Thursday, September 30, 2010

I'd Like Some Brownie Points for Trying......

I told Hubby one day earlier this week that I would like for him to take me and my bike to school "a couple" of days this week. I told him that mainly because once I say something like that to him, he won't let me forget it. I was running kind of late this morning, but when he asked if I wanted him to take me, I said "yes" and proceeded to throw all the things together that are required to make that happen.

I had to air up my tires, make sure I had water, pack a bag with my cycling clothes (almost left out the shorts, which would have negated the whole thing), pack my lunch (it was already made), and of course get dressed and ready for school.

Brownie point #1 - Taking the bike to school anyway, when I could easily have said, "Screw it, I'll do it tomorrow."

At the end of the school day, when we did NOT have a meeting that I thought we had, I was about to go change clothes when I heard one of the administrators on the walkie talkie say, "Don't send the middle schoolers out yet; it's raining."

Raining. I don't DO rain on my bicycle. It's not so much getting wet, or the grime that I get covered with, or the slight chill since temperatures have been lower the past few days. It's more the issue of being visible to drivers. And since the lying slore of a weatherwoman said this morning that it definitely was NOT going to rain, I didn't take my high-visibility yellow jacket with reflective stripes.

I texted Hubby, and we went through a series of "Come get me" "Don't come get me" "Call me if you need me to come get you" and "It looks like it has stopped" text messages. Finally the rain stopped and I went to change clothes. I went out the back door, which locks behind me, only to discover that the rain had NOT stopped.

Brownie point #2 - I left on my bicycle anyway.

I took my usual route home, 8.5 miles, which is not really long enough for a bicycle ride. I don't usually bother getting my bike out for a ride under 20 miles. So I was literally at a crossroads (I've always wanted to say that) trying to decide on a different route. Straight would take me on the same route home I took last Thursday, turning left would add some mileage.

Brownie point #3 - I turned left.

It was a very nice route. Only one mildly strenuous hill, one on which I have reached 37 mph coming DOWN it, and Katydid and I hit 43 mph on the tandem. Still, I wouldn't characterize it as a killer hill. The dogs that sometimes chase me when I'm a mile from home were not out, and I climbed the last big hill before home on my big ring. It was a good ride.

When I rode home last Thursday, I averaged 12.4 mph. Please don't laugh at that. I'm trying to work up to a 15 mph average. I'm old and I'm slow, but I'm by God persistent. My goal today was to average 13 mph. Because my GPS shows me the average, I knew when it dropped to 12.8. I was devastated. But then I hit a little flat spot a couple of miles from home, and I realized it was slowly climbing upward. I pedaled hard, flew down the hill into my subdivision, and turned onto our little road on two wh.....

Never mind.

I averaged 14 mph. I was stoked. Out of breath, but stoked.

And I would still like to have my brownie points. In spite of the fact that when I looked at the GPS upon arriving home, I discovered that the little turn I made to increase my mileage actually made the route one-half mile SHORTER.

Damn it.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Made My Decision.....

Having spent hours on the internet researching a few of the bicycle models available to me and creating a table of each one's features and pros and cons and price and specs, I have finally decided upon this bicycle.

It isn't the women's specific model, but the differences are minute. I'm not that delicate a female anyway, so I'm not sure it even matters if the frame is a wee bit shorter and the handlebars a millimeter or two narrower. It is the exact same price as the women's specific model, and if it isn't the red and black model I coveted or the red and white one of last year's model, at least it isn't ORANGE. It's jet black, and we all know that black is slimming anyway. And absolutely anything will go with it, so I don't have to worry about my cycling clothes clashing with my bike. One of the first things I will have to do is change out the seat, though. That detail IS a little bigger difference between the men's and the women's models.

I will probably buy a new helmet, even though my Livestrong helmet in yellow and black would match fine. It's all about the new.

If I didn't want jet black, I could also get the color in the picture below.

It's called "Berserker Green". And I think I know why.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Typo? Or Freudian Slip.......

I apologize to Katydid that she and I have already exchanged the bulk of tonight's post via text message. Or maybe she will be relieved that she doesn't have to read any drivel tonight.

As I mentioned in a post last week, our mother has moved. Again. To a place she has already lived before. Again.

Today I received this note from her:

To be fair, she presumably sent the same note to everyone in the family. So it isn't just me whom she no longer loves. But perhaps she wants everyone to know where she lives just in case she ever starts loving us again. Or maybe she will only love us IF we come to see her.

Katydid's theory is that she somehow thinks she might be going soon. You know, to the great beyond. The troll bridge in the sky.

I hope that isn't it. If it is, I'm going to feel terrible about joking about it in my blog. Probably.

Monday, September 27, 2010

First Taste of Fall......

Here in the Deep South we've had our first taste of fall. It came through just in the last two hours too. It was still quite warm when I came home from line dancing, but just now when I took Gus out for the last time before bedtime, there was a definite chill in the air. It rained most of yesterday afternoon, off and on today, and we had some fairly heavy rain just a little while ago. It is still raining just a little, but I was amazed at how much the air had cooled off. And how quickly. I was shivering when I came back inside. That may also have had something to do with the fact that just before taking Gus out I had eaten a (sugar-free) popsicle.

I'm always sad to see the end of summer, particularly when the pool folks come and cover the swimming pool. Poor Sweet Girl came home unexpectedly last weekend, looking forward to having some time by the pool, and we had covered it up just the day before. Who knew? I hate to see the leaves fall, not because I have to rake them, but because they get tracked into the house. I hate to see the daylight hours shrink, although it means that we are headed into the few months out of the year when we don't go to bed in the daylight.

When we get that first taste, however, I tend to rush things just a bit. When it rained yesterday afternoon, I felt compelled to make a big pot of vegetable soup and some cornbread for dinner. Never mind that the air conditioner was still running full blast. Now I'm looking forward to chicken stew (we finally found a recipe that appeals to both Hubby and me), chili (once a week in colder weather), and a delicious black bean soup. I found the recipe for that one on a box of crackers, and I make it several times over the course of a winter. it makes a huge batch, and I freeze it both for leftovers and for lunches.

My quilt is also getting to a point that screams for cold weather. I've made two of the larger squares, and now they need to be attached to a row that I have already done. That's a whole lot of cloth to hold in my lap, and it's hard to do when it's 90 degrees outside.

I'm not foolish enough to believe that the cooler weather is here to stay. We will probably still have some days in the 90's and a bunch in the 80's. Just when we think it's time to get the sweaters out, we will have a stretch of days that feel a lot like July. It happened one year the week of Christmas. I had all those cute Christmas sweaters, and I was hell-bent on wearing them, but I was dying in the heat. One year it may be bitterly cold on Thanksgiving or Christmas, and the next we might be outside in our shirt sleeves playing with our new toys. If we had new toys.

Fall also means baseball play-offs. Braves, please don't fold your tents now. We've come so far.

And college football. Moving right along......

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Going Green.....But Maybe Only Mint Green So Far......

Like many people, I have made some efforts to have a "greener" existence. I am not completely committed to it, and sometimes I'm downright lazy about it. But I figure that any changes are good changes.

  • We recycle plastic, newspaper, and aluminum cans. Hubby sells the aluminum, and the sanitation company picks up the recycling along with our trash. I have a fear that they dump it all in the same truck as soon as they are out of sight. 
  • I have stopped washing clothes every single time I wear them. Oh pipe down, I'm not talking about bras and panties here. But there are some things I don't feel get "dirty" every single time I wear them. For example, linen tops under which I have worn a tank top. That cuts down on the water, detergent, and energy used to launder them. Not to mention it gives me more time for sewing on my quilt.
  • I don't know if it counts that I rode my bicycle home from school last Thursday, since Hubby had to take me to school. He was going to the golf course anyway, though, and at least MY car didn't get cranked at all that day. I'm planning to do that a couple times a week until it gets too cold and dark to ride. I'll never catch Rozmo's cycling mileage for the year, and I probably won't make my own goal of 2010 miles this year, but every little mile helps.
  • I use reusable bags at the grocery store exclusively. I'm still trying to convince the grocery baggers not to cram everything into four bags, rendering them fifty pounds each, and then hand me back two empty bags. I'm having a hard time training them.
  • I take my lunch to school, and I'm trying to use more containers and fewer plastic baggies. I also wash and reuse the plastic forks and spoons I keep at school. Every now and then a student asks for a fork, and when I tell him or her to bring it back, I get an astonished "Oh! You're serious?"
  • I only run the dishwasher when it's full. Unfortunately, that's almost every night. I'm not really sure how two people can dirty up so many dishes, especially when one of them professes not to cook and the other one refuses to consider thinking about pondering the possibility of maybe learning how.
  • I sometimes blog about the same subject over and over, eliminating the need to come up with new topics that might go straight into the trash.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Our Granddog......

I don't know if any of you have ever tried to get a beagle to pose for a picture. They can be a stubborn breed. Daisy will sit still just to taunt me, but she refuses to look at me.

Daisy and Sweet Girl have come home for the weekend to visit us. They don't come nearly often enough.

Right this minute Gus is upstairs on the bed with Hubby, traumatized by the fact that there is another dog in the house. He acts tough, but he's really intimidated by Daisy.

Not that he should be. Daisy is more likely to roll over on her back and expose her tummy, just screaming submissiveness. I think Gus just doesn't trust her.

He may be right. I don't think you can trust any dog that won't look at the camera lens.

Pardon the blurriness of the picture below. I was so excited to see her eyes, I didn't focus very well. I think she knows that.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Frustrating Friday.......

I find myself in the foulest of moods on an otherwise pleasant Friday evening.

  • I had to say goodbye to my friend Lawanda the Warrior Princess today. Not totally goodbye, but she has gone to work at another school in our county. The bastards in charge of her pay couldn't find funds for more than half a year, and it isn't practical for her to work part-time. She had to snap up another full-time job with the school system's insurance, since her husband is self-employed. Personally, I don't think the power-that-be tried very hard to find to find the funds. 
  • Early in the week I sent out an email asking about the whole gang taking Lawanda out this afternoon after school. I asked where we should go and suggested a couple of places, then jokingly suggested we stay in town, order margaritas, and have our pictures posted on Facebook, a not-so-subtle reference to the young lady in our county who was asked to resign when her Facebook page showed her holding a glass of wine in Italy. Someone who may or may not be the principal of our school replied that my first suggestion was good, because it was in a different county. This same person who may or may not be the principal of our school did not show up for the gathering and said to someone else that she had not been invited. 
  • My internet has given me fits tonight. Or maybe it's my computer. The connection has alternately been extremely slow and at times has not recognized my network. I gave in and plugged in the connect card, since it's only one of the three ways in which I pay for internet service every month, and it has kicked me off the internet no fewer than four times. 
  • I was just about to go use Hubby's computer when HE got on the internet. What is he even doing UP at this hour?
  • We moved the television into our new bedroom, and for a while we couldn't get everything to work. We finally got the satellite to reprogram and had no audio. Much cursing ensued. In desperation I plugged the offending wires into holes clearly marked "Video," and the sound came on. 
  • The Braves are losing and the Phillies are winning. Not only is the pennant slipping from our grasp like melted Crisco, the wild card is looking doubtful as well. The Braves have scored two runs while I have typed this, however, so perhaps I should bad-mouth them some more. I wonder if that will work on my internet connection.....
On a positive note, my Sweet Girl is coming home this weekend and is due to arrive any minute now. It's been a long time since she came home for the weekend, and I can't wait to see her. The weekend will definitely improve.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

It Had to Be Orange, and We're Back to Square One.....

When I decided a couple of months ago to spend one of my little nest eggs on a new bicycle, I didn't realize how incredibly complicated the process was going to be. I had an idea that I would buy one of two brands, both of which make bicycles specifically designed for women.

I investigated both, I visited bike shops, I talked to sales people (at least the ones who didn't speak in a techno-geeky language way above my head), and I researched on the internet. I finally decided on a particular model that actually came in a color I liked (it's not like you have limitless choices, like cars) and went to the bike shop with a  modest wad of cash in hand.

I didn't realize it was the end of the model year (who knew?) and they had no more of the model I wanted. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada. The very nice salesman told me to give them a call periodically to see when the 2011 models were available.

Instead I watched the internet like a hawk. Every day I clicked on the manufacturer's website, and every day I was disappointed. Until today. I first noticed some very subtle changes to the sidebar, and then I realized the 2011 models were posted. I could just feel that new bicycle underneath me already.

I went straight to the same one I had chosen in last year's model, only to find that this year it is available in......

I don't DO orange. I don't have orange clothes. At a rest stop on the 68-mile bicycle ride last weekend, I admonished Katydid for eating cheese puffs. Because they are orange. I only drink orange juice because it is in fact yellow in color. On BRAG last summer, I almost refused to ride in my nephew's wife's car when she drove up because it was orange. But I gave in, since my only other options were driving the RV to a little restaurant downtown or riding the bicycle I was pretty tired of being on.

I freaked out a little bit at the orange color, until I discovered that this model mercifully comes in a choice of two. That's about the maximum number of choices you have in bicycles. The alternate color scheme is black and white with red accents.

Now there's a color combination I can live with. I called the bike shop, ready to get this process underway, only to find out that bike doesn't come in a triple. I won't go into what a triple is or why I'm hell-bent on having one, but it has a lot to do with gears and my being old and slow and being passed going up a hill by a 75-year-old woman who was WALKING her bike.

So now I'm back to some of the same choices I thought I had already come to grips with. With which I had already come to grips. Whatever.

Do I go with another brand to get a color combination and the carbon fiber I want AND a triple?

Do I give up on the concept of having a women's specific bicycle and ride what the boys ride?

Do I (again) let them talk me into believing that a compact crank is just as good as a triple, when six years of riding a bike with a compact has demonstrated otherwise?

Do I abandon my color obsession and go with one of the popular schemes for 2011, most of which involve the color teal? Yuck.

It's not like I have to decide tonight, but I have already sold my current bike (thank you for allowing me to keep it just a little bit longer, Sara!), and I want a new one before it gets too cold to ride.

And I have to know what color it is going to be before I buy all the accoutrements that go with it.

Guys have it so easy. They don't care what color their bikes are. Or if the accoutrements even match at all.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

One of the Many Reasons He's an Ex........

Years ago, in a previous wifetime, my ex and I went to town for a BBQ sandwich on a Saturday afternoon. Naturally, because he's the person he is, we had to stop in the neighborhood bar for a beer or a hundred on the way home. It was just a normal Saturday, I wasn't sick, the barometric pressure was..... oh hell, I don't remember.

I drank ONE BEER. I swear, it was one beer. Suddenly I didn't feel very well. I said to the jerk, "We need to leave." The bartender/owner looked at me and said (pardon my language), "Man, you look like shit." Trust the good old country boys to tell it like it is. I must have indeed looked pretty bad, because my ex didn't even argue. He simply said, "Okay."

I was sitting at a bar stool right in front of the door, so I just swiveled around on my stool and reached for the doorknob. I never made it.

I woke up on the back porch of this little cinder-block establishment. I was lying on a wooden bench in the sun. It was roughly 98 degrees. That's not one of my classic exaggerations. We were in the middle of a heat wave, and when I passed out, those two men carried (or dragged) me out the back door and put me in the sun.

Because they didn't want anyone who came into the bar to think I had passed out drunk.

And then they went back inside to the air conditioning.

I will never know what made me pass out that day. Or why I stayed married to him for as long as I did.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Gotta Love a Girl with a Sense of Humor.....

I told one of my students today that I was going to write about her in my blog. I also told her I was going to put her picture with it, but even with her permission I don't feel right doing that. Since teachers in our county can be asked to resign for posting pictures holding a glass of what is presumably wine on a summer trip to Italy, I like to be extra careful. I'm sure there's a rule somewhere against blogging about one's students.

I'll call this one Maria. She's a tiny little Hispanic girl, and she looks about 12 years old. I tell her all the time that she's one of my favorites simply because she's about the only student who is shorter than I am. And she's shorter than I am by a good few inches. This 12-year-old-look-alike has a son who will be one year old in two weeks.

A couple of weeks ago, on a Friday, Maria told me she was going to Mexico for the weekend to see her "baby daddy," but she would be back on Monday. I truly believed 100% that she would NOT be back in school on Monday, because a jaunt from Georgia to Mexico isn't a trip one usually undertakes over the span of a weekend. Yes, I know all about airplanes. Still.

Much to my surprise, Maria was there in time for school on Monday. And she had flown in just that morning and come to school straight from the airport. (Unless she made up the whole story, which I guess is possible on some level, but then why would she have done that?) I asked how her weekend was and if she saw her baby daddy. Then I asked if he ever planned to come here.

"No!" she exclaimed. "We don't want him here. We got too many Mexicans here already."

I howled with laughter. She wasn't even offended when one of my African-American students said, "Yeah, y'all are kind of taking over."

Last Friday she added to my Maria memory bank. I was eating a pretzel rod for a late-afternoon snack, and she started laughing at me. She wouldn't tell me at first why she was laughing, and I thought it was because it looked very much  like I was eating a cigar.

She finally stopped laughing long enough to tell me that when she was in the third grade, she told her mother she needed some pretzels to take to school. Her mom bought her pencils.

I asked her if she ate them.

I will probably never eat another pretzel without thinking about Maria.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday Vignettes.......

  • Tonight I missed line dancing for the third straight week. Granted, the first of those weeks was Labor Day, so it doesn't really count. I felt like I was playing hooky from school, but Hubby was in full let's-get-this-done mode when I got home, so I couldn't just go off and leave him to rearrange furniture and clean up. Last week we were hanging blinds and a ceiling fans. Maybe I can go on Thursday this week instead. If I get a note from my  mother explaining my absences.
  • As promised, I ordered a Road I.D. bracelet today. You could either get an interactive version, with an i.d. number and login on the back of the bracelet, or you could just get the traditional kind with your emergency contact information engraved on it. Not only did I NOT want to pay $9.95 a year for the privilege of having my data stored somewhere, I also saw the need for immediate access to such data this past Saturday. If I'm bleeding on the side of the road and someone is having to do CPR on ME, I don't want someone else to have to look on the other side of my bracelet, call a number, and wipe the blood off to see some additional numbers in order to save my life. But maybe that's just me. The company that makes the bracelets suggested putting the year of your birth (but not the month and date) on the bracelet, because apparently treatment options are different according to your age group. I didn't know that. I put three contact numbers on my bracelet (Hubby, Sweet Girl, and Nurse Jane, because Katydid is likely to be WITH me if I'm ever injured on a bike ride), and there was a final line available for a slogan, a quote, or a message. I was about to look up some (short) inspirational quotes online when a line from a Billy Joel song came to me that seemed to fit exactly. I'm not going to say what it is yet, because I want Katydid to see my bracelet before she reads the line here. 
  • My plan for tonight's blog post was to make a video of our new bedroom suit (it was finally delivered on Saturday while I was biking). But I've started back working on my quilt, and I sewed right up until time for the baseball game to come on. Key series with the Phillies. I hope I don't run out of blood pressure medicine.
  • I am becoming less and less OCD about things as I get older. This time I'm specifically talking about my quilt. It is made up of large squares that are each four smaller squares put together. I won't even try to explain it, but you can see a picture of it by clicking here. When I first started, I numbered zip lock bags with the number of square that the colored squares went with. I didn't want to repeat the smaller colored squares on the same row. When I started back working on my quilt after a long hiatus, I cut some new colored squares and then dumped a whole bunch of them into one big bag. Who in the world is going to care if something is repeated? Who is going to notice? It's much less stressful than keeping track of those numbered zip lock bags. I realize after typing this paragraph that there are some things about my personality I should keep to myself, even if I AM working on correcting them. 
  • One of my co-workers heard me telling the story about the injured cyclist over the weekend, and he reported that you shouldn't even do CPR on a person who is 65-70 years old. Seriously? There's a cut-off? Will someone let me know when I reach it? Can I just not be near this person if I'm ever in need of CPR? Can I just not be near this person PERIOD?
  • Something stung me right under the tear duct in my right eye yesterday when I was walking in the park. When I woke up this morning, it looked from the inside looking out like I had a huge suitcase hanging under my eye. I was more than a little dismayed when, looking for a little sympathy, I pointed it out to Hubby. He looked from one eye to the other a couple of times and reported that they looked the same to him. All that after I was VERY sympathetic about the sty he had on his eye last week.
  • I am way too excited about Dancing with the Stars starting back tonight. I don't even know the full line-up, but I can't wait to see it tomorrow morning. Before Hubby gets up.
  • Hubby places all the blame on UGA's 0-2 start in the SEC on the fact that we are using a stand-in mascot. Seriously, how much trouble could it BE to have an all-white English bulldog waiting in the wings at all times?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Can't Shake that Feeling.....

Katydid and I have long had some of the same freaky experiences. Once when she flew to Cocoa Beach, Florida, to see Nurse Jane and watch the space shuttle lift off, she fainted eight seconds before liftoff and missed the whole thing. For no apparent reason. Also for no apparent reason, I fainted the same morning. We haven't had the same experiences with Nurse Jane, probably because she is way too normal to participate in our weirdness. Someone has to be sane enough to direct the men in the white coats when they come to get us.

Yesterday morning was another of those experiences. I had set my alarm for 5:00 to get to the bike ride by 8:00. [Cyclists in general must be psycho to get up at 5:00 AM on SATURDAY, drive 100 miles, ride a bicycle 68 miles for a t-shirt and a post-ride beer meal, then drive 100 miles back home, sweaty, tired, and sore.] I woke up one time at 3:32 and was relieved that I had another hour and a half to sleep.

Then I heard someone say my name. It woke me up, and I jumped so violently that I pulled something in my back just a little bit. "Yeah?" I replied, glancing at the clock. It was 4:47. In that fleeting moment of thought in which I wondered why someone was calling my name, I thought I had overslept and Katydid was outside calling my name. That is completely illogical, since Katydid wasn't coming here. We usually meet at a park-n-ride so she doesn't have to drive all the way to my house. It was also illogical to think that Katydid would stand outside and say my name, since our bedroom is upstairs and our front door is rarely locked. But please don't come burgle us.

My jumping and answering a call that wasn't there woke Hubby up, but he didn't respond. If he had, it probably would have been along the lines of, "Why the hell are you waking ME up just because YOU are going on a bicycle ride?"

It was the freakiest thing. I heard that voice. It was a female voice, and it said my first name. IT WOKE ME UP, for crying out loud. All day long yesterday, I couldn't shake that weird feeling that someone had said my name at 4:47 yesterday morning. On the bright side, I was able to turn off the alarm so it wouldn't wake Hubby up. My thrashing and muttering notwithstanding.

UPDATE ON THE INJURED MAN: I sent a text message to the ride organizer last night telling her to let me know if she heard anything about the condition of the man injured in yesterday's bicycle ride. I woke up this morning with the strongest feeling that he had died. But she had texted me back, and she said he was apparently going to be okay. She said CT scans were fine and he didn't appear to have any internal injuries. I am so relieved. Okay, maybe Nurse Jane DOES share in some of these freaky things. She has the same last name as the man injured on the ride yesterday.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Sobering Moment.....

Today I did a bike ride with Katydid and Rozmo, one of our favorite rides called the Beautiful Backroads Century. It IS beautiful (possibly the loveliest route we do all year), they ARE back roads, and you don't HAVE to do a century. It also begins and ends at a Budweiser brewery about 2 hours from us, and that has nothing to do with the title of this post.

We were struggling a little at the end, as we typically do on long rides. At least I do. It's hot, I'm tired, and the 66-mile route that we chose to do has morphed into a 68-mile route. Those two miles may not seem like a lot, and the logical (and rational) response would be, "If you can ride 66 miles, surely you can ride two more." At that point in the day we are neither logical nor rational.

We became aware of this fact as we kept expecting the last rest stop to appear. On top of its stubborn refusal to appear on the horizon, I was out of water. And we were getting score updates on the UGA football game that weren't promising. Actually toward the end they WERE promising, but the promise evaporated on an Arkansas 40-yard pass with :14 left in the game. Poof. But I digress.

We finally realized we were just about at the rest stop, at the bottom of a nice downhill and around a curve. When we rounded the curve, we saw a cyclist down who was being attended to by other cyclists. Unfortunately, that's not an uncommon sight, and I figured he must have lost control coming around the curve and down the hill. Then I realized they were performing CPR on him.

Witnesses reported that he didn't wreck first; he just keeled over. Naturally there were a lot of injuries that occurred AFTER he fell, but the initial problem wasn't a wreck. They had been doing CPR for about 10 minutes when we arrived, and it didn't look good. Eventually he started breathing, but it was labored. He could tell them his name but not how old he was. They couldn't find any identification on his bike. (Note to family: I have a Road ID tag hanging on my bike. I plan to get the bracelet kind as well.)

EMS arrived fairly quickly, and we got ready to leave. That's when we realized they were taking him in the ambulance to a spot where a helicopter could land. We were right next to some pasture land, so it was good that we were out in the country.

He appeared to be riding alone, so I called one of the ride organizers so she could look up his emergency contact information. She called me back to ask if I were sure about his name (as sure as I could be, hearing it from a semi-conscious, badly injured man), and she said it appeared his wife was also on the ride, but riding a shorter route. I wasn't sure what else she wanted to know because I couldn't hear over the sound of the life flight helicopter.

I've never seen CPR in action before. I suppose I've seen a fair number of injured cyclists, but none bleeding as badly as this man was. I wasn't sure I could get back on that bike and ride the last 10 miles.

Suddenly football scores, heat, the pain in my legs, my extreme thirst, and my exhaustion weren't nearly as important as they had been half an hour earlier.

I hope that man is all right.

Friday, September 17, 2010

My New Crack......

I'm not talking about my body.

I'm talking about my latest addiction.

Hubby and I both have a sweet tooth (sweet teeth?), but we had to change our ways after he was diagnosed with diabetes in 2002. We started having sugar-free pudding with light Cool-Whip after dinner, and we bought sugar-free cookies and no-sugar-added ice cream sandwiches. I convinced myself it was okay to eat the cookies and ice cream, knowing full well it says right on the package that neither of them is a low-calorie food.

We got kind of tired of the ice cream sandwiches, and I gave up the cookies when I started following the Weight Watchers plan. That left me with fewer ways to fulfill my craving for something sweet after dinner. Sometimes I chew sugar-free gum, and that helps a little. I gave up eating chocolate at lunch every day, even though a couple of my co-workers continue to bring in a big bag every week or so, and they stash it in the filing cabinet in my room. I have a problem with portion control, so it's easier for me just to leave it alone altogether.

Hubby found something in the grocery store last week, however, that I have taken to just like an addict takes to crack. It's sugar-free chocolate syrup.

I think I'm in love.

It has very few calories and no fat, but it is full of chocolaty taste. Plus we put it in a glass of milk, so I get an additional serving of milk every night that I wouldn't normally get. 

It's even the store brand, so it's cheap(er) too.

I'm so glad I don't do drugs. None of them could possibly be as satisfying as my new friend in the brown bottle.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Progress So Far....

This is mostly for Sweet Girl, who is one of the few people who can actually tell what we've done in our renovations. And I use the term "our" loosely in the extreme. 

The picture above is taken from what used to be the "computer room" (but was really a junk room) looking into Sweet Girl's old room. The walls in her room were blue, and there were glow-in-the-dark stars all over the ceiling and on the blades of the ceiling fan. I dreaded taking all those stars down, but they weren't any trouble at all. I dreaded picking them up more, but Hubby did that before the carpet people got there. The wall between the two bedrooms was just about where those carpet scraps are. The doorway to Sweet Girl's room was covered with sheetrock, and you can't tell the doorway was ever there.   


This picture shows where our new bed will go. It will go from the middle of one set of windows to the middle of the other set. I'm going to get some sort of window treatments or curtains, but I want to get the bedding first to be sure it matches. We are excited about having a king-size bed. Maybe the animals that sleep in our bed will give us a little more room.

This one is looking from Sweet Girl's room into the "computer room". The little alcove to the right is where our television armoire will go.....if it fits. We are holding our breath, because the space is otherwise so perfect for it. That little alcove is where the door to Sweet Girl's room was. The ceiling fan in this picture is new, so our room will have his-and-her ceiling fans. They don't match exactly, but how many people are going to be wandering through our bedroom comparing the ceiling fans?

I am very pleased with both the paint and the carpet. I picked out both, but I wasn't sure how either of them would look. The paint isn't nearly as yellow as it appears in these photos, not that there's anything WRONG with yellow. The carpet is Berber-style and stain-resistant. It is also in the hall and on the stairs. As soon as we get everything squared away in the bedroom, we are going to put the same carpet in our old room, which will be the new guest room.

Now if we can just get a moving company who wants our business to call us back. Hubby is usually all about doing things himself, but this time he decided to go the professional route.

The quilt I started 18 years ago and have recently decided to finish?

Yeah, it's a queen-size.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Call Me Juvenile, I'm Still Gonna Laugh.....

This post may give you the idea that I have too much time on my hands, and I won't be able to deny it. It will also prove to any lingering doubters that I am immature far beyond my years.

Today at school I was reading a message board devoted to college gymnastics. It's a great place to pick up gossip as it relates to the gymnastics world, but (so far) it isn't very snarky, even when the topic (like this one) could easily lend itself to snarkiness.

Apparently two Ball State University gymnasts were arrested for underage drinking, one of them additionally charged with driving under the influence. Apparently she was driving very, very slowly, but blowing the horn on her car very, very constantly. Umm.... I'm sure no one noticed THAT.

Of course there was a response from the school's athletic director.

Whose name is Tom Collins.

Lest you think I'm immature AND a liar, check out the whole story here.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Status Update.....

As of this past Monday, I have lost 12 pounds. Contrary to what I feared after the bike ride on Sunday and the gazillion ounces of fluid I drank, I had a nice loss from the week before. Now I'm afraid THAT was false, and that next Monday I will be up because this past Monday I really wasn't down that much.

Does that make sense? If it does, you need to stop reading right now and check yourself into a facility of some sort. Or a bar.

My clothes are feeling looser. Some of them are downright too big for me, which is unfortunate because I spent a bazillion dollars on new clothes at the beginning of the school year. Shorts that previously left red welts on what should be my waistline are now comfortable. I'm able to button some things without a struggle that I used to have to suck in and hold my breath.

I can wear my large t-shirts now instead of having to wear the extra-large. I think that 12 pounds was all in the belly.

I'm having some exercise issues right now, and that worries me. I should be kicking my activity UP a notch, not letting it slide. But the elliptical needs to be repaired, and we cannot realistically take it in until we get finished with all these renovations. I enjoy walking in the park, but on days like today, when I had to go to the doctor's office after school and then teach online, sometimes I can't squeeze it in. I could have gone to the "Y" this morning and worked out on the elliptical (they really need a verb for that....ellipticate?), but instead I curled up in the fetal position in my recliner.

I haven't had chocolate in 4 weeks now, nor have I had a beer. I have had a couple of bloody marys because (theoretically) they don't have as many calories. I do not feel deprived not eating chocolate when almost everyone else at the lunch table indulges every day, nor do I obsess about it. If I want it, I can have it. I just don't want to sacrifice those points. (I'm using the Weight Watchers online program.)

My ultimate goal is to lose enough weight to get off the CPAP machine before next June. Rozmo and I want to participate in Paddle Georgia, a kayaking trip across the state very much like BRAG, and we will be sleeping in tents. I don't want to haul that damn machine along with me.

Why is it, though, that if I GAIN 13 pounds between doctor's visits they usually have plenty to say, but if I LOSE 13 pounds they say nothing?

Monday, September 13, 2010

And If Mama Ain't Happy.....

Our mother is moving. Again.

To a place she's already lived.


After she sold the house in which I spent my teenage years and I swore I would never forgive her (it wasn't that great of a house, but it was the first one I remember us having), she and my brother sort of built a house together, and Mom had a basement apartment.

That must be like having a troll living under your bridge. Only trolls are sometimes nice. Maybe.

Then brother and sister-in-law had all they could take, and Katydid bought the upstairs part. I'm guessing she thought she could stand anything in the basement as long as she had a house. I'm also guessing that turned out not to be true.

I don't remember the order, but at some point my niece bought that house, but I think the troll Mom had already moved to Savannah at that point. She bought a 4-bedroom house a couple streets over from her sister. I think she fully expected one of her children to come visit her every weekend.

But Katydid had a restaurant (or two), I was working on my doctorate, brother and his wife had a baby (four months after his GRANDSON was born, mind you), and Nurse Jane had a teenager and a husband and a life. And then SHE decided to go back to school. In other words, we didn't work out a rotating schedule, and none of us had a weekend out of every month to drive four hours to hear Mom complain because one of the OTHER ones hadn't come to visit.

Mom got an idea that she wanted to move to a fairly new retirement home back up here, in the same town where we all grew up and went to school. She was like a dog with a bone about moving into that place. As in she called them EVERY DAY to see if anyone had died moved out. It is a very expensive retirement home, and Mom has always seemed much younger than her years. In the words of Sweet Girl, she "didn't belong there with all those old people." All meals are provided (even if it DOES take two hours to serve "dinner," which is the meal in the MIDDLE of the day, not to be confused with "lunch," which is what I typically have), along with light housekeeping and a plethora of old-folks activities.

Mom hates activities.

But she was nothing if not determined. Eventually someone DID die move out, and Mom had the place she had been haranguing them about for a year. She gave away most of the possessions in her 4-bedroom house (I became the proud recipient of a whole set of Pampered Chef cookware, but please don't tell her I put it in the dishwasher because I'm still lazy after all these years) and moved into the retirement home with great anticipation and excitement.

Which lasted about six months. She hated the activities, she hated the structure of the meals, and I'm pretty sure she hated all the people. Troll, remember? She was close enough, however, to drop into my classroom unannounced in the middle of any given day and ask things like, "Don't you have any white students?" and "Why don't they call you 'Doctor'?"

So she bought a double-wide and moved it to my brother's house out in the MIDDLE OF FREAKIN' NOWHERE. Instead of being thirty minutes from me, she was now an hour away, and guess what? I still didn't have every weekend to go see her.

Don't get me wrong. I wouldn't mind going to visit if we could just sit there and talk for a while and then go home. Oh no. If you go to visit Mom, you have to GO somewhere. Out to eat at the Mexican restaurant. To Wal-Mart. Both of which are an ADDITIONAL thirty minutes from her house, because she lives in the MIDDLE OF FREAKIN' NOWHERE.

Needless to say, she got lonely there, because my brother works out of town during the week, and guess what? He didn't want to spend every weekend at home answering Mom's every beck and call. She got to spend a lot of time with the grandchildren, one of whom she can't stand and makes no bones about it, probably because he is my sister-in-law's son from a previous marriage. If they ain't blood, she's got no use for them. Hell, she's got no use for a lot of the BLOOD children in the family. But I digress.

After living there for a few years (I have lost track of her moves, so I can't remember how long she was there), she decided she wanted to move back to...... You got it, the retirement home that she hated. We tried to remind her that she hated it.

Mom: I didn't hate it.

Us: Then why did you move out?

Mom: Because it was too expensive.

Us: Has it gotten cheaper?

Mom: No, in fact they've gone up.


But because Mom rarely listens to reason OR her children, she became determined to move back to the retirement home a little over a year ago. She badgered the managers there on a daily basis to see if anyone had died moved out. Only this time they had to die move out of an apartment with the proper floor plan on the first floor, because she refuses to wait on elevators that are crowded with old people and their walkers and scooters. Eventually she got her wish and moved back to the retirement home, determined never to go anywhere again. She gave away her possessions again (this time I got a baker's rack) and soon fell right back into the old-people drama of sitting at the correct table (they alternate which end of the room gets served first) and avoiding the nosy people who ask too many questions.

Guess what?

She hated it again.

So next week she's moving back to the double wide in the MIDDLE OF FREAKIN' NOWHERE. She will drive my brother and his wife crazy, and they won't pay her nearly enough attention. I still won't go to see her every weekend, Nurse Jane is in graduate school now, and most of the burden of putting up with Mom will fall to Katydid. (Sorry, Katydid!)

I know I sound like a horrible daughter, and I probably am. But let me give you just one example of why I don't feel as guilty as I probably should.

Mom's birthday is this Wednesday. Katydid spent part of this past weekend with her, but she and I have a bike ride next Saturday, so we can't be with her then. When Mom called me last week, I asked if Hubby and I could come take her out to dinner ON her birthday, since we are the nearest geographically and she wouldn't see anyone else on her actual birthday.

No, she said, she would take a rain check.

Guess why?

Wednesday is prayer meeting night.

At the retirement home.

That place she hates and can't wait to move out of.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Awesome Sunday.......

Today I took a 50-mile bike ride with my good pal Rozmo. It would have been completely perfect if the other two members of Team Chi-Chis could have joined us. Katydid was busy being a good daughter, and VT goes to church on Sundays.

Oh, and it would have been slightly better if I had noticed that the sunglasses I chose to wear today were missing the little nose pad thingies. Ouch. Fifty miles of ouch.

We made several store stops, and people were very nice (and talkative) to us. Several told us they should be doing what we were doing, then they got in their cars and drove away. (I guess it would have been impractical to expect them to drop everything right then and go on a bike ride, especially as there were no bicycles in sight.) A fireman came in one store (and he was EASY on the eye) and said he was a cyclist too. He asked where we were going, I told him back to my hometown, and he said, "Please tell me you're NOT going down Highway 11?" That was the road the store was on. I said to him, "Oh no, you can bet we won't be doing that." I didn't tell him the part about learning the hard way not to ride my bike on Highway 11 several years ago. On a Friday afternoon. It's a major truck route between our town and a nearby one. What an idiot.

We saw a youngish looking deer cross the road in front of us. It stopped in the middle of the road and just stared for the longest time. We slowed down to keep from spooking it, but it ran back the way it had come. I think I heard it saying, "Mama! You won't BELIEVE what I just saw!" I wanted to get a picture, but I had to stop first, and by the time I got that accomplished, the deer was gone. You'll just have to trust me that it was indeed there.

Rozmo wanted to take a picture of the sign at "Grandpa's Crack House." It's a little home-operated business where people can take pecans (and I guess other nuts) to get them cracked. What a clever name. I wonder how many errant visitors he gets? Some people are so literal, you know.

Now I can't get enough water. I emptied my water bottles three (or four) times, and they hold 20 ounces each. I also had three 20-ounce bottles of Gatorade. When I got home I fixed my usual thermal cup of ice water with lemon, and I think it holds around 32 ounces, not including ice. I'm on my second one of those. And tomorrow is my official weigh-in day. I'll probably weigh in the neighborhood of 412 pounds after all this liquid. If so, I'm going to cheat and enter the weight I was this morning. It just isn't right to gain weight after a 50-mile bike ride, and I KNOW it's just the liquids. If today follows the usual pattern, I won't even get up in the night to go to the bathroom. But tomorrow at school I will be the restroom sprinter all day long. I think my muscles hold on to all that liquid because they think (rightly so) they're dying. Once they realize I'm not going to do that to them again (until next Saturday), they turn loose of it all at once. That's my theory based on years of research, and I'm sticking to it.

Quote of the Day from Rozmo when I took off my cycling helmet at the end of the ride and tied a bandanna around my head:

"Nice 'do. Actually, that's a don't."

Early to bed tonight. Three weeks until Fall Break!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Stalked by a Black Snake.....

Hubby took the day off from golf today (again!), so we walked in the park early this morning so we could be home in time to see our BELOVED BULLDOGS LOSE to South Carolina.

And that's enough about that.

I had told him about the snake I saw in the park last week. When we approached the spot where I saw the snake, I pretended to tiptoe past it. I told him how after I saw the snake, every root, every stick, every shadow became a snake.

We were headed back this morning, but at just about the most distant part of the park from where I first saw the snake, when we rounded a turn and I said, grabbing Hubby's arm, "And there he is!"

I swear it was the same snake. It was the same color, the same length, the same creepiness. He even wore the same sneer. Hubby said, "He would have had to crawl a long way."

"Hell, he's had three days to do it!" I replied.

"I think he's stalking you," Hubby grinned.

And yet again I didn't have my camera or iPhone to take a picture.

Once again, every root, every stick, every shadow became a snake.

Friday, September 10, 2010

They Can (Virtually) Break Your Heart.....

It's amazing to me how well I feel I get to know my online students. Some of them I actually talk to on the phone (some more than I would like, like every time they can't figure out where exactly on the page to click), and some I only "converse" with through email and text messages.

I form opinions and judgments of my online students the same way I do my face-to-face students. I just can't tell when they're rolling their eyes at me. I know which ones are needy, which ones will turn everything a week early, which ones will have a new excuse every Friday, which ones think this class and school in general are a big fat waste of time.

I also get attached to some of them. I want to go to their hometowns, ring their doorbells, take them out for lunch, and friend them on Facebook.

I'm not allowed to do any of those things. They aren't expressly forbidden, but I'm pretty sure they would be frowned upon. Hubby might also find it strangely weird. And weirdly strange.

One girl this semester has grown on me, although I was pretty certain at the beginning of the semester that I wouldn't like her. She is the only student enrolled in her particular section, so discussion board postings are interesting because I'm the only person who responds. She didn't know she was the only student, though, when she posted this for her "Introductory Discussion."

The first thing you should know about me is I don't like talking about myself..or talking to anyone I don't know at all, for that matter. So you'll excuse me for saying I find this rather elementary. Regardless, here goes. I'm 18 years old and a senior at _________ High. I was born _______ 11, 1991 at _________ Hospital in _________, GA. My hobbies include reading, writing, and spending time with my wonderful fiance. My future plans are to hopefully move to California, marry my fiance, and go to college for either Psychology or something to do with English. I say hopefully because I have the worst luck known to man and good things rarely happen to me. Those that do don't hang around for long. I really couldn't tell you three things I like about myself - sorry. I would like to change plenty of things, both physical and mental, in order to improve my self esteem and be truly happy. What things I would like to change are private. I hope I don't get an F for that, but I'm not the sharing type, and I don't want to freak anyone out anyway.

I responded to her post by saying she was certainly entitled to her privacy, but it sounded a little harsh. She was shocked - SHOCKED - that it came off as harsh.

Her work has been excellent, though, and she has dutifully turned in every assignment.

Then I got a couple of "I have a problem" emails, the first one saying they had both Labor Day and the next day off from school (I was dubious, but I checked her county's calendar, and it was indeed a "Calendar Reduction Day." What a nicer term than "Furlough Day.") She wanted to know what she should do, since she doesn't have internet access at home and she would only have three days to do her work. My response was something along the lines of, "Well you need to work really hard those three days to cram the week's work in." It wasn't like she had anything due that Monday anyway.

The next email made ME roll my eyes.

You won't believe this, but I have yet ANOTHER problem! :/ The library at my school does not have a copy of the play, and I certainly can't afford to purchase it. It would be a great help if I could use the public library (assuming they have it), but I can not because I've got over $50 in fees. The car my fiance and I had broke down and we just got it fixed, so anyway, we had no way to return the books...and none of this is your problem, so I don't know why I am telling you. haha Is there an online source I can use, or..?

This was in reference to the play The Piano Lesson, which isn't typically readily available in school libraries. It's exactly the reason I send out an email BEFORE THE SEMESTER STARTS letting them know they need to get a copy. I responded that there isn't an online source, and I had loaned my copy to a student last year and didn't get it back, so I couldn't really help her.

This week, though, I had a moment of weakness and bought her a copy of the book. It was less than $20, and I ordered it from Amazon and had it shipped to her. I forgot all about it until I got this email yesterday.

Thank you so much for the I feel terrible though, because unfortunately, I won't be attending school anymore. I have to get a job, because my fiance and I cannot survive without me working (it's a long story.) I can't work and go to school because I also babysit practically full time for the people we live with, but I don't get paid for that since we live here for free. So, it looks like I will be forced to pursue my education a different way : by getting my GED. However, this will be much quicker than waiting a year for my diploma, so I will be able to get a better job faster, and start attending college when I get the chance. I am very sorry for the trouble you went through. It was very very nice of you though, and I greatly appreciate it :) How would you like me to go about getting it back to you? I opened the UPS package because I had no idea what it was, since I had not been expecting anything in the mail.

The sad part is, I believe everything she says. I know some of the situations these kids are in these days, and the fact that most of them are their own making doesn't make them less tragic. Perhaps Mom and Dad (or Mom OR Dad) don't approve of the fiance. Perhaps the girl has a drug problem. Perhaps Mom/Dad has a drug problem herself or himself. Perhaps Mom or Dad is too busy living the teenage lives they never got a chance to live that they don't have time for this girl. Perhaps it's just a matter of strong personalities clashing and living separately appears to be the best solution for them.

I contacted our support person (a woman whom I truly enjoy working with), who contacted the counselor at this girl's school, who pretty much verified that yes indeed she is probably going to withdraw.

I want to fix it. I want her to stay in school. Even if she gets her GED, it might take her the same amount of time it would take for her to finish high school. I want to give her a normal home life where she doesn't have to worry about fixing cars or babysitting or paying bills or getting a job. I want her to go to football games and play video games and gossip on her cell phone with friends.

I want her to be ten years down the road and be able to look back and see that no matter what her problems were, they should have taken a back seat to getting her high school diploma.

I want a perfect world.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Police Blotter Blogger Fodder Part 5......

I'm slightly disturbed that the local police blotter hasn't had as much entertaining fodder lately as it used to. I'd like to think the residents of our county are getting smarter, but I'm afraid that isn't really the case. It's probably more likely that the newspaper has resisted publishing some of the evidence of profound stupidity and possible in-breeding.

There were a few in today's paper, however.

  • Two neighbors complained about each other walking in front of their houses. Both parties were told to stop walking in front of each other's houses and to stop talking to each other. (Is it possible that at least one of these parties needs to get a life? A job? Another house?)
  • A man said a six foot tall woman with blond hair had been to his house trying to sell children's books. (Which part made her suspicious? Being six feet tall? Blond hair? Selling children's books?)
  • A woman said her boyfriend recently moved out and left his two children. (WTH?) The woman returned the children to their grandmother, but said she was afraid the children's mother would become upset when she found out. (Upset that she returned them? Upset that he left him in the first place? Upset that she had two children?)
  • Police were called after a husband and wife argued about their age difference, the wife's Facebook friends and who the wife was talking to on the phone. According to both parties, the confrontation was not physical. (According to this model, I should have called the police when Hubby informed me that we were going to knock out a wall in the upstairs?)
  • Police were dispatched ... after a report of an injured buzzard. (Isn't this taking animal rights just a LITTLE. TOO. FAR?????) The buzzard had a broken wing. The DNR advised they would not come out for an injured bird and requested the officer put down the bird. The bird was dispatched. (They hired him? Where was he dispatched to? Another call about an injured animal?)
  • A woman was driving ... when she heard a loud bang. When she stopped to check her vehicle, she discovered it had been egged. (Just how big WAS that freakin' egg?)
  • A man received an automated call warning him of recent burglaries in his area. When he tried to call the number which was displayed on his caller ID, he was unable to reach anyone. (Why would anyone return an automated call? Thank them for the info? Schedule his own burglary?)
  • A woman said her son and his ex-girlfriend engaged in a dispute after her son brought his "new woman" home. (If she's an ex, what was she doing there? In the words of Hubby, "If you're an ex, you gotta expect these things.)
  • A woman said she received so many calls from her sister that her phone locked up. (Nurse Jane and Katydid, if I ever lock up your phones, would you please just TELL ME instead of calling the po-po?)
And my personal favorite (drumroll, please)................................................

  • It took one hour, four deputies, two paramedics and a civilian to get a drunk man up the bank of the Mulberry River. The son said he and his father arrived at the river earlier that evening and began drinking. The son said [his father] had about six beers before switching to whiskey. Due to his excessive alcohol consumption, [he] rendered himself incapable of climbing back up the bank to his son's car. When the deputy arrived, he found [the man] lying on his back. According to the report, [he] was unable to speak clearly and was "unable to function any of his body parts." (Seriously? How many of his separate body parts did they check? Can you imagine how much worse this whole situation might have been if the civilian hadn't shown up?)
Happy weekend, y'all!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Spice of Life.....

That's a dumb title, but it's all I've got tonight.

I write and joke all the time about the fact that I don't cook. That's an exaggeration to begin with, because I DO cook. I generally cook five nights a week, Sunday through Thursday. It's just that if I grill hamburgers (yeah, Mr. Perfect won't even do THAT because it looks too much like cooking) and throw some potato chips on a plate, I don't consider that real cooking.

I CAN cook, and most of the time I can manage to throw together a decent meal. I try to mix things up, which is difficult when I'm cooking for a diabetic who would prefer to eat nothing but steak and potatoes. Take tonight for example. Last week we had meatloaf and mashed potatoes. (Unlike many men, Hubby actually LIKES meatloaf.) Because I didn't want to get in a rut of preparing the same old thing, tonight we had meatballs and potato packets. The meatballs were made with the exact same ingredients as the meatloaf, just rolled into balls instead of a loaf. The potato packets are stolen from Pioneer Woman and I think they're yummy.

I'm also amazed at people who say they enjoy cooking. That it relaxes them. They do it as a hobby. Excuse me?

One thing that is lacking in my cooking (other than the want to) is the knowledge of how to use spices. I rely on recipes a lot of the time just because I am clueless when it comes to spices. How do people like Pioneer Woman learn what spices go together and what they go WITH? How do you know how much? Some recipes call for 1/2 teaspoon of something and 1/4 teaspoon of another. One-fourth of a teaspoon? Seriously?

When I moved in with Hubby, he had the chore of emptying out my kitchen cabinets. Even though I had only lived there for about 5 months and it was a tiny place with a tiny kitchen, he was overwhelmed with how many cans (boxes? tins? bottles? packages?) of spices I had. Poor guy. He had been eating out of cans, and he probably thought SURELY someone with that many spices had some rudimentary knowledge of how to use them?

I guess I could take a cooking class to learn more about spices. But I might accidentally learn some other stuff about cooking.


On a somewhat related note, I had my walk in the park spiced up just a little more than I wanted this afternoon. I went alone because Hubby and Gus were tuckered out from painting all day. I had my MP3 player and was ready for the long route, since going home just meant I had to cook dinner. I turned right at the end of the bridge for the long route and strode purposefully toward a huge black snake. I stopped, he remained still, I stared, he stared, then I turned around and let him have that part of the path. Fifty minutes was long enough to walk after all. What a time NOT to have my iPhone with me.......

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I Make Me Sick Sometimes.....

Way back in the dark ages, before we had blogs in which to spill our guts and bore the world, I went through periods in which I kept a journal. I kept a diary as a young girl, until I found out that it could be used against me.

In my adult life, every now and then I would go through a spell where I regretted not having kept a journal all my life, and I would start with great fervor and then run out of steam. If you had asked me how many journals I had filled completely, I would have said at most two, if you added them all up.

In my cleaning up/out these past two weeks, though, I came across no fewer than six journals. I picked them up and started reading some entries at random.

And then I went to throw up.

Not only because it brought back memories of a bitter, bitter time in my life, but because I expressed my bitterness in such a nauseating fashion. I remember some of my compulsions when I was writing in those journals. For one, I made myself fill a page every night. And I tried to find something positive every day, even if it was a struggle. So EVERY. SINGLE. PAGE. has a smiley face on it somewhere.

A smiley face.

I HATE smiley faces.

I have felt compelled to hold on to these journals, but for the life of me I can't figure out why. It's not like I'm going to leave them to Sweet Girl for posterity. She doesn't want to relive those days any more than I do. (On the other hand, they might serve to show her that I didn't MEAN to be a bad parent; I just didn't know what the hell I was doing.)

As soon as we crank up the wood stove this fall/winter, I'm going to burn those journals. I don't want anyone who knows me ever to read them, and I don't want to read them again myself. If I have to see another smiley face, I MAY throw up.

Oddly enough, though, I don't hate going back and rereading some of my blog entries. I was thinking about that fact today, trying to figure out why. I think it's because the intended audience differs between the two. When I wrote in a journal, I didn't expect that anyone else would ever read it. In most cases I HOPED no one would ever read what I wrote. It was just an opportunity for me to vent, to vomit my emotions, as it were.

But blogging is a different medium. I write FOR an audience, small though it may be, in addition to expressing my emotions/thoughts/philosophies/drivel. There are some topics I stay away from because former students and at least one middle school child have been known to read my blog. I would hate not to be able to look them in the face again. Note that I don't mind, however, throwing in occasional profanity and references to alcohol.

I have morals, they just don't always apply.

All in all, I much prefer blogging than journaling. I'm sure there will be some entries I would like to forget, and that's what the "Delete" key is for. Overall I hope that I won't reread my entire blog someday and stick my finger down my throat.

If you'll excuse me now, I have some journals to burn.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Changing Priorities.....

It's funny (not in a ha-ha way, more like in an ironic way) how random, seemingly unconnected things can work together to make me change how I look at my priorities.

A couple of weeks ago, I was disappointed that I couldn't order my new bicycle yet. I have saved up and stashed away cash for many months, and I decided to spend it on a new bicycle. A bicycle that costs about the same as my first new CAR cost back in 1978. The only thing that kept me from ordering the bicycle is that there are no more 2010's, and the 2011's haven't come out yet.

I was also determined that this time next year I would have season football tickets. That means a minimum of $2000 in donations, PLUS the cost of the tickets, and even then you aren't guaranteed to get the tickets. (They will grudgingly refund your donations in that case if you make a stink about it.) Three years ago the MINIMUM contribution to get first-time season tickets was $10,000. That's TEN THOUSAND dollars. But then the economy went south, the football team disappointed, and folks gave up their tickets. Two years ago the minimum was $4,500, last year it fell to $1,500. I decided I could sock away all the money I earn in my part-time virtual job, thus justifying the expense. At least in my own mind.

I don't know why I stubbornly cling to the idea that I need to have season tickets. I love the games, but they are almost all on television, and going to them in person isn't worth the hassle. Well, it hasn't been, but now we have an RV, so it could be a different story..... Still, I think the IDEA of having tickets is more appealing to me than actually going every week.

Then "we" got this harebrained innovative idea to turn our 3-bedroom house into a 2-bedroom house, and "we" instituted a new rule that we have to get rid of two things for every new thing we bring into the house. No fair counting all the junk we've already disposed of either.

And THEN I had a heart-stopping job scare last week, thinking I may be out of my teaching job in May, or possibly even December, and my priorities changed considerably.

That part-time money suddenly took on a larger significance. I even began to regret venting to one of my online bosses when I ran into her at the "Y" in our town last week. (What are the odds that we would have teachers and administrators all over the state, a couple who live out of state, and at least one who lives in a different COUNTRY, and I would have a membership at the same "Y" as one of the administrators?)

I knew it was serious when I threw away my Land's End catalog at school the other day without ordering a single thing.

I got my regular email from Amazon letting me know the 10 best deals in electronics this week. Gadgets are likely my greatest weakness. (Is that an oxymoron?) I deleted the email without reading it.

So I'm feeling all proud of myself for getting rid of a lot of unnecessary stuff and saving money (even if it's only in my head for right now).

The bicycle?

Yeah, I'm still planning to get that. I'll only be reasonable up to a point.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

What a Difference a Decade Makes.....

In my last divorce, I lost custody of all my books.

I didn't mean to, and I wouldn't have left them voluntarily. But I moved out in quite a hurry, and I moved into a little bitty duplex. I didn't have room for the books, much less the bookcase they were shelved on.

My father made the bookcase for me, and it fit the house we lived in perfectly. It was probably 15 or 16 feet long and 8 feet high. And I had it crammed full of books. Arranged alphabetically by author's last name, of course.

After our sudden separation, when my ex was convinced he could win me back, he told me not to worry about the books. He said they weren't bothering anything and I could leave them there as long as I wanted. He really, really thought I would be coming back to them. I mean him.

On the day our divorce was final, however, he changed his tune. It may have been because he was embarrassed that he missed the hearing because he didn't show up on time. It may have been because that's the first time he realized I wasn't, indeed, coming back to him.

But he came by the duplex where I was living to tell me that I couldn't keep the life insurance policy I had on him, according to his lawyer. (I responded initially by saying she needed to stick to law and leave life insurance to those who knew how it worked. When he kept insisting, I finally told him if I didn't get one penny, it would be benefit enough if he just WOULD die. I'm still paying faithfully on that policy.) I knew he wanted to pick a fight, but I couldn't NOT mention my books again. I was terrified that he would burn them.

"Read your divorce agreement," he said. "Property has been divided."

I grieved over the loss of those books. Losing my books was much more devastating than the death of the marriage. For months I grieved. Even after Hubby and I married (which I'm guessing didn't help matters either), I plotted and schemed for ways to get those books back. I thought about appealing to the girl he took up with next. Ironically, she and I had been best friends in the sixth grade. (I told you it's a small town.) I even considered offering to buy the books. That already belonged to me. I was that desperate.

I won't go into all the details, but eventually he brought a couple boxes of books and gave them to Hubby and me when we saw him out somewhere. It wasn't nearly everything, of course, but they did include The Complete Works of Shakespeare, which my grandmother had given to me upon my high school graduation, and my wedding pictures. I didn't want the wedding pictures, but I figured Sweet Girl might want them some day.

Hubby and Katydid and Nurse Jane all assured me that one day I would get over the loss of my precious books. I thought they were crazy.

Over the years Hubby and I have been married, I have accumulated a new collection of books. Our house has two built-in bookcases approximately the same size as the bookcase I left behind, and there is no more room on the shelves.

Well, there wasn't until today.

Once I get started, I'm ruthless.

One of the neighborhood charities comes around about once a month. They specifically ask for clothing, blankets, small appliances, and books.


I spent today boxing up most of our books for donation, and I didn't feel a twinge of regret. Some of them are excellent books, but the likelihood that I'll ever read them again is almost nonexistent.

I kept a few books, including an academic volume which includes a chapter I wrote myself and always forget about including on my resume, a book of poetry that Hubby gave me for Valentine's Day one year and wrote a sweet message in the front of, and of course the Shakespeare.

What I can't understand is why I kept the cookbooks. Those should have been the first to go.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Busy Day......

We were up at 6:30 this morning to get started on the work that had to be done on the upstairs before other work can be done.

The bedroom suit that Hubby bought is so big that we had to move the air conditioner vents so they wouldn't be covered up. To do that we had to clean out the center of the room.

I found a taker for the L-shaped computer desk, and I told the woman she could pick it up on Monday. If I had known we would have it emptied out by 10:00 this morning, I would have told them to come today.

Once the duct work is finished, Hubby and his friend are going to paint. Then the new carpet will be put in, and only after all that is accomplished can we actually have the bedroom suit delivered. I'm relieved that Hubby has decided to hire a professional moving company to bring it; if I have to lift my end of one more heavy piece of furniture, I'm going to protest. Loudly.

Today wasn't ALL work, though. I was allowed to take time out to watch the football game (just try to stop me), read a little bit, play the Nintendo, and work on my quilt. I have started again on my cathedral window quilt, and I'd like to finish it this winter. That's quite a lofty goal, and whether or not I reach it may depend upon how much I also crochet. I find crocheting much more relaxing.

My reward for all this work is that sometime this weekend I fully intend to spend some time in the pool. It won't be long before that first leaf falls, and that's generally when Hubby covers it up. I wish every weekend could be a long weekend.

Friday, September 3, 2010

10,000 Reasons to Love Today......

  • It's the beginning of a lovely long weekend.
  • Our jobs are apparently safe because our new superintendent is apparently FULL. OF. IT.
  • Renovations on our upstairs are proceeding. This time last week, that was NOT a good thing.
  • I finally got to ride the Harley to school today.
  • I made it through my blood donation this afternoon without passing out, in spite of the fact that I did not drink enough water today.
  • I got completely caught up on my online grading today.
  • Football season starts tomorrow. It actually started last night, but the team I care about plays for the first time tomorrow. At 12:21. What a stupid kick-off time.
  • Baseball is still going on. That's one of the many reasons this is my favorite time of year.
  • Temperatures are supposed to be slightly cooler this weekend, perhaps only in the 80's. We'll take it. That's another of the many reasons this is my favorite time of year.
  • My mother-in-law, who spent last Saturday afternoon in the hospital with pneumonia (she talked them into letting her come home anyway), is feeling much better. In fact, when we went to dinner, she was gone in her car. That may not be such a good thing.
  • I work with an awesome group of teachers. Mostly.
  • Hubby is planning to stay home from the golf course tomorrow to assist with the renovations. Why did it take a hissy fit and an act of Congress last Saturday to get him to agree to the same thing? Oops, sorry, these are supposed to be positive things.
  • Gus is feeling better. When we went to the park to walk yesterday afternoon, Hubby had to turn around and bring him home. Libby and I continued our walk. We think when Libby jumped out of the bed of the truck, she might have landed on little old Gusman and hurt his leg or his back.
  • I'm not going to make you read all 10,000 reasons.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I'm Not a Quitter, I Just Change My Mind......

I have my blog pal Lilith to thank for this decision, and thus this blog post.

Once I registered to take the gymnastics judges' test on September 11th, I got busy studying. I made flash cards, I wrote down combinations and series and point deductions, I memorized (or tried to) additive values of elements and their order, I took practice test after practice test.

And I still didn't feel ready for the test.

I told myself I have to be AT LEAST as smart as some of the people judging, I have a doctorate, so I should be able to learn anything, and yet the whole issue of judging lost some of its appeal.

When I registered for the test, I figured that would sort of force my own hand about taking the test. But it was only $20, so it's not like it's the biggest sum I've ever wasted, so that wasn't a whole lot of pressure.

Then I started asking myself if I really wanted to judge if I DID pass the test.

Do I really want to give up every Saturday (or entire weekend) to judge Level 5-6 gymnastics?

Do I really want to see the exact same routines, hear the exact same music every single weekend?

Do I really want to get involved in the lives of tiny little gymnasts.....and their mamas?

Do I really want to drive 2 hours to take the test on a UGA football Saturday?

I realized that the natural goal, which should have been to start with Level 5-6 and progress up to Level 10 or even Elite, wasn't something I really wanted to pursue. Perhaps if I had started when I was 30, it might have made sense. However, studying for this test has taken something I absolutely LOVE and turned it into a chore. Even if I were really, really good and progressed up the ladder enough to judge NCAA gymnastics, I wouldn't be able to judge UGA because I'm an alumnus and a donor. Not an organ donor, a financial donor. And if I can't watch my beloved Gym Dogs, what the heck is the point?

So I have decided NOT to take the test, and it has taken a load off my mind. Sure I wasted a little money joining the national governing organization and taking the safety course and buying the compulsory manuals. But I didn't buy the stylish (?) navy blue blazer and slacks, and I didn't join the women judges' organization.

I feel much, much better having decided not to pursue this judging thing. I don't think I'll regret it, but if I do, there will be another opportunity to take the test.

If this all sounds like justification for not attempting something I might not be able to do, it may very well be.

But I'm going on 50 years old, and I'm way past doing things I don't want to do. So there.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Topsy Turvy Day.....

This was a perfectly normal day until about 5:15, when one of my co-workers called. According to our local paper (the real one, not the one with the entertaining police blotter), our program is moving. In December. Along with the alternative school program that is housed in the other part of our building.

To a location that cannot accommodate either program, let alone both of them. A location that has no parking, two classrooms, no gym for the alternative school to teach P.E., no computer access (at least to the degree our program requires). It probably won't pass fire codes.

What the hell is going on?

We think it spells doom for our program. We just don't know if the axe is going to fall in May at the end of the school year.

Or in December.

Holy crap.

I don't hate it so much for myself. If I have to retire early, I'll take a hit, but it won't be devastating. I won't be able to afford nearly as many toys and vacations probably won't be to Jamaica, but we won't go hungry or naked.

But what about my co-workers? What about the one whose husband wants to retire in a couple of years? What about the one who has just started on her Ph.D.? What about the one who not only is just starting his specialist program, but so is his wife?

What about our kids? Our students, who come to us because they don't feel they can survive in the traditional high school?

This all came out at the board meeting last night, and it hit the paper this afternoon.

Wonder why that's where we had to hear about it?