Sunday, July 31, 2011

End-of-Summer Flurry.......

I typically go into an end-of-the-summer flurry the weekend before I have to return to school. This year is a little different because A) we don't have to start until Tuesday; and B) I have jury duty, so I don't know if I will have to go at all. If I have to report for jury duty all week, I will have to see about getting access to the school in the evenings so I can get my room ready. Grrrrr.....

I did a very short bike ride today, rode my bike 16 miles (needed 7 to meet my July goal, and it was too hot to ride any more than that - besides, baseball was coming on), caught up on the laundry, and cooked a full meal for dinner. I think Hubby is still in shock. I also crocheted, and I went to the grocery store, one of my LEAST favorite chores.

But perhaps most importantly.....

I defeated the BIG MONSTER at the end of World 8 in Mario Brothers. My summer is complete.

This is the last time I have to prepare for the beginning of a school year. That feels odd even to type. This time next year I hope to be knee-deep in a flurry of activity in preparation for an Alaskan cruise.

Having just returned from Iowa, if I can talk Katydid and Rozmo into it.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Committed: A Love Story by Elizabeth Gilbert.......

This is the follow-up book to Eat, Pray, Love, and it was just as refreshing as the first book. After a painful divorce, Liz never wanted to marry again, even after she met Felipe, the love of her life. Like Liz, Felipe had survived a painful divorce and swore never to marry again, but the U.S. Government had other ideas.

In typical fashion, Gilbert set out to learn everything she could about the institution of marriage, not to learn ABOUT MARRIAGE, but to learn why she felt the way she did about marriage. Just like the first book, this non-fiction account reads very much like a novel, and it was compelling reading, even knowing from the beginning that they would live happily ever after. (That's not my spoiler - she tells us that at the beginning of the book.)

I love Gilbert's writing style. It's fresh, it's witty, it's honest, and it's sometimes self-deprecating. (Aside: Is it possible to be OTHER-deprecating? Just curious.) There are times when she ventures off into a detailed analysis of something she clearly cares a lot more about than I do, but it is worth plowing through those sections to enjoy the strawberry shortcake of the rest of the book. I have no idea why I just used that particular metaphor, because I don't even LIKE strawberry shortcake. It was a pretty stupid thing to say anyway, but in the interest of full disclosure of my idiocy, I'm leaving it in there instead of employing the delete key.

I am very envious of the way Gilbert strings words together. I KNOW all those words, and I know what MOST of them mean, yet I cannot seem to string them together the way she does. See what I mean? I just used the phrase "string [words] together" twice in the same paragraph, and I'm sure that's an explicitly stated no-no in the writer's handbook.

Another indication of my idiocy: At the end of a book, I'm not satisfied just reading the "The End" part. I actually read the author's acknowledgements at the end, fully aware that I won't know a soul she mentions. My name is never there. In reading the acknowledgements at the end of Committed, I discovered that Liz Gilbert and I have something else in common. Something in addition to our wittiness, our clever writing, and our thoughtful analyses of our lives. Yeah, right.

Liz professes a tendency to overuse the word "actually."

I think we're sisters or something.

Friday, July 29, 2011

My Favorite Casino Games......

Hubby is broke; I am not. In that regard it has been a typical trip to the casino for us.

When we went to a casino for the first time, I didn't know what to play. I UNDERSTOOD blackjack, but I didn't know all the strategies (hold on 15, hit on ________, pay attention to the dealer's up card, etc.). I also wasn't aware at first that what I chose to do might piss off some of the other players. If I hit a hand and busted on a face card and the person next to me could have used that face card, he or she might just be a teensy bit upset. Particularly if it was patently obvious that I didn't know what I was doing. It always was. Is. In addition, blackjack requires that I do math in my head at a much faster rate than I would like. So I'm not a big fan of blackjack.

Hubby said he liked to shoot craps, which I knew ZERO about. He tried to explain it to me, drawing a crude craps table on the bottom of a cardboard box. I tried to follow his explanation, but then I just begged him to shoot me. I have shot craps a few times, usually by mimicking whatever Hubby does. That means we can lose money at twice his usual rate. I have seen him win a lot of money on the craps table, though. Craps is a very fast-paced game, with a gazillion things going on at once. I get distracted watching the dealers and pit bosses. They fascinate me with their ability to keep up with everything that is going on. I can stand and watch for a long time. That's another thing about craps, though: you have to stand up. And there's no limit to the number of people who can crowd around the table. They just squish in and elbow each other aside. I can never reach my money, which they inexplicably put in the middle of the table. When it's my turn to throw the dice, I usually pass because I know some players get annoyed when the shooter doesn't make the right numbers. Even though he or she can't help it (and those same people are just as likely to kill a run as anyone else).

My favorite game by far is three-card poker. I have won money playing that in the past, and it's a game I feel comfortable with. This morning after breakfast, Hubby and I sat down at the three-card table at about 9:00, thinking we might play a few hands and then go to a slot machine. We finally got up around 4:00 to go get something to eat. I don't like sitting in one place long enough to go to a MOVIE, but I can sit at the poker table for the equivalent of an entire workday. I don't even like having to get up to go to the bathroom, but they haven't introduced catheters at the poker table yet, so it's kind of necessary every now and then. I always have the (sometimes) irrational fear that while I'm gone, the person next to me will get a straight flush that would have been MINE. Unless it's Hubby, of course, when it would be okay. But he and I rarely sit next to each other at the poker table, because there are rarely two adjacent open seats. I always tip the dealers on good hands, and I always tip the waitresses. It's the least I can do, since the drinks are free. I try to alternate drinks with bottles of water.

I do like the bells and whistles of the slot machines, and I'm always convinced I can win the big jackpot. Hasn't happened yet, but that doesn't mean it CAN'T happen. I have always scoffed at the idea of playing a penny slot machine, but for some reason yesterday we tried one. I put $20 in it, and before I knew it, I was up to $300. On a penny machine!! That's thirty thousand pennies! Needless to say, I didn't cash in that much. I did make money on it, though.

I'm glad we don't have casinos in Georgia. I know I could easily turn into one of those people with a gambling problem. It's just as well we have to drive five or six hours (or fly, in this case) to get to a casino. We aren't likely to go every weekend that way.

Although Hubby and his buddies are already planning a casino trip three weeks from now. I'm not going on that one. He will have to bail himself out on that one.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Maybe Later.......

I said I would write about my favorite casino games tonight, but I'm honestly just too tired. We didn't win a bunch of money (yet), but we're not broke (yet) either, we are just so damn tired. I don't know what it is. We didn't stay up late last night, we slept until our regular time this morning, and we are both just exhausted. I'm not this tired after a 50-mile bike ride! Hubby is already snoring, and I'm going to attempt to read some of my book, but it doesn't look too promising. My eyelids are already drooping. This traveling business is hard work.

Sorry for the lame post.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Early to Bed...........

I fully expected to have to write an entry of apology tomorrow, begging forgiveness for not posting tonight. I was all ready to explain that we got so caught up in the excitement of winning that we couldn't tear ourselves away from the casino floor. Instead we came back to the room to get more money. (I never take all my money with me at one time. I know me pretty well.) Once we got here, we said "What the hell, let's just go to bed." Maybe tomorrow will be a better day. It can't get a heck of a lot worse. Wait.....forget I said that.

This is a casino we haven't been to before, in Tunica, Mississippi. It's sort of in the middle of nowhere, just like the other one we go to. At least as far as I could tell from the back of the shuttle bus from the airport. Correction - the UN-AIR-CONDITIONED shuttle bus. I'm used to getting on the elevator and going down to the casino. Or at most walking across the street via an over-the-street pedestrian walkway (I'm sure it has a formal name, but I don't know what it is), a three-minute walk at most. Here you have to get on a shuttle bus to go from the hotel to the casino. Sure the shuttles run every 7 minutes and they run 24/7, but it's still not like walking downstairs. Oh well, it's a new experience.

I was up waaaaaaaaaaay too late last night, TRYING to watch the Braves game all the way to the end. (Is it Braves game? Or Braves' game? I mean, is it the game of the plural Braves? Or is it the game that the Braves collectively possess? It's these questions of grammar and semantics that keep me up at night.) After a certain point I had invested so much time that I was determined to see the game to the end. It was tied at the end of the 9th inning. And the 10th. And the 11th. I made it to the 16th inning, and then I couldn't stay awake any longer. The game went to 19 innings and ended at 2:00 AM. It also ended with a Braves (Braves'?) win on a VERY controversial call. It appears the umpire said to himself at the beginning of the play, "Screw it, I don't care where and when he crosses the plate, I'm calling him safe. I don't get paid overtime for this crap." Oh well...... he owed us for some pitches he called strikes on our guys when they were somewhere near the ankles. And throw Nate McLouth out of the game? Are you KIDDING me?

If I don't post tomorrow night, take that as a GOOD sign. If I do post, I'll write about my favorite casino games.

Cutting my losses (what does that even MEAN?),


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I Need a Vaccination........

Or is it a vaccine?

Anyway, I need a shot. And not of tequila. Wait....what? That's an option?

I am suffering from grumpitis. I am so grumpy that I almost can't stand MYSELF, and I certainly don't know how the folks around me are standing me. I'm not exactly sure what initiated this grumpiness, but there are several candidates:

  • Hubby and I are leaving tomorrow for another trip, and this time we are going by airplane. It's a trip to a casino we haven't been to before, and while I'm not OPPOSED to the trip ..... I wouldn't have CHOSEN it. I love to fly, but the confirmation we received has me a little worried. It's one of those $199/person deals that includes airfare and hotel rooms at the casino. The card we got in the mail said to report NEXT TO the British Airways desk. Next to? What kind of airline is this, that it doesn't even have its own name? If I'm wrong and Hubby has secretly booked us a trip to England, I will apologize publicly and never be grumpy again. Or at least not for a long time. Or for the weekend. 
  • Because of the trip, today was sort of my last day off for the summer. And I spent it ..... at school. Our furniture was just delivered yesterday, so I spent today unpacking boxes and attempting to set up my room. I'm glad I went and got a jump on things, especially when there weren't too many other people around. It's just not how I would have chosen to spend my last day off. Next week is pre-planning, but I may or not be there because of.....
  • Impending Grand Jury duty. I don't mind doing my civic duty, really I don't. I've never served on a jury before, either a traverse jury or a grand jury, so I figure it's about time I acted like a responsible citizen. I think it's the uncertainty of it all. I don't know the procedures, I don't know the process, I don't know what to expect, and I don't know how long I might have to report for jury duty. 
  • It looks like my idea to purchase the cottage at the marsh isn't going to come to fruition after all. I wasn't turned down for financing, but the bank wants me to make a down payment of 10%, and that will eat up all my savings. I've been trying all year to build my savings up, and while I think the cottage is a good investment, I can't stand the feeling of being broke. I went into this saying that if it didn't happen then it wasn't meant to be, but it's easier to SAY that than it is to BELIEVE it.
  • My blood pressure has dropped precipitously in the last few days, and it makes me feel out of sorts. I don't want to start adjusting my medicine, especially considering the fact that we will be out of town for three days, and without my doctor's knowledge and permission. I thought the drop yesterday was associated with doing a tough bike ride and allowing myself to get a little dehydrated. (Ironic, isn't it, that you are more likely to become dehydrated when you ride in the rain?) But it has continued to be low today. As in only double digits on the top AND the bottom. Weird.
  • I've been having a little trouble sleeping. It may be related to any combination of the above items. Perhaps a glass of wine will help. Worth a try.
Off to generate some happy thoughts.....

Monday, July 25, 2011

Just Call Me the Rainmaker......

Remember how I went for a very short bike ride last Thursday and got drenched by a sudden downpour? Today I TRIED to be smarter than that, I really did. The weatherman on television said there was a 60% chance of rain for our area, mostly in the afternoon. Figuring that most thunderstorms pop up in the LATE afternoon, I left on my bike around 11:40. I mapped out a 45-mile ride and made sure it went by our new school so I could stop in and see how things were going.

While I was at school, it POURED. (And they were just arriving with the boxes and desks from the old school, so I didn't venture any farther than the office. I figured I would only get in the way.) After a while it eased up, but the little showers followed me around all day. I didn't think I wanted to follow my original route because it took me too far from home in the event of really severe weather, but I didn't listen to myself very well. Only at the very end did I cut off one little loop, so I ended up with almost 42 miles. I still need 7 more miles to meet my July goal.

What the weatherman meant to say was while there may be a 60% chance of rain in any one particular area, there was 100% chance of rain wherever Bragger rode her bike. I've already fielded several calls from nearby towns asking that I please come ride my bike there.

Where did it NOT rain? Our house.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sleep Deprived........

Why is it that when we get together with high school friends, we feel compelled to attempt to RETURN to the high school behaviors that nearly killed us the first time around?

Maybe it wasn't THAT bad. But staying up until midnight one night and 1:00 AM the next takes its toll. I got home this afternoon and had the choice of napping in the pool or riding my bike. Guess which one I chose?

I'm not particularly happy with this picture, but it was the best out of the three. I'm on the far right, and I don't think it looks at all like I've lost 35 pounds. What's a girl gotta do to take a decent photograph? Well, she might have started by taking the sunglasses off the top of her head.

Cheryl is on the far left. She and I were the babies of our class, both of us having skipped a grade in elementary school. She looks just like she did in high school, and I'm trying hard not to hate her guts for that. Her father was our superintendent, and she was forced to be a good girl. She probably would have been a good girl anyway. She and her husband (her high school sweetheart) just celebrated 30 years of marriage. When we were in Mrs. Marshall's math class together in 11th grade, Cheryl looked at a calendar and picked out the date she and Donny would get married after college. She missed it by one week. On the day of our trigonometry final, we found out just about an hour before the exam that Mrs. Marshall was going to allow us to use our notes. Cheryl had left her notebook at home. I told her to get in my car and we would go get it. (I was a pro.) Cheryl said, "My daddy will KILL me if I leave school!" I replied, "Your daddy will KILL you if you fail that exam, too." We made a mad trip to her house to get her notebook, and I don't think her teeth stopped chattering the whole time.

Susan is second from the left. She and I were on the drill team together in high school, and she drove her parents' car all the way to Jekyll Island for drill team camp one summer. Susan was always the one I wanted to be able to dress like. Never mind that she was tall and slender and I was ..... not. Susan and I left school without permission one time (detect a theme here?), and she pulled out in front of a car. The car swerved, went up on a bank, and turned over. I assured Susan that yes, she SHOULD stop and see if the other driver was okay (Susan's car wasn't hurt). Something was dripping from the trunk of the woman's car, and she ran up to me, hysterical. "Get my purse out of my car before it blows up!" she screamed. Pardon me, lady, but I don't particularly want to be IN your car when it blows up. (It was Pepsi.) We were only about a quarter mile from the school, and the driver was the daughter-in-law of one of our teachers. This nightmare just got worse and worse. By the time the officer finished the paperwork from the accident, school was out and there were legions of our classmates sitting on the bank watching the proceedings. Susan and I got suspended for two days - the week of the prom. And our spring concert. In the two days we were gone from school, the chorus director inserted a song into the program that we didn't know. (Who DOES that?) During the concert, Susan and I mouthed the words (or some words) and waited for the torture to be over.

Amanda is second from the right, behind me. I wish the light were better in this picture. Amanda also looks just like she did in high school. She is a year older than I am, and she has a ten year old daughter. God bless her! She also has a son who is in college, and she and her husband have been married for a long time. I asked him last night exactly how long, and he told me, but sometime during the evening the number leaked out of my head. Amanda and I also went to church together, so between drill team, school, and church, we were together pretty much all the time. We left school in her car in the middle of the day once (tired of this theme yet?), and due to our pretty rotten luck, we met her mother in the road about five miles from school. Oops. Amanda's parents thought (rightfully so, I guess) that I was a bad influence. They were so trusting of THEIR daughter that their house was where we had all the parties. Out of all my friends, Amanda was the one who had the most dealings with my difficult mother. And she still has nice things to say about her. We both worked for my mother when she owned her own business, and I think Amanda lasted longer than I did. I think she was much better at keeping her mouth shut. I didn't get that gene.

I hope we don't wait another six years to get together again. Last time we gathered at Susan's condo near Charleston, and we had a marvelous weekend. There were four of us that time, too, and six months later one died suddenly and unexpectedly. When Susan and I first got to Amanda's house on Friday, I asked if we could please have a pact that none of us would die after this get-together.

I don't know what it is about high school friends. It doesn't matter how many years we go without seeing each other, we are able to pick right back up where we left off. No matter how close I am to a female adult friend, there is always some awkwardness involved when we travel together or spend the night away from home together. Not so with high school buddies. It's as if the intervening years never happened and we only graduated yesterday.

We pored over yearbooks and then looked classmates up on Facebook. We laughed and laughed and laughed, and I can't wait to get together with those girls again.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Girls' Weekend.........

I'm in the Atlanta area with two friends from high school. Another one joined us for dinner. Pictures tomorrow, I hope, dependent solely upon the number of margaritas consumed. I'm just sayin'. My laugh muscles hurt. Thank heavens for yearbooks and Facebook. And margaritas. We shopped, we had pedicures, we have eaten aplenty. One weekend is not enough time to catch up on 33 years. And two nights up past my bedtime is too many.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Things I Learned Yesterday.....

I really, really wanted to ride my bike yesterday. Only it was a bazillion degrees here in the South, just like almost everywhere else in the country with the possible exception of parts of Alaska, so I wanted to wait until it cooled off a little.

I also felt compelled to wait until the Braves-Rockies game was over, because I was sure that if I left before the game ended, the Braves would blow their 3-run lead. Hey, it's happened before. They were ahead of the Rockies 10-1 once last year and lost the game 12-10.

When the game was over around 6:30, it looked a little cloudy. I really wasn't looking for excuses, but I didn't want to ride if it was going to rain. Hubby checked the forecast, watched the news, and said these prophetic (and pathetic) words: " ain't gonna rain here."

So I left on my bike around 7:00 PM. It wasn't any cooler, but at least it was overcast enough that the sun wasn't beating down. The air was still like trying to breathe through a wet washcloth, though.

I was only doing a short ride, shooting for about 15 miles. I didn't want to get caught after dark, since I didn't have my headlight with me. The thunder and lightning started when I was about 3 miles from home, but it looked like it was moving away from me. I knew there was no way I could ride fast enough to catch a thunderstorm, so I was pretty confident I could ride some more. I wanted to make another little loop to get to a total of 15 miles, so I turned on one of my favorite cycling roads near my house. And it isn't my favorite JUST because it bears my maiden name. It's just a cool road to ride on.

I got to the first little downhill, and there was a curtain of rain in front of me. I made the wise decision that it was better to turn around while I was close to home instead of getting farther away. I stopped to text Hubby, because just like any good wife I like to point out when he's wrong. I didn't need for him to come get me, because by then I was only about two miles away. It would have taken longer for him to put on his shoes, get in his truck, come to where I was, and load the bike than it would just to ride home. But I did want to let him know his prognostication was wrong.

This is what I meant to text: "Uh.....Wrong?"

This is what actually appeared when I typed the letters in: "Uh.;.:-qrogoopop"

Which brings me to what I learned yesterday:

When you are standing in the pouring rain, even under the "SHELTER" of a big old tree, the iPhone will not accept any letters that actually form WORDS. It will, however, accept any combination of OTHER letters that you do NOT want, and then it will not accept the backspace key.

You may need that information someday.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Name That Tune.......

Some of the most hilarious moments Hubby and I share are those that spring up spontaneously and take on a life of their own. I'm guessing we aren't the only couple in the world who do that. We have little sayings and phrases that are meaningful only to us, and if we try to explain them (not that anyone asks), they don't make sense to anyone else. I'll write about those another day, for they are only tangentially related to this topic.

Are you impressed that I used the word "tangentially" in my blog? No? Darn.

We were sitting on the beach the other day, just watching the waves and waiting for the occasional mostly uncooperative dolphin to appear. Hubby was drinking beer, and I was drinking those little tiny bottles of wine that come in a four-pack. Only I poured it into a wine glass. On the beach. What a dork. I don't even DRINK wine. Much.

While we were sitting there, it began to sprinkle rain just a little. Not even enough to cool things off much, just a scattering of drops. I don't know who started it, but we began trading song lyrics with rain in them.

"Oh it must be raindrops, so many raindrops...."

"It's raining on prom night...."

"On a rainy night in Georgia...."

"Rain falling, always falling...." (This one may have been unfair, since the lyrics are from a TERRIBLE song sung by Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge, and Katydid and I may be the only humans on earth who have ever heard it.)

"Raindrops keep falling on my head...."

"Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain...."

"In the cold Kentucky rain...."

"Singing in the rain, just singing in the rain...."

"Rain dripping off the brim of my hat, sure is cold today...."

"When I woke up the rain was pouring down, there were people standing all around...."

"Who'll stop the rain?"

And for some unknown reason, Hubby cried foul when I came up with "Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer...." I think he should have been a little clearer about the rules.

And then the sun came out.

"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine...."

"Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy...."

"Sunny, yesterday my life was filled with rain...." (BONUS!!!!)

"On the sunny side of the street...."

Anyone else want to play? Leave your contribution in the comments section. You can contribute either rain songs or sun songs or both.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I'm Baaaaaaaaccccckkkkkk..........

Whew .... vacation is EXHAUSTING!

I won't bore you with the blow-by-blow of every single thing we did in our three days (grumble, grumble, grumble) at the beach.

I will tell you, however, that taking my precious road bike was perhaps the BEST decision I ever made. Well, maybe not EVER. But at least the best one pertaining to this particular vacation.

Hubby and I have inexpensive little mountain bikes that we take with us on most RV trips. I don't do much mountain biking; the last time I tried, the trail nearest our house kicked. my. butt. But my road bike isn't good for riding around rugged campgrounds and on trails and sand, so I usually leave it at home. Hubby will RELUCTANTLY ride the mountain bikes around a campground, but he is afraid he can't ride as far or as fast as I do, so he makes excuses not to ride. The mountain bikes never left the RV rack this time.

This time I had looked at the map, though, and I realized there was a pretty nice road to and from the state park that should have only light traffic on it. I wish I could have made an entire day of riding, but I pictured Hubby sitting back at the RV pouting and missing me (more likely pouting just because I was enjoying myself), so I only rode 30 miles. I rode 15 miles out, turned around on a dime in the middle of a road, and headed back.

It was my favorite kind of ride. There was a headwind going out (there's ALWAYS wind at the beach, I reminded myself), but that turned into a sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeet tailwind coming back. I rode part of the way on a nice little bike path, and coming back I nearly blew an entire family off the path as I passed them.

This is not what I usually see from my bike. Attempting the Rozmo Method of Bicycle Photography, I snapped this WHILE I was riding. I am a professional; do not try this at home.

Here is a shot of the nice bike path. On a different stretch it actually had little white lines painted on it.

Some obligatory shots of the beach and all things beachy. (Shouldn't use the word "Beachy." I'm a little mad at him after last night's performance against the Rockies.)

The nice thing about staying at a state park was the fact that it was not crowded. Well, the campground was a little crowded, with campsites much closer together than we're used to, but the beach itself was pleasantly uncrowded.

We saw something I've never seen before, at least not live and in person. We saw actual dolphins surfacing (stop laughing at me, please), and late in the day there were a couple of them jumping out of the water, clearly showing off.

The following pictures are hereby offered into evidence as proof that National Geographic will NOT be calling me anytime soon. Note my expertise at photographing dolphins. (Or are they porpoises? I'm not sure what the difference is.) If you squint, turn your head sideways, use your imagination and perhaps a Sharpie, you MIGHT just be able to make out a faint dolphin tail. Or the splash he or she left behind.

And now if you don't mind, I think I'll go drink the two mini-bottles of wine I had left over and drown my sorrows at being such an awful nature photographer. Photographer of nature. Whatever.

Right after I change my desktop background to this.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Spotty Service............

I just told Hubby, "We are officially in the boonies.". When my usually-reliable Verizon connect card won't even work, it's a sad case of internetitis. I couldn't even blog with my thumbs from my cell phone last night. My apologies. I tried, I really did. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this post goes through.

This park is waaaaaaaaaay better than the one I chose last year. The beach is a short walk away (but Gus still can't go - boo), and civilization is a short bike ride away. We are on Saint Joe's Peninsula, not far from Port St. Joe, Florida. We are apparently right on the line between Eastern time zone and Central. Our cell phones keep switching back and forth. Hubby has an alarm on his phone to remind him to take his pills at night, and today it went off at 6:00 Eastern AND 6:00 Central. But we are on vacation, so who really cares what time it is anyway?

May not get to post tomorrow night either. It's not for a lack of trying. We are having a marvelous time. Pictures when we return on Wednesday.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

What a Relief.......

Temperatures here in the sweltering South have been much milder these past two days, with highs in the 80's as opposed to the 90's. It was raining both this morning and yesterday morning when we got up, and we desperately need the rain. Yesterday it finally quit raining, but it stayed overcast for most of the day. It was a PERFECT day for riding my bike in the summertime.

So I sat inside and watched the British Open (which isn't really called the British Open anymore, but the Open Championship, which I think sounds pretty pretentious, but hey.... it's England!) and crocheted all day. I finished the baby afghan for Sweet Girl's friend, and I just realized I packed it and mailed it without so much as taking a picture of it. Arrrrgggghhhhhh!!!!! I have since started working on some placemats that I intend to put in the auction at our family reunion next year. Somebody better buy them.... I don't like the colors.

Today I ran a bazillion errands, mostly related to the RV trip to the beach (we're leaving tomorrow morning). When I got home, I told myself I couldn't possibly let two perfect riding days go to waste, so I called a halt to the errands and went for a bike ride. It was only 26 miles, but it beat sitting in the house. I rode some of my usual routes, then wandered around streets of town that I haven't ridden on before, and I wound up at the golf course so I could ride home with Hubby.

I'm excited about the trip, but not the seven-hour drive.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Statement I'll Never Forget.......

When I entered college at the ripe age of 17 years and 2 months, I was a pre-med major. I was clueless about what it would take to go to succeed in prepare for be accepted to medical school. I think all I thought was that becoming a doctor was the best way for a trailer park kid never to have to worry about money again. Like I said, I was clueless.

It didn't take long for Mr. College Chemistry (with a Friday afternoon lab that interfered with my social life in a big way) and Mr. College Calculus to steer me away from pre-med as a major. Or any post-college plans that required a decent grade point average, since mine was already pretty much blown.

I flirted with majoring in journalism, thinking I would move to New York City and work as an editor for a glamorous magazine, eventually publishing my own novel(s) and becoming rich and famous. Or at least rich. Hard to get past that trailer park kid mentality.

I eventually landed in the English Department and figured getting a college degree for reading books was right up my alley. I didn't get as far as figuring out what I was going to DO with an English degree. I said there were two things I would NEVER do: #1 - I would never be a teacher; and #2 - I would never go to graduate school.

Clearly clueless.

One reason I changed my major to English was that I enjoyed having classes with Mack, a friend from high school. He was a scream, and he thought I was hilarious. I could always count on him to laugh at even my corniest, lamest, silliest, most pathetic stories.

I changed my major during summer quarter. Don't ask me why I went to school every. single. summer. I still don't know why I didn't let myself take any time off. The only significant time off I ever took was a winter quarter (duh) toward the end of my college career, during a particularly painful break-up with a guy who was NOT WORTHY OF ME. But I digress.

Mack and I had a wonderful routine that summer. We had morning classes, and I worked my part-time job in the afternoon. We would meet at the library around 5:30 or 6:00 and snag one of the private study rooms on the sixth floor. We would spread our books out, write papers, study, but mostly laugh. We got reprimanded more than once by librarians and other students for making too much noise. When the library closed at midnight, we would sometimes stop at a neighborhood swimming pool (I think Mack was a member, but it wouldn't have mattered to us) for a late-night swim.

Mack was NOT a romantic interest, by the way. Just a pal. I don't think he was interested in girls at all, though I have never had confirmation of that, so I won't many any sweeping statements about his sexual orientation. It couldn't matter less to me anyway. He was my friend.

Anyway, I became an English major, and one of the first courses I took that summer focused on Shakespeare. In my senior year of high school, I was on hospital/homebound with a case of mononucleosis while my class was reading Macbeth. When I returned to school, I had finished the play and loved it, and the rest of the class was still stuck on Lady Macbeth calling her husband a wuss and then freaking out because King Duncan looked like her father sleeping, and she couldn't kill him herself either. My (very limited) experience with Shakespeare had been positive, so I figured an entire course in Shakespeare would be a piece of cake.

Let me say here that in high school, our teachers attempted to scare the bejeezus out of us by telling us that when we got to freshman English at UGA, the professors would count off 40 POINTS for a single comma splice in an essay. We were terrified. We might have been LESS terrified if anyone had ever stopped to explain just WHAT THE HECK A COMMA SPLICE WAS.

I avoided freshman English at UGA by a couple of measures, one rather extreme but not planned that way. I exempted the first course by taking a placement test, and then I moved to Texas for a semester, where I took the equivalent of the second course.

Therefore, when I changed my major to English, I had had very little exposure to the terrorists who stalked the corridors of Park Hall. And the dire warnings of high school were a distant memory. I had returned to my natural state of I-know-everything-and-I'm-just-going-through-the-motions-to-get-a-degree.

Then I met George Martin. He was our professor for that first Shakespeare course, and I can still see him today. (I Googled him in preparation for this blog post, and I discovered his obituary. He died this past January in Spartanburg, which is where Hubby was born, and I don't know if that's ironic or if I'm just nuts.) He wore khaki slacks every single day that summer, with a white long-sleeved cotton shirt, sleeves rolled up to the elbows. He walked with a slouch, and he marched up and down the old-fashioned rows of desks in our UN-AIR-CONDITIONED classroom in Park Hall, smoking and bellowing. Bellowing words AND smoke. I always sat in the front row (I had been PUT there so many times throughout my school years it became natural), and I was glad when he was behind me. Then he couldn't make eye contact and glare at me.

Martin didn't believe in handing papers back in class. When he was ready to return essays to students, they had to go by his office during office hours and sit next to his desk while he went over all their written shortcomings.

By the time I had to go through this ordeal the first time, he was one essay behind schedule, and he had TWO papers to return. Trembling, I sat down in the wooden chair next to his desk and waited for his glowing remarks about my pithy, insightful writing. I looked down at the papers in my hand.

"Um.....these aren't mine," I said.

"Oh. What's your name?" Great. This was SUMMER, for Pete's sake, when we had about 20 students in class. And he had no idea who I was.

I told him my name, and this stern, hateful mask dropped down over his face. Then he said the words I have never forgotten.

"Oh." Long pause. "You can't write."

You know how you remember insignificant details about significant moments in your life? Like how I remember what I was wearing the day my brother died? Where I was when the space shuttle Challenger exploded? How we all found out about the 9/11 terrorist attacks?

I remember I was wearing a new blouse, peach-colored cotton eyelet with elastic at the neck and shoulders. I do NOT remember the grades he gave my papers, nor do I remember any of the rest of that conversation. I DO remember that I began to cry right there in his office, and when I stopped in the restroom upon escaping from his office, my neck and chest were covered in red welts.

I wish I remembered what he found so offensive in my writing. I wish I had communicated with him when he moved on to another university to tell him that his words had stuck with me all the way through my doctoral program. I have always harbored hateful feelings toward that man. When I read his obituary tonight, I finally let some of those feelings go.

Every now and then I still have doubts. I sometimes criticize my writing too harshly because I remember what Martin said. And sometimes I just don't let anyone else read what I write.

Mostly, though, as I reach the end of my teaching career, I wonder which students I may have affected in such a negative fashion. What things did I say, carelessly or even jokingly, that hurt a student's feelings and he or she has never forgotten?

I hope I never, ever said to a student, "You can't write."

Thursday, July 14, 2011

#21 - Sort of.......

I had my first golf lesson today, but I'm not ready to mark it off the 50 Things to Do List. First of all, I want to be able to play at least 9 holes before I consider the task "accomplished." Second of all, when I put it on my list originally, I intended to get real lessons. From a professional. Who is NOT my husband.

He had other ideas, though. First of all, we'd have to pay someone else. Second of all, we'd have to pay someone else.

We had a set of clubs that Sullen Teenager had used when she was taking golf lessons, so at least we didn't have to go buy new equipment. (Hubby plays left-handed, inexplicably, so I couldn't use any of the bazillion clubs he already owns.)

I had enormous reservations about allowing Hubby to instruct me in the ways of playing golf. I balanced those against having a perfect stranger guffaw at my attempts, though, and I agreed to let Hubby give me lessons. I figured he would probably be standing within striking distance, and I would have a golf club in my hand. I would swear it was an accident. Me being a novice and all.

The lessons went much better than I would have predicted. Hubby didn't give me too much grief, and I didn't take his criticisms personally. I tried to use his instruction to make my swing better and hit the ball farther, and I think I accomplished that. To some degree. Can I do it again tomorrow? Ummm..... maybe.

Golf is not without its own perils. Hubby doesn't wear a golf glove, and there wasn't one in the golf bag that Sullen Teenager had used. To be honest, I didn't think anything about it. After hitting only half a bucket of balls, however, this happened to my thumb. I apologize for the blurriness of the picture. It was hard for me to take a picture of my own thumb, and Hubby didn't really see the point. He's not very blog-savvy.

I think I might be willing to take the game up, but it's never going to be my first choice of free-time activities. Not as long as I'm physically able to ride my bike. And play Mario Brothers.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Today's Ride.....

I saw something sort of .... strange .... on our ride today on the Silver Comet Trail. If it hadn't had negative consequences, I wouldn't be writing about it. I probably wouldn't have even noticed it. Now, though, I am just curious about it.

Rozmo and I were behind part of the riding group early today, and we came upon them standing along the trail in a group, tending to one of the group's members. It was a man, probably in his mid-60's, bleeding pretty heavily from his elbow and less profusely from his knee. No one else appeared to have been involved in the accident.

Apparently this man forgot his cycling gloves, so he was wearing .... socks .... on his hands. Because socks aren't typically MADE to wear on the hands, they weren't fitting very well. He reached to adjust one of them, and he wrecked his bicycle.

Several things about this incident bother me. I have forgotten my cycling gloves too. Never once have I considered wearing SOCKS on my hands as a replacement. Oh wait ..... I don't remember ever having a spare pair of socks WITH me. How can you remember unnecessary socks but forget the cycling gloves that are so necessary you will substitute socks?

If I were riding in sub-freezing temperatures .... another scenario that is hard for me even to imagine .... then I might consider putting socks on my hands. Or .... here's an extreme solution .... I might not ride.

I'm not making fun of this gentleman, I assure you. I just can't figure out why it was so necessary to have gloves that he wore short white athletic socks on his hands. By the time I saw him, he was wearing BLOODY short white athletic socks. (Apparently socks can also substitute for bandages when necessary.)

I almost always wear cycling gloves. They serve many purposes. They provide padding to keep my fingers from going (quite so) numb when I'm riding. They keep sweat from making my hands slippery on the handlebars. (Even though my handlebars .... and I'm guessing almost everyone else's .... are covered with handlebar tape. In coordinating colors with the bike's paint scheme.) Gloves also have a terrycloth portion that is useful for wiping sweat off the end of my nose. I may or may not actually wipe my nose on my gloves from time to time. Obviously in cold weather, gloves keep the fingers warm(er). So yes, gloves are an important accessory for cycling.

I'm just not sure they are an INDISPENSABLE accessory. There may be a new member of that club this evening.

Other than that, the ride today was uneventful. I was worried about the heat, but most of the trail is shaded. And as long as you're moving, at least you are generating your own breeze. I made sure I drank enough water and G2 to avoid dehydration, since that's what happened to me one time on the Trail with VT and Rozmo. When I got back to my car, the outside temperature gauge showed 104 degrees. But that was only because it had been sitting in the sun for seven hours. After I got in and started moving, it cooled off to a mere 99 degrees.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Some Numbers......

20 - Number of rows I have left to crochet on the baby afghan I'm making for a friend of Sweet Girl. Then the border, which is kind of a beeyotch.

5 - Number of future crochet projects I have in mind for when I finish this one. I won't let myself begin a new one until the current one is finished, else I would have a gazillion partially crocheted items all over my house.

90 - Temperature of the water in our pool this afternoon. We knew some people who ordered a dump truck load of ice for their pool one year. We are NOT considering that.

0 - Number of songs I liked in our Zumba class tonight. And it was the TUESDAY class, which I usually LOVE! (Tuesday instructor just got back from Zumba convention with the Thursday girl. I think she's gone over to the dark side.)

2 - Number of pounds I've gained (and am having a hard time shedding) since running the Peachtree.

2 - Number of days before our final weigh-in for the summer weight loss challenge.

66 - Miles I am planning to ride my bicycle tomorrow with Rozmo and about 12-13 other folks. We're riding the Silver Comet Trail, which is a very cool rails-to-trails path, but I have to drive almost two hours just to get there.

95 - Expected high temperature tomorrow while I'll be on said bike ride.

3 - Hours it will probably take me to get home, since I will be joining a bazillion of my closest friends in Atlanta rush hour traffic.

210 - Calories in an Arby's Junior Roast Beef. The Junior! Who knew?

2 - Arby's Junior Roast Beef sandwiches I had for lunch today. (I think I may be onto the mystery of those 2 pounds.)

43 - Minutes I stayed asleep last night. I finally got up and came downstairs so my tossing and turning wouldn't bother Hubby. Yeah, right.

2.5 - Hours I stayed up, crocheting and playing Mario Brothers on the Wii.

43 - Minutes I stayed asleep once I went back to bed.

3 - Times I have cleaned my bicycle, including the chain and derailleurs.

0 - Times I cleaned my last three bicycles combined.

16.05 - Amount my medical supply folks love to charge me after my insurance has paid. I send them a check, then they send me one back. For $16.05. I don't know why either.

67 - Times I have kicked myself for interrupting my sister's blessing when we had lunch last Saturday. It was rude and irreverent, even for me. I still feel bad about it. It wasn't worth the laugh it got.

142 - Dollars it cost to fill the motorhome with fuel today. It wasn't near as bad as I expected it to be.

2 - Channels we were able to pick up with just the antenna in the motorhome. Oh, you meant English-speaking channels? Then it was zero. Good thing we have a satellite.

100 - Dollars I saved buying RV parking passes for individual football games this fall instead of a season pass.

304 - The section in Sanford Stadium where our season football tickets are located. It's right up there next to the sun. Row 13.

50 - Yard line where I would have season tickets if I hadn't relinquished them all those years ago. I'm sure we would have found SOME way to buy groceries....

6 - Hour at which I need to get up tomorrow morning in order to drive 2 hours to ride my bike 66 miles in 95-degree heat. What is WRONG with me??????

Monday, July 11, 2011

Risky Business......

I am considering .... meaning I'm going to jump in with both feet the very instant the realtor woman calls back .... a risky venture.

I've always been a risk-taker, but usually only when it involved the chance of bodily harm: jumping out of airplanes, climbing on the roof, standing up in roller coasters, riding a motorcycle.

We have an opportunity to buy a house in another state. We're not moving, though. This house is part of a rental community, and the house is basically an investment. It can also be a vacation home. It is in the community where we had our family reunion last month, and my (favorite .... shhhh....) cousin lives in the cottage next door.

It is a four bedroom "cottage," and each bedroom has its own bath. It isn't on the beach, but it's on the marsh, in a very quiet area. People probably don't go there for a rip-roaring good time. It's more the kind of place you go just to get away from everything and relax. Hubby would pull his hair out there, if he had any hair. We'll have to make sure he has television if/when we go there. It is only about 30 miles from Hilton Head, so a rip-roaring good time isn't far away, if that's your thing.

Hubby is a very ..... let's just say "cautious" .... man. He has lived in the same house since 1973, for heaven's sake. 1973!!!!! He has retired, I am planning to retire next year, and the thought of taking on a mortgage at this stage in our lives makes him nervous. Actually, it makes him not want to talk about it. And it makes him want me to shut about it (I think).

It's just one of those situations that I feel in my gut if we DON'T do it, we will regret losing the opportunity. The house has been foreclosed on, and the auction company is willing to sell it for one-fourth the amount it was originally listed for. You can tell I'm excited, because I just ended a sentence with a preposition and I DON'T CARE.

The payments would be manageable (barely) even if it NEVER rented, but if it rents out more than a weekend a month, it will pay for itself. The same realtor is in charge of the entire development, and she takes care of furnishing the cottage, handling the rentals, and maintenance. Oh, and she pays the electric bill.

I think if Hubby had seen the cottage in person, he would be as excited as I am. As it is, though, he just says, "Do whatever you think best." That's not exactly a glowing endorsement. I think initially he thought I wanted to MOVE there, but I assured him that's not the case. We would we WAY too far from UGA football games and gymnastics meets.

I vacillate between being excited, being nervous, and saying "oh to hell with it."

Don't tell Hubby this, but if I HAD to, I might even consider ..... shhhhh...... continuing to teach if it meant I could have this (extra) house. But only if I had to!

I know the economy will (eventually) turn around, and the housing market will (eventually) pick back up. We could probably sell this place in five to ten years (closer to five, please oh please oh please oh please) and get twice what we are potentially going to pay for it.

I am positive there is something I'm not considering. What haven't I thought of? Please, readers, be my voice of reason. Mine took a leave of absence years ago.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Eat, Pray, Love by Liz Gilbert.......

Because I typically "discover" a bestselling book three or four years after everyone else has "discovered" it, I am not going to write a real review of this book. It has been reviewed to death, and I don't think I can offer anything more intelligent or insightful than anyone else has already said.

That being said, I did enjoy this book very much. I had resisted reading it initially because it had the word "pray" in it. I was afraid I would be struck by lightning if I attempted to read anything touching on religion or spirituality.

I absolutely love Liz Gilbert's writing style. She has just a touch of sarcasm (like me.... just a touch, right?), she employs exaggeration with aplomb (probably the first time I've used THAT word in my blog), and she isn't afraid to make fun of herself.

Anytime I read a new book that I like very much, I want to become that writer. I want to model my writing after her (or him, sometimes), and I find myself THINKING in that writer's style. I want to go wherever the book is set, I want to learn everything about the writer, I want to meet the same people that writer met.

This was particularly true of Eat, Pray, Love, probably because it is after all a true story. These aren't made-up characters; they are real. VERY real.

I was already interested in learning some of the Italian language (it's on my 50 Things to Do List, after all), but after reading this book I'm even more intrigued. I wish I had known more of the language in 1993 when I got trapped twice, first in a bathroom in Florence, and then on a train. Rome was one city we didn't have time (or resources) to get to, and I have always wanted to go back to Italy and include this magnificent city this time. (Shut up, Sweet Girl. I don't want to hear about your time there. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha)

I am even fascinated by Bali, not a place I would have put on my vacation wish-list before reading this book. It sounds like a marvelous place to visit, perhaps not so touristy as some other destinations. I am in awe of Liz Gilbert's talent for plopping herself down in a foreign country and not only surviving, but thriving.

The only part of the book I would have to pass on is the four months in India, living in an ashram and meditating for hours and hours every day. Scrubbing the floors at 4:00 AM wouldn't appeal to me either, but I would pick that over forced meditation and prayer any day. I'm just sayin'......

I want to be Liz Gilbert when I grow up.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

I Guess I'm Pretty Lucky After All.........

I have said it before, and I'll say it again.....

Parenting is nothing but blind luck.

There is no reason for some good people to be "rewarded" with offspring that turn out to be hell on wheels.

There is also no good reason for some people (**cough cough**) who sowed their own wild oats in their younger days to be rewarded with offspring that turn out to be pretty awesome human beings.

You really never know what kind of kid you're going to end up with. You go through each stage of development and wonder if you're strong enough to make it through the next one.

Potty training? It can go on for years.

Accidents? I can't blame her for the trip to the emergency room when another kid smashed her tiny little finger in a cabinet door, but let's talk about the time she nearly tore her uvula off. Because she liked the sound the baton made when you blew into the end of it. AFTER you removed the protective rubber tip.

Hair? I'm still apologizing for the pigtails. Sorry, Sweet Girl.

Clothing? We never had many problems with this one. Bless her.

After the difficult teenage years, after graduation, you wonder what's next. And you find out that the hardest thing you will ever do is drop your child off at the Navy Recruiting Station and watch her climb in that van. When the clothes she was wearing that day arrive in a box the next week, you will think your heart has exploded in your chest.

You stand back and watch them make their own decisions, even when you're pretty sure they're wrong, and you hope that the heartbreak of mistakes won't scar them for life.

You hope the mistakes you make that they remember forever won't outnumber the good things, which they tend to forget.

You realize one day that you and your child have had an adult conversation without any eye-rolling on either end of the telephone.

And then you read a blog post like this one.

Suddenly everything that has ever made you cringe, cry, bellow, bitch, fuss, fight, grumble, gripe, shout and shrug.......

..... they've all been worth it.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Jury Duty...........

Yesterday I received a summons to appear on our county's Grand Jury. The timing sucks, because it is the week we return to school for pre-planning. Ordinarily that wouldn't be so bad, since we do very little actual PLANNING during that week at our school. But this year we will be in a new building. A building which won't even have electricity until the week before that. Needless to say, we will have a bit of unpacking to do.

I have never served on a jury before. One of my friends said I could probably get out of it, but I feel terrible doing that. It's not like I'm a brain surgeon or a firefighter or convenience store owner. Surely they can do without me for a week. Or two. Or three. Or however the heck long it takes for a Grand Jury to do its business.

I did get called for jury duty once, but I had just remarried and moved out of that county. I knew I didn't have to go, but it was early in my teaching career, and I would have done ANYTHING to get away from middle schoolers for a day. So I informed the lady who was in charge of substitutes that I had been called for my civic duty, and she said she would procure a substitute.

Karma is a you-know-what.

The Sunday night before I was to appear in court, it snowed.

School was closed.

Court was not.

The only heat we had in that old farmhouse we lived in at that time (previous wifetime) was space heaters. And overnight we ran out of propane fuel. Did I mention there was snow on the ground?

I had to get up in a freezing cold house, take a shower, and drive to a county in which I no longer lived to show up for a jury duty I didn't have to do. While my co-workers were sleeping in.

Karma is a you-know-what.

This is in the days before cell phones, and I realized pretty soon after leaving home that I would never make it to court on time. I stopped at a convenience store (thank goodness HE wasn't called for jury duty) to call the courthouse from a pay phone. Does anyone remember pay phones? I didn't want to be held in contempt of court for being late.

The very first question they asked was, "Is there anyone present who no longer lives in this county?"

I raised my hand, they gave me my $18 check (or whatever it was), and I went back home.

Wiser but not necessarily smarter.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Official Results.........

The official results are in from the Peachtree Road Race on July 4th. They were actually available the day after the race, which I find almost astounding.

My official time was 1:37:15. Sara's watch was right on the money.

Out of 55,090 finishers, I placed 45,245th. That means I finished ahead of 9845 people.

Out of 26,705 female finishers, I placed 20,354th. That means I finished ahead of  6351 women.

Out of 2495 women ages 50-54, I placed 1745. That means I finished ahead of 750 women ages 50-54.

Hubby asked how many of the ones I placed ahead of were walkers.

Either that or he asked how many of the ones I placed ahead of were using walkers.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My Harry Potter Dilemma......

I know it's almost inconceivable, but I have never read the Harry Potter books.



When the first book came out, I was probably convinced they were "too young" for me and I was too dignified to read some young adult trash about wizards and such nonsense. You know...... because I'm so dignified.

By the time the book(s) became a sensation, I was already about four books behind. And even though my niece, my sister, my friend Sara, and my daughter, all of whose opinions I value greatly, urged me to read the books, I have never read the first word of any of them.

It's not just that I fear I may be missing out on some truly significant writing. I'm also ignorant of all the pop culture that has emerged from the series. Just the other day Hubby was doing his daily crossword puzzle, and it was apparently Harry Potter themed. I got tired of saying "I don't know" to all the clues he asked me. (I don't know why it bothered me more that day than others, but it did.)

I know me well enough to know how I tend to do things, and I know that if I start reading the HP books, I won't stop until I've read all of them. Then I'll have to see the movies, and by then there will be a spin-off movie or three and perhaps a nonreality show based on wizards. I'll forever be behind.

And really, can I afford to spend all that time reading a series when there are so many other wonderful books out there? I mean, Anne Rivers Siddons has a new book coming out on July 19th, which means I need to get finished with Eat, Pray, Love (I know, I know, I always jump on the bandwagon about two years after everyone else is sick of riding it) before I can start THAT one, and how do I work in seven (or is it eight?) 600-page novels just to keep up with the Joneses?

I know, I know.

You wish you had MY problems.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I Love the Sound of Thunder......

I don't know why, but I love the sound of thunder. The louder the better. My favorite kind of thunder is the slow, rolling, window-vibrating type that goes on and on across the sky.

It could be that the thunder and accompanying rain give us some respite from the broiling heat of summer. Even in Zumba class tonight (and the Tuesday instructor likes the music really, really loud), we could hear the thunder booming. It made me smile. And I missed a couple of steps in that routine.

Thunderstorms always remind me of summer camp when I was young. I remember one particularly ferocious storm, when we were all gathered in the Lodge, which had a metal roof. I don't think I liked thunderstorms so much back then; I got really frightened when my school friend AND camp friend said, "Hail!" (And her last name was Hailey...... tee hee.) I had no idea what she was talking about. I had never seen hail before, and it made no sense to me whatsoever that ice would be falling from a Georgia sky in the middle of the summer. I misunderstood her, thinking she said "Hell!" and not in the bad word way (though that wouldn't have been outside the realm of possibility for her). I therefore concluded (erroneously, as it turned out) that the Apocalypse was upon us. Although I didn't know the word Apocalypse, and I wouldn't have known how to spell it even if I had. I was convinced the world was coming to an end without my ever having received a package from home at camp.

There are times when I suppose thunderstorms can be an inconvenience. Even dangerous. When I was on RAGBRAI a few years ago, a fierce storm blew up during the night. Because there were roughly 10,000 people sleeping in tents (that is NOT one of my classic exaggerations, by the way), officials took a cautious route and ordered a voluntary evacuation. (Can you "order" a voluntary evacuation? Don't you really just suggest it?) I didn't hear the police officer make the announcement from the loudspeaker of his car, but my friend came to my tent and said they wanted us to go to a nearby middle school.

I was groggy and fatigued and unsure of what to do. I'd never been in an evacuation before, voluntary or otherwise. "What do I need to take?" I asked her.

"An I.D. and some money," she replied.


How about "A blanket and a pillow, since you're going to be spending the rest of the night on the cold tile floor of a middle school cafeteria"?

I attempted to sleep, but it was near impossible in those circumstances. Sometime around 3:00 AM, another girl and I decided it was better to be blown away in our sleep than lie on a tile floor with no pillow or blanket. The storm had pretty much blown over by then, and many people in our group simply rode it out in their tents. The worst part of it was that we only got a couple hours of sleep before we had to get up and continue on our bike ride across Iowa.

No, that was the SECOND worst part. The WORST part was being awakened after only a couple hours of sleep by the sound of the CACKLING laughter of the idiot who had told me to take an I.D. and some money when she and her husband returned to camp.

I bet I'll know next time what to take when I'm evacuated during a thunderstorm.

Monday, July 4, 2011

#19 - Run/Walk in the Peachtree Road Race........

I was hesitant to put this item on my 50 Things to Do list, not because I didn't think I could do it, but because I knew it would be a logistical hassle.

The Peachtree Road Race is the largest 10K race in the world, with 60,000 LEGAL participants and countless others who join in without credentials. There is no way in the world to get close to the start of the race, so you have to take a MARTA train and then follow the hordes of people to the general area of the start line. Participants are assigned a "wave," a time in which they begin the race. Notice the "Y" at the beginning of my number. I assure you they started with the beginning of the alphabet, not the end.

Not only did I have the challenge of finding my way to the beginning of the race, I also had to find my friend Sara. She was on a different MARTA train, and they made her get off the train at a different station. Arrrggghhhh. She was assigned to wave "M," but she assured me that I could leave with her group, because "they never check numbers."

Oh. Yes. They. Do.

I got turned away enough times that I shrugged and said I would just head on over to my "legal" start wave, but Sara was persistent. (She never indicated an interest in being a criminal before today.) We ducked into a parking deck, and a security guard was waiting for us when we emerged. He sort of barked at Sara (but relatively mildly) that he had already told her not to cut through that parking deck.

We finally made our way into the start wave for group "H," and I stood around with my arms folded over my chest so people couldn't see me for the fraud I was. (I really am basically a rule follower. I THOUGHT Sara was too. Not so much.) Not only did my race number start with a "Y," it was a different color from the ones in wave "H." Those race organizers think of everything. I was very self-conscious, and I was grateful when the race started.

We had little tags on our shoes that apparently had electronic chips embedded in them. They were activated by something above us at the start line. Isn't that cool? Technology amazes me. I don't know yet what our "official" time was, but Sara said we did the race in about an hour and thirty-seven minutes. That's just slightly more than 15-minute miles, so I was pretty proud of that. For someone who doesn't consider herself a runner (and had run NOT AT ALL since the May 1st 5K when I hurt my hips), just to finish the race was enough for me. The winner finished in 27 minutes. What? They had already finished the race before our wave even STARTED. I can't believe they didn't wait to see how I would do before they declared a winner.

I ran a lot more than I thought I would, although we walked sometimes to give ourselves a break. Sara and I have no business running together: she loves running downhill and walking up; I prefer running UP the hill and walking DOWN.

This is the scene behind us when we stopped for Sara to use the porta-potties.

I'm not sure what these guys' costumes were. But they smelled funny.

Here I am at the Finish Line, to prove I was really there.

It's hard to describe this race. Some folks just amble along, stopping in stores and restaurants along the way. Others are more serious, and woe be to anyone who gets in their way. (Those folks tended to be more toward the front, though.) Thousands of people line the streets, cheering and high-fiving the runners. Some runners dress in costumes (there were a LOT of ballerina tutus in the race). There were half a dozen helicopters hovering overhead, and there was a military jet flyover just before the race began.

Man was I glad to see that Finish Line come into view. I'm a little sore, but I'm not dying. I wasn't even very tired at the end of the race. My hips are tender, and I may have trouble navigating the stairs tomorrow, but I'm not crippled. Maybe I can turn out to be a runner of some sort after all. 

I'm glad I did it, and I may run in this one again. I would love to talk Hubby into doing it with me next year.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Two More Things......

I omitted two important items from yesterday's mid-year review:

  • I'm about one-third of the way finished with the baby afghan for Sweet Girl's friend. I'm way ahead of schedule on that.
  • I finally made it through the castle after World 8-3 in Mario Brothers. I know y'all were wondering about that. 

I was thinking earlier about some memorable July 4th holidays.

One year I was supposed to get married that day. It was on a Saturday, and he had ONE job: find someone to perform the ceremony. I didn't care if it was a preacher, a justice of the peace, or a defrocked convicted felon. Well maybe I would have cared about that last one. All our friends knew we were getting married that day. When did he start looking for someone to marry us? At 2:00. That day. Someone please, please, please, please, please tell me why I still married him at the courthouse two days later. Never mind. Just shoot me. Better yet, shoot HIM. For those who are relatively new to my blog: I am NOT referring to my current Hubby in that story.

In my FIRST marriage, we thought about going to the Braves' game on July 4th in 1985. We eventually decided not to go, which is probably a good thing, since it went 19 innings and wasn't over until 4:00 AM. I'm sure my then-husband had to work the next day. Oh wait.... I wasn't a teacher then. I'm sure I had to work the next day too. Imagine the surprise of the people who lived near the stadium, when the powers-that-be decided the post-game fireworks would go on as scheduled. Only it was 4:00 AM the next day.

More recently, in this marriage (2003 or 2004 I think), Weesa and her boyfriend had bought a boat, and all of us went to Lake Lanier to watch the fireworks on the lake. On the way down to the dam, I asked Hubby, "How do we get back?" He started pointing out landmarks to me, things to notice on the trip down that would help guide us back. I didn't say anything, but I was thinking, "But it'll be DARK." Sure enough, after the fireworks were over, we had no idea how to get back to where we had parked. Weesa's boyfriend went through a no-wake zone too fast, and the boat police stopped us. Good thing they did, or we would STILL be wandering around Lake Lanier. They didn't give us a ticket, and they led us back to our car. We never went back out on the boat again.

One year Sweet Girl, Hubby and I drove up to a popular spot for July 4th fireworks. It is near the interstate at a winery, and tons of people used to go see the fireworks there. We were pleasantly surprised when we drove up and there was plenty of parking. In fact, we had the parking lot all to ourselves. The fireworks display had been presented the night before.

Happy Independence Day Eve!

Please say a prayer for me tomorrow morning, as I join approximately 60,000 other people in the Peachtree Road Race. I've never done a 10K before. I don't expect a good finishing time; I just want to live through it.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Mid-Year Review.......

Instead of waiting until the end of the year to look back and evaluate how things went, I decided to do a mid-year review while I can still do something about some of them.

Today is the 183rd day of 2011, with 182 days remaining in the year. I guess a purist would have written this in the middle of the night when it was exactly even on both sides. I guess I'm not a purist.


Back in 2009, I wrote a blog post about some scary numbers after a routine visit to the doctor's office. I never wrote what the scary number was, because I was ashamed of it. In the interest of full disclosure -- and a more effective mid-year review -- I would like to state for the record that the scary number when I got on the scale that year was 190. I weighed 190 pounds. On a 5'2" frame, that's not just obese. It's downright porky.

Unfortunately, it wasn't scary enough to inspire me at that time. It took me another year to get really serious about changing my eating habits and exercising more. This morning the scale said 154.4, the least I've weighed in some years. I would like to lose another 14 pounds and settle in at 140, but I'll settle for anything in the 145 range. It's coming off much more slowly now, tenths at a time, but I'm not discouraged. I'm okay with what I'm eating, I'm not feeling deprived, and I enjoy my exercise. I would like to be at my goal weight by the end of the year. I would also like to be off blood pressure medication completely. Fingers crossed....


Almost every year since I started tracking my cycling miles, I have set a yearly goal. I've never made it. The closest I've ever come was 2006, when my goal was 2000 miles and I missed it by 2.3 miles. I was going to ride down to the middle school and back on New Year's Eve that year to make my goal, but it was dreary, rainy, cold, and gray. I didn't mind getting wet (much), but I minded a lot getting dead by a car whose driver couldn't see me.

Last year my goal was 2010 miles, and I missed it by over a hundred miles. We had such a wet, cold December that I rode very little that month. I'm not grieving the fact that I didn't make my goal last year, because I wasn't serious about it for about nine months out of the year. After I bought my new bike I got really serious, but come on.... it was October, forcryingoutloud.

Let's not even discuss 2009. Apparently that was a bad year all the way around. 

I took a different approach this year. I set monthly goals that would add up to my yearly goal. I also create a new goal each month for all the months cumulatively up to that point (for example: I have a goal called Jan-July, representing the total of those months). STOP CALLING ME OBSESSIVE!!!!

I have exceeded my monthly goal every month except March. I'm ahead of where I should be in my yearly goal by almost 500 miles. I have already exceeded my Jan-July goal and I haven't ridden ANY this month yet.

Another goal for this year was to ride more each month than I did in the same month last year. For many months that wasn't a problem, because I rode so little. I was a little concerned about June, because BRAG is about the same distance every year. But I wound up exceeding last June by almost 200 miles. Go figure.

50 Things to Do List:

I've completed 18 things on my 50 Things to Do list, which is slightly behind where I should be halfway through the year. Some are in the works; one will be completed on Monday (barring any unexpected catastrophes like fainting in the bank. Oh wait...the bank is closed on Monday. That's good.). Some of them I've already lost interest in and may not even attempt to complete. I hope I don't find myself in a flurry of activity the week between Christmas and New Year's, running around like a banshee looking for hot air balloons and trying to find a golf instructor while dangling from a trapeze and writing a book. And some poetry.


It is 5,443,200 seconds until the first college football game.

It is approximately 5484 hours until the UGA gymnastics season kicks off. Flips off. Begins. Whatever. Since they haven't announced (created?) a schedule yet, I can only use an approximation. You're welcome. I'm giving Kat Ding 227 days from today to be awarded the "10" she has deserved for the last two seasons.

It's 328 real days (not school days) until I retire.

BRAG 2012 begins in 483,480 minutes. I'd better get busy riding.

Friday, July 1, 2011

I Guess There is No DIGNIFIED Place to Faint......

.....but come on, the bank?


I gave blood today, and I've had problems in the past after donating blood. The dizziness usually hits me when I'm in the "canteen" area having juice and cookies. I can tell when it's coming, and I know to let the staff know so they can put me on the Stretcher of Shame. I also discovered years ago that yawning is an indication that I'm going to faint. A nurse told me that yawning was an indication that my blood was starved for oxygen, and that many people yawn right before they die.

Thanks for that little pick-me-up.

Today I felt fine after my donation. I sat in the canteen area the requested 10-15 minutes (closer to 10 - I had a lunch date with the Warrior Princess). I left to go run an URGENT errand for Hubby (SOMEONE who shall remain nameless but has been known to walk in his sleep and enter closets came to the golf course with no beer, immediately causing a situation of national security. Or insecurity. Whatever.) and I still felt fine. I met the Warrior Princess at the restaurant, and we had a lovely time chatting and enjoying lunch. Then I followed her back to the bank so she could take care of some internet banking business for me. I filled out some forms, signed some papers, and thanked the heavens above for the Warrior Princess. Again. It's wonderful having a friend in the banking business.

That's when things began to go a little wrong. I was ready to leave, but the tremendous buzzing in my ears told me that perhaps I shouldn't drive. Warrior Princess offered to let me sit in an unused office, but I said I was fine. And then my color abandoned me. And I started yawning. And then I sort of woke up on the floor in the unused office. Not at all sure how I got there. I heard a man ask if we needed help, and Warrior Princess assured him things were fine, it was only related to my blood donation. Thank goodness for that. Fainting in the bank is embarrassing enough; if anyone had called 9-1-1, I would have been permanently humiliated.

Eventually I felt well enough to drive home (over WP's protests, but I wasn't going to take her away from her job to drive me home), and I felt much better by the time I got home. I checked my blood pressure out of curiosity, and it was 93/54. Hello! I don't know how low is TOO low, but that's way low for me. No telling how low it was when I was still at the bank.

Oddly enough, I have never had blood donation problems when I was fat/obese. I don't reckon that's reason enough to put the weight back on, though.

I'm just pretty sure I can never go back to the bank.