Saturday, December 31, 2011

Noteworthy Blog Posts from 2011.....

Last year or the year before, I started a tradition of posting the links to my favorite blog posts from the year, one each month. Some of them were chosen because I thought they represented my best sarcasm, because they were especially humorous (at least to me), or they were deeply thought-provoking. Sometimes I couldn't even tell you WHY they were my favorites; they just were.

Continuing that tradition this year, I've already struggled to find a good entry from .... January. That doesn't bode well for the rest of the year.

I've also discovered that I have repeated myself in blog entries. (It's not like I EVER do that in REAL LIFE or anything.) I mean, I've written the same stories more than a year apart, and the sad part is that I HAVE NO RECOLLECTION OF HAVING WRITTEN THEM THE FIRST TIME! Is it time for me to hang up my blogging? Or stick to books I've read? Or a "What I Did Today" format? I don't want to become stale and boring. Er.

Anyway, here are the blog entries I found noteworthy from the last year. I'll also give a brief explanation of why I found each one worthy of re-posting, and you can decide for yourself whether or not you want to revisit it.

January - This post was about a friend from high school whose father disinherited her from his will because he didn't agree with her lifestyle. It tugged at my heart strings because I have a few dear, dear friends (and a dear, dear cousin) who live a different lifestyle from my own. I made a donation in her father's memory to the account she had set up, then I wrote her a personal note and posted on her FB page. I got nothing back from her. No thank you, no email, no acknowledgement of any kind. Now I'm of the opinion that you should do things with a generous heart and NOT for the thanks/acknowledgement/gratitude you THINK you might be due, but I still felt slighted that she didn't respond at all.

February - This was one of my many "random thoughts" posts, but these were almost all related to a particular day of cycling. I like writing in that format because I don't have to worry about structure or connectedness or all those other things related to writing.

March - This post was one of my favorites just because it featured several pictures of Sweet Girl back when she was both. Sweet. And a girl. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. (I'm teasing, Sweet Girl. Just making sure you're still reading.)

April - I still laugh about this one and occasionally tell the story to complete strangers, about the time when I texted Hubby a question about a purchase that showed up on his debit card and he was still at the store. I am constantly amazed by the feats of modern technology.

May - I wrote this letter to myself about expectations at the end of the school year and not to be surprised that students who have been slackers for the whole semester will continue to be slackers right up to the end. I re-posted it tonight to serve as a reminder to myself that as my remaining days dwindle in number, they will NOT become easier.

June - This blog title is an expression of Hubby's, and this blog post is a reminder to myself not to get all worked up and bothered by something (in other words, not to act like my mother) until I know all the facts. Every time I start to fly off the handle (well, ALMOST every time), I try to remind myself not to jump to convulsions.

July - This blog post came from a spontaneous game Hubby and I started playing while we were sitting on the beach. I love memories like this, about things that are so simple and that would be so meaningless to other people, but are special to us. Or maybe I'm just being stupidly sentimental because it's New Year's Eve and tomorrow is Hubby's birthday.

August - This was one of my attempts at humor, writing both about the silliness of Twitter and what silliness I would write if I didn't think it was too silly to use Twitter in the first place.

September - I wrote this post comparing my job to the game of Whack-a-Mole, and I thought it was nothing short of a BRILLIANT analogy. As the new semester starts next week, I'll have to make a mental note to keep a log of some memorable whack-a-mole moments.

October - I still think it's funny that I thought my digital clock was showing an error message. This blog post also serves as a reminder to me that it's okay to laugh at myself every day now and then.

November - This blog post was about a stranger buying our dinner at a steakhouse. The generosity and spontaneity still boggle my mind.

December - I almost can't stand to ride with Hubby in his new car, because he thinks if it GOES fast, then he should DRIVE fast. The only thing worse is when I drive it and fall into some of the same behaviors.

Happy New Year to all my readers and followers. I love each and every one of you, and I cherish your loyalty and your comments. May 2012 bring you peace, prosperity, love, and happiness.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Good to Be Home.....

I know it's Friday and I should have planned far enough in advance to KNOW that I wouldn't be home at a decent enough hour to write my Favorite Things Friday blog post. I should have KNOWN there would be a wreck on I-85 that would tie traffic up for MILES. It is Friday, after all, and a holiday weekend, so that's just a bonus.

If the pilot had let us know when we crossed the Mason-Dixon line, I would have done a little happy dance right there in the aisle of that plane. A Georgia girl does not belong in Joy-see. I'm just sayin'. 

I had a topic all planned out for this week's Favorite Things Friday, but it will just have to wait. I also have a future blog post with some observations about casinos and casino people. And some observations about myself and flying that confirm what most of us already knew, that I am INSANE.

It's been a long time since the yogurt parfait I had for breakfast, so I'm going to have some graham crackers and peanut butter and go to bed. In my own bed. Without accompanying sounds from the room next door.

Even if we ARE out of milk.

Happy weekend, y'all!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Christmas Gifts.....

I know Christmas isn't supposed to be all about the gift-giving, but I do want to let everyone know how much I appreciate the gifts I received this year.

Hubby and I agreed several years ago not to exchange gifts. However, this year when Sweet Girl and I were at the UGA bookstore and I lusted after a particular sweater that was WAY too expensive, she (unbeknownst to me) texted a picture of it to Hubby and said, "Buy this for Mom." And being the generous (and practical) guy that Hubby is, when he learned I would be back on campus the following weekend, he showed me the text he had received from Sweet Girl and said, "Go buy this for yourself." And he gave me the money for the sweater. So naturally I felt obligated to go buy him something. But then I didn't.

Our real gift to each other for the last few years has been to take a trip around Christmas time. In fact, we are on said Christmas trip even as you read this, because I'm not sure of the wi-fi availability in this casino (a new one for us) and I took the precaution of pre-posting. Is that even a word? I hope to regale you this weekend (or next week) with stories of our trip to the COLD northern part of our country

Sweet Girl bought me a Coach purse AND a Coach wristlet. It was much more important to her than it was to me that I have a designer purse. But I have to admit the split-strap backpack-type UGA purse I've been carrying for about five years has become rather worn. And stained. And annoying. It also forced me to clean out my purse (so THAT'S where that card was all this time), which is a gift in and of itself. The wristlet is very convenient for taking to the poker table, since I don't like to take my purse into the casino. I'm not sure that was Sweet Girl's goal when she bought it, but it works for me.

Hubby's daughter and granddaughter gave me a very cute (but very HUGE - haven't they noticed?) UGA t-shirt. It has a tropical theme and the words "No Gators Allowed" on it, so I'll wear it to sleep in if nothing else. They also gave us a gift card to a restaurant they know we frequent. Frequently.

Hubby's daughter's (new) boyfriend gave me a Snuggie. I wasn't sure they really existed outside the skits and cheesy commercials. But at least it is a UGA Snuggie, and as cold-natured as I am, it will actually see some use. Besides, it's the thought that counts. They've only been dating for a few months, and the guy she dated for TEN YEARS never saw fit to give us anything for Christmas. So far he's a keeper.

Hubby's sister gave us another restaurant gift card. Do these people know us, or what?

My mother gave me a very generous check. She also said it was NOT a Christmas gift, so technically she didn't give us anything. But it would be ungrateful of me not to mention it anyway.

I am very blessed with family and friends, so the material gifts are just a bonus.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Dear Gym Dogs - The 2012 Version.....

Dear Gym Dogs:

This time last year I took you to task for everything from your choice of beam music to your introductory video. Having attended the Sneak Peek this year, I'm taking a different approach and accentuating the positive. I won't even pretend to be impartial or objective. I'm trying not to get my hopes up to unrealistic levels, but that's just the fan I am. Please know, however, that I am a true fan. Should you NOT live up to my expectations.... I will still support you, pull for you, and send you enough money that my season tickets, hospitality room passes, and VIP parking pass are secure.

KE - I hate it that you got hurt last year before the first competition. From what I've seen so far, it was truly our loss. Your beam routine is awesome, and I can't wait to see your WHOLE floor routine. With the double layout that I've heard you're capable of but haven't unveiled yet. Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease?

KB - If you make the line-up and are competitive on three events like your coach said you might be, I will take back every single time I ever referred to you as a wasted scholarship. I LOVE your middle pass in your floor routine, and you looked phenomenal on beam. Good for you, taking it upon yourself to get in better shape and polish your skills over the summer. One question: What were you doing the LAST two summers? I'm just sayin'...

KD - I would bet my next paycheck that this year you will finally be awarded the 10.0 you've had coming to you for the past two years. I don't know where they're taking that .025 deduction, but it may be on the half pirouette on the low bar. Get that baby nailed down, and I'm thinking there may be more than ONE perfect 10.0 in your future. I'm proud of you for persevering and making your way into the all-around your senior year. Keep that gorgeous smile, and always make that face you made in the Florida meet last year when you stick a landing.

WK - Welcome to college, baby. Try not to look like you're scared of your own shadow the first time you run out into the Coliseum, and you'll be fine. Just do what you've always done. And smile. It's supposed to be fun.

CT - I have always loved your grace and style, and I don't see where your critics get off making so many comments about desserts and buffet lines. What they call sluggish I see as precise, but who am I to judge objectively? About that side-sommi on beam - either make it pretty or take it out. There aren't many people who can do it beautifully, so if you can't perfect it, throw it out. You've got plenty of other skills. Keep showing your dance skills on floor.

MB - You will always be my favorite walk-on. Your floor routine this year looks like you've been working on your presentation. Good for you. If you don't make the line-up because we have so much depth this year, I will still admire you for sticking around and working so hard even when you have to pay your own way. You rock.

SW - Several people have said this is your year. You've been plagued by injuries, but there have also been rumors of a less-than-stellar work ethic. I hope that is all behind you and you can become a rock your last two years. I've seen you perform at near-perfect levels, so I'm confident you can turn things around. There are records to be broken, so get after them!

GN - Please, please, please take care of your back. We need you on bars and floor! I am so glad they have reduced your tumbling passes to two and still kept enough difficulty to give you a 10.0 start value. I absolutely love that Gienger-to-immediate-shootover on bars. I realize the connection is sometimes difficult to time right, and it doesn't mean a deduction when you don't do it, but it is awe-inspiring when you get it right. That smile of yours is as dazzling as your gymnastics.

SP - I was wowed by that front aerial to immediate scale on balance beam, and I was even more impressed when I learned that it's an E level move. Seriously? E level on BEAM? I hope you are able to compete in the all-around. If you can do that as a freshman, then the future for you - and the Gym Dogs - is a bright one.

CH - Manage to control that landing on vault, and you will be a force to be reckoned with. I was enthralled with your floor routine, too, and I hope you can make the line-up in more than one event this year.

LM - You bailed us out on beam twice last year, once at one of the most important championships of the year. And you calmly posted an impressive 9.875 even as a last-minute substitute. I hope you can find your way back into the line-up this year, and not just due to someone else's injury. You're cute as a button, and you clearly have ice water in your veins. Good for you.

LC - Please, please, please stay healthy. Your skills are amazing, as evidenced by the fact that in your first meet in the all-around last year, you shot to #1 in the nation. I'd love to see you do that again. I appreciate the fact that you also have a triple element flight series on beam, when you're only required to do two.

CD - Another freshman with the potential to do the all-around? Wow. When I first heard your floor music, I couldn't decide whether to be appalled or amused. But then the crowd got into it, and I realized that's what it's all about. The Coliseum will be rocking when they hear that music, so it's up to you to make the line-up.

NC - You've been our rock, especially last year. You led off several events, which means your scores will never be stellar, but your consistency makes you an excellent choice for the lead-off spot. Your facial expressions during your floor routine make it a joy to watch. Keep nailing those vault landings.

BB - You were relegated to the role of cheerleader last year due to injury, and I hope you are able to compete this year, at least on vault.

CP and DH - I don't know enough about either of you to give advice or observations, but welcome to the Gym Dog family.

Your most devoted (obsessed?) fan,


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Letter 2012.......

Because our lives are fairly predictable, and because I relish the opportunity to look into the future, I am going to write our Christmas letter for 2012 in advance. Feel free to contact me this time next year to point out how many times I was wrong. As long as you also allow me to point out how many times I was RIGHT.

January - Bragger and Hubby spent New Year's Day celebrating Hubby's birthday by watching hour upon hour of professional football. The UGA football team started the New Year off right with a win over Michigan State in the Outback Bowl (so sue me). The eagerly awaited 2012 college gymnastics season got off to a hot start. Bragger, accompanied by some combination of Hubby/Frogger Blogger/Katydid attended two meets at home, with a couple of trips to Alabama on consecutive weeks thrown in. Hubby dropped us off in Tuscaloosa for one of them and went on to Mississippi to his favorite casino, where he won enough money to pay for the gas it took to get home. Sweet Girl got a great job in her chosen field and continued her studies at Embry Riddle. Enough warmer-than-average days meant that Bragger exceeded her January cycling goal of 125 miles.

February - Bragger held her breath as snowflakes fell, afraid that two scheduled holidays in the dreary month of February would be turned into weather make-up days. The snow melted upon contact, though, and school did not have to be closed due to weather. Bragger took a comp day and traveled to Florida for a dual purpose: to see Sweet Girl (most important reason) and to see the Gym Dogs compete against the University of Florida. I am not about to jinx my favorite team by predicting the outcome. Unfortunately, this weekend trip would mean that Bragger would miss one of the first organized cycling events of the year, but as the weather turned drizzly and miserable that weekend, it was a good miss after all. Bragger's lofty goal of 175 cycling miles in February appeared to be in jeopardy, but with the addition of a 29th day in February, she made it...barely.

March - The regular season ended for college gymnastics, and the finish at the SEC championships just outside Atlanta at the end of March was one of the closest in recent memory. Bragger and Hubby attended a baseball game between UGA and Kennesaw State, where they got to watch the godson play college baseball when he started as catcher. Bragger, Katydid, and Rozmo rode in the Tour de Pike bicycle ride on St. Patrick's Day, and the t-shirts weren't even green. Buttheads.

April - Bragger convinced Katydid and Frogger Blogger to accompany her on her birthday to (Auburn or N.C. State or Illinois) for the NCAA Gymnastics Regional Championships. Utah and Washington were also possible locations, but even the most devoted (obsessed?) fan has her limitations. Bragger and co-workers walked in the March for Babies on April 13th. Bragger and Katydid attempted to attend both the Spring Tune-Up bicycle ride AND the NCAA Gymnastics Championships in the same weekend, riding furiously each morning for three days and then racing the 60 miles (by car) to attend the competition. It occurred to them only later than riding their bicycles TO the arena would have accomplished both goals. The NCAA championships resulted in pleasant surprises and at least one NCAA champion for UGA.

May - Bragger counted the hours and minutes down to May 25th, on which day she retired entirely tear-free from her teaching job. She graciously attended BOTH high school graduations, knowing it was the last year she would feel obligated to do that. She and Katydid participated in the second Tour d'Oconee bicycle ride, and Bragger once again resisted the temptation to jump off the bridge in High Shoals just because it would take her back to her 17th birthday. Bragger and Hubby celebrated 15 years of marriage at the end of the month, and Hubby was disappointed they couldn't take a celebratory trip to the casino because it was too close to the beginning of BRAG.

June - Bragger and Katydid rode in BRAG again, traveling from Chattanooga (I thought it was the Bicycle Ride Across GEORGIA?) to Clayton. Only they didn't go all the way to the end, because when the ride came through Bragger's town on Thursday, she and Katydid jumped ship. Actually, they ended the ride early so they could travel to the Nash Bash, the family reunion, held again this year in South Carolina. Bragger barely escaped being arrested for trespassing when she was found sleeping on the porch of the marsh house she so nearly bought for herself last summer. She was inconsolable when she learned the cottage had been purchased by someone who intended to live there on a full-time basis and would NOT put it in the rental pool. Bragger went to see Sweet Girl at the end of the month to celebrate Sweet Girl's birthday, but the trip was marred by a nasty jelly fish sting Bragger suffered when she fell asleep and rolled off a float.

July - Rozmo, Hubby, and Bragger took the RV all the way to Wisconsin for a bicycle ride that started 30 miles from where Bragger's favorite cousin lives. It was a wonderful week of visiting with family, riding through beautiful countryside, and having a full-time sag driver on hand. Hubby finally admitted he should have been doing this years ago, which statement Bragger managed to capture on her iPhone.

August - Bragger and Hubby made a couple of mid-week trips in the RV just because they could. Bragger rode her bike to school just to visit, until her former co-workers asked her please to take her ear-to-ear grin somewhere else, thank you very much. Bragger did NOT miss her job, but she did miss her co-workers. And some of the students. A few. Two. Maybe one.

September - Football season began much better than last year's 0-2 start, and Bragger and Hubby managed to procure an RV spot in the same lot as last year. The attendant at the gate still couldn't remember their last name, but she was very sweet about it. Gus became accustomed to being left in the RV and finally mastered using the remote control to change the channel to Animal Planet while his owners went to the ballgames. Christmas commercials began airing on television.

October - Katydid and Bragger attended BikeFest again this year, held again on the banks of the Chattahoochee River in Columbus, Georgia. Bragger rode the century ride again and still doesn't know why. The UGA football team made it two in a row over one of their fiercest rivals. (Oh yes I DID.)

November - Some random Republican won the presidential election on November 6th. Bragger rode her bicycle a bunch and there were many football games. Bragger was already obsessively following the posted videos of the Gym Dogs, whose season didn't start for another two months, and even attended practice sessions on at least two occasions. Hubby considered professional help but decided it was both a lost cause and too expensive.

December - Bragger and Hubby took their annual Christmas vacation, this time to someplace tropical. Bragger insisted on taking a bike ride, where she hit a pothole and scraped up her elbow and one knee. Nothing else was hurt, except her pride, and Hubby didn't even mention it. More than thirty thousand times.

Happy 2013!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Letters.......

I got a very annoying Christmas letter last week.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not opposed to Christmas letters IN PRINCIPLE. Except for the fact that if we are really and truly close friends, I probably don't need a Christmas letter to know what you've been up to for the last year.

But when Hubby told me whose name was on the return address label for this particular Christmas card/letter, I thought he was joking.

It was from a former co-worker, someone I first met through cycling and then came to teach at our school. That evolved into an awkward situation as it became patently clear that she hated almost everything about our school, in particular the students. She finally left at Spring Break, for which we were extremely grateful and never mind the hassle of finding a replacement with about 6 weeks left in the school year, and I she became very cool toward me. I couldn't figure out if she resented me because she left a job she hated or if she thought I should have been a better "friend."


We still see each other frequently on cycling events, and I make a point to speak to her and her husband. I steer away from school topics, except to bring her up to speed on people we both know, and I try not to let my eyes glaze over when she talks about how wonderfully well her consulting business is going. Still, she acts like it pains her to speak to me, and she has this tacky, judgmental way of looking down her very pointy nose at everyone. You feel like you can't have a conversation with her without feeling like you're being assessed.


Why the Christmas letter out of the blue, when we've had very little contact (other than politeness, and sometimes strained at that) for the last three and a half years? I would take the cynical position that she only wanted to brag on their exploits, but there weren't really that many exciting events in her letter.

I got a Christmas letter a few years ago from a different co-worker, someone with whom I taught in her first couple of years as a teacher and who later had Sweet Girl in her class.When she married and started having children, they got very involved with their church. She left the teaching profession to stay home with her three boys, and we kind of drifted apart. I run into her mom occasionally and get updates on the family, and I occasionally think I should give her a call.

I did enjoy reading her Christmas letter, because I've never known her children, and it was interesting reading up on what they've been up to and how they've grown. Only one part of her letter disturbed me, and ...


it was in reference to their youngest son. Apparently one of their significant events from that year was that the youngest son had confessed his sins and been saved.

He was 5. Really, how many sins can a 5-year-old HAVE? And could he even begin to understand the concept of sin, confessing said sin, and being saved? Forgive me, but that part of the letter made me shake my head.

I've decided I'm going to write my own Christmas letter. In tomorrow night's post, I'm going to write a letter detailing the Bragger household's activities for 2012. Call it the Christmas letter from the future.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas.....

Thank all of you who left such sweet comments on yesterday's post. I was a little embarrassed to be so down in the dumps on Christmas Eve, but I'm thankful to have readers who don't judge. You guys are the best!

We opened gifts with Sweet Girl via webcam this morning (my first time ever to use Skype), and then a nice meal with Hubby's family. True to form, we were the last ones to arrive at his mother's house, which is about 200 yards from our driveway.

Although the weather didn't cooperate (cold and wet) enough for us to go for a walk, we had a nice afternoon just relaxing. I thought I would nap, but I wound up just crocheting and playing on the iPad. We wrapped up the evening by watching Shrek, and who can be gloomy after that?

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas however you spent it.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled sarcasm...

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas Eve......

Merry Christmas Eve to all of you out there in blog land.

I'm fighting off a bit of the blues tonight, but determined not to be gloomy. It doesn't help that Hubby has turned the t.v. to Lonesome Dove, and Gus McCrae has just died AGAIN. I wish he wouldn't do that every time we watch it.

It seems that many Christmas Eves in my adult life have had sadness attached to them. Most of that sadness stems from the disaster that was my second marriage. The SH had his own ideas of how to celebrate Christmas Eve, and they involved drinking heavily and not coming home. He had the misguided impression that other people liked his company on this special holidays.

I was talking to my mother today about Christmases past. She was a single mother for most of my life, trying to make ends meet on her own and still provide Christmas for all five of us. My father's court-ordered child support was $6 per week per child, and he didn't believe in giving her one penny beyond that. Yet I don't remember ever being sad or disappointed on Christmas as a child. Mom always managed to scrape enough together to surprise us with toys and clothes that I know now she couldn't afford. I remember one Christmas in particular when I got a dangerous combination: roller skates and new jeans. It never occurred to ME that I should save the new pants for wearing when school started back. I fell down while trying to master the new skates on the asphalt of our trailer park, and I tore a huge hole in the new jeans. My mother must have been crushed, and there was the threat of a butt-beating if not the actuality. I couldn't blame her; I deserved it richly.

The two Christmases when Sweet Girl was in the Persian Gulf were tough, of course. Now she has a home of her own, and while I miss her painfully at Christmas, I respect her decision not to come home, especially since she was just here two weeks ago.

Well this isn't a very merry posting, so I'll stop for now. Hubby and I will spend part of tomorrow with his family, and maybe the weather will be nice enough tomorrow afternoon for a long walk. That can only help my spirits.

Merry Christmas to everyone.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Favorite Things Friday - Crocheted Scarf....

I've been wrestling with this concept of "favorite." Does the word imply permanence? Longevity at least? I mean, my favorite color is yellow and has been since I was about 14 or 15 years old. I can remember the book I was reading (the heroine wore a luminous yellow ballgown, and I was hooked), and it was almost a conscious decision, "My favorite color is going to be yellow."

Favorites can change, though.....can't they? That very idea got me in sort of trouble with my credit card not too long ago. My credit card company changed my account number and canceled my old one, so I was trying to deactivate the canceled one from my online sign-in. Then I got to the secret question. "Who is your favorite athlete?"


When did you ask me that? Because the answer to that secret question is highly dependent upon which SEASON we were in. Heck, what YEAR did you ask it?

If you asked it during football season, the answer might have been Matthew Stafford. Unless it was that first year he was at Detroit, when he spent the whole year on the injured reserve list, and was nothing much to write home about. It may have been Aaron Murray, although until this year he didn't impress me enough to warrant a "favorite" label.

If it was gymnastics season, it might have been Courtney Kupets. Or Kat Ding, if it wasn't right after one of the five times IN A ROW that she fell off the balance beam. (But she more than made up for it on the uneven bars.)

If it was baseball season, it might have been Brian McCann. Or Jeff Francoeur (if it was more than a couple of years ago).

Or I might have thought more in a historical sense and chosen Hershel Walker.

Whoever was my favorite whenever I answered that question, I failed at guessing three times in a row and the credit card company locked my online account.

Buttheads. What stupid kind of question is "Who is your favorite athlete?"

I realize that so far I haven't even touched on the subject of tonight's blog post.

My favorite thing tonight is a crochet pattern, and it became my favorite...yesterday.

That's Hubby serving as my model.

I wish I had taken the time to take better pictures while I still had decent daylight. Since this picture was taken I have added fringe on either end of the scarf.

It's also a darker blue than the photo indicates.

I don't think I've ever had a pattern that came together so effortlessly and took shape so beautifully. (I may break my arm off patting myself on the back.) It looks like it has a border, but it doesn't - that was just how it came together. I love the cable-like design. I'm just in love with this scarf, if it's okay in a not-very-creepy way to be in love with an inanimate object.

Here is a close-up of the pattern, but it's still not a very good view.

My very, very, very favorite thing about this crochet pattern, though, is the fact that...

...I made it up.

I've never had much success at creating my own patterns. To be honest, I didn't COMPLETELY make this one up. I started a scarf for which I had PAID TO DOWNLOAD the instructions, only to learn that I'm not the intermediate crocheter I thought I was.

I could understand SOME of the instructions. I can ch with the best of them, I understand sc, and I know hdc. I could even figure out ch2lp (chain 2 loop, although I thought it was chain 21 p's). But then I got to bpdc (see stitches - YO, insert hook from front to back to front again around post of st indicated and pull up a lp, [yo and draw through 2 lps on hook] 2 times).

Huh? Okay, let me try that...

Then I got to a dbl-CHSPC, which was a paragraph long in explanation and had embedded WITHIN it a fptr, and I gave up.

In anger, I just kept doing the two stitches I understood, got to the end of the row and turned, repeated the two stitches in the same pattern ...

And by golly, it worked. It might not look like the "professional" one on the bottom left of the picture here, but it's pretty. And functional. And required almost no curse words.

That's enough right there to make it my favorite. Hubby even asked me to make one for him. That's high praise coming from him. And he wasn't even kissing up. I don't think...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Update on Baby Luke.....

I haven't updated my readers (all four of you - thank you for your loyalty!) lately about Baby Luke, mainly out of respect for his parents and not wanting to violate their privacy.

As many of you know, Luke is the son of one of my co-workers, born prematurely on October 23rd. His due date wasn't until January 4th. He weighed 1 pound 15 ounces and was able to breathe on his own from the very beginning.

Luke progressed very well and went home almost two weeks ago, much earlier than anticipated. His dad came back to work and reported on Luke's status every day. Luke gained weight steadily and was weighing in at almost five pounds when school dismissed for Christmas Break.

We got word on Monday of this week that Luke was back in the hospital and had been transferred to Scottish Rite in Atlanta. He has an infection of some sort and while he is responding well to antibiotics, doctors are having trouble finding the source of the infection. Cancer has been ruled out, much to everyone's relief, but in the meantime Luke has developed an upper respiratory infection on top of what he was already battling. In addition, doctors have known for about a week that he has a hernia that will require surgery in the next few months.

Luke was moved out of ICU this afternoon and into a regular room, but he will remain hospitalized at least through the weekend. Fortunately he won't remember that he spent his very first Christmas in such a sucky place. I mean being in the hospital in general, not the specific one where he is being treated. If I had a sick baby I could wish for no better place for him or her to be than Scottish Rite.

Please keep Luke and his mama and daddy in your thoughts. I'm sure the parents and grandparents are exhausted and frustrated with the uncertainty. This is probably not how they envisioned spending Christmas this year, or any year.

Suddenly my problems aren't so bad.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Last Christmas Break Ever - Day Three...

Some wonderful things that happened today:

  • I woke up at 5:00 and was afraid I wouldn't go back to sleep, and the next time I looked at the clock it was 7:00.
  • The newspaper was on time.
  • Sweet Girl's package arrived safely and right on time.
  • I wrapped some gifts and gift-bagged others.
  • Another 45 minutes on the elliptical. I'm going to see how many days in a row I can exercise. And walking to the refrigerator doesn't count. I'm currently on a roll of three days in a row.
  • The neighbor worked on his car without musical (?) accompaniment.
  • I bumped into the Warrior Princess at Wally World.
  • Hubby and I ran errands together and didn't forget nearly as many items at the grocery store as we usually do.
  • My gymnastics season tickets arrived. What a relief! Our seats are the same again this year, so we will strategically position ourselves to see who has to sit next to the know-it-all on the left. She's a nice lady, but if I cheer for a less-than-perfect routine, she points out the deductions that I clearly missed.
  • Temperatures were in the upper 60's. Which sort of made up for the fact that it rained off and on and on and on and on for most of the day, ruining an otherwise ideal day for cycling.
  • I finished a crochet project and am very pleased with it. Details later.
  • I took a nap.
  • I bought yarn for my next crochet project and supplies to make more cake pops and crock pot candy. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sometimes There ARE People I Want to Punch in the Throat.....

I hope the author of the blog I referenced yesterday hasn't registered her title as a trademark, because I'm going to use it today. Maybe other days too, but definitely today.

The people I want to punch in the throat today are our new next-door neighbors. And/or their visitors.

Perhaps I shouldn't use the word "neighbor" so loosely. Doesn't the word itself carry connotations of pleasantness, as in "being neighborly," referring to a state of being useful, friendly, congenial, or at least tolerable?

There are certainly positive things about where we live. Hubby has lived in this house since the subdivision was built in 1973. Our neighbors directly across the street have also lived here that long. A couple of the houses have changed hands a couple of times; the house that is built on the same floor plan as ours and sits catty-cornered to ours has had the same folks in it since before I moved in, so at least 15 years. We live on a dead-end street (apparently the cul de sac concept didn't come around until after 1973) off another dead-end street, so it's fairly quiet. Our little street only has six houses on it, with us smack in the middle on the right-hand side.

Two of the houses have become rental properties, and we've been mostly lucky with the one that is right next to ours. There was that one year when the tenants were evicted right before Christmas. Even the Christmas tree was out in the yard, decorations still on it and everything. Then there was the freaky guy Ken, who bragged to Hubby one day that he was on his 48th beer. And he came over during a family gathering at the pool one time, bringing his girlfriend-of-the-week and his cooler with him.

There was a sweet couple from New York, a first year teacher and her boyfriend, who mostly walked around the yard talking on his cell phone. They managed to buy a place of their own right after the economy tanked. The most recent tenant was a lady who works for the school system and her two children.

The owner of the house is a VERY nice man. I don't think he ever lived in the house himself. He bought it to rent it out for the income. Hubby knows him, and I've exchanged greetings with him, but I'm not sure I would know him if I saw him on the street. That has very little to do with this blog post.

The newest next-door neighbors -- oops, there I go again -- I mean, the newest next-door people who live next door have only lived here a couple of weeks. They spend most of their time outside working on their cars, but not in a junkyard kind of way. Yet.

My complaint about them, though, the thing that makes me want to punch them in the throat, and actually drove me outside in the rain to stand on my porch and glare at them, is the fact that they accompany their mechanical endeavors with very, very, very loud music.

I'm not condemning these people just because they listen to the kind of music I hope won't be my punishment in hell. At least that's not entirely the reason I'm condemning them. It's the volume.

I'm sure these people (and others with the same tendencies) would say it's their right to listen to whatever music they want to, and to listen to it as loudly as they want to. I would say to them that their rights end where mine begin. I also have a right to sit in my home on a rainy Tuesday afternoon and read, crochet, nap, play video games, watch gymnastics replays (it's research, people, research), or twiddle my thumbs WITHOUT MY WINDOWS VIBRATING. Yes, the windows in our house were vibrating in tempo with the horrible noise emanating from the speakers of the car at the house next door. Sounds kind of like Dr. Seuss, but he never had to punch anyone in the throat.

I realize the rational thing to do would be to calmly walk next door and request that these rude people turn the music down. It's my belief, however, that anyone inconsiderate enough to play music that loud in the first place wouldn't be open to requests to change their behavior. Besides, they look mean.

We could also resort to calling the po-po about the music (and I once stooped that low at about 2:00 AM one morning, but that was several tenants ago and I don't think Hubby liked it when I did that), but that has the potential to snowball and cause all sorts of additional problems. Besides, it seems a little extreme to call the cops for music playing loudly at 4:30 in the afternoon. If it happens at night and interrupts Hubby's sleep, he will probably beat me to the phone.

Maybe I should take an entirely different course of action. I could bake some Christmas treats and take them over there. It would certainly be better on my blood pressure.

Or I could just go get on the elliptical in the basement every time they turn on the music. That could have multiple benefits!

But I'd rather just punch them in the throat.

Monday, December 19, 2011

My Last Christmas Break Ever - Day One.....

It's kind of depressing to think this is my last Christmas break as a teacher. In fact, it's so depressing that I'm considering putting off retirement for a few years.


Whenever I have an extended break from school, I alternate between doing absolutely NOTHING of value (and feeling kind of guilty about that) and trying to cram as many useful activities into a single day as I can (and feeling kind of exhausted from that). Not much middle ground.

I would have put today in the former category until I started thinking about writing this blog post. I spent most of the day waiting for the big brown truck to arrive with the Warrior Princess' Christmas gift, and it didn't come until about 3:30. But if I had dared leave the house, that bad boy would have driven up at 10:15. I could have used the time I was "trapped" at home to do some -- oh, I don't know -- HOME projects. But I didn't.

It wasn't a total waste, though. I shipped Sweet Girl's package to her and was assured it would get there on Wednesday, much earlier than I was afraid it would. I bought a couple of gifts for my godchildren, some sweetener I forgot to get at the grocery store, and some antacid tablets for Hubby. I prepared my fantasy gymnastics team line-up for week one (and my team is NOT heavy with UGA gymnasts, believe it or not), and I paid our car insurance. I did two loads of laundry, cooked an almost-actual meal for dinner, and loaded the dishwasher.

The best part of the whole day, though, was taking a walk with Hubby (and Gus) in the park. We walked for about an hour, and it was glorious being outside in the fresh air. It was about 60 degrees and would have been PERFECT for a bike ride, thank you very much Mr. Big Brown Truck. Rainy weather is supposed to be moving in tomorrow, so I may have missed one of the last good riding opportunities for this year. We'll be out of town for four days right after Christmas, but I hope to squeeze in at least a couple more rides before the end of the year.

I don't usually plug other people's blogs here (especially people I don't even know remotely, as in this case), but I have to tell you the story behind this one. Warrior Princess called me last night and said, "I'm afraid I may have misrepresented you to my co-workers." (And I got teary-eyed that she has other co-workers now and I'm not one of them, but I'm working through those issues.) It seems she was telling her co-workers about my blog and my writing style and my sense of (?) humor, and one of them came in saying she thought she had found my blog all by herself.

She thought it was called "People I Want to Punch in the Throat."

I haven't read many of the entries, but part of me is sad that it ISN'T my blog. Part of me is grateful, though, because if I've learned one thing about my writing, it's that I can't maintain a writing style consistently. I can't be funny all the time, I can't be sentimental (hardly ever, in fact), and I can't even be grumpy all the time. I can do sarcasm, but I'm always afraid it comes across as more pissed off than I really am, so I try to use it modestly.

No, really. I do.

I have found much to love in this blog so far. I do find some of the language offensive, so I hope Warrior Princess corrected her co-worker about its authorship. Still, some of the ideas could have come straight out of my head. I just wish I could express them as well.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I Think I'll Call it "Pineapple Fluff".......

I have a recipe for a sort-of dessert that I make for Hubby every now and then. Oh, and me too, but I modified the original recipe to suit Hubby's diabeticness.

I'm surprised I ever made it the first time, because the name turned me off immediately. I found the recipe in the newspaper, and it was called "Dump Salad."

Could they have come up with a LESS appetizing name?

It suits me for several reasons. #1 - It's sweet. #2 - It's simple. Okay, two reasons.

Here are the very simple steps and ingredients:

1 large can crushed pineapple (you can use other fruits, but our favorite is pineapple)
1 box Jell-O (I use sugar-free lemon)
1 container (16 oz? maybe?) cottage cheese
1 tub Cool Whip (I use Lite, Free, or Sugar Free, and I'm pretty sure they're all exactly the same)

Drain the fruit, pour the Jell-O mix on top and stir. Mix in the cottage cheese, then fold in the Cool Whip. Allow to set in the refrigerator.

I have also added walnuts (excellent) and I think I've tried coconut in this recipe. Then it can be called "Tropical Fluff."

I took this dish to a family reunion once, and my brother LOVED it. He asked what was in it, and when I got to the cottage cheese part, he started gagging. Then I discovered that Hubby doesn't particularly care for cottage cheese either, mainly due to the texture. (I think it's merely the IDEA of cottage cheese, but whatever.) So I started putting the cottage cheese in the food processor before I mix it in with the fruit and Jell-O. It processes up beautifully and looks like a gorgeous cake frosting. But I wouldn't recommend putting it on a cake.

It's a wonderful dessert for holiday gatherings, because it makes a large bowl, but it isn't a heavy dessert. Unless you eat the entire large bowl all by yourself.

Not that I've ever done that.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Another Sisters' Saturday.....

After a long hiatus due to Frogger Blogger being in graduate school, the three sisters got together again today. If my exhaustion is any indication, a good time was had by all.

The main purpose of the get-together was to attend the UGA Gym Dogs' Sneak Peek, the first glimpse of what the upcoming gymnastics season will look like for the home team.



I'm trying (mostly unsuccessfully) not to get my hopes up to unrealistic levels, but holy cow the team looked great today. A girl who is a junior and has NEVER competed but hasn't had any trouble collecting her scholarship check every month finally showed up and looked fabulous. No significant injuries and tremendous depth on every apparatus. There were two brand-new freshmen, one who showed up three days ago and one whose very first practice EVER as a Gym Dog was ... TODAY. No wonder she looked petrified when she mounted that balance beam.

After the Sneak Peek we went to the UGA bookstore, had greasy chili dogs at the Varsity, did some Christmas shopping, and laughed a lot.

I can't wait to do it all again. Especially the laughing part.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Favorite Things Friday - Hot Toddy.....

It's more than a little ironic that I chose this topic for tonight's blog post. A hot toddy is a wonderful drink when the weather is cold and blustery and there's snow on the ground and you have a roaring fire going and you just want to curl up in front of the television and watch old movies or gymnastics meets. Oh yeah, or football.

When I got in my car to leave school today (thank you merciful gods and goddesses in heaven), it was 74 degrees.

I love living in the South.

Anyway, back to my favorite hot toddy...

Hot apple cider. With a shot of ... wait for it ... butterscotch Schnapps in it.

We had the packets of instant hot apple cider at a school function, and I read a serving suggestion on the back of the box. They must have known I was a high school teacher when they suggested putting alcohol in my apple cider.

While I drink the apple cider at school frequently, I have NOT stooped to using the butterscotch Schnapps. At school. Yet.

I'm not even going to apologize for the fact that it's INSTANT apple cider. The brand that we buy also comes in a sugar free version, which I'm pretty sure makes up for all the calories in the Schnapps. Pretty sure. Damn sure.

If you want to be really festive or formal or hoity-toity, you can put whipped cream on top and drizzle it with caramel syrup. That's what I did last year during the siege that was the blizzard of 2011. The REAL one, not this one.

Seriously, this hot drink has an uncanny ability to improve my mood mightily, even if it wasn't bad to begin with. And there's not THAT much Schnapps in it.

Who even knew they made butterscotch Schnapps?

P.S. Sorry no picture. It's too damn hot for hot apple cider, and I certainly didn't want to waste it. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Keeping My Day Job....

Subtitle: Bakerella Need Not Fear That I Will Supplant Her as the Cake Pop Queen

Is that the correct usage of the word "supplant"?

Someone came up with the BRILLIANT (and I mean it this time, not being sarcastic. This time) idea that we should order box lunches at school today instead of a potluck lunch. I suggested that we combine it with a "goodie swap" and bring in cookies and/or candy to share at school.

In the meantime, our wonderfully sweet cafeteria ladies, who knew nothing of our lunch and/or goodie plans, said they would be providing "treats" for both faculties today.

You really didn't need all that information for this blog post, but since I started it and my "delete" key suddenly won't work (that's my story and I'm sticking to it), I'm gonna give you the rest of it too.

The "treats" these ladies provided weren't just treats. It was a complete spread: pimiento cheese sandwiches, chicken salad sandwiches, crackers and cheese, Chex mix, cookies, peanuts, M&Ms, chips and dip, and I'm sure I've left something out.

Holy cow.

It didn't take me long to realize I didn't need the box lunch I'd ordered. But since it was a chicken wrap and fruit cup (I'm trying, I really am), I decided it would keep until tomorrow, and that eliminates the need to prepare a lunch for tomorrow. Score.

Back to those treats.

Because I had such success with my first cake pops, I thought I would make some more of those. I'd already done Christmas trees, so this time I thought I would just make little round cake pops in red and green and decorate them.

The red ones went well, except for the fact that the green sugar I put on them made them look kind of like dirt. But I hope they will taste good. I also bought the multicolored sprinkles.

Trivia question: Do you know how far multicolored sprinkles will bounce if you drop a few -- all right, a million -- of them on a tile floor?

Answer: Ten trillion. I think a few of them are still bouncing somewhere in Bulgaria.

Is Bulgaria still a country? I can't keep up with geography anymore, ever since the fall of Communism combined with the law requiring that African countries change their names with every full moon.

Because I tend to be rather OCD about such things, I thought I would do exactly half of the cake pops in red candy coating, and the other half in green. After I had dipped and sprinkled exactly half of the cake pops in the refrigerator, I dumped the red candy coating.

(Note to self: If you buy some cheap candy molds, you can put that candy coating to good use instead of throwing it away every time. There now.)

I melted the green candy coating, and that's when things started to go downhill. I couldn't get the green coating thin enough, and it would drag the cake pops off their little sticks. Bakerella's book suggested using a little shortening to thin the candy coating when it isn't thin enough, but I didn't have any. I didn't anticipate having that problem, since I had been so successful with the green coating when I made the little Christmas trees.

I managed to dip a few green ones, then I dumped several in the trash, threw out the green candy coating, and chalked it up to a learning experience. It was 11:00 PM by that time, and I also had crock pot candy cooling all over the kitchen.

(Note to self: If you write a blog post about being stress-free during the holiday season, you shouldn't then find it necessary to CREATE stress where there was none. There now.)

I didn't cry in my candy coating (actually, that might have helped), and I didn't let it get to me. I still had a fair number (albeit not an even number, a fact I'm trying to claw from my memory) of cake pops, and I will share them at school tomorrow.

I'm not giving up on the cake pops, either. I may not become an expert, and mine may never be as cute and creative as the ones in the book, but I will get better.

In the meantime, I think it's best to keep my day job.

For 91 more school days.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What a Difference a Day Makes.....

So HERE'S the cheery post I wanted to write yesterday.

I started out the day still congested and feeling yucky, but sometime in mid-afternoon, someone somewhere flipped a switch and I felt much better.

It could have been the realization that in a moment of bravery I had Hubby take me and my bike to school today, then he went to play golf on a course far, far away, and I knew the only way for me to get home was to ride my bike.

A year ago today we woke up to a low temperature of 14 degrees. IN GEORGIA!

Today the high was 70. IN DECEMBER!

That sounded a lot warmer than it turned out to be, at least on a bicycle. I debated about wearing my long-sleeved base layer under my riding jersey, and in the end decided it couldn't hurt. Excellent decision, as it cooled off quite quickly once the sun dipped below the tree line. I wasn't ever really COLD, but I was glad I had those sleeves. Hubby wore shorts to play golf, and he said it was fine. He's a lot tougher than I am.

It was a very nice ride home, especially considering it had been 17 days since I had been on my bike. I met the same school bus I often meet on that ride, and today for the second time I met it right at the entrance to a subdivision. It stopped to let the little kiddies off, and I stopped, just as I would if I were in a car. The drivers always look at me like I'm a little nuts, but I make every effort to follow the rules of the road even when I'm on my bike. (To be honest, I don't know if they're looking at me like I'm nuts because I stop for a school bus to unload, or if they look at me like I'm nuts because I'm on a bike in the first place.) Once when I was riding with a former co-worker, we also stopped for a school bus that had its red lights flashing. The driver leaned out the window and said in amazement, "I ain't never had nobody on a BIKE stop before." If I can just convince the occasional driver that all cyclists are not inconsiderate jerks, I will have done my duty.

Today's ride fulfilled 10% of this month's riding goal. I'd better get busy.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired....

I really, really, really wanted to write a cheery post tonight. It seems that lately all I've done is whine and complain.

But this one is kicking my butt.

It seems that the cold I had briefly a couple of weeks ago and I thought was gone just went into hiatus and then returned with a vengeance.

How is it that my head can be so stuffed up one minute that I cannot breathe, and the next minute my nose is dripping? (Sorry for the graphic description.)

And why is it that I describe it as "just" a cold?

I want it to have a more important-sounding name than that. I want it to end in -itis. Or -monia. No, no, no, I don't mean I want to BE that sick. I just want it to SOUND like I am. What a baby.

When I came in this afternoon, I told Hubby I was going to bed and wake me in an hour so I could cook dinner. Smart man that he is, he said it wouldn't be necessary to cook. He could fix himself a sandwich. Have I mentioned lately that I love that man? He did, however, allow me to grill him a sandwich when I came back downstairs an hour and a half later. So there go a few of his points. He should have been grilling ME a sandwich, but that's too close to cooking for him.

The nap did some good, though, and I was able to bake a cake so I can make cake pops tomorrow night. I really, really, really want to feel better tomorrow morning, because tomorrow afternoon is supposed to be the best weather for cycling we've had this month. And we DON'T have a bazillion interviews tomorrow afternoon.

Off to take some drugs and cross my fingers...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Dear Powers-that-Be.........

I'm tired of being cold.

It isn't even winter yet, and my classroom is FREEZING. Students come into my room from the hall, and almost to a person, they say, "Man, it's cold in here!" Or some similar rendition.

At which point I glare at them and offer up some similar (but much more professional) version of "No shit!"

I am an adult, I watch the weather forecast religiously every morning and every night, and I dress appropriately. When the weather person said this morning that our high temperature wouldn't get out of the 40's today (please stop hating me, all you people who live in much colder places -- this is GEORGIA we're talking about), I planned ahead. I ditched the outfit I had planned to wear today in favor of a much warmer one. I wore a cowl-neck sweater WITH a tank top underneath, black jeans (so what if it isn't Friday, they're probably going to fire me when I build a bonfire in the middle of my classroom anyway), socks and equestrian-looking boots. (Side note: I couldn't even WEAR those boots for the last two winters because my lower legs were too fat. Go me!) At the last minute I even threw on the crocheted scarf with the pockets on the ends that the Warrior Princess made for me a couple of years ago.

Thank you, Warrior Princess, you SAVED MY LIFE today.

I froze all day. I'm pretty sure the high temperature in my classroom was lower than the high temperature outside. Pretty sure.

There's this little box on the wall right above my desk with a sliding switch. It says "cooler" at the bottom and "warmer" at the top.

You aren't fooling me, Powers-that-Be. I know you just put a fake box on the wall because that freakin' thing DOES. NOT. WORK. I've got it all the way up to "warmer," and it just sits there and chuckles at me.

And while we're on the subject, you bunch of Communists, thanks for that new rule that prohibits teachers from having radios, microwaves, refrigerators, candles, and SPACE HEATERS in their rooms. I can understand the candles, since a veteran teacher almost burned down the newly built wing on one of the high schools, and I realize you are trying everything you can to cut costs, up to and including furloughing teachers for six days a year, but COME ON! I'm FREEZING here.

I'm pretty sure God did not put me in the South because he wanted me to freeze to death.

If you want me to retire early, just say so. You don't have to ice me.

Ice Queen aka Bragger

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Feeling Kinda Guilty.....

I'm feeling a little guilty this week that I'm not stressed out and knee-deep in a flurry of activity related to the holidays.

When I taught in the traditional school, this would typically be the week of final exams. Monday through Wednesday would be spent presenting projects, reviewing the semester's material, cramming in last-minute poems we never covered adequately during the course of the semester, and preparing for final exams. Thursday and Friday would in essence be half-days, with exams in the morning and students typically released at lunch. Only the buses wouldn't run, so the kids who didn't drive would be stuck at school with the teachers who were frantically trying to get tests graded, averages calculated, and that damn holiday greeting on the classroom door that got old about a week after Thanksgiving Break removed so it wouldn't be there upon the return to school in January. Oh, and guess which kids don't drive? The very young ones and the thugs. Just the type you want to be stuck at school with on the last two days before Christmas Break.

Now, though, I don't have those worries. While this week IS technically the end of our semester, our students don't take final exams, and if they haven't quite completed a course (or two or four), they just roll over into next semester and finish it in January. Or next August, depending upon the student. If a student is diligent enough to have already completed a course (or four or five, in the cases of REALLY diligent students), he or she has already started on those courses also. That's what I love about the flexibility of our school. With a seat-time waiver, students move on when they finish a course's material, not according to some calendar. (Doesn't that just make sense?) Seniors who finish their courses early don't have to attend school anymore. They just sit home eating Cheetohs and watching bad television and music videos and wait for graduation day to roll around in May.

I don't have the stress of Christmas shopping. At least not to the extent that some people do. Hubby and I don't buy each other gifts anymore, so I don't have to worry about what to get him. And I don't have to worry that he will spend too much on something for me. I've already bought Sweet Girl's presents and sent them home with her, so I don't even have to worry about shipping them in time to get to her house before Christmas. Except for the bajillion little things I keep seeing that I think, "Oh, Sweet Girl would really like that." She was thoughtful (?) enough to bring home her Christmas stocking this weekend, so I will have to ship that to her. (Wouldn't it be a scream if I just sent it to her as empty as when she brought it? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.) Hubby insists that his daughter and granddaughter just want money, and he doesn't even really believe in buying them a trinket in which to wrap the money. He would just hand over the cash right out of his pocket on Christmas morning if I left it up to him. He bought a new air conditioner for his mother back in August or September, and he told her that was her Christmas present. She would be totally fine with it, but we usually buy her a box of candy. One year she commented she would like for SOMEONE to make her a pretty pink sweater, so I stayed up for several nights leading up to Christmas crocheting like mad to finish a sweater, and I've never seen it again. (Forgive me for repeating myself. I know I've told that story before, but I can't remember when, and one or two of you might not have been around back then.) When she took it out of the box on Christmas, she said, "What is this?" Hubby snapped, "It's about ten thousand hours of work is what it is." I love that man.

I don't have much stress associated with Christmas baking, either. Unless I just choose to, which I may do this year. At school Thursday we are going to order box lunches (much less stressful than the traditional potluck lunch, and if our principal had a clue heart she would offer to pay for everyone's lunch, but that is unlikely) and have a goodie swap. I am planning to make some more cake pops (but not in Christmas tree shapes this time), and I may make some crock pot candy. But it's not like I have to spend hours and hours and day upon day in the kitchen baking cookies and treats and cakes and pies and banana bread for endless work/school parties. I can do just as much or as little as I want to. That makes me want to do more. Does that even make sense?

Another thing I don't have to stress about is the issue of family get-togethers. My family doesn't get together for Christmas anymore, so my sisters and I will make the trek to Mom's house next Saturday and have breakfast. Then we will sneak off and REALLY have a good time with just the three of us. Ho ho ho. Hubby's family gathers at his mother's house on Christmas for gift exchanges (children only, and we don't participate) and lunch. In the past his mother has done most of the cooking, but we have slowly taken over that chore and divide it up among us. Even though my mother-in-law lives at the end of our street, we are usually the last ones to arrive and the first ones to go home. I must have been suffering from a slight stroke or something last night, because I suggested to Hubby that if his mother wasn't going to cook, it makes more sense to have the gathering at OUR house, where there is more room for people and parking. He said quickly, "Hell no. At least if we have it at her house we can go home." Good point.

With all this stress-less existence, I shouldn't be dreading the upcoming week so.... dreadfully. I just hope these five days won't drag their little feet.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

By the Numbers......

5 - School days left until Christmas Break.

95 - School days left until retirement.

30,000 - Number of people Katydid and I estimate were in attendance at today's memorial service for Larry Munson, the legendary voice of the Georgia Bulldogs for 42 years.

15 - Seconds of fame I may or may not have acquired by being interviewed by an Atlanta television station before the start of the memorial service.

0 - Number of those seconds I got to see on the news, despite having set my DVR, due to the fact that a football game ran over into the newscast and the DVR wasn't smart enough to keep recording.

99 - Probability out of 100 that I sounded like an idiot on television.

0 - Number of dollars I spent at the UGA bookstore today. Sure I left my purse in the car, but it wasn't THAT far, and I could have easily gone to get it.

84 - Number of dollars on the price tag of a sweater for which I was seriously lusting. At least I couldn't make an impulse purchase.

45 - Minutes I spent on the elliptical today. A Saturday!!

0 - Number of cake pops I ate when I took them to school on Friday.

1,000,000,000 - Brownie points I would like to put in the bank by combining the above two items.

4 - Thanksgiving pounds I still need to lose.

15 - Days until Christmas Day.

1 - Probability out of 100 that I will lose those pounds before Christmas.

17 - Days until Hubby and I go to Atlantic City for our Christmas trip.

0 - Amount of post-Christmas debt Hubby and I will have.

13 - Level I've reached on Angry Birds.

27 - Days until the college gymnastics season begins. Go Gym Dogs! Go Utes!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Favorite Things Friday - Lonesome Dove....

Don't laugh. My favorite television series OF ALL TIME is Lonesome Dove.

I'm not a huge television watcher. Perhaps I've always found it difficult to sit still that long. Unless it's a football game. Or basketball game. Or gymnastics meet that I not only attended in person but I've watched a trillion times already. But whatever.

In a previous wifetime, my ex started talking about some western series that was coming on. I wasn't interested for a variety of reasons. #1 - I hated anything he liked. #2 - I wasn't fond of westerns.

But we only had the one television, so after I f-i-n-a-l-l-y got the kitchen cleaned up, I sat down to read or something mindless while the television droned on in the background. That was the first night.

The second night, I FLEW through post-supper clean-up so I could watch every last second of the masterpiece.

Well, masterpiece might be a little strong. But with a superb cast, wonderful writing, breath-taking scenery, and a captivating story line, it might not be far off the mark. Even the musical score was wonderful.

I had more than a slight crush on Gus, played by Robert Duvall. It is no accident that our dog's name is Gus. that way if I call out his name in my sleep, I won't get in nearly as much trouble.

Tommy Lee Jones played Captain Woodrow Call. If we ever get another dog, his name will be Woodrow, and we'll call him Woody.

Unless he happens to be black, in which case his name will be Deets.

We also had a dog named Newt, who was also a character in the series, played by Ricky Schroeder. He may have just been Rick by then, I'm not sure. He was the son of one of the town... uh... "sporting" ladies, and Gus claimed that Captain Call was Newt's father.

There was a very brief spin-off series with a grown-up Newt who became a bad-ass, and Hubby loved that series. It wasn't played by Ricky/Rick Schroeder, though, so I wasn't as enthralled. I like stories that keep the same actors in the sequels.

Jon Voigt replaced Tommy Lee Jones in Return to Lonesome Dove, and a beautiful young actress I had never seen before played in the sequel. It was only years later that I realized that character had been played by what had to be a very, very, very young Reese Witherspoon.

Gus didn't have to be replaced in the sequel, since he died in the first one. I watch Lonesome Dove every time it comes on (that Hubby will allow me to), and every single time I cry when Gus dies. Hubby says, "He's gonna die EVERY TIME you watch it."

Robert Urich played the part of Jake Spoon, a lovable, lazy gambler and womanizer who is too easily led down the wrong path and must pay the ultimate price.

I don't usually read a book AFTER I've seen the movie, but I did read this one, and there were parts of the movie that were word-for-word from the text of the book. I like that in a movie. The only obvious editing was because it was hard to compress an 833-page book, even into an 8-hour mini-series. I don't usually read book reviews, either, and one that I read AFTER I had finished the book summed up my feelings exactly. It said something along the lines of, "I've never been so angry with an author as I was with Larry McMurtry for stopping after a mere 833 pages." Or however many pages the book had.

Hubby and I are convinced McMurtry had someone else write Lonesome Dove for him, because we've read tried to read other books by the same author, and they're downright painful. If he DIDN'T have someone else write it, he used up all his creativity on that one book and couldn't replicate the quality. Ever again.

I don't have this mini-series on DVD, but it's one I would watch again and again if I did. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Weekend Plans.....

I have a busy weekend ahead, but busy in a good way.

Sweet Girl is coming home again. I know, right? She doesn't come home for a year or more at a time, and here she is just two weeks later. She wants to go to the memorial service for Larry Munson, the voice of the Georgia Bulldogs for over 40 years. That will also include the requisite visit to the Varsity, home of the frosted orange and the world's greasiest chili dogs and french fries. We may also make a trip to the UGA Bookstore (always a dangerous proposition) and run by Michael's for more cake pop supplies.

Tomorrow night (Sweet Girl doesn't know this yet - surprise!) we are going to a high school basketball game. One of my students is one of the leading scorers, and I promised her I would come to a game this season. She made a buzzer-beating 3-point shot this past Tuesday night. These plans are completely contingent upon my NOT throttling her in class tomorrow, if her behavior on Tuesday is any indication of a typical game day. I finally emailed her coach and asked if she could just STAY HOME the next time she has a game.

Sunday afternoon I plan to attend a baby shower for sweet Baby Luke, who now weighs in at a whopping four pounds and will likely come home long before his original due date of January 4th. Having him home before Christmas would probably be the best gift his sweet parents could ever wish for.

Too cold for cycling anyway. I'm going into withdrawal because it's been 11 days since I've been on my bike. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Love Him (or Her) Like a Dog.....

Not that I should be giving advice about marriage to ANYONE, but I have boiled the secret to a happy marriage down to one simple concept:

Don't get married unless you love that person like a dog.

A dog is never in a bad mood. You can leave him for hours and hours, and when you get home he is thrilled to see you again. He doesn't pout that you left him, he just wants to be scratched behind the ears and allowed to lick your hand.

You can go so far as to leave a dog at a kennel or a mother-in-law's house for as long as a week, and even though you might feel guilty while you're gone, he will not punish you with the silent treatment or beg for souvenirs when you get home. He will love you just as much as if you just returned from the grocery store.

A dog never rolls his eyes or makes faces behind your back. He might not get your jokes, but he does listen, and he never scoffs or insults you. He will fetch the ball just as many times as you will throw it, and if you hide it from him because you're tired, he will forgive you.

A dog will curl up beside you and doze happily, but he will also jump up and follow you to the bathroom or the kitchen or the basement or outside every single time, and he won't act all pissed off because you woke him up.

A dog doesn't mind if you gain a few pounds, and he won't notice if you lose a few. He loves you just the way you are. He appreciates your cooking no matter WHAT it is, and he will do a little dance for something special like a piece of cheese.

A dog wants nothing more than to hear your voice speaking in sweet tones.

Until a person can feel like a dog toward another human being, he or she shouldn't get married. Until you can be just as happy to see the other person at the end of a long day as you are after a long separation, don't even bother tying the knot.

I'm only sorry it took me so long (and so many tries) to find someone who still makes my tail wag even after 15 years.

And it isn't even our anniversary.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Things I've Learned This Week....And It's Only Tuesday....

  • If you forget to stop at your usual store for the newspaper on Monday because the communists cheapskates people who own the newspaper won't deliver Monday's paper until Tuesday, it will take you three more stores to find one that actually carries that paper.
  • Even in a small town (or perhaps especially in a small town), you can't leave school at 3:00 and get all the way across town for a doctor's appointment at 3:20.
  • If you pay attention to the appointment sheet the receptionist gives you at your LAST appointment, you might notice that the 4:00 appointment you requested is actually at 3:20, and you might notice it earlier than the day before said appointment when you have a jillion conflicts.
  • Rushing out of school and stressing because you are afraid you will be late for a 3:20 doctor's appointment almost guarantees that the doctor will come into the exam room at 4:20. And stay for four minutes. And forget to give you the very prescription for a nasal spray she recommended. And tell you to come back in six months. And you won't call back, because the communists cheapskates doctor's office charges $10 for the phone call and $5 for the additional prescription. 
  • If you don't look at it very often, you won't obsess about the fact that some of your Christmas tree lights blink and some don't. 
  • If the only thing you can have before they draw blood at the doctor's office is black coffee, it is possible to suck it up and drink it black. 
  • A boob job for a seventeen-year-old costs $5700.
  • If you mention to your Hubby that you plan to drive to Alabama for a gymnastics meet in January, he will decide that is close enough to Mississippi to warrant a trip to the casino and offer to drop you off. He will then proceed to invite as many of his buddies as he thinks will fit into your SUV.
  • Going back to Zumba class after an absence of more than a month isn't painful at all, and you will remember most of the dances. Eventually.
  • Having chili for dinner right before going back to Zumba class will add an entirely new dimension of difficulty to some of the required moves. 
  • If you transfer money from savings to Hubby's checking account to cover the cost of car tag renewals because all $642 worth of them come due on Hubby's January 1st birthday, you will later receive an email informing you that the insurance on said vehicles, also $600, is also due on January 1st. Merry Christmas.
  • Deciding to wear off-white slacks to school is best done BEFORE you put on those cute panties with the flower print. Unless you just LIKE getting dressed twice.
  • Wearing off-white slacks to school is fine, unless you decide you will try to drink a cup of coffee while you walk down the hall. It has been proven that you can't walk and drink. Remember that cup of wine you tried to drink while walking from the tailgating lot to the stadium? Yeah, that.
  • Having Angry Birds on your iPhone is not a good idea.

Monday, December 5, 2011


I hate dealing with insurance. Car insurance, house insurance, medical insurance, life insurance, all of it just makes my head spin. I don't understand a lot of it, and because I don't understand it, I feel stupid, and if there's anything I hate in this world, it's feeling stupid.

I don't know if it's the same everywhere, but in our county the open enrollment for insurance is a big old pain in the butt. And it changes every year. A couple of times they sent a representative out to meet with each and every employee just to make sure we clicked all the clicks and checked all the checks and boxed all the boxes. This year we had to go it alone, but it seemed a fairly simple process. I did mine early (like always), but there was a wave of panic as the deadline approached. Then the system crashed, the deadline was extended, and I ignored most of those emails. Then we got an email saying that even if we thought we had finished the enrollment we might not have done everything required, and I got paranoid. I emailed our secretary and asked her how we would know, and she said they would send a follow-up email and she would let us know.

I never heard anything, and I confirmed (at least to myself) that I had printed two different confirmations. But I still worried (am still worrying) that I might have made a mistake and both Hubby and I would be without insurance for the coming year. Maybe it's because in the past Hubby has provided his own insurance, but now that he's retired it's all on me.

Hubby and I have to fill out an online health survey in order to get some extra money put in our flexible spending account. And since I just had to pay one-half of an almost-thousand-dollar crown (in my mouth, not on my head where it belongs), I need all the flexible spending dollars I can get. The online health survey was a challenge all by itself! First I couldn't figure out how to set up a profile for Hubby, so I called Customer Service rather than get frustrated. Naturally as soon as I had a real live human being on the phone, it worked beautifully and I felt stupid. Again.

I had to start taking medicine to lower my cholesterol, and it's expensive. But I got a handy-dandy little $4 copay card from my doctor, which lowered my cost to only $61.76!!!! I'm not exactly sure where the $4 comes in. I called the pharmaceutical company, and they said there is a cap of $50 on that card, which they paid, otherwise I would have had to pay $111.76. What a bargain! It makes no senses to me whatsoever.

Don't even get me started on deductibles, copay amounts, allowed expenses, and all that jazz.

I need another college degree just to figure out the insurance needs in my household. I'd rather do our income taxes every single month than deal with insurance.

Maybe I should have chosen a less stress-inducing blog topic. I have to go to the doctor tomorrow.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

My First Cake Pops.....

The Book Man comes to our school every couple of months ago and leaves a selection of stuff for us to peruse. We can fill out an order form, leave a check in the big brown envelope, and then several days later, just like magic, some student who happens to be in the office (yeah, you want THOSE folks running errands for you) will bring you a stack of whatever you ordered. Odds are you may have forgotten in the span of those few days just what the heck you ordered. Or why. Odds are even greater that you may purchase crap that doesn't even fall into the category of "books." But whatever.

Last time the Book Man came, I ordered this jewel.

I got carried away looking at the pictures and didn't even notice that the author is Bakerella, someone whose work has been featured on the Pioneer Woman's blog from time to time. If I remember correctly, Bakerella went to Pioneer Woman's lodge and made some cake pops. But I may have made that up. I'm kinda tired.

When I saw the book I wasn't even sure I was going to keep it for myself. I thought it might make a good gift, or something I could put in the store at next year's Nash Bash. The fact that I'm not a kitchen diva has been well documented here. With research and everything.

But the cake pops sounded so easy, and they looked so irresistibly cute, that I decided I would attempt some on my own. And it wasn't enough just to make them; I volunteered to bring some to school as rewards for students who haven't pissed us off as much as the rest of them have have shown success in coursework, standardized testing, or attendance.

There were several designs with a Christmas theme, but I decided on the Christmas trees. I really liked the Santa hats, but they required TWICE the dipping and two different colors, and I didn't want to push my luck. (You can find those on Bakerella's site. They're adorable.)

They weren't a total disaster, but you may notice (if you can see past the glare of the reflection from the treat bags) that I only decorated a few of them. It was tedious work, and it was taking me about 5 minutes to decorate each tree, not counting the time I spent looking on the floor for the #$*!#$ microscopic sprinkles I was trying to use as decorations. At 9:30 I said "screw it" and left the majority of the trees naked.

I apologize that the pictures aren't better. I didn't take the time to photograph each step of the process, and I only had my point-and-shoot handy.

It wasn't very difficult to make them, but it is an all-day project. (Note to self: Beginning this little adventure at 4:00 PM probably isn't the best plan.) One thing that bothers me about making cake pops is the waste. You have to melt enough candy coating to dip the entire cake pop at one time, so that means there is a lot left. I guess I could have saved it and used it again, but I didn't think I would need any dark green candy coating any time soon.

I may make some cake pops again, but I think I'll stick with something round and simple. Smiley faces. Basketballs.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Adolescent Behavior is Contagious.....

Subtitle: I Should Be Ashamed of Myself

I think I mentioned a while back that Hubby bought a new car. I told him he didn't need something with 140 mph on the speedometer, and he said he wouldn't go any faster than 130.

Every time we go out to eat now, we go in his car. But he has usually been playing golf (read: drinking beer) all day, so he allows me to drive.

And he always says, "Punch it." "Floor it." Or something equally juvenile.

I tell him I'm not going to drive fast because I'm a wimp and afraid of getting a speeding ticket. (I've only had one in my life, when I was 18 and driving to Daytona Beach and I cried for the whole three days I was there over a $25 speeding ticket.)

Last night we went to the one town I don't like to go between Thanksgiving and Christmas because all the shoppers come out and bring three cars each and clog up the streets. Even after the students go home for Christmas, traffic is still a nightmare during the holiday season.

Let me go on record here and say I am NOT one of those people who exhibits road rage. I may get irritated, I may sometimes allow other drivers to get somewhat under my skin, but I am not an aggressive driver. I don't use the horn (much) or the middle finger (hardly ever), and if I think another driver is annoyed with ME, I don't make eye contact.

One thing that DOES get on my nerves, though, is when a driver insists on driving in the left lane. The major road between the college town and our town is not a controlled-access highway, so sometimes it's necessary for people to turn left, but there is no sense in people getting in that left lane and clogging up the lane for everyone else.

When I FINALLY got around a car that was cruising along at just under the speed limit in the left lane, Hubby said, "Smoke him."

(That's another of his favorites.)

And I did.

I punched it, and that Challenger took off like somebody had just counted down to a space shuttle liftoff. I was then in the right lane and gaining (rapidly) on another car, so I pulled out to pass it too. Then I realized it was a Mustang.

And I channeled my inner Hubby and smoked him too.

I am a wimp, though, so as soon as I saw his taillights in the mirror, I eased off the accelerator. Hubby said, "What did you get up, 100?"

I glanced at the speedometer and saw it sweep past 100 mph ON THE WAY BACK DOWN.

"Yeah," I replied.

Since I had my laser eye surgery only on one eye, I have these special glasses I'm supposed to wear when I drive at night. I can't find them.

What an idiot.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Favorite Things Friday - Favorite Snack.....

For this particular Favorite Things Friday, I am VERY glad that Sweet Girl is an adult. Otherwise the child protection folks might get their hands on this and come take her away from me.

I'm going to post something in this blog that is my favorite snack, and I don't think even my SISTERS know about it. Hubby certainly doesn't. It's one of those things I only eat in secret, because it's too bizarre for anyone in my closest circles to know.

Except for you, my dear reader(s). I feel confident enough in our relationship that I can reveal something to you that I tell no one else.

One of my favorite snacks in the world is a.....

....Catalina sandwich.

As in Catalina salad dressing. On bread. Nothing else. Except maybe that really thick BBQ bread (the kind you tear apart, not the already-sliced kind).

Preferably the entirely-bad-for-you white bread, the fresher the better.

It's actually better if you only eat one piece (at a time) and put the dressing on it and FOLD IT OVER (that's a story from my brother's childhood that I'll share with you sometime, but it loses a lot in print).

I don't know how I happened upon this particular snack. We must have been REALLY low on groceries.

I'm sure I wouldn't try this with other salad dressings, even though when we were children it wasn't uncommon for us to have mayonnaise sandwiches for snack. Except we didn't use mayo, we used Miracle Whip. I guess I made the "salad dressing" jump and decided it didn't just have to be THAT kind of salad dressing.

Can't picture it with thousand island dressing. Or ranch. Especially not Italian... ewwwwwwww!

But a Catalina sandwich is the ultimate comfort food. I haven't had one in a while (until I prepared one specifically for this blog), since we only have whole-grain bread in our house, and the Catalina these days is fat-free.

It just isn't the same.

Plain old white bread would be SO much better, but whatever.

Just pour the Catalina right on. Be careful, or it will ooze out the side. And you may just be wearing a crisp white blouse. I'm just sayin'.

Slap the two pieces of bread together. Best accompanied by a cold glass of milk. Whole would be best, but 1% will suffice.
Please don't judge me for the weirdness of my snack choices. I also have some other favorites that aren't quite so weird, like graham crackers with peanut butter and microwave popcorn.

I feel better having confessed to all of you. Happy weekend!

Thursday, December 1, 2011


I promise you I am NOT one of those high-maintenance women. I typically dress for comfort (but try to look nice at the same time) rather than paying much attention to fashion. If I'm not careful, I will continue wearing the same articles of clothing for years, completely oblivious of the fact that they have long gone out of fashion. (Aside: Did you know that the correct expression is "oblivious of...." and not "oblivious to....."? I learned that in my doctoral program. Money well spent, I should think.)

I had a co-worker several years ago who was known for making some of the tackiest comments known to man. I don't THINK she was deliberately trying to be mean; she just didn't think before the words came out of her mouth. Example: One morning we were both getting out of our cars at the same time, and she said to me, "Oh, I used to have a dress like that. Every now and then I start to wear it, and then I tell myself, 'Susan, that dress is way out of style now.'"

I had three or four dresses in the same style, and I went home and put them ALL in the goodwill pile. And I liked them! But I could never wear them again without thinking of her thoughtless remark.

And that's another thing. When I find something I like, it's not unheard of for me to have two (or more) of the same item in different colors. I may not even buy them all at the same time. When I was shopping for clothes at the beginning of the school year, I didn't intentionally buy three satin-looking tunic-length blouses that are only slightly different in the design. One is purple, one is red, and one is brown. Yesterday there was a wonderful sale at the ONLY department store our little bitty town has, so I stopped in after school with my additional 25% off elite shopping pass. Yes, I realize I was suckered. I found some adorable boots (can't figure out why I've been on a boot kick lately, but there it is...sorry, pun not intended) and couldn't decide whether to buy them in brown or black. I stood there for the longest time, considering my wardrobe and what would look good with the boots. I have some new brown slacks, so I eventually bought them in brown, and I wore them to school today.

After school I stopped in the same store and bought the same boots. In black. And a pink sweater with sequins on it. I am neither a pink girl nor a sequin girl, but there you have it. Perhaps I am trying to transform myself?

The good news is that once this binge is over, I am unlikely to buy any more clothes until the spring. Good credit card thinks a nuclear meltdown has occurred.