off our air at 4:00. Seriously. Boneheads. I'm not sure I like the idea of my thermostat being controlled by some huge hidden hand down at the county office anyway.

At least this year we get a little break between Open House and the first day of school. Last year (and I'm pretty sure there have been some other ones, but last year is as far back as this ancient old brain will even attempt to remember), we had Open House on Thursday evening and school started on Friday. Back-to-back EXHAUSTING days. I shouldn't complain; I know some people (like Nurse Jane) who have exhausting days EVERY DAY. This year the students don't start until Monday. We have tomorrow to decompress, go out to lunch one last time, and make predictions based on the ones who showed up at Open House. Oh, and we may get some work done too.

Then the official countdown begins.

Beginning Monday, I'll have 540 school days left before retirement.

Make that 538, since the state-mandated furloughs include two student days. I'm feeling better already.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Happy Blogoversary To Me.....

It was one year ago today that I started blogging. When I started writing, I discovered that I already HAD a blog that I had set up the previous December. But I had never posted anything, because I didn't think anyone would want to read what I had to say.

Thanks to my friend Mamaneena for getting me started.

Blogging has been equal parts therapeutic, frustrating, and entertaining. I enjoy reading the blogs of others, and I feel obligated to write SOMETHING in mine every night.

Sometimes I have lots to say and have to rein myself in.

Sometimes I have to dig deep for anything meaningful.

Sometimes I should dig deeper.

Sometimes the posts I think will garner the most comments go almost unnoticed; the ones that I think are drivel often get more comments than others.

Some are poignant; some are frivolous.

There are some I'm tempted to go back and delete, but somehow I think that might be cheating. Like ripping pages out of your diary.

I like the fact that there are no rules in the blog world. Except for those I impose upon myself. For example, my titles must either be questions or have those dots after them. I don't regulate the number of dots, however. My blogs must also be grammatically correct and be relatively free of spelling errors. If anyone ever spots an error in one of my blogs, please point it out to me.

I also like the fact that I can end a blog post with a completely random thought, like this one.

You've gotta love a pedometer that gives you credit for 20 steps just for pulling your pants down, going to the bathroom, and then pulling them back up.

I'm just sayin'.

Monday, July 27, 2009

We're So Dumb When We're Sixteen.....

On my 16th birthday, I sat down and wrote a letter to my future daughter, with the intention of giving it to her on HER 16th birthday. I probably got the idea from one of those sappy novels I used to read back then. Boy, am I glad I grew out of ...... Never mind.

I sealed it with wax and wrote a phrase on the front of the envelope in French. It probably annihilated French grammar. I have no idea why I chose to write on it in French. There's a lot about being 16 that defies explanation.

Believe it or not, I kept up with it for the next 23 years. Through 9 moves (I think) and a couple of marriages, I kept up with that letter.

And I gave it to Sweet Girl on her 16th birthday. It was a momentous occasion.

Then she let me read the letter.

It was dumb.

Way dumb.

That's probably how I'll feel someday in the future when I look back on this blog. But I hope not, because I won't have the excuse of being sixteen anymore.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Weekend Meme So I Don't Have to Think.....

I stole this meme from Tense Teacher.

1. Who was the last person of the opposite sex you lay in a bed with?

Hubby (Now really, what the hell did they expect on this question?)

2. Where was the last place you went out to eat?
Up the Creek in Jacksonville, Florida

3. What was the last alcoholic beverage you consumed?
A large draft beer when Hubby and I went out to eat Friday before last.

4. Which do you prefer - eyes or lips?
Eyes I guess - Although I don't particularly focus on physical attributes. I don't think.

5. Medicine, fine arts, or law?

6. Best kind of pizza?

7. What is in store for your future?
Near future - A new school year

Middle distant future - Retirement

8. Who was the last band you saw live?
Billy Joel and Elton John. And the band before that, and the band before that, and the band before that, and the band before that, and the band before that. (Minus Elton on most of them.)

9. Do you take care of your friends while they are sick?
Well ..... I would .....

10. How many songs are on your iPod?
My little iPod or my big iPod?

11. Where is the last place you drove to?
Jacksonville, Florida - 6 hours

12. Where did your last kiss take place?
In the living room

13. What were you doing at 11:59 PM on Monday night?
At 11:59 PM on ANY given night, including New Year's Eve, I am sleeping.

14. Are you a quitter?
Only in marriage.

15. Who was the last person you had in your house?
Hubby's nephew's daughter. And her friend.

15. What do you think about people who party a lot?
It's their business. Unless they live next door to me and make it my business.

16. Does talking about sex make you uncomfortable?
Next question.

17. What was the last CD you purchased?
I downloaded "The Four Seasons Greatest Hits". Does that count?

18. What are two bands or singers that you will always love?
Billy Joel. And Billy Joel.

19. Which of the seven deadly sins are you most guilty of?
Changes on any given day. They run a tight race.

20. How is your last ex doing?
Since the mortgage company keeps calling ME about his house payment, I assume he's doing about the same as when we divorced.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Walking on the Beach Part 2.....

When I was walking on the beach yesterday, I thought about a time roughly a hundred years ago, before I ever got married ..... the first time ..... when I went walking on the beach alone at night and wound up with blood poisoning.

Now that I've ruined the punch line, you don't have to read the rest of this if you don't want to.

I realize you don't have to read ANY of it if you don't want to.

Nurse Jane lived in a condo on Cocoa Beach, and I went to visit. I'm mildly surprised that I didn't just move in with her. It wouldn't be the first time I had done that. I mean, her building was RIGHT. ON. THE. BEACH. I'm sure that's what Heaven is like.

I went for a walk late one night, mainly because it just felt so RIGHT that I could merely walk out her door and be on the beach. Okay, down the hall and down the elevator and around the building, but you get the idea.

That was back in the day when I had no fear, and walking in the dark on the beach didn't faze me at all. I was striding along purposefully, probably contemplating all the strife and worries associated with being a 19-year-old college student. You know, what to wear to the first football game. Heavy stuff.

I stepped on something with the heel of my left foot. I distinctly remember there was a slight hesitation, then whatever it was punctured my heel (my feet were pretty tough back then). I sort of picked my foot up and shook it so that whatever it was came out. Then I continued down the beach. It wasn't gushing blood or anything, not that I could have seen it in the dark. But no sharks came strutting out of the ocean to make a meal out of my mangled heel, so I figured the injury wasn't too bad. I have no idea what I stepped on. It could have been a shell, a fishhook, a piece of glass, a beer can.

When I got back to Nurse Jane's condo, I decided I would continue my health-conscious ways (right before or after I smoked a cigarette, I'm sure) and walk up the stairs. I don't think I mentioned that she lived on the 17th floor. My foot didn't hurt terribly. And it wasn't bleeding.

Until the middle of the night. It throbbed. And ached. And throbbed some more.

The next morning, when I had slept very little and experienced a great deal of pain, Nurse Jane took me to the doctor. And I am almost positive she didn't have the money to do that. But because I was 19, I fully expected that someone would take care of me; it certainly wasn't MY responsibility.

At the doctor's office, they took down my information (I probably let Nurse Jane fill out the forms too, because I was self-absorbed like that) and took me back to an exam room. Nurse Jane waited in the ..... waiting room. That sounds so redundant.

After an hour or so of waiting for someone, anyone in a white coat to come through the door, I mustered all the 19-year-old righteous indignation I could, and I marched right out the door. I probably wasn't familiar with the concept of being worked into an afternoon of scheduled appointments. I probably wasn't familiar with anything that didn't fit nicely into my little world.

At any rate, we saved the money we would have spent at the doctor's office, because that was back in the day before they got smart and started making you pay before you even sit down in the waiting room.

I don't remember what we did the rest of that day, or even whether or not my foot bothered me. That evening, however, long after doctor's offices were closed for the day even if we HAD been able to find one that hadn't heard about the petulant patient with the punctured pad, I was sitting with my ankle crossed over my knee.

It looked like someone had taken a red felt-tip pen and drawn a crooked line from about the middle of my leg down to my ankle.

I asked Nurse Jane, who wasn't an official nurse at that time, but had nursed me and all the other family members as long as I can remember, "Does that look like a red streak to you?"

She responded, "Get in the car."

After several hours in the ER at Cape Canaveral Hospital and several injections, I went home all better. I'm a lot more careful about walking on the beach now, and the sun would have to go down about 6:00 PM for me to take a walk in the dark.

It would be nice, though, to know what it was I stepped on.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Walking on the Beach......

I went to Mayport Beach today while Sweet Girl was in class. I was a little apprehensive about doing that, since we were on the navy base, and the only place I could go WAS the beach. If the weather turned bad or I got too much sun, my only other alternative was to go sit in her car. For four hours.

In the absence of any other opportunity to exercise, I decided to spend at least a portion of my time taking a walk on the beach. I made deals with myself ..... I'm ALWAYS making deals with myself. I said if I walked for at least 20 minutes in one direction, then I could turn around and come back and have the YUMMY turkey sandwich I fixed at Sweet Girl's house this morning. And carrot sticks too. Oh boy. What a deal.

I took off walking at 1:25. One thing about walking on the beach, it's impossible to judge the distance. I walked and walked and walked and walked and walked and resisted the temptation to look at my cell phone for the time. I was afraid it was about 1:30. So I walked and walked and walked and walked and walked some more.

When I finally looked at the time, it was 2:06. Well you can't turn around at some kind of stupid time like 2:06, so I kept walking until 2:10. That meant I had been walking for 45 minutes.

It also meant that the only way to get back was to walk another 45 minutes.

I didn't know it was possible to wear blisters on the bottoms of your feet walking barefoot on the sand.

I walked so far that when I got back to my chair, I could tell it had rained a little where I had been. But not where I was. Isn't that weird?

Hubby tells me I take too many #$&! pictures of birds.

Right after I returned from my four-day walk, they came down the beach in a truck and announced they were closing the beach due to the lightning. They aren't fooling me ..... these are teenage lifeguards. Any strong wind would probably force them to close the beach. I thought, "Oh great. I guess I'll go sit in the car after all." I packed up my things, and just as I got to Sweet Girl's car, she sent me a text message that said, "I'm done." A whole hour early! What excellent timing.

When I left on my walk, I passed four or five young people, probably in their late teens or early twenties, working industriously on a sand castle. I wanted to stop and take a picture of it, but I didn't want to look like a nerd. Or give them the satisfaction. Isn't that mean?

When I came back, the sand castle was standing complete and all alone. Or so I thought. As I walked up to take a picture of the castle, a head popped up from inside it and scared the bejeezus out of me.

Her name was Kylie. Or Kylee. Or Cailie. Whatever.

She was adding sand to the interior walls, making sure they were sturdy enough. I think she had homesteading in mind.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

My Afghan.....

It's so awesome to have a finished product!

I'm bad to start projects with a lot of enthusiasm, but then life intervenes and/or I run out of steam, and they never get finished.

I'll post one day about the cross-stitch project I started when I was pregnant with Sweet Girl. Yeah, the one who just had her 25th birthday. I'm determined to finish it. That and my cathedral window quilt.

I started this afghan last winter with the idea of putting it in the auction at the family reunion. I didn't make it for this year's reunion, but I'm AHEAD of the game for next year.

If you couldn't care less how it was created, you can stop reading right here.

Like most crochet projects, it started small. Very small.

Then I added another round.

At this point, it's beginning to look square. It started round.

Then I added some white.

It's sort of beginning to look round again.



Sort of deformed-looking.

Back to green. And round.

Then I had to add on the "points." To be honest, if I had realized this was part of the plan before I started, I would have chosen a different pattern. I don't like fastening off and starting a new color or a new point so often. But by this time I was committed.

Another point. Looks sort of like a heart. Or a butt. Depending on your perspective.

Third point. Looks sort of retarded, if you ask me.

Whew! Back to a symmetrical shape. I thrive on symmetry.

And then a border to tie all the points together.

I made 5 of these green ones.

And 5 rose ones.

And 6 blue ones.

Then I made 25 of these little ones that serve as sort of spacers between the big ones.

And 40 of these strips that connected everything.

Finally, I put a border around the whole thing. I'm proud that I finished it. Hubby wants me to let him keep it instead of putting it in the family reunion auction. He can forget it. I'll make him another one.

Like any project, I can point out its flaws.

But I'd rather not.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Chimneys.....

I spent the afternoon at the golf course with Hubby ..... and I didn't even have to pick up a club. It was actually HIS suggestion that I come ride in the cart with him. To be honest, he suggested it LAST week, and I'm pretty sure he was under the influence when he said it. But on the day I was originally supposed to go, one of his golfing buddies whom I. Can. Not. Stand. was playing, so I declined and spent the afternoon in the pool.

Although he has been playing at the same golf course for about 5-6 years, and I have often been there, both in a vehicle AND on my bicycle (it sits at the top of the most God-awful hill you have ever seen - one of my goals in life is to be able to ride to the top of that hill without standing up), I had never seen the course.

It is absolutely beautiful. Most golf courses are, but this one is especially so. It has lots of wooded areas, hills and valleys, and gorgeous rock walls that the builder of the golf course laid by hand himself. Well, some of them are so big that he had to use a front-end loader, but he still PLACED them himself.

The course is called The Chimneys, and he also constructed a couple of rock chimneys on the course. If it were miniature golf, you'd have to hit through one of them into the clown's mouth. But it isn't so you don't.

I asked Hubby if the course had been named before or after he built those chimneys. He told me there was an old, REAL chimney standing along one of the holes, apparently a leftover from an old home place.

It was breath-taking. At least to me. But my breath is pretty cheap.

That's when I realized I'd forgotten my camera.

I took a picture with my Blackberry, but its battery is dead. Update: Picture uploaded above.

I guess I'm not a real photographer.

There was another old chimney (thanks for asking, but I DON'T know why I have a thing for chimneys) on my route to school, and I kept telling myself I was going to stop one morning and take a picture of that chimney at sunrise. But either I forgot the camera, or it was misty, or the sun wouldn't come up at the right time (damn that sun), or I didn't have time, or I thought up another excuse just so I wouldn't look stupid standing on the side of the road taking a picture of a lone chimney standing in a pasture.

Then one day on my way to school I realized the chimney that has fascinated me so was a pile of bricks.


I guess I'm not a real photographer.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Mental Side of Cycling.....

Because I've been on ..... oh, eight or ten ..... bicycle rides this year, I felt obligated to share my wisdom regarding this sport. Or this form of torture, whichever you prefer.

Cycling has such a huge mental aspect. I don't mean JUST the psyching up one must do simply to get out on the bike in the first place. Personally, I've been struggling with that one this year. There are so many other pressing things for me to do. Like clean the exhaust hose from the dryer. It's full of lint. I think.

Even after you're out ON the bike, however, there can sometimes be a case of mind over matter. Or in many cases, matter over the mind.

It ain't just the butt and the legs.

It's the brain.

For example, one year on BRAG, Katydid and I were in a little bitty town in South Georgia for a lunch stop. The ride director had recommended a certain all-you-can-eat buffet, and we decided to eat there for lunch. [THANKS FOR THAT, JERRY!] Nowhere in the literature was there a disclaimer that you shouldn't actually EAT at an all-you-can-eat buffet in the South Georgia heat in June and then attempt to finish the day's ride.

During lunch, some people (we didn't care if they were "official" or not) came around telling everyone that there had been a change to the route. The DOT was doing some paving on our route, and it wasn't safe for cyclists to be clogging up the roads in addition to the lane closures that were already taking place. Besides, have you ever ridden a bicycle on fresh blacktop in South Georgia heat in June?

The change to the day's route would cut off approximately 15 miles of that day's ride. We were okay with that, since it was "official" and all. That was back in the day when we steadfastly stuck to the proper route. We wouldn't even cut off a corner of a parking lot; we had to ride the whole distance. [We're over that now. We still, however, refuse to get in a SAG wagon.]

It was hotter than hell could possibly be, and we were stuffed from the buffet [THANKS AGAIN FOR THAT, JERRY!], and we had to stop for a break only about a mile from the lunch stop. It was getting ugly. But at least we had a shorter ride than we had previously thought.

When we FINALLY got to the next rest stop, they were announcing that the paving was finished for the day and we could go back to the original route.

Oh hell no.

Once you took that 15 miles out of my brain, you could NOT put it BACK.

It doesn't make a whole lot of sense, because if they had never told us about the short-cut, we would have ridden the whole distance anyway. We would have been miserable, thanks to the all-you-can-eat buffet [THANKS AGAIN FOR THAT, JERRY!], but we would have made it.

We took the short-cut. And we apparently weren't the only ones with the mental block against those 15 miles, because we soon saw official SAG wagons on the same roads we were on.

Another time my brain overruled my physical capability was when I was doing a solo ride. It was a Sunday morning, and I couldn't decide at first which of my gazillion routes from home I was going to do. I finally decided to ride to the nearby town of Jefferson, where I knew Hubby's last stop of his route was. I figured I could ride until I met him, which would be AT MOST 18 miles, and then I could put my bike in the back of his truck and ride home with him.

Keep in mind, had I ridden the entire distance there and back, it would only have been 36 miles.

Thirty-six miles is less than a medium ride. I'm not being smug here. I'm just sayin'. Thirty-six miles is not a butt-killer, it's not demoralizing, it's not even worthy of bragging about.

I had no way of knowing where I might meet Hubby. I was sort of hoping it wouldn't be right up the street here, because then I would have assembled all that gear for nothing.

I made it all the way to Jefferson and was approaching the store where I would surely find him. It was perfect, just the length of ride I was hoping for.

I saw Hubby's truck approaching. I was already smiling.

And then I saw him turn off the main road onto a short-cut I didn't know about. I waved foolishly long after it was apparent he wouldn't/couldn't see me. Then I did the only logical thing.

I burst into tears.

I had my cell phone, and I was furiously dialing the numbers for his pager (he didn't have a cell phone back then), which was pretty difficult to do while pedaling a bicycle and blinded by tears. How was I to know A) about the short-cut and B) that he didn't carry his pager on Sundays?

I even rode the rest of the way to the grocery store on the off-chance that it wasn't Hubby I had seen driving his truck and turning on the short-cut.

I rode around the parking lot twice. Three times.

There was nothing to do but ride toward home.

I was devastated. Heartbroken. I felt like I had been abandoned in the middle of nowhere with nothing but my bicycle.


I've ridden 36 miles lots of times. Sometimes even on purpose.

Why? Because my brain had convinced my body that it wouldn't HAVE to ride that far. It set the max-out meter at 18 miles, and that was all the fuel it gave us.

To make matters worse, my cell phone died. I estimated how much time Hubby would need to arrive at home, then I stopped at a store with a pay phone.

When he answered, I burst into tears again. "You didn't see me!"

He laughed. I would have laughed too, had I been in his situation, but I certainly didn't see the humor in mine.

He told me to stay where I was, he would be right back to get me. However, I felt foolish standing in front of a store that wasn't even open, especially considering I had a perfectly good bicycle right there with me.

I continued on toward home, and by the time Hubby arrived I had ridden 9 of the miles back home.

I was exhausted. There's no way I could have finished those other 9 miles. My body was willing, but the mind was weak.

Monday, July 20, 2009

My Former Sister-in-Law.....

For some reason I found myself thinking about my former sister-in-law today. The second one. (We have lots of exes in our family.)

Bless her heart (if you're from the South you KNOW there's something not nice coming), she was sweet as she could be, but she was not blessed in the brains department.

But boy could she talk. Our brother used to tell her, "Honey, why don't you save some words for tomorrow?"

She once referred to the location of something as being "overneath" something else.

But my favorite story was when she lost her engagement ring.

Don't worry, there's a happy ending. I would never make fun of someone for having lost something so precious as an engagement ring, especially considering I lost my own and got it back after two weeks.

She called Jack at work, hysterical. Jack responded rationally.

"What were you doing when you lost it?"

"Taking down the Christmas tree." It was probably March or April. Just kidding.

Per his instructions, she went through the tree, the dead needles on the floor and in the trash, in all the ornament boxes, to no avail. She continued to update the status by telephone.

"Did you look _______?"

"Yes, I looked there."





Just like a man, brother finally said, "I'll buy you another one."

"Okay," she wailed, "but it won't be the same."

This went on for days. Not really, it was just a few hours. It just seemed like days.

Finally, she stopped by Jack's office on her way to her job. She didn't even have sense enough to look sheepish.

"Never mind about the ring," she said, grinning. "I found it."

Just like a man, brother gets annoyed at the waste of good emotion. He sort of snarled, "Where was it?"

"It was on the other hand."

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Scary Numbers....

I went to the doctor's office on Friday because I was out of refills on my blood pressure medicine. I have been monitoring my weight ..... watching it go UP, I mean ..... but I was still unprepared for the scary number I saw on the scale at the doctor's office. It was only 3 pounds less than when I went into labor. Unless I can manage to give birth to another 7.5 pound tumor, I'm in trouble.

I'm an avoider. Normally I don't even look when they weigh me at the doctor's office. I just look down while they keep sliding that heavy, noisy thingie across the top of the scale. Looking down was what got me in trouble this time. They have a snazzy new DIGITAL scale, and the display is located somewhere below the beltline. I guess it's slightly less humiliating that every person in the room can't see your weight.

What I can't figure out is why THAT number was scary. And all the other ones in between a healthy weight and the scary one weren't scary themselves. Why hasn't every single number higher than the number before scared me into taking some kind of action?

I wish losing weight meant DOING something instead of NOT doing something. I was already trying to depend on daily exercise to overcome what I put in my mouth every day, and that obviously isn't working, not at this age. I'm a DOER. I get things accomplished by DOING. It's so hard to lose weight because I have to AVOID doing something. Not easy for me.

I'm embarrassed to say that I lost 50 pounds once before. It was 16 years ago. I don't know how I managed to let myself gain that first 5 pounds back, never mind the 45 that followed it.

The scary number, however, has prompted me to reevaluate. Or perhaps evaluate. I've got to stop relying on exercise as my only means to lose weight. I've got to reduce the number of calories I eat and stop making excuses.

I would like to say I've struggled with my weight all my life. What's closer to the truth is that I've let it win.

I don't know why I have such a problem with food. Whether I'm at a buffet or one of those posh places where you get tiny (appropriate?) portions, I have this fear that I'm not going to get enough food. And once I get it, I feel obligated to eat it. All. And more.

This has got to stop. While I consider myself healthy because of the amount of exercise I get, it can't be good for my heart to have to squeeze blood through all this blubber.

Time to turn over a new leaf. Fifty pounds by the time I turn fifty. Fifty by fifty. It doesn't have to refer to my dimensions.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Unethical or Not.....

I have a dilemma that may not be unethical at all, which sort of takes all the fun out of it.

Or it could be that I'm creating a dilemma where none exists.

The father of one of my summer virtual school students called me this morning and left a voicemail because I was in my Zumba class. [Two weeks in a row!] He has called me NUMEROUS times this summer. When I heard his voice, I thought, "Dude, give it up. Summer session is OVER, and your kid passed with a 'B' although he is definitely smart enough to make an 'A'." He tends to ramble on the phone, both in person and on voicemail. In fact, the recording cut off the end of the message because he talked so long.

He had told me earlier that he worked for Disney World, and I casually (really, it WAS casual!) mentioned to him that my daughter lived in Florida and was one of his best customers. She would live at Disney if they would let her.

He was calling to say that he wanted my daughter and her family, if she had one, to be his guests at Disney.

I hesitated calling him back, because I was unsure about the ethics involved.

Would it be wrong, considering he offered them to my daughter?

Would it be wrong considering that I'm going down there next weekend, and I could wind up being the beneficiary of this gesture?

And what does it mean, being his "guest"? Tickets to the park(s)? Accommodations? A dinner date with Mickey? A behind-the-scenes tour of Cinderella's castle?

In his voicemail, he specifically mentioned the fact that his son was going to pass. Was he implying the offer would not have been forthcoming if his son had failed? I mean, he didn't word it like that. He didn't say, "Well, since Patrick is going to pass, I'd like your daughter to....." But he mentioned it.

He can't possibly know that I had not yet turned in final grades when his voicemail came.

Should I just quit worrying about it?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Hate to Read My Writing.....

I wonder if anyone else struggles with reading his/her own writing.

I don't mean handwriting.

I mean going back and looking at things you've previously written and cringing.

When I was in high school, I suspect that's why I became a good (according to Roger Bailey, the smartest man I ever knew) writer. I HATED to go back and revise. Or even read it again.

My first draft was my final draft.

I had a devil of a time writing my dissertation, because I didn't want to RE-write. I especially didn't want to rewrite Chapter 1 seven times, but I wanted the degree, so I kept doing it over. And my major professor was one of the NICER ones.

I have been published in a book about women who ride motorcycles. I found the link through a fellow blogger, and I submitted my story.

Now I don't want to buy the book, because I don't want to see what I said. I just wrote something off the cuff in the form of an email, which everyone KNOWS doesn't get published.

She wanted something like 100 stories, so it's not like she was being selective or anything.

In other words, mine was probably chosen because she was desperate to reach her 100 story goal.

I'm afraid it sounds trite and stupid, so I haven't ordered the book.

But I've kept the email with the information in it, just in case I change my mind.

For some odd reason, I do NOT have that problem with blog posts. I don't mind reading my previous posts. Sometimes I'll read back through old posts and even make MYSELF laugh.

[Yes, I know I am in desperate need of a life. Don't worry, school will start back soon.]

I come across old journals every now and then, and I just push them to the back of the filing cabinet. Maybe Sweet Girl will want them someday; I can't bring myself to read them. But I can't bring myself to throw them away either.

I also have a chapter in a "scholarly" type book, but I've never read it. She didn't tell me it was going to be CHAPTER ONE!!!! I'm guessing it wasn't exactly a best-seller, because I've never received royalties from it. And if my ex is getting those royalty checks because that's where I was living when I wrote it, they aren't enough to keep his house off the auction block, so I don't think I'm missing much.

The only person I can imagine caring that I've been published in a book is my mother, and since it's about motorcycle riding, she will have mixed feelings about the subject. Anger AND hostility. Not really ..... the last time I rode my Harley to her house, she didn't even let the air out of the tires.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Another Biloxi Trip.....

I was all prepared to write a post about a one-legged golfer my hubby played with in Biloxi the last time we were there. I thought some of you (okay, maybe one) might be moved to tears to see how this man managed to teach himself to swing a golf club even after he lost a leg.

As I tried to come up with the proper words, I realized I'd heard those words before.

In my own blog post. Does anyone else have that problem? Coming up with a topic and realizing you've already written about it? Please tell me I'm not the only loser who does that.....

So instead of writing about THAT trip to Biloxi, I'll write about our FIRST one.

It was right after my step-mother died, not the queen-of-hell my father was married to when he died, but the one who was so sweet and kind and good that we never figured out just what the hell she was doing married to our father.

Daddy had kept saying he wanted to go to Biloxi, go to Biloxi, go to Biloxi, until I was pretty sick of hearing it. The only way to shut him up was to go, so we agreed to go down there for three nights. He wanted to buy the gas and do all the driving (he always did) in exchange for the washing machine we had given him. Whatever.

Daddy struggled with alcoholism all his life, I guess, and it eventually won. But as long as Doris was alive, he didn't drink. I think she reached her breaking point and threatened to leave him if he didn't quit drinking. She was apparently important enough to him (God knows no one ELSE was), and he quit drinking. So she stayed. For thirty-some-odd years.

I didn't realize at the time that she was his ONLY anchor to sobriety.

We agreed to go to Biloxi with Daddy, and since Sweet Girl was only 14 at the time, we couldn't leave her home alone. So we took her along, thinking ..... oh, I don't know ..... it might be FUN to stay in the hotel room alone while we went to the casinos. After all, they had a pool, and she loved to swim. Never mind the fact that she had the worst ear infection she had ever had in her ENTIRE LIFE. We still dragged her along on this ill-conceived trip. (Sweet Girl, I don't know if I've ever told you how sorry I am for THAT trip. Second only to the one to Jamaica.....)

We got to Biloxi sometime late in the evening. I had never been in a casino in my life, and I thought Daddy really liked gambling. He took several rolls of QUARTERS, and I don't think I ever saw him put more than a few dollars in a machine. He didn't play table games.

I was appalled at the elderly people pulling their oxygen tanks up to the slot machines. It was patently obvious that they couldn't afford to be there. I didn't like the smoky atmosphere. I wanted to go home.

There weren't many people in the casino that night. We walked up to the bar, and Daddy leaned on it and told the bartender, "I haven't had a drink in 11 years."

I was kind of proud of him for that.

Then he said, "Give me a double vodka."

How do you tell a 70-year-old man he can't have a drink? How do you tell a bartender that the 70-year-old man CAN'T have a drink?

That pretty much ruined the trip for me. I felt so powerless. Hubby felt guilty because he was drinking a beer. He said Daddy wouldn't have gotten a drink of liquor if he hadn't had a beer himself.

I think he's wrong. I think Daddy planned it that way all along.

At breakfast the next morning, I told Daddy we wanted to go home. He didn't want to, but he agreed, especially after he saw Hubby putting sugar on his grits.

We were there less than 24 hours. And it was way too long.

I felt like I had let Doris down.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


We're back from what started as a mini-vacation and then became a micro-mini-vacation.

We left the beach today, where we spent only two nights when I wanted to spend five, and headed for the casino in Biloxi. It's been four years since we were in Biloxi. We were there about six weeks ahead of Hurricane Katrina. In fact, THAT trip got cut short by Hurricane Dennis. We were supposed to stay through Sunday that time, but the hurricane was looming and we kept hearing rumors about the casinos closing. I jokingly said to Hubby, "Let's hang around. I've never been in a hurricane before." Then we stopped at a store were there was a high-water mark on the wall from Hurricane Camille in 1969. The mark was well above our heads.

"Let's head north," I said.

So we headed north in the southbound lanes of I-65, which I thought was pretty cool. I'd never been part of a hurricane evacuation before.

Today the store where we saw the high-water mark from Hurricane Camille is apparently gone. Or like many things in Biloxi, not in its original location. But it's hard to tell because the entire landscape is different.

It's a little depressing to see all the damage that's still visible in Biloxi, namely that the casinos that filled the waterway are gone. The ones that have been rebuilt are now across the street. I guess they decided that silly old rule about casinos having to be on the water wasn't really necessary after all.

We stayed in the casino for a couple of hours and really anticipated spending the night there and heading home in the morning, but then we decided our luck wasn't running all that great, and we would probably wind up paying for a room and sitting around watching television and playing gin. Not drinking gin, but playing it. The card game, you know?

[Side note - Hubby's vent of frustration when I beat him soundly in gin about eight hands out of nine:


Ummmmm hummmmmmmm.]

So we came home a day early, which is almost always how our vacations turn out. Except when we go on cruises, when Hubby is held captive.

I'm going to limit our traveling to cruises from now on.

Or plan 7-day trips. Maybe that way I'll at least get four days.

I'll have to tell you about two previous trips to Biloxi, but that's for another day. Remind me if I forget.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Photographing Children.....

I feel compelled, driven, forced to take pictures of other people's children.

But I always feel that I must do it surreptitiously, because these strangers who are the parents of the aforementioned children might think I'm some kind of stalker or something.

So I focus on something way out in the ocean, and then when I think the parents might not notice, I zoom in on the kids and snap their pictures.

I don't want grown-ups in the pictures messing things up, so it gets a little dicey sometimes to get a good snapshot of the kid alone. Because what kind of parent takes a kid to the beach and then lets go of his/her hand for even a split second?

All this is to excuse whatever flaws you find in the pictures below. Yeah, that's it ..... otherwise these would have been professional-looking journalistic statements of my prowess as a photographer.

Although I am also pretty good at eavesdropping and know the real names of some of these munchkins, I am going to change their names just in case someone happens across this blog (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha) who might know one of them.


Hello, I'm Tyne. No, I don't know why my parents names me something that is part of a fork. My parents will put me in gymnastics and pay for years of piano lessons, but I will drop out of college with only 3 credits remaining and become a jewelry engraver. I will spend my evenings walking people's dogs and watering their plants while they are on vacation. I will be the one at family reunions who always brings macaroni and cheese and causes family arguments without meaning to.


My name is Lisette. I will graduate from the drama department at USC with the assurances of all my teachers that I will go on to do great things. I will move to New York to get my big break, and I will become a tour guide to support myself while I wait for casting calls. Or whatever you call them. I will never learn how the subway system works in NYC, and I will develop a phobia that renders me incapable of using elevators or escalators.


I'm Penelope. I will graduate with a degree in Criminal Justice, and my parents will beam as they anticipate my acceptance to law school. Imagine their surprise when I decide instead to become a journalist embedded with the 82nd Airborne and parachute into Afghanistan, where the war on terror/search for Osama Bin Laden will still be going on. I will collect Barbie dolls from all over the world and send them home to my parents, who will let the foster children they have taken into their home play with them and cut their hair.


My name is Isabella. I am going to become a teacher of special-needs children. I will marry a policeman, but we will be unable to have children of our own. We will instead live on a small farm and raise alpacas.


I'm Rhoda. I will start out my career as a costume designer, creating elaborate pieces for shows in Las Vegas, London, and Paris. I will achieve fame and fortune, but life in the fast lane will get to be too much. The constant recognition, the inability to go anywhere without being hounded by paparrazzi, the pressure of being expected to constantly produce new and exciting designs, will wear me down. I will realize that I can achieve anonymity by becoming a professional mascot. I will never understand the infield fly rule, nor will I be able to discuss the pros and cons of the spread offense. And don't even get me started on why the last two minutes of a basketball game can go on for-freakin-ever. I will write and illustrate a children's book and go broke trying to self-publish it.


My name is Merrill. My parents will put me in tee ball and peewee football as soon as I can hold my head up straight while wearing a helmet. I will be the starting quarterback for my high school team, but I will suck at baseball because I refuse to sacrifice. Ever. During college I will take a ballet class because it is the only course open on Mondays and Wednesdays at 2:00 PM, and I will discover my true calling. I will go on to dance with a major company, although NOT as a principal dancer, but it will cause ..... problems ..... with me and my dad. I will marry a principal dancer in a different company, and we will spend the rest of our lives trying to coordinate baby-sitters and just trying to see each other once in a while.


I am Cameron. I will enter the military upon graduating from high school, where I will earn a pilot's license. I will qualify to fly commercial airliners, but I will get a job shuttling high-profile golf players to their tournaments. My mother will be disappointed that she cannot jetset off to Dubai courtesy of her pilot son. In my spare time I will paint graffiti on the sides of railcars.


My name is Astrid. Not Asteroid, Astrid. I will graduate from high school with decent grades, but my family will be unable to pay for college. I will hide my pain and embarrassment by making jokes, and I will be small potatoes on the stand-up comic circuit. I will never make an appearance on David Letterman, and I will be booed out of Branson, Missouri when I make a joke about Dolly Parton. My sister will be a professional tennis player and will refuse to admit that she knows me.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Something I Learned About Hubby Today......

Just when I think I know everything there is to know about Hubby.

Today I learned that he can't open his eyes underwater.

That explains why he always sends ME to get the rocks, golf balls, hair thingies, and pool toys from the bottom of the pool.

We were talking about how pretty the beaches and the water are here [while we sat under a shelter and watched it rain into the Gulf of Mexico]. I was telling him that it didn't even burn to open your eyes underwater, which I normally wouldn't do in the ocean.

He said he has never opened his eyes underwater and won't ever. He's tried. They just won't open. Not even in the pool.


I wonder if it has anything to do with a strange palsy-like affliction his uncle had one time. He couldn't open his eyes at all. Period. Until it finally went away, and then he could.

Nah, probably not. Although I think Hubby DID actually have a mild form of the same thing one time. I'd ask him, but he's already asleep.

And then at dinner Hubby went and ordered a baked potato with sour cream on it. He's never done that in the 12 years we've been married.

Wonder what surprises tomorrow will bring?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sometimes I Wish I Were a Man.....

Not really, but sometimes I wish I at least had a wife. Or a personal assistant. Or a Sherpa.

Packing for Hubby is so easy.

[And yes, I pack his clothes anytime he goes out of town, whether I'm going with him or not. And I'm not embarrassed to admit it. Much.]

We're going to be gone three days, so I throw in three pairs of shorts and three golf shirts that match. He wouldn't even care if they didn't match, but I do. I usually pack at least one UGA shirt when we're going out of state. A couple of t-shirts for walking on the beach in the morning, socks, underwear, bathing suits, he's done.

Packing for myself is much more complicated. And I am not ..... I repeat NOT ..... fashion-conscious. I pack shorts and t-shirts for walking on the beach or hanging out during the day, but it's not the sort of thing I would wear to dinner. Or the casino. So I have to pack for daytime and nighttime. With an extra outfit thrown in for safe measure. Just in case someone sneaks an extra day in on me somewhere. Flip-flops for the beach and pool, sneakers for walking, and don't even get me started on the necessity for a separate pair of shoes for each outfit. This time I didn't go that route; I'm taking one pair of white sandals, and they have to go with everything. Two swimsuits ..... okay, three because I couldn't decide ..... and a cover-up. Every bra I own because I can never remember which ones are really comfortable, and I didn't feel like trying them on. Two pairs of underwear for every day, because you can't go walk on the beach and then change into a swimsuit and then put the SAME UNDERWEAR back on to go to dinner. Sorry if that's TMI. A couple of bandanas, socks for the sneakers, sports bras for walking. My toiletries bag and make-up case.

We will take no fewer than 6 bags with us in the morning, by the time we load up the suitcases (2), the laptop, my CPAP machine, a bag of snacks because Hubby evidently thinks we're going to run the risk of starving to death way off in the wilds of ..... Florida. A bag with our swim things in it because we might not be able to check in right away. A cooler. Or two.

I TOLD him we should rent a motorhome.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


I went to my very first Zumba class this morning. It was only two days ago that I learned what Zumba was. Why does it take me so long to hear about something that has evidently been a "craze" for going on three years now?

I like aerobics classes, but the ones at our local "Y" don't fit my schedule. I don't mind doing aerobics to a DVD or video, but I get bored doing the same ones over and over.

Last year I took a few cardio dance classes at the "Y", and I liked those. Even though I don't have hinges where the instructor evidently did. I was doing a search online for "cardio dance" the other day, thinking I might stumble upon a routine that was easy enough to follow.

I kept coming up with things called "Zumba."

Note: This is NOT the class I went to today.

I like it because it's exercise, but you don't FEEL like you're exercising. It's more like you're dancing at a party. Where everyone else knows the steps better than you. And they've had more tequila. And they know you're a Latin impostor.

Another thing I like about it is that it's not just for women. You can see a guy or two in the video, and there was a whole family in my class this morning: mom, dad, and teenage son.

Hey Maggie, here's a challenge for you. You go to a Zumba class, and I'll go to a spin class. Deal?

Now if I can only learn how to shake some of those parts ON PURPOSE.

Friday, July 10, 2009

I Wish I Could Be a Picky Eater....

I was talking to Weesa this afternoon. She and the Sullen Teenager just returned from a cruise to the Bahamas. I had to laugh when I asked her if she had fun. Her response: "As much fun as a 40-year-old and a 14-year-old can have."

They didn't like the food and ate at McDonald's at the airport as soon as they got back.

I don't remember ever being disappointed with the food on any vacation. Unless of course it was late arriving. Or there wasn't enough of it.

I'm just not that picky an eater. Maybe that's my problem.

I can ALWAYS find something to eat, whether on a cruise ship or one of those all-inclusive resorts. It may not be like Mama cooked it, or even like I would prepare it at home, but I certainly won't leave hungry.

I had a theory once that Mom must have made us clean our plates before we left the table. I thought that explained why I insisted on eating EVERYTHING on my plate (and anyone's nearby if he/she wasn't quick enough). I asked her about it one time, and she laughed.

"I had to push you away from the table from the time you could sit up."

My eldest brother called me a garbage disposal because I would go around the table eating anything anyone left. [I'm not sure garbage disposals had been invented yet, so I don't know where he got that term. But I knew it wasn't nice.] And I remember feeling compelled to do it! I distinctly remember the fear that I would not get my fair share. It's a wonder I'm not morbidly obese instead of just barely obese.

I was reading the literature on the Slim in 6 DVDs I received last week. So far that's about all the exercise I've gotten out of it. Not really. I've worked out to it twice. I watched the beginners' level DVD before I ever tried it out. I was thinking, "This is way too easy. I need to do the next level up." But I didn't, I started with the beginners' level, because I'm a rule follower.

Beginning with the beginning is the only reason I didn't wind up in ICU.

I was sore for days. And then I was gun-shy. I finally got up the nerve to work out to it again today. The lady on the DVD kept saying, "Hold those abs in tight!" I finally shouted at the television, "Lady, if I could hold my abs in tight, we wouldn't be HAVING this little party!"

Now where was I going with this?

Oh yeah ..... their literature.

I read somewhere in the brochure that you should only eat when hungry (duh), and you shouldn't stop eating when you were full. I got all excited at that point. Then the next sentence said you should stop eating when you were no longer hungry.

Now there's a concept.

Problem is, I don't think I've really ever been full. Not sure I've ever been hungry. I've spent most of my life making sure that neither one occurs.

I don't mind exercising, but damn I hate giving up food. Unfortunately, I have reached the age where I would have to exercise roughly 23 hours a day.

I wish I could give up food the way I gave up cigarettes. Cold turkey.

Or maybe if I could just be a little pickier.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

My Feet.....

You don't have to be scared to scroll down.....I'm not going to torture you with pictures of my feet. I only did that once, and that was in reference to my $300 pedicure on a cruise ship.

I was thinking yesterday that one of the things I'm going to miss most about returning to school is NOT sleeping in (I don't do that), it's my flip-flops.

I've never been much of a flip-flop kind of girl. So it's kind of hard for me to explain why I have four and a half pairs of them in my closet. It may be five, if I ever find the other yellow one.

See, I've had this problem with my feet for years. As usual, I am bass-ackward. During the winter my feet were soft and smooth, but in the summer they would turn scaly and crack, to the point that sometimes they even bled. Sorry. I know that's TMI.

One time at my former school, a male student told me, "You know, you probably shouldn't wear sandals." Sadly, it was true. I just didn't think anyone looked that closely. I should have known Robert would.

I had several doctors give me things for the horrible condition of my feet. A podiatrist who had also done the neuroma surgery on both of my feet gave me some stuff that cost ME $80 a bottle, and that was AFTER the insurance paid. He also gave ..... I mean sold ..... me a "prescription" pumice stone. I used them religiously and inspected my feet daily for signs of improvement. They still cracked and itched and flaked and looked disgusting.

My regular doctor ..... oh crap, I didn't make my appointment again today ..... bluebird ..... gave me two prescriptions, the names of which escape me at this moment. They didn't work either.

I went to a dermatologist to have some moles removed, and he noticed my feet because I was wearing sandals. (I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to Robert.) He said he could give me something for them. I told him all the things I had ALREADY tried, and he said, to my relief, "Those are for fungus. This is NOT a fungus; it's just a severe case of dry skin." So he gave me something ELSE that was expensive and yucky. And it didn't work either.

I had resigned myself to the fact that I was either going to have disgusting feet or I would just wear tennis shoes and socks all summer to hide my ugly feet from the world. I figured I would look pretty silly in the pool with sneakers on, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

But this year my feet are fixed.

You wanna know what did it? I'm going to tell you anyway.

Flax seed oil.

I take two capsules every morning, and this whole summer my feet have been as smooth and soft as they are all winter long.

The irony of it is that is not the reason I started taking the flax seed oil. I started taking it in December when I had my lasik surgery done on my left eye. The eye doctor said I had dry eyes (doesn't everyone?) and to take blah blah blah milligrams of flax seed oil or fish oil every day. I'm not really sure I'm taking the dose he said, but my feet look great and my eyes so far haven't sealed themselves shut, so it must be okay.

[Anyone out there ever been tested for dry eye? It was my first time. They take a little piece of paper that looks like the litmus strips we used in chemistry class in high school, or maybe the little strips we test the pool chemicals with. They stick that bad boy right on your eyeball, and then they leave you like that for an hour or two. Or maybe just a couple of minutes. Then they take the stick out of your eye and see how much moisture it has ..... something. They had a little trouble getting it off my eyeball. I thought they were going to have to use a scalpel or something. You're welcome for this riveting description.]

I may just have to go buy some of those really cute "sandals" that are merely flip-flops in disguise. I should be able to get away with wearing those all the way through October.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

It Isn't Just Me.....

Many years ago, when I had only been teaching for a few years, I realized that I went into a sort of depression at the END of the school year. I abhorred the loss of both a routine and the feeling of being needed that I (occasionally) got from the classroom.

Yesterday I read a blog post by Tense Teacher, and I am relieved to report that it isn't just me. I'm not sure where she teaches, but she is ready to go back to school. Maybe she should move HERE, where we get to go back on July Freakin' 28th.

It's not that I don't have a routine. I still get up with Hubby every morning at 5:00 AM (except for Sunday, my usual sleep-in day). We have breakfast together, and then I watch CNN Headline News until I have memorized all the day's stories.

That's the same thing I do in the school year. Only during the school year, I know that at a certain time I have to pry myself out of the recliner and get on the elliptical. If I am to arrive at school by 7:45 (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha), I need to get in the shower by 7:00. I need a chance to stop sweating, so I need to get OFF the elliptical by 6:45. That means I have to be ON the elliptical by 6:15. (Does anyone else out there plan your mornings in REVERSE?) That means I have to have finished reading the paper by 6:00 so I have time to go get my duds on.

During summer, I've had a little different schedule. I'll surf the net, avoiding the bajillion assignments that have been turned in overnight until that little voice in my ear becomes a deafening roar. After overdosing on CNN, I'll watch something I've recorded. This morning it was Episodes 2 and 3 of Make It or Break It and WHATEVER YOU DO DO NOT WATCH THIS SHOW. The ranks right up there with the stupidest thing I have ever seen in my life. Up and including Wipeout. I'm recording the whole series, so I'll get to see Episode 4 next week.

I realized this afternoon at around 5:00 that I hadn't exercised all day. So I hopped on the elliptical while I boiled some eggs for tuna salad and exercised while I watched the Braves beat the Cubs 4-1.

I just hate being out of my routine.

I know that as soon as school starts, I will be lamenting all the things I didn't get done during my 6-week summer. I'm not really wishing away my free time.

But school has to start before football season can start.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Dear Mr. Automobile Fixer-Guy......

First of all, I would never try to tell you your business. I know very little about cars and how they work. I know how to put gas in one, but I'd rather someone else did it for me. I know how to put oil in one, but because I have an SUV I can't really reach it. I know how to check the tire pressure, and I know how to wash one, but I'm not really interested in doing it.

I concentrate on knowing the important things. I know how to install the gargantuan bicycle rack we use to haul the tandem. I know how to put a kayak on top of the car. It isn't pretty, and I could probably win $10,000 for the funniest home video of me doing it, but I can do it if I have to. I know how to put the back seats down so I can put my single bike in the back.

Those are the important things.

But I digress.

Far be it from me to correct you or imply that you might have told me just a little bitty fib. A white lie, if you will.

When I brought my car in eleven days ago because it was clearly leaking antifreeze on the driveway, your co-worker said it was a thermostat housing gasket, and he replaced both that gasket and the thermostat. I was headed out of town, so I was grateful that A) your folks could get to it in as little as six hours; and B) it ONLY cost $200 to fix.

But when Hubby got home yesterday, he noticed there was once again a puddle of antifreeze underneath the car. In the same exact spot as it was before. You know, the problem you "fixed" eleven days ago? For $200? Yeah, that one.

I understand that your co-worker, the one who ordered the "repair" eleven days ago, was on vacation this week. How convenient.

And since you clearly know much more than I do about cars, I will not question the fact that today's leak was due to a faulty radiator. Never mind that the leak was in the SAME. EXACT. SPOT. Go ahead and explain to me the direction that a leak would run in both cases, and never mind pointing out to me how they could conceivably end up in the same spot on the driveway. You have all the power in this relationship, you know? You have my car. You MIGHT have a new radiator for it tomorrow. And when I pick it up, you will have an additional $565 of my money that we could have used next week at the beach, more specifically at the casino.

Far be it from me to think I know more about cars than you do.

Mr. Automobile Fixer-Guy.

Monday, July 6, 2009

And the NEW Miss Georgia Is........

........almost certain to have a longer reign than the last one, who lasted just over 24 hours.

Seems the original winner, Kristina Higgins, suddenly realized that she could not honor both her commitments as Miss Georgia AND her job teaching middle school. So she relinquished her crown to the first runner-up, Emily Cook. Who knew that being first runner-up to anyone other than Vanessa Williams wouldn't suck nearly as badly as it felt at first?

I know I'll probably be crucified for criticizing the noble actions of this beautiful young woman, but COME. ON. You KNEW you were a teacher when you entered the blame pageant. You also knew you worked for what may be the biggest pain-in-the-ass school district in the entire state, if not the entire NATION.

So what if Emily now gets to wear the sash to the grocery store and show up at everything from cattle auctions to nursing home openings? For one brief moment last Saturday night, she was told in front of the whole world that she wasn't good enough. She didn't get to gasp and put her hands up to her face and try to hold the tiara on her head while she cried and pretended she thought someone else was going to win. No, she had to hold the winner's hand while they announced HER as the new Miss Georgia, and she had to paste that smile on her face and banish the thought that "I should be wearing that damn tiara."

They had a "crowning ceremony" today somewhere. I didn't catch where because I was multi-tasking at the time, always a dangerous proposition for me. I was preparing a lesson to teach online, advising Hubby on booking a hotel room for our vacation next week, and trying to eat an Oreo (or two) surreptitiously while Hubby was on the computer.

But how big an audience do you think Emily had at this crowning ceremony? Did she get to wear her fancy dress? She didn't get to have any of the excitement, the anticipation. Of course, the flip side is that she didn't have to fake her smile, either.

Okay, okay, I'll grudgingly give what's-her-name credit for doing the responsible thing and keeping her job. 'Cause honey, where she teaches, that job would probably NOT have been waiting for her NEXT August, when she wouldn't have been anything more than the FORMER Miss Georgia. And who's to say that if she hadn't entered the contest, it would have automatically defaulted to Emily? Hmmmmmmm?????? Maybe not. We'll never know.

I don't know why it bothers me. Emily probably doesn't give a rip. I'll bet she sleeps in that sash tonight.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Hubby's Nephew and His Family.....

We had a (thankfully) small gathering for the Fourth of July, which was 100% larger a gathering than I wanted to have in the first place. Is there a Fourth of July equivalent for "bah humbug"? Wait....that makes me sound unpatriotic. It had nothing to do with the Fourth of July. It had a lot to do with the fact that I just wanted to relax at home. It would have been fine if Hubby had gone off to the golf course. But we had a gathering all the same, and as usual, it wasn't nearly as bad as what I had been dreading.

Hubby's mother and sister came, along with her son (D), his wife (K), and their three kids (D2, S, and C). They have two sons who are six months apart in age. I can explain that.

Hubby's nephew married fairly young. In the old days (way, way, way back), we would have said "they HAD to get married." They produced D2, a sweet little girl who was born the very day that Princess Diana died.

As happens to many young couples who "have" to get married, they began to grow apart. Eventually they split, but they were never very far apart, mainly due to D2. Both of them took their parenting responsibilities seriously, for which I admire them. I tend to think D took his responsibilities even more seriously than the child's MOTHER did, but I could be biased, since he's related to Hubby by blood.

D got involved with church, however, and in fact he sometimes preaches at his church, although he is not a fully ordained minister. K began to go to church with him, and soon neither of them resembled the people they had been before. The transformation was almost unbelievable. They weren't obnoxious about religion, but you could tell they weren't just dabbling in it. And they apparently aren't judgmental, because D continues to play golf with Hubby. That could test ANYONE'S religion.

They got back together, and then their son S was born.

Personally I wouldn't want to have children 10 years apart, but that's their business. I chose not to have more than one child no matter WHAT the age difference. Unlike my ex, who had two children born on Valentine's Day, THIRTY YEARS APART. But I digress.

When S was about nine months old, K's sister was tragically beaten TO DEATH by her husband. They had a three-month old named C. Well obviously he wasn't NAMED C, but you get my drift.

He is the sweetest little thing, but he appears to be much further behind S developmentally than their six-month age difference.

D and K took the little guy in, because they were his only family. Their family went from two kids to three literally overnight. They didn't even get a nine-month pregnancy to get ready for this event. They didn't even get to discuss whether they even WANTED a third child. That's not quite true.....D told me they HAD discussed it, but they had decided two was enough. I guess God had other ideas.

It is a terribly sad situation. They had to wait for the father to get sentenced before they could legally claim the child as their own. They still haven't adopted him, because right now they can get limited financial assistance from the state; if they adopt, that goes away. I know the legal system is cold and heartless out of necessity, but it seems a shame in a situation such as this one. They couldn't really afford a third child, but what else could they do? I am not usually in favor of milking the state for assistance, but in this case I certainly can't blame them for holding off on the adoption. It is safe for them to hold off; since the murderer has been sentenced, they have been granted "physical custody," and no one can take him from them.

The situation just raises all kinds of questions in my mind. For one, could I have done the same thing? Could I have taken a child to raise who wasn't my own? A child who will never remember any other mother? Of course I could, had it been one of my sisters. That's what sisters do.

At what age will they tell him what happened to his birth mother? And his sperm donor?

And how many times will D and K have to explain how they have two sons who are six months apart in age?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The INDEPENDENCE Day That Almost Was......

Twenty-two years ago today, I ALMOST made the best decision of my life.

I had lost my mind and decided to marry a jerk, a tyrant, an @$$hole, all wrapped up in one. Please just shoot me now rather than make me remember this.

Nothing big, just a civil ceremony.

He had one job. ONE. That was to find someone to marry us.

At around 2:00 in the afternoon of the 4th, he started calling random preachers he had heard of in passing. Along with a redneck dude who called himself the "Mayor of Struggleville" and had been a justice of the peace, but could no longer perform marriage ceremonies.

I told him to get his %*!$ out of my car, my house, and my life.

But our "friends" were at our local hangout, and they were expecting us to get married that day.

So I relented, and we even pretended that we HAD gotten married that day. We went to the courthouse on Monday instead. It was two weeks later when I finally told my mother.

God, will I forever wish I had stuck to my guns on that Fourth of July.

May all your Fourth of July memories be happy ones. Mine have been, ever since 1997.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Even Perfect Men Don't LISTEN......

Apparently we're having a Fourth of July gathering at our house tomorrow.

Hubby and I had a conversation about this very subject approximately one week ago.

Me: Are you planning to play golf on the Fourth?
Hubby: I doubt it. Do you want to have something here?

Me: Not really. It's gotten where your sister is the only one who comes, and I'd just rather not fool with it.

[In her defense, she probably won't be nearly as bad since she's stopped drinking. And gotten rid of the leering, too-friendly, hugging creep she was with for a few years.]

Hubby: Yeah, me too.

Case closed.

Or was it?

When I got back from the Nash Bash last weekend and sister-in-law called to apologize for the fact that she had allowed the umbrella AND GLASS TABLE to blow into the freakin' pool on Saturday, she finished the conversation with, "I hear y'all are having a cookout for the Fourth?"


I guess we are.

Only I ain't cookin'. The only thing I MIGHT make is Pioneer Woman's bacon-wrapped jalapeno peppers.

Other than that, they'd just better be prepared to eat sandwiches. And see a less-than-pristine bathroom.

And go home early.

Yours truly,

Your Hostess with the Mostest [Enthusiasm and Love for In-Laws]

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Silver Comet Trail.....

Today I joined two of my bestest cycling buddies, Rozmo and VT, for a "little" bicycle ride on the Silver Comet Trail, an awesome multi-use trail built from a former railroad track. Because it used to be a railroad track, there is very little grade and few hills. [I read somewhere that a railroad couldn't have more than a 3% grade, but I'm not sure of the veracity of that statement. Don't you love words like "veracity"?]

No hills is the good news. The bad news is that you have to pedal, pedal, pedal, pedal, pedal, pedal, and then pedal some more. No coasting here -- at least not much.

The "little" ride turned out to be 75 miles. I say that as if they tricked me into riding that distance, but that is not really accurate. You pretty much know the length of any ride on the Silver Comet Trail -- it's wherever you are multiplied by 2. Because unless you have a chauffeur, your only choice is to ride back from whence you came. At some points on the trail it isn't even POSSIBLE to be picked up by the hypothetical chauffeur.

We rode that far because our objective was to have lunch at Frankie's, a wonderful Italian restaurant in Rockmart, Georgia. It would be wonderful even if it DID have tons of competition -- which it doesn't. Frankie caters to cyclists, because her restaurant is very near where the trail comes out in Rockmart. She doesn't mind that we're sweaty and stinky and generally not very attractive when we get there. She welcomes us warmly, plies us with food and drink, fills up our water bottles and/or camelback reservoirs, and has us sign the wall in her back room. Her food is delicious, and everyone is extremely accommodating. Rozmo didn't care for the garlic bread sticks [WHAT IS WRONG WITH HER?], so they brought her some that didn't have garlic. I had fettucinni alfredo with chicken, and I could easily have curled up in the corner and died from sheer happiness. But I had 37 miles to ride back.

Today was a wonderful ride. I was even in FRONT of the group for a lot of the time. I said I was going to come home and kiss my elliptical, because I'm sure that made a huge difference in my power and stamina today. Other times we were able to ride three abreast, taking up the whole trail. There are long stretches of the trail that are in very remote areas. When you start seeing people with strollers and dogs, you know you're approaching civilization.

The last time I rode the trail was NOT a pleasant experience. I rode with VT and Rozmo that day too, and it was miserable. Looking back now, I think I may have had some symptoms of mild heatstroke. I drank and drank and drank and drank, even when Rozmo did NOT tell me to, and I thought I was well hydrated. When we got to Rockmart, I was about to die to go to the bathroom. But when I got there, I. Could. Not. Pee. That was one of the most miserable experiences in my life, up to and including childbirth.

This happened on a Tuesday. We rode up to Frankie's door, and I was in front. Rozmo shouted, "What time does she open?"


We had ridden 37 miles to eat at a restaurant that wasn't even open that day.

So we went to a sub-par barbecue restaurant, where I still couldn't pee, and when my lunch got there, I couldn't eat. I had ridden 37 miles on my bicycle, and my only choice was to ride 37 miles back, and I could not eat a bite. Rozmo went to the store and got me a Gatorade, and my friends were kind enough to stop frequently and allow me to lie down on the side of the trail. I was never so glad to get to the end of a ride as I was that day.

There was a time when I wouldn't have thought twice before going out to ride the trail alone. It is patrolled by officers on four-wheelers or golf carts in each of the counties it passes through, and most people appear to be friendly and only there for the exercise or to enjoy the scenery. That all changed in July of 2006, however, when Jennifer Ewing was murdered as she rode her bike along the Silver Comet. The animal who killed her recently got the death penalty for her murder, but lethal injection is too good for him. She fought back fiercely, to the point that her attacker wound up going to the hospital and HIS blood was found on her bicycle. She wasn't able to save herself, however.

A memorial stands beside the trail near the spot where her body and bicycle were found.

It is a very sobering reminder of the society in which we live today. Other people have also been attacked on the trail, men as well as women. One man was attacked by a group of four teenagers, so I'm not ENTIRELY sure that the three of us women riding on the trail are safe. Every time I see a woman riding alone, I cringe inside.

When we got back to the parking lot today, my bicycle computer read 74 miles. I wanted to be able to say I rode 75 miles, so I went beyond the 0 mile marker toward a shopping center (where, inexplicably, they evidently have a -1 mile marker -- I don't get it). I thought I'd ride another half mile down the trail and then circle back to my car for a total of 75.

Only when I'd ridden about 3 tenths of a mile, I got to a hill. A fairly big one.

I decided 74.81 miles was far enough. I will say I rode 75 miles if I want to, and you can't stop me.