Monday, October 31, 2011

Why I Hate Halloween This Year.....


It's not because the neighborhood hoodlums dress up (or not) in costumes and come to the door begging for candy.

It's not because I told Hubby we could leave the porch light off and just skip it this year and he vetoed that idea and bought two bags of candy, one of which is my very favorite in the world, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, and they are sitting in the bowl taunting me.

It's not because some of the "kids" who come to the door begging for candy are taller than I am. Okay, that's not saying much. Taller than Hubby.

It's not because I didn't get a chance to go grocery shopping this weekend and had to go after school today, completely and totally forgetting it was Halloween, and having to dodge the "little bastards" (Hubby's term, not mine) on every aisle and thereby forgetting to get Cool Whip in the process.

It's not because I teach teenagers and every. single. year. someone asks me why we don't get a day out of school for Halloween.

This year, it's not because the doorbell keeps interrupting the Georgia-Florida game, during which Georgia is getting their a**es handed to them on a plate. (Did I mention we won?)

It's not because trick-or-treating is only beginning when I am ready to go to bed.

This year it's because I was completely dressed for school this morning and running only slightly behind schedule with a few minutes to throw together a (completely unsatisfactory) lunch when I suddenly remembered it was Halloween, and I have not one but two shirts with some version of "Happy Halloween" (yes, I recognize the irony) on them and I had to start all over again getting dressed, right down to the socks.

It is the only day you will EVER catch me dressed in orange.

Happy Halloween.

Such as it is.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Why We Blog.....

I'm looking for input for a blog topic I tossed around in my own head on the six-hour ... YES, SIX-HOUR ... drive home from Sweet Girl's house today.

I came up with quite a few ideas of my own, some of which contradict each other (no surprise there), but I would appreciate some input from my readers.

  • Why do we blog?

  • Why do YOU blog?

  • Why do you think some other people blog? 

  • What do we get out of blogging?

  • How does blogging intersect with the rest of our lives?

I would like to nominate my friend Neena to research this topic. She is already doing her Ph.D. research on mommy bloggers in particular, so it should be no sweat for her to extend her research and write ANOTHER dissertation on blogging in general. (Come on, Neena, you KNOW that it is only at the end of the dissertation process that we figure out what the hell it is we were supposed to be doing all along!)

On a related note, that's almost exactly what I said to my doctoral committee during my final defense. I suggested that in the future they require candidates to write TWO dissertations, since the first one is where you figure out what you're supposed to be doing. The second one could be the real one. I suggested they start it with the class immediately following my own. They didn't go for it, but they did find the sentiment amusing. It's all about the laughs in a final defense.

Anyway, if you have thoughts on the topic of blogging, feel free to leave them in the comments section. You can have an opinion on the subject even if you don't blog yourself.

Have a great week!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.....

I am in Jacksonville, visiting Sweet Girl for the first time in .... oh ... forever. Tomorrow we will go to the annual Georgia-Florida football game, which has been played in Jacksonville since right after Adam and Eve got thrown out of Eden. It is supposed to be a "neutral" site, but every year some Georgia fans raise sand, asking how it can be neutral when it's always in Florida. Every now and then the topic of alternating the game between Georgia and Florida comes up, and different fans (or the same ones, who knows?) raise sand because they LIKE the weekend four-day week-long event the game has become. It is unique in that the stadium is divided exactly in half, all orange and blue on one side (yuck) and red and black on the other.

I haven't been to the Ga-Fla game all that many times. I only went once in college. It was Herschel Walker's freshman year, and the game became known as the Buck Belue to Lindsay Scott game, a miraculous last-minute win by Georgia on a 92-yard pass and run play. Georgia went undefeated that year and went on to take the national championship in January.

It's hard to describe the culture of this event. It isn't just another football game. It's like the Army-Navy game without the discipline. The Ohio State-Michigan game without the cold. The UCLA-USC game only with real football players. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Sadly, it seems that someone dies every year. Not necessarily at the stadium, but in some way connected to the game. One year Hubby and I went to the game, only to read the next morning that a guy had died from a fall down the stairs at a bar just a little while after we were there. We were only there because it A) was near the stadium; and B) sold beer in cute little football-shaped mugs. For about ten bucks a pop. Good thing I gave up beer, since Hubby isn't here this year to bankroll it.

Some people say that the business people of Jacksonville really prefer for Georgia to win, because then we spend money celebrating. And we're here for the duration of the weekend. If Florida wins (as they have like 18 out of the last 21 years or something equally ridiculous, damn them), they just go on back home.

We are sincerely hoping to give the city of Jacksonville a huge economic boost tomorrow night.

Go Dawgs!!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Updates.....

A couple of updates....

Mother-in-law is doing better. The doctor cleared her to start putting weight on the arm she broke, so she can (almost) get herself up and down. She has managed to get herself in her scooter and get around her house a little bit. Yay! The biggest problems remaining currently are her inability to sleep in her own bed and her inability to pull her pants back up when she goes to the bathroom. I wondered aloud to Hubby tonight if she would ever let me know not to come to her house at 6:00 AM every day (including weekends and holidays), and he said, "Nah. You're in it for life." Or something like that. But at least she's progressing.

Baby Luke is progressing as well. He is probably going to be in the hospital for AT LEAST another 8 weeks, but he has been able to breathe on his own, he has been able to suck on a pacifier, and he has been able to digest some food. Not steak and potatoes, you understand, but he has been able to keep down what they have given him. His mom's blood pressure is still elevated, so they are keeping her in the hospital for now. I think the hardest thing for her is yet to come: The day she has to walk out of the hospital and leave Baby Luke behind.


I tried to describe this picture to Hubby, but I kept getting choked up and couldn't finish. I finally asked Luke's daddy to send it to me so I could show Hubby just how tiny Luke is. The new daddy came to school today, and he said he could put his wedding ring around Luke's foot. It's impossible for me to wrap my head around the idea that a baby can be that tiny.

Hubby is fully immersed in at least his second childhood. After almost a year of euphoria caused by being debt-free, he has purchased this new toy.


While I don't tell him what to do (and he doesn't tell ME what to do or not to do), I did say to him SORT OF JOKINGLY, "You don't need anything with 140 mph on the speedometer."

His response?

"I will not go any faster than 130."

I am headed to Florida after school tomorrow for a dual purpose: #1 - To see my Sweet Girl, whom I haven't seen since June; and #2 - To attend the Georgia-Florida football game, formerly known as the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. More on that tomorrow or Saturday.



Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Really.....What ARE You Protesting?......

I'm so glad that officials all over the country finally got tough last night and said to the Occupy _______ (Atlanta, Wall Street, wherever) people, "Get your a**es out of our public areas and go back to work. Or school. Or wherever you came from."

I get that the protestors are fed up with the economy, big business, wealthy people, and anything else that represents The Establishment.

I too am fed up with the economy. Only I couldn't join the protestors because... I have a J-O-B.

Apparently as soon as officials indicated their tolerance was wearing thin, the crowds doubled in size. Protesting wasn't nearly as important until they found out they could protest not being allowed to protest.

I REALLY have a problem with the college students protesting the economy. It reminds me of a letter my brother wrote to our local newspaper during the Vietnam war. He wrote his letter FROM Vietnam. He said, and I paraphrase, "I'm tired of hearing about college students protesting a damn war they're not fighting anyway." I was wide-eyed and open-mouthed that he would write something for the NEWSPAPER that had the word "damn" in it. (I was about 9 years old.)

One of my co-workers said she drove through Athens (where the University of Georgia is located) one warm morning a couple of weeks ago and there were about 20 protestors camped out at the Arches. (Doesn't that border on sacrilege anyway?) Then the temperatures dropped about 30 degrees, and suddenly whatever they were protesting wasn't THAT important. Committed to their causes, those college students.

Don't get me wrong. I believe in the right to protest. I just think they should have something specific in mind they're protesting.

And they should know what it is.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Body Image....Ugh.....

I know it isn't just me who has issues with body image. Why is it that the images we carry around in our heads of how we look NEVER matches what the mirror says?

I mean, it works both ways. Back about a gazillion years ago, when I lost 50 pounds, I was the slimmest I had ever been. I still don't think I would have been described as "thin," though. "Fit" maybe. But in my head I was still overweight, obese, fat. No wonder it's so easy to pack the pounds back on. One of my students offered me a cookie one day at school and I refused, saying, "I didn't lose 50 pounds just to put them back on." He looked confused and said, "You mean you used to be FAT?" I just stared at him, trying to see if he was making fun of me. (He wasn't.) I couldn't figure out the "used to be" part. I thought I still WAS.

And now that I've lost 35 pounds in the last year, I've tried to change the image in my head to a thinNER person (not necessarily a "thin" one). Sometimes I'm more successful than others. I know what size I wear, and I'm STILL amazed when I get something out of the closet and it actually fits. Seriously, I start to pull on a pair of pants and I think to myself, "These are going to cut me in two." Or I'm afraid they will look like my mother described it when I was about 10 years old and had a wonderfully cute new shorts outfit that had a tie belt with it. "You look like a sausage with a string tied around the middle," she said.

Thanks for THAT visual, Mom.

And even though the clothes still fit (some of my new things are actually a little too big, and that's just a little too damn BAD), I can't wrap my head around the fact that I am truly smaller than I was. It's a nice feeling when I can button a pair of pants without sucking in. 

Every now and then, though, I see a picture of me taken recently, and I'm discouraged. I don't want to be rail-thin (good thing, since it ain't EVER going to happen), but I want to have a nice shape. In pictures I still look round, just maybe basketball-round instead of beachball-round. I saw some pictures of me on Rozmo's Facebook page, and I cringed. Still with the belly. All the chins.

I'm trying to use those pictures as incentive to get past this dang plateau I've been on for four months. I've gotten away from exercising in the mornings, justifying it by saying since I have to go so early to take care of my mother-in-law that I deserve those 30 minutes to crochet every morning. I need to get back on that program of early-morning cardio, because I fully believe that (for me at least) it jump-starts my metabolism for the whole day. Then if I can ride my bike in the afternoons (until it gets too cold), that exercise will be a bonus.

I just want to lose the rolls.

Monday, October 24, 2011

#30 - Take a Trapeze Class.....

It never occurred to me until my brother pointed it out last Saturday, but the fact that riding a unicycle and taking a trapeze class both appeared on my 50 Things to Do list might indicate an unhealthy obsession with the circus. He didn't exactly call it "unhealthy." He merely asked if I had also considered taking up lion-taming.

I have been fascinated with trapeze artists as long as I can remember. It couldn't have been from the circus; I don't remember EVER going to the circus, at least as a child. Maybe I saw them on television, I don't know. I wanted to be ANYWHERE that was up THERE, above the crowd, above the treetops, above everything. I climbed trees, I sat on top of the house, I jumped out of airplanes.

When I originally put this item on my list, I said I wanted to take a class at Canopy Studio, a place in Athens where they teach lessons. But they (at least to my knowledge) are more focused on aerial dance and other forms of flying, and when I read that a new company had opened that focuses on outdoor trapeze, I knew that's where I wanted to go. I didn't want to sign up for an 8-week workshop, I just wanted a single lesson. Or two.

I paid for the Warrior Princess' daughter to go with me, because that way I had an excuse. It was her birthday present, so she couldn't say no. I told her I hope when she's 50 that she will have to find 14-year-olds to do things with.

Getting ready. In the background are Kaz and Shane, co-owners of the facility. 

This girl was a natural.

This girl was NOT a natural.
The trapeze was great fun, but I was not physically prepared for it. It didn't require the upper-body strength I anticipated, but they really, really wanted me to swing my feet up, between my hands, and over that bar.

Yeah, that did NOT happen.

I was able, on the second try, to swing my legs OUT and AROUND and put them over the bar, but it was still not graceful. Or pretty. Or easy.

It wasn't at all scary standing on the edge of the board waiting to jump off. I guess the safety net made it not as scary as I thought it would be. It DID, however, require a very unnatural starting position: standing with my toes over the edge of the board, reaching out but keeping my upper body straight, poking my stomach OUT over the board. All these years I've been trying to hold my stomach IN.

I had fun, I did fly, and I might go again. Because I felt like I didn't get it "right" the first time. My upper body and abs are sore, as I figured they would be. I have no idea how I got the bruise on the outside of my right thigh. When I went to bed last night, I kept playing and replaying the jumps (I think I made 4. Or maybe 5.) over and over again in my head, trying to figure out where it went wrong.

And it wasn't THAT wrong. I didn't break anything. I'm probably not going to have a career as a trapeze artist, but it isn't too late for the Warrior Princess' daughter. She was gorgeous. She (and most of the others **ahem**) actually got to do a "catch," transferring from the trapeze to being held by Shane. That in itself should have been an incentive for me to do a better job. Just seeing him in tights and that tight shirt should have done it. But I digress.

They have a free show on Nov. 6th, and I may go see that. I just love watching anyone fly.

I have some video, and as soon as I edit it properly and get it uploaded, I'll share it with you. After a long, long, LOOOOOOOOONG day on Grand Jury duty, I'm not up to it tonight.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

We Interrupt this Blog Post.....

I crossed another item off my 50 Things to Do list today, and I have the video, sore muscles, bruises, and  battered ego to prove it. It will have to wait until tomorrow night, though, as more pressing (and important - are those the same thing?) news is to be shared first.

Baby Luke was born at 8:13 this morning, all whopping 1 pound and 15 ounces and 13 inches of him. Incredibly, he did NOT have to be put on a ventilator (yet) and is doing quite well. Mom is doing well too, but since she had a Caesarean section and I was at the hospital just four hours post-delivery, I didn't get to see her. Dad is AMAZINGLY calm and is doing an incredible job of managing the circus that is her family, his family, friends, and co-workers at the hospital.

Luke's daddy showed us a picture of nothing but his hand holding the tiny one of Luke, and that image is burned in my mind. I'll have to see if he will share it with me.

Luke's grandmother told us at the hospital to go home and look up the Bible verse Luke 1:15 (because that's how much he weighed). 

I find modern medicine just incredible.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

My Heart Hurts and Not Just from Holding My Breath....

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about how thrilled I was to finish another crochet, a baby blanket for Baby Luke. Luke has no other choice but to be completely adorable, because both of his parents are.

Luke's daddy came to us fresh out of college, the only male (at that time) on a staff of cynical (at least in  one **ahem** case), female, veteran, very-much-set-in-our-ways educators. He had just completed his student teaching in a traditional classroom, teaching computer applications and other business courses, and then we threw him in a NON-traditional setting and pretty much said, "You'll figure it out as you go."

And figure it out he has. He has grown into a caring educator, a flexible colleague, and a firm but fair disciplinarian. The fact that he and I spend hours discussing baseball and football is just a bonus. He's a year older than my Sweet Girl, but he feels much more like an equal.



Yes, that is an affected pose.

He's just a good guy. And he married a good girl.

They are young but responsible, already completing their six-year specialist degrees (an educator's certificate that lands between the masters degree and a doctorate here in Georgia), planning carefully, fiscally sound. In other words, more mature than I can ever hope to be.

And now they are faced with an enormous, gigantic, stupendous, overwhelming challenge.

I won't go into all the medical terminology, mainly because I've already forgotten a lot of it, but Baby Luke, due January 4th, may be born very soon. As in the next two weeks. Mom's blood pressure skyrocketed and protein appeared in her urine, classic signs of preeclampsia. Her condition has already set Luke's growth back by about three weeks. Doctors say if she does not improve, then Baby Luke will be better off OUT than IN the womb. They feared they would have to go ahead and do a Caesarean section last Wednesday night, but mom's condition has stabilized somewhat. Doctors estimate Luke weighs about 750 grams right now, which is about 1.65 pounds.

Tiny.

Scary tiny.

I didn't get to see mom in the hospital today, but I visited with the daddy-to-be for a long time. He is calmer than his nature dictates, especially considering the circumstances, and he's WAY smarter about pregnancy and babies and medical conditions than he was this time last week.

Hospital personnel gave him a tour of the NICU, showed him a preemie baby born at about the same stage as Luke (he said it wasn't as scary as he thought it would be, further evidence that he's beyond his years), and they gave him a preemie diaper. He showed it to me, and it looked like a freakin' mini-pad - emphasis on MINI.

Mom is doing better, but the situation is literally day-by-day. They don't know at the beginning of each day if they will become parents that day.

If you could spare some prayers or warm thoughts or incantations or whatever you turn to in times of trouble for this family, I would consider it a personal favor.

Friday, October 21, 2011

When Hubby's Away.....

Hubby is on one of his golf & gambling trips to Mississippi, so I'm home alone. In the old days I would have had Chinese take-out, played a gazillion games of Mario, and stayed up way past my bedtime watching college football.

Last night I had thoughts of going to the Thursday Zumba class, since there's a new instructor. Instead I had broccoli & cheese soup (from a can, no less) and went to bed at 8:00. Just like usual. I flipped back and forth between the baseball game (I'm rooting for the Rangers, even though my godson ISN'T with the team after all) and a college football game I wasn't the least bit interested in.

Tonight I had thoughts of riding my bike after school. Instead I crocheted until I nodded off during the 5:00 newscast, had tomato soup (from a can, no less) and a grilled cheese, and I'm headed to bed now.

The times they are a'changin'.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

My First Car......

My first car was a Datsun B210. If you are too young to remember that Datsun is what a Nissan was called before it was a Nissan, please shut up.


I actually had a couple of used cars bought/borrowed from family members before I got the car just like the one above, but I don't count them.

I count the B210 as my first car.

My step-father had died, Frogger Blogger (who wasn't collecting frogs at that time and the world had never heard of blogging) needed a new car, my mother needed a new car, and I needed a car period. We traded in two gigantic cruise-ship looking Buicks on three Datsun B210s.

I picked out a little red 5-speed sporty-looking one, and Mom and Frogger picked out identical blue ones. When they brought them home, however, Mom had decided the red sporty one had "too much power" for me, so I got one of the blue ones. AND IT WAS ONLY A 4-SPEED.

I pouted for days.

Until Frogger's ex-husband pointed out that I was being a brat and I should be eternally grateful that I was getting a car at all, much less a brand new one, and all I was doing was proving what everyone had long suspected, that as the baby I was spoiled rotten.

I hated him almost at that moment as I did when he beat me to the point of vomiting when I was about eight years old. Looking back now, I can clearly see that he was right. About me being a brat, but not about the beating. I've never come to terms with that incident.

Anyway, the blue car was mine. I didn't know how to drive a stick shift, but Mom suggested I learn. It was amazing how quickly I DID learn, since I really, really wanted to drive my new car.

It had no radio and no air conditioner. And I loved it.

I got it over Christmas break my senior year of high school (but I don't remember it being my Christmas present, further proving I was ridiculously spoiled), and on the first day back at school, I drove past the gym on my way out of school for the day. A group of guys in my senior class were standing around the gym entrance, and one of them yelled, "[Bragger's] got a new car! Let's go!" Whereupon six guys (plus me) piled in my car for a joy ride around the neighborhood. There wasn't room for six guys in that little car. The engine strained going up a hill. I was wishing I had the "power" of the sporty red machine I had originally picked out.

[In a crystal-clear case of karma, the red car that my mother insisted on wresting from my greedy little grasp had to have its engine rebuilt within its first year of life. Bam.]

I had a radio (with cassette player!) installed the next spring, and my friend Chi-Chi and I rode many miles listening to the Beach Boys, Billy Joel, David Allan Coe, and some artists even worse than that last one.

Jason was driving that car when we were tooling around Athens one day. I had my seat reclined, the windows were down (remember, no air conditioner), and I suddenly blurted out that I needed to pee. People in nearby cars turned to stare at Jason, trying to figure out how he made his voice sound like that. Jason dragged on my arm, hissing "Sit up. SIT UP!" so people would stop looking at him. 

I was still driving that car after I married Sweet Girl's father. We lost it in a tragic accident in the parking lot of a grocery store one Sunday morning. Would you have believed a car could be totaled in a grocery store parking lot? Somewhere I have a picture of the wreckage; I'll see if I can find it.

That car was nothing special, but I think it's like your first love. You always remember your first car, the one you first felt car lust for.

It cost less BRAND NEW than the bicycle I bought a year ago.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cycling: The Wimp-Out Edition....

In typical fashion here in the South, we jumped two seasons in the span of a few hours. It was summer yesterday and winter(like) today.

I watch the weather forecasts religiously, and I THINK I know what to expect. I believed the weather people when they said our high temperature today would occur this morning, with steadily dropping temperatures throughout the day. I still expected the temps to be in the upper 50's (maybe I didn't listen as carefully as I should have), so I took my bike to school.

A couple of co-workers looked at me askance (isn't THAT a cool word?) when I left for the day, and my principal said, "You're going to FREEZE!" I even went outside to see if I needed my jacket in addition to the jersey and long-sleeved t-shirt underneath.

The answer was yes, I needed my jacket. And two more just like it, ideally.

The winds were fierce, clouds hung low in the sky, and my fingers went numb fairly quickly. I got to the first decision point and stopped for a moment, pondering whether I should continue to ride. (I had asked Hubby to stay close by, just in case.) I turned on my usual path, telling myself to suck it up and finish the ride.

Then I made the next turn, straight into the wind. That's one of the longest stretches of my ride home. Isn't that the way it always goes, a headwind on the longest stretch? I rode that piece for a couple of miles, and then I said to myself, "Screw it." I stopped and called Hubby to come get me. Turns out the temperature was in the 40's, not the 50's. I said I could stand two out of the three: clouds, cold, and wind. All three together just made me angry.

The grand total of my mileage for the afternoon? 4.83 miles.

Do I feel like  a wimp because I didn't finish the ride due to a little discomfort? Yes I do.

Am I glad I wimped out? Yes I am.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

And THAT'S What Is Wrong with Teenagers Today....

Our county seems to have a higher than average number of teen pregnancies, and a lot of the moms and moms-to-be wind up coming to our school, either for the flexibility our school allows or just to get away from the regular high school environment. (My "favorite" was the girl and her mom, whom I wrote about before, who wanted to come to our school only for the pregnancy, then return to the regular high school to have a "normal" senior year, including cheerleading.)

I've written before about how conflicted I feel about these girls. We want to support them and help them get finished with high school so they can (we hope we hope we hope we hope) continue their education and provide for their babies. I worry that we send the wrong message, though. The girls show up with their babies, we ooh and aah over them, and the rest of the school population sees them getting all this attention.

(My next-to-favorite was from THIS school year, when a girl gave birth to a baby on Friday and then showed up with him at school on MONDAY, as if it were freakin' SHOW AND TELL or something. Sheesh.)

I said all that to point out that it isn't at all unusual for several of our students to be expecting babies at any given moment. Smart, dumb, white, black, gorgeous, homely, there is a LOT of teen sex going on in our county. Unprotected teen sex at that.

One of our girls (who I am convinced is as cray-cray as they get and has already been suspended twice, once for fighting and once for asking a teacher "who the f*** do you think you are?") is pregnant, and like many of our population (I guess like many of this generation period), she lives with her grandmother.

I heard her discussing her unborn child with some of her friends while they were going to lunch one day last week. (At least one of the friends is pregnant too, and I'm afraid that's part of the unending cycle, a competition of sorts.) This cray-cray pregger girl was saying that if HER child got pregnant as a teenager, she would "put her out." In other words, kick her out of the house.

Huh?

I was drawn into the conversation, and her friends asked if I agreed with them that the girl in question was practicing a double standard. (That's my term, not theirs.) I asked her if that meant she thought her grandmother should have put HER out.

"No," she said, "parenting is different for me."

Huh?

Wow. Even for a cray-cray, I was amazed. She wan't being funny either.

That's just the way she rolls. Sadly, she isn't the only one.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Disturbing......

We (Katydid, Rozmo, Deb and I) witnessed a rather disturbing scene at BikeFest this weekend. It has been on my mind ever since, but I didn't want to spoil the happiness that was the bike ride with this scene that was ... not happy.

I noticed a group of people down below us, on the Riverwalk, because there appeared to be some tension. Then a container of ... something ... french fries? ... onion rings? ... went flying. There was a little girl involved, probably about two and a half years old. There was a young woman, an older woman (holding the child), and an older man. The older two appeared to be parents of the young woman and grandparents of the child.

Their voices became louder and I could hear them clearly all the way up where we were standing, probably about a hundred feet away. (Give or take ... I'm terrible with distance. Which probably explains why I continue to choose to ride the century route when I could be watching football.)

I could clearly hear the young woman (who wasn't teenage young, just younger than the other woman, obviously, since that turned out to be her mother) saying, "Show me the paperwork. Show me the paperwork. Show me the paperwork or give me my child."

It was obviously a custody dispute, and I wanted both to turn away because I felt like a Peeping Tom and to watch as closely as I could in case the verbal dispute became physical. I had already heard someone ... maybe BOTH women ... saying, "Don't touch me! Don't touch me!" The little girl, thankfully, was not crying, but I couldn't stand the thought that she might get caught between these two seemingly irrational adults. Well, one was more irrational than the other, but the situation was getting out of control.

Enter Rozmo.

She had gone to take pictures down on the Riverwalk, and the argument moved down her way. The father had come up the steep stairs to where we were standing, presumably to wait for police to arrive. Rozmo had stumbled upon the two women arguing, asked if everything were okay, and when one said "Yes" and the other said "No," she tried to mediate.

That's Rozmo. That's the way she rolls. She has SUCH a way with people, and especially children. She was able to calm both adults and get them to walk up to where we were standing, and she kept the little girl engaged in conversation the whole time.

I won't bore you with ALL the details, but the woman had lost custody of her little girl because of a drug issue, and the grandmother DID have paperwork, which she was only willing to turn over to law enforcement. I have no idea how this scene came to be played out on the Riverwalk, unless there was an issue with visitation or something. It seemed a strange place for such a situation to get out of hand, without any social services or law enforcement people around to keep things under control in the first place.

Sadly, I didn't find the situation with the mother and the drug habit and the loss of custody surprising at all. It's what we hear all the time these days. What I DID find surprising was that the mother who has lost custody is an OB/GYN but has no job now because of her drug habit. She has no right to have her child now because of a drug habit.

How tragic. It's tragic for ANYONE, I realize, but to think someone with the intelligence to go to college, complete medical school, survive the internship and residency, and become a practicing medical doctor could throw everything away like that just because of drugs just boggles my mind.

I hurt for the little girl. And the grandmother. And the grandfather.

And the mother.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

BikeFest Sunday....

Today is my favorite day of a 3-day bike ride. Sunday's ride is always more relaxed, more laid-back. It sounds funny to say the route today was "only" 40 miles, but that felt like a walk in the park after yesterday's 102 miles. Katydid and I rode the tandem, and we took it easy, sort of meandering along. We joked and laughed, especially with Winston, who nearly KILLED himself trying to stay ahead of us. When we took a little short-cut off the Riverwalk, we could hear him 100 yards behind us saying, "How did they get in front of me?" Then at the end we took another short-cut through the parking lot (in our defense, it was much more practical than trying to ride the winding switchbacks of the handicap-accessible ramp up from the Riverwalk), we were waiting at Winston's RV for him. He said the sweetest three words I've ever heard from him: "I give up."

Today's ride was partly on the Riverwalk, which I wanted to roll up and bring home with me, and partly on the Army base of Fort Benning. We had to ride through a military checkpoint, and the man whose job it was to check for our wristbands took his assignment VERY seriously. I thought I was going to wreck the tandem just trying to hold up my arm to show my wristband.

It was a fabulous weekend (and the Dawgs won - barely - whew!) of bicycling. I had so much fun catching up with old friends and making a few new ones.

Here are some random pictures from the weekend.

View of the Chattahoochee River, which serves as the border between Georgia and Alabama.

On Fort Benning

Shadow shot of Katydid and me on the tandem

Shadow shot of me from Saturday's century ride, before the 72-95 mile stage when things weren't fun

The power of the water going through the turbine at the dam. The water is released about 5:00 PM, and the kayakers are already lined up to play in the rapids.

Building between the Riverwalk and downtown Columbus. I loved the angle of this shot.

The dam in the background, not long after the water had been released.

This puppy was enjoying a drink - and making a mess - along the Riverwalk.

Not a very good picture of a pink labrador retriever. His owner, who lost his mother to breast cancer, had dyed the dog pink for Breast Cancer Awareness. We later saw a pink giant poodle.

Another shot of the dam with the waters unleashed.



Katydid on the Riverwalk.

Another view of the river from the Riverwalk.

Rozmo on the way back to camp on Friday. I could have used some of that propane (sign in background) to assist me.


The marina where we had a rest stop on Friday.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

BikeFest Saturday - The Century Edition....

I didn't want to commit to the century ride today, especially after Rozmo said she wasn't going to ride it. The decision point between the 47-mile route and either 86 or 101 miles came very early in the day - at the 14.9-mile mark. I knew I wanted to ride more than 47 miles, so I soldiered on.

The next decision point was at 60 miles. I could ride 86 or 101. I told myself I would check my average riding speed at that point, and if it was anywhere near 14 mph, I would ride the century. I forgot to check my average, and I had already made the turn for the 101. When I DID check it, I had averaged 15.1 to that point. That's unheard of for me, no matter what the ride length.

The overall ride was pretty tough, with lots of hills and lots of shake-n-bake pavement. Miles 72 to 95 were not much fun, but I was back by 4:00. Pictures tomorrow, if they are decent. Needless to say, I'm pooped. And there's a ballgame to watch.

Go Dawgs!


Friday, October 14, 2011

BikeFest Friday....

This is a rather long-winded (if I don't fall asleep first) post about bicycling, so if that bores you to tears, you may be excused. It won't even hurt my feelings. Much.

Today's ride started out on the Riverwalk, a very neat bicycling/walking path in Columbus, Georgia. We went out to the Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center for our first rest stop, then turned around and came back to BRAG headquarters for Rest Stop #2. That can be a dangerous thing to do, coming back to camp for a rest stop. It would have been way too easy to settle for a 17 mile ride and call it a day.

There was another big section of the route on a bike path, and that can be a good thing or a bad. It's good because there is no traffic and very few hills (the path is built on an old abandoned railway line), but it's treacherous passing other cyclists, particularly if cyclists and walkers are coming from the other direction. The path was also often covered with leaves (duh, it's called "fall" for a reason) and acorns, along with random tree branches. But it was still a very nice change from having to dodge cars. Rest Stop #3 was at the end of the path at about the 30 mile mark.



Naturally the hills began after we left the path, but they weren't the killer type. They would have been much worse on the tandem, though. My climbing gear on my single bike is much friendlier than the tandem. The fact that it is made out of carbon fiber (which apparently costs a war pension per gram) helps too.

Rest Stop #4 was at mile marker 40 at a pavilion next to a store. There were no porta potties, and I didn't want to walk across the parking lot to go in the store. Plus I don't like to use the bathroom in a store if I don't buy something there, and getting money out of my bike bag would have been way too much trouble, not to mention silly because we had FREE food and drink at the rest stop, so I just didn't use the bathroom at that stop. I realize I have just provided you with information you neither needed nor probably wanted.

Rest Stop #5 was at the bottom of a SCREAMING hill at a marina. Seriously, I gasped when I started down that hill. And the tent with the rest stop was set up right at the bottom of the hill. Really? I refused to ride my brakes down the hill, so I flew past the rest stop tent and went around a little loop in the parking lot. I was surprised more people didn't do the same thing. That rest stop was also only 5 miles from the end, which I thought was a little silly (that's two "sillies" in the same blog post, if you're counting), but I guess the folks in charge of such things thought they would get a bunch of complaints if the last leg of the ride had been 20 miles. And they're probably right, because people are bound to complain regardless.

It might not LOOK like a screaming hill, but trust me...I'm a doctor.


The route was advertised as 60 miles today, but my GPS said 63.63 when we got back. There is always a little variation, but today's difference may be due to the number of times we missed turns and had to go back. I swear, the number of times we turned around today is probably more than the last 10 years of doing these rides combined. I don't know if it was sloppy route marking (which almost never occurs) or sloppy paying attention to the marks on the road. But we got back safely, and that's all that matters.

Tomorrow's mileage is still being negotiated. Story tomorrow night.




Thursday, October 13, 2011

BikeFest Day Zero....

We are right on the Georgia-Alabama border for a three-day bike ride called BikeFest. We are in a new location for the fall ride this year, although we have stayed here before on the week-long ride of BRAG. Katydid and I brought three bikes: my single, her single, and the tandem. We actually brought four if you count my unicycle, which I cannot ride yet. But it ought to provide some humorous video if nothing else.

We don't know which bikes we are going to ride on which day, but we are fairly certain we are NOT going to ride the tandem on Saturday. In a serious role reversal, I'm trying to talk Rozmo INTO the century ride on Saturday (which is actually 101 miles, and don't think that last mile won't be a killer), and she's trying to talk me OUT of it. The next shorter ride is 86 miles - hell, you might as well go ahead and ride the century. After that is the 47, and we're not even discussing that one. I mean, what would we do with the REST of the day? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

We are pretty certain we will ride 60 miles tomorrow, and discussions are taking place even as we type as to whether we will ride single or tandem. Weather is supposed to be nice, sunny and in the low 80's.

Now THIS is what personal days are made for.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Handedness.....

I am right-handed, so naturally there are some things I expect to do better with my right hand: writing, eating, crocheting, putting on make-up.

Some things that SHOULDN'T be limited to one hand, though, apparently are for me. For example, I always hold the telephone up to my left ear. Even in very long conversations when my left ear goes numb and I need to switch to the other side, I can't do it. The phone has to be in my left hand. Maybe that goes back to all those years I smoked, when my right hand had to be free to hold a cigarette. (There's another one.)

This (admittedly not very profound) thought occurred to me today when I was riding my bike. I usually reach for my water bottle with my right hand, which I guess is to be expected. That leaves me steering with my LEFT hand, which is not my dominant hand. Is that even smart? The reason this occurred to me today was that there were some dogs out in their yard just down the street from school, and sometimes they chase me. They don't appear to be vicious, and sometimes their owner is out there with them, so I don't feel all that threatened by them. Still, it never hurts to be cautious.

Whenever I see dogs loose when I'm on my bike, I reach for my water bottle. I've discovered that a shot of cold water to the face is just as good a dog deterrent as the pepper spray stuff they sell specifically for cyclists. Only the water is much cheaper, and you don't have to be close enough to smell the dog's breath to reach your target. The dogs today were on my left, so I reached for my water bottle with my left hand. The dogs weren't all that serious, and they decided the oncoming car was more of a threat to them than a middle-aged woman on a bicycle, so I didn't actually have to squirt them. The cool thing about this tactic is that if the dogs DON'T turn out to be a danger to me, I can just take a swig of water and pretend that was my goal all along. Otherwise the dogs might be rolling on their backs in the road, waving their paws in the air and laughing at me.

It didn't feel natural. It was awkward almost to the point of being dangerous. I was steering with my right hand, which is my dominant hand, and it should do the better job of steering one-handed. But it didn't feel right. In fact, I had to switch the water bottle to my right hand to put it back in its cage while steering with my left hand.

I'm also left-footed when it comes to water skiing. On a slalom ski, I put my left foot in front instead of my right.

I don't know the point of all this. Just some observations.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Some Weeks are Apparently Like That.....

I wouldn't go so far as to say this week has sucked, and I certainly wouldn't stoop to saying that MY LIFE sucks, because I try not to be quite that dramatic, but the first two days in this week have not been overly kind to me, as evidenced by the fact that I have just written a nearly (but not quite) run-on sentence and would like to continue it for comedic effect but don't have the energy.

Please do not interpret this list as whining. I am not grumpy, I am not depressed, I am not angry, and I am not contemplating the early retirement on November 1st which would still allow me to collect my full pension. These are just observations, not complaints.

If you are afraid they are going to be complaints anyway, despite the long-winded disclaimer(s) I have offered, feel free to go visit someone else's blog.

  • Our state has experienced another severe drought for the last several months. Yesterday and today should have taken care of that little matter.
  • Rain means I can't ride my bike. One of my goals this year is to ride more miles every month than I did that same month last year. I realize that borders on ridiculous, and really, how many years can anyone hope to keep THAT up? In October last year I rode the insane number of 453 miles. If the rain doesn't stop soon, how am I ever going to beat that?
  • Our electricity went off at 5:50 this morning and was still out when I left for school. I could do everything except dry my hair, and I keep a hair dryer at school. Luckily I had already had my coffee and my Greek yogurt before the power outage. 
  • The traffic light at the end of our road was out due to the power outage, and there was a sheriff's deputy there. Sitting in his car. Very useful. 
  • I have spent two days trying to crochet back to the point where I was on Sunday night, before I realized I had an extra stitch in every round and had to take it out. I could have compensated for the extra stitch, but I won't let myself do that. I pulled out six rounds of double crochet stitches.
  • I spent 30 minutes this morning crocheting by flashlight. Obsessed much?
  • I almost talked myself out of going to Zumba tonight, but I missed last Tuesday, and I won't be here for the Thursday class this week, so I went. It was not enjoyable this time for some reason. I love the Tuesday instructor, but I just wasn't feeling it this week.
  • My mother-in-law called after dinner tonight and told me to send Hubby down there to help her to the bathroom. Hubby doesn't particularly like doing that, so I asked why him. She said she didn't want to ask me all the time, and I said I would be right there. Either she should have called sooner or I should have moved quicker. Nuff said.
  • Both cats have decided they like to sleep thisclosetous. I'm never having another cat.
  • When the bicycle rack is on my car, the beep-beeps that tell me when I'm about to ram my car into something behind me is one long, loud, piercing screech. It is about one pitch off from the seat belt warning tone, and when they are both going, it feels like someone has stuck a pitchfork through my nostril straight into my brain. (I ALWAYS wear a seat belt, except when I'm driving the 100 yards to my mother-in-law's house because it's pouring rain.)
  • I realized tonight that I haven't touched my piano in months. I have no idea why that thought occurred to me either. Perhaps that would be good therapy. But not right now, since Hubby would not like to be jarred from sleep by my therapy.
Enough negative vibes for tonight. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

On the Horns of a Dilemma....

One thing about living in a small town is that everyone knows everyone else.

Even if you don't KNOW someone, you know him or her. You might see the same people in the grocery store, at the "Y," at the nail salon, at the library, even if you don't know their names.

There's a woman who works at our local grocery store who is very friendly, but she gets on my nerves. She apparently thinks we're better friends than we are, because she has always been free with her complaints. She's one of those negative people, always complaining, usually about where she works. (Uh.....get a different job?) I refuse to allow her to wheel my groceries to my car, because I don't want to hear her gripe and grumble all the way across the parking lot.

Saturday I think she reached a new low. She was bagging my groceries while a young girl rang them up. They started talking about someone who works at the same grocery store, criticizing her about buying her groceries with food stamps. Negative Nancy said, "She had $1000 on her food stamp card. And she left here with four buggies full of groceries. And we're paying for that. And she has a husband, or a boyfriend, or whatever she calls him."

I was so uncomfortable I couldn't say anything. I just looked in the other direction and pretended to search for my car keys. I don't know the girl she was talking about, and it's certainly none of MY business how she buys her groceries or how much she buys. I'm pretty sure it was none of this woman's business either.

One of our neighbors is also a cashier there, and she was behind me, apparently on her break, paying for something. The loudmouth complainer spoke to her, and it appeared to me that our neighbor was a little curt toward her. As if she doesn't have much use for her either. I would be interested to know if she has the same take on the woman that I do.

I was so annoyed I was tempted to call the manager and tell him or her what happened. If I report her, am I sticking MY nose where it doesn't belong? She's bound to know who told on her, and while I don't think I should be embarrassed about it, well.... it is still a very small town. I wouldn't want her to get fired or anything, but I don't like talking to her. She makes me feel so awkward. It's not like it's a teenager we're talking about here. She's an older lady, and surely somewhere along the way someone has told her it's not nice to talk about people, it's unprofessional to talk about co-workers (in such a public way - there, I just cleared myself), and it's a cardinal sin of business to make the customer feel uncomfortable.

Maybe I will just shop somewhere else.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pedal for Paws.....

Katydid and I did a ride today in our college town called Pedal for Paws.

Wait, the RIDE was called that, not our town. Just had to clear THAT up.

The ride was to benefit Athens Canine Rescue, a worthy cause in our minds.

One reason we decided to do this ride was A) it was on a Sunday; and B) it meant we didn't have to leave home at 6:00 AM to get to the ride start. We could even load the bike in daylight! (But since Hubby was still sleeping, I couldn't PACK in daylight, which might explain the fact that I wound up with leg warmers [which I didn't need] instead of arm warmers [which I did]. Turns out leg warmers work almost as well on the arms.)

Another thing I really appreciated about this ride is that they emailed us the cue sheet (directions) last week. That meant I could convert it to a map on the computer and upload it into the GPS. Then the GPS beeps to let us know when to turn, and there is a bright pink line indicating the correct route. There are also symbols painted on the road, but having the map in the GPS is a great comfort.

When I was looking at the cue sheet, I was pretty sure the route would go right past the house where our Grandmother and Granddaddy used to live when we were young. I asked another rider if she would stop and take our picture (because Rozmo was so far ahead of us), and she willingly did so.

We didn't bother asking the owners if they MINDED us traipsing across their yard. Maybe they were still asleep. At any rate, I'm relieved they didn't come out shooting. We can't ride fast enough to dodge bullets. Hell, we can't ride fast enough to dodge a turtle with arthritic knees.

I love this house so much. I have many, many happy memories of time spent there. And some not-so-happy ones too. Like when my brother Jack would go to the railroad tracks across from the house and lie down on the tracks, telling me, "Yep. I hear a train coming." At which point I would cry and try in vain to drag him off the tracks, sure in my little tiny brain that he would lie there and allow a train to smash him to pieces.

See that window over the front porch? I once threw my ballerina doll out of that window. My cousin assured me she would catch it. She did not. Butthead. The doll never danced again. Probably tore her ACL or something.

I wish I had taken the time to take more pictures. Like the enormous magnolia tree in the front yard. Or the pecan trees in the back yard. But we were already trespassing, and we didn't want to be last to finish the ride. Again.

It was a very windy day and the route was very, very hilly, but we knew both of those things before we started. It didn't make it any easier, and my legs and back are very, very sore tonight. I see some P.M. medication in my immediate future.

This is the only ride I've ever done where I've found doggie treats in the goodie bag along with the usual PowerBar and energy gel. Gus wasn't thrilled with the dog bone, but Libby liked it okay.

And the t-shirt?

Orange print. On a blue shirt.

Like I'm ever going to wear THAT.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Excuse My Tardiness.....

Forgive me for being tardy with my blog post tonight. Or if you're one of those who read it the next day, you probably didn't even NOTICE I was late.

I had good intentions of posting during halftime of the UGA game, but I flipped over to another game, and I forgot. And I was sort of crocheting between plays, and I didn't think I could triple-task. Yay for UGA - they beat Tennessee 20-12. What a relief.

I sort of dozed off during the Georgia Tech game earlier today. [All tuckered out from a 20-mile bike ride? That doesn't bode well for the 60-mile ride tomorrow IN THE FREAKIN' WIND.] When I woke up there was an ambulance on the field. The game was delayed about ten minutes while they tended to a Maryland player. They said it was a leg injury, which sounded better than a neck injury, but they said it was so gruesome that they would NOT replay it. What? They broke Joe Theismann's leg over and over and over and over and over again on television. And for some reason I've never seen it.

I've done better in my College Pickem games this week. I have 41 points out of a possible 55, with three games still to be decided. The person who is currently in first place is a 12-year-old. In this contest, there are ten college football games every week. You have to pick the winner of each game and then assign "confidence points" to each game, with 10 points assigned to the game you feel the most certain you have picked right. One of the games still to be determined tonight is my 9-pointer, and they are currently losing. But I am an eternal optimist, and I fully expect them to come back with over ten minutes left in the game.

Up way past my bedtime, and a bike ride tomorrow. I'd better turn in. Gus has been trying to get me to go to bed for the past two hours.

If there's anything I hate, it's being bossed around by a dog.

Friday, October 7, 2011

#31 - Have $_______ in Savings......

When I put this item on my 50 Things to Do list, I had a specific number in mind. My mama taught me that it's vulgar to discuss money, though, so I didn't reveal what my number WAS. (See, Mama, I did listen to a lot of some a few that one thing.)

You'll just have to trust me that I reached it. I could offer photographic proof if I took a screen shot of my account balance, but there's that vulgar thing again.

I've had this online savings account since 2004. I call it my orange account, and it just occurred to me as I was composing this post that I'll have to start calling it something else, given my intense antipathy for all things orange. No wonder I hate Halloween. And October.

When I opened the account, the economy was good and these online folks were paying much better interest rates than traditional banks. I set it up for an automatic transfer from my checking account, and that lets it build up pretty quickly. I just deduct that transfer at the beginning of the month just like the rest of the bills, and it's like I never had the money. (Do any of us actually have any MONEY anymore anyway? Isn't everything electronic?)

In the past few years, of course, the interest rate has declined, dwindling down to almost nothing. (Although I was surprised to find that in the seven years I've had this account, I've earned over $500 in interest alone.) I still like socking that money away, though, even though I don't have a specific thing I'm saving up for. I have occasionally withdrawn money from it, and then I start building it back up again. I have this silly idea about withdrawing money from savings, even an online account. I picture a little person sitting inside the computer, tsk-tsking me for taking what is MY OWN MONEY in the first place. When we bought the RV two years ago, we needed a substantial down payment, so I pretty much drained my online account for that. But I considered it a good use of the money, and I didn't regret it at all. Ironically, when it came down to draining it again this past summer to put money down on the marsh house, I balked.

And I think the reason I balked is that it was ON THIS LIST. Ever since I created the list and had a certain dollar amount in mind, I have been more reluctant than ever to take money out of it. And now that I've reached my goal, I don't think I will now go crazy and go spend it all. It's comforting to know it's there in case of a true emergency.

Like a much-needed trip to a tropical place.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Traitor's Wife by Susan Higginbotham....






This book opens as 13-year-old Eleanor de Clare, niece of King Edward II, prepares to marry Hugh le Despenser. It chronicles her adventures (and misadventures) as a lady-in-waiting to Queen Isabella in the early 1300's and follows her through the course of her life. 


It was a close race as to whether I liked the writing style or the thorough research in this book. It was a free download for my Kindle (my favorite kind of book - free!), and I have to confess that I wasn't expecting a whole lot. I was pleasantly surprised when I found the writing fresh and the plot engaging. My eyes did glaze over a couple of times with the number of Eleanors, Edwards, Hughs, and Joans, and I didn't EVEN begin to understand the connections among dukes, earls, lords, ladies, and a partridge in a pear tree.


But the characters were presented as very REAL, allowing readers to see their negative attributes along with their positive ones. I found that I didn't like a character because he or she was perfect; I liked him or her in spite of the imperfections. Just like real life. Imagine that!


I'm almost afraid to admit this in print, but I always read EVERYTHING in a book. Including the author's acknowledgements at the end. Susan Higginbotham was very straightforward about which parts of her book were based on solid research and which parts she fictionalized. She even explained WHY and HOW she added some fictional details, and I appreciated her honesty. 


Some reviewers (I never read reviews until after I have finished a book) found this book tedious, but I became engrossed in it and couldn't put it down. It may be the best free book I've ever read, and I can't wait to read Hugh and Bess.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Baby Luke's ABC Blanket.....

One of my co-workers and his wife are expecting their first baby in January. They are a sweet, sweet couple, and beautiful to boot. I struggle on a daily basis not to hate their guts. They are also roughly the age of my own Sweet Girl, which makes me realize I am old enough to be a grandmother.

Yikes.

I have made this particular pattern four times now. The first time was for my friend Neena WHOSE BIRTHDAY JUST HAPPENS TO BE TODAY - HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NEENA!!! Sorry....Forgive me for shouting. I get overexcited sometimes.

Neena, I know what the hell I'm doing now, and I can make this blanket with the edges EVEN. Could I replace the one I crocheted for one of your precious babies? I realize the retarded defective one might have "character," but it makes me cringe with shame when I realize that back then I thought "approximately" the same number of stitches on each row might be acceptable. What a dork.





Sorry the picture isn't better. I tend to do things like wait until the sun goes down to try to take a picture in natural light because I don't like the flash. Also, the fact that you can't see the "A, B, C" at the top is causing a severe Monk Moment even as we speak. Another thing I never think to do is take multiple shots from different angles and different amounts of ....... up-closeness? Reason #989164718 that I'll never be a REAL photographer.

This pattern is actually a lot easier than it looks. It's just single crochet stitches, with the letters formed by making puff stitches. The only challenge is that when it's time to make the puff stitches, I'm working from the BACK of the pattern. If I get involved in a baseball or football game, sometimes I just sail along making single crochet stitches and forget to throw in a puff stitch every now and then to form the letters of the alphabet. The last time I made this blanket, for a friend of Sweet Girl's, I was so confident that I knew what I was doing that when I made the letter "J," I made it backward.

The part of this blanket that makes me CURSE is the border. I have to make puff stitches just like I do for the letters, but they don't fit neatly into the side stitches and the bottom edge stitches. By the time I get to the border, though, I've got so much time invested in the rest of the blanket that I have to finish it. And by the time I hear of another pregnancy, I forget what a beeyotch the border was, and the cycle begins again.

If you would like to give one of these adorable blankets to someone in your life who is expecting a little bundle of joy, just let me know. I'll be happy to share the pattern with you.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Kind of Mean but Necessary......

My mother-in-law, like many of her generation..... no wait, like many sane people of ANY generation.... is kind of particular about having her doors locked. It's HUBBY AND ME who are the weird ones, rarely locking our doors.

At my mother-in-law's house, however, the key is under a trash can that sits on her carport. No burglar worth his salt would ever think to look there because it's so damn obvious.

When we first started going down to her house first thing in the morning, we would locate the key, fumble with the doors (because her storm door opens one way and the main door the other), fumble around with the lock (because it's a trick to get her key in the lock and turn it to open the door), and generally turn the relatively simple operation into a chaotic ordeal. Thereby spilling our coffee and sometimes stepping on Gus in the process.

We then decided that we just wouldn't lock the door at night. We figured if the worst happened and someone did enter Granny's house in the middle of the night, perhaps he might take sympathy on her and take her to the bathroom.

I'm kidding!

Sort of.

We don't dare TELL her we aren't locking the door, though. She can't see it from her spot on the sofa, so when we leave at night, we make a big deal about fiddling around with the lock so it sounds like we are locking it. When we get there in the morning we do the same thing, so it sounds like we're having trouble putting the key in the lock. If we just opened the door and walked right in, she might realize it wasn't locked in the first place.

I feel kind of guilty, but if we can do even little things to help preserve our sanity after almost NINE WEEKS of tending to Granny....

We just have to do what we have to do. Please don't judge us too harshly.

Monday, October 3, 2011

What I'm NOT Doing on My Fall Break.....

  • Staying at a casino in Vegas as Hubby and I had planned (and I came THIS CLOSE to booking, because I tend to do things like that freakishly far in advance) before our school board changed our school calendar
  • Participating in a multi-day bicycle ride because it doesn't occur until weekend after next, although it seems that the two events once occurred on the same weekend
  • Visiting my Sweet Girl, because I AM going down there in 25 days, and I can't wait to see her
  • Cleaning house
  • Taking a short trip to my marsh house in South Carolina, the one I chickened out of buying back in August and have regretted it almost every day since
  • Working on the book I have been writing, although I compose a chapter or two in my head almost every day
  • Renovating our house, and thank all the gods and divorce lawyers in the world for that
  • Getting a much-needed pedicure
  • Going to see my mother because I'm a HORRIBLE daughter
  • Wearing make-up. Or a bra

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Lewis Grizzard and Catfish Memorial Ride....

Today's bike ride was in the hometown of Lewis Grizzard, a humorist and longtime writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. (Catfish was the name of his dog.)


One of my favorite stories about Lewis came from his (fourth) wife after his death in 1994 (I think). A huge UGA football fan, one of Lewis' final wishes was that his ashes be scattered on the 50-yard line in Sanford Stadium. His wife attempted to do so, but her efforts were blocked by UGA officials, citing concerns that they would be overrun with people wanting to do the same. I can just see the little piles of ashes accumulating on the 50.


Lewis' widow somehow managed to gain entrance to the stadium anyway, ashes in tow. I'm pretty sure someone simply turned a blind eye, thus skirting the rules and allowing Lewis' last wishes to be honored. It was the off-season, however, and there were no lines on the field. She couldn't tell where the 50-yard line WAS.


I'm not sure who her companion was (and I'm way too tired to look it up, but feel free to do my research FOR me if you're so inclined, and thank you), but he said to her, "Honey just scatter the ashes. Lewis will find the 50."


Katydid, Rozmo and I have done this ride a number of times, and it is in a BEAUTIFUL part of the state. It passes by numerous horse farms (in fact, a rest stop is at one of those farms) and features some very rural roads with scenery that makes you glad to be alive and on a bicycle.


A cold front came through yesterday, and this morning's temperatures were the lowest we've had since last spring. It was the first bike ride this fall where we had to wear layers, and we never unlayered the whole ride. Well, I did take off my ear warmers, but my jacket, jersey, and long-sleeved t-shirt stayed for the entire ride. It eventually warmed up to the 70's, but by that time I was wet with sweat underneath, and I still couldn't take any of my layers off for fear of becoming chilled in the wind.


Wind. There's a comforting thought on a bicycle. Not.


The winds were relentless. Brutal. Infuriating. Not even Lewis Grizzard could have found a nice or funny thing to say about the winds today.

The route map said the ride was 62 miles. I checked my cycling log from last year, and I KNEW it was more like 66. But still I got the idea in my head that we might be pleasantly surprised to finish at "only" 62 miles. Wrong.



I would love to post the four pictures I took on today's ride, including the one of the yellow and purple water tower. See, this ride overlaps some of the same roads we were on for the Wilson 100 in August. At the end of the Wilson, when a purple and yellow water tower comes into view, it means you have reached the end of the ride. The finish is in sight. You have survived again. On TODAY'S ride, however, the purple and yellow water tower that is usually such a comforting sight was an indication that you still had another 20 miles to ride. Oh, and please turn into the wind for those last 20 miles. Thank you.


Alas, in "transferring" the pictures from my camera to the computer, apparently DELETED them. No, they aren't still on the camera card. They aren't in the recycling bin. They aren't on the computer. They are lost in cyber space.

Trust me. They were very nice pictures. Not award-winning, but nice.


Lewis would have been proud. Catfish would have drooled.



Saturday, October 1, 2011

E 5 L .........

This is one of those stories I really shouldn't tell about myself. I shouldn't even have told Hubby. I should just keep it inside, relieved to know that no one else witnessed my stupidity. But no.

In a show of supreme self-confidence, to demonstrate just how high my self-esteem is, to acknowledge in a very public way that my three college degrees sometimes appear to have been wasted time and money, I have to tell you the mistake I made yesterday morning.

First a little background.

Our new bedroom suit (you know, the one that caused us to have to make $10,000 renovations on our house and it's now a two-bedroom instead of a three-? Yeah, that one) has a HUGE headboard/bookcase/mirror combination (it even has a compartment for WINE, for Pete's sake). It makes it impossible to sit up in bed and read, but that's beside the point. There is an open section (for books, I presume) right behind our pillows, and this is where Gus has decided he likes to sleep. He goes to sleep on the end of the bed, but after everyone has sufficiently settled down for the night, he makes his way to the headboard and proceeds to make a lot of noise carving himself out a place to lie down. Sometimes I think the carving is literal.

Night before last, sometime in the middle of the night, Gus managed to pull the clock off the shelf above his lair. I put it back on its shelf and went back to sleep.

When I was getting ready for my bike ride yesterday, I walked in the bedroom and looked at the clock. It had a very strange error message on it.

E 5 L.

E 5 L? What the hell is THAT?

That damn dog. He's broken my clock. And I really LIKED that clock. It has a wonderful feature on it whereby you can silence the alarm but not turn it off. Therefore you don't have to remember to turn it back on every day. (What you DO have to remember is to turn it OFF for the weekend. Only takes a couple of 5:00 AM Saturday wake-ups to get in THAT habit.) I guess you could consider it a 24-hour snooze button. The button even has a little indention in it, so you can feel whether or not you're on the right button. Just in case your dog has a habit of moving the clock in the night.

E 5 L. My poor clock.

I wondered what kind of error message that could be and whether or not it could be fixed. I become attached to things, and I have had this little clock for several years. I know I can get a new one relatively inexpensively, but I have a RELATIONSHIP with that clock. I want THAT one.

But now it's E 5 L.

Those of you who are smarter than I (which is possibly every single person reading this post) have probably already figured out my mistake.

E 5 L isn't an error message.

It's what a digital clock reads at 7:53. If the clock is upside-down.