Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Timing is Everything.....

Hubby went to the golf course today, not one of his regular golfing days, but a day of the week, so it qualified. We had spent the morning doing chores and taking the RV to be worked on (AGAIN!!!!), so I was perfectly content for him to go. Happy even. Ecstatic. Euphoric. Blissful. I would love to tell you that I used the time doing something productive, but it would be a lie.

When he walked in the door, he said, "I've left my phone somewhere." It's not the first time that has happened. We've had to make trips back to the golf course to retrieve his phone from the golf cart. We've found it between the seat and the console in his truck. He was convinced he had left it in the cart again, and he said Bart would have gotten it for him.

"Call my phone," he said, "and tell Bart I'll come get it."

I called his phone, not at all certain Bart would have gotten it, or even that it wasn't sitting in the seat of his truck. It rang a couple of times, and I was shocked when someone answered.

"Is this [Hubby's] phone?" I joked, thinking it was Bart.

"Uh.....I guess so," said a voice I didn't recognize. "I just found it in the road. At the corner of Highway 11 and Punkin Junction."

Yes, sadly, there is a road named Punkin Junction in our town. Not PUMPKIN Junction, mind you, but Punkin Junction. It's one of my favorite cycling roads, and Rozmo likes to ride on it just so she can say the name.

Punkin Junction. Punkin Junction. Punkin Junction. Hard to say three times fast. Pretty hard to type. Copy/paste works well, though.

Apparently Hubby put the phone either on the bumper of his truck or the little running-board-type thingie, and it made it about a mile and a half before it fell off. And just as a guy saw it and stopped to pick it up, I called the number.

The guy waited for Hubby to come back and get it, and Hubby didn't even give him a reward! I guess people shouldn't really be rewarded for doing the right thing.

I wonder if he would have kept the phone if I hadn't called it......

Monday, May 30, 2011

What a Waste of Energy....And Sleep.....

I went to bed angry last night. Angrier than I've been in a long time.

Sledgehammer-smashing-things angry.

And no, it wasn't at Hubby. Although his snoring didn't help any at all, when I was so angry I couldn't even go to sleep.

I kept telling myself, "Let it go, Bragger, there's nothing you can do about it. Just let it go."

But I couldn't let it go. And I couldn't go to sleep. I tossed. I turned. Then I tossed AND turned. I kicked the cover off, I put the cover back on. I kicked the.... I think you get the picture.

Right after I finished last night's blog topic, in which I was so smug about having had the forethought to back up my computer's hard drive because I was afraid it was going to crash, I started looking for a certain picture of Gus that I had been using as my desktop background. Because ever since a certain UGA gymnast disappointed me (again and again and again and again, and I'm not even her coach), I have had Gus on my computer instead.

I hooked up the external hard drive onto which I had so cleverly backed up everything on my laptop, and I couldn't find the picture. Then I realized the folder names looked weird.

Those weren't the pictures from my laptop. They were pictures from the network, stored on Hubby's computer. The ones I still had. Now I had two copies of them. And none of the ones on my laptop, which is more or less every picture I've taken in the last five years.

Gone. The whole kit and kaboodle. Along with every single document on the laptop. I started wondering just what documents were ON the laptop, and then I tried to make myself stop wondering, because I didn't want to know. I didn't want to know what I had lost. Sort of like I heard a man the other night describing losing everything in a house fire. He said even though it was three years ago, every now and then he would still wonder, "Where's that shirt?......... Oh yeah." (He also said his house burning down was the best thing that ever happened to him, and it made me wonder just how sucky IS his life?)

I seriously pictured coming downstairs and taking a hammer to the laptop that I just paid a little over $200 to get repaired. Actually, Hubby paid for it, because he's that kind of guy, but it's the same principle. I stewed. I fretted. I called myself names. I wondered how I could be so stupid. I ...... I think you get the picture.

I tried to tell myself that losing the pictures wasn't the end of the world. In the words of one of my oh-so-wise sisters (and I can't even remember which one said it), just because I didn't have the pictures didn't mean the memories didn't happen.

But still.

And I thought I had been so cautious.

I told Hubby about it this morning, even though I hesitate to tell him things that I think make me look stupid. He sympathized, but he's not terribly savvy about computing and backing things up and downloading and so forth, but he does know sledgehammers. He was terribly glad I didn't go that route, because it would have awakened him.

Then I sat down at the laptop and started scrolling through the folders that WERE there, trying to see where I had gone wrong.

The pictures were there the whole time. IN ADDITION TO the pictures from the network, which appeared first, which is why I thought the laptop pictures weren't there. Along with all the documents, which, upon further inspection, wouldn't have been that great a loss. It's not like I had the Great American Novel on the laptop. Or even my dissertation.

Not that I can open any of the documents, since my copy of Microsoft Office got wiped out.

But it's a comfort to know they're there.

I still couldn't find the particular picture of Gus (it's probably in a folder of gymnastics pictures, because that's the way I roll). But it's there somewhere, and I WILL find it.

I should get tons of sleep tonight. If sleep were measured in tons.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Challenge of the Centuries Sunday......

I was wrong about us riding the 40-mile route today, since there WAS no 40-mile route. There was a 34-miler, but we cut off a couple of miles at the beginning to avoid the twists and turns of riding through town. (We had already done that at the end of yesterday's ride anyway.) Therefore our ride for today wound up being only 30 miles, but as Rozmo said, "We did a century over the whole weekend." This was one of those rare occasions when I could have ridden more, but I also wanted to get home. I was away this weekend, and our anniversary is tomorrow. In addition, I will be gone part of EVERY SINGLE WEEKEND in the month of June.

Rozmo and I rode into the first rest stop today on the tail of a 4-man paceline. We don't do that very often, mainly because it's rare that we can keep up. It's also rude just to jump onto a paceline, but this time the guys who came around us knew Rozmo, so they invited us to jump on. I don't know if they were taking it easy on us or what, but I had to keep hitting the brakes to avoid getting out of line. What's up with THAT? It is very cool riding in a paceline, though. Everyone moving at the same speed, movements almost synchronized. It does carry a whole new set of responsibilities, though. Riders in a paceline are so close together that you are expected to point out hazards along the road. And the person in the back (me, in this case) is obligated to alert the others when a car is approaching from the rear by yelling, "Car back!" We're supposed to do that anyway, but it's especially important in a paceline.

The rest stops this weekend were manned by Boy Scout troops, and they were on their very best behavior. They showed excellent manners and even gave recommendations as to which cookies were best. The water and Powerade were cold, and the Powerade was mixed very well. Not too strong, not too weak.

When I got to the ride location on Friday night, I had some time to kill before riding to Mom's house. So I cleaned the RV. I cleaned the bathroom, the shower, the stove (which I did NOT intend to use). I tried to vacuum, but I don't have the attachments, and it was too hard to crawl around on the floor with a hand-held vacuum. It occurred to me as I was cleaning that I was doing way more than I usually do at home. Of course, it was also much less area to clean.

My laptop is back, a little more than $200 later, and I'm trying not to think about all I lost. They had to replace the hard drive and reinstall Windows, so I lost everything that was on there. Luckily I had backed up my documents and pictures (I thought - turns out I only backed up the pictures), so I can restore those. I hope there were no vital documents on my hard drive. I hope I did the right thing by having it repaired; it may have been better just to buy a new one.

This time next week we will be in Atlanta for the beginning of BRAG. It's hard to believe it's finally here.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Challenge of the Centuries Saturday..............

Today's route choices were 37 miles, which turned out to be 40; 65 miles, which turned out to be 68; or 100 miles, which .... you guessed it ..... turned out to be 103. Or so says the skinny girl climbing the last hill with me, right before I stuck a hot poker in her eye. I mean her tire.

Rozmo and I chose the 68-mile route, mainly because she didn't have a gun big enough to make me do the century. The name of the century ride was "Assault on Dick's Hill," and I've learned enough over the years to know I don't want to ride anything with "assault" or "hill" in the title. I also remember a time BEFORE I learned those things when Katydid and I attempted said assault. I distinctly remember throwing my bike in a ditch and saying, "I'm not going anymore."

The ride was really good. It was overcast most of the day, so I didn't even have to wear sunglasses until about mile 46 or so. We rode along for a while with a guy and girl I've known for years. Rozmo was chatting with Fred, and I was talking to Debi while we rode. That made the miles fly by, and then an amazing thing happened. I rode off and left Debi in my dust. Please alert the media.

My average would have been 15 mph, except Rozmo and I took a detour right there at the end and rode into town. I needed earplugs, and Rozmo needed the nice round number of 70 miles. Hey Rozmo - look at the 6 and the 8. They're both ROUND!!!!! Sixty-eight miles would STILL have been a round number!!

Rozmo went to her parents' house, and I came into the cool comfort of the RV. It was wonderful having my own shower. I took a nap, texted back and forth with Hubby and the Warrior Princess, ate some of the three hundred pounds of pasta salad I brought. I just had Froot Loops and Corn Pops for dessert. Now I'm waiting for the Braves game to come on, to which I can only LISTEN, since the unfortunate demise of our RV television.

We are planning to ride the 40-miler tomorrow. I hope the weather cooperates again.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Thumb Blogging.......

Blogging with my thumbs tonight, so it will probably be a short one. You're welcome. I'm on a bike ride, and my laptop is in rehab. I'm about 67 miles from home, and I drove right past my mom's (and brother's) house on the way. In fact, I'm on the SAME road, just about 15 miles from them. So even though the ride doesn't start until tomorrow, when I got here today I jumped on my bike and rode to mom's. I visited for a while, then my brother brought me back. Good thing, since it was getting dark.

Katydid didn't get to come this weekend, and I miss her. But I understand completely. Rozmo will ride tomorrow and Sunday, but her folks live nearby, so she is staying with them.

I don't eat out alone, so I made some pasta salad to bring with me. I never make pasta salad the same way. I throw in a little of this, a little of that. Suffice it to say that I could probably supply every rider here with pasta salad.

Forgive me for any wonky formatting. This is a tiny platform for blogging. Please, laptop, get well soon.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Funeral, a Bike Ride, and a Stuffing Party......

It's almost beyond imaginable that one could cram a funeral, a bike ride, and a stuffing party all into one day. It's beyond imaginable that anyone would WANT to.

What on earth is a "stuffing party" you say? Ah.... for that you'll have to read to the end of the blog. But I promise it won't be a long one, because I'm beat.

The funeral was for someone I didn't know, but was the mother of a dear friend. It may be the first funeral I've been to in which quotes from Mel Brooks and Woody Allen were used. I hope I can have those at my funeral. I do know that I want my funeral to end with a rousing UGA cheer. "Gooooooooooooo Dawgs! Sick 'em! Woof woof woof woof woof woof." The funeral was about an hour away, near Rozmo's house, at 11:00 this morning. It was also very close to the location for the stuffing party, which was to take place at 4:30. I didn't want to drive an hour home and turn around and drive back, which is how the bicycle ride got thrown in the mix. Rozmo and I took a little bitty ride (just over 20 miles - but it put me over the 1000 mile mark for this year - go me!) and had lunch in Stone Mountain Village.

For those of you who have never visited Stone Mountain, put it on your list if you are ever in the Atlanta area. It's certainly worth the trip. I would put a picture here for you, but I'm honestly too tired. Google it - you won't be sorry. When Sweet Girl was first stationed in Florida, one of her buddies from elsewhere in the country came up to the Atlanta area for a weekend. She came back telling Sweet Girl, "There's this HUGE ROCK! And it just COMES UP OUT OF THE GROUND!" Hmmm.... I wonder if she even noticed the ginormous carving on it that took about a gazillion years to complete? Sweet Girl told her, "Yeah, that's about 30 minutes from my house." That was before the traffic increased a zillionfold.

The stuffing party is a misnomer for a tedious chore that must be done every year. It involves stuffing the goodie bags for BRAG riders. We stuff them with route maps (most important), a key chain with this year's route on it, a luggage tag, miscellaneous applications for other bicycle rides, samples of energy bars, a coupon for said energy bars, and a little plastic ziplock bag with a business card-type thing for a lawyer. His card says something about cycling and lawyering. I've never needed a lawyer in connection with my bicycling activities, but I can't say for sure that I never WILL, so I guess I'll hang on to his card.

The stuffing "party" involves volunteers handing materials down in an assembly-line fashion. I usually get frustrated because they refuse to do it MY WAY, and/or I'm next to someone who is slow and/or incompetent. Not that I'm judging, mind you. This year, though, I wound up at the end, putting the entire package into the plastic bags and then throwing them into a box. I only had to chastise the man next to me three times because he handed me an incomplete stack. He forgot to wait for the first part of the line to hand him that half of the package before he handed it off to me. The part he left out was the route maps, arguably the most important part of the entire bag. They did give us pizza, though, and I guess any night I don't have to cook dinner can be considered a party.

This was my first official day off, and even with all I had to do today, I had the luxury of sleeping in. What time did I wake up?

5:22.

I clearly have some reprogramming to do.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sometimes "I Told You So" is All You CAN Say......

Right after Hubby retired, he continued as a temp worker with Pepsi to tie up some loose ends for them. I thought he was NEVER going to stop working. He couldn't turn down the extra money, and as he said, the work wasn't that hard.

Then he REALLY retired, and life was groovy. [Please shoot me. Or tell me I did NOT just use the word "groovy."] The temp agency called again (I think they know exactly how long to wait before he'll forget), and he said, "Oh, it's only for two weeks. I could use the extra money. Blah... blah... blah..." He did that for a few days, hated it, called the temp agency and said he couldn't do all that heavy lifting, and he retired again.

Then someone from Pepsi called a few months after THAT and said they could use some help with blah blah blah blah, and he said, "Oh, it's only for two weeks. I could use the extra money. Blah... blah... blah..." He hated it from the first minute. He did NOT want to get up every morning, he did NOT want to have to follow a schedule, and he did NOT want to do what other people told him to do. He called in sick on his last day. He didn't even call in sick when he worked full time. Never.

He told me after that episode that it was my job to remind him, just in case they ever called him again (which I doubted, since he turned out to be a horrible hourly employee after he retired from being an excellent regular employee), that he did NOT need extra money that badly, and that he did NOT want to work. Even temporarily.

Fast forward to just a couple of weeks ago. Hubby called me at school and said, "I'm going back to work." Because it was my duty, I said, "You TOLD me to tell you...."

I think you can see where this is going. He said, "Oh, it's only for two weeks. I could use the extra money to pay for the golf trip to the mountains. Blah... blah... blah..."

He came home griping about the work on the very first day. He was simply following one of the regular route guys around and helping him do his job. Then they decided Hubby could be the man in charge of doing all the convenience store resets, since he knows his stuff so well. Your average temp worker? Not so much.

Hubby told them he didn't want to do that either. Tomorrow is his last day.

He told me to remind him, I reminded him, and it did no good. Guess how sympathetic I've been?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

To Tell or Not to Tell......

I didn't plan to schedule these two things back to back, since they aren't related at all. The titles lend themselves to one another, though, and it beats having to come up with something intelligent coherent reasonable interesting intriguing thought-provoking for a blog topic.

There is a woman who attends the same Zumba class(es) I do on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She is very attractive (not that has anything to do with this story) and very fit (believe it or not, neither does that.)

She often brings her young daughter to class with her. I would guess the daughter is around seven or eight years old. She's precious, but she has a weird haircut. It's one of those asymmetrical hairdos that look good on some people, but it looks a little strange on a little girl. That has nothing to do with this story either.

Sometimes the girl dances with us; sometimes she sits and watches. I think she takes gymnastics before the Zumba class, so she's probably too tired to dance much. What am I thinking..... little girls don't even get tired.

A couple of weeks ago, the little girl had on a cute little skirt with flip flops. She was sitting on the floor facing the dancers, and she was sitting with one leg tucked up under her and the other knee up in the air.

She was very close to me, because I try to position myself on the front row. I have to be able to see the instructor's feet, and most women try to hide in the back anyway. There are no mirrors in the gym where we take Zumba, and that also has nothing to do with this story.

The disturbing part of this story (that I'm beginning to regret wasting your time with) is not that the girl was showing her underwear by sitting that way.

It's that she wasn't wearing ANY underwear.

I tried very hard not to look at her, but I mean she was RIGHT THERE. Her mom was dancing next to me, and I kept waiting for her to say something to the little girl about the way she was sitting. But apparently the mom didn't notice. Or it was okay for her daughter to show her privates to the class.

Should it have bothered me? Am I a pervert because I noticed? Am I a pervert because it bothered me?

Granted, there are mostly women in the class, and I would venture to say that most of us are moms. But there are occasionally men in Zumba too.... and does that matter? Should it?

I don't mean to imply that I was OFFENDED by the sight of the little girl, and despite the title of this blog post, I certainly didn't entertain the thought of saying anything to the girl's mother. But should SOMEONE have? Is this just a sign of our increasingly phobic times? I mean, this wouldn't have caught anyone's attention in years gone by, and now I've devoted an entire blog post to it.

I'm sure one of those folks in the Atlanta area with the new ordinance against breast feeding in public would have a field day with it.

Monday, May 23, 2011

To Ask or Not to Ask.....

I am in a bit of a quandary.

We mercifully received only two graduation invitations this year, one from Hubby's great-niece, and one from our "godson."

I realize I'm now using the word "mercifully" almost as much as I use "apparently," "clearly," and "realize."

Money is about the only graduation gift we ever give, and even though I know it isn't wise, I almost always mail cash. I mailed both cards from school early last week, dropping them in the outgoing basket in the front office for the mail lady to pick up. (I mean the basket is for outgoing mail, not that it's a basket with a lot of personality.)

I haven't heard from either of the graduates, and I'm nervous. I don't want to call or email either of them (or, in the godson's case, his mother) to ask if they received the cards, because I don't want it to sound like I should have received a thank-you note by now. But I also don't want them to think I didn't send anything to acknowledge their graduations. Especially not the godson.

I'll give it a couple more days. I may be having lunch with the Warrior Princess tomorrow, so I'll ask her if I get a chance. She will not be offended if I explain. Is it too soon to ask? What if they didn't receive the cards? Do I shell out the cash again and consider it a lesson learned? In the words of Pooh, "Oh bother......"

In the meantime, I just have to share this photo of the godson from his girlfriend's prom. They went with a group, and someone took a picture of the gentlemen picking their dates up. Because he just had a screw or two put in his elbow, however, godson was unable to pick his girl up.

They had a solution for that. Aren't they gorgeous?

Rest assured, this is no little boy. He's an ATHLETE, for Pete's sake. I don't want to mess with this girl!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Agro Cycle Tour.......

The bike ride Rozmo and I did yesterday was quite different from the ones we usually do. This one featured an organic farm, a small-scale biodiesel plant, a free range poultry farm, and another farm very near the bridge I jumped off on my seventeenth birthday. They reportedly also featured some old-fashioned arts and crafts skills, but by that point we didn't hang around long. All the stops involved going down long gravel roads and spending 30-40 minutes for a tour or mini-lecture. It was fascinating information, but it was also 91 degrees. We didn't get back for "lunch" until 3:45. Lunch was provided by a restaurant in Athens that features organic food, and it was delicious. We had our choice of an Italian sandwich with salami or a veggie sandwich with hummus. I'm not a huge hummus fan, but I like salami even less, so I chose the veggie option. It was a very pleasant surprise. I may deign to eat hummus again, maybe during my 7-day vegetarian stint.

The ride intersected with several other rides we have done lately, including this one, this one, and this one. We had to be very careful to follow the correct arrows on the road. To add to the confusion, yesterday was also the MS 150 ride from Atlanta to Athens, only their route was going in the opposite direction. The riders on that route were very confused, and they kept asking us, "Do we turn around and go back?" We said about a gazillion times that we were on a different ride. One of OUR riders turned the wrong way out of a rest stop and got on the MS route. (It pays to read route maps once in a while, people.) At the first stop, the biodiesel facility, one group of "hot dog" riders refused to go to the plant because they didn't want to go down the gravel driveway. So they went on instead of turning in. Which meant they didn't see the sign on the way OUT of the driveway telling them to go back the way they came instead of continuing on. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. They had an 80-mile ride instead of a 60-mile one, and I don't feel sorry for them at all. #1 - Follow the markings on the road. #2 - Don't be too proud to get a route map and.... USE IT.

As Rozmo said, I'm glad I did this ride, but I don't think it will become a yearly event. It was interesting to do once, and it was a much smaller ride than we're used to doing, but it required a much greater time investment than I am willing to make, especially when it's so hot late in the day. 



I apologize for the lack of pictures. I forgot my camera (again!) and had to take pictures with my iPhone. Better than nothing......but not much. I emailed them to myself about 30 minutes ago, but they haven't arrived yet. Why does it take so much longer when I'm on a wireless network than it does when I'm on 3G? They only have to travel across the living room, not to a satellite and back. It's very perplexing. I can't hook my iPhone up to the computer because my laptop is dead, and I don't want to synch it with this computer. I realize that's way more information than you needed. (Just an excuse to complain?)

All in all, this has been a fabulous weekend. Friday night I bought some things for the kayak trip, yesterday was the bike ride, last night we went to the low country boil (but headed home around 9:00, when my eyelids started drooping), this morning Hubby and I rode our motorcycles to a town about 30 minutes away to have breakfast, and this afternoon I got in the pool for the first time. I can't say I "swam," since it was still a little chilly, but I floated around and listened to the Braves lose to the Angels. I hate interleague play even when we win.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Too Tired to Think......

My mind isn't blank tonight, so I won't resort to the lame-o tactic I used earlier this week.

I am exhausted, though, and it's waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay past my bedtime, so I'll fill you in on the details of my day tomorrow. I'm sure you will wait with bated breath.

Rozmo and I did the bike ride today, and it was unlike any other ride I've ever done. Not JUST because it should have taken four hours and instead took seven. Story at eleven.

Hubby, who usually cares not a whit about what I write in my blog, wants me to tell you that he shot his career round on the golf course today, an even par 72. He wants to make sure I tell you how proud he is of himself. Consider yourselves told.

Hubby and I went to a low country boil at a friend's house tonight, the woman who is the secretary at our school. I didn't really feel like going, considering I had been on an epic bike ride today and had lunch at 3:45, but I didn't want to tell her "no" yet again. She's the same one I went to the hockey game with. That has nothing to do with this story. So we went, and we had a good time. I just couldn't stay any longer because my eyelids started drooping. Besides, I was out of wine.

I promise details tomorrow. Right now I'm just beat.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Let the Summer Begin.......

The last day of school has mercifully come and gone. Both graduation ceremonies are tonight (I'm not attending either), and my summer will officially begin next Wednesday afternoon, when we complete our post-planning days.

After all these years of teaching, it has just occurred to me: Isn't "post planning" an oxymoron? Can you plan after something has occurred?

I've tried not to pack my summer so full this year that I get back to school in August feeling like I haven't had a summer at all. I would love to do a long cross-country trip in the RV, but I'm afraid that is going to have to wait until retirement. I don't want to have to worry about a deadline for getting back home. That being said, I can't help but plan a few things for the summer.

Thanks, Maggie, for giving me the idea for this blog post.

I am riding in BRAG the week of June 5-11, of course, and Rozmo and I are participating in Paddle Georgia for the first time. That happens the week of June 18-25, a paddling adventure of 106 miles. It's downriver, so I hope it's more floating than paddling. I have never put my kayak into any body of water other than the lake at the park across the road from our house and the lake at Stone Mountain Park, and I'm going to launch it into the Oconee River and travel 106 miles downriver. I hope Rozmo won't let me go astray. 

Hubby has apparently forgiven me for our RV trip to the beach last year, and he's suggesting we go back to Florida again, this time on the Gulf of Mexico side. That's where we planned to go last year, but the oil spill scared me away. There is a (reportedly) beautiful state park there, right on the beach, so we are toying with the idea of taking the RV there. I would like to stay three or four nights. Since Hubby ALWAYS wants to come home earlier than we plan, I need to plan ahead and suggest five or six nights. Fourteen years, and I'm still learning.

I have come up with an idea for our anniversary (on the 30th of this month), and Hubby is amenable to it. I won't tell what it is yet, but it's on my 50 Things to Do list.

I hope to have many days of floating in the pool. I will also work hard to complete #38 on my 50 Things to Do list. I plan to continue going to Zumba class even in the summer.

I have a list of home-related projects to accomplish as well, so the summer won't be ALL play. I need to execute the Great Shoe Purge, and my bathroom closet is a disaster. We have sheet sets in there for a futon/bunk bed combo that Sweet Girl used to have. I think we gave it away in 2000 or 2001. I would also like to tackle our basement and organize it somehow.

First, though, there is a bike ride tomorrow and a low country boil at a friend's house tomorrow night.

Let the summer begin!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tough Decisions....

Well not really that tough in the overall scheme of life, but still.....

I've been packing up my classroom this week. We usually have to store everything (and lock the cabinets) because summer school for our county is held in our building. This year is different, though, because we are moving to a new/old facility (even closer to my house - yay!) next year.

I've been resisting packing, mainly because I hate to do it, and I've been grumbling a little (a lot?) because it seems doubly irritating to pack everything up, move it, and then pack it up again at the end of next year when I retire.

That's 177 school days away, if you're counting. Including furlough days already scheduled for next year. Minus any personal days (almost always used for bicycling events) or sick days (didn't take any this year.... or last year) I might take.

I've had to take everything off the walls this year, which is not something I normally have to do. The wall over my desk is covered with things students have drawn or written for me (yes, they still do that in high school, especially if it gets them out of having to do their WORK for a few minutes), and I try to put all of them up. It's a big wall, what the heck. I think I had five different drawings produced by one student alone.

I used to have BRAG posters lining the walls of my room, in chronological order, for every single year I have ridden BRAG. I took them down one year when they were going to paint our classrooms, and I never put them back up. Yesterday I threw them away, shocking even myself.

I kept most of the pictures of students, even the creepy ones (why are those the ones who ALWAYS give me pictures?). I'll move them to the new school, but I'm not sure I'll put the pictures back up. At least not all of them. Likewise I'll keep the pictures of students' babies, who will look nothing like the pictures next time I see them.

I threw away old Gym Dogs schedules that I had taped to the wall. I think I had at least the last two seasons still up there. I kept my Gym Dogs calendar, because it will, after all, still be good for a few months after we return to school.

I kept a couple of pages from the page-a-day calendar Hubby and I always have, "365 of the Stupidest Things Ever Said." Some of them are worthy of being displayed in my classroom, and I hate to part with them. I should have scanned them (or photographed them) to put on my blog before I packed them up. I threw away the cartoon in which the Pepsi employee is being fired because, as his boss says, "The test came back....You tested positive for Coke." That one doesn't apply anymore, since Hubby retired from Pepsi over a year ago. I also threw away a cartoon with a couple of frogs, one of which was saying, "Walden Pond is a much nicer place when Thoreau isn't here." I never did get that one, but someone thought it was funny enough to give it to me, so I put it on my wall.

I kept a little paper finger-puppet made by one of my students when he was doing a movie based on "The Raven." The head of the puppet keeps falling off, and I tape it back on and put it back on the wall. The student who made it didn't finish with us, but he is now in the Navy and LOVES IT. He came back to see us a couple of times, and I'm so glad he turned things around.

Tomorrow I have some even tougher decisions to make. I have some books and teaching materials that are no longer appropriate for my students, and there is no sense in moving them. I may have to haul them to the dumpster. Throwing books away goes against my nature.

But if I did it with the BRAG posters, I'm sure I can handle the books.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Perverts Are Hard to Explain.....

...and there was absolutely NO pun intended in that title.

Years ago, my two sisters and I decided to take a tap dance class. I was 17, which would have made Katydid 25 and Frogger 28. None of us ever had the chance to take dance lessons when we were young, so we signed up for a _____-week class. (I honestly can't remember how long it was. Eight weeks? Twelve weeks?) I don't remember whose idea it was either, but I do remember we had a blast. There was no dance recital or other public celebratory performance at the end of the session, but I assure you I can still do some of the steps today. I just got up and did one of our little routines just to be sure I wasn't typing a lie, but I'm not about to videotape it and put it on the blog. (Flap-step-shuffle-ball change-hop-kick-shuffle-shuffle)

At least not today.

We took lessons and practiced on the stage area of a gymnasium, behind one of those big old heavy curtains. I'm sure there was something else going on in the gym, and that has nothing to do with this story.

My niece, Frogger's daughter, sometimes went with us to dance class, where she played outside on the playground equipment and ducked inside every now and then to see if we were finished. One day she was coming inside, using a door that was on an upper level of the gym (I can't picture it myself, so I'm sorry I can't describe it any better than that....it was a long time ago). When she opened the door, she startled a man standing on the landing of the stairway, causing him to whirl around and touch her shirt......

......with his erect penis.

Apparently his vantage point on the landing allowed him to see over the gym stage curtain, and he could observe our class tap-tap-tap dancing to our hearts' content. And other things' content too, apparently.

My niece told us about it, and as she was finishing her story, she spotted the man. One of us (I don't remember which one) followed him to his car, got his tag number, and I think he was arrested, but that part of the story is fuzzy. (Katydid and Frogger, you'll have to fill in the missing details. I was slap full of being the center of my own universe at that time, so I don't remember.) My niece, who would have been seven at the time, sounded almost like she felt sorry for him when she told me, "It was so swollen, there was NO WAY he could have zipped his pants up." I'm glad I wasn't the one who had to explain to her why it was swollen.

I'm not sure what he found so...... attractive? Enticing? Alluring? It's not like any of us in the class looked like the professionals on Dancing with the Stars. We wore leotards, but we also wore little skirts over them. At least I did, specifically because I didn't look like one of the professionals on Dancing with the Stars. We weren't the Rockettes or anything. 

I was reminded of this incident by a similar story on the news this afternoon. I think it was about a flasher who is exposing himself to women at an Atlanta-area gym. Those things seem to garner a lot more attention these days. Perverts just weren't news back in the 70's. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Letter to Myself......

Dear Bragger:

It's that time of year. Students are tired, teachers are tired, parents are tired of their children, teachers are tired of the students AND the parents, teachers are tired of each other [I'm looking at YOU], administrators are tired of the teachers and the parents AND the students, and it feels like it should be way later than Tuesday.

It's going to happen every year, particularly in the nontraditional educational setting in which you work. The good students, the motivated ones (wait....let me see..... yes, there were a couple) have long finished their work and don't have to come to school anymore.

Guess who that leaves? Yes, I can see the light dawning in your tired old eyes. It's the ones who have been playing all semester, the ones that don't have a prayer of graduating or finishing their courses this semester, the ones who may not be allowed to come back to this school next year, the ones who have perfect attendance because their PARENTS DON'T WANT THEM AT HOME EITHER.

Yet every year you revert back to the old ways, the traditional school ways, where the teacher stopped teaching when she reached a certain point in the curriculum, reviewed for a couple of days, designed a test to cover said material (a hard-as-hell test if she knew what was good for her), and the last week of school flew by. You keep thinking the last week of school is going to be easy, laid-back, calm, quiet, peaceful.

I should schedule this post to appear next year at this time so you will remember how it really is.

You should know by now that in this nontraditional setting, where students work at their own pace (and by their own pace, some think that means no pace at all), you are always going to have one or more of the following occur at the end of the school year:

  • A student you haven't seen for at least two months will show up, first in the police blotter, then at school in the very last week and think he can still graduate in four days. He will have completed 25% of your course when he returns.
  • One student will be faced with the fact that they really do remember that lost textbook from when she was at the traditional school and learn that she can't graduate unless she pays $171 (the cost of the book plus a cap and gown, which should have been ordered WEEKS ago). 
  • A student who still thinks she can finish your course (and has done NONE of her seven essays) will talk, take a nap, stare at the ceiling, and walk out of class ten minutes before the end of the day. Her mother will email you at 9:24 PM and ask if you can give her a quiz retake. 
  • The same students who have wandered in at 10:00 AM every day will continue to do so right up to the end. They will not exhibit (even if they experience) any sense of urgency whatsoever.
  • A student who only needs three credits to graduate, and has completed most of those three courses, will drop out to get her GED so she can take a promotion at her job at Wally World. She will use one of her precious new days off, since she doesn't have to go to school, to get an elaborate new tattoo.
  • Another student will ask you how to submit an essay to the online curriculum. His excuse for not knowing how will be that he has never done it before. There are three days left in the school year.
  • The student who asks to go to the restroom and stays gone for twenty minutes, then needs to go blow his nose, then needs to go get water...... will ask that you please allow him to take his highest test grade and move on. His highest test grade will be a 54.
You know these things will happen every year, so stop being surprised when they do. Don't let it affect your blood pressure, and don't let it put you in a bad mood.

And while we're having this little discussion, let's talk about that blog post from last night.

Two words: LAME. O.

If you're too lazy to write a decent post, just don't write. That was tacky.

Your Self,

Bragger

Monday, May 16, 2011

My Mind is Blank.....

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Told ya.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Tour de Cure......

Today was the Tour de Cure, a ride to raise money for diabetes research and treatment. I've been doing this ride off and on ever since the year after Hubby was diagnosed with diabetes, when the ride was held right across the road from our house. That first ride, even though it was in May, was cold and drizzly and mostly miserable. I wasn't up to climbing ONE MORE HILL, and I almost called Hubby to come get me from half a mile away. I don't do this ride every year, because I hate the fund-raising part, especially when the economy is this bad.

This year's ride was in the same general location it has been for the past few years, just south of the Atlanta Airport. It's a surprisingly rural area, with some lightly-traveled roads and lots of farmland. We had a new start location this year, though, at ___________ Farm. (I can't remember the name and I'm too tired to look it up. Doesn't matter anyway.) The sign for "Parking" took us down a long, winding, gravel road that appeared to go absolutely nowhere. My GPS asked if I wanted to switch to pedestrian mode, because there were clearly no roads nearby. I finally did find the parking area, and there were a bazillion cars there. I can't believe how much this ride has grown. I was rider #923, and I saw several riders wearing numbers over 1000.

There were several cool things about this ride besides the route. At the first rest stop (which was also the third rest stop, unless you also counted the one the 62-milers weren't supposed to stop at, in which case it was also the fourth rest stop), the volunteers were all decked out in college gear. They were mostly SEC schools, and of course I was nicest to the folks wearing UGA gear. They had stuffed mascots and pom-poms decorating the coolers and the tent. It was a cute touch. In fact, they had separated the M&M's into little cups with school colors together. (Does it bother anyone else that they had M&M's at a rest stop on a ride for DIABETES?) I heard one of the volunteers say, "No one is taking the Florida ones!" I told her there was a good reason for that.

The t-shirt was also pretty cool, a nice gray color with a predominantly yellow design. I'm all about the yellow. And it's ALWAYS all about the t-shirt. I almost left without mine, once accidentally and once on purpose. I was headed to the car when I realized I hadn't gotten my goodie bag. Oh...and lunch. After I wolfed down half of a BBQ chicken sandwich, I headed for the tent with the goodie bags and t-shirts. Only I couldn't just pick them up. They were held hostage until I filled out a PAPER survey about the ride.

I realize the ride organizers want feedback about the ride, and immediately following the ride is the best time to get it. Many rides actually make changes based on what cyclists say about the experience, and I respect them for that. But withhold the t-shirt and goodie bag until people fill it out? I was slightly offended by that. And 1000 (or more) sheets of PAPER? Ugh.

The weather was just a tad unpleasant, and unusually cool for Georgia in May. Temperatures were high 50's/low 60's (I know, I know, I should live in ________ if I think that's cold), and it remained overcast all day. There was also a bit of a wind, but not at all the "breezy" (read: knock you off your bicycle) that the weather folks predicted. 

The #1 coolest thing about the ride, though, was that I realized the route would go near my nephew's house. When I texted him, he said the rest stop nearby was actually at his daughter's school. So they came and met me on the route, then waited at the school until I got there. It was great to see them, even if my great-nephew did sleep through the whole thing. Man, that baby fills up a stroller. He did wake up enough to smile at me right before I pedaled away.

I did this ride without either Katydid or Rozmo, another highly unusual event. It wasn't as much fun, not having someone to talk to for the whole ride, but I pretended I'm a grown-up and got through the whole day anyway. I averaged 15.1 mph over the 62-mile course, a personal best for me on a single bike. Katydid and I did average over 16 on the tandem once in the oh-so-flat southern part of Georgia. I'm not sure how we did THAT, since I had developed an acute case of bronchitis the night before, but stats don't lie.

Riding that hard has wiped me out, however, and I'm headed to bed. At 7:30. Because I can.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Conversation with my Brother.....

My brother called my cell phone at 10:24 last night. That is strange on many levels. He doesn't call very often; he usually calls on my birthday (except the years he forgets), and sometimes he calls with random questions. When I saw his name on my phone, my first thought that something was wrong with our mother. That would have been strange too, because I don't think he would have called me FIRST, since I'm the youngest. But I digress.

It was also strange that I was awake to hear the phone ring. I typically leave it downstairs, and I probably wouldn't have heard it if I hadn't still been up watching the end of the Braves-Phillies game. With Hubby out of town and no reason to get up early this morning, though, I was still awake.

Brother:  Me and Ricky and 'em [that's how we refer to a group in the South] were just leaving the drag strip. Sober.....that's weird.

Me:   [Thinking to myself - "Why does this involve me?"]

Brother:  I was just telling them about you running in that 5K a couple of weeks ago.

Me:  Yeah?

Brother:  How long did it take you?

Me:  Forty-one minutes. [I'm not ashamed.]

Brother: OHHHHHHH!!! Forty-one minutes! I told them you did it in 14 minutes, and they said that was bulls**t.

[Laughter from Ricky and 'em]

Me:  Well you had the right digits, but there's an order they have to go in.

Brother:  I've always been a little dicks-lexic like that. [Or something to that effect. He mangled the word on purpose, but I can't remember the exact syllables he used.] So you were basically walking.

Me:  Yeah, the walkers came in right behind me.

He ended the conversation with "I love you," as he always does, and I was left to wonder......

Just how bored WERE they, that the only topic of conversation they could come up with was a 50-year-old woman's time in a 5K?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Customer Service Part Deux (or whatever).......

First of all, I apologize for my absence yesterday. Actually, BLOGGER should be apologizing for my absence. The site was in "read-only" mode last night, and I didn't know how long that would last, so I went to bed. Apparently it lasted until this morning, so it's a good thing I didn't sit up all night waiting for it to come back online. Does this mean I should look for a different blog host? Hmmmm.... And then my post from Wednesday disappeared for most of today, but now it's back. Strange behavior for a blog, I must say.

And this is really what I was going to write about last night anyway.

Hubby and I went out to dinner, almost unheard of during the week, but we had to go buy a part for the swimming pool pump, so Hubby suggested we just eat out. He had no difficulty talking me into it, and I realize you don't need ANY of that information.

As soon as the hostess seated us, I had a feeling we weren't going to like where we were sitting. There was a family seated next to us, and while nothing they said was particularly offensive or annoying, it was just that they were so.... vocal. We aren't the kind of people, though, to ask to be seated somewhere else, so we ignored them to the best of our ability.

When I went to the salad bar (one of my favorite things about this particular chain of restaurant with the second day of the work week in its name), the woman from the next table was returning for her second trip. I heard her muttering to one of her children (I assume) that the salad bar hadn't been replenished. Sure there were a couple of empty condiment bowls, but I managed to make a pretty significant salad from what was there. It was fresh, there was a good variety, and I didn't need crackers anyway.

When the waitress returned to the table next to us, the woman began her diatribe about the poor quality of the salad bar. She didn't just complain; she went on and on and on and on. The waitress was pleasant and eventually said she would send her manager over, which she did.

The manager explained to the family that some changes had been made that very day that affected the salad bar, and she proceeded to explain the changes. The woman wasn't satisfied and continued to rant and rave about her unhappiness with the salad bar. The manager offered to get her something else, but the woman said she was "too upset to eat." By the way..... she was a VERY large woman.

I won't bore you with ALL the details, just in case you're still reading at this moment, but it became apparent that the woman intended to complain until the manager agreed to give them their meal for free. I'm not sure that ever happened, but the manager and waitress couldn't have been nicer or more professional in the way they handled this family.

I realize some people make a career out of getting free food at restaurants by complaining. Don't get me wrong - if service is abysmal or if the quality of the food is sincerely lacking, I believe the restaurant should compensate the consumer in some way. I don't think that woman's entire meal should have been comped, though, when she had already eaten ONE plate of salad. She was very specific in her complaints, too: "No cranberries," and she had to request someone go get her some balsamic vinegar dressing. Apparently that was just so much of a hassle, to have to ASK someone for salad dressing as opposed to being able to get it herself.

Puhlease.

How do those people live with themselves? I didn't get a glimpse of how her children were handling the situation (they were teenagers), but I got the impression that this was fairly normal for a family outing. Maybe that's how the family manages to eat out so often. She implied to the waitress and manager that her family of six spent enough money in this particular restaurant, eating there at least once a week, that they should be grateful for her business or something. She also complained that she hadn't been NOTIFIED of the changes to the salad bar. Funny, I didn't get that email either. But I found enough to eat.

After they were gone and we were waiting for our check, Hubby couldn't resist messing with the waitress. He said he needed to talk to her about the salad bar. After a split second's hesitation, she realized he was kidding and she started laughing.

There are a gazillion reasons I couldn't work in the food service industry, but people like this woman are probably right up there at the top of the list. I would be fired (or arrested) the first time someone tried to pull a stunt like that on me.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My Favorite Things.......

Because I left school in such a FOUL mood today, I thought I would focus on the positive and list a few of my favorite things. My apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein or Simon and Garfunkel or the Gershwin Brothers or Engelbert and Humperdinck (oh wait....that's one person) or whoever wrote the song for Julie Andrews.

  • A crystal clear swimming pool
  • Frozen Cool Whip
  • Yellow roses
  • Lemon in my water
  • Pedicures
  • A perfect 10
  • Elephants
  • Baby feet
  • Ceiling fans
  • A walk-off homerun
  • Having one more gear on a tough uphill
  • Tuesday night Zumba
  • Motorcycles
  • Video games
  • Algebra (yes, really)
  • Symmetry
  • The smell of coffee when you first open a new can
  • Rain on a metal roof
  • Friends
  • Hot apple cider with a shot of butterscotch Schnapps
  • A kickoff return for a touchdown
  • Faded blue jeans
  • Line dancing
  • Family
  • Having a tan (with apologies to my skin)
  • Thank-you emails
  • Clothes that fit
  • Summer (please, please, please, oh please get here)
  • Books
  • Piano music
  • Twilight
  • A straight flush
  • Bedtime

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Home Alone (or Solitude is Bliss)........

Hubby has been invited to play in a golf tournament this weekend at the casino in Mississippi. You know, the one that is six hours away and we just went to weekend before last? Yeah, that one. This tournament is apparently a big deal, because it's being sponsored by a big name in golf that you would recognize even if you don't follow golf, and not all of Hubby's golfing/gambling buddies got invited. Naturally he is going, because you can't pass up the chance to win $5000 (no matter how much you might LOSE in the casino), and I was so afraid he would expect me to come with him. I had the handy excuse of a bike ride, not only for which I had already registered, but one that is dear to my heart. It's the annual Tour de Cure, a bike ride to raise money for diabetes research and prevention. If this cause is near and dear to your heart as well, feel free to sponsor me. I've already met my fundraising goal, though, so no pressure.

I'm trying not to let it show how thrilled ecstatic giddy excited okay with it I am that Hubby will be gone and I will have a weekend to do as I please. Twenty Thirty years ago I might have called up some girlfriends and gone out on the town, dancing and drinking or maybe taking in a movie. My definition of decadence has altered somewhat. Here are the plans I've made so far for this weekend. I'm not sure I'll get to all of them, but I'm going to make an effort.

  • Go to Zumba class on Friday night.
  • Play Mario Brothers as late as I want.
  • Watch a WHOLE baseball game.
  • Sleep in Saturday morning. Perhaps as late as 7:00.
  • Read the newspaper without putting the sections back in order for Hubby to read later.
  • Take my kayak to the park and paddle all day.
  • Eat pasta for dinner.
  • Watch another WHOLE baseball game.
  • Watch the telecast of the national gymnastics championships on television. You know, the ones whose outcome I already know and I don't really like any of the teams competing. Yeah, those.
  • Play more Mario Brothers.
  • Do the bike ride on Sunday. 
This should in no way be taken as an indication that I don't love Hubby. I think it's healthy for married folks to go off and do their own thing every now and then. I'm sure he won't mind (much) when I'm gone for two whole weeks in June. He'll just be kind of hungry.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day 2011......

No real witticisms or words of wisdom tonight. A few pictures from yesterday's Mother's Day gathering, though.

These two beauties belong to my sister-in-law and her son.
 


This is a tree that grows out of the side of the bank and hangs out over the creek. I couldn't resist walking out on it.

This is the "hay barn" that came with the property when Mom and my brother bought it. The property used to be an ATV course, but I'm not sure what this shelter was used for. The ATV's were stored in a different building.


A couple of shots of one of the fields. I can't find my way from one to the other. I'm glad my iPhone has a GPS on it.



I love the water. I was checking out the creek to see how far I might be able to navigate in my kayak. I decided the answer is "not very far."


My sister-in-law and my niece. My SIL recently completed her motorcycle safety course and has her own motorcycle.


Lane riding Sahara. I called him a "real cowboy" because he was riding bareback, which only proves I'm a little....challenged. Katydid pointed out that would make him an Indian. (Apologies to all the Native Americans out there, but that's what she SAID.) That's what sisters do.


Brother (holding the horse's bridle) and brother-in-law.


All four siblings. (I'm the one between my two sisters. Good thing we didn't get pictures of them having to help me up.) Why doesn't it LOOK like I have lost 30 pounds????? Mom was sitting in the Jeep because the outing might have been a little much for someone who recently had knee replacement surgery. I'm sure I wouldn't have been smiling. I love this picture because if you click on it and make it big, you can see Hubby in the mirror of the Jeep, taking the picture. I love things like that. I'm kind of glad you can't see him better, because he's wearing the SAME DAMN GEORGIA SHIRT that he's wearing in every single one of our camping photos. I love the shirt, but I'm going to hide it next time we take the RV anywhere.


Mom, brother, and sis-in-law.


My niece. This fake smile is about the best she can do. Whine? She's an expert at that.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Letters to Customer Service......

Does anyone else out there feel compelled to write to Customer Service departments of companies? I have done it a few times, with mixed results. I don't mean I make a CAREER out of it, although I have been tempted to do a cultural experiment to see just how much free stuff I could get just by writing emails and letters. Just an experiment, you understand, not just to get free stuff. Hmmmmm.....

What started this train of thought (and really, you can get off the train any time you want. I wouldn't blame you.) was hamburger buns. Hubby and I had sloppy joes for dinner tonight. He had two; I had one. That leaves five buns leftover. Why do they only sell those in packages of eight? Do they think every family in the world has 4.2 members or whatever the figure is these days? I was considering (still am) writing a letter to the bread company suggesting that they sell buns in smaller packages. I usually put the leftover ones in the freezer, forget they're there next time we have hamburgers/sloppy joes/barbecue sandwiches, buy a new pack, throw the old ones out, repeat as necessary. It is so wasteful to have hamburger and hot dog buns only in packages of eight. Or twelve, if you're feeling really wasteful.

One time I wrote about my dissatisfaction with some saltine crackers. We bought two boxes of them, used them well before the expiration date stamped on the box (although WHO can figure THOSE out sometimes?), and they were both stale. The company responded by sending me two vouchers for their products, and I felt equal parts sneaky and smug that I chose the most expensive products I could find in their brand. When the cashier was ringing up my groceries and got to the vouchers, she looked up in triumph and said, "You wrote a letter, didn't you!" She said her mom wrote letters like those ALL THE TIME. Maybe her mom DID make a career out of it.

Once I wrote to an airline, not because I wanted something free, but what I REALLY wanted was an explanation. On a flight back from the Dominican Republic, we tried to land in Miami in a thunderstorm. It was better than any roller coaster I've ever been on. We tried a few times, then the pilot decided it was too dangerous, and oh by the way we appear to be out of fuel, so we'll just hop over to the Bahamas and top off the tank. When we finally got to Miami, every connecting flight in the free world was gone. We landed about 10:30, and our baggage finally came off the conveyor belt at 2:00 AM. We were trapped in the basement of the Miami airport, and because we hadn't been through customs, we couldn't leave without our luggage. It was a nightmare. All I really wanted was an explanation of WHY that happened. Diabetic Hubby had no food, and it was hours and hours and hours before he got any. The airline sent me a $200 voucher (that you almost had to be a contortionist to use, by the way), and nothing by means of explanation. I had almost rather they kept their lousy $200 and tell me what happened. Fat chance.

I had a rather strange experience just a couple of weeks ago. For my birthday, Hubby bought me a bag to go on the sissybar of my motorcycle. NOT the one I asked for, but a different one. Oh, and it didn't have any straps to affix it to the sissybar, rendering it a useless gift. Oh, but he got a discount on it because it didn't have the required straps. Terrific. So I looked up the company name on the Internet, found the product number, and sent an email asking if it would be possible to buy just the strap. No response. No response. No response. Bastards. Fine example of customer service YOU are. Then about a week and a half later, I get a padded envelope in the mail, and in it are the straps for my bag. No explanation, no reply to my email, just the necessary straps. Uh.....thanks? (Oh, and the bag doesn't fit my bike. Hubby's bag does, which is the one I asked for in the first place, so we traded.)

I missed a perfect opportunity to write a letter years ago, and I have regretted it ever since. I had the perfect letter, the perfect medium, the perfect idea. That almost never happens, and I let it slip by. In a previous wifetime, I bought a box of Raisin Bran that DID. NOT. HAVE. THE. FIRST. RAISIN. IN. IT. I kid you not. No raisins. Not two scoops, not two teaspoonfuls, not two raisins to rub together. Nothing. I kept the boxtop for the longest time, and I composed the letter in my head. I decided that when I got around to it, I was going to type the letter, only I was going to leave out every single "e". What a great idea! I let too much time go by, though, and eventually the boxtop disappeared, and a wonderful opportunity passed me by. If only I had followed through, it might be called "Bragger's Raisin Bran" to this very day.

Any other tales of customer service - good or bad - out there?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Tour d'Oconee......

Katydid and I participated in a bicycle ride today that was appealing for many, many reasons. First of all, it was only about 30 minutes from my house, so we didn't have to get up at the crack of dawn. Second of all, it was in our home county, where we both grew up and graduated from high school.

It was the first time this particular ride had been done, and that's always an iffy proposition. Do the organizers know what they're doing? Have they thought of the gazillion things that could go wrong? Are they prepared for the number of cyclists that might turn out on a chamber-of-commerce-weather day in Georgia in May?

I don't think the ride could have been run more professionally. Roads were well marked, the routes were absolutely gorgeous, rest stop volunteers were friendly and helpful (example: I heard a woman ask for a cup late in the day, and a volunteer said they were out. Then I heard the same volunteer say, "But we'll find you one." I didn't see the end of the encounter. I hope they didn't "find one" in the trash. Ha ha), and police officers were EVERYWHERE, even late in the day, to assist cyclists in crossing major roads and intersections. It was so cool to have them stop traffic to allow us to cross without stopping, even when Katydid and I were the only cyclists in sight.

The route started out flat and fast, and I should have known it wouldn't stay that way. (I actually DID know it, but I wanted to pretend the information I had was wrong and we would sail along averaging 16 mph for the whole ride. Wishful thinking.) It seemed that all the hills were at the end, or maybe we were just tired. We rode by the house where I lived from age 12 until I got married, we rode within sight of a little house where Sweet  Girl and I lived during a separation from my ex, and best of all we rode across the bridge that Jason and I jumped off on my 17th birthday (separate entry coming for that). I kicked myself all the way across the bridge when I realized I had left my camera in the car. I specifically wanted it today because I KNEW the route was going across that bridge. Damn it.

The t-shirt is noteworthy too. The route map resembles the outline of a lion, so the ride was dubbed "Tame the Lion." If I didn't have the shirt on, I would take a picture of it, so you'll just have to trust me. You can see the logo here and picture it on a white t-shirt. It's all about the t-shirt, mind you.  You can see the actual route we took, uploaded from my GPS, below.

Excellent, excellent ride. I hope this one becomes an annual thing.


Friday, May 6, 2011

#14 - Knit Something...........

When I put #14 on my list, I purposely worded it so that I would be obligated to finish something. I didn't want to take the wimpy way out and say I would "try to knit". It would have been too easy to give it a couple of shots, get frustrated (which I did - a lot) and then say, "Well at least I tried".

I first started on a scarf that the directions said was "easy" or "basic" or some other lie. It said for me to knit the knits and purl the purls, and they all looked the same. So I abandoned that project and decided to knit some place mats. Those were at least a little easier: knit, knit, knit, knit, use a different color, knit some more.

I even had a contest all picked out to give the beautiful place mats to one lucky (not to mention devoted) reader. Then I decided, since I wasn't having any fun, that it would be a single place mat. Then I abandoned the whole flippin' project.

I will still hold the contest at some point. It involves looking at a picture and seeing if you can determine what in the picture makes me have a Monk Moment every single morning.

Because I don't want to feel like I quit on #14, I am going to say I did indeed knit something. I knitted (knat?) a hot mess. I'd love to post a picture of it, but my laptop is, as the Sullen Teenager would say, "jacked up". I will post a picture as soon as I can get the sledgehammer out of the screen on the laptop.

You guys are so smart. Yesterday's post was indeed the 1000th one. How can one person have that much to say?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Milestone Blog.......

This blog entry is a milestone. Can anyone guess what it is?

I started blogging in July or August of 2008. My friend Neena mentioned in an email that she had a blog, and because it's always been my nature to abhor anyone having something I don't have, I thought it would be cool to blog too.

I never knew you could meet so many people through blogging, even folks you've never met in person. Like Maggie, Evil Pixie, DJan, Vodkamom, Julie, and Elena. I've enjoyed learning things about faraway places that I may never get to visit, like Alaska and Australia. I have felt the pain of folks I have never met but feel I have come to know, like Lilith and Lakeland Jo.

I have taken something that should be a hobby and turned it into an obsession, as only I can. In the past when things happened or I had a clever witty hilarious mundane thought, I would think to myself, "I can't wait to tell _______ this." Now my first thought is, "I can write about this in my blog!"

I have been silly, maudlin, depressed, sad, angry, frustrated, joyous, excited, giddy, and content in the confines of my little blog. I have written things that I was afraid might offend some people, and I've written things that I was afraid might bore some to death. I have written about children that aren't mine, and I have written about my own Sweet Girl, who has a blog of her own.

There are some things I will NEVER write about in this forum, but I would if people I know in real life didn't read here. I don't mind being judged by perfect strangers, but I don't want my few friends and family to change their opinions of me. Ha ha ha ha ha.

When I first started my blog, there were a couple of occasions when I went to bed and THEN remembered I hadn't done my blog. Most of those times I got up again to write SOMETHING, except for the times I was in the casino and just missed the midnight deadline. Nowadays I try to plan in advance, writing and scheduling a blog post ahead of time if I think I might by some wild stretch of the imagination be out after midnight.

Every now and then I worry that I'll run out of topics, but I can usually think of something to write about. It may be short and silly, or it may be a post about all the things I'm NOT going to write about. I feel an obligation to my readers to produce something every day. Is that weird? Sometimes I get a flood of ideas all at once, and I jot the list of topics down, satisfied that I will have enough blog fodder for a few days.

This milestone almost slipped up on me. Can you guess what it is? Leave your guess in the comments section, and I'll let you know tomorrow night what it was.

As always, thank you, thank you, thank you for being my readers and giving this little blog a purpose.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

When I Met Jason.......

This is the first installment in a series of stories about my BFF from high school, Jason. I've written about him before, and my ultimate goal is to put these stories together in a book somehow. I wrote three sections in longhand yesterday while I was administering standardized tests at school. Somehow longhand seemed appropriate for these stories. I may write them all that way.

Jason moved to our town in the summer before our ninth grade year, and I still don't know what brought him from Texas to Georgia. I suppose it had something to do with a job for one or both of his parents, but his parents were only shadowy images to me. I interacted with them only to say hello and goodbye, and that as quickly as possible. I find that ironic now, because MY mother was the one who invoked fear into the machoest of macho guys in our county (just ask the now-judge in that county, who was unfortunate enough to bring my sister home one night when she was grounded, only to find our mother sitting on the front steps). Jason was accepted as one of our family almost from the beginning. He attended family functions, he came over on Christmas Day (no one had ever done that before). He was one of us.

When he first moved into our county, though, Jason's very presence threatened my shaky little psyche to the core. I had become BEST FRIENDS only the year before with Carol, one of the prettiest, most popular girls in our school. I was a former trailer park kid, and while I fit in with the smart kids by default, I had never found my niche with the in-crowd. Carol was my ticket in. We became inseparable, sharing clothes (on the rare occasions I could wear hers) and a locker (our combination was 4-26-4), sneaking cigarettes and the occasional bottle of rum. Carol's mother, like mine, had been divorced for years, in an age when divorce was still cause for stigma. We clung to one another for comfort and for shelter from the accusing, questioning stares of those who lived with both parents. At least that was how we saw it. The fact that I now had a step-father did not make me feel any less a freak compared to my friends who lived with two people who shared their DNA.

When Jason moved to town, his family settled in Carol's neighborhood. I was already intimidated because Carol was lucky enough to live in an actual subdivision. It was close enough to our school for her (and Jason) to walk home if necessary from after-school activities. I, on the other hand, lived about a mile and a half away, the fourth house in a row of other nondescript houses that didn't even have the decency to warrant a name. I realize now what tremendous sacrifices my mother made to purchase that home, but back then I was so self-centered that all I could think about was how much better it would be if we lived near Carol.

While the distance between our homes was not great, it may as well have been the Gulf of Mexico. We didn't have sidewalks out in the country, and bicycling back and forth would have been decidedly uncool. Besides, it would have been tough to steer a bike and shift gears while holding a cigarette in one hand. My contact with Carol was limited to the few times I could convince Mom to let me spend the night at her house, and the fewer occasions she would allow me to have sleepover company.

Enter Jason. He moved into Carol's neighborhood, just a few doors down the street. They could walk home from school together, see each other on weekends. I burned with jealousy. Carol was MY friend, and I shuddered at the prospect of anyone taking her attention from me. I already lived in perpetual fear that the popular girl would discover the fraud that was me and dump me like a sack of rocks. If only I had known.

But we never know. I had no way of knowing that when Carol went off the deep end and stole money from our school and ultimately went away to a boarding school, that Jason and I would become as inseparable as Carol and I had been. That he would show up at the house where I was babysitting on New Year's Eve one year, caked in mud in nearly freezing temperatures. That he would be a groomsman at my wedding. That he would sit at my side at my step-father's funeral. That he and I would risk being arrested when we felt compelled to sit in UGA's football stadium in the dark of night. That we would lose touch and reconnect thirty-three years after high school graduation, and that we would still feel like BFF's.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Update on My Godson........

I had another blog post prepared for tonight, but since I shared the heartbreaking news about a very special high school baseball player a couple of weeks ago, I wanted to share what SHOULD be very good news. But it's still tinged with bittersweet.

Turns out his UCL is NOT torn (neither "frayed" nor "hanging by a thread," as reported by two different radiologists) and he does NOT need Tommy John surgery. That's the good news.

Several pro baseball teams contacted his parents while they were returning from a doctor's visit in Birmingham yesterday (same doc who operates on major league pitchers - I told you this was big time) to say they were still interested. That's the better news.

It turns out his injury is a stress fracture that he has had for three years and should have been fixed at least last year, if not the year before. Even THAT was misdiagnosed at first as tendinitis. (Did you know it's spelled "tendinitis" although it affects a "tendon"? You're welcome.)

That's the bittersweet part.

The kid even diagnosed himself. He looked at his own MRI and saw a fracture. Official report? "No fractures observed."

The doctors are first going to try a bone stimulator, whatever that is, to see if it heals on its own. If not, they will put a screw in his elbow to repair the fracture. Recovery time? Four to six WEEKS. Not the eight to twelve MONTHS he was looking at with Tommy John surgery.

Like his parents, I'm trying to look at the bright side. Some good teams are still interested. Injuries are nothing big in the majors. They know how to handle them. If he doesn't do well in the draft, there's always college. It's a win-win situation.

But the kid missed a huge part of his senior year, a year in which he could have made himself EXTREMELY marketable. Instead of just so-so marketable. A year that he would have had if his injury hadn't been misdiagnosed IN THE FIRST PLACE. As awesome as he was this year before the latest injury, it's hard to imagine just how awesome he might have been. And let's not forget this is an eighteen-year-old kid and it was his SENIOR year. He can never get that back, no matter what happens in the draft.

The draft is in four weeks. (Yikes - that means BRAG is in four weeks. Am I ready?) We will know more about his future after the draft takes place. ("We" as in the world, not "we" like I'm a major decision maker in his life.) I can't promise I'll shut up about him even then, but at least we will know more about whether he's headed for college or the pros.

Tune in tomorrow night for another Jason story. One of many which I optimistically hope to turn into a book someday.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Conflicting Messages......

Today one of my favorite students stopped by school to drop off her last statistics project for the math teacher. She finished everything else in December, but she has been dragging her feet on these projects. Math has never been her thing; she was SHOCKED when she passed the math portion of the graduation test. It was the very last one she had to pass, and when she did I was determined she was going to graduate. She's one of my advisees in addition to being one of my favorites.

She's had a tough life, as so many of our students have. Her mother died when she was very young, and she's never had a relationship with her father. She lived with her grandmother, but their relationship was often rocky as well. The girl has a volatile temper, but she can be one of the sweetest people in the world. She never speaks to me without saying "yes m'am" or "no m'am," and even in her darkest moments (in the throes of a violent physical fight last year, started by the other girl), she has NEVER been anything other than polite to me.

She started living with her boyfriend last semester, and she often had trouble getting to school. He is one of our former students also, and while I'm not sure their relationship is a healthy one, at least he has a steady job and is apparently taking care of my girl. And their new baby.

She came by to let me see the baby today. Audrina (isn't that a beautiful name?) was born on March 25. I held the baby, cuddled her and played with her tiny feet (I LOVE me some baby feet), hugged the mama and told her how beautiful the baby is.

And now that I think about it, I don't think this particular mama is one of the ones I'm writing this post about. She may not be married, but she is with the baby's father, he has a job, and she has finished school. (Baby daddy wasn't as successful with us.)

Teen girls get pregnant all the time (it seems more so in our county than other parts of the state, but I'm probably wrong about that), and it has become okay. We take care of them, make sure they get the care they need, steer them in the right direction to getting the social services they need, allow them flexibility in scheduling when they need to be out to have the baby or to take care of it.

Some of them have come to expect that. PROUD grandparents assist in the caretaking, even babysitting while mama and daddy go to the prom or to a football game. We coo and kiss the babies, telling the mamas how precious their babies are, ask how they are doing, fight over who is going to hold the baby. I'm as guilty as anyone else.

There is no stigma to having a baby in high school anymore.

But I don't know what the answer is. When I was in school, a girl either "went to live with relatives" or she "had" to get married. A girl who got pregnant was no longer included socially, even if she tried, which most didn't. The times have changed drastically, and I don't know that we aren't doing these teen moms a disservice. I don't mean we should turn our backs on them, but it has become waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too easy for some of them to depend upon society to take care of them. And their babies. We currently have a student who came to us because she had a young son and needed the flexibility we offered so she could graduate and take care of him. Oh yeah, and she's pregnant again, due in July. We dutifully fill out her paperwork so she can get assistance, I allow her to print out applications so her baby daddy can apply to technical school, we talk about due dates and heartburn and whether or not belly bands are helpful (I don't know - never had one).

Some schools have daycare for babies of teen moms, and that's an extension of the conflict I feel. By offering daycare we make it possible for the moms to finish their education and hope that it gives them an opportunity to go beyond high school, or at least gain the skills they need to take care of their children. But I'm afraid we also send the message that it's okay. Go ahead....get pregnant as a teenager, LOTS of people will take care of you.

I know when I had Sweet Girl, I had NO IDEA what I was doing. And I was married, college educated, had a full-time job, and she was PLANNED. It still was a crap shoot on any given day whether or not I would do something that would maim her for life. (She might argue that I did that MANY times.) I had lots of support from my mother and my sisters, but I am STILL amazed that Sweet Girl survived her childhood relatively unscathed.

And these girls? Some of them don't have a clue. They have no idea what happens when the baby stops being cute and cuddly and starts talking back. They are blissfully unaware of how nightmarish the toddler years can be. And I would be horrified at the idea of some of them helping their children with their homework.

I don't know where I'm going with this. There is no solution. They're not going to stop having sex just because we stop accepting them and taking care of their children. As long as they get acceptance from their parents, grandparents, social workers, and us - the TEACHERS WHO HAVE BEEN TRYING TO TEACH THEM BETTER ALL THEIR LIVES - they're going to keep having babies.

And going to the prom.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

From Yesterday.....

My 65-Mile Bike Ride

Once again I created a route on the computer, and this time I was very careful to select roads that looked like "major" roads without being state highways. That's hard to do when you're not that familiar with the territory. I uploaded the route into the bike's GPS, which beeps and shows a pink line to indicate a turn. There were at least three times when the turn I was supposed to make was on a dirt road. Therefore I was forced to go off the route, not sure where I might end up but confident that with the GPS at least I wouldn't be permanently lost. (I did have a moment of horror when it occurred to me that if I ever lost the GPS signal or if the battery died or something else happened, I would be out there all alone and clueless as to which way I should go.)

To make a long story shorter than the ride I'm talking about, the route I had planned was 51 miles long, but I wound up riding 65 miles. It's hard to put an extra 14 miles in your brain when you thought all along you only had to ride 51. But I lived, no catastrophes occurred, and I'm at least a tad smarter than I was. It doesn't mean, however, that I won't repeat the same mistake again.

Wildlife on the Ride

Not long after I started riding, I saw a woman on the side of the road with her camera or cell phone. She pointed to a small pond and said, "There's a gator out there." It was kind of far off, but there was indeed a small gator sunning himself (herself?) on a piece of stump in the pond. I didn't take the time to stop and take a picture, and I thought it would be rude to say to the woman, "Sorry, I don't do gators." Later I saw a blue heron taking flight, and that I would have stopped to photograph, but it was gone before I had time. I gave a large snake a wide berth, risking an oncoming car in favor of giving the snake his own lane. I saw a box turtle or snapping turtle (not sure I would know the difference even if I stopped to inspect), and there was a cat off in the woods that was probably as startled by me as I was by it. There were NO houses around, so I wondered if it were a feral cat. I lost count of the number of dogs large and small who chased me, some with greater intent than others. Does NO ONE in Mississippi feel the need to keep dogs in fences?

Any Stores Out Here?

I left with a full bottle of water and a full bottle of Gatorade, thinking I would stop at a store when those ran out. I just thought WE lived in the country. The folks in that part of Mississippi could teach me a thing or two about living in the country. You want to know when I finally found a store? (One I had also visited in November when I first rode my bike from the casino.) It was at mile 49. I was completely out of liquid, and it was around 80 degrees yesterday. It seemed I could never catch up on fluids last night.

Three-Card Poker

 I enjoy playing three-card poker, and for some reason I always do well at it. There's no skill involved, so it's not like I'm "good" at it or anything. Last night was no exception. It seemed I was hitting every other hand or so, and my pile of chips built up quickly. Then we had to go to the dinner and awards ceremony for Hubby's tournament, and when I returned to the poker table afterward, the mojo was gone. It seems to work that way - if you leave on a hot streak, it doesn't come back. I think it's punishing you for leaving. I wasn't really into the game after dinner anyway, so I went to the room fairly early and left Hubby at the craps table. I decided I would come home with $100 more than I took with me, and that was almost as good as winning a jackpot.

The 5K Today

I was almost sorry I told Hubby I would like to be home by 2:00 today so I could run in a 5K that is a fundraiser for the baseball team. He's all about getting up early to come home, even if he has only had three hours of sleep. It was a 6-hour drive, but we made it home in time for me to change clothes (NOT enough time to take a nap, though) and go to the high school for the 5K. I set a new personal best (it WAS my second 5K, after all) and shaved five minutes off my previous time. I came in first place in my age division - the first time it has actually been a GOOD thing to be 50. If I had still been 49, I would have come in fourth. Running is taking a toll on my hips, though. I don't know why it only hurts my hips, and why it hurts at all, considering all the other activities I have been doing. Zumba, now THAT should hurt the hips. When I stand up, the pain is excruciating, and going up and down the stairs is a preface to what I'm sure Hell will be like. I'm going to have to reevaluate my future as a runner.

The Rest of the Story

I will omit the parts of the story dealing with Hubby's middle-school behavior and my vegetarian day. I'm not sure I can sustain the vegetarian thing. I am much too fond of chicken. I'm not a fan of steak, although I do enjoy a homemade hamburger every now and again. It will take some careful planning for me to be able to go a whole week without eating meat (#25 on my 50 Things to Do list).

Three more Mondays.....I can do this. I predict a very early bedtime tonight.