Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Excuses, Excuses......

As a teacher, naturally I've heard some doozies as far as excuses go. We had one earlier this school year that made me laugh out loud. When our students check in to school tardy, they pick up a tardy slip in the front office, fill it out, and (theoretically) have someone in the front office sign it. There's a line on there where students are supposed to indicate the reason for their tardiness. You would be amazed at how many of them put "Late" as their reason. That drives me crazy.

One of our precious girls came in late one morning, and under "Reason for Tardy" she had written "Cow got out." She is a member of FFA, and she has a cow that she takes to shows. She went by to feed the cow on her way to school, and it was out of its pen. Naturally it was pouring rain that morning too. How can you not excuse her, when clearly she had to retrieve the wayward cow?

One girl who rarely bothers to write anything on her tardy slip because she knows that "sorriness" won't be excused anyway handed me a slip one morning, and she had uncharacteristically written a reason for her tardiness. "My mom is crazy," she had written. I thought to myself, "Hello, Pot. Have you met Mr. Kettle?" But I didn't say it out loud, because she DOES have the cray-cray going on, and she missed several days because she was incarcerated. She would have no problem at all jacking me up.

This week we had what may be the most jaw-dropping ever, though. This guy came to our school later in the year, when he realized that he couldn't possibly get all the credits he needed at the home school. Actually, we had to point that out to him. He wanted to wait and come to us next semester, when he would need 8 credits. Eight. As in a whole year's worth. Whatever. We should have known something about him when we asked in the interview if he could start the next day. He hesitated, looked a little uncertain, and then said, "Can we make it the day after? I need to say goodbye to all my friends." He is charming but lazy, and he disappeared not long after he started. He stayed gone a week, then showed back up, looking sheepish. He was apologetic and honest about how he had screwed up, but it was still early enough that he could get his credits. His attendance has been spotty, and he missed another entire week. His sister is his main custodian, and I think she's got more than she can handle. Anyway, he showed up yesterday after a lengthy absence, and we cornered him immediately because we needed to handle a disciplinary referral regarding his leaving campus without permission. (We suspended him for a day. What kind of punishment is that for a kid who doesn't want to come anyway? We're sort of at our wits' ends.) When we gathered in the office, we asked him where he had been for the week before Thanksgiving.

Are you sure you're ready for this?

"My blackheads. My face was all scabbed over." (It couldn't possibly have been.)

Seriously? I know adolescence is a tough time, but are you seriously going to stay out of school for an entire week because of some blackheads?

These damn kids.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Not Venting After All.....

I was already planning tonight's blog post as I drove to school this morning. I was all prepared to go on an old-fashioned rant about my perfect Hubby being NOT so perfect last night. Mr. I-Have-To-Go-To-Bed-At-8:00-Every-Night brought his iPhone to bed and proceeded to text NON-STOP back and forth with one of his buddies. Every time I would doze off, that damn phone would vibrate and then make its loud, very annoying tone. He even uttered, "Leave me alone, Jason," after the first time, but then he KEPT TEXTING HIM BACK. I finally went downstairs but couldn't sleep there either, so I played Nintendo until almost midnight. I eventually went back upstairs, but it's hard to fall asleep when I'm angry. And my head was getting congested, wah wah wah wah wah wah. Suffice it to say that I got very little sleep the night before I had to return from a week off. But now I'm not going to rant about all that.

When I opened the door of my classroom, I was greeted with the stench of something dead. I was hoping (sort of) that it wasn't a student I'd left sleeping peacefully when we departed for Thanksgiving break. I don't go looking for the source of a dead smell, so I reported it to the custodian. Bless her heart, she found the little critter in the back corner of my room, a little mouse who probably died of a broken heart because we were gone all week. She disposed of him, and the smell was mostly gone by the time I left this afternoon. Either that or I got used to it. I won't rant about that either.

I won't even whine about the fact that my mother pointedly gave my sister an autographed copy of a book that she bought when the author of the book came to the OFH (old folks' home) before she moved. It's not that I WANTED the damn book, it's that she made such a big deal of presenting it to Nurse Jane AND made sure she read the inscription, with me SITTING RIGHT THERE. How can you do that? No explanation for the fact that she has three daughters, she bought five books, and she only had one of them autographed. I think subconsciously she's trying to turn us against each other, because that's the way HER mother operated. We're way smarter than that. But I'm not going to whine about that either.

Because some people have bigger problems than mine. One of my favorite blog writers is Evil Pixie. Her sister, Wicked Pixie, was burned badly in an accident on Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving, for crying out loud! You can read about it here. The reason I'm telling you about it at all is because Evil Pixie asked her readers to send get well cards to Wicked Pixie. So I'm sending it along to my readers too. You can address the cards to Wicked Pixie, PO Box 28442, Bellingham, WA  98228.

That way I won't feel quite so churlish about complaining, when I really don't have any problems at all.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Comfort Food.....and Drink......

I came home from a very short bike ride today quite chilled. It was a very short ride, and I'm not going to apologize for the fact that I was chilled to the bone in temperatures that were in the 40's. I'm a girl from the South, and I don't do cold. Cold, by the way, is anything below 60 degrees. It was supposed to get somewhere NEAR that today, but by that time football was well under way. I am still patting myself on the back for venturing out on the bike at all, especially considering I've already met my November cycling goal. I rode 13.5 miles and made it in the door just in time for the 1:00 PM kickoff of the Atlanta Falcons game.

I was looking forward to some hot apple cider (instant, so shoot me) when I got home. As I started to boil the water, though, I saw an ingredient for a drink that I made a couple of times last winter when there was snow on the ground: butterscotch Schnapps. I got the recipe off a box of something (maybe the cider), and it also called for whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel syrup on top. Because I'm trying to be "good" and because I didn't have any whipped cream, I opted for just the butterscotch Schnapps.

Heaven in a mug. Not enough to get tipsy or anything (even after two mugs), but a delightful mid-afternoon treat. Maybe I can find a way to carry that concoction in my water bottles on my bike. Then a chilly bike ride will be a little more tolerable.

For dinner I made potato soup. The recipe was actually called "Zippy Potato Soup." I found it a little bland, even after I added cheese that the recipe did not call for. Still, it was warm and filling, and I had enough left over to freeze for later AND take some for tomorrow's lunch.

So there. I DO cook sometimes. From a real cookbook and everything. For my 50 things to do next year list, I'm going to include trying some new recipes. Probably not 50 new ones, but anything will be a start.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Halftime Blog Post......

It's hard for me to corral my thoughts because it's halftime of the UGA-Ga. Tech football game. This game is huge EVERY year, but this year it determines whether or not UGA goes to a post-season bowl game. We're leading at halftime, but we have also looked shaky. As in fumbling the opening kickoff.

I spent most of the day with all of my siblings (yay!) and my mother (not so yay!). It wasn't a planned get-together, but we always have a good time when we get together. At least most of us.

Perhaps it says a great deal about the level of my own romanticism, but I hate, hate, hate the sappy Kay Jewelers commercials at Christmas time.

I overate on Thanksgiving, haven't ridden my bike for four days, haven't exercised except to walk in the woods today looking at the land my mother is in the process of buying, and haven't cooked any healthy meals. But I did NOT gain any weight. In fact, I may have lost half a pound. That is amazing bordering on miraculous.

And now halftime is over, and I cannot multitask during a football game.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Pictures.....

I am officially middle-aged -

My child now cooks Thanksgiving dinner for ME.

In all fairness, it's most likely the only way she was going to get a Thanksgiving meal. I CAN cook, I've never poisoned anyone (so far), and I have even received compliments on my cooking from time to time, but it's not something I'm known for. More like I'm known for avoiding it.

In all my (middle-aged) years, I think I have been compelled to cook Thanksgiving dinner exactly twice. We don't have any deep-rooted family traditions regarding Thanksgiving. Sometimes Nurse Jane hosts the entire family at her home (bless her), and on at least two occasions Hubby and I have gone to one of those belly-up-to-the-buffet type restaurants.

Sweet Girl loves to cook. I don't know where she got that gene; we know it wasn't from me. And as for her father's side of the family ...... uh, probably not. Perhaps it isn't genetic at all. Maybe she developed a desire to cook simply to survive.

Okay, I'm not really that bad. I generally cook at least four nights a week, although they generally aren't gourmet meals. And I don't enjoy it. Cooking is not a hobby, it does not relieve stress for me (rather it creates stress), and I would be happy never to have to cook again. On the other hand, if I won the lottery and became very wealthy overnight, I don't think I would hire a chef either. A maid is a different story.

Thanksgiving dinner at Sweet Girl's house was wonderful. I felt guilty having so much food for only three people (and two dogs). I hope Sweet Girl will eat most of the leftovers.

Hubby trying to figure out the iPad. Is it just me, or is he wearing that same t-shirt every time I post pictures of him? I know he's been wearing it on several of our RV trips. Perhaps it's because I'm usually taking pictures of him on the weekend, and we tend to wear our UGA stuff on football weekends. 

Sweet Girl trying to figure out a recipe. Check out what her t-shirt says. It's an aviation thing.

 Daisy trying to figure out how to get to the food:

 Gus trying to figure out how to keep the ball to himself:

My lone contribution to the meal was pinto beans because Hubby loves them. And they didn't come out of a can, either!

Sweet Girl timed her cooking perfectly, and everything was ready at the same time. That takes talent, especially in a small kitchen.

Sweet potato souffle with marshmallow topping:

Macaroni and cheese. And it didn't come from a box!

Sweet Girl calls it stuffing. I don't know where she got that. We've never had "stuffing" in our house. It's always been called dressing. But it was moist and delicious, so she can call it whatever she wants to.

We also had the requisite turkey, but the picture looked gross to me and reminded me of my post about raising chickens from several days ago. It tasted delicious, trust me, but the picture did not conjure up images of deliciousness.

After the heavy meal, Sweet Girl and I took the dogs for a walk. I can't say we burned off many calories, since it was mostly a stroll, but it felt good to get out in the fresh air for a little while. It was 80 degrees there yesterday. Both Daisy and Gus wished they could get off their leashes and terrorize these geese and ducks.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Men vs Women at the Doctor's Office.......

I had to go to the doctor this past week for a minor .... procedure. I will spare you the details, but it involves birth control, NOT having a certain monthly visitor, and only having to worry about it every five years.

As I got ready to go to the doctor's office, I realized that men and women have vastly different methods of preparation.


Diet for two days before the visit, because clearly that's all it will take to make a huge difference on the scale
Take a shower
Shave legs
Consider a pedicure
Worry that any residual irritation from a 50-mile bike ride is going to look suspect
Wonder if you should address said irritation
Look through closet for lightest-weight slacks
Iron slacks, because they are made of gauze lightweight cotton and wrinkle easily
Search for lightweight top that does NOT have to be ironed
Debate wearing a Spanx-type undergarment to smooth out (some of) the bulges
Discard idea of wearing Spanx-type undergarment because it might weigh a few ounces
Apply make-up
"Fix" hair
Look for shoes that can be slipped off easily at the scale
Wear sandals in November
Leave home 45 minutes before your appointment
Leave doctor's office after appointment irritated because they didn't even ask you to step on the scale


Take a shower
Put on jeans and any golf shirt
Wear heavy sneakers because you aren't even going to bother taking them off at the scale
Leave home 10 minutes before your appointment
Leave doctor's office after appointment unaware of whether they weighed you or not

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Two VT Cycling Stories......

I hope VT won't mind me stealing two of her stories for my blog. I don't think she reads it anyway, so unless one of YOU tells her.....

It is well documented that cyclists and motorists don't see eye-to-eye about just WHO belongs on the road and when, and sometimes confrontations result. I have been known to give motorists the one-finger salute on a few occasions myself, like when they blow the horn at me or throw something out the car window or turn directly in front of me, as happened on yesterday's ride. I am sure that her cell phone conversation was way more important than a total stranger's little old life.

VT takes no crap from drivers whatsoever. Once she was riding near her home (did I mention riding where she lives resembles a kamikaze mission?) and a car came too close to her. That happens a lot. I know most drivers aren't aware of how close they come to us, and it's also hard for them to judge our speed. (If it's me they're behind, they should just use "zero" as a guide and go from there. They won't miss it far.) I don't think most of them deliberately try to scare the bejeezus out of us, but it happens. I don't know if VT had had one too many of those encounters that day, if she was tired because she was near the end of her ride (although I've NEVER known her to be tired), or if she was just menopausal. Before the car got past her, she screamed enough obscenities to make Ron White blush. That may be an exaggeration, but I think she managed to get out "GD" "MF" "a-hole" and "SOB." That was all before the car got all the way past her, because immediately AFTER it was past, she realized it was a policeman.

He stopped, and VT did too. He demanded to know what she said, but VT was too smart to repeat it. I think he got the general gist of it anyway. He kept asking her what she said, and she said it didn't matter what she said, that he came too close to her bicycle. They went back and forth for a while, and the policeman finally admitted that he was in the wrong. But VT could tell he was itching for her to repeat what she had yelled at him.

The more recent incident scares me for VT just a little, and I hope it gives her pause before she repeats her actions. Another car came too close to her while she was riding, and then they both got to an intersection where the light was red. Never bashful about speaking her mind, VT rode up to the driver's side window and knocked on it. The windows were tinted too darkly for her to see inside the car. The driver rolled down the window, and the driver was a surly, angry African-American male. Not to be dissuaded, VT challenged him. "You came awfully close to me back there. What's your problem, do you not like cyclists?"

And the driver responded, "No, I just don't like white people."

Encounters like those sometimes make me just a little uneasy about riding alone. I certainly hope that I won't lose my cool to the point where I put my safety in jeopardy.

I think some of the conflict between cyclists and motorists results from a lack of understanding. I fear that some cyclists who are also drivers forget what it is like to be behind the wheel and come up on a bicyclist. I also am pretty sure that some of them are a-holes and irritate drivers for the sheer pleasure of it.

I was riding alone one day, about a mile and a half from my house, when I came to a 4-way stop. I've been through that 4-way stop a thousand times. There was a car in front of me, and I moved over to the center of my lane and stopped behind her. She glanced in her rearview mirror, then she leaned across the front seat and locked the passenger door.

Seriously? I know we look a little goofy in our spandex and wild colors (the wild colors have a PURPOSE, people, we're not making fashion statements!), but did I look threatening to her? I was a little offended, but I didn't let it get to me. I just chalked it up to further proof that cyclists and motorists just don't understand each other very well. I'm doing my best to educate the world, but it's a slow process.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Perhaps I should have written my dissertation on the concept of motivation. There is so much I don't know about it, and I would like to learn more. Not enough to consider writing a SECOND dissertation, but still....

I don't even understand my OWN motivation. What makes me tick? I thought about this as I rode my bike today.

Today was one of Hubby's golf days, and I had no definite plans. I contemplated driving to Rozmo's house to do her regular Tuesday bicycle ride with a group, but I didn't want to have to leave my house at 7:00 this morning and fight the traffic. Since I didn't get UP until 7:00, that turned out to be a good non-plan.

I said to myself (and even mentioned to Hubby) that I would probably ride sometime today, but I wanted to wait until it warmed up. I figured saying it out loud would at least shame me into following through. I thought I would leave sometime around 11:00.

I was playing a video game at 11:00. Just one more game. 11:30. Just one more. 12:00. I'm a grown-up, I don't HAVE to ride if I don't want to. I have earned the right to sit in this recliner for the entire day if I want to. It is, after all, a furlough day, and I should punish someone by refusing to do anything productive for the entire day. Except for achieving a high score on my video game, and that's nothing to sneeze at either. Shut up.

Then I started thinking about my cycling goals for the year. I've mentioned a couple of times (probably more than you want to hear, if I'm to be completely honest) that I set a yearly goal of 2010 miles, but I wasn't very serious about it. Sometime around July I decided I couldn't reach my yearly goal, so my new goal would be to ride more miles each month than I did in the corresponding month last year.

Some months weren't a challenge at all.

This is from an awesome website I use to record my cycling miles. It's cleverly called My Cycling Log. Dot com. People all over the world use it to record their rides, and it's FREE! The blue bars represent 2008, the red ones 2009, and the green ones represent each month this year. Can it really be true that I rode ZERO miles in both April and May of last year? Are you KIDDING me? And what about September? What was WRONG with me?

As you can plainly see (but I'm going to point out anyway, just like an irritating blogger), I have managed to surpass my mileage from last year every month since June. June even surpassed 2008, and that's only because on BRAG this year Katydid and I actually rode on the layover day instead of spending it lounging by a pool somewhere. October is when I got my new bike, so naturally that bar towers over the other two. And look at November - what is up with that? It didn't take much to surpass last year's measly November miles.

Here's what's up with that: I realized sometime in October that, mathematically at least, my goal for 2010 was still attainable. I set a goal for 285 miles in October and November, and 286 miles in December. That would enable me to reach my overall goal for the year.

I knew 285 (or 286) miles might not be feasible after the weather turns cold and nasty, so I cranked out a bunch of extra miles in October. Instead of 285 miles, I rode 453. Point 91.

I'm sure you will be relieved to learn that all this DOES have a point. When I was debating about whether or not to ride today at all, I started thinking about my November goal. I was 25 miles short of it, which would be about two rides home from school with an extra loop, half a ride with Rozmo, or one decent ride by myself. I thought about the fact that we are going to Sweet Girl's for Thanksgiving tomorrow, and as of right this moment I'm not taking my bike. (That could change, however.) We will be back Friday, but I will be tired from driving and from being away from my own bed for two nights, so jumping on the bike Friday afternoon is not likely to happen. Besides, there's college football. Then Saturday the weather is supposed to take a turn for the worse, with cold temperatures and/or rain. And there's college football. Sunday is supposed to remain cool, and Monday I have to go back to school. That would leave only Monday and Tuesday afternoons to get my remaining 25 miles, and I didn't want to take the chance that it might not happen.

So I got on the bike. Just because of some little red, blue, and green bars on a chart. And the fact that if I didn't make my November goal, it would forever say something less than "Progress: 100%."

Because I met my November goal and exceeded my October goal by such a large margin, my overall 2010 goal is well within reach: 211.99 miles. I'll probably ride 212 just to be sure. Ha ha ha ha ha. That is very doable, as long as we have some decent weekends in December. Perhaps I will rent a bike while Hubby and I are in Jamaica the week before Christmas and log those miles. Up and down the beach, back and forth, back and forth. It's possible.

Anyone who knows me knows how competitive I am, and that's where another motivating factor comes in. On the cycling log website, we created a group called "Team Chi-Chis," and it compiles statistics for everyone in the group. "JennyF" is actually my friend VT, and don't ask why her log name is JennyF. It's not appropriate for a family blog such as this. 

Naturally Rozmo is in the lead, but she has an unfair advantage in that she's the only freakin' member of the group who doesn't have a J-O-B. (Oh, to be retired.....) Her original goal was 3000 miles for the year, which I thought was a lofty one, and she reached that back in early October. Butthead.

I know it appears that Katydid has not been on the bike at all this year, but I can assure you she has. Every single tandem mile I have logged is a Katydid mile too. We just can't convince her of the coolness of this website.

Rozmo sent me an email yesterday saying, "Did you realize you are only _____ miles behind VT? Yowza!" VT is typically a much more dedicated cyclist than I am, as evidenced by the fact that she rides near her home and her place of employment, and I don't even like DRIVING in either of those two places. She can also ride circles around me because she is so strong, and she has nerves of steel that even I don't have. (Remind me to tell you two VT cycling stories.)

All these computer-aided graphics combined to convince me to get on the bike today. And it was a fantastic ride. I made it up as I went, traveling roads I am familiar with but haven't strung together as a definite cycling route before. I ended up at the golf course just as Hubby finished, and I find that little miracle of timing incredible in and of itself. I don't know why I can ride and ride and ride, but not having to ride back home, whether it's 10 miles or 3, feels like a triumph to me.

After today's ride I felt positively euphoric. Not just good - EUPHORIC. Everything was right with the world, I could take on any challenge, I was woman hear me roar. Cycling often makes me feel that way. I know it's going to make me feel that way.

Now here's the question I pondered as I rode today, and what prompted this tome of a blog post:

Why can't that knowledge motivate me to get on the bike? Why do I have to have all these NUMBER things to do it?

I don't know either.

Monday, November 22, 2010

It's a Wonder I Eat Chicken At All......

Subtitle: Another of the MANY reasons he's an ex.

I don't know about anyone else out there, but I could eat chicken three meals a day. And I'm sure I have. Chicken biscuit for breakfast (but not in England and I think Australia [?], because a chicken COOKIE would be horrible and disgusting), chicken fingers or chicken salad for lunch, then chicken stew for dinner.

It's amazing that I eat chicken at all, considering that in a previous WIFETIME I lived in an old, drafty, rodent-infested farm house on the same property with three chicken houses. My ex's "job" at the time was helping his father raise chickens, which pretty much ensured that he got a small income every time the chickens were picked up AND he had plenty of time to spend in bars in the afternoons.

If you've ever driven past chicken houses and thought, "OMG, that is the WORST thing I have EVER smelled," then you can only imagine what it was like living just a hundred yards from one of those things. My ex said it was the smell of money. One of his more endearing phrases. There are lots more where that one came from.

I felt obligated to help out in the chicken houses sometimes because A) my father-in-law was old and couldn't do it on his own; B) we DID live in his house, after all; and C) the disgustingly stinky chickens did help pay the bills and put food on the table. After beer and cigarettes were purchased, you understand.


Raising chickens is no fun at any time of the year, but in the summer in Georgia it is particularly challenging. Our chicken houses weren't climate-controlled, which meant we had to depend upon huge fans to keep the air circulating. Air conditioning them wasn't an option because it wasn't cost-effective. Chickens, unfortunately, are too stupid to keep from huddling up when the temperature is 100 degrees in the chicken house, and so they smother themselves.

One of the jobs in raising chickens entailed going around early in the morning and picking up the dead chickens. Joy, joy. It also involved killing any chickens that were sick, injured, or obviously not thriving, because you didn't want them to continue eating any of the chicken feed and further damaging your profit margin. Personally, I couldn't ever bring myself to wring the neck of a chicken, no matter how sick it was or how merciful the act might have been. I just couldn't do it. I would shoo the sick ones over into a corner and try to get the healthy ones to hide it, but they wouldn't cooperate.

During heat waves we could lose a huge number of chickens. I remember one dreadfully hot and dry stretch when it didn't seem we would have any chickens left to sell. It wouldn't have been so bad if the heat wave had occurred when they were chicks. It takes a while for chickens to get as stupid as they are, so the babies would have survived. We also had to count the number of dead chickens, and one day alone we piled up 1999 chickens. That was the only time I came close to killing a chicken. I was going to kill a HEALTHY one just to make it a nice, round number.

Picking up dead chickens in the heat and dust and stench was bad enough, but there was something that was actually a little bit worse. Occasionally there might be a dead chicken that had been overlooked the day before. Or perhaps it died right after we went through and collected the other dead. Either way, it might have lain there in the heat for 24 hours or more before it got picked up. On those occasions, it was possible that instead of a whole chicken, you might have just a chicken leg in your hand. I can't tell you the number of times I walked through the chicken house gagging.


One thing that could lead to disaster was if anything happened to the chickens' water supply. If there were fresh water and the stupid birds REMEMBERED to drink it, that could offset some of the problems created by heat and drought. Oh yeah, and you had to walk through the chicken house periodically and stir the birds up, because they would just huddle up in a corner and SMOTHER EACH OTHER in the heat rather than be bothered to go get a drink of water.

We had problems with the well that supplied the chicken houses one time during a heat wave/drought, and SH ex (that's "S" for a four-letter word meaning excrement, plus the word "head") was playing golf. This was before cell phones existed, so when I realized the pump had stopped working, I snatched Sweet Girl up from her playing and drove to the golf course. I was in too big a hurry to dress her properly; she was barefoot and wearing only a t-shirt and her panties. How embarrassing for a 12-year-old. Just kidding, she was about 4. We had to walk all over the golf course until we found SH.

I don't know what I expected. Yes, I do. I expected first of all for him to be grateful that I had come and alerted him to a potential disastrous situation. I expected him to run, not walk, back to the parking lot and get in his truck. I expected him to rush home and fix the problem. What I did NOT expect was for him to instruct ME on how to prime the pump (which was a considerable distance from the house, down in a pasture, by the way) and tell me to hurry before the chickens died, and then carry on with his golf game.

SH is way too nice a term for him.

The stench from the chicken houses wasn't the only bad thing. The poultry company came and picked up the grown chickens when they were about eight weeks old, and they always came at night when it was coolest so the stress wasn't as bad on the chickens. You certainly don't want to stress your chickens out right before you slaughter them. The chicken catchers (that's what they were really called, and I think their jobs rank right below sanitation workers and septic tank cleaners) would put the grown chickens into crates, and then the crates were stacked and loaded onto an 18-wheeler by forklift.

You know how a forklift sounds? You know.... rev up, idle down ... rev up, idle down ... rev up, idle down. It's not a droning noise, it's constantly changing. I've lived next to a railroad track, I've lived in the city where sirens could be heard any time of the night, and I've lived in the country where whippoorwills and owls were the only night sounds. That last part may or may not be a huge exaggeration, but I was looking for three things. I got used to all of those, including the train. I could not EVER get used to the sounds of the forklifts. It took about four or five hours for them to empty the three chicken houses, and it was ALWAYS on a school night.

The only time raising chickens was not the most disgusting thing in the universe was when they were first delivered as babies. Sweet Girl used to run around trying to pick up every single one. And you have to admit that a baby chick is a sweet creature. When the chicks were first delivered, we had to scoop chicken feed into pans because they were too little to reach the automatic feeders. Once SH was carelessly pouring out scoops of chicken feed, and he dumped an entire scoop (a huge scoop, not like the one you use for coffee or detergent) right on top of a baby chick. I was aghast that he might smother the baby chick until he said, "Dumping that feed on top of that chicken is just like it would be to dump a truck load of chocolate on you." I've never been able to get that image out of my head.

Oddly enough, I always forget to include "chicken farmer" on my resume.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Why I Love Living in the South.....

Having a day like today is one of the reasons I love, love, love living in the South. I don't complain when it's 95 degrees with 90 percent humidity, because the trade-off is having temperatures near 70 degrees in late November. However, I officially hereby reserve the right to whine, complain, grouse, bitch AND moan, and suck my thumb when the temperature drops below 30. Or 40. Possibly even 50. I'm just sayin.

Katydid, Rozmo, and I did a 50-mile bike ride today. Rozmo and I had ridden this particular route twice before, but Katydid had never done it. I created the route on the computer, and I did an excellent job if I do say so myself. **That is the sound of my arm breaking because I'm trying to pat myself on the back. ** It is very rural and scenic, there is very little traffic, it has at least 4 store (and bathroom) stops, and there are no killer hills. My cycling goal for 2010 (2010 miles) is very reachable, particularly if we have several more of these beautiful days between now and December 31st. That's pretty remarkable, considering I didn't get serious about reaching the goal until about October. You know, when I got a new bike and all.

This is a house we see on this route. We are probably showing our country bumpkinness by stopping to take a picture of it. It's not in an area where you would expect to see a house of this size.

 Even their front gate is impressive. I wanted to try random entry codes, but my companions advised against it.

This is one of our favorite store stops. It's just a little country store in a town that isn't even officially incorporated, but they are very friendly, especially to cyclists. Apparently there are several groups of them who include this stop on their regular routes. 

In this picture, Rozmo was clowning around, posing for the camera. She didn't see the guy sitting on the "Liar's Bench" behind her until he got up and offered to take a picture of all three of us.

Being a man, he has no idea that he should only photograph women from the waist down. And oh yeah, we wanted the store name IN the picture. But he was still very nice to offer.

This is one of Rozmo's favorite signs. It is at a house where a guy will crack pecans for you. He used to have a very amateurish sign, but apparently he got a lot of attention with it, because this one is much more professional. I took the picture below while we were still riding. I'm practicing my Rozmo skills. Sorry, Katydid.

I didn't realize Rozmo was going to stop, allowing me to take a picture from the OTHER side, where the light was admittedly much better.

This is at a miniature horse farm just a few miles from my house. Rozmo and I saw the babies three weeks ago when we last did this ride, and I have meant to post those pictures. On that day I was afraid the baby was going to run away before I could get his picture, but I have one with his little nose pressed right up against the fence. He lost interest pretty quickly, however, when he realized we didn't have any apples or anything. I think I heard him curse us as he walked away.

They aren't quite as cute as they were three weeks ago. After I had put the camera away and we were getting back on the bike, THEN they turned and walked toward the fence. Buttheads.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving week!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

He Needs an Online Class in People Skills.....

I have an online student named .... Elmer .... who has driven me nuts this semester. It's a close race, though, between him and his mother. She's the kind who calls and leaves messages like, "Call me as soon as possible." She's also the one I wrote about a few weeks ago who called because she was confused about how to do Elmer's assignment. Elmer has been bad about calling at 4:45 or 4:50 on Friday afternoon, trying desperately to beat the 5:00 PM deadline. Not desperately enough that he would actually think about doing his work BEFORE Friday afternoon, mind you.

Elmer is a tad younger than my online students typically are, but he's at least in high school. I've got a couple of MIDDLE SCHOOL students taking online courses for high school credit, and they aren't as high-maintenance as Elmer has been. First of all, he has no concept that plagiarism isn't the way to do his assignments. He's been busted for it at least twice this semester. He's always contrite, but he continues to steal information off the internet to complete his assignments. Then he wants a chance to redo them.

In his latest egregious offense, Elmer copied an entire paper about the Elizabethan period in England and submitted it as his. Unfortunately, he was supposed to be doing a CREATIVE WRITING assignment. He was supposed to research the Elizabethan era and then write a "day in the life" as if he lived in that time period. I nailed him for it, was harsh in my criticism, and told him (or meant to) that because it was his second (or third) offense, there would be no opportunity to redo the assignment.

He emailed me with an apology and a sob story about his grandmother having knee surgery and his having to be at the hospital yada yada yada yada yada yada yada yada. Then he asked if he could redo it for a 70.

Huh? Do you not hear read good, child?

I responded that just as I had told him the first time, it was out of the question. Then his mother called with her typical "call me as soon as possible" demand.

Seems I omitted that all-important word "no" in my tirade about not getting an opportunity to redo it. And naturally she called me on it, saying he was confused about the emails, thought he could redo it, blah blah blah. She didn't really address the fact that he had committed a very serious offense in the first place.

At first I stuck to my guns, saying that of course he couldn't redo an assignment that had been plagiarized. Then I considered the fact that I had made a terrible error IN WRITING, and all she had to do was argue it with the powers that be, and I could avoid possible ugliness by allowing Elmer to redo the assignment. His grade is just below passing right now, and by the time I drop one or two of their lowest test grades, he is destined to pass the class (barely) anyway. I told the mother I would allow Elmer to redo the assignment, and she was grateful.

I emailed Elmer, apologizing for sending conflicting emails. I reiterated that because he had plagiarized the assignment, he SHOULD NOT have had the opportunity to redo the work. But because I had made the error in the first place, he was getting what amounted to a free shot.

I've learned not to expect a whole lot from high school students. But I did expect a "thank you" at the very least. Perhaps even a sworn oath never to plagiarize again. A tearful explanation that he had learned his lesson and he knew he was wrong. A statement that I had forever changed his life for the better and he is now planning to enter the ministry and steer other wayward youth onto the straight and narrow path would not have been effusive.

You want to know what I got?

Here is his response: I accept you apology.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Snippets.......

I was into the second paragraph of tonight's blog post when it started sounding familiar. I had to go back and research it, but I finally discovered I had written about the same topic on July 27, 2009. It wasn't really worth reading once, much less twice. Even more disturbing is the fact that I was using some of the exact same phrases. Have I become that predictable?

Sweet Girl missed two days of work this week because her car suddenly lost power on the Matthews Bridge and she had to have it towed in and repaired. I hate her working at nights for that very reason! Ten o'clock at night, and she's stranded on a bridge over the St. Johns River. Or some body of water. Whatever. Today she had Safety Stand Down (whatever that is, but it must be important), and afterward one of her leaders who has a bunch of letters in front of his name asked for five volunteers. Sweet Girl didn't want to volunteer for anything on a Friday afternoon, but she felt guilty about missing two days of work, so she raised her hand. The letters-before-his-name guy picked out everyone who raised his or her hand and told all of them to go home. That's what they volunteered for! I think that rocks. There's a saying in the military (other places in life too, I guess) that you should never volunteer for anything. There goes that theory.

You may remember the photo below from a blog post last summer (or the summer before). It's one of my favorite places on earth, Fort Yargo State Park, just about half a mile from our house. It's where Hubby and I take the dogs to walk, and it's where I take my kayak for some serene paddling. It is a fabulous park with camping facilities, 12 miles of mountain biking paths, several miles of walking paths, and of course the lake for fishing and swimming.

The picture below is the same lake, taken yesterday when we went for our walk. They have drained the lake (AGAIN!) to make some repairs on the bridge. I realize they can't exactly work on the bridge WITHOUT draining the lake, but I find it quite depressing. As I emailed to my principal today, the fish are all huddled up in a corner next to the dam going, "WTF?" Hubby claims he saw a couple of the fish walking up the beach with their coolers of beer, but I think he might be exaggerating.

It is the little things that make me happy. Do not laugh at me for what I am about to tell you. At school we use Outlook for our email, and of course it has an electronic calendar. I really like the calendar, because we can "invite" each other to things like parent conferences, and we know that everyone will get the same reminder. If we could only train one certain person who may or may not be in a position of authority to use this fabulous feature, it would be even more marvelous. For my personal use, I have used the Google calendar feature in the past. I like it because it sends me an email every morning letting me know anything that is on my calendar for that day. I stopped using it because I grew weary of having to update two different calendars, and I certainly wasn't going to CHECK both of them every day. For several months now I have received a daily email telling me, "You have no events scheduled for today." I was beginning to feel like quite the loser, with no daily events planned. Ever. 

Today I decided to go back to the Google calendar so my morning emails might have some substance. You know, like "Haircut at 4:00." "Gus to groomer." "Dr. appointment at 9:00." "Bicycle ride in ________." After I updated all my events through next July (because I use an academic year calendar, of course), I was about to close out of the calendar when I noticed there was a "Sync to Outlook" button. I was able to download the thingamajiggie and sync both my calendars together. (Is that redundant? I think so. Surely you wouldn't sync two things SEPARATELY.) I kept going back and forth between my two calendars, tickled pink that they showed both my personal appointments and the school ones. Perhaps I am in desperate need of a life; it's possible.

I had another technological moment of discovery last weekend when I was on my bike. Bear with me, because I have to back up just a little bit. I use a website called Bikely to create bicycling routes. I can click, click, click on a route, and the path will follow the road and calculate the mileage. It's incredibly accurate. I can then go back to the map and create a "cue sheet," indicating each turn and at what mileage, and print it out to take on a route, particularly if it's one I haven't ridden before. I only recently learned that just as I can download a route that I've already ridden FROM my GPS unit to the computer (that's where I get all those cute little maps that I torture you guys with after a bike ride), I can also upload a route INTO the GPS. That's cool enough, but last weekend I discovered an additional feature. If I go to the trouble to create a cue sheet, when I upload the map into the GPS, it shows the directions right on the screen. I was riding along last weekend when I looked down at the GPS and it said, "R on Hwy 23 sort of." I wouldn't have known those were my very words except for the words "sort of." Because who else indicates on a map that it is "sort of" a turn?

I have named my new bike Jezebel. I don't know why. I was typing an email to Rozmo (who names everything) and the letters just jumped out there. Rozmo is the one who insisted that the members of Team Chi-Chis name their private parts. (Is that TMI? Sorry.) I named mine Gladys. Because whenever we finish a bike ride, that particular part of my anatomy is "Gladys" over. Get it? Gladys? Glad it's over? Sorry.

I have mentioned Lawanda the Warrior Princess before, a co-worker and one of my bestest friends. We have known each other only 6 years, but we have so much in common that we could be related. She is an incredible cook, a wonderful writer, and she can decorate beautifully for any occasion with a piece of tin foil and a shoelace. LWP isn't working with us anymore, and it kills my soul. We are trying to think of a way to get her back, but for now she has taken a job as a parapro in an elementary school. She makes copies all day long and listens to elementary school kids throwing tantrums and kicking the walls of the office next door. Her talents are so being wasted.

I have written a post before about her daughter, a sweet girl with a wicked sense of humor even if she IS smack dab in the middle of her middle-school years and everyone would like to pinch her head off sometimes. I'll be so glad when she is out of middle school and turns normal again. Even in her current state she is one of the neatest, most lovable kids I know.

LWP's other child is a senior in high school and has been playing baseball since he could walk. He is so not representative of MOST of the teenagers I deal with on a daily basis. He is intelligent, ambitious, talented, good looking, sincere, humble, athletic, honest, and ethical. He finished up his math courses last year but insisted on taking one this year as an elective to prepare him for college. He chose calculus. Not statistics. Calculus. As an elective. He has been offered a full ride scholarship to play baseball for one of the 4-year colleges in our state, not UGA, but another one with an excellent baseball program. He has also been contacted by 16 (so far) of the 32 major league baseball teams. MLB. He's a high school senior. You may very well see this young man on your television someday. Assuming you watch baseball, that is. Is it any wonder I refer to him as my godson? They didn't pick me; I picked them. LWP said if I took him as my godson I had to take his sister too, and I said "gladly."

I don't know when I've been happier for a weekend. Not to mention an entire week off from school next week.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

50 Things Update......

About a week or two ago I posted that next year, to commemorate my 50th year on earth, I would like to do 50 new things. I also asked for your help, and some of you have given excellent suggestions. Some of you, **ahem ahem** like my sisters **ahem ahem** haven't suggested a gosh darn thing! Some of you said you would like to think about it and would get back to me later.

It's later.

Just kidding. We've got all the way to the end of the year.

Below is the unedited list so far. A few of these are excellent suggestions. One thing on the list I have already done twice: seeing a show on Broadway. I could always go again, though, and see a DIFFERENT show.

  • Attend a religious service of a religion other than your own.
  • Go to the Hmong new year festival (in a neighboring town).
  • Take pottery spinning lessons.
  • Paint or draw a portrait of Sexy Legs (that's from a former student, referring to Hubby).
  • Watch the movies that get the most "YOU'VE NEVER SEEN _______?!?!?!?!?!?" reactions (This list would be incredibly long, as I am the most movie-challenged person ever.)
  • Take photography classes.
  • Get a famous person's autograph.
  • Spend a whole weekend at a fancy spa.
  • Take a hot air balloon ride (Hubby and I have been on the wait list for a standby flight for about four years).
  • Visit a national park.
  • Learn another language.
  • Watch one foreign film a week for 50 weeks. (I don't even see American movies!)
  • Take a back road you have always been curious about.
  • Eat a type of food you've never eaten before such as Indian,  Vietnamese, Russian.
  • Meet a blogger you admire.
  • See the Prince of Persia.
  • Take Sweet Girl and yourself on a trip to Paris. (Guess who this one was from? You guessed it, and Sweet Girl had already BEEN to Paris. Sheesh.)
  • Finish the book you've been writing.
  • Try to get said book published.
  • Get a massage.
  • Learn to play that hammered dulcimer in your closet. At LEAST watch the instructional DVD that you ordered and is still in the plastic wrapper.
  • Take an art/painting/drawing class.
  • Take a yoga class.
  • Take a spinning class.
  • Take a water aerobics class.
  • Knit something.
The last 7 on the list are my own suggestions, so they will likely make the final cut.

Keep the suggestions coming! After I decide on the final 50, I will post them in a widget in the sidebar on my blog and update them as they are accomplished.

I love my readers!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Don't Mess With My Cub.........

This is another story from way back when Sweet Girl was a little girl. And she HATES it when I say "Don't mess with my cub."

When her dad and I divorced, Sweet Girl and I lived in a mobile home on some property that has been in our family for a long time. Our family built a house there when my father screwed his sister out of the land aunt gave my father the land. I think I was about four years old. Then that house burned down, just like the one that burned down about a year and a half BEFORE that one. (Coincidence? I think not.)

Nurse Jane and her first husband lived there. My brother and his first wife lived there. Sweet Girl, her dad and I lived there. Then my brother and his second wife built a house there. Mom had an apartment in the basement. Then Katydid and her husband bought the house (along with the troll in the basement). Then they sold it to my niece and her husband, who still live there.

All that has nothing to do with this story. And I may have left out a relative or two living there.

The mobile home where Sweet Girl and I lived was at the top of a very steep, fairly long driveway, way back off the road at the edge of some woods. There was another mobile home at the bottom of the driveway, but we didn't own that property. No, I can't figure it out either. When we lived there, there was some pothead/druggie/drunk living in the mobile home at the bottom of the driveway. I didn't know the guy, but my brother did. He said I didn't have to worry about the guy.

For some reason that guy and his friends got into the habit of driving up my driveway, riding around the circle in the front yard, and then going back down the hill. Why? I'm sure I don't know. They didn't stay in the yard, at least not when I was there. I don't know the attraction of riding up that driveway. Maybe his car didn't have reverse in it. I don't know.

One night I was awakened from a dead sleep by a horrific noise in the front yard. A car was leaving, and I realized immediately that the noise I heard was the sound of Sweet Girl's tricycle being crushed and then dragged under a car.

I didn't even think. I grabbed my sleeping child, got in the car, and drove down the driveway. I approached his trailer from the back, where the door was open. I didn't even hesitate. I stomped into his home, down the hall, and confronted him in his own living room. I don't remember what I said, but I do remember that when we got back in the car, Sweet Girl said, "Mama, why did you holler at that man?"

I went on and on about him driving into MY yard and destroying MY child's tricycle. I informed him that he WAS going to pay for it, and he agreed, but I still kept haranguing him. Finally the guy had enough and said, nicely enough, "Why don't you just have me locked up then?"

"That's a GREAT idea!" I said, stomping back out the door.

And when I got in the car, I realized my options were limited. Either I went back up that lonely driveway to a mobile home where it was obvious that I was alone with a small child, having just pissed off a pothead/druggie/drunk, or I went somewhere else to spend the night.

Guess which one I chose?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My First Puppy.....

When I was in fourth grade, I somehow talked my mother into letting me have a puppy. I was visiting some friends over the weekend, the daughters of one of my first baby-sitters, and their dog had puppies. I have no idea what kind of dogs they were, and I'm even fuzzier on exactly how I miraculously talked my mother into letting me bring one home. I must have hit her at a weak moment.

Mother hated animals. Still does. She doesn't see the point in them, sees neither their cuteness nor their cuddliness, and will shoot a dog with a bb gun if it so much as ventures into her yard. 

She would probably use a real gun if she had one.

Anyway, I somehow talked her into letting me bring one of the puppies home. We lived in a trailer park, so obviously we had no fenced in yard. And Mother wasn't about to let an animal live inside. Back then dogs roamed all over the neighborhood anyway, so it would be just one more.

I named the dog Pee-Wee because it was the runt of the litter. I marveled that it knew its name and turned its head when I called it. Someone pointed out that it would probably come if I called it "George Washington," and sure enough, it did.

I couldn't have had the dog more than a few days when I got off the school bus and Katydid broke the news to me that the puppy had been run over. I guess that isn't surprising, considering no one was home with it all day and it probably had no idea where in the world it was.

When I think about that puppy, what disturbs me most is that I was NOT devastated by its loss. I was more distraught because my fourth grade teacher had been mean to me that day, had fussed me out royally because I had a fight with my best friend who just happened to be her great niece.

I guess I hadn't had time to bond with the puppy yet. Maybe I knew I wouldn't get to keep it long anyway.

I've always wondered if the puppy really got run over, or if Mother came to her senses and gave it away. I feel guilty every time I think about Pee-Wee.

Wouldn't you think I could have come up with a cheerier topic than THAT here on this week before Thanksgiving?


Monday, November 15, 2010

My Own Little 12-Step Program.....

I hope the creators of the original 12-step program will not take offense at my shameless theft of their slogan/motto/whatever. I'm not making fun, really I'm not.

I'm going to try to be a better person tomorrow. It's too late already for today.

  • Just for today, I am not going to be irritated by the fact that the power outage today canceled my scheduled recording of Dancing with the Stars and I will miss the first 15 minutes of the program. 
  • Just for today, I will not accuse Hubby of "accidentally" deleting that recording.
  • Just for today, I am not going to count the days until the first gymnastics meet.
  • Just for today, I will not allow my blood pressure to rise just because some idiots dolts retards drivers refuse to turn on their headlights in the rain. And sometimes the dark.
  • Just for today, I am not going to fret just because something wacky is going on with my internet and it works FINE on Hubby's computer but not my laptop.
  • Just for today, I will not complain that the high temperatures later this week will reach only into the 60's. In November. 
  • Just for today, I am not going to call a student a loser to his or her face
  • Just for today, I will not count the days until I retire.
  • Just for today, I am going to prepare a meal that does not involve a hot dog, two pieces of bread, or a frozen pizza.
  • Just for today, I will plan my (next-to-the-last) online lesson more than 15 minutes in advance.
  • Just for today, I will not wait until bedtime to write my blog post. 
  • Just for today, I will not use a bulleted list format for my blog post.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Musings About Cycling in Mississippi......

  • Mississippi has a lot more dirt roads than we do here in North Georgia.
  • Mississippi also has a lot more undeveloped land. 
  • Dogs in Mississippi are even more likely to be loose than they are in Georgia.
  • If you speak sweetly to two dogs because they are behind a fence, one of them may crawl under the wire and chase you, teeth bared, for a mile. Or more.
  • Many people in Mississippi are dumbfounded to see someone riding a bicycle.
  • Many dumbfounded people in Mississippi are still friendly.
  • Mississippi has a tremendous amount of road kill.
  • You can only hold your breath for so long when you are forced to ride right past a dead skunk.
  • If a woman out walking with her small son tells you, "I don't even go down that road alone in my truck," it's a good sign you should turn around.
  • If you leave your bike outside the clubhouse at the golf course and go inside to get some water for your water bottles, you shouldn't then go out the BACK door of the clubhouse and wonder where your bike is.
  • If you walk through the construction entrance at the casino at break time for the workers and you're wearing cycling shorts and jersey, expect a lull in conversation. At least until you are out of earshot.
  • If you do more cycling than gambling, you will bring home almost all the money you took with you.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Things That Make You Go "Huh?"........

I have frittered away the afternoon doing nonsense things like cycling and watching football and playing a video game. Now it is time to get serious and go play poker. So I don't have a whole lot of time to post tonight. I'll be back on track and schedule tomorrow night, regaling you with drivel and sarcasm.

I will leave you tonight with something I overheard in one of the casino shops.

"Retro is coming back in style......"

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cycling and Gambling.....

Hubby and I are in Mississippi for one of his golfing/gambling weekends. I brought my new bike for several reasons. #1 - I can't stay in the casino ALL day long. Well, I can, but it often has negative consequences. #2 - It's a new bike. #3 - If you go to the trouble to bring a bike 300 miles, you are sort of obligated to ride it.

And by the way, just where was this weather last weekend? We were in Florida last weekend, and we nearly froze to death. Today I was able to wear shorts and sandals, and the temperature was nearly 80 degrees. Stupid weather. 

I had mapped out a route for today that was supposed to be 39 miles. I have mentioned before the dangers of creating route maps on the computer, especially when I'm dealing with unfamiliar territory. I had ridden my bike here once before, but I just did an out-and-back on a fairly busy highway. Today I wanted to do a loop, so I plotted a route on the website and uploaded it into the GPS. The computer doesn't tell me, however, when roads are dirt. Two different times today I got to my turn and couldn't turn because it was a dirt road. I was headed down one road on my route, feeling proud of myself for riding and for venturing out on a new route, when the road changed to dirt unexpectedly. I decided to tough it out, because turning around at that point would have meant doubling back a little more than 4 miles. I thought I might be able to navigate the dirt road if I went slowly and proceeded with caution.

My bike started fishtailing immediately, and then the road turned to pure sand, and my bike ground to a halt. I decided repeating a little more than 4 miles was preferable to wrecking my bike, so I turned around. That explains the weird little appendage in today's map.

The name of the route stems from the fact that I wound up in Madden, Mississippi, not a place I had originally included on my route. I stopped at a little store there, and there were several very nice people there who spoke to me about being out there riding.

I just THOUGHT I lived in the country. Some of the roads I was on today weren't just rural. They bordered on desolate. I vacillated between being thankful for the lack of traffic and being nervous that I was out there all by myself. I made it back without incident, even coming back on a busy highway with big trucks and very little shoulder. I wasn't afraid they would hit me; I was afraid they might scratch my bike. When I got back to the parking lot of the golf course where I had dropped Hubby off, my GPS said I had been 49.62 miles. So I rode around the parking lot until it read 50. Rozmo would be so proud of me.

I haven't mentioned the gambling part. Last night we played 3-card poker, which is my favorite. Tonight the cards weren't going our way, so we moved to the craps table. I am not a huge fan of craps, but I won a little over a hundred dollars tonight. I just hate that the only way to play craps is to stand up. And I still can't reach the table when I need to pick up chips. My legs were already sore from riding today, and then I stood there for a couple of hours.

So Hubby and I are turning in early. I'm planning to ride again tomorrow, but a much shorter route. I want to be back before college football comes on.

I will try to take pictures of our suite tomorrow. It has more square footage than my first apartment, I think. Good night!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I Don't Get Some People......

I mean there are some people I don't EVER get, and there are a lot of people I don't get some of the time.

There is one particular person, however, who (as I'm guessing you have figured out) has prompted this blog post.

He's a golfing "buddy" of Hubby's and a guy I've known for a hundred years or so. He's a strange little man who used to play the song "Elvira" by the Oak Ridge Boys repeatedly on the jukebox. Now I can't hear "Giddy Up Oom Poppa Omm Poppa Mow Mow,  Giddy Up Oom Poppa Omm Poppa Mow Mow" without thinking of ....... let's call him Herman ...... and I can't see Herman without hearing in my head "Giddy Up Oom Poppa Omm Poppa Mow Mow Giddy Up Oom Poppa Omm Poppa Mow Mow."

To those of you for whom I have just created what my brother-in-law calls an "ear worm," you're welcome.

Back to Herman.

He called Hubby back in July with one of his seemingly never-ending sob stories. He said his wife has cancer and he needed $260 to buy her medicine. Hubby has a soft spot a mile wide, so he told Herman to come by the house and he would be happy to loan him the money. Herman said he would get his next Social Security check in August, and he would pay Hubby back then.

August came and went.
September came and went
October came and went.
November came.

I'm counting at least 4 Social Security checks here.

Hubby and I have joked between us about the fact that Herman couldn't show up to the golf course as long as he hasn't paid Hubby back. In a rare moment of seriousness, Hubby said one day that if Herman had asked him to GIVE him the money, he probably would have done that too. (Did I mention Hubby's soft spot?) But the fact that he was so specific about WHEN he would pay it back indicated, at least to Hubby and me, that his intention to pay it back was very real.

Today Hubby texted me from the golf course and said Herman was there.

Apparently Herman is now suffering from amnesia, because he never mentioned the $260.

Poor Herman. He will probably need money to buy medicine for that too.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Please Hand Me That Knife......

.....so I can stab my eardrums out.

I've had two unpleasant restaurant experiences within the last five days. At two different restaurants in the same chain.

I don't want to embarrass anyone by mentioning the restaurant chain by name, but it begins with an "Apple" and ends with a "bees."

Last Friday when Katydid, Rozmo, and I were on the BIKE RIDE FROM HELL ONLY IT WASN'T NEARLY THAT WARM, we had lunch at that particular restaurant because it was on the way BACK. We did not want to venture even one pedal stroke farther than we had to, and this restaurant was right on the route.

It was nice to get inside out of the cold and wind, and we chatted while we waited for our lunch to arrive. I was vaguely aware of some music playing in the background. But then the music changed, and all conversation in the restaurant ground to a halt. You could see people all over the restaurant frowning and looking at one another. The music had gotten so loud (and the music was so obnoxious ....... so ........ not the kind of music I listen to) that it was very hard to hear the person across the table.

I made eye contact with a manager-type-looking person, and she came over to see if "everything was all right." I wasn't mean, but I said (almost apologetically, in fact), "That music is kind of loud."

She said something about it being a jukebox (did I venture into a honky tonk without realizing it?) and the girl choosing the "music" was standing right in front of it, so she couldn't turn the volume down until the girl moved.

The girl didn't move until she had chosen another GAZILLION songs that sounded just like the first one. And they never DID turn the music down. It was without a doubt one of the most unpleasant eating experiences I have ever had. At least in recent memory, which I will readily admit doesn't go back terribly far.

Fast forward to tonight, when Hubby and I ate at a different restaurant in that same chain. (He wanted to go shopping, and I bought some jeans ... JEANS!!!!! ... in a size I haven't seen in a while. Oh happy day.) There wasn't a jukebox, but the music was ..... so ...... not the kind of music we listen to ..... that it was painful. Do you realize how hard it is to eat three cheese chicken penne pasta while holding your hands over your ears? Try it sometime. It's virtually impossible. And I wasn't holding my hands over my ears for dramatic effect. I was literally trying to get some relief from that screaming music.

Maybe it's just another sign I'm getting old.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Blog Award.....

Maggie-O is going for the trifecta. This is the third time in less than a week that I have mentioned her in my blog. I don't even mention Hubby that much.....well, sometimes. Occasionally. Never mind.

Anyway, delightful Maggie has passed on a blog award to me.

It's the "Baton of Friendship" award. In addition to displaying it on my blog (like I wouldn't anyway!), I am supposed to answer a few questions to the best of my ability.

1 - too small when you were asked, what you wanted to do when you were big; What did you reply?
The grammar snob in me is having a hard time deciphering this question, but I will try. That's not Maggie's fault, by the way; it appeared that way on her blog too. And the person who gave it to her. And the person who gave it to her. I traced it all the way back to a blog that is in Italian, so I can't determine whether the grammar issues began in the Italian version or in the translation.
I wanted to be an ice skater, until my brother Jack told me I couldn't weigh more than 100 pounds because I would crack the ice. He didn't mention that growing up in a trailer park in the Deep South put me at a decided disadvantage. Butthead.
2 - What were your favorite cartoons?
The  Road Runner and the Pink Panther, although I didn't get a lot of the PP ones until I was older. I loved the Charlie Brown specials, although the Halloween one always made me cry because he always got a rock. And you KNOW those were grown-ups putting rocks in his bag, because all the kids were out trick-or-treating. Buttheads.

3 - What were your favorite games?
Life, Scrabble, Monopoly. Katydid and her husband taught me a card game that I THINK was called Back Alley and took about three years to play.

4 - What year was your nicest birthday and why?
Gosh, this one is tough. I don't remember a lot of birthdays. I know I had a surprise party when I was about 9 or 10, and that was pretty special. On my 17th birthday about half the senior class at my school skipped school for the day and went to a local swimming hole. Jason and I jumped off a bridge into the river to celebrate my birthday.

5 - What were the things you absolutely wanted to do, and not yet done?
Grammar again. I just finished teaching a session tonight on parallel structure, so this question is bothering me. I'm too much of a literalist to change it, though. Now what was the question? Oh....things I have absolutely wanted to do and not done..... Ride in a hot air balloon.

6 - Which 'was your first love? sports? or what not?
Huh? If we're talking about sports, I remember sitting on the floor with an encyclopedia open to the entry for "football." This was (way) before the days when the referees had microphones (not to mention the yellow first-down line), and I wanted to know what penalties they were calling. So I kept the encyclopedia open to refer to the signals. Oh, and I loved a lot of what not also.

7 - Which was your first musical idol?
Donny Osmond. I kid you not.

8 - Which was the most' beautiful sought (and eventually received), Santa Claus, Jesus' Child, Saint Lucia, Christmas gift?
When I was in the seventh grade, I remember telling a friend of mine that I got "everything I wanted for Christmas." Her mother turned her nose up and said she didn't think ANYONE should get EVERYTHING he or she asked for. Give me a break, lady. I wanted a hand-held hair dryer, a transistor radio, and a camera.

I am also supposed to pass this award along to 10 people, but several of the ones I would have chosen have already been picked by someone else. So I will break the chain and risk all kinds of bad luck and ill health by not naming anyone specifically. If you read this blog, you are hereby designated my friend. And I pass the baton of friendship on to you. If you would like to use the blog award on your blog and answer the questions, by all means do so.

By the way, #5 reminded me.....

I'm still looking for suggestions for 50 new things I can do next year, my 50th year. I will be posting some of your suggestions in the next week or so, and we will begin to build a list together. Keep 'em coming!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Thank You All Around......

I posted last Thursday about the wonderful surprise I got in the mail from my blogging pal Maggie. In case you have forgotten or don't want to go back to that post, I'll refresh your memory. She sent me a wonderful yellow knit cap, just in time for the coldest weekend we've had this year, along with an eye mask and a precious journal. I gushed in my blog post about how nice it was to get a surprise, and then over the weekend I realized I never said "THANK YOU" to Maggie for being so stinkin' thoughtful. Thank you, Maggie, from the bottom of my heart. If ever I needed a pick-me-up gift, it was last week. You rock!

I would also like to thank Evil Pixie for making me her featured blogger this week. I am honored to be included in the same company as Evil Pixie and some of her fellow bloggers and photographers. Ever since I started following her blog, Evil Pixie has been quick to comment on my blog posts and to answer my lame and ignorant questions about photography. Thank you, Evil Pixie, for making me feel like a very special member of a very special club.

While I'm on a roll related to blogging, I would like to thank my former co-worker and blogger extraordinaire Neena over at Hooey!Critic. I still have no idea what a hooey is or why one would want to criticize it, but Neena is one of my all-time favorite people. When I unexpectedly had to teach English Literature, Neena shared all her teaching materials and lesson plans with me. Sorry, Neena, but I never DID learn to like Brit Lit. Thank you for being my friend and for introducing me to the blog world. I had no idea it was filled with such wonderful people. I should have known, though, if YOU were part of it, it had to be marvelous. Yes you will finish that Ph.D., and just like childbirth, when it's over you will say to yourself, "Well. That wasn't so bad after all." I promise.

Two of my most faithful readers are my sisters, Katydid and Nurse Jane, and I would like to thank them publicly for encouraging my writing. They keep me honest, because if I tried to pull off any fraud on my blog, they would call me on it immediately. They also kept Mom from killing me when I got suspended from school in the tenth grade. If there is any class to this blog at all, it is because I know they will read it. If you find anything on the blog completely without class, the fault is all mine.

Thank you to anyone else out there who reads my blog, either occasionally or regularly. As I mentioned in my questionnaire for Evil Pixie's featured blog post, I think blog writing requires a more "professional" (for lack of a better word) level of writing than mere journal writing. Please don't ever go away, because if I ever resort to the kind of garbage I used to write in my journals, I may have to burn this blog too.

Thank you to everyone who has ever loved me or at least not hated my guts enough to tell me!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

North Florida Tour Pictures.....

Rozmo told me to throw something into the water to trick these geese (ducks?) into coming over to where I was. It didn't take them long to discover my chicanery, and they turned around and left. I think they were insulted that I threw a leaf into the water.  

 Rozmo bundled up at the Rose Garden in Thomasville, Georgia.

I felt obligated to take pictures of..... roses..... at the Rose Garden in the City of Roses. Besides, the more pictures I took, the longer I could delay getting back on the bike.

Our trusty tandem resting at the gazebo in the Rose Garden.

The view from our RV camping spot at the 4-H camp. I would love to go back there in warm weather. They had a high dive into the lake and a wonderful swimming area.

I love how it's hard to tell where the real trees end and the reflections begin. Doesn't this look warm? It wasn't.

I never get tired of seeing Spanish moss. I know it's just a fungus or something, but I think it looks beautiful hanging from the trees.

The sun coming up over the lake, shining through the tree branches and the Spanish moss.

Florida has more springs than any other region in the world. I know of at least three different ones named Blue Springs. They're all blue. Duh.

The water was so clear it was hard to get a good picture of it. At this part of the park, there were steps that led directly down into the water. I didn't test the temperature. I was afraid it might be warm and I would jump in. If it had been, I would still be there.

The reflection makes it hard to see just how beautiful the water really was.

Katydid and Rozmo taking pictures of the trees and the interesting root systems. I know it appears that Rozmo is peering into that trash can, but I'm pretty sure she wasn't.

Our home for the weekend. The propane furnace in the RV works GREAT, and for that I am truly, truly grateful.

This was the only other RV at the bike ride this weekend. This one made me feel like we have the "poor people" version of an RV. I wanted him to leave first today so I could see how he negotiated the sharp turn out of the gate, but Rozmo and Katydid guided me through. I didn't even have to back up.

Rozmo's bike and her "Life is Good" flag. There's a reason the flower has a dot in the middle of it. It has to do with our team name, Team Chi-Chis. She's going to write each team member's name in a petal.

The Tandemonium, loaded up and ready to head home. This will probably be our last organized ride until the spring.

This precious dog showed up at camp right before we got ready to leave. She had the most gorgeous fur. She had a similar color pattern to beagles, but her hair was long. She was so sweet, and she chased the ball. Then when I turned to go back to the RV, she jumped up and put her paws on my back. "I'm not finished here!" she seemed to say.