Saturday, March 31, 2012

Frankie's Ride.....

Today was one of those days that is so nearly perfect that it just makes you glad you're alive. At least that's how it was for me today.

Katydid and I joined a group riding on the Silver Comet Trail today. We rode to Rockmart, Georgia to Frankie's Restaurant. The original plan for this occasion was for a group to gather AT Frankie's and ride west to the Alabama border, returning to Frankie's for beer and pizza. Our group, though, decided we would ride TO Frankie's and partake of the pizza and fellowship (and beer for a few) and then return.

There are several trailheads on the Silver Comet that are easily accessed from almost anywhere in the Atlanta area. We chose one that is about 11.7 miles from the beginning of the trail, because the first part tends to be crowded, and it also has numerous road crossings that are aggravating and slow us down. That location also gave us a round-trip ride of approximately 52 miles, a decent length ride without being a killer.

The weather was magnificent, with perfect temperatures and beautiful skies (once the cloud cover burned off). I love riding on the trail because there is no traffic to worry about, and  you can really make the ride any length you want to. There's no law that says you HAVE to ride all the way to Frankie's, but that is usually our destination.

This is how the view typically looks on the Silver Comet Trail. I have no idea who that person is in front of me. The trail is very well maintained, and patrolled in some areas by law enforcement on golf carts.

This sign always spooks me a little bit. And they're not kidding about the remote part. You know what they really need? A sign that says: "Hey dummy, you might want to refill your water bottles at Frankie's, before you RETURN through this remote area." I'm just sayin'.

The view of a neighborhood from high above. I took this one while I was riding.

The view of Katydid from behind. She's sure to love this picture.

Just a few of the many, many bikes that were parked at Frankie's.

This is Lisa, one of the massage therapists who attend most of the BRAG events. She has her precious boy, Victor, in the trailer behind her. And I'm sorry, but I don't know her husband's name. He'll have to be known as Lisa's Husband.

I knew the trail was also designated for use by equestrians, but I don't think I had ever seen any on the trail before today. Unless I have and I just forgot it, which would still be just about the same thing, wouldn't it?

Every time I ride through this tunnel, I'm almost at the end of it when my GPS goes, "Hey...who turned out the lights? Where did the satellites go?" It's probably the longest of several tunnels on the trail, and I'm glad there are lights in them.

Another neighborhood shot, this time when I was OFF the bicycle.

Jezebel, patiently waiting for us to get going again.
People have put many birdhouses along the trail. I circled back to take a picture of these, made out of hard hats.

It was an all-around good day, and even the 2-hour drive home couldn't take the glow off. If I had won that hugo lottery last night, I would have bought me a trail just like this one, only closer to home.

Here's a riddle for you, and Katydid is NOT eligible to play:

Katydid and I left at the same time, rode to the same place, and returned at the same time. She rode 53 miles and I rode 60. How is that?

Friday, March 30, 2012

Flashback Friday - The Sweetheart Ball......

I am mostly a Facebook failure, because I almost NEVER post anything, and only rarely do I get on there to see what everyone else is up to. I figure if I have to read it on the computer, we aren't that close to begin with.

I did get on there today, though, for the purpose of sending a message to the cousin who is in charge of this year's Nash Bash (that's what we call our family reunion, for the uninitiated). I noticed a message there that my BFF from high school, Jason, had posted on Valentine's Day.

What? I missed a message from that long ago? I would have thought I would get one of those emails telling me I had a message or something. Oh well.

Jason's message said it reminded him of a certain Sweetheart Ball and his first true sweetheart. (That part made me smile in a sort of teary-eyed way, since I had become convinced that he never wanted to hear from me again.)

When we were in high school, the Future Farmers of America sponsored a Sweetheart Ball every year. In our ninth grade year, the first year Jason went to our school, the event fell on Valentine's Day. Jason asked me to go, and I can picture the dress I wore just as clearly as if it were yesterday. I think some combination of Katydid and/or our mother made the dress, because they were both uber-talented that way. They didn't pass that talent down to me. Buttheads.

Another event also coincided with the Sweetheart Ball and Valentine's Day that year, and it never occurred to me to change the appointment. That was the day I got my braces. Not the cool ones that young people sport today, the glue on plastic kind with coordinating rubber bands and arch wires. No, these were the metal bands that had to be put on already-sore teeth with a demon of a device known as a "thumper." They provided the impetus for wonderful nicknames like Metal Mouth. Tin Grin. Railroad Tracks.

And because you had to wear spacers between your teeth for about a week before they put the bands on to make room for them, your teeth were incredibly sore.

It was customary for couples to go out to dinner before important dances like the Sweetheart Ball, but we were low on both cash and the need for a lot of drama. It was way before the days of thousand-dollar expenses rolled up by new dresses, limos, private party rooms, expensive flowers, professional photographs (although there was a photographer at the Sweetheart Ball, and I wish I could find that picture), and classy dinners at places where teenagers are bound to be outclassed. Even if they don't know it.

So Jason and I (and my friend Carol and her date...Ted?) went to Arby's for dinner. Yes, the roast beef sandwich place. And my teeth were so sore that it was impossible for me to eat anything. I was starving, but I couldn't eat. So Jason tore my roast beef sandwich up into bites that I could manage. (The back teeth weren't as painful as the front ones.)

Sometime in the course of that evening Jason told me he loved me. I remember thinking at the time that he was only saying it because he thought he was supposed to.

I didn't realize it would be for life.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

No Surgery Required, She's Got 'Em Already......

We have referred to our school many times as the "Island of Misfit Toys" and several variations thereof. It's not that we're surprised that our students are ... different. We were, after all, created to meet the needs of students who are/were at risk of dropping out, and goodness knows there are a gazillion reasons out there for dropping out. It's the extremeness of some of their misfitness that continues to surprise us.

One of our students this year is a young ... lady ... who is extremely smart, almost to her detriment. She's passive aggressive, doesn't see the point of following rules that she thinks are stupid, and will sacrifice her grade rather than try to get along with a teacher with whom she doesn't get along. She spent a day out of school yesterday, suspended because she refused to A) go to her math class; and B) take off her hood. (And no, she isn't making a statement about her support for Travon Martin.)

Because our students can progress at their own pace, because this student has never failed a course before, and because she IS so smart, she has already earned enough credits to graduate this year, even though she is in the class of 2013. We've had that happen before, and our school system administrators have a policy that those students must appeal for early graduation by writing a letter to the superintendent. It's not that they are AGAINST students getting out of school early, necessarily. Education is a business, after all, and schools receive money per student from the state school folks. (I wish I could come up with a better noun than "folks," but it is what it is.) If we started allowing mass early graduation, it might ultimately cost the school district money. Personally, I think they would be balanced out by the ones who are on the 5- or 6-year plan, but whatever.

I haven't been able to convince this particular student that she needs to go ahead and go to college. It's not that she doesn't see the need for education; she's just not in a hurry. She seems to be quite a paradox, wanting to exit high school early and get on with her life, but not to go ahead and start college.

Our principal informed our early graduates that they would have to write a letter to the superintendent stating their cases. (I can't imagine any situation in which the student would be DENIED the opportunity to graduate early; I think it's a matter of making them jump through the hoops.) The student I'm writing about has procrastinated and procrastinated writing the letter, and I was on the verge of weighing in AGAINST approving her for early graduation just based on her penchant for being perverse.

She finally came to me today and asked me to read over her letter to the superintendent. I fully expected her letter to be full of falsehoods about her desire to get out of high school and start college. It would be just like her to say what she thought the superintendent wanted to hear. After reading her letter, I looked up at her and said, "No one in his or her right mind would dare deny your appeal."

She explained in her letter that while she understood early admission to college SHOULD be her goal, her ambitions were quite different. She described herself as transgender (a term she had already used in earlier conversations with me, so that part wasn't surprising) and said she needed to save money for the surgeries and treatments that she will have to have. She mentioned her job as a grocery bagger, how much she makes per hour, and how much money she has already managed to save (impressive). She explained how much each operation would potentially cost and how much she would have to pay for hormone treatment. In short, this isn't a passing phase. The girl (?) has done her research.

Her best friend (a guy at our school) refers to her with masculine pronouns, but I just can't retrain myself at this point. She told me she prefers masculine pronouns, but she isn't offended by feminine ones. From the beginning of the school year she requested use of a staff member's private bathroom because using the student ones made her feel "awkward." Yet she didn't feel awkward about asking for special treatment. She's a tiny little thing (she was extremely premature and says she was a "crack baby," not joking), and she's easily mistaken for a boy. I have rushed to (tactfully) correct anyone who referred to her as "he" upon first meeting her. My bad. She already has a name (both first and middle - did her parents know?) that can be either feminine or masculine, so she won't have to deal with a name change.

I'm not offering this story for the purposes of judgment or debate. I can't help but admire her spunk.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Planning Ahead...Way Ahead.....

Having written in yesterday's blog post about being spontaneous (I only recognized the irony of it after I had published it - it isn't really spontaneous when I text Hubby in advance, plan the route on the computer, and upload the route into my phone), today I'm writing about my penchant for planning ahead. Some may even consider it obsessing ahead.

I did the following things at school today. Rest assured that I still did my job, resetting tests, checking online homework, and reminding students just how few school days are left in the year.

  • Printed out a map of the trailhead where Katydid and I are planning to ride on the Silver Comet Trail this Saturday. Printed out Google directions of how to get there from my house. (This one makes the most sense, since it's only 3 days away.)
  • Ordered tickets for the gymnastics regional championships in Auburn next weekend. Googled directions and printed them out. Determined that Katydid and I can leave my house at 2:00 PM and still get there the requisite two hours before the meet starts.
  • Registered for a bike ride on the same morning as the gymnastics championships that are a three-hour drive from my house. (Not terribly crazy either, since registration goes up $10 after this Friday.) Emailed Rozmo and Katydid about said bike ride.
  • Registered for BRAG, which starts June 2nd. Also Googled directions from my house and printed those out. Figured out exactly how early Katydid and I will need to leave in order to get there, get set up, and be available to work at BRAG headquarters.
  • Googled and printed directions from the next-to-last-day of BRAG to the site of our family reunion (Nash Bash), which starts on June 8th. Figured up how much mileage I will be losing by not riding the last day of BRAG (40 miles). 
  • Started obsessing about the logistics of riding in BRAG, meeting Katydid at the next-to-last town, and taking two dogs, two bicycles, clean clothes, and something for the potluck lunch on Saturday at Nash Bash. Stopped short of writing out the steps.
  • Created two bicycling maps for a trip to Mississippi that Hubby and I are taking at the end of April, knowing full well that no matter how big the road looks on the computer, the route will wind up having some dirt roads on it and I will be forced to ride miles and miles out of the way to avoid dirt roads.
  • Tried to figure out how to ride in the Spring Tune-Up ride AND attend the NCAA Gymnastics Championships about an hour away from the ride location. A logistical nightmare even if I DID know: A) that our team was going to qualify (please please please please please); and B) which session our team might be in if they DO qualify.
I'll stop there for now. The next thing I need to figure out is what to tell the little men in white coats who are standing on my front porch. They have the cutest little jacket for me to put on.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


I love being spontaneous...I mean, when it works out. And it doesn't always.

Yesterday I had Hubby take me and my bike to school so I could enjoy the beautiful warm weather. I'm trying to ride at least two or three afternoons a week, plus whatever organized rides we have on the weekends. I mean, the ones held in the towns I actually DRIVE to. Whatever.

After I got to school yesterday, Hubby texted me that he would be playing golf (surprise, surprise) at a different course from his usual one. It's one of those I should NEVER go to because it's surrounded by beautiful homes and I can't stop drooling over them. It is, however, a very decent bike ride from home OR school, with some new scenery.

I hinted (not so subtly) that I could ride there and be there about the time he finished golfing, if only he didn't have that brand new car that he won't even let GUS ride in, much less my greasy bike. For once he took the hint and said he would be happy to drive the truck.

I used the computer to map out a route, but naturally not a DIRECT one. That would have been way too short and would have involved way too much traffic.

It has suddenly occurred to me that even though I have been altering my routes home (and in this case created a brand new one to a location I rarely go to), they have all started to look alike on the map. This one goes from my school to the Providence Club.

There was only one glitch with this route, and it turned out to be a minor one. Creating routes on a computer is always a risky business, and I was aware of that as I mapped out this one. I wanted to stay off a fairly busy road on which people tend to drive like it's a speedway, so I used some different roads I had never been on before. One of them turned out to be sort of gravel, sort of dirt, sort of potholes for about a mile. There was one adrenaline-inducing downhill that would have been wonderful on a PAVED road, but left me white-knuckled and squeezing the brake levers with everything I had.

Other than that, it was a perfect ride. Very rural, beautiful scenery, and a total of 18 miles. I told Hubby he needs to play golf there more often.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Dear Reader's Digest Lady.....

Dear Reader's Digest Lady also known as Katharine Bass,

To start off with, shouldn't it be Readers' Digest? With the apostrophe after the "s"? Or do you only HAVE one reader? Just curious.

When I got your little note about renewing my subscription, I almost didn't open it at all. Mainly because I start getting those cute little reminders about two and a half years before my subscription is due to expire. Are y'all really that desperate for money? If so, how can you possibly afford to give me a 74% discount? Just charge me full price; I probably won't know the difference.

But I DID open your letter, and when I realized the expiration date was just three months away instead of the usual three years, I was prepared to write a check and put it in the mail. Especially when I noticed that the yearly rate is only $10.00!!! That's a savings of 74% off the cover price!!!

Then I made the mistake of reading the P.S. after your letter.

As a grammar snob and self-proclaimed writing expert, first of all I have a little trouble with the whole concept of P.S. If it's important enough to say, shouldn't it be included in the BODY of the letter? I can understand back in the days of writing letters by hand that occasionally one might suddenly remember a pithy saying or an important detail and feel obligated to tack it on at the end, after the signature is in place. Nowadays, though, that practice is a wee bit antiquated, wouldn't you say? If you remember something you should have said but neglected to, can't you put your little cursor up there and insert the comment? You can even make it bold, put it in italics, make it both bold AND italics, underline it, or make it a different color, for crying out loud. The P.S. is dead in the computer age.

Your P.S. requested that if for some far-fetched reason my failure to renew my subscription was a conscious decision rather than a simple oversight, you would like to know about it. To quote your P.S.: "Feel free to write me!"

Oh Katharine.

There's a problem with that sentence construction. I can call you, I can email you, but I can't write you. Unless I write "you," which would make no sense out of the context of this particular blog post.

The verb "write" typically calls for a direct object. Write a will, write a letter, write a check (yes, I remember it's only $10, and I'm still debating), write a blog post, write it off.

The verb "write" is also one of a select group of verbs that will also allow for an indirect object. By definition, though, a sentence cannot have an indirect object unless it also has a direct object, and the indirect object must come BEFORE the direct object.

I can write Katharine a letter, write the Reader's Digest a check (yes, I remember it's only $10, and I'm still debating), write my husband a note.

But in the sentence "Feel free to write me!" (I feel almost the same way about exclamation points as I do about P.S., by the way), there is no direct object. There is nothing that I should WRITE. There is no place in our syntax for the direct object to be understood, even though the "me" in that sentence is clearly intended to be an indirect object, the receiver of whatever the direct object might be.

You might even have avoided the entire direct object/indirect object snafu entirely by inserting one teeny tiny little prepositon: "to." I could write TO you, and everything would be fine. Sadly, though, I cannot write you. Unless I write "you." Here we go again.

So now I'm on the horns of a dilemma. (If you can use P.S. and exclamation points, I can certainly use cliches.) Do I even WANT to renew my subscription to a magazine that allows its Consumer Marketing person to get away with such shoddy sentence construction?

I'm still debating.



P.S. When I make up my mind, the check (yes, I remember it's only $10) will be in the mail! Really!!!!!!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas....

I won't be so arrogant as to write a true book review of a classic like The Count of Monte Cristo. I will, however, write about my feelings regarding the book and its characters, which is about as close to a true book review as I get anyway. I'm not really into analysis; I'd rather just check the "liked it" or "didn't like it" box.

I don't know how I escaped both high school and college without having this book assigned. In all honesty, it's possible that it WAS assigned and I neglected (read: refused) to read it. I've always bristled at being forced to read literature. How in the world did I become an English teacher?

It sort of reminds me of the time in 9th grade when my history teacher assigned me to read A Tale of Two Cities. I wasn't as educated then about cross-curricular learning and all that jazz (and she was probably being forced to provide enrichment for the students who made good grades and STILL found time to annoy their classmates), so I was indignant at the very idea of a social studies teacher assigning me a NOVEL to read. So I put it off and put it off and put it off, and then I diligently tried to stay up all night the night before the test and cram it all in. I thought I was doing a pretty good job, too. Until I turned the last page and read the words, "End of Volume I." Well crap. Never mind that I didn't comprehend the fraction of the half of the book that I HAD attempted to read. I didn't even bother checking out both volumes. Needless to say, I don't think I did very well on that particular test.

Since I have become a teacher, I have taught A Tale of Two Cities a couple of times to VERY advanced high school freshmen. I positively love that book with its doubles and its suspense and its beautiful language. Sigh. I hope some of the students I was forced to force to read it return to the book later in their lives and appreciate it for the tremendous piece of literature it is.

Now. Back to the Count.

I only read this book because Hubby and I were at a trivia game one night (bad timing, not our choice) and there was a question about who was the Count's love (it was Mercedes). I decided to put it on my list of classics I have never read, and I came home and downloaded it. (Books that are that old are typically free to download, which made it even better.)

I have a bit of a crush on the Count of Monte Cristo now. Poor Hubby...he may be the world's last perfect man, but his exploits can't compare with the dashing hero. (Shhhh...don't tell him.)

I loved the formal language of the book, the unpredictable predictability of the sequence of events, the melodrama ("melodrama's so much fun" that song), the French language, the sultry settings, the sense of justice without the ending being neatly tied up with a bow...

In short, I feel much, much smarter for having read this book. That smugness is multiplied by the fact that I read the book BY CHOICE. 

The only negative aspect of having read this book is that I'm afraid to start a new one. I have a feeling whatever I pick up next will pale in comparison. I may be forced to read The Three Musketeers.

Or I may read The Count of Monte Cristo again.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Apologies (Again)....

I'm suffering from an overdose of gymnastics.

Some real (or at least as real as they get for me) thoughts tomorrow night.

It's past my bedtime, as Gus keeps telling me.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Flashback Friday.....

I can change the rules if I want to, right?

I decided to have Flashback Friday today instead of Favorite Things Friday.

I was trying (mostly in vain) to tuck my tank top into my jeans today, and I flashed back to the 70's when we wore something I called bodysuits but may have had another name.

I wanted to put an image of one here, but most of the graphics I found were ... graphic. Definitely R-rated.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, these garments were like t-shirts (or blouses, in some cases), only they were SORT OF like leotards, but they had snaps at the crotch.

I had one that resembled a white blouse, and I wore it under some kind of uniform, either cheerleading or drill team. I think it was actually one of those things I "borrowed" from my friend Carol and never returned. It was perfect for whichever activity I was participating in, since it couldn't come untucked and stayed put. It was a glossy sort of fabric and buttoned up, with a collar and everything. It looked exactly like one of those shiny blouses we wore in the 70's (come on, admit it, you did too), but it had a crotch. Picture a grown-up onesie.

Granted, they were sort of a pain when it was time to go to the bathroom, but that was a relatively minor inconvenience. It couldn't be worse than trying to tuck a recalcitrant tank top into jeans, or worse, tucking a shirt into one's panties so it didn't come untucked when the pants were pulled up. (Sorry for those mental images.)

Not to be defeated, I searched again for an appropriate image. The ones I'm thinking of were kind of like this:

Not at all like this:

Or this:

Happy weekend!

P.S. Warm thoughts for our beloved Gym Dogs tomorrow starting at 4:00 EDT, if you have time. We can use all the mojo we can get. And if your mojo trends toward causing two certain OTHER TEAMS to fall off any random apparatus... well, you gotta do what you gotta do.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lukey Luke.....

I've been meaning to post photos of Baby Luke for the longest time. First I had to make sure it was okay with his daddy for me to share photos of his son publicly. Then I kept forgetting. Then I had this tooth thing that wouldn't let me have a coherent thought for about a decade.

For those of you who don't remember, Luke is the son of one of my co-workers. He was born on October 23, 2011, approximately two and a half months before his due date. 

Luke is over 10 pounds now, and he's thriving.

He doesn't look like he used to weigh 1 pound 15 ounces, does he?

Just when I had decided I would FINALLY post an update about Luke, his uncle made a video and put it on YouTube. His daddy again gave me permission to post it here. It's kind of long (8 minutes), but it's the sweetest thing ever. It does a good job of showing the progression of Luke's growth. (It also shows his crusty uncle has a tender side, which I NEVER would have guessed!)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

100 Things I Love About Cycling......

Disclaimer: I **stole** this idea straight out of Bicycling magazine. The 100 things, however, are purely my own.

  1. Setting a new personal best down Pierce Road (43 mph), even if it WAS with a tailwind.
  2. Tailwinds.
  3. Making it up THAT DAMN HILL on Dunahoo Road without standing up.
  4. Riding between the letters of the words "STOP AHEAD" painted on the road.
  5. A dog that doesn't chase.
  6. Dogs that bark - from behind a fence.
  7. Jumping in the swimming pool after a long ride in June.
  8. Jumping in a hot shower after a ride in January.
  9. Finishing a century.
  10. Stopping to take a picture.
  11. Taking a picture without stopping.
  12. Having someone to talk to.
  13. Having no one to talk to.
  14. Racing a freight train...and winning.
  15. Friendly waves from front porches.
  16. Freshly paved roads.
  17. January days with temperatures in the 70s.
  18. The smell of honeysuckle.
  19. Seeing 11.11 miles on the computer. And 22.22, 33.33, 44.44, 55.55, 66.66, 77.77, 88.88, and 99.99. Especially that last one.
  20. My favorite sports drink, G2.
  21. Mountains in the distance.
  22. A red light that changes to green right before I have to put my foot down.
  23. Saying "On your left."
  24. Porta-potties.
  25. When the shake-n-bake pavement finally ends.
  26. Pulling over to allow a truck to pass and having the driver TAP his horn in thanks.
  27. Riding in an impromptu paceline.
  28. Finding out there is one more gear.
  29. Water bottles that still have ice in them.
  30. PBJs.
  31. Little girls selling lemonade by the side of the road.
  32. Being rescued by Hubby in a rainstorm.
  33. The funky tan lines on my feet created by my cycling sandals.
  34. Riding in the rain for the last 10 miles of a century ride in June in South Georgia.
  35. Making up new routes on the fly.
  36. Horses that come to the fence to be petted.
  37. Horse owners who come to the fence to be petted. I mean, to talk.
  38. Freshly mowed grass. Mown? Mowen? Moaned? Mooned?
  39. Police officers who wave. And smile.
  40. Railroad tracks that are at a 90-degree angle to the road.
  41. Wigwam socks.
  42. Blinkie lights.
  43. Having to stop suddenly and successfully unclipping from the pedals.
  44. Daffodils blooming in January.
  45. Cycling gloves with gel padding.
  46. Rest stops that appear out of the mist. ("I thought it was a mirage!")
  47. Bento boxes.
  48. Rumble strips that don't go all the way to the edge of the pavement so there's room to go around them.
  49. Pedaling in time to the song that is playing.
  50. Brakes that work.
  51. Signs that say "Speed Zone Ahead."
  52. Homemade goodies at rest stops.
  53. Seeing a sleeping baby in a trailer behind his or her parent's bike.
  54. A motorcyclist who waves.
  55. Cars that allow plenty of room when passing.
  56. Taking a store stop and having people be amazed that you've ridden a WHOLE TEN MILES!
  57. Store stops.
  58. Having a motorist yell out the window, "Nice bike!" instead of "Get off the road!"
  59. Organized rides with cool t-shirts.
  60. Organized rides.
  61. Shower trucks.
  62. Beer trucks.
  63. Buffets.
  64. Live entertainment downtown after a long day of riding.
  65. Passing Winston.
  66. Hearing Winston say, "I. Give. Up."
  67. Yelling at a dog, "You do NOT want to mess with me today" and having it run away.
  68. Mist over a lake/river/meadow.
  69. Seeing a huge uphill ahead...and having the route turn.
  70. Matching cycling jerseys.
  71. Route markings on the road.
  72. Feeling the first sprinkle of raindrops...only 1/2 mile from arriving at home.
  73. Fellow riders who stop to help change a flat tire.
  74. Not having a flat tire.
  75. Giving high fives to kids along the road...and not falling off my bike in the process.
  76. A certain purple-and-yellow water tower.
  77. Post-ride meals with sweet tea.
  78. A clean chain and derailleurs. 
  79. My "humpback" for extra water.
  80. Phyllis finding a quarter in the middle of the road.
  81. Singing in harmony with Katydid on the tandem.
  82. Carbon fiber.
  83. Baby calves (is that redundant?) running through a pasture.
  84. Potholes that have been patched.
  85. Cotton-ball clouds in a perfectly blue sky.
  86. Shorts and short sleeves in March.
  87. Stopping behind a school bus and waiting patiently for the monitor to unload a teenaged student with disabilities.
  88. A cozy tent.
  89. A cozy RV...with air conditioning and satellite television.
  90. Cycling clothes hanging on every fence, bike rack, sign, and tent in sight.
  91. Firetrucks spraying water on a hot day.
  92. Seeing the word "START" appear on the GPS on a loop ride.
  93. My GPS.
  94. Loop rides.
  95. Seeing a group of cyclists taking advantage of a watering hole on a hot day.
  96. Joining said group of cyclists.
  97. Noticing a new house or barn I've never seen before on a road I've ridden a hundred times.
  98. Spandex.
  99. Cars that motion for me to go first at a four-way stop.
  100. The end.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Idiosyncrasy #3.....

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about two of my idiosyncrasies. In the interest of continuing my never-ending quest to convince you that I have severe issues, I continue that theme tonight.

I have this thing ... it's not a phobia, exactly, just a thing ... about knocking on bathroom doors. I don't like to do it. That's one reason I like the porta-potties we have on organized bicycle rides. If the person inside DOES IT CORRECTLY, in the locked position the door gives an indication on the outside that the porta-potty is occupied. (Not "occupied" as in the "occupiers," but wouldn't that put an interesting twist on their campaign?)

If I am forced to knock on the bathroom door and it's occupied, what is the correct response for the person inside?

"Come in?" I don't think so.

"Be right out!" Awkward.

"Who is it?" Someone who needs to use the restroom. If it's me, that person has waited until the situation is dire.

Oddly enough, if I have to knock on a bathroom door and someone answers, I am embarrassed almost beyond words. Why is that? I have done nothing wrong, and there is certainly no shame in the very human need to use the restroom facilities. But in those cases I'm so embarrassed that I retreat and am long gone by the time the person in the restroom emerges.

The ONE bathroom for faculty use (other than the ones in the office, which are in rather ... close proximity ... to the goings-on in the office) is located on the main hall, sharing a room with all the computer servers. The sign on the door says "Lounge," but there is nary a couch, table, nor chair in sight. The room is so small it would be hard pressed to hold two people at the same time. The bathroom itself is even smaller. I would venture to say it would be almost impossible to change clothes in there.

There are two doors, one to the actual bathroom itself, and one to the "Lounge." This one has a window in it, and I have developed the habit of looking in the window to see if the bathroom is occupied. One day last week I must have made six trips down the hall, peering through the window and saying some version of, "Damn it!" when it appeared to be occupied every single time.

Finally, in considerable pain and consternation (not that other con_______ation), I was forced to knock on the door. I was ready to run if anyone answered.

The bathroom was empty, just as it had probably been on at least four of the earlier occasions.

So I made this sign for the door:

(Who DOES that at school, anyway? That's an entirely separate blog topic, one that I will more than likely never write.)

So far it has worked beautifully.

P.S. I'm going to have to come up with a better term than the one that starts with "idio..." I'm not ashamed of it, but I can't SPELL it!

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Final Chapter....

I'm going to write one last, FINAL blog about my tooth situation, not because I want you to feel sorry for me or think my problem was any worse/more protracted than any other person's, but because it gave me a new perspective on at least one front.

Without going into too much detail (you're welcome), after the new crown was put in place, I thought my worries were over. When I had my teeth cleaned at my regular check-up the VERY NEXT DAY, however, I had some discomfort when the hygienist sprayed cold water in that vicinity. I didn't think a whole lot of it, since my teeth have ALWAYS been sensitive to cold, and besides I thought the new crown would need a day or two to "settle down."

I had a couple of nighttime episodes in the next two weeks, however, that convinced me something more would need to be done. It's very hard to describe these episodes, but I'll try. They were unlike anything I'd ever experienced before.

Most of the time my tooth was just a dull ache (the very back tooth on the upper right, just for a reference point). Every now and then, though, the pain would start building, and I could feel it coming. If you've experienced labor pains, they were very similar. Only I was pretty sure labor would be over soon, and this seemed to go on and on. The wave of pain would crest, and all I could do was hold on and ride it. At night I usually got up and got a hot washcloth to put on my face. Oddly enough, these never happened during the day. (Until the prettiest, nicest, warmest, most beautiful weekend in recent memory, that is.) At first I would have one or maybe two episodes at night, and they lasted about 15 minutes. By Friday night they were occurring every hour almost on the hour. That meant I had excruciating pain for 15 minutes out of every hour, then I got to rest for 45 minutes before the next wave woke me up.

I began to understand why terminally ill people commit suicide. There is simply no way to get away from the pain.

I also had a new understanding for one of our former students. He had Ewing's sarcoma in his heel, and he underwent countless treatments for it. Even after he was cancer-free, however, the pain remained. They tried everything to manage/alleviate his pain, all to no avail. Some methods simply resulted in his experiencing pain elsewhere in his body, and some made him deathly ill. After months and months of going back and forth with numerous treatments, finally the young man begged -- begged -- them to amputate his leg below the knee. A teenager. Begging to have his leg amputated. I have a new respect for how long he attempted other less desperate measures, but constant pain is something the human body simply wasn't cut out for.

And when all was said and done, my problem was actually very minor because it only resulted in a root canal. I have never been so happy in my life to sit down in the dentist's chair and open wide. I'd never had a root canal before, and I had heard horror stories about them. This particular root canal was the best thing that has happened to me recently.

Or, as I mistakenly texted Sweet Girl from school on Friday, a "toot canal."

That gives a whole new perspective to the whole experience.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

What a Waste....

What a waste of a beautiful spring weekend.

At the risk of using this space to complain and whine AGAIN (and I almost didn't blog tonight at all for fear of boring you to tears), I have spent these two gorgeous days alternating between drug-induced sleep and holding a hot washcloth to my face. (I think I have burned some skin off my face in so doing; if so I hope it weighed ten or twenty pounds.)

In a rare response to pain, I have barely eaten enough to stay alive this weekend. Even that is not a wish for the continuance of this situation, however. When I step on the scales tomorrow morning, I fully expect to have gained several pounds. Because that's the way my weight-loss efforts seem to trend lately.

This time tomorrow the problem will have been fixed, and I can return to my standard sarcasm and cynicism. Right now I can't even manage those. My apologies.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Bike Ride That Wasn't.....

Before I launch into this scintillating topic, I have a rhetorical question. Or five.

What is it about us humans that makes us feel obligated -- nay, COMPELLED -- to report stupid things we've done? Especially stupid things that NO ONE IN THE WORLD might otherwise get wind of? Things that have to make our listeners (or, in this case, readers) question not only how the hell we managed to get through graduate school, but how we get our shoes tied?

Here's my theory:

It's a form of purging. We think that if we get rid of these ridiculous errors by retelling them, they are thereby cleansed from our systems. And there's no chance of them lying around in there, fermenting and fornicating and multiplying.

Allow me to purge. Please. It's necessary.

Rozmo and I registered for a bike ride that took place today, one we've done numerous times before. It is a relatively short drive (**ahem**) and in a rural, picturesque part of the state. It overlaps several other rides we do in the same general vicinity. None of that information is really vital to this paragraph, except the part where I said I've BEEN THERE BEFORE.

I got up at 5:00 this morning (my DAY OFF, remember?) to drive to the bike ride, giving myself plenty of time to get there, register, get my t-shirt, etc. I started getting frustrated because my GPS didn't agree with the printed directions (they never do), but I didn't want to take the interstate this time anyway, so it wasn't a big deal. I thought.

Rozmo called me about 30 minutes before the ride was supposed to start, and I told her I was STILL 15 miles away. I don't know what caused the epiphany (is there a better word than "epiphany" when what you really mean is "OH HOLY CRAP"?) as soon as we hung up the phone, and it was too stupid an idea for it to sink into my brain.

I was indeed 15 miles from Cochran, Georgia. Here, let me show you on the map how far that is from my town.

My town to Cochran, Georgia.

Only the ride was taking place in Concord, Georgia.

My town to Concord, Georgia.

That's a difference of about 98 miles. I therefore drove 83 more miles THAN I HAD TO for a bike ride that I DIDN'T GET TO DO.

The distance from Cochran, Georgia to Concord, Georgia.
In my (very weak) defense, we have done a bike ride in Cochran before. It was last month, and I didn't do it this year. Perhaps I should have, in which case I might have realized I didn't need to go to that town AGAIN. Also in my defense, I was awake most of last night due to tooth pain (yes, again, a root canal is scheduled for Monday and I've never looked forward to anything more in my life) and I questioned whether I should even attempt to do the ride.

I had so many opportunities to prevent this debacle. I'm embarrassed to say (but I'm going to say it ANYWAY, in the interest of purging and all) that I had printed directions IN MY HAND that clearly showed the correct name of the town I should have been going to. When I typed the town into my GPS, however, I was confident that I knew where I was going. Concord...Cochran. There are some similarities there.

When I entered the information into the GPS, it was readily apparent that the trip was going to take every bit of 3 hours (or more) instead of the 2 hours I knew it was supposed to take (because I DID read THAT part of the printed directions). That would have been an excellent opportunity to ... oh, I don't know ... check to make sure I entered the address correctly?

When I finally gave up and decided to allow the GPS to take me to my "destination" and stop "recalculating," she took me down I-75 and then EAST on I-16. I knew very well that the little town of Concord sits smack between I-85 and I-75, and going east of I-75 should never have been in the picture.

Good. Lord.

On what may be the most beautiful day of 2012 so far, I spent the rest of the day (other than the 5-hour part I was in my car) alternately sleeping and beating myself up for being so STUPID. I feel bad for letting Rozmo down and making her not only ride alone, but be the last one to leave and potentially the last one to get back. (But I know her better than that.)

I also feel bad because I wasted money. That's a relatively new emotion for me, guilt about wasting money. I registered for the ride online ahead of time, so that was about $30. (Rozmo did get my t-shirt for me, so there's that, although I don't know that I will ever wear it, not having done the actual ride.) I wasted almost an entire tank of gas driving to the town-where-the-bike-ride-was-NOT-being-held, so that's an additional $70. Not to mention 5 hours of my life.

Damn. I thought purging would make me feel better. Not so much.


**The preceding post has been brought to you by my new best friend, Lortab.**

Friday, March 16, 2012

Favorite Things Friday - Waiter.....

When I say I'm going to write about our favorite waiter, you may have an image of us eating at the same restaurant every weekend and having the same waiter almost every time.

That's not really the case, and the restaurant where we ate tonight isn't even my favorite place to go, but there is a waiter there whom I would cheerfully adopt.

In a rare case of the stars aligning themselves correctly, we got that waiter tonight, I took my purse into the restaurant, and my camera was in my purse. In an even rarer case, though, I got shy and didn't take Randy's picture. I didn't want to embarrass him, and I certainly didn't want to tell him it was so I could write about him on my blog tonight. I'm already flirting with being entered on the Stalkers' Registry as it is.

Yes, as a matter of fact, it's 6:10 PM and we've already had dinner and come back home, what of it?

Randy isn't cute in the Derek Hough or George Clooney or Johnny Depp kind of way. He isn't even Donny Osmond cute. He's cute in a goofy, friendly kind of way. But I'm not really here to write about his looks. Did I really just write about Derek Hough and George Clooney in the same sentence?

Back to Randy.

He is just about the perfect waiter. He is attentive in a way that doesn't make you think he's just being nice so he can get a bigger tip. (He WOULD HAVE gotten a bigger tip, but Hubby was watching me sign his name on the credit card receipt.) He pays attention and anticipates needs, but he doesn't hover until you want to scream at him to leave you the hell alone. For example, tonight Hubby's entree came with a salad, but mine didn't. No problem, I was too busy gorging on their little poppy seed rolls with cinnamon butter. When Randy brought the salad (Hubby chooses thousand island dressing), he brought an extra cup of dressing - ranch - because as he said, "That's a big salad and I didn't know if you might want to share it." He brought ranch dressing because I'm sure that's what 99% of American women order (I always choose honey mustard myself), but it was still a nice touch. He didn't have to do that.

He always addresses us as "sir" and "m'am," which makes me feel slightly old, but it's still a nice, polite touch. He's genuine about it, though, again not appearing just to say it because he's trying to kiss up.

I was sitting here trying to think of some more examples of what makes Randy so special, and they sounded so banal. So ordinary. They sounded like things ANY good waiter or waitress (I know, I know, the politically correct term is "waitperson" or "waitstaff" but I can't do it) should do in an effort to provide even minimal service. I can't exactly explain why Randy is exceptional. He just is.

We had a little ... situation, as they say in Jamaica ... at dinner tonight. Hubby found a rather large piece of plastic, probably chipped off a mixing bowl, in the cinnamon butter they serve with their delicious poppy seed rolls. (Did I mention gorging on them? I did? You're sure? Well, okay.) Hubby was NOT complaining, he certainly was NOT trying to get something free, but he did want to let them know there may be other pieces of plastic floating around in unknown places.

Randy was very professional, saying only, "Let me take this to my manager right now." He apologized profusely, but he didn't start running around like Chicken Little either. He later offered us a complimentary strawberry-something dessert, which we declined, and apologized again. The manager came over to apologize, Hubby said it wasn't a big deal and they shouldn't worry about it, and the manager gave us mother-in-law's take-home dinner on the house. Hubby was embarrassed, because that's not what his goal was in pointing out the piece of plastic, and he said the manager didn't have to do that. But the manager insisted, and we still felt kind of icky about it. (I know there are people who have made it their lives' missions to get by on getting free meals and merchandise in a similar manner.)

Randy came back by after the manager left and told us what a good guy the manager is. He said, "He's the reason I work here." He kept complimenting his boss over and over again. So refreshing to see an employee who appreciates his employer.

That is one of the many reasons why Randy is our favorite waiter. And it's not just us. One night when we went there to eat, I heard someone else who was just arriving ask, "Can we have Randy as our waiter?"

See what I mean? I think the young man might have a career.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Some Rides are Like That...

You will happy (perhaps) to learn that today's blog topic is NOT about:

  • College gymnastics
  • Hubby (except in a cameo appearance)
  • My tooth (no, that saga is NOT over)
  • Weight loss (mostly back on the wagon)
  • School crap
Because the very title of my blog comes from a cycling event, though, I feel it's okay if I -- nay, I even consider myself obligated to -- write about cycling.

Today's ride home should NOT have been noteworthy. Temperatures were expected to be in the 80's again today, and there was only a 10% chance of rain. I'll bet you can already tell where THIS is going.

I can't blame anyone but myself, though. When I looked at the skies upon leaving school, it looked like our county was divided clearly along a line of ominous-looking thunderclouds. Home appeared to be in the sunny part.

I didn't want to do my standard route home, and I left myself several options that I could choose when I got to them. Sometimes it depends on traffic; sometimes it just depends on my mood when I get there. I got to one decision point today, with clear blue skies to the left and the storm clouds to the right. Oddly enough, I could turn in either direction and get home with nearly the same mileage. Going to the left meant I would have to travel on a busy state highway for a mile, and I would also have to go by the landfill where I had a sort-of-confrontation with a trash truck driver one afternoon. I don't know why, but some days that is the lesser of two evils, and some days it's just plain evil. To the right meant I would have to go through "town" (such as it is), with an additional couple of miles but not much traffic after I got out of town. Did I mention the storm clouds were over the route to the right?

I was right beside the high school (although we now have two high schools...three if you count the program in our building, which is so new that few people DO count it...people still refer to the original one as "THE" high school and the newer one by its name) when the first raindrops fell. It wasn't so bad. In fact, it felt pretty good. Being in the 80's and all.

Then the bottom really fell out. I stopped to put my new (very bright) headlight and taillight on, because visibility was becoming an issue. It was raining so hard (and thundering) that I didn't hear the text message from Hubby offering to come rescue me. I'm surprised he even did THAT, since when I got home the PAVEMENT WAS COMPLETELY DRY.

I believe that little thundercloud followed me home. To keep me from being lonely or something.

Or something.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Timing is Everything - Part 94173.....

This story would mean a lot more if it were told by our front office secretary. But I'll do my best to relate the events as she told them to me.

Two guys came into the front office today.

Guy #1 - "Is there someone here, one of your teachers, who rides a bike and leaves from here sometimes?"

Secretary - "Yes sir."

Guy #1 - "I wonder if he would like a riding partner."

Secretary - "I don't know. But SHE does ride from here in the afternoons."

Guy #1 - "Here's my business card. Give it to him and ask him to give me a call if he'd like someone to ride with sometime."

Secretary - "Okay. I'll give it to HER."

Guy #1 leaves the office, and the secretary turns to Guy #2.

Secretary - "May I help you?"

Guy #2 - "Yeah, can you give this to [Bragger]?" as he hands her my phone charger.

Yep, it was Hubby.

Now hear me when I say that Hubby has been in our building, counting today, a grand total of TWO times. Normally I keep a phone charger in my school bag, and normally I wouldn't have been concerned that my phone went completely dead. But for some bone-headed reason I took my spare charger home with me, and I don't like being without a cell phone when I'm riding my bike home. I CAN change a flat tire, but honestly it's just quicker to call someone to come get me. Since Hubby plays golf very near our school, I asked him to drop the phone charger by on his way.

What are the odds?

I mean, first of all what are the odds that some random guy goes into a SCHOOL and asks about someone he has seen maybe ONCE leaving the school on a bike? He couldn't have seen me too many times, if he thought I was a MAN. (I'm not quite through being pissed off about that, either.)

And what are the odds that he would appear at the SAME EXACT TIME as Hubby on his second visit to our school EVER?

While you're busy calculating those odds, I'll give you an easy one.

What are the odds that, standing three feet away, Hubby will MISS THE ENTIRE CONVERSATION?

I'm glad he's on his toes, just in case this dude turns out to be a stalker or something. I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I'm Never Bored.....

I have a very well-meaning friend, also a cyclist, also a retired teacher, also a woman, who keeps telling me that I will be bored after I retire.

(I realize I run the risk of boring YOU by writing about my impending retirement...again.)

I've had people ask me if I think I'll be bored, and I've had other people pose the question of "What will you DO?" (Isn't that kind of insulting? The assumption that outside of teaching teenagers, I have no existence?)

Okay, now without the parentheses. Because since I typed that parenthetical statement above, I've decided it isn't so parenthetical.

I know they don't mean to, but aren't people assuming that outside of my job, I don't have any other talents? interests? hobbies? purpose? reason for living?

My friend, the retired teacher, tends to state things emphatically, with very little room for interpretation or argument.

"You'll get bored," she says repeatedly, "especially after the first year."

First of all, we weren't ALLOWED to be bored in our family. The worst thing you could BE was bored. If the word ever passed our lips, we were GIVEN something to do, and you better believe it wasn't something we would have chosen. If we found boredom creeping in, the best thing we could do was hide our faces in a book and act like we were enthralled. Reading was never frowned upon (except when it was time to do the dishes **ahem ahem**), but sloth and boredom were cardinal sins.

In addition to escaping into a good book, I also loved to write from an early age. (Most of it I later destroyed, unfortunately.) I played with my one Barbie doll. I listened to records on my prized record player. (Remember those?) I remember in one house where we lived, there was a tall pine tree at the corner of the yard. With some effort I could reach the lowest branch, and from there it was easy to climb to the top. I devised a way to get some of my prized possessions to the top of the tree, since I obviously needed both hands for climbing. I got an old Easter basket and a lot of yarn. I put my coloring book, a book to read, possibly my Barbie, and whatever else interested me on any given day in the basket, and I held one end of the yarn in my mouth while I climbed to the top of the tree. Once I was settled on my favorite limb, I hauled the basket up and whiled away the hours. I have it in my mind that I spend entire days up in the tree, although it may have been a much shorter span of time.

I was also an outdoors kind of girl, which is probably not surprising. I was drawn to water and would spend hours wading in a creek or staring at the moving water of a river. (Those activities must have predated my complete and total fear of snakes.) I would wander through the woods aimlessly, which probably IS surprising, considering I am directionally challenged. It's a wonder I ever found my way home.

I can always find something to do. In fact, my problem typically is running out of hours in the day before I've done everything I want to do. Even on a day like yesterday, when I was still in my pajamas at 3:00 in the afternoon, I wasn't bored. I had plenty to occupy my hands. And my mind.

I won't say my friend is dead wrong, since she has been through the retirement thing and I haven't. But she doesn't read (a lot), she doesn't crochet or quilt or do other crafty things, she's not into a sport enough that she will spend countless hours watching old videos of it over and over. (That was just a hypothetical situation, mind you.) She says if it weren't for cycling, she would be bored out of her mind. She keeps suggesting I get at least a part-time job to keep me busy after I retire.

Since I don't have a crystal ball, I can't be 100% certain she isn't right. But I do know enough about myself to know that if she's right and I DO experience a teensy bit of boredom after I retire...

...I'll never admit it.

Monday, March 12, 2012

If Only I Could Teach Them Irony.....

Because our students use a mostly computerized curriculum, for some reason they think they can get away with some things. Perhaps these are the same students who would try to get away with the SAME things in the traditional environment; I don't know.

The English portion of our curriculum is pretty rigorous. It requires a lot of reading, some grammar, and anywhere from 4 to 7 essays, depending on the level. The essay topics are explained in detail, students are given the chance to do pre-writing (they rarely do), and the essays are graded in less than 15 seconds by artificial intelligence.

I'm fascinated by the whole artificial intelligence thing. [Insert joke about many of my students here.] I was concerned at first that the computer program would grade too leniently, but it actually grades much harder than I think I would. Of course, it doesn't have the advantage of knowing the students' abilities, their future plans, and their previous successes (or lack thereof). Perhaps it would be better if I didn't know those things either.

One thing that dismays me (is that a verb?) about the program is that it grades heavily on word count. The essays are required to be at least 300 words in length, and an essay of 400 words that are not as well organized as 307 words will receive a higher grade. Luckily, I have the power to go in and change the grades as I see fit. This usually happens only when a student who actually CARES about his or her grade receives something like a 72 on an essay that he or she spent countless minutes ... 20 maybe ... writing. Sometimes I agree with the computer's grade; sometimes I don't. I will only change the grade UP. If I think the essay needs some work, I point out to the student where he or she could gain some extra points and recommend editing.

Some students just want to be DONE with the essays, and they are more than willing to accept failing grades for them. That is not an option. Before I will mark their courses "complete," they must have received a 70% average over all the essays. This way they may get away with one failing grade on an essay, but the rest must be above average. I realize not all of them are stellar writers, but there is always room for improvement. Even if they don't give two rats' fannies about Ralph Waldo Emerson's attitude toward nature in an essay brilliantly entitled "Nature." (Really? That's the best you could do, Ralph? Or do you go by Waldo, and that's why you wrote that stuff in the first place?)

Another thing I like about this magical program is that it is (in some cases) smarter than the students think it is. One of my students, a young man who will probably never be required to write another essay in his life, finished the course last week and said the computer had given him a zero for one of his essays because it was "too off topic." That happens occasionally, and if I think the student has approached the topic and written a decent enough essay, I will award a grade accordingly. It requires that I go into his course and look at the essays individually, and I don't mind doing so.

When I checked this young man's essay in question, I knew we were in trouble as soon as I came across the word "ethical." (See what I mean about irony?) Picture this student, a young man who will go to his grave insisting it is his constitutional right to carry smokeless tobacco in his back pocket at school and would rather be driving a tractor than writing an essay. Here is the first part of his essay. The topic was to write about how sometimes bad things can lead to good.

Long ago, I realized that having some sort of ethical system requried that one sort every possible thing in the world into the approved of and the not approved of, or the desired and not desired, or the good and the evil. Having been able to pick a particular moral scheme myself, and not having missed out on the childhood directioning lessons.

They are always amazed at how quickly I can find the same essays on the internet that it took them 15 minutes to copy and paste. We have actually suspended students for this infraction, but that would be a reward for this student. Besides, he is so close to being finished that it would be meaningless to suspend him. I did, however, share it with my principal, and she's the one who pointed out the irony in his writing. 

At least now I have a real-life example I can use the next time one of my students asks, "What is irony?" 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Last Home Gymnastics Meet...

Our team had two gymnastics meets this weekend, one in Michigan and the last one at home. That seems almost cruel scheduling, but it gives them next weekend off before the SEC Championships on March 24th.

We ended on a good note, a win and a decent score (197.375). We had several career highs again, and from some new folks. I think it's a good sign that more and more of our girls are putting up new career highs every week. I HOPE it's an indication of our depth. We not only had to contend with some nagging injuries this week, but a couple of the girls had some combination of flu and strep infections. So the fact that we were able to cope with adversity is a drastic improvement over last season.

Being the last home meet (and the last regular season meet), it was Senior Day, time to recognize the girls who were competing in their last meet before the home crowd. One thing they did that I thought was REALLY cool was that they also recognized (and gave flowers to) the seniors from the visiting team. I think that's classy. (We're not the only team that does that, but I still think it's cool.) The other cool thing is that they recognized a girl who would have been competing on Senior Day, but she was forced to medically retire in (I think) her sophomore year without ever having competed. It would have been easy for them to pretend she was never on the team, but they brought her (and her husband!!) out to be recognized and gave her flowers, and I got teary-eyed.

I readily acknowledge that it doesn't take much for me to get teary-eyed.

Now it's on to the post-season, with at least two (and we hope more than that) competitions on the way to the national championships. No one, and I mean NO ONE, in the gymnastics world gives our team a snowball's chance in a hot place to win the national championship.

I hope the girls can shock the hell out of them prove them wrong.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

St. Patrick's Century Ride - A Week Early.....

Rozmo and I did a bicycle ride in the town of Dublin, Georgia today. Because its name is DUBLIN, naturally the town goes all out for St. Patrick's Day. But because many, many, many people go to Savannah for St. Patrick's Day (particularly years like this one, when it falls on a Saturday), Dublin has its St. Patrick's Day-themed events beforehand.

That was a long-winded way of explaining why we did a St. Patrick's Ride a week before St. Patrick's Day. And I'm done with typing St. Patrick's Day.

We spent the night in Dublin, since I had yesterday out of school. It was about a 3-hour drive, so we would have had to leave around 5:00 this morning in order to get there, get registered, unloaded, etc. etc. etc. It was hard enough driving the three hours BACK.

I had one of those long debates with myself about proper cycling clothing this morning. I had two base-layer shirts, a thinner one and one lined with sort-of fleece. I didn't think I needed the fleece-lined one, but that was the one I grabbed out of the suitcase. Fine. Then I debated about the jacket. My usual philosophy is I can stand being cold at the beginning if I'm pretty sure it's going to warm up. Temperatures were supposed to climb into the 60's today, so I initially left the jacket in the car. "I'm tough," I said.

Then I went back and got the jacket, and boy am I glad I did. It did warm up (eventually), but the winds were brutal and NEVER let up. ALL. DAY. LONG. Have I mentioned lately (like in the last sentence or two) how much I HATE riding in the wind? It's probably a very good thing I was unable to donate blood yesterday (iron count was too low); I would never have been able to tap the reserves needed to complete that ride.

The terrain wasn't difficult, and the scenery was pretty. Beautiful blue skies, early flowering flowers, lots and lots of gorgeous horses.

And the wind.

Here's our map from today. If you look near the triangle (indicating starting and, in this case, ending point), you may see some squiggly lines that look like we got lost right at the end. I assure you that's not the case. This time.

The ride was billed as a century (100 miles) with a 55-mile option. We were pretty sure absolutely positive we didn't want to ride the century, but 55 was doable. When we got back to the recreation center where the ride began and ended, we had ridden 47 miles. Being members of the even numbers club, we had to ride around and around the rec center until we had the requisite 50 miles. I made the almost-fatal mistake on about our hundredth lap of saying to Rozmo, "Why don't we go for 60?" Luckily she had a deadline to get back home so she could go to her Supper Club, so she didn't take me up on it.


We averaged over 15 mph, higher than I usually do on long rides. The extra exertion required to fight the wind and keep up that kind of average has sapped my energy. On the way home from dinner, I asked Hubby, "Isn't it about bedtime?"

It was 5:46.


Friday, March 9, 2012

Favorite Things Friday - Four-Day Weekend....

I don't have words to describe sufficiently the joy associated with a 4-day weekend. This is another of those weather make-up situations that our school board put in place after we missed an eternity in school due to ice/snow last year, and then we had to scramble to make up the time. Said scramble included requiring teachers to come in on a SATURDAY, so this year's plan is much better. Plus, we didn't have any snow this year after all, so the weather make-up days become holidays. (In all truthfulness, they become "furlough days," but I'd rather not focus on the fact that today is being deducted from my paycheck. We're almost used to it now.)

[If the Goddess of Irony is paying any attention, she will wait until after Monday, then sock us with a big snowstorm after we've used all the potential weather make-up days.]

My weekend plans call for donating blood this morning; traveling to almost-South Georgia with Rozmo this afternoon for a bike ride tomorrow; LISTENING to a gymnastics meet online tonight (puh-lease, that's desperate) because it's in Michigan and not at their usual venue, thus no video; riding in aforementioned bicycle ride tomorrow (with a century option, but we probably won't take "advantage" of that option); back home tomorrow night in time to listen to Hubby say "it don't matter" in regards to where we should eat dinner, because cooking on a Saturday night is not in my plans - EVER; the final home gymnastics meet of the season on Sunday; and I have blissfully left Monday open so I can do whatever I want to. Or nothing.

Happy weekend, however many days you get!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Grammar Police Alert......

A certain unnamed head coach of an unnamed college gymnastics team holds a weekly online chat in which the truly obsessed devoted lifeless fans can participate.

(Hey, it's better than two OTHER unnamed head coaches of two unnamed college gymnastics teams that hold weekly press conferences.)

I was provided the following quote (**ahem ahem**) by someone who follows the weekly online chats. And I grimaced.

We've been managing multiple herniated discs with _____ since her arrival here. It is exasperated in the pike position, thus we don't train very many double pikes on floor or toe-on positions on bars. This particular meet, she began to have a little bit of tingling in her leg, so we shut it down on floor and put _____ back in. 

In his defense, he may not be the person typing in the responses. He may have actually used the correct word, and the cute little graduate assistant helping with the online chats (I base that judgment solely on the fact that her name is "Kate") may not have been familiar with the word "exacerbated." Or, like many students in my career, she may have confused the word with something that's not supposed to be discussed in an academic setting, and she may have giggled. And then typed something she DID know.

Yeah, let's go with that.

When I read this line, however, I briefly let my imagination run wild. I pictured her injured discs rolling their eyes and heaving a heavy **sigh** every time the gymnast in question does a skill in the pike position.

Personally, attempting to assume the pike position would exasperate me too.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Chivalry Might Not Be Dead, But It's Really Sick....

Disclaimer: He's still the world's last perfect man, but he sometimes has an "off" day.

Ever since I gave up beer and chocolate (damn it), the highlight of my lunch break every day has been sugar-free chocolate pudding. (I mean, I gave up the REAL chocolate stuff.) It tastes very good, it's chocolatey, it only has 60 calories, and I feel like I'm getting dessert. Sort of. I don't even experiment with other flavors; I buy the double chocolate every week.

I got the following text from Hubby today at 10:19 AM:

"U ain't got no pudding"

I texted back:

"What did I do, leave it on the counter? Crap!"

Sweet man, he KNOWS it's the highlight of my lunch break. He knows I hurry through my whole-wheat pasta salad, my rabbit-food tossed salad, or my turkey sandwich on a paper-thin wheat sandwich thingie just so I can get to the good stuff, the sugar-free pudding. He knows this. And he's retired and generous and considerate and plays golf only a couple of miles from my school.

That's why I naturally expected the next text message to read:

"Want me bring it 2 u?"



I'm still waiting for it.

Guess who got a bologna sandwich for his dinner?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

My Apologies.....

My apologies, but this will have to be one of those "I'm sorry I don't have time to write a real blog post" posts. Along with it being Super Tuesday, we had two interviews after school today, I had a hair appointment, and then Hubby and I went to see our godson play against my alma mater (boy did THAT feel conflicted - I was wearing UGA gear because that's all I HAVE, but we sat behind the Kennesaw State dugout and cheered...loudly...for KSU) in a college baseball game.

The afternoon was so busy that we wound up eating at McDonald's for dinner. I know, right? McDonald's. Really? Really. I justified it in my head by saying it was much cheaper than eating $6 hot dogs at the ball field (the game was played at the Gwinnett Braves stadium, a minor league venue with major league prices), then I went and bought a $3.50 pretzel, for heaven's sake.

My toes may thaw out sometime in June.

Not a great picture, and you may not be able to tell, but he wears #10.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Childhood Memory - Reading.....

I have lots of childhood memories, but this one struck me as I was glancing through some blogs in my reader just a few minutes ago.

I have always loved books and reading. I don't remember a time when I DIDN'T love to read. Books, magazines, the backs of cereal boxes, you name it and I read it. I actually liked going to the doctor's or dentist's office so I could read Highlights magazine. I've blogged before about my mother's obsession with Reader's Digest and how we weren't supposed to take the brown wrapping off before she got home, but I always tried it anyway because I didn't want to wait.

And now I promise I'm getting to the memory part.

My grandmother worked in the book sections of a couple of department stores when I was young. There were occasions when I remember being with her during her workday, but I'm not sure why. I know my mother worked nearby, and perhaps I was at work with her and got sent off to see Grandmother.

My grandmother wasn't the cuddly, doting kind of grandmother. In fact, she was rather stern and critical of all of us. It took us until we were grown (and possibly some therapy for some of us) to realize that Grandmother was stern TOWARD us, but to our cousins she sang our praises, thereby causing them to hate our guts. And we theirs.

I tell you all that by way of explaining that being sent off to spend time with Grandmother at her job would NOT have been something proffered as a reward. More likely it was a punishment, or Grandmother drew the short straw and got stuck with the brat.

I, however, loved it. Not because I got to spend time with Grandmother, necessarily, but I got to spend hours and hours with books.

The department store where I remember Grandmother working most had three floors. At that time it still had an elevator operator, a black woman whose job it was to shift the lever from left to middle to right to middle to left to middle to right and over and over and over again, going from floor to floor. Up and down, all day long. I would get a book from Grandmother's book department and get in the elevator. I remember sitting in the corner, reading a book as the elevator went up and down. And up and down. And up and... Oh hell, you know what an elevator does. When I finished a book, I would wait until we were back on the first floor, and I would go get another one.

I would love to know just how much time I spent reading in the elevator at that old department store. It seems that I did it on more than one occasion, but it's unlikely that I did it every Saturday or anything extreme like that. It also seems that I spent entire days riding the elevator and reading books, but it may have been a matter of hours. Or even minutes. Children have no concept of time, after all.

Regardless, reading books in the elevator remains one of my most pleasant childhood memories.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Random Thoughts.....

It's been a while since I threw a "Random Thoughts" blog entry out there at you, so tonight's the night. Besides, I don't think I can sustain a coherent topic for more than a paragraph or two. I'm not that tired, it's just that I can't corral my thoughts.

  • Family Guy is one of the most obnoxious television shows I have ever seen, but it has some funny lines.
  • I just saw the animated characters on Family Guy drinking animated glasses of animated wine, and I felt compelled to go pour myself a glass of wine. If they had been having a seven-course meal featuring stuffed pheasant, would I have had the same reaction? Probably not.
  • I participated in my third 5K race today. I walked almost all of it, and my time was only about 3 minutes slower than the one where I nearly killed myself keeping up with a 28-year-old co-worker with long legs. I only ran enough to make some of my muscles sore. Like my upper back. What's up with THAT? I came in 10th in my age group. I don't want to know how many women there were in my age group.
  • Our college gymnastics team kicked BUTT this weekend, had a huge score, and will move DOWN in the rankings when they come out tomorrow. It is the weirdest scoring system I have ever seen. Rankings don't matter, but of course they DO.
  • After attending home gymnastics meets for six years in a row (I think), we FINALLY managed to score one of the beanie Dawgs the gymnasts throw out at the beginning of every meet. Frogger Blogger snagged it and gave it to Katydid. And it was signed by a gymnast named Kati, so that seemed appropriate. One could purchase a large-scale replica of the beanie Dawg at the souvenir stand, if one weren't astounded into shock by the $595 price tag. 
  • Hubby just finished reading a book he says was very good, but he has to take it back to the library in a few days. I just started reading The Count of Monte Cristo, and I can't read two books at one time. I could ask him to renew the library book, but I feel guilty that it will just be sitting here waiting for me to finish mine. What a dilemma.
  • Speaking of feeling guilty, I STILL didn't go to the grocery store today. On the way home from the 5K (it was in the town where Katydid lives; I was on a team of employees from her job), I stopped at a restaurant near us and bought some of Hubby's favorite potato soup. They also have the most amazing poppy seed rolls, which they serve with wonderful cinnamon butter. Wasn't that a sneaky thing to do?
  • We have another four-day week this week, followed by a four-day week next week. It almost makes me think I could forget about retiring. Not.
  • Hubby found a nice Seiko watch in the parking lot of Wally World a couple of weeks ago. It's a little big for me, but I could take a link out of it. I figure I should at least put a notice somewhere that it was found, but WHERE? It's not like our local newspaper would be very useful. They're too busy printing ludicrous stories about people being arrested and posting teachers' salaries.
  • We have listened to the THUMP-THUMP-THUMP of our neighbors' music for the last two nights. Hubby is steadfastly against my calling the authorities because he thinks the thugs would pay us back by burning down our house. That makes me almost as ticked off at Hubby as I am at the neighbors. I wish his brother-in-law were still the sheriff, but NO, he had to go and retire. So far tonight it's quiet over there.Wine and ear plugs will help.
  • My godson's college baseball team is playing my alma mater at a neutral field this Tuesday night, and we are planning to go. But which team will I root for? Another dilemma.
  • After several days of temperatures in the 70's, Hubby was forced to build a fire tonight. It isn't supposed to get extremely cold, but the wind has been brutal all day. (I know, I know, "in like a lion...") It's supposed to get back up to 71 by Thursday, though. I sincerely hope "winter" (such as it was) is over. But every time I think that, we have a freak snowstorm in March. Or April.
  • I did some work on the crochet project today, but I'm still not finished. I've got plenty of time, but I'm giving myself a deadline of next Sunday at noon to have it finished. There. 
Have a great start to another week!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Dids Versus the Didn'ts......

I have to thank my blogging pal Maggie for inspiring me to write tonight's post. It was one of those "I don't know what to write about" nights, but after reading her blog, I was inspired.

Don't get your hopes up...inspiration only goes so far. And it wasn't that big a day. Because my plans got changed for me, it was easy to concentrate on what I DIDN'T get done today. Thanks to Maggie's post, however, I decided to focus on what I DID manage to accomplish.

Our plans for today got changed due to the weather. I was scheduled to ride in a **FREE** bicycle ride down near the same town where Rozmo and I rode almost two weeks ago. Because it's Saturday, Hubby was scheduled to... play golf. It's Saturday, after all.

We had some stormy weather in our parts last night, though, and the rain continued this morning. Not only was the weather too bad this morning for me to ride, the golf course was CLOSED.

It's one thing for my plans to be changed. But I didn't count on Hubby being underfoot all day. Don't get me wrong ... I love my Hubby to death. But sometimes I need some "me" time on the weekends, you know what I mean?

I didn't make the weekly trip to the grocery store, but I wasn't slovenly either. I swept, I mopped, I vacuumed, I washed dishes, I did laundry. I also squeezed in some time to read (more on that in a minute) and play "Angry Birds" on the iPad, a game that is evil and addictive.

I haven't yet finished the crochet project I alluded to in a blog post sometime last week. I'm doing the border, which should be an incentive to get the dang thing finished, but the border is the least fun part of the whole project, and I'm stalling. My goal is to finish it tomorrow, though.

I am currently reading The Count of Monte Cristo. When Hubby and I went out to eat one night last week, the restaurant's weekly trivia game started before we were finished. There was a question asking who was the love interest of the Count of Monte Cristo, and I didn't know the answer. (It was Mercedes, and since I had two students named Mercedes last year, that made me want to read the book.) One of my reading goals is to read more of the "classics" that I have somehow neglected to read in spite of being an avid reader most of my life, a literature major in college, and a literature teacher for the past 26 years.

Because tomorrow is Hubby's daughter's birthday, we took her and her boyfriend out to dinner. And the Sullen Teenager and her boy friend (but not boyfriend). It was nice to come home to a (mostly) clean house and clean laundry. 

Hoping for better weather tomorrow. I've got some more "Dids" to get done.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Favorite Things Friday....A WIN!!!!!......

I apologize for the second consecutive short post, but it's waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay past my bedtime. I had planned to write something with a little more substance and not resort to posting yet another gymnastics-related bit of drivel, but you know how plans go...

We had a huge win tonight in our next-to-last home meet of the season. (WHERE has this season gone?) We had several career highs, a couple of season highs (I think), and we knocked off the #3 team in the nation. (We are currently ranked #4, so it's not like it was a HUGE upset, and we were the home team. That means a lot in college gymnastics. But still, it was a win. And a win is a win. I just like typing "win.") We beat the same team that put up a ginormous score of 198 last weekend, though, so psychologically it feels good.

(Forgive me for saying "we." It's a terrible habit. Just to be clear, I didn't perform a single vault, I couldn't reach the uneven bars if my life depended upon it, I could probably get ON the balance beam but would only stay for a very brief moment, and floor....well, I just can't tumble. But I can't break the habit of saying "we.")

And I lost my voice. At a gymnastics meet.

I really need to get a life.