Monday, May 31, 2010

Summer Camp at the "Y" Camp.....

Hubby and I are still on the cruise, so I wrote this post before we left. I'm all about honesty and all. I didn't want you to think I was slaving over this hot laptop, when I'm probably drinking a girl-type drink with an umbrella in it.

Some of my fondest childhood memories came from attending "Y" camp.

I had a friend who went to this same camp, and looking back I don't know how my mother afforded it. We weren't nearly in the same league with this friend, who lived in a nice house across the road and up the hill from the trailer park where we lived.

In reality I was only about 5 miles from home, but it felt like a cross-country experience. We had no contact with the outside world for the two-week session, except for the U.S. mail. Because I was only about 5 miles from home, I didn't get many letters and packages.

I loved the cabin names: Left Edweda, Center Edweda, Right Edweda (these three "cabins" were actually apartments of a much larger cabin), Jenny V, Hillside, Dew Drop, Sunshine, Crow's Nest, and Upper Lodge to name just a few. Crow's Nest was the ultimate in camping cabin experiences; it was built up on stilts, and it's where the oldest campers stayed for camp. Upper Lodge was the next best. It was above the Lodge, a large structure where we had assemblies, church services, and some camp classes. I was ecstatic the year I arrived at camp and discovered I had been assigned to Upper Lodge. Katydid's ex-husband, however, was NOT thrilled, since he had to lug my foot locker up the narrow, steep stairway that led to Upper Lodge.

We were assigned specific chores to keep the cabins clean, and inspection occurred every morning while we were at breakfast. We waited anxiously to see if our cabin would be on the list of those with the best scores. I don't remember that the designation was for a good cabin. It may have been a "10," or it may have been something more mundane.

There were classes in art, choir, camping skills, sports, and other activities through which we rotated just like class periods during the day. After lunch was a mandatory rest period, during which I could rarely sleep because I was so excited about free swim, which immediately followed. Then came the Store, where we could pick out candy and drinks, and it was deducted from the amount our parents had deposited at the beginning of camp. Every year with the exception of one (I think), my mother had to pay additional money at the end of camp. I was particularly fond of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. We could also buy stamps and postcards. I remember that stamps were five cents. No joke.

I remember the list of clothes and items I had brought to camp. It was taped to the inside of the lid of my trunk (I don't remember if that was a requirement of the camp, or just my mother's rule). We were required to bring two outfits that consisted of white top and white shorts to wear on the two Sundays we were there.

I must have complained about never receiving mail at camp, because one time a package arrived for me, wrapped in plain brown paper. Mail call was a happy time, right behind free swim and Store. I probably reached my chubby little fingers out and flexed them like a baby reaching for a cookie, all awiggle with anticipation of receiving a package. Would I get some cool stationery? (Snacks were against the rules, so I knew not to hope for a personal supply of Reese's.) New sneakers? Pens? Pencils? Crayons and a coloring book?

My mother had sent me panties. I was the laughingstock of my cabin.

The camp is not there anymore, the victim (as so many things are) of development. Katydid and I rode our bicycles over there once several years ago, riding up into the camp around the chain strung across the driveway designed to keep cars out. But surely they didn't mean former campers weren't allowed?

The tennis courts were still there, overgrown but plainly visible. The precious swimming pool was empty and covered with graffiti, but I could swear I could still hear splashing and laughing.

When the camp was finally demolished completely, someone offered the cabins for sale to the public. Mom almost bought one for me (probably in an attempt to compensate for sending panties to camp, I'm thinking), but at that time I had no place to put it.

I couldn't have had Upper Lodge, and if it wasn't Crow's Nest, why bother?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Happy Anniversary, Hubby!!!!!!!!!

Hubby and I have been married 13 years today. In a perfect celebration of our marriage, we are on a cruise to the Bahamas.

We have a lot of things in common:

  • We love football, especially college football, and particularly UGA football.
  • We love baseball, especially the Atlanta Braves.
  • We love the water: pool, lake, beach.
  • We each have one daughter, and we are fiercely protective of them.
  • We have huge soft spots for animals.Which is the only explanation for the fact that we haven't killed our cats yet.
  • We go to bed early and get up early.
  • We love to travel.
We also have our differences, of course:Hubby gives up on the Bulldogs as soon as the other team scores. I still have hope if we are down 49-0 with two minutes left in the game.
  • Ditto the Braves. Although I haven't ever seen them down 49-0. Yet.
  • I can sit by the pool or float in the pool for hours. Hubby has a hard time sitting still that long. He has to empty the skimmers, sweep the pool, water the garden.
  • One of us is a little less biased about our daughter than the other one. Nuff said.
  • I will shove a cat off the bed if I need more room, whereas Hubby will just be uncomfortable because he can't turn over.
  • I will stay up late to see the end of a ballgame or the finals of Dancing with the Stars.
  • I love to stay gone longer than just a day or two.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

My First Job at the Vet School......

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm not really here tonight. Hubby and I are on a cruise to the Bahamas, along with Nurse Jane and Pilot Brian and probably a couple other thousand folks.

Because I'm egotistical enough to think someone will actually MISS me, I created this post ahead of time and scheduled it to publish while we were gone.

Because I learned last time how expensive it is to use the internet on a cruise ship, I created this post ahead of time and scheduled it to publish while we were gone.


When I graduated from college, I immediately put my degree to work making $4.08 as a "clerk" of some sort at the University of Georgia. It was the same job I had as a student, only they turned it into a full-time job with benefits.

Then I decided to move up to a slightly better-paying job (probably around $4.15 or so). I became a medical transcriptionist at the College of Veterinary Medicine.

The only skill required was typing, and I was (am) pretty good at it. I went to some sort of competition for typing in high school, but I have completely blocked it out of my memory because I didn't win.

When I went for my interview, the two ladies in the medical transcription department (one of them was leaving) explained the dictation machine to me, along with the fancy typewriter. This was in the days before computers, obviously. I was in awe of the typewriter because it stored data on a magnetic card. You could type type type type type type, save it to the card, then when it became necessary to edit the document, you simply had to put the magnetic card (about the same size as a business envelope) back in the typewriter and retrieve the data. I was still marveling at the self-correcting typewriter, so the mag-card was magical to me.

For my interview, they set up the dictation machine with an actual letter that had been dictated by one of the veterinarians on staff. I think they gave me that one because it had the word Pseudomonas in it. I was allowed to use a dictionary or a medical dictionary, and I was smart enough to know that Pesudomonas began with a "P". I'm no dummy.

I did get stumped by a different word, however. I backed up the tape and listened again. And again. And again. And again. I was so embarrassed that I couldn't get it. There was a weird pause in the man's voice right before this word, and I just couldn't understand it. I finally looked up helplessly.

"Do you need some help?" one of the ladies asked.

"Yes," I said, blushing furiously, "I can't make out this word."

She listened to it. Backed up and listened to it again. She looked at me, puzzled.

"Do you mean the word 'dog'?"

I'm thinking perhaps Pseudomonas saved me, because I still got the job.

In some ways it was the perfect job for me. Veterinarians from both Small Animal and Large Animal Medicine called in their referral letters and surgery reports on a machine that held five or six cassette tapes. When each tape was full, it ejected automatically and loaded a new one. We took turns getting the tapes out of the machine.

Like many government jobs, there was no overlap among departments. If we got caught up on our transcription, we did NOT take on work from other departments. That would have caused the world to tilt on its axis.

Our little world was isolated from most of the rest of the building. We were on the ground floor, just down the hall from the **reverential bow here** Dean's office. The floor above us held the various departments: Pathology, Large Animal Medicine, Small Animal Medicine. The floor below us held the teaching hospital.

We had to go downstairs to the teaching hospital only to pick up our paychecks. The first time I had to pick mine up, naturally my office-mate went with me to show me the way. She had no way of knowing that it would take many trips before I knew where I was going. The first time I went alone, I got my check without incident, but I couldn't find my way back. I just kept walking around and around, searching fruitlessly for the exit. I kept passing the same operating room, and every time I went past, every person in there looked up at me. Poor dog....his owners probably wondered why he died. Just kidding.

I was going around and around because I am a rule follower. I kept coming to a door that said "Authorized Personnel Only." What I needed was a sign that said, "Idiot, this is the door you came through to GET here, so it's okay to go through it again."

Because we didn't take on work from other departments, if we were caught up on our transcription, it was okay for us to read a book, cross stitch, or talk on the phone. This was in the days before the Internet, or I'm sure it would have been fine to surf the 'Net.

That is the job that inspired me to type so fast. The faster I typed, the more free time I had. Granted I had to be there, sitting in that little office that didn't even have windows, but I didn't always have work to do. I soon learned that I could ALMOST type as fast as some of the veterinarians talked, because backing the tape up only made it take longer.

I applied for a different job on campus one time, and they asked me to take a typing test. They put me in a room with a timer and a looooooooooooooooooooooong sheet of paper that the woman fed into a typewriter. She gave me the signal to start and then left the room.

I ran out of paper.

When the timer went off, the lady came back in and found me sitting there with my hands folded in my lap and the entire sheet of paper filled with words. She gave me a quizzical look and disappeared.

When she came back, she said, "Can I keep this?"

"Umm....sure." You're the one in charge here, lady.

She said, "I've never had anyone do this well on a typing test."

I tell that story not to brag (because that's NOT where the title of my blog originated) but to demonstrate how inspired I was to type fast in my job as a medical transcriptionist.

Other than going to the teaching hospital to pick up paychecks, the only other time we even had to leave our office was to deliver typed documents to the mailboxes of the veterinarians up on the third floor. I'm guessing these days the reports and letters are emailed. We didn't have to interact with anyone if we didn't want to. I'm not sure why we even dressed up for that job, but we did.

Sometimes I miss that job.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Now THAT'S Customer Service.....

Because I am always ready to complain anytime I don't get the kind of service I think I deserve, it's only right that I should give credit where credit is due when customer service goes above and beyond my expectations.

In typical fashion (that's my phrase of the week, evidently), last week I went on a flurry of buying in anticipation of BRAG. I know for a solid year the exact dates of BRAG, yet I wait until the last minute to buy things that I ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY NEED for the week-long bicycle ride.

It's how I roll.

I needed a couple additional pairs of cycling shorts, so I ordered them online, probably Monday. I knew they had plenty of time to get here.

They were waiting on the front porch for me when we got home from the lake on Thursday.

Because it was too logical to order a new GPS in the same order from the exact same company, I ordered it on Tuesday morning before we left for the lake.

It was also waiting on the front porch when we got home from the lake on Thursday. It was delivered Wednesday.

I opened the package with the shorts in it as soon as we got home, and I knew immediately they wouldn't do. I had made the mistake of ordering "tri shorts," which have a shorter inseam than I like, AND they advertise "minimalist padding." I need "maximalist padding" for a week-long bicycle ride, thank you very much.

I packaged them back up and returned them, then I came home and ordered some replacements. They were much more expensive (too much for me to put here, because then the ridiculous amount of money I spent will be all too real) than the original ones, but they had a much longer inseam and had sufficient padding. Well, not sufficient for this derriere, but the most they offer.

The shorts were waiting on the porch for me today when I returned from getting my pedicure.

I'm talking they were delivered less than 24 hours after I ordered them online. No, I didn't pay for expedited shipping. In fact, shipping was **free** because I am a member of the online buying club.

Is that awesome or what?

I love good customer service.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

What Was I Thinking........

I'm having second....and third....and fourth....and infinity..... thoughts about this concept of being a gymnastics judge.

I think my brain has lost some most all of the elasticity required to learn so much new information.

In typical fashion, however, I've spent too much money to back out now without at least giving it a decent try. I paid to join USAG, the governing organization. I also had to take and pass a Safety and Risk Management course (I made 88% on the final test, which I blame on the faulty wording of a couple of questions) AND I had to pay for a background check (I passed that also, with a score of 72%. Just kidding. They only give "green light" or..... something else.)

The only thing remaining between me and the navy suit is taking the first test, which covers the Levels 5-6 compulsories. It is sheer memorization. Of things like this:

Just in case you're interested, and I don't blame you if you aren't, those symbols represent the 10 required elements for Level 5 Compulsories on the uneven bars: Straddle-or-pike glide kip, front hip circle, cast to horizontal and return to front support, cast, squat/pike on, jump to long hang kip, cast to horizontal, back hip circle, underswing, first counterswing, tap swing forward, second counterswing, tap swing forward with 1/2 turn dismount.

Not only do I have to memorize the symbol for each element, I have to be able to remember how much each element is worth AND the order in which the ten elements should occur. (All Level 5 gymnasts do the same routine.)

Just for a little variety, here are some of the required elements for the Level 6 balance beam compulsories:


I haven't even begun to talk about the various penalties for EACH move, how much they count, and which ones have to be deducted before the others are calculated.

Don't worry, I'm not going there.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Things that Go "Woof" in the Night.....

I watched three hours of Dancing with the Stars last night, including Monday night's final dances which I recorded but didn't get to see, so I was up way past my bedtime.

I must have fallen into an exhausted sleep immediately. My restless legs weren't so restless and I dropped off to sleep right away.

I was awakened by the sound of Gus tearing out the door of the motorhome, in full I'm-gonna-kick-your-ass mode, snarling and yapping. My first thought was, "Why is Hubby going outside in the middle of the night?" and my second thought was, "Why is Hubby allowing GUS to go outside in the middle of the night?" Then I realized that Hubby was sleeping next to me and Gus had departed the RV all on his own.

Uh oh.

I snatched my breathing mask off my face and started toward the door, oblivious of the fact that I was in no state of dress to go outside. The clock on the microwave read 3:07.

Luckily Gus was standing right in front of the motorhome door, looking dazed and confused like he does when he chases a squirrel but can't figure out where it went. He came inside willingly and I didn't have to A) embarrass myself by going outside like I was; or B) taking the time to put on suitable clothes.

My heart was pounding. First of all it was traumatic being jolted out of a deep sleep, and then the "what ifs" started plaguing me. What if it had been a bear? What if Gus hadn't come back? What if he chased away someone who had opened the door of the motorhome with malicious intent? What if they kicked us out of the state park for having an animal who wasn't on a leash? What if I couldn't go back to sleep? What if someone DID come in the motorhome, and before Gus chased him (or her, I guess) off he or she stole my iPhone and or my laptop?

I was much calmer in the light of day, and I guess I just didn't latch the door securely when I went to bed last night. Since it was so late and I didn't want to disturb Hubby, I didn't slam it, which is what it takes to make sure it's closed all the way. We had left a trash bag hanging off the back of the RV, and this morning it had a few holes torn in it. In addition, there were sandy critter footprints in my chair. MY NEW ANTI-GRAVITY CHAIR!!! What cheek those wild animals have.

It was probably a raccoon, and perhaps when Gus heard it and leaped onto the door, the door popped open because it wasn't latched all the way, he went outside, the raccoon beat a hasty retreat, deciding he didn't really need a laptop or iPhone that badly, and Gus felt all proud of himself for doing his duty.

Tonight I'm making sure the door is closed all the way. I just don't need that kind of excitement in my life.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Hubby and I are "camping" at Lake Hartwell. I say "camping" because it's not exactly roughing it when we have cable tv (I'm watching one, he's watching the other), air conditioning, the internet, a microwave AND an electric grill.

We have spent part of the afternoon watching two birds build a nest.

In the grill of the motorhome.

Naturally Hubby doesn't WANT them to build a nest in the grill, since the nest will likely not survive the trip back to our home. And even if it did, the little birdies would be confused and would likely need therapy.

Hubby has wiped out their nest. Three times.

They keep starting over. I think I saw one of them giving him the finger.

I have pictures as proof, which I will post as soon as we get home. Not of the bird giving Hubby the bird, but of them going into and coming out of the grill.

I think I know where the expression "birdbrain" originated.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Working the Peaches.....

I have known for a long time that when he was about 14 or 15, Hubby worked in the peach orchards in South Carolina. He would spend the entire summer with relatives, working in the peaches and earning enough money to buy his own clothes for the upcoming school year. It's where he was when he contracted hepatitis and almost died.

Tonight for some reason I asked him what he did in the peach orchards. I had pictured him up on a ladder, picking peaches and toting them back to the peach shed for packaging, bowed down with the weight of his.... sack? basket? What DO they carry peaches in?

Apparently, however, his main job was "breaking baskets." The peach baskets came in towering 12-foot-high stacks of nested baskets, and one of his jobs was to take a pole or stick of some sort (I really did listen to his story, honest) and whack the baskets to break them apart.

He said if they worked past midnight, they would get a hamburger and a Pepsi. Generous of them, don't you think?

He described the peach process to me a little bit. Evidently this was no backyard peach stand, but a large operation complete with conveyor belts. He said there was a machine that packed the peaches into the baskets, except for the top layer. There were women whose job it was to pick out the best looking peaches, and these went into a metal ring of some sort. The other peaches went into the basket, and then the ring was turned upside down on the basket so that the nicest peaches were on top.

Doesn't that seem a little dishonest?

I guess if I were a peach grower I would do it too.

The things you learn after almost 13 years of marriage....

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday Randomness.....

A swimming pool is never better than following a 25-mile bicycle ride in 90-degree heat.

See above regarding three beers.

I'm lamenting how short summer is, and it hasn't even started.

I haven't started studying for my gymnastics judging test yet because I haven't received the flash cards I ordered.

Post-planning is the most ridiculous waste of a teacher's time. Why plan something at the end? Going out to lunch is the only thing it's good for.

It's 104 days until our college football season kicks off.

I think I'm married to the only man in the world who won't even grill, much less cook anything else.

I wonder how we figured out bicycle routes before we had cell phones with GPS on them.

This time next week I will be in the Bahamas.

It will also be my 13th anniversary.

This time the following week Katydid and I will have finished the first day of BRAG.

I am going to replace the GPS for the bicycle because the one I had won't work anymore. It is not longer even conceivable that we ride without one. The roads are marked. There are signs at every turn. We are never out of sight of other riders. We still insist on a GPS.

This will be the 19th consecutive year I've ridden in BRAG. That's longer than both of my first two marriages combined.

Every time I grill corn, I wonder why I bothered with a main dish. The corn is good enough by itself.

I hate, hate, hate to see our baseball team lose in the bottom of the 10th inning.

We haven't seen any hummingbirds this year. But the nectar in the hummingbird feeder is disappearing.

I hope my headache goes away by morning.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Graduation Theme Continued.....

At least this time I'm not bitching about how many ceremonies I did or did not attend. This is a story from when my niece graduated 21 years ago.

I am sure I will get some of the details wrong. It has, after all, been 21 years. And I probably never had them right even back then.

My niece graduated from the same high school I did, which has almost nothing to do with this story.

It rained the night of her graduation, and everyone huddled in the gym waiting for the weather to break or some announcement to be made. Apparently the powers that be hadn't really planned for weather so bad that it would actually CANCEL an OUTSIDE graduation. Everyone just stood inside, milling around and filling the gym with hot air and body odor. I don't think there was an official Plan B.

After what seemed like an extremely long time but may have only been minutes, the superintendent finally decided the weather was too bad for an outside graduation and that it would be postponed until Saturday night. I heard but do not have direct knowledge that he told the principal to make the announcement, and then he (the superintendent) went home.

The poor principal did as he was told and announced that graduation would be held on Saturday night. There were loud groans of protests, probably a few boos, and a general uproar.

Then we noticed something strange. The graduating seniors had lined themselves up anyway and were MARCHING ONTO THE FIELD. They proceeded just as they had practiced, forming smart lines and going to their assigned rows. It was patently clear they weren't going anywhere without their diplomas.

The poor principal hesitated for a few minutes, unsure what to do in response to this unprecedented event. He had no one to consult, as the superintendent had (allegedly) gone home.

He didn't know what to do.

But the seniors weren't going anywhere.

So he went out there in the pouring rain and handed out diplomas. I don't even remember if the speeches were made or not. We sat through the whole ceremony in the pouring rain, laughing hysterically and having a grand old time. The seniors had ended their high school careers in epic fashion, with a ceremony that would be talked about for years.

Uh oh. Then the trouble started.

Apparently the problem arose due to the fact that 13 (or so) seniors heard the announcement to go home and come back tomorrow, and THAT'S WHAT THEY DID. They weren't in the mutinous alphabetical line of graduates who marched proudly into the downpour. They were home and dry. And diploma-less.

There was nothing else to do but have graduation AGAIN the next night for those 13 students. And the random ones who weren't headed to the beach whose parents made them come graduate again.

My niece did NOT go back the next night for the second graduation. Many of my family members did, however, just because we thought it was a hoot.

That ceremony lasted about 15 minutes. It was my favorite one ever.

The principal almost lost his job over the whole affair, which I thought was a travesty. He had no support, no superior to advise him, and he did what was probably the safest thing that night by handing those students their diplomas. He was sorely outnumbered by seniors who already had reservations in Daytona Beach and Panama City, and I didn't blame him for doing what he did. The community rallied around him, and eventually it was just something to laugh about.

I think about those two graduations every year at this time.

Sisters and niece, if I have erroneously reported any of this, please leave me a comment and let me know.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Graduation Night.....Times Two.....

This is the one night out of the year when I hate teaching at an alternative-type high school. Before this year there were two nights I hated it.

Our students come from two high schools in the same county, so we feel obligated to attend both graduation ceremonies. One year we even came up with the brilliant idea to have our OWN graduation ceremony TOO, so that year we got to go to THREE of them. (That's my new favorite expression, sent by text message to Spravenwriter.)

Previously we have also participated in both graduation ceremonies as if we were teachers there, which was awkward. We knew a few teachers at both schools, because all five of us have some connections to both schools. But the rest of the teachers would be looking at us and at each other, wondering, "Who are these impostors and why are they wearing real teacher-type graduation robes?" It got a little tedious.

After eight years of having separate graduations, someone in the state DOE discovered of those high schools is only having 179 DAYS OF SCHOOL INSTEAD OF THE REQUISITE 180.


Never mind that in every high school I've ever known about, seniors generally wrap things up about a week ahead of everyone else. It's not like teachers were grading exams right up to 3:35 today and then sending them out on the field to graduate.

Give me a large personal break.

So the order came down that we had to hold both graduations on the same night. I think one of them COULD have graduated on Saturday, but there would have been an uproar over which school had to wait an extra day, and THOSE parents would have been marching to the board office in loud protest.

Hence two graduations in one night. All the way across town from each other.

We decided our course of action would be to go to the early graduation, see our students before they marched out on the field, give hugs and take pictures, and leave. We met for dinner in between and then went to the OTHER graduation location, where we saw our students before they marched out on the field, gave hugs and took pictures, and left.

Why didn't we think of this sooner?

The students know we were there, we have the pictures to prove it, and we didn't have to sit through one boring ceremony, much less two.

I am very proud of (most of) our graduates, and I truly am delighted in their achievement. But we had approximately 30 graduates at one school and 19 at the other. Why, then, should we have to sit through the entire ceremony, listening to speeches from students we don't know (ours aren't typically the speech-making type....we're just glad they get robes and diplomas), and waiting while 350 students we don't know get their diplomas?

Besides that, graduation ceremonies in our county are NOT dignified. Not by any stretch of the imagination. It's embarrassing the way some of these families act. This year there was even a plane with an advertising banner behind it congratulating one of the graduates.


Maybe some day our county will be able to afford a nice auditorium where both schools can hold graduation on the same night, inside, out of the weather. It poured rain as the students at the early graduation were lining up, but I think the skies cleared just as it was time for them to march out. So that meant the second graduation was merely hot, humid, sticky, and oh yeah...the chairs were wet.

Lord help us if our county ever opens a third high school.

Three of these things to go to?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Fighting the Feds.....

I wouldn't mind arguing with the IRS so much if you actually got the chance to argue. With a person. Instead you get a nastygram from them, you send a polite letter of your own, you wait a couple of months, then they send you a different, milder nastygram.

We got a nastygram from them a couple of months ago saying we owed them a couple thousand dollars because we had not reported $10,000 in income from Dr. Pepper. That represented the Harley that Hubby won in 2008. Well duh.....the motorcycle wasn't worth the $10,000 that was reported, but we had the bill of sale and we didn't report the difference. That must have confused the heck out of somebody (or some computer), because they just couldn't quite make it add up.

When I got the nastygram, I (gritted me teeth and) wrote a polite letter of explanation with all the necessary documentation.

Today we got another nastygram from them, and apparently they have seen the light about the $10,000 discrepancy. There was another oversight, however, a $31 dividend or interest or something from Hubby's investments. That $31 apparently threw us into another tax bracket (or two), because THAT cost us $270. Don't report $31 - pay $270. And they're not saying that's a penalty; that's our additional tax.

What. Ever.

I think I know why people fly planes into their buildings.

On one hand we feel like we won, because they are no longer insisting we pay them a couple thousand dollars. On the other hand....


For a $31 mistake.

I can't make it add up.

Neither can I make Hubby SHUT UP.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bike to Work Week......

This is Bike to Work Week all over the country, and I wanted to do my part. It's hard for me to bike TO work, however. We have no shower facilities at school, and I would have to give up my second cup of coffee in order to leave early enough on my bicycle.

Spravenwriter and I wanted to ride after school, though, so I had Hubby take me and my bicycle to school. He had to go to the doctor anyway, so it's not like we wasted fuel having him take me. I like having Hubby take me and my bike to school. While he would be glad to come and get me (maybe not GLAD, but he would do it), I feel obligated to ride home.

Spravenwriter is relatively new to road cycling, so I thought we should do a simple ride to the end of the road where our school is located and then back. It's an 8-mile round trip, further than she had ridden so far. Well, she had one Ride to Hell of 12 miles, but she didn't mean to ride that far, so it didn't count. Just kidding. Of course it counts.

We rode the 8 miles, and then it was another 9 miles home for me.

I have officially trained for BRAG, which starts in 17 days. Hey! Seventeen miles. Seventeen days. Must be a sign or something.

For those of you who just said "sign of insanity maybe......"

Shut up.

I read in the newspaper this morning that it also counts if you ride a motorcycle to work, just as long as you don't ride in a car alone. I plan to further do my part tomorrow and Friday by riding the Harley to school. At great personal sacrifice. It's all about the environment, you know.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I Knew it was Too Good to Be True.....

When something seems too good to be true...... means somebody probably made a mistake.

A few weeks ago you may remember I served as an online substitute teacher. A substitute online teacher. An online teacher substitute. Whatever.

The rate of pay for substitutes in the online world is $30 per day. I'm thinking there may be face-to-face schools out there who don't pay that much. I subbed for two weeks, and at the end of that period I felt guilty, because I didn't feel I had done $300 worth of extra work.

I was still glad to take their money.

Imagine my surprise when I got my monthly (electronic) invoice. It listed the sub pay as $300 all right.....FOR EACH SECTION I subbed for. [There was no way not to end that sentence with a preposition. I'm just sayin'.....] The teacher for whom I was subbing had 3 sections of Journalism, so you do the math..... I got $900 for serving as a substitute teacher for two weeks, which is more than I got for a MONTH of teaching my regular online students. I felt even more guilty.

I was still glad to take their money. All the way to the casino in Mississippi.

Today I got an email from the money person at my online employer, telling me I had been overpaid by $600 and that the money would be deducted from this month's invoice.


I can't complain, though. I remember telling my co-workers that their substitute pay policy needed to be fixed. I just didn't want them to start with me.

I wish I had rejected the link on THAT email.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Rejecting the Link......

We have a program in our classrooms at school called NetSupport. It links all the student computers to the teacher's computer and allows me to see from my desk what is on every student's screen. Not only can I see when one of them is playing Solitaire, I can take control of his/her computer and click out of it. I can blank all the students' screens if I have something I need to announce to everyone and want to get their attention. I can take a screen shot of a student's screen if what I see is not school appropriate or represents off-task behavior. I love bringing those screen shots out at parent conferences.

NetSupport also allows me to shut the computers down all at one time every afternoon. It's a lot more effective than begging the students to shut them down themselves, and it's easier on my back than going around and shutting them down individually.

Some of the connections have begun to show some quirks at this point in the year, however. Today when I shut the computers off, I got the message "gibberish gibberish gibberish 9118-14 has rejected the link." The 9118-14 refers to computer #14 in my room. Why my room number is 9118 in a school with 5 classrooms is a mystery to me.

I've decided, though, that rejecting the link might be a convenient phrase to have in my repertoire.

Hubby: What's for dinner?
Me: Sorry, I have rejected the link.

Student: Dr. Bragger, can I have a retake on a quiz?
Me: No, I am rejecting the link.

Random Red Cross volunteer: Can I sign you up for the blood drive this month?
Me: No, I have decided to reject the link.

Hubby's relatives: Can we come swim in your pool and track water onto your hardwood floors and traipse upstairs to use the bathroom?
Me: Sorry, we are rejecting the link.

Computer: It's time to change your password.
Me: I'd rather reject the link, thank you.

Gus: Arf arf arf arf arf (I want a treat and to go outside).
Me: Too bad, I have rejected the link.

Blog readers: Can we please have a blog topic that is not nonsense?
Me: Sorry, I have rejected the link.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

No Sense of Urgency......

Tomorrow starts our last week of school for this year.

Pause for applause. Perhaps a happy dance. And a margarita or two.

Some of our students are still in limbo as far as graduation is concerned. They have until Wednesday to finish their coursework, because that's when grades are due for seniors.

One of them went with us on a recruiting visit Friday and THEN SKIPPED THE REST OF THE DAY.

One went outside for our picnic/nature center dedication and had to be dragged back inside KICKING AND SCREAMING to do her coursework. We had just met with her the day before, when she said she really needed to buckle down and work really hard. We had to wake her up to have the meeting.

One emailed us for the umpteenth time on Friday to let us know she would be late because step-mom just had a baby and had a Caesarean and can't drive and she had to take her and blah blah blah blah blah blah. She never showed. Then she emailed me for a test retake. She became irate at my response that she did not have permission to work from home instead of coming to school.

Then there is one girl who was pitifully behind last week. Attendance has been deplorable, excuses have been abundant. She turned to me on Thursday and said, "I need you to give me my cumulative exam, please."

"Sure, no prob...." Wait. Wasn't she just at like 43% of her course a couple of days ago? I was suspicious.

Then I checked her online attendance log.

On Tuesday of last week, she worked on her computer curriculum for 19 hours. On Wednesday she spent 13 hours and 53 minutes. On Thursday she was down to a measly 11 hours and 41 minutes. Her total usage for last week was 68 hours and 29 minutes.

Apparently her mother was dismayed at the news that she would probably not graduate, and she (perhaps theoretically, perhaps literally) chained her to her computer.

I told her I was impressed, but I had no sympathy.

"I know," she said, "I did it to myself."

Still, at least SHE has a sense of urgency.

Some of the others?

Not so much.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sisters' Saturday......

Today's Sisters' Saturday was originally scheduled to be held at my house. We were going to work on the blasted family scrapbook, have lunch at the Mexican place that recently opened just down the street from our house, and then sit by the pool with margaritas.

The pool is open but not warm enough to swim yet, Hubby and I ate at the Mexican place last night, and Nurse Jane doesn't do well in the sun and heat.

Besides, I didn't want to clean the bathroom.

We decided instead to turn it into a shopping trip. I needed clothes for our upcoming cruise, Katydid and I wanted (but definitely did not NEED) some new cycling sandals, and I wanted to shop for a mountain bike.

After the amount of money I spent on clothes, however, I decided that my yard-sale mountain bike will do nicely, and taking it to the bike shop to be tweaked is a lot less expensive than buying a new one. I don't ride a mountain bike very often anyway; I just want to have one that I can take on the motorhome and ride around wherever we happen to be camping. That doesn't really justify spending a couple hundred dollars on a mountain bike. If I'm going to spend a lot on a new bike, it will be a road bike, because my current one is six years old. And while yellow is definitely my favorite color, my next bike will NOT be yellow, because it shows bike grease and dirt too easily. And then Rozmo scolds me about not cleaning my bike.

We ate, we shopped, we laughed.

Just what Sisters' Saturdays are meant to be.

Friday, May 14, 2010

When an Interest Becomes an Obsession......

A blog is not only a nice place to record one's thoughts, it's also a great place to let people know something that is too awkward to talk about. I haven't told anyone about this. Not my sisters, not Lawanda the Warrior Princess, not Sweet Girl, and certainly not Hubby.

And I don't even know why it's awkward. Or why I'm embarrassed about it.

Maybe the fact that I AM embarrassed about it is an indication that I SHOULD be embarrassed.


The fact that I have become obsessed with gymnastics has been well documented on this blog. And in many (most?) of the conversations I've had with many (most?) of my friends.

It's not just that I like to watch gymnastics. It's that I want to UNDERSTAND it. I don't want to be able to identify a wolf jump or a sheep jump or a tkatchev or a Yurchenko because I have the misguided idea that it might IMPRESS someone.

I want to know it just because I want to know it. It is the desire to learn that motivates me. If I ever master gymnastics, God only knows what I will take on next.

To that end (the one of mastering gymnastics, I mean).......

And no, I haven't decided to take up the sport myself at the age of (almost) 50.

I have decided to become a gymnastics judge.

I first became intrigued by the idea when a read a blog by a well-known former NCAA gymnastics coach who has retired (ahem). She wrote a very coherent (for her) piece about judges and her respect for them, and she detailed what they have to go through in order to become judges. She piqued my interest when she said that judges come from all walks of life, and some of them don't even have a gymnastics background. They just have a passion for the sport. I certainly meet both of those criteria. She also made the statement that the requirements for becoming a judge are the same as or more than the requirements for a bachelor's degree. Well......not really. Not at the beginning.

I bounced the idea around in my head for a while, and finally I contacted the person at the state level who would know about such things. I was astounded at her response.

"Oh, you just have to memorize the level 5-6 compulsories and take a 50-question multiple choice test. The next test in Atlanta is in June; I think you'll be ready for it."

It seems a weird order of things to me. You take the test, you become a member of USA Gymnastics, you have a background check, you have to pass a safety and risk management course (offered online), and then you're a judge.


I'm already learning. Levels 5-6 are the first competitive levels, and apparently every gymnast does the same thing. Same skills, same order, same execution. Honestly, it sounds boring, but you have to start somewhere. I ordered the DVD in addition to the book describing the compulsories because I'm such a visual person.

I am already a little - make that a lot - intimidated by the list of deductions for each skill on each apparatus. But hey - I only received the compulsories book yesterday. I've done the introduction to the safety course, and I only have a month to finish the rest of it. I'm thinking the August test will be a better choice than the June one. The June test is only 5 weeks away, and two of those I will be gone.

I am by no means stupid enough to think that this time next year (or ANY year for that matter) I will be the head judge at the NCAA national gymnastics championships. I may never judge a competition of ANY kind, and if I do it will likely be the cute little things who are probably more interested in how the bow in their hair looks.

Whew. That feels better, to get it off my chest (finally). I feel like I have just confessed a terrible crime. Or at the vest least a sin. Why is that?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Police Blotter Blogger Fodder Part Quatre........

A woman called the Sheriff's Office after seeing an unfamiliar car parked under a street light. The deputy determined that the vehicle belonged to a friend of the woman's neighbors.
  • Another Gladys Kravitz?
A woman called the Sheriff's Office because her dog was acting strangely. The woman said the dog did not normally behave in that manner unless someone was nearby. One of the responding deputies saw three deer in the area which may have been the cause of the dog's behavior.
  • Why didn't she just ask the dog?
A man said his neighbor has been making rude comments about him and his wife.
  • People seriously call the police for this middle-school crap?
A man called the Sheriff's Office after someone left a flaming bag of dog excrement on his porch.
  • Which part bothered him more? The flames? Or the excrement?
A man said he believes his son tried to break into his home. The man said he does not allow the son to stay inside the home but does occasionally allow him to sleep in his car on the property.
  • Candidate for Father of the Year?
A woman said an Asian woman driving a gray van has repeatedly driven by her home.
  • That's profiling, and profiling is wrong.
A woman said her husband intended to commit suicide. The husband denied any suicidal thoughts. He said he and his wife had been arguing after a weekend camping trip and she misinterpreted his remarks.
  • How could she have misinterpreted "I will kill myself before I EVER go camping with you again"?
A woman called police after receiving multiple unwanted calls and Facebook messages from an acquaintance.
  • Isn't there a way to fix this problem that doesn't involve law enforcement?
And finally:

A man called the Sheriff's Office after his sister, Olive Oyl, showed up at his house "speaking in circles." The brother said Oyl has a substance abuse problem and periodically stays at the residence.

The brother said he and his family were eating dinner when Oyl arrived and asked him to step outside and speak with her. The brother could not understand what Oyl was saying at first. Eventually she began talking about God and Christianity. The brother said he thought it was odd for her to be discussing religion since "every other word out of her mouth was f***." [That is verbatim what the newspaper published.]

When the deputy attempted to question Oyl, she became agitated. The deputy asked how she got to the residence that evening, and Oyl replied that an "angel" had guided her. Oyl said the "angel" acted like God and warned her not to let her guard down. Oyl advised the "angel" lived in [a nearby] County.

Oyl then complained that her brother would not allow her inside the residence to shower. The deputy explained that the man did not want his children to see their aunt in her current state. Oyl said she "had been clean for a minute." When the deputy asked what she meant, Oyl replied that she had been clean for two days. She then said she was glad the deputy was trying to help her and that she remembered him from a previous incident. Oyl said she remembered the deputy because he was like Jesus.

The deputy tried again to determine what had transpired that evening. Oyl said it would take some time to explain because she had been awake for several days. The deputy asked another deputy to speak with Oyl while he gathered more information from the complainant. When the deputy returned, the second deputy said Oyl told him he was cute and that she wanted to perform oral sex on the first deputy. [Wait....Didn't she say he was like Jesus? That's just some kind of wrong.]

As the deputy was attempting to persuade Oyl to get into the patrol car, "I looked down and realized Ms. Oyl was in the process of urinating on herself and my boot," the deputy wrote. "Oyl yelled, 'See what you made me do, you made me piss myself.'"

The deputy explained that Oyl urinated on herself without any assistance from him. She then demanded to go to the hospital saying she had organ transplants and was going to die within the year. A med unit was called to assess Oyl's condition. She later declined to go to the hospital, saying she just wanted to go home. She was transported to the detention center instead.

While en route to the jail, Oyl reportedly began talking aloud and referring to herself in the third person. She called herself stupid and said her mother would be upset with her. After allowing Oyl to shower, detention officers placed her in a padded cell to prevent her from harming herself.

Oyl was charged with obstruction, disorderly conduct, and stupidity. Just kidding about that last one.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sometimes It's the Simple Solution......

I had given my bluetooth up for dead and was trying to get around to planning a memorial service for it. I didn't use it often anyway, but it's one of those things that when you NEED it..... You NEED it!

I accidentally washed the bluetooth in the pocket of my shorts when I came home from the Spring Tune-Up bicycle ride. I used it because I was driving the motorhome, for which I needed more than the two hands I already had. When we got home and were unloading, I took it off and put it in my pocket.

When I discovered I had not only washed it but also put it in the dryer, I wasn't too upset. Because that was the same time that I discovered I had also washed my DIAMOND EARRINGS in the laundry, and that was a much larger problem. I realized their fate after the wash cycle, and when I first looked in the washer I didn't see anything. I finally recovered both earrings and one of the backs, and I considered myself lucky. Yes, I realize I have already written about that.

The bluetooth wasn't so lucky. I turned it on....nothing. No beep, no message on the phone that a device was found, nothing. Oh well.... Like I said, I didn't use it that frequently anyway.

Hubby generously said I could have HIS bluetooth, since it is still IN THE PACKAGE from when we bought it in December. Why he had to have a bluetooth is beyond me. He wanted one he could listen to music on. Guess how many times he has even listened to music on his iPhone. Go ahead, guess..... I'll wait.

I never got around to charging his bluetooth, though, and it is STILL in the package. I picked my bluetooth up yesterday and thought, "What the hell. May as well try to charge it."

And it worked. Who knew? I was prepared to give it up for dead, and all I had to do was charge it. I guess its manufacturer KNEW there would be some blond stupid careless people who would put their devices through the laundry. Both cycles.

Memorial service has been canceled.

Therapy sessions have been doubled.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Best Laid Plans.....

It's hard to believe that BRAG is coming up in less than a month. This will be the nineteenth consecutive year that I've ridden across Georgia on a bicycle. Almost all of those years I've done the entire ride. I had to miss most of 2004 because I was in graduate school, but I managed to ride the first day and the last day. We missed a large portion of last year because I was teaching summer school online. I think once we came home a day early. When you've been to one end-of-the-road party, you've been to them all.

Katydid and I haven't trained, but we've done BRAG lots of times with little or no training. I will be off work for almost two whole weeks before the ride this year, but one of those will be spent on a cruise. At least I'll be rested for the ride.

We had planned to take the motorhome on BRAG this year. We had two possible drivers to move it from one overnight stop to the next one along the route, and all we had to do was ride our bike to the next town.

Neither of those possible drivers can do it. So we are left with these choices:

  • Go back to tent camping. Not a good choice because I need electricity for my breathing machine.
  • Camp indoors. We've done this one before, but it's like sleeping in the same bed with a thousand of your closest friends. You hear all of their noises. And they hear yours. It also tends to be hot, even when it's advertised as air conditioned. Those thousand people make a lot of hot air.
  • Go to motels. This has been our favorite option for the last couple of years. It takes us away from most of the action around camp, however, and sometimes there are logistical issues with getting us and our gear to the motel and back the next morning. Plus, it's expensive, and sometimes even if you have a reservation you find out when you get there that you don't have a room.
  • Drive the RV ourselves to the next town each morning, then backtrack on the day's cycling route to about the halfway point, then follow the route back in. We wouldn't have hook-ups for electricity or water, but the motorhome has a generator, so I should be able to use my breathing machine. Oh, and air conditioning. This one has a wimp/cheater's escape clause, too. Since we are basically doing out-and-back rides every day, we get to choose how far we want to ride.
We will just have to sit down and weigh all the pros and cons.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Senior Recognition Night.....

Tonight was the senior recognition dinner for our soon-to-be graduates. Because our students come from two different high schools, we like to have our own celebration at the end of the year. It's more for the teachers than for the students. It makes us forget -- for one evening -- just how aggravating some of them have been all year.

One girl who took three semesters to finish her last class -- P.E. -- showed up in a dress that left no doubt as to her physical fitness. Because I rarely think before I speak, when she came in and said to me, "Were we supposed to dress up? I'm kinda dressy," I replied, "No, you're KINDA dressed."

One family immediately began fighting over the lollipops that made up the centerpiece. Then they took the vase full of Skittles that held the centerpiece. Then other families followed suit.

One girl went up on stage barefoot to accept her goodie bag.

But one young man called all the teachers together at the end and told us how much he appreciated us and how awesome our school is. I didn't expect that, especially from him.

Those are the stories we like to remember.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

When I Became a Mother......

DISCLAIMER: This post is about childbirth. If you are A) male; B) squeamish; or C) under 18 years old, you might want to skip it.

I thought Mother's Day would be an appropriate time to tell about Sweet Girl's birth almost 26 years ago.

At that time I worked as a secretary at the vet school at the University of Georgia. I worked in Large Animal Medicine (no snide remarks, please), and some of the veterinarians in our department joked about my delivering there instead of going to the hospital. "We deliver cows and horses all the time, a baby will be a breeze!" I withstood those comments for the entire pregnancy.

I went into labor just after I got to work on a Thursday, the day after my due date. I had been for my weekly check-up that week, and my LEAST favorite doctor in the whole practice said to me, "You know you'll probably go another two weeks." He didn't even do an exam. Did I mention he was my least favorite?

I timed my contractions faithfully -- for a while. My doctor had said to report to the hospital when the contractions were five minutes apart. When they got that close, however, I just stopped timing them. I couldn't go anywhere anyway. Baby Daddy and I rode to work together, and that day he had kept the car. I was typing a long manuscript for one of the faculty members, so I would type type type type, get up and go into the (vacant) adjoining office to wait out a contraction, go back to my desk and type type type type.

The beeyotch with whom I shared an office (there were only two of us for 22 faculty members) and who knew EVERY. SINGLE. THING. IN. THE. WORLD. kept telling me, "Oh, you're not in real labor." Then at lunch, she took the rest of the day off, leaving me in the office alone. I would learn later FROM HER OWN MOUTH that she left because she knew I was going to deliver that day, and it was her last opportunity for a while to take an afternoon off. Real class act.

Late in the afternoon, I went down the hall to the office of one of our favorite veterinarians. He was a guy who would fly all over the world because someone had requested that HE come do surgery on a $43 million race horse or something. True story. Anyway, he was moving on to more lucrative opportunities, and Friday would be his last day. I went to bid him farewell.

"Why are you telling me that today?" he asked. "I'll be here tomorrow."

"Yeah, but I won't," I replied.

"Why not?"

"Because I'm going to have the baby tonight."

He guffawed. GUFFAWED. "What makes you think you're going to have that baby tonight?"

"Because I've been in labor all day."

He went into a blind panic. "Oh my God. What are you doing here? What do we do? Should I call an ambulance? Oh God....." This was one of the big bad veterinarians who delivered horses and cows all the time and had offered to save me the expense of a hospital bill.

I don't know what made me so calm. I had certainly never had a baby before. I waited until Baby Daddy got off work, we went home (30 minutes away), he had dinner, and we went to my mother's house where Nurse Jane was. (Mother was in the Bahamas. Ironically, Katydid had bowed out of the same trip when she discovered it was so close to my due date. NOT my mother.) I waited for a while before I called the hospital. The last thing I wanted was the shame of going to the hospital, only to be sent home again.

We finally went to the hospital around 10:30 PM. Contractions were no closer together or worse than they had been at work. The first thing I learned was that my LEAST favorite doctor was the one on call that night.


They got me in a room, prepped me with all the unpleasantries, checked for dilation (5 cm - YES! - they were astounded that it was a first baby), and waited. Finally they broke my water.

On his last check, the doctor informed me that I could commence pushing with every contraction, as I was fully dilated. When they wheeled me into the delivery room, we discovered that the nurse on duty was the same one who had taught our Lamaze classes. Cool.

They were getting the baby thingie ready, and I had a contraction. I pushed, as I had been told to do.

There was a baby. I guess I'm pretty strong.

Unfortunately, we had skipped a couple of steps. Like the episiotomy. Never mind the drugs.

Sweet Girl came out kind of gray, which was exactly the color that Baby Daddy's face turned.

"Uhhhh...... Jan...... We got a baby over here."

I don't THINK she would have hit the floor if he hadn't been there, but I'd rather not think about it.

I barely got a glimpse of the baby. I thought it was a boy. I am so glad I was wrong.

Things kind of went into fast motion after that. They whisked her away, and the doctor came in from wherever he had been lounging while I produced a baby.

He came in and sat down on a stool at the foot of my stretcher and looked at me like he was disgusted.

"Anybody got a road map?" he asked. "I don't know where to start."

Then he said directly to me, "Honey, I've never seen anybody tear this badly in the 10 years I've been practicing."

"I'm glad you could drop in," I said. I think he missed my sarcasm.

I could have cheerfully killed him. Even today, 26 years later, it would be tempting. He wasn't my regular doctor, but I went back to him three months later because I still couldn't.... We couldn't have.... There were problems.

I asked him, "Isn't there something you can do to fix it?"

He responded, "Oh sure I could, but you'd just get pregnant again and tear it up all over again."

Did I mention he was my least favorite?

I can't say the delivery itself was terribly painful, because it was sort of like snatching out a loose tooth. (Sorry for the analogy, Sweet Girl.) It was the aftermath that was painful. It didn't help that Sweet Girl was jaundiced (well yellow IS my favorite color), and she had to go back to the hospital and doctor every single day for two weeks. And she was born at the end of June and our car had no air conditioning. We had record heat that week. Of course.

Even having a traumatic delivery wasn't the worst part, though. They wouldn't let me see my baby because she had a "contaminated" delivery. Hello? I was in the delivery room. How contaminated WAS it in there? They also put her away from the other babies in the nursery because of her "contaminated" delivery. Poor thing. She was born at 12:19 AM (I think the jerk doctor went off duty at midnight, and he was pissed off that I made him stay after hours), and they didn't let me see her until around 5:30 AM. By then I was just about beside myself with worry and new-motherness.

The delivery isn't the reason I only had one baby, though. Besides the fact that Baby Daddy and I didn't stay together, I decided I wouldn't take any chances. The baby/girl/young woman I gave birth to was so good, and I'd heard that the second baby/child is never the same. I wasn't going to take any chances on NOT having a good one.

Delivery aside, I'm very happy with the end result. Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Shopper's Rationale.....

I'm not a huge shopaholic, but boy can I justify buying something I want. Or just buying sometimes for the sake of buying.

When we were at the casino last weekend, I was up at one point to the tune of $800. That felt pretty good, and we still had two more days to go.

Guess how casinos make their money?

By lunchtime the next day, I was only up $100. I was feeling a little depressed, like I had lost $700, when I still had more money than I brought with me.

The casino we frequent is actually TWO casinos, across the street from each other, joined by an over-the-street walkway. Between the two casinos are some shops, and I can't resist ducking into one (or two or three) of them every trip. One sells all kinds of apparel and other merchandise with college logos on it, but I don't stay in there very long because UGA merchandise is definitely in the minority.

Another store, however, is a jewelry store.

When I was feeling a little down because I wasn't making money hand-over-fist anymore, I decided to try out the OTHER casino. But there was that jewelry store, "sitting there just like a spider..." [Name that movie].

I went in and browsed, looking mainly at earrings. I like different colored stones, and my eye naturally fell on some topaz earrings, because yellow is my favorite color. Topaz isn't my birthstone, but you can only justify buying so many pairs of diamond earrings. I picked out some lovely oval studs that were well within my price range.

"There's a beautiful pear-shaped pair in our 50% off display case," the clerk said.

Fifty percent off! What a bargain!

The earrings that were fifty percent off were still way more than the first pair. But in my mind, I was saving WAY more money than I was going to spend at first.

So I bought them. Don't you love that rationale?

I'll post a picture when I'm not so lazy.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Back in the Swing of Donating.....

After my year-long deferment resulting from my trip to the Dominican Republic, I was finally able to donate blood again today.

The whole process takes about 45 minutes, depending on how long I have to sit in the canteen area. Or in some rare cases, lie down on the Cot of Shame.

To donate the pint of blood, however, only takes 5 minutes and 41 seconds. That wasn't even enough time to take a nap.

My iron count was excellent, my blood pressure was excellent, and the woman didn't bat an eye when I lied about my weight.

Even my veins cooperated today, and she only had to stick me once.

And boys and girls, I learned this week what the most commonly shoplifted item is. It isn't condoms, which was my guess.

What do you think it is?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Irritating Noises......

It's that time of year when I'm exhausted pretty much all the time, so it is no problem for me to go to sleep. Last night was no exception, and I fell asleep immediately, in spite of the fact that my mind was whirling with possible solutions to the fact that I can't get Mario through the castle in World #2. I suck at video games, but I'm long on determination.

I was awakened by the "ding" of my cell phone with a text message downstairs. Because my online students are taking exams yesterday and today, I went down to see what it was. It was a plaintive text message from a student who has begun to get on my last nerve. He has problems following directions, mainly because they go through his mother first. I turned off my phone without responding, but I found it difficult to go back to sleep.

Because the ceiling fan in our bedroom had developed a very irritating squeak.

It sounded a lot like Gus when he wants something. You know, high-pitched, squeaky, whiny sound.

And it wouldn't stop.

I stood it as long as I could, but of course then it was like water dripping only not as regular, and I found it impossible to go back to sleep. I finally got up and turned off the fan. We have the air conditioner on in the house now after all.

At 3:20 I awoke to the sound of the squeaking ceiling fan. Apparently Hubby got up to go to the bathroom and turned the fan back on.

I turned it off again and managed to go back to sleep for a little while before the alarm went off at 5:00.

Here's the thing:

Hubby is a very light sleeper. He hears everything. He hears the coffee pot come on in the mornings. He knows whether or not the newspaper has been delivered in the mornings.


He sprayed it with the amazing lubricant that probably keeps the earth spinning on its axis, but of course he can't tell if it worked or not because he couldn't hear it in the first place.

Now here's a question:

Will I hear it anyway? I mean, will my mind convince me it's squeaking even if it isn't really? Ceiling fans do, after all, make some amount of noise all the time.

I hope it's fixed. Otherwise I'm sleeping in the recliner.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My Video Poker Ritual.......

Every time I go to the casino, I play video poker exactly once. It's not my favorite game, and I do it for someone I never met.

Let me explain.

I have an awesome cycling buddy named Larry. I met him the first time I did RAGBRAI in 2004. I cannot describe to you what a kick-ass cyclist he is. On top of that, he is F-I-N-E in a way that makes my teeth sweat. But he's also just a nice guy. On a weekend ride one time, he talked me into a much longer ride than I wanted to do, and he stayed with me. All day. At a much slower pace than he is used to. I said to him, "Larry, you're such a gentleman to stay with me." And he replied, "Well damn, I was just about to say I was going to go on." But then he HAD to stay with me, which was fortuitous, since he changed my flat tire just a few miles from the end.

I never met Larry's wife. Not even his CLOSE cycling friends met her. She struggled with some form of mental illness that may have been agoraphobia, I'm not sure. She didn't leave the house unless she had to, including going to doctors when she wasn't feeling well. Larry finally talked her into going on a cruise, but just before they were to leave, she was forced to go to the doctor. That's when they discovered she had Stage 4 liver cancer, and she died three months later.

One place that she DID love to go, however, was to casinos. No, I can't figure it out either. Larry told an adorable story about one time when they went to the casino, and he took his bike along. When it was time to leave, he left on his bike, giving his wife a meeting location and approximate time he would get there. This was before Larry could be bothered to carry a cell phone on his bike.

He took off on his bike, and when he reached the meeting point and his wife wasn't there, he probably thought he had ridden better than he had anticipated. Or maybe he thought there was a tailwind. At any rate, he knew she would be along sooner or later, so he kept riding.

And riding.

And riding.

And riding.

And riding.

And riding.

Until he reached their home.

He had ridden his bike 126 miles. All the way home.

Shortly after he got home, the phone rang. It was his wife.

"Oh good, you're home. I started winning."

Every time we go to the casino, we pass through Larry's hometown. When I asked him once which game his wife liked to play, he said video poker.

From then on, I started playing video poker one time every time I go, in memory of a person I never met.

Week before last, just before our trip to Mississippi, I received a letter from Larry, one I get every year. He rides in a bike ride called "Ride of Love," and proceeds from it go to Camp Smile-a-Mile, a camp for children with cancer. I usually send him a donation; he sends one when I do the ride for diabetes. His letter was once again asking for donations, and I put it aside to do when we got back.

At the casino, I put $20 in the video poker machine. Then I put another $20.

Then I hit four of a kind.

The payoff was just over $100. I cashed it in, put that Benjamin Franklin in a separate spot from the rest of my money so I couldn't lose it, and I sent it to Larry this morning for his bike ride.

I thought it was so cool that I could make a donation from money I won playing video poker in memory of his late wife.

Larry is getting married again this summer, to a fellow cyclist who is also a law professor, and I am so happy for them.

The George Costanza Syndrome......

Disclaimer: This blog post is about sweating. If you are squeamish, you might want to skip it. You might want to skip it anyway. I'm just sayin'.....

Anyone remember the episode of Seinfeld where George was lamenting the fact [George is ALWAYS lamenting something] that he had just worked out and he had a meeting to attend with Mr. Steinbrenner that morning? Seinfeld told him to take a shower. George said that wouldn't help, because he continued to sweat AFTER his shower.

I have the George Costanza syndrome.

Especially at this time of year.

I work out on the elliptical almost every single morning WITHOUT FAIL (not that it has done a damn thing to help me lose weight, but whatever). I tell myself I will be on the elliptical no later than 6:10. That gives me a chance to drink a cup of coffee (or two), watch the local news, catch whatever Robin Meade is wearing on HLN, then change into my workout clothes.

At 6:10, I generally tell myself I have plenty of time and I can wait until 6:20. Then I get serious.

That means I finish my 30-minute workout around 6:55 and get in the shower at 7:00. I try to leave home no later than 7:30, and that's plenty of time for me to get ready.

(I haven't made the deadline in recent memory. The closer it gets to the end of the school year, the later I get.)

But it's not plenty of time for me to stop sweating. Even after I shower, I continue to sweat, particularly from my head. That's genetic -- my mother sweats from her head too. When she had her own business and the warehouse portion wasn't air conditioned, she would tilt her head toward me and say, "Feel how wet my head is!" (She meant her scalp.)

G - R - O - S - S !!!!!!!!!!!!!

I don't know why I even bother trying to put on make-up. Most of it slides right back off. My mascara is smudged even if I DON'T sneeze while I'm putting on my make-up, which is rare. It's hard to know where to put blush because my entire face is still beet-red from working out.

The obvious solution is to exercise earlier, but that means eating breakfast earlier, having my coffee earlier, getting up earlier.

Probably not going to happen. I already get up at 5:00 AM to leave the house by 7:30.

And don't bother telling me that Southern girls don't sweat, they "glisten."

This Southern girl sweats.

Monday, May 3, 2010

I've Created a (Texting) Monster.....

Hubby resisted text messaging for the longest time. I finally broke him by sending him naughty messages to which he just HAD to respond.

He's gotten into the groove, though, and often he even INITIATES the messaging.

In the past when one of us has been out of town, we might go an entire weekend (or longer) without talking on the phone. With text messaging, though, we are in constant contact.

Here is a string of messages between us while I was gone to Florida. When I first started composing this blog post, Hubby was opposed to it, so I said I wouldn't publish it (that day). I don't think there is anything in here that he need be ashamed of. Besides, I decided it's no different from him repeating a conversation we've had to his golf buddies. Like telling everyone on the freakin' golf course just how much that check WAS that my mother gave me for my birthday.....

Note which of us is the English teacher.

Me: At the gate. Two hours to wait. For future reference, they want you to take the CPAP out. NOT pack it on the freakin' bottom. I hope they put my underwear back.

He: Live n learn go find cold one to pass the time for future ref about three hrs plenty have fun

[Thirty minutes later]

He: Found a plane yet?

Me: Just about to board. Can't wait for my complimentary drink. Ha ha.

He: Let me know when you get there.

Me: Oh tay. Love you!

[Eighteen minutes later]

Me: My pre-departure beer is on the way. Yay!

He: Don't get too drunk to fly. They may need your help.

Me: I will just jump. Using my seat cushion as a life preserver of course.

He: Try to land on your feet

[Two hours later]

Me: On the ground. Standing outside waiting for [Sweet Girl]. Too short a flight - only time for two beers.

He: That's $25 each not counting nice seat.

Me: AND first off the plane. Plus, I'm worth it.

He: Braves down 1 and lucky.

[Next day]

He: Home again

Me: Is that a question or a statement?

He: What you talking about? Got new rewards you got $75 match.

Me: Were you telling me YOU were home? Or asking if we were home? We are about 30 minutes away from [Sweet Girl's].

He: I is home. Broke again. Lost $9. Cheating bastids.

Me: I will let you borrow $9. [Sweet Girl] says you're not ok'd enough t

Me: Oops. You're not old enough to play with those geezers.

He: Had me way confused.

Me: I'm the confused one.

Me: McCool qualified in beam to compete Sat for championship. Missed floor by .025.

He: So I'm home you not i'm happy you? Gonna play tomorrow hopefully more better. Luv U.

Me: We are touring Cecil Field. Love you also.

He: Cecil who?

He: Pills [This is in response to the VERY LOUD, VERY OBNOXIOUS alarm we set on his phone to remind him to take his pills in the evening.]

Me: Glad you remembered. :)

He: How could I forget?

[Next day]

He: Up yet?

Me: Of course!

He: Ready to come home?

Me: Of course! Ha ha.

Me: We're going to the zoo today.

He: Do not feed the animals. Going to a sort of zoo myself.

Me: Do not feed THOSE animals your money. Ha ha.

He: Me & Jason playing ray & Vic. May be tough.

Me: Oh you can handle them. I have faith in you.

He: Ain't no hill for a mountain climber.

Me: I'm not going to finals tonight. Had enough orange and blue yesterday for a lifetime. [For those of you who don't know and might be remotely interested, the gymnastics championships were held in Florida's home arena.]

He: Saw Mc advanced on beam. [Hello? Did I not JUST TELL YOU THAT in an earlier text message?]

Me: Yeah. Missed floor by .025. Not her best effort.

He: Gotta charge phone will talk later. Luv U. [That's a nice way of ending the texting conversation.]

[Next day]

He: I is home safe and sound.

Me: Past your curfew ain't it?

He: I is a grown man. Stupid buy grown.

He: Not buy but.

Me: What do you mean stupid? Are you confessing?

He: Playing with Roger I rest case but I win $5.

Me: Who brought him back from the dead?

He: God works in mysterious ways he's gonna be there next week. [We're going out of town for a golf and gambling trip. Again.]

Me: Uhhhhhhhh......... I think I have something pressing that will keep me at home.

He: I'll make it up to you. :)

Me: OKAY!!! Poor old Florida is currently in fifth place. Wah wah wah wah.

He: Lost lil Brutus but unfortunately she came back.

Me: To be so dumb, she always manages to find her way home.

He: She was out back (under porch) and so happy to find her way in.

Me: Did she have that Michael Tucker look?

He: How did you guess?

He: Watching Braves?

Me: No, watching gymnastics. How are the Braves doing? Better than last night?

He: 1-0 us off to bed luv u talk tomorrow. [Again with the polite dismissal.]

Me: Night night. Love you.

He: Luv u 2 got nu club 2day get they ass tomorrow if it don't rain.

[Next day]

He: Raining.

Me: That sucks. All day?

He: May get a break but chance for storm later maybe severe. Weather guys showing only waist up.

Me: We are going to the Arts Market this morning. Then the event finals tonight.

He: Have fun. Sun's out.

[Two hours later]

He: New club right handed what a pisser plus now raining again.

Me: Not too late to change your game. Or maybe it is. Can you send it back?

[An hour later]

He: Got your title so it's officially paid for. Not gonna play just be couch potato.

Me: Yay! Now pay for motorhome and we can be jetsetters. ha ha.

He: Little Brutus missing in action again oh well.

Me: Don't get your hopes up.

He: Don't really know if she's in or out think she went out this morning but it was raining so wasn't watching gonna gave bad storms this afternoon she may get x.

[Two hours later]

He: She was hiding just got hungry.

Me: Just like me. Ha ha.

He: You hiding?

Me: No but I will always show up for food.

He: Pills

[Four hours later]

Me: Just about at the point of maximum saturation. [Referring to the fact that the gymnastics national championships are almost a gymnastics overdose. Even for a die-hard like me. And I didn't even go to two of the events.]

He: What's the song Help me make it through the night.

Me: Yep. Maybe with the aid of a beer. Or three.

He: It always seems like a great idea at the time but you can only stand so much (fun)

[Half an hour later, at 7:20 PM]

He: Bout ready for bed probably play tomorrow so I'll see you after luv u

Me: Night night. Love you. See you tomorrow. Mwah!

[Next morning]

He: Chomping at the bit?

Me: We should be boarding. But there's no plane!

He: They heard about possible terrorist.

Me: They do keep looking at me. Same guy who did my upgrade is down there to guide the non-plane into the gate.

He: Multi-tasking

Me: Job security. Da plane! Da plane!

Me: Now he's driving the baggage tow truck.

He: Fly carefully

[Two hours later]

Me: On the ground. Waiting on the shootle.

He: Welcome home.

[Two hours later]

He: Home yet?

Me: Yeah. About an hour ago.

He: Gus happy?

Me: He didn't say. But he hasn't left my side. :)

He: That'll be two of us.

Me: You're sweet

Sunday, May 2, 2010

My First Rose.....

Hubby sometimes does the sweetest, most unexpected things for me. They are small and might seem insignificant to most people, but they are fraught with meaning for me. Like how I used the word "fraught"?

A few weeks ago, he planted a rose bush beside our front steps. I am not the gardening kind, and Hubby isn't that much into it either. He will plant some flowers occasionally, he will remind me to water the plant we got when my father died almost 8 years ago [a record for me], and he loves planting a small vegetable garden every spring, but he's not the work-in-the-hard type. I'm not either, although I'm hoping Katydid will help turn me into one. Sometime.

Hubby didn't just plant a rose bush. He planted a YELLOW rose bush. He knows that's my favorite flower. That was even sweeter than when he bought me a dozen of them for my birthday. I didn't notice them on the kitchen table, and I didn't notice when he planted the bush.

While we were away this weekend, the first rose bloomed on the baby bush.

It is by no means a perfect bloom, but I love it.

Our neighbors probably wondered why I was sitting on the ground in the front yard, oblivious of the fact that Gus was roaming aimlessly. Oh wait....he does that every day.

I hope we don't kill the rosebush.

Big Brutus would like to offer his opinion on the situation.

Back to school tomorrow. Only fifteen days left in the school year, and I am ecstatic that I will NOT be teaching summer school this year.

The weekend golfing/gambling trip was good. I brought back more money than I took, which is not how these weekends usually turn out. I'm debating about what to do with SOME of the money I brought back.

New mountain bike?

Some new cool techie toy like an iPad?

Clothes and shoes? (Nah, I can get by on what I've got for the next 15 days.)

Something for the motorhome?


Decisions, decisions. I think I'll sleep on it for a while.