Thursday, November 29, 2012


After a little over four years and some 1500 posts (!!!), I think I'm ready to hang up this blogging thing and move on to something else. I don't know what that something else IS yet, but the blog has become something of a chore. It's not in my nature to blog only occasionally, but I may resort to that. I'm not ready to KILL the blog yet, but at the very least I'm taking a break.

I have enjoyed my time here, and I've enjoyed every single comment (well, almost every single comment) on my posts. I've learned a lot about people, and I've learned a lot about myself. (Wait...that sounds like I'm not a people. You know what I mean.)

I may drop in from time to time if I feel the need to spout off some sarcasm, but don't feel obligated to check on a daily basis.

If anyone would like to communicate with me directly, feel free to email me at dwpruitt (at) windstream (dot) net. See how much I love y'all? I just made my email address public and available to any spammer out there. I hope said spammer has better things to do on this particular evening.

Have a wonderful holiday season, and don't forget to be as nice to your family members as you are to perfect strangers during this joyful time.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

2012 Christmas Ornaments.......

Full disclosure:

I put my Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving, which has been my tradition (most years) since Sweet Girl was young.

I finally got all the strands of lights working today. (It's a pre-lit artificial tree, and I'm never going back.) I need some replacement bulbs so I can get all of them either to BLINK or NOT BLINK.

It still doesn't have the first ornament on it.

I've been just a tad busy with some things. Not the least of which is the fact that I FINALLY got back on my bike today, and although it was only a 19-mile ride (they're going to kick me out of the Round Numbers Club, I'm afraid), it did my spirits a world of good. Hubby took MIL for her radiation treatment today, and I haven't seen her at all. That may be a good thing for both of us, considering how the past few days have been.

But that's not what this post is about.

Not long after Hubby and I got married, on one of our first trips, I bought a Christmas ornament in one of the places we visited. Every year after that, whenever I put it on the tree, I smiled to remember where we were and what a good time we had. So I made it a point on every trip from then on to buy a Christmas ornament to remind me of the trip.

And now I'm pouting, because apparently I'm out of space on my Picasa site, and I refuse to pay a monthly fee to upload pictures to my blog.


Any suggestions from folks out there about how to post photos without paying for storage?

I so looked forward to posting photos of my Christmas ornaments.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Role Reversal......

I couldn't come up with anything better than that boring title. Sorry.

When Hubby and I first married, I was always cold. We have central heat, but we mostly rely on a wood burning stove to produce heat, at least for the downstairs. I like wood heat, even if it IS hard to regulate (more on that in a moment). It's just so warm. And back when we used to go load our own wood, it warmed us twice.

Hubby was NEVER cold. He ran quite a few degrees warmer than I, and it was rare that we met in the middle.

Over the course of our marriage, however, Hubby has gone from his late 40's to early 60's (boy does THAT look different than it used to!), and partly as a result of his age and partly due to diabetes, his feet are always cold.

I, on the other hand, have gone from my mid 30's to early 50's, and every woman reading this probably knows what that means.

I ain't hogging the covers anymore.

It's the time of year I hate, when we go somewhere in the car in the morning and have to turn on the heater full blast. When we come home in the afternoon, however, we have to run the air conditioner. All the glorious seasons of the year, wrapped up neatly in a single day.

It's also the time of year when Hubby insists we turn off the ceiling fans in our bedroom. I like the fans, and not just for their cooling effect. I like the low hum (even though I don't consider myself a fan of white noise), and I like the movement of air the fans create.

I miss those fans. It's not that I'm burning up, because I still lean somewhat toward the cold natured end of the spectrum.

I am usually up a few minutes later than Hubby, most often because I have delayed writing my blog until he's ready to go upstairs, then I have to scramble to do it. If I'm going to be very much later, Hubby reminds me to put more wood in the stove before I come to bed.

And I usually forget.

I like being warm, mind you, but the wood stove sometimes puts out more heat than I can tolerate. And he wants me to put MORE wood in it? Sheesh. I almost always regret it the next morning, when it's quite chilly downstairs and the fire has gone out completely. But when I'm sitting in my recliner and beads of sweat are standing out on my forehead, it's hard to make myself put wood in the heater.

And I never know whether to call it a "heater" or a "stove." I guess "heater" is more appropriate, since it's not used for cooking. In that case, we need to come up with another name for that dusty appliance in the kitchen.

Monday, November 26, 2012

New Respect......

I have gained a whole new respect for two different professions in the last several weeks.

The first field is one for which I have always had an appreciation, even before my sister took her place in it. I have always admired and respected nurses for the work they do, but even more so now. Doctors seem to get all the glory, but the nurses appear to do most of the work. Only a doctor can prescribe medications and certain treatments, but it's the nurses who really know what is needed. After my mother-in-law's surgery, I watched a nurse manage the care of several patients in the recovery room. She told the doctor (a resident who was probably born AFTER the nurse started practicing) what to do in order to discharge my mother-in-law to her room, and she reminded him to call the anesthesiologist, who had called to check on mother-in-law (he still didn't call - he forgot).

Nurses are the ones who communicate most with the family, and they are the ones who truly understands the patient's (and the family's) concerns. The doctor told us we would need to come back downstairs to her office to pick up a prescription, and the nurse had already sent it to the pharmacy via computer.

I'm not knocking doctors by any means. I appreciate the years and years and years of training they go through in order to take care of the rest of us. But if you measure their contact with patients compared to that of the nurses, there's no contest. I think we should flip-flop the pay of nurses with that of doctors based on minutes of patient contact alone.

We had the opportunity last week to meet four different nurses who work with home health care. One was the primary nurse in charge of administering fluids to mother-in-law in her home, and two others were additional folks she had to call to see if THEY could find a vein in mother-in-law's dehydrated body. (The third one was the charm.) The fourth nurse was the one on night duty who came to take down MIL's i.v.. fluid because I hadn't been trained (yet) to do it. When she left that night, she hugged me, then she hugged MIL and kissed her on the cheek. How sweet was that?

As I typed to my sister today, I don't know how they do what they do all the time.

The other group of awesome folks I've only recently come to appreciate is kindergarten teachers. My friend with whom I've been volunteering at an elementary school is the media specialist at her school. Most of the time teachers sign up to bring their classes to the media center, Jennifer reads them a story and has them do some sort of activity, and they go on their merry way. That's sort of true for the kindergarten class, except because this class was added late in the school year, the teacher pretty much drops them off and retreats for the only 45 minutes of relative sanity she gets in a school day. In one 45-minute period, Jennifer has to keep the kindergarten students on their squares, keep them from talking all at the same time, tell them as a group and individually that now is not a good time to go get water, repeat the rules about behavior in the library, read a story, hear fifty-two different versions of what the kids did over the __________ (weekend, break, holiday, last five minutes), keep them from hitting each other, hand out tissues, listen to each and every incident of tattling, have them complete an activity related to the book they just read, and somehow manage to do all that without slitting one of their little throats. Or her own wrists.

Oh, and she's expected to meet learning objectives.

With kindergarten students.

Every. Single. Day.

For forty-five interminable minutes.

I stayed late to help her with the little squirrels today, and she posed the question, "Can you imagine what it's like to have them all in a classroom ALL DAY LONG?" (Except for the 45 minutes they go to the library, when I wouldn't blame the teacher one bit for having a flask in her desk drawer.)

A huge, huge tip of the hat to kindergarten teachers. May you live long enough to win the lottery.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hi Ho... Hi Ho........

Political correctness notwithstanding, I feel like one of the Seven Dwarfs (Dwarves?) tonight. I'll let you guess which one...

  • I have eaten an entire stack of graham crackers.
  • I haven't folded the second load of laundry; it's still in the dryer.
  • The Green Bay Packers are down 24-7 and it isn't even halftime yet.
  • Half the lights on my Christmas tree blink, and the other half don't. I don't care one way or the other whether they blink or not, but I would appreciate it if they all do the same thing. 
  • Hubby thinks I should keep firewood in the wood-burning heater all day long, even if it's 60 degrees outside and 85 inside.
  • It's past my bedtime, even though I don't have one, and there are dishes in the sink that need to be washed. Too many to ignore, not enough to put in the dishwasher.
And finally...

  • I haven't been on my bike in 8 days. And not for lack of trying. 

My apologies to Disney.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Three Football Stories That Aren't About Football...

Story 1

Hubby and I intended to leave home around 6:30 this morning to go to the football game. Kickoff was at noon, and we wanted to get a good parking spot for the RV. What we consider a good parking spot is one that is A) easy to get out of, since we are among the minority of tailgaters in the RV who don't spend the night; and B) good for satellite reception.

I woke up at 4:50 or something like that, and I knew it was too early to get up. The next time I looked at the clock, it was 6:27. So much for leaving home at 6:30. Hubby got up a few minutes later, and we left not long thereafter.

Usually I spend a lot of time getting ready to go to a football game. Hair, make-up, clothes, shoes, food, drinks, paraphernalia for Gus, electronic devices, crocheting (sometimes, depending on the time of the game), maybe something to read.

I didn't have that option this morning. I hurriedly packed a bag with clothes to wear for the game, I poured us each a cup of coffee in a travel mug, we grabbed the dog, and we left around 7:00 or 7:15.

Oh, the beauty of having an RV. I left home this morning wearing yoga pants, a t-shirt, and my house shoes. I had on no bra and NO UNDERWEAR! I didn't even have time to brush my teeth. I took my hairdryer and make-up and did those primping things after we got there. Thank goodness I have toiletries that live in the RV, along with extra clothing (if needed) and underwear (whew!).

Story 2

This is tongue-in-cheek. I understand how ticket scalping works.

Something still looks funny enough that I want to stop and take a picture of it (it'll have to be next year, since today was our last home game, and it might get me shot anyway).

On our way to the stadium, we invariably pass several sets of scalpers. One will hold up a sign that says, "I need tickets," and the other holds up a handful of tickets, yelling, "Who needs tickets?" On the way to one game, the guy yelled about needing tickets, and I pointed to the guy about 10 yards from him and said, "He's got some."

He said to me, "What?" and we kept walking. I don't know if he really didn't hear me or if he was ticked off that I was questioning their methods. Or whatever I was questioning.

Today we passed a guy who was apparently either working alone, or his buddy had taken a bathroom break. He had a sign in one hand saying he needed tickets, and in the other hand he clutched ... you guessed it ... tickets.

Again, I realize how the system works. They buy extra tickets from folks who don't need them AND they sell tickets to folks who don't have them.

It still looks funny.

Story 3

Most fans are fairly well-behaved, at least in our section of the stadium. Unfortunately, our seats are very near some seats that are always occupied by fans from the opposing teams. (Maybe when I grow up I'll be eligible for seats that are only UGA fans.) It's not usually a problem. Good-natured ribbing takes place between fans from the two teams, and it's all in good fun.

Apparently not for some people.

One section over from us today, we saw folks standing up trying to get a better look at some kind of commotion. It's usually pretty easy to predict what's going to happen even before you spot the perpetrator(s). One (usually drunk) fan from the home team starts jawing and arguing with some other (usually drunk) fan from the other team, and pretty soon the verbal altercation turns physical and one or both parties is escorted from the stadium, sometimes handcuffed and sometimes not.

That actually wasn't the case today. It was ONE fan from the opposing team who was being belligerent to the UGA fans in her section, repeatedly dropping the f-bomb and generally being obnoxious and disruptive. Yes, I said "her." I don't think the security folks handcuffed her, at least not while I could see her, but they did wrestle her into the aisle and marched her out, to the cheers and jeers of fans in three sections. She was accompanied by a young man, maybe around 12 or 13 years old, and I felt terrible for him.

It was only the first quarter, and I suspect he didn't get to see the rest of the game. At least not in person.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Mama Bear Wants to Claw Someone.....

Sweet Girl hates it when I refer to her as my "cub" or refer to myself as a "mama bear." She'll understand the concept when she has kids of her own.

I'll probably mess up part of this story, since it is Sweet Girl's and not mine to tell, but I'll risk it anyway.

My daughter loves to cook. I don't know where she got that gene, because it certainly didn't come from me. Not only does she love to cook, she's pretty darn good at it. She experiments, she tries new recipes, she uses exotic spices and flavorings.

Me? If it has more than 5 ingredients and there's a single thing I can't pronounce or don't know what section it's in, I move on to the next recipe.

(I almost posted on Facebook the other night: "Food just tastes better with a new can opener" but I was afraid no one would get it. Or rather, I was afraid it was dumb.)

Sweet Girl decided NOT to come home for Thanksgiving this year. She's technically unemployed (but almost finished with school, praise all that's holy for that!), and we all know gas isn't cheap these days. Instead she decided to stay home and cook a meal for one of her married friends and her small family.

I don't know the entire menu, but I know she cooked a turkey, baked a pecan pie (I have never been that brave myself), made deviled eggs, and a host of other goodies. She cleaned her townhouse and sent me a picture of how sparkling it looked. She got up early on Thanksgiving Day and put the finishing touches on some things, whipped up a few things that can only be made the day of the meal itself, watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and relaxed while she waited for her friends.

Only they didn't come. Canceled (by text message, I think) at the last minute. After not returning her calls the day before.

Man, have I been doing a slow burn ever since yesterday. I want to track this little girl down (and her husband and child too, I'm not picky) and kick. her. ass.

How could she DO that?

My sister-in-law were talking about it today, and we pondered whether it was generational. I couldn't think of doing that to any of MY friends, not now and not when I was 28. Not ever. If you say you're going to be somewhere, you go. If you don't think you can make it, you don't say you will be there. And especially an occasion like Thanksgiving, where the girl had to know how much trouble went into the preparation. Not to mention cost. For an unemployed veteran who just wanted to have someone to share the holiday with her.

The Mama Bear in me wants to find that little b****'s number on Sweet Girl's phone and give her a piece of my mind. But that would embarrass my child, and I need to reserve those moments for really special occasions. Like riding the grocery cart through the parking lot.

IS it generational? Is it just young people in their late 20's to early 30's (older? younger?) who are so ME, ME, ME, ME oriented that they can ignore the feelings of other people and cheerfully go about their business? Or is this an isolated case of one young person/family? Please, please, please tell me it's the latter, or I may just crawl under my comforter and suck my thumb until the world comes to an end next month.

I know I should give the girl the benefit of the doubt, particularly since I don't know the WHOLE story. She has a young child, so there could have been any number of reasons that she had to cancel at the last minute. But she didn't offer ANYTHING in the way of explanation. I believe the phrase she used was, "We can't make it." Even if she had to make up a LIE, it would have been better than not offering an excuse at all. (I think Sweet Girl would disagree with me on that last one, because she's inherently way more honest than I am. I mean, when backed into a corner. Yeah, that's what I meant.)


This parenting thing just never stops hurting.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Not at all a traditional Thanksgiving.

But I'm thankful all the same for so many things I can't even begin to name them.

Hope everyone's holiday was a happy one.

I plan to stay far, far away from the stores tomorrow.

It's a day for putting up the Christmas tree, watching football, and (I hope I hope I hope I hope) riding my bike.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Whirlwind Day.....

I've been trying hard not to make my blog just about my mother-in-law's medical issues and the accompanying DIZZYING array of things that amaze/frustrate/anger/terrify/challenge me on a daily basis. But here lately that's what my life IS, and I'm not complaining. Just the facts, ma'am.

Today was one of those days that make me question my strength, my competence, and something so deep down inside that I can't even find a name for it.

Without going into a lot of details, mother-in-law has gone downhill lately as a result of her surgery (where 40% of the roof of her mouth was removed) and radiation. Her mouth is very sore, which makes it hard to eat or drink, and then she has battled nausea off and one for several weeks. She has lost almost 30 pounds since the summer, and she was fairly weak BEFORE this whole chain of events started.

She has been receiving i.v. fluids in the radiology clinic to help guard against dehydration. Yesterday they decided to give her a break from radiation for the rest of this week (but tack those two treatments on to the end of next week - sigh) and arrange for in-home nurses to administer i.v. fluids over the holiday weekend. We cheered and heaved a tremendous sigh of relief that someone would be coming to US instead of having to take her to the clinic.

I spoke to the nurse on the phone this morning, and she cheerfully said something along the lines of, "Oh, you're the one I'm coming to train to give the i.v. fluids!" There must be some mistake. I don't DO i.v. fluids. I once toyed with the idea of going to medical school, but that was before I met Mr. College Calculus and Mr. College Chemistry and changed my major to one for which they would give me a degree just for reading novels.

Oh, not to worry, she said, it's easy. I won't leave you until I'm sure you can do it.

I was pretty sure she would be moving into the guest room, because I was pretty sure I could NOT do it.

Seriously, I was freaking out. Not in front of my mother-in-law, because I didn't want her to think I didn't WANT to do it, but to Hubby I was in tears. I almost called Frogger Blogger, also known as Nurse Jane, and asked her to drive the two hours over here to bail me out. I didn't because she's working two jobs and I knew she would do it anyway. I texted Sweet Girl, I texted Katydid, I stomped around the house muttering about my incompetence and generally fell apart.

I've watched them stick mother-in-law so many times now I can't even begin to count. And I know what a hard time they have on a GOOD day finding a suitable vein for anything. Draw blood, give fluids, whatever, it's a serious challenge for trained medical professionals to find a vein on mother-in-law, and they want ME to do it? With an afternoon of "training"?

I seriously began to question myself. What is it that made me freak out like that? I've never turned down a challenge. I've always said I could do anything I needed to do, with proper instruction (except scuba diving, but the lack of "proper instruction" may have had something to do with that too), and yet I could not convince myself this was something of which I was capable.

I didn't realize at the freaking-out time that they had no intention of having me insert the needle. Their plan was to put a needle in place and leave it for the five days mother-in-law is to get fluids at home. My job was (is?) to flush the catheter when the saline bag is empty, then attach another bag the next morning.

Well... MAYBE I can do THAT.


I still don't feel confident.

Plans sort of got screwed up anyway when the first nurse tried for an hour to find a vein, she called a colleague to come to mother-in-law's house, and when SHE was unable to find a vein, she called yet another nurse. Four hours and three nurses later, the i.v. was finally started.

A fourth nurse came to take the i.v. down, and she showed me how to flush the catheter and take it down. Because I haven't been properly trained for the beginning end of the procedure, someone else (a fifth nurse?) will come out tomorrow and show me what to do.

I hope.

And I'm still a little nervous about the whole thing. While I don't have to stick anything into a vein, I still have to make sure the vein doesn't blow (!) and check that the saline is flowing properly. I can do most things, but I'm a hands-on type learner. I need to do it a few times before I'm sure of myself.

We don't really have a few times to practice. She is only getting fluids a few times, and this isn't a time to practice.

I'm still trying to figure out my own lack of confidence in this ordeal. Part of me wants to say, "This is somebody's JOB, and I shouldn't have to do it." Another part of me wants to say, "I'm a family member, of COURSE I can do this."

And both parts of me are pointing fingers at the other part and saying, "YOU figure this out."

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Expressing Thanks.....

Image from

I'm either jumping on the bandwagon about 20 days late, thanks to all the overachievers who have been expressing their thanks on Facebook for every freakin' day of this month, or I'm early for Thursday.

I'll go with the latter.

Maybe I'll be "creative" (read: lazy) and stretch this thanking thing out for several days, hence several blog posts. Expressing my thankfulness suits my scattered state of mind tonight anyway.

  • I am thankful for Roger Bailey, my high school English teacher, who refused to accept less than my best. I'm also thankful that it's almost gymnastics season, when I get to see Roger at every home meet.
  • I am thankful that I got SOME of my mother's strength (but not her inflexibility - much) and SOME of my father's humor (but not his penchant for getting a laugh at the expense of others).
  • I am very, very thankful for my three surviving siblings and the brother I lost when I was only 11. I wish we lived closer to one another, but perhaps not in the same neighborhood.
  • I am thankful that when my ex-husband shot our house up that I resisted the temptation to set it on fire with him passed out on the couch. Not because I would have regretted it, but because Hubby and I would have had a difficult time getting married with me being in prison and all.
  • I am thankful for living in the South, where we can experience many different seasons all in the same day. I'm thankful that when I put on a sweater in the morning when it's 40 degrees and it later reaches almost 70 degrees, I have a t-shirt I can change into.
  • I am thankful for the Internet and every single establishment that has wifi. Particularly free wifi.
  • I am thankful that Hubby and I are able to live (mostly) debt-free.
  • I am thankful for Hubby, who accepts me (as my mother would say), "warts and all."
  • I am eternally thankful for the daughter who made parenting so easy that even a lazy person such as myself could accomplish it. 
  • I am thankful that I never stop learning.
  • I am thankful that my father's vasectomy didn't work. (Sorry if that's T.M.I.)
  • I am thankful that I spent enough years in a profession that I could retire at an early age, and well before the point at which I started to hate all teenagers. I only hated SOME of them.
  • I am thankful for the absolutely unconditional love (and short memory) of a dog.
  • I am thankful that my football team has risen to #3 in the nation with an outside shot (VERY outside, but worth mentioning) at playing for the national championship.
  • I am thankful I have not suffered a stroke during a sporting event.
  • I am thankful for books. Lots and lots and lots of books.
  • I am thankful for the forgiving nature of sweat pants.
  • I am thankful for the wonderful people I've met through this blog. If we never meet in person (but I hope we do), please know that your comments, your support, and your friendship are very special to me.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Getting Lost in My Own Hometown.....

It is widely known that I am directionally challenged. If I go into a building, I have no idea how to get out. I can't sit in my living room and point to the state park that is across the road from where we live. I can follow directions to get anywhere in the world (well....), but I can't simply leave and go back the way I came. (Thank you, thank you, thank you sites like Google Maps and Mapquest that give you the "reverse directions" option.) My GPS is my best friend.

This past Saturday, I finally made good on my promise to myself that I would take my bicycle to our tailgating spot and burn some of that pre-game energy by riding my bike. It would have made way too much sense to do that on one of those days when kickoff was at 3:30 or 4:00 or 7:30. No, I chose to (finally) take my bike on a day when kickoff was at 1:30. That meant I needed to be back around 12:00 so I could get ready and leave for the walk to the stadium at 12:30. That meant I needed to ride my bike around 10:00 or 10:30. That meant it was around 40 degrees.

I don't DO 40 degrees on my bicycle.

But after I hauled it all the way to Athens, I felt obligated to ride it.

I have been wanting to ride the North Oconee River Greenway, a bicycle/pedestrian trail that I knew was near our tailgating spot. Gus and I left walking one Saturday trying to find it, but while I could find the river (I'm directionally challenged but thankfully not stupid), I couldn't find the greenway. Then Rozmo and I did a ride in Athens about a month ago, and we found the beginning of the greenway. Smug in my new knowledge, I took off on Saturday (40 degrees, remember) for a short ride on the greenway.

My short ride on the greenway turned out to be about three-quarters of a mile. Because that's when I lost the path. I know the town, however, so I didn't feel "lost" so much as "confused" about how I lost the path. And so quickly. Then I became determined to find the path again, and I kept riding.

I wound up on a 4-lane highway that I knew ended at another 4-lane highway. A U.S. highway to boot. The greenway didn't show up on my GPS (see, I was never really lost), but it did show up on my iPhone. It showed up near the intersection where the two 4-lane highways crossed. ( that redundant?) I kept riding, looking for a gate or a sign or some indication of the greenway, and I found myself inside a huge flea market-type thing where people rent tables and sell their worthless junk items. That wasn't where I wanted to be. Checking the iPhone again, I saw that I had passed the greenway and evidently see it. So I turned around, more alert and observant this time. I noted the name of a road that would indicate I had gone back too far, and yep, there it was. I checked the iPhone again, and what I thought was the greenway on the screen was actually a railroad. An actual railroad. One that trains use. I could have turned on it to get back to town, but I'm really not that good.

I was faced with two unpleasant choices. I could A) turn right on the busy 4-lane U.S. highway; or B) turn around (again) and go back the way I came. For some reason, I am against backtracking on my bike. Ultimately I chose that option, though, and returned to our tailgating location almost the same way I came. (I told you I can't go back the same way.) I got back to the intersection nearest our parking lot, flung my left arm out confidently to indicate a turn, and then realized the lot was straight ahead. (See what I mean?)

It wound up being only about a 13-mile ride, which wasn't bad considering the amount of time I had (some of which I spent stopped on the side of the road, scratching my head and scrolling along a RAILROAD on my iPhone) and the chilly temperatures. I know now where I made my mistake, and we have one more home game this Saturday for me to try again. Maybe I can manage TWO miles before I miss a turn.

And kickoff is at noon. Maybe I should leave tonight.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Interesting Phone Call.....

I had an interesting phone call Friday morning. I guess it actually bordered on shocking, but the surprise has worn off and the intrigue remains.

Let me give you some background first.

My parents divorced around 1967, when I was only 6 years old. I don't remember many details of life when they were still together, and the ones I do remember weren't very pleasant.

I wasn't very close to my father after about the age of 8 or 9. I guess that's when young girls start having friends and sleepovers, and going back and forth to my father's house every other weekend wasn't my idea of fun. He once resorted to bribery to get me to come live with him full-time. He told me he would buy me a pony if I would come live with him. I was only 8 years old, so I agreed. He didn't want me to live with him; he just wanted to stick it to my mother. She wisely allowed me to go stay with him for the summer, confident that I would want to come back home before school started. She was right.

My father remarried in 1976, when I was 15. We didn't see each other much, and I was of course all about ME at that age (I finally grew out of it sometime last year). My step-mother's name was Doris, and when I DID see them, she was always very kind and welcoming to me.

Doris had never been married before she married my father at the age of 39. My sisters and I asked each other repeatedly through the years why she would wait that long and then marry HIM. She was much too nice a person to be with our father. He never seemed to appreciate her goodness, although she was apparently important enough to him that he stayed sober as long as she lived. When she died in 1998, my father immediately returned to the bottle.

Back to the phone call.

The man on the other end of the phone said he was the baby that Doris gave up for adoption in 1964. She would have been 27 years old at the time, much older than most single moms these days, but of course it would have been scandalous in those days for a single woman to have a baby. (I wish it were scandalous these days instead of being a rite of passage for some.) He and I don't necessarily have any connection, except for the fact that if Doris had raised him, he would have been my step-brother.

The man had apparently talked to Doris before her death, and they had made arrangements to meet. She had to cancel one time, though, and he had to cancel another time, and I suppose life intervened. When he thought to look her up again, he learned she had died in 1998.

He wanted to know what kind of person Doris was, and he wondered if anyone had pictures. I was ashamed to say I didn't know a lot of details about Doris, but I could assure him Doris was much too good a person to have been with my father. I only had a couple of pictures, one taken at Frogger Blogger's house sometime in 1997 (I think) and one from my wedding to Sweet Girl's father in 1982. He also wanted to know how Doris died, and unfortunately it was from lung cancer. She had quit smoking for 3 years when doctors found the first spot on her lung, and she wound up having part of her lung removed. She did okay for several years, except for being easily winded, which didn't in any way impact my father's habit of walking too fast for her to keep up, but then the cancer returned with a vengeance.

I have so many questions, but of course there is no one to ask. My father has one surviving sibling, my aunt Joyce, but she was as floored as I was, so I'm sure she doesn't know any details. My father knew of the child's existence, and according to his NEXT wife (grrrrrrrr), he "never forgave Doris." Yep, that sounds just like him, holding something over her head that happened before they ever met. My father died in 2002, so i can't ask him either.

That must have been a terribly difficult decision for Doris to make, and yet she was one of the kindest, gentlest, most loving people I've ever known. I guess it gets said a lot after someone is gone, but I wish I had appreciated Doris more while she was still alive.

Doris and my father, sometime around 1997. I have no idea why Doris's eyes are closed.

Doris and my father (far left), my mother, me and my first husband, his parents. Yes, I'm that short (5'2"), but he's also that tall (6'10"). You can probably tell where he got his height.
Isn't life interesting?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Room by Emma Donoghue.....

Thank you, thank you, thank you to my friend Jennifer (she's also my "boss" at my volunteer job) for mentioning this book.

Room by Emma Donoghue is about a woman who has been held captive in a room for seven years. The story is told from the point of view of Jack, her son, who is five years old and has never been outside this room.

Jennifer told me almost exactly that much information about the book as I have revealed, and I'm so glad she did. The story seems a tad bizarre at the beginning, and I might have been lost if I hadn't known part of the story's origin.

I think Emma Donoghue did a terrific job of telling the story through Jack's eyes. I think it was genius the way she revealed very adult themes through the language of a five-year-old.

A couple of examples of Jack's precocious (and precious) use of language:

"Houses are like lots of Rooms stuck together, TV persons stay in them mostly but sometimes they go in their outsides and weather happens to them." 

"The world is always changing brightness and hotness and soundness, I never know how it's going to be the next minute."

"The little cards with numbers all over are called a lottery, idiots buy them hoping to get magicked into millionaires."

I left out a couple of my favorite quotes from Jack because they might reveal too much of what happens in the book. I hate it when someone does that to me, so I don't want to spoil it for anyone else.

I love this little guy so much. And it's not JUST because he shares his name with my brother AND with one of my blogger pals. He's honest, he forces grown-ups to be honest, and he is true to himself. 

Definitely a good read. Make that a wonderful, awesome, well-worth-your-time read.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Going Cold Turkey.....

I am embarrassed to have to write this post.

I have gone cold turkey from playing a stupid GAME on the computer. And it's momentous enough that I'm writing about it.

Katydid got me playing this particular game (sort of like Farmville, from what I understand) in which one plants crops, tends animals, makes and sells products, loads boat shipments with some of those products, and generally wastes about as much time as it is possible to waste doing something senseless.

I knew I was spending too much time playing this game. I haven't finished the book I'm reading. I haven't worked on my quilt. I hadn't ridden my bike in 22 DAYS until today. Yeah, it was that serious. (It's not the ONLY reason I hadn't been on my bike, but it can't be entirely coincidental either.)

I got up at 4:30 and 5:00 AM to play this game. Sure, I told myself I was already awake and I may as well get up, but the painful truth is that I wanted to see if I could get that boat loaded completely before it sailed, thus earning some random stars, some pretend coins, and a voucher or two. (Which can only be traded for pets, which have to be FED and AWAKENED.)

I mentioned in a previous blog post that I found myself spending REAL money on this game, paying to get "diamonds" that I could use for things I didn't have, or to speed up a process that was going to take too long to get the #$!*#$ products on the #!$*#*! boat.

It's not like I spent the grocery money or anything, and the $17 I spent isn't going to force me out of retirement. It was the thought that something mindless had taken over my mind.

I wasn't rude enough to play the game on my phone when Hubby and I went out to eat, but what was the harm in checking on my chickens when Hubby went to the bathroom?

I didn't neglect my volunteer work, and what was the harm in seeing if the pigs had produced the bacon I needed, as long as it only took a second?

I had all that time to kill in various clinics, so what was the big deal?

I really wrestled with myself about this issue. On one hand, it is harmless, free (**ahem ahem**) fun. On the other hand...there are a billion other things I can be doing with my time and energy.

And I know how I am. It wasn't enough for me to tell myself, "I'm going to stop playing this silly game." No, I had to sell off all my products until my barn was completely empty, then I deleted the game from my iPad. And my iPhone.

It felt so ... liberating.

I knew it was the right thing to do when Hubby said, "I'll be happy to get my wife back."

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Brain Cramp.....

Most people call them something else that starts with "brain" and ends with something that starts with the letter "f" but I don't like that f-word any more than I like the OTHER f-word, so I call them brain cramps.

So glad we got that out of the way.

Just for the record, I don't like the word "snot" either. It pained me just to type it.

My brain cramp was that I had put my iPhone and iPad to bed, brushed my teeth, washed my face, and was climbing into bed with a MARVELOUS FANTASTIC CAN'T-PUT-IT-DOWN book when I realized I hadn't written my blog post for tonight.

It's been a long time since I did that. I apologize for almost forgetting.

It's been an up-and-down week for me in the customer service department. We have been (mostly) pleased that we changed our cell phone provider from the one with an A and two T's in its name to the one that starts with a V and mercifully retired the commercials with that geeky-looking guy on them.

We've had ongoing problems with our bills, though. I won't go into the details, but suffice it to say that our bill has gone up every month, we have automatic billing, the monthly charges come out just as they should, and then we get nasty-grams and messages from the company saying our service has been discontinued due to an outstanding balance of $98.41. (Neither of our phones had been disconnected - shouldn't they KNOW that?)

It's been a very frustrating experience, but we went into our local store yesterday, and a very sweet, competent, patient representative said she WILL get it straightened out. She was apologetic and I didn't even have to rant and rave. Which is a good thing, because I need that energy for a different company.

I have ordered from an online company (whose name shall go unmentioned here for the time being) for several years, always with fairly good success. Their products aren't the best quality in the world, but the prices are good and service is acceptable. Or at least it has been in the past.

I ordered two sets of sheets for our bed, one white and one blue. I received a package about two weeks ago with a set of BLACK sheets (who USES those?) in a different size. When I looked online to see if perhaps I had clicked the wrong button (several times?), it said my order was still being processed. So I waited. And waited. And waited. And waited.

I finally emailed customer service (because their representatives don't get up at the crack of dawn like I do) and explained the problem. I even sent a screen shot of the web page telling me my order was still being processed.

Tonight I got an email giving me a tracking number. For the package I already got.

Yes, I'm aware that a package was sent. Hell, a package was RECEIVED. Did you even READ the email I sent? The problem wasn't knowing where the package was; the problem was that the package didn't include the right item(s).

So I will call tomorrow morning, and I will try to be nicer than the email I sent tonight, which said they might want to consider changing their name, since the current one has the word "smart" in it and I don't think they are. Smart, that is.

But I didn't use any bad language. Except for the word "damn." And I think that's allowed.

I really wanted those new sheets.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thanksgiving Dilemma....

I didn't intend to follow up yesterday's post about Christmas with a post about Thanksgiving. At the very least, they're in the wrong order. It may also be a case of holiday overload. But it is what it is. (That's the new mantra Hubby and I have begun to cling to.)

I think I mentioned earlier that we were up in the air as to what to do about Thanksgiving. Last year I cooked a big meal (well, Sweet Girl was home, and she did the lion's share of it, bless her), and the year before that (I think?) Hubby and I went to Sweet Girl's home in Jacksonville, where she ALSO did most of the cooking. (Detect a pattern here?)

This year, with Hubby's mother being in such bad shape, I knew we wouldn't do a big (or even medium-sized) family thing. We were left with the options of going out to eat on Thanksgiving or ordering one of those already-cooked meals from one of the area grocery stores. Even those are a tad on the expensive side, though, and still result in a lot of waste. Hubby doesn't even LIKE turkey, and I don't like it that most of us use the day as an excuse to overindulge. I understand the Pilgrims were about to starve to death, but that doesn't apply to most of us.

Hubby's mother is doing better as far as eating and drinking, but she is nowhere near ready to eat many foods. Soups, eggs, ice cream, milkshakes, and mashed potatoes are about all she can handle right now.

Personally, I would just as soon ignore the day altogether and spend it taking a walk in the park and watching football. I hate to do that this year, though, since it could very well be my mother-in-law's last Thanksgiving. She MAY feel up to venturing out to a restaurant, but again, she can't eat very much, and I don't want her to think she has to force herself to eat just to "get our money's worth."

Three years ago, when Hubby and I had just bought our RV, we left on Thanksgiving for our very first trip in it. We didn't go far, about 30 miles from home, and we had ham sandwiches that night for our Thanksgiving dinner. It was perfect. The weather was very nice, and when it cooled off considerably after the sun went down, we were fine once we learned how to turn on the furnace. We don't have the option of leaving town this year, since his mother is so ill, so we are back to square one.

Decisions, decisions. Damn those Pilgrims anyway.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

'Tis the Season......

It seems to me that the Christmas commercials begin earlier every year.

Bah humbug.

I heard my first Christmas jingle (I think - I try to block them out) last weekend. Or was it the weekend before that?

I've noted in my blog before that Hubby and I don't do much gift-giving anymore. Sometimes we settle on a mutual gift and share in the expense, like the year we bought new leather recliners. Not very romantic, but very practical. A couple of years ago we went to Jamaica the week before Christmas, one of those all-inclusive resort deals, and that was a FABULOUS gift to each other. Except for the tense moments associated with ONE OF US not being able to produce the voucher for the shuttle service back to the airport at the end of the stay, but they still let us out of the country. One year we left right after Christmas dinner, drove for six hours, and were at the poker table in our favorite casino before bedtime.

We don't buy each other gifts mostly because we buy our OWN gifts throughout the year. Hubby needs a new golf club? He gets on eBay. I want some shoes? I buy brown AND black. New gadget for me? I ain't waitin' for no stinkin' holiday to get it.

Sweet Girl is past the age of toys, of course, but there are still things she wants. I have given up on trying to surprise her. I ask her for a list, then I get however many items on her list I can afford. We open our gifts to each other on Christmas morning via computer.

I like making homemade treats to give as gifts. I like to give our mail carrier a little something, along with my hairdresser, and I used to make little things to give to co-workers. Crock Pot Candy is always a favorite of mine, along with banana bread. This year I bought a set of 6 small ceramic (?) loaf pans, so if I make banana bread, the pan becomes part of the gift. I like that idea. I want to take gifts to my former co-workers, but there's the awkwardness of what to do about the two new folks. I've met them, and they are very sweet ladies, but I don't KNOW them. Do I take them a treat also? Or just give gifts to my friends without making a big deal out of it? (This is, of course, assuming I don't run out of steam/energy/time/ingredients before they get out of school for the Christmas holidays.)

I get bombarded with catalogs throughout the year, but especially at Christmas time. I go through them (sometimes) and see things I think would make good gifts. I don't always have a particular person in mind; I just like the gift itself. Is that wrong? Is it less of a gift if I bought the item without having a particular person in mind? Does proper shopping start with the person and end with something that was purchased especially for him or her? Hmmmm... I'll have to think about that one.

'Tis the season... to be wrong about SOMETHING. Maybe multiple somethings.

Bah humbug.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Excuses, Excuses.....

I don't know if it's my new camera, the (cheapo) new media card I bought with it, or Blogger, but here lately I have had a DEVIL of a time uploading pictures to my blogs.

My usual routine is to move the images from the card to my computer and then upload them from the folder called "Blog Pictures." (I have a separate folder because I don't really want pictures of a Dick and Jane book, for example, scrolling as part of my screen saver.)

Lately, almost every time I try to upload a photo, it comes into Blogger with some sort of wonky stripe across it. And the bottom portion of the photo is usually a solid color. Transparent, but all one color. It may be green this time and red the next. Sometimes I delete it and try to upload it again, with mixed results. It may turn out perfectly the next time, or it may have a DIFFERENT colored stripe in a DIFFERENT part of the photo.

What gives?

I don't think I've ever used that particular expression before in my life.

My blog post for tonight was supposed to be "Things That Don't Belong in My Kitchen." Complete with photographs.

(If I told Hubby what my blog was going to be about, he would suggest I start with pictures of the stove and sink. He's a scream. Even when he doesn't know he's being a scream, like now.)

I think tomorrow I will try using my old camera, then I'll try using the old card in the NEW camera and see if either of those approaches will work to fix the problem.

If not, I'm stumped.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Racketeer by John Grisham......

Image from
I have been a fan of John Grisham's writing (and John Grisham the man) since his first book, A Time to Kill. Hubby got burned out on the entire legal profession, and especially Grisham's books, and he stopped reading him. I have remained loyal, though (as I am wont to do), and I have enjoyed all of his books.

The Racketeer is about a lawyer (surprise!!!) who is in jail for something he didn't do. (Aren't they all? But this one seems legitimate. Because he wrote it that way.) I won't give any more details, because I'm terrible at providing a summary of a book without giving something crucial away. I sort of started figuring out the end of the book, but I had to read all the way to the end just to make sure it didn't have a sudden twist a la The Partner.

Grisham's writing has a sense of humor, a sarcastic one at times, which is probably why I like it so much. Grisham isn't afraid to poke fun at the legal profession (probably because he doesn't have to play that game anymore) or the "judicial" system at large.

I saw Grisham on Jon Stewart's show last week, and he was not only charming and funny, but he also held his own with Jon Stewart, and not many people do that. I see so many people on that show who think they are going to be taken seriously, and they find out pretty quickly that Jon isn't there to be serious. Grisham was delightful and entertaining.

The only negative thing I have to say about this book stems from my own shortcoming. The narrator of the book plainly states that he is a black man at the beginning of the book, but I still kept picturing him as white. I'm not racist by any means, and his color was significant at several points in the book. Not only did I picture him as white, I kept seeing John Grisham himself when I pictured the main character. It probably didn't help that I had just seen him on television.

I just thought of another negative. Grisham switched back and forth between present tense and past tense depending on whether he was speaking from the narrator's point of view (present tense) or filling in some blanks by narrating action going on elsewhere (past tense). I'm such a purist that I think writers should choose one or the other, but not switch back and forth between the two in the same story. But maybe I'm just being picky. Oh, and he split an infinitive or two. Yes, I realize that IS being picky. Purist=pickiness?

Negatives aside, this book was very entertaining. Occasionally I even stopped playing Hay Day long enough to read several pages. That's high praise.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Double "GG" Motorcycle Ride......

Hubby and I did a motorcycle ride today, a fundraiser for the marching band at one of our local high schools. Although Sweet Girl graduated from the OTHER school, she spent her first two years at this one, and her best band memories (I suspect) came from her freshman and sophomore years.

It's called the Double "GG" Ride because the mascot of this school is the Bulldoggs. That is not a typo; they actually spell it with two G's. I think the motto is, "The extra 'G' is for extra effort," or some such crap, but personally I find it embarrassing. I get it that their colors are red and black, their fight song is the same as UGA, so they wanted to distinguish their mascot in some way, but still... Perhaps it's the grammar snob in me. Or maybe (just possibly) it's just dumb.

Anyway, their marching band has been invited to play in the Chick-Fil-A bowl game (formerly known as the Peach Bowl, and I'm not very happy about THAT either) on New Year's Eve and the parade before the game. It will cost each band member approximately $250 to attend, even though it is only in Atlanta, so they are having fundraisers to try to offset the costs.

I really like organized motorcycle rides. They are police-escorted, so we ride in a double staggered line and don't have to stop at red lights or stop signs. I sometimes feel guilty because I suspect the folks pulled off on the side of the road probably think it's a military tribute or a motorcade escort of some kind, but it's just ordinary folks like us, using a fundraiser as an excuse to get on our bikes.

The weather couldn't have been more perfect. High around 70 degrees, brilliant blue skies, low humidity. It was such that we needed leather jackets to ride, but they were a little much when we were off the bikes.

Most organized rides travel about 40-50 miles, stop somewhere for a restroom and/or fuel break, then return for music, food, door prizes, etc. Today's ride was non-stop, approximately 90 miles, but it was fine. By the end I was ready to get off the bike, but I wasn't miserable. I was actually pretty GLAD that we didn't have a turn-around point, because I didn't want it to turn into an all-day affair. Anytime you allow a group of people to mill around, it takes forever to herd them together again.

An organized ride is a little different from just getting on the bike and tooling around or using the bike for transportation. I don't really get the opportunity to look around and take in the scenery (but today's ride was so scenic that I intend to go back and cover some of it again on my bicycle), because I have to concentrate on keeping the proper distance from the rider in front of me. I tend to take the line next to the white line, especially since the motorcycle cops "leap-frog" at each intersection, and they come roaring up to pass and get back to the front of the line. I KNOW they're coming, and still about 50% of the time they scare the daylights out of me, screaming past with sirens blaring and blue lights flashing.

This is another time I wish I had photos to document the occasion. I've learned at the knee of Rozmo how to take photos when I'm on my bicycle, but there's no safe way to do it on a motorcycle. I'd love to show you how cool it looks with motorcycle stretching out as far as the eye can see both in front and behind. I'm sure it sounds pretty awesome, too, but all I can hear is my own bike.

I was a little concerned when we first left home. It's been MONTHS since I've been on my bike, and I didn't know how confident I would feel on the bike. It all came back to me, however, and it was a very pleasant ride. I'm glad Hubby and I got to do it together.

Now tomorrow I really need to get back on my OTHER bike before I forget how to ride that one.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Flashback Friday - Dick and Jane........

I hadn't thought about the Dick and Jane books in YEARS. We used these in elementary school when we were learning to read.

I don't remember if it was first or second grade when we used these books. It seems there was a series of books as opposed to a single book. (Someone help me here!)

One reason I can't remember which grade it was is because I went to both first and second grades in the same year. They didn't know what else to do with smart children way back then. There were no gifted, SCOPE, challenge, or whatever classes. I thought for the longest time that they moved me up to second grade because I wouldn't go to sleep during nap time.

These books started my lifelong love of reading, and I'm embarrassed to say that when I saw the book advertised in a catalog, I got a little teary-eyed. Then I got on the computer.

I got off the computer approximately $130 later. (The book didn't cost that much, but I saw several other things I simply couldn't live without.)

I almost didn't want to take the plastic wrap off the book. But I wanted to see the pages, smell the newness.

It was just like the feeling I had when I was learning to read. I wanted to see what Dick, Jane, Sally, Spot, and Puff were up to. (These books are probably the reason my first dog's name was "Puff.") I couldn't wait to open the book and discover new things.

It's pretty much still like that today.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Dear Woman in the SUV Behind Me.....

Dear Woman in the SUV Behind Me:

Over the course of my mother-in-law's radiation treatment, we have had good days and bad days. There are days when I roll with the punches, focus on the positive, and remain upbeat and positive, for my mother-in-law's sake if nothing else. She's got enough on her plate without worrying about my sarcastic remarks and temper tantrums. On those days things go smoothly, she and I still manage to laugh and joke and make fun of perfect strangers, and it is easy to forget that she has cancer and only half of the roof of her mouth remaining.

Today was not one of those days.

We arrived for her radiation treatment early, as is our habit, because that generally means we get out early. Today we NEEDED to get out early, because she had an appointment to have i.v. fluids upstairs in the chemotherapy clinic, and the girl at the scheduling desk is ADAMANT that we not interfere with her lunch. (Aside: The REST of the staff members are very kind, sympathetic, professional, and polite. This one is none of those, plus she is ignorant enough to think that radiation is administered intravenously. Hell, I'm not even in the medical profession, and I know better than that.)

Alas, that is NOT how our morning went. We got there half an hour before her appointment time, and they finally called her back half an hour AFTER her appointment. That meant we got upstairs right smack dab in the middle of their sacred lunch hour (I know, I know, they have to eat too), and we had to wait. We had to wait a long time.

Mother-in-law is in a weakened condition not only due to the radiation, but she hasn't been able to keep anything on her stomach. Not eating upsets her stomach, so naturally she doesn't want to eat even more, and the cycle continues. She doesn't feel much like joking these days.

To exit the clinic (which I do via a driveway in the back just so I can come out at a traffic light), I have to turn right onto a VERY VERY VERY busy highway. Then I have to make it across two lanes of traffic and into the left turn lane before I get to the next traffic light. It is not an option for me to turn right, get in the right hand turn lane that is about to end anyway, and hope I can make my way over to the left with all lanes full of traffic. I prefer to wait until there is a gap in all lanes. Not a gap as in "I might be able to sidle through there if I suck my gut in," but a real car-sized gap.

It is equally unacceptable for you to get behind me at the traffic light and continue to BLOW YOUR HORN because I'm not easing out into the bajillion cars already occupying the lane(s) I need to be in. The first time you blew your horn, I turned around in my seat, made eye contact with you, and hopefully communicated to you that blowing your horn was not acceptable. I did NOT gesture (though sorely tempted) because I think that particular gesture, while sometimes justified, shows a lack of class.

The second time you blew your horn and threw your hands up in despair (disgust?), this is what ALMOST occurred:

I put the car in park, exited my mother-in-law's car (clearly displaying a "disabled person" license plate, have you NO respect?), and approached your SUV. At that point, I would have explained that I had been sitting in some combination of a radiology waiting room and a chemotherapy treatment room for five hours and offered you two choices: A) stop blowing your $!#*$*! horn; or B) step out of that vehicle and let me teach you some respect for the ill and elderly by proceeding to kick. your. ass.

I kept myself in check because I didn't want to upset my mother-in-law. She's frail enough already, and I was afraid a side trip to jail wouldn't do her health any good. See how easy it is to show some respect?

Get you some.

Respectfully (**snort, snort**),


P.S. I've never been in a fight in my life, so I don't know how skillful I would be, but some days lend themselves to satisfying my curiosity.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I Can't Keep Up.......

Image from Even the website for this image knows what I'm talking about.
I consider myself fairly literate when it comes to technology, but I tend to jump on the bandwagon (there goes my goal of writing an entire blog post without resorting to cliches) fairly late. Then I have to play catch-up, and I never do. Catch up, that is.

When I got my first computer (at school, mind you, it would be several MORE years before I got a home computer), it was a teeny-tiny little Mac. CPU and monitor were a single unit, and the screen was about six or eight inches wide. Black and white.

I was very, very proud of it.

I was so proud, in fact, that as soon as someone showed me how to put a game called Tetris on it (copied from a floppy disk, mind you), I took it home for the weekend. It was small enough to do that with very little effort. But I would have happily exerted a lot of effort anyway.

I took it home on a Friday afternoon and started playing Tetris. My then-husband had a penchant for falling asleep on the sofa (or passing out drunk on the sofa, take your pick), and I sat at the kitchen table playing on my new toy. When he eventually stirred and I looked up at the clock, it was 4:30. AM. Houston, we have a problem. An addiction, if you will.

I love learning new things related to technology, and I love teaching myself how to stretch that knowledge to new boundaries. When I was teaching online, I tried all sorts of new things. Embedding, coding, surveying, recording online sessions, I wanted to do it all. When my full-time job was using a computer-based curriculum in the classroom, I used technology to supplement. I wrote quizzes, created dropboxes, used wikis, engineered voice threads, and implemented discussion boards, all using technology.

But I can't keep up.

I came to the sometimes-nightmare that is Facebook, and it took me a long time to embrace it. In fact, I created an account, established some connections and re-established others, and deleted my account. I said (rather smugly) that if the only way I could know when my daughter made the Dean's List was by Facebook, that was a sad state of affairs. Then I realized that if the only way I could know when my daughter made the Dean's List was by Facebook, I needed it more than ever.

I go through spells of using Facebook. I certainly don't use it as a "good morning, world!" and a "good night, world!" and an "everything in between, world!" like one of my former students. I tend to use it a lot when I'm traveling, to post updates on where I am and what I'm doing. I'm not even sure why I do THAT, but it seems an innocent enough use of social media and not (as) annoying. I hope.

I resisted the Twitter craze for a long time, mainly because I couldn't tell the difference between it and Facebook. I still can't. Except that Twitter requires one to be terse and succinct, and we can already tell by the length of this post that I'm incapable of THAT. I eventually created a Twitter account, and while I rarely tweet, I do check it every day to see what people are up to. Mainly UGA athletes. People I do not know and will probably never meet in person (with the exception of gymnasts, who cannot escape me at the team tailgates because it's such a small environment). Why do I feel it necessary to know their thoughts and activities?

I don't have a clue.

But I figure it's innocent enough, and there are lots worse things I could be addicted to. Besides, I do sometimes get worthwhile information from Twitter, and while it may not be stop-the-presses-this-is-world-changing, it is usually significant. That's how I found out the other day that we lost ANOTHER wide receiver to a knee injury, and his college football career is over.

(Aside: I just figured out why women don't play football. There's no way in hell any of us would be willing to play a position called "wide receiver." Mystery solved.)

So I'm on Facebook, and I'm on Twitter (but mostly as a stalker), and then I find out there are things called Pinterest, Instagram, and a whole host of other media outlets for which I SIMPLY DON'T HAVE TIME!!!

I will probably be the 21st century equivalent of a writer who still composes on a Royal typewriter. A manual one. I'll be clinging to my Facebook and Twitter (although the grasp on the latter will be a tenuous one at best), and the rest of the world will have moved on to telepathy and smellavision.

It will just have to leave me behind. My hard drive is full.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Halfway Through......

My mother-in-law is halfway through her radiation treatments. I was about to type the words "we have settled into a routine..." when I realized that every time we settle into a routine, it gets changed and we have to establish a new one. Looks like I would guard myself against the temptation to "settle" in to anything.

Hubby takes his mother to radiation on Mondays and Wednesdays, and on those days I feel incredibly guilty that I'm not doing it. I'm not bragging or looking for accolades about my devotion; it just is what it is. Some of my friends have expressed admiration or disbelief or puzzlement or some combination of all of those that I have taken on so much responsibility for the care of my mother-in-law, a person I didn't even know 16 years ago.

I don't know what they expect. I certainly don't know how NOT to do it. I'm able, she isn't, and that's that.

It is very depressing (for lack of a better word) to watch someone go downhill. Again, I was about to type the words "so fast" when I realized it HASN'T been fast. It's been a slow, agonizing deterioration of health and capability. When I see pictures of her standing in our back yard with our two used-to-be dogs, it's hard even to remember those days. There was a time when she drove up in our driveway every Sunday afternoon, like clockwork, and visited for a couple of hours. Never mind that I may have been working on my dissertation or watching football, and she didn't mind if we kept the television on while she was here. Now it has been over a year since she has driven a car, and she cannot even manage to get off the sofa into her wheelchair into the car without a great deal of assistance.

The amount of assistance needed increases every day.

I think when she began her radiation treatment that some portion of her mind convinced another portion of her mind that this would "fix" everything. She would go through the rather uncomfortable ordeal (now there's an understatement) of radiation, but then she would bounce back and feel good again. She even said one day that she believed she could drive ... if she could only get to the car. And there is nothing feeble about her mind. Mentally she is very sharp.

It breaks my heart.

I compare her to my grandmother, who had Alzheimer's and lived in a nursing home for the last 10 years of her life. I don't know what's worse, having the body slowly deteriorate or having the mind go first. 

Today the doctor decided she needed fluids, for which I was grateful, since she is neither eating nor drinking sufficiently to retain enough strength to carry her through this period of radiation treatment. We went upstairs for her i.v., and we had to sit in the chemotherapy room. It's a large, open room with recliner-type chairs lining three walls, chairs for family members in the middle of the room, and a television that someone requested be changed to a channel covering election results. Patients read magazines, took naps, ate lunch, and tapped on their laptops, all while poisons dripped into their veins to kill another poison that came from within.

I wanted to scream, "She's not getting chemotherapy! It's only saline!"

Then I just wanted to scream.

But either one would have been insensitive.

Monday, November 5, 2012

In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner.....

Image from
Image from

I don't usually include pictures of the authors when I write about books, but I was taken with this woman's beauty and wanted her lovely image on my blog. I would like to look just like her when I grow up.

In the Shadow of the Banyan is a novel, but it is Vaddey Ratner's story. It is told from the point of view of a seven-year-old girl whose family is uprooted by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in 1975.

I was woefully ignorant of the atrocities associated with the Khmer Rouge. Did we not learn about it in high school as a part of current events? (Damn, I hate saying that.) Or was I just not paying attention? Could it be that I was so immersed in myself that I was completely unaware that millions were dying on the other side of the world? Don't answer that.

This story is one of love, loss, unimaginable horror, and the resilience of the human spirit. Mostly it is about survival. It is beautifully written, and it is hard to believe that the author came to the United States at the age of 11 and knew no English. She not only learned the language, she taught herself the craft of writing, and her use of words is positively poetic.

I love books like this one because they teach me in addition to entertaining me. I learned a great deal about the Cambodian culture and about the strength of a mother when it comes to protecting and taking care of her children. I feel so much smarter.

Then I wonder why I can't write that well, when I've been speaking the language all my life, and I feel dumb all over again.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Changing Times......

I'm still undecided as to my true feelings about the whole issue of daylight savings time. It is an adjustment every spring and fall, trying to get my internal clock to sync itself with the "new" time. I hear other folks grumbling for days about "jet lag" and other issues related to troubles with adjusting, but personally I don't feel that I suffer from any real physical manifestations of adjustment problems. Sure I look out at 5:00 PM and say, "Wow, it seems dark already," then I follow that up with, "Duh."

I actually LIKE that it gets dark early. Hubby and I tend to go to bed early (except for nights like tonight, when the Falcons are playing late), and it's unnatural in the summertime to go to bed when it's still light outside. On the other hand, as the days have gotten shorter here lately, it's still too dark in the mornings to see if the newspaper has been delivered. I have to WALK all the way out to the end of the driveway just to see if it's there. (That's about 10 or 15 yards.)

It is somewhat of a jolt to the system for a few days. I did remember to reset ALL the clocks last night (how long before all electronic devices have atomic clocks that don't need to be reset?), and I was temporarily puzzled this morning when I got up at 6:00 AM and it started getting daylight shortly thereafter. I didn't notice it getting dark at an earlier time this evening because I was already engrossed in my book by then.

I know one benefit of the time change will become apparent tomorrow morning. Last Monday, as I was driving to do my volunteer work at the elementary school, I was blinded by the sun. And I do mean blinded. There was a short stretch where I could see NOTHING in front of me. That reminded me of one of the drawbacks of teaching in that town for a total of twelve years, always driving into the sun every morning on the way to school and again in the evening as I headed west to go home.

I'll have a bit of a break tomorrow due to the time change. Until the ever-shortening days catch up with us again. Perhaps by then it will be Christmas break, and the cycle will begin again.

Happy End-of-Daylight-Savings-Time from the South, y'all!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Busy Day With No Photos.....

It was a busy day for Sweet Girl and me, and I had lots of opportunities to take photographs. Even going back to yesterday, when we were PREPARING for today (a day of football and RVing and tailgating), including completing some tasks I hadn't heretofore (I love that word) done on my own.

  • Going to the gas company to get propane put in the RV, arriving promptly at 8:00 just like Hubby said before the trucks left on their regular routes, only to sit there and twiddle my thumbs for half an hour because they actually don't open until 8:30. 
  • Emptying the waste water tanks on the RV. I have heretofore allowed that to remain a male-defined and male-centered task. I can be sexist when it is convenient.
  • Parking 5 cars in our front yard (it really isn't that big) so I could get the RV out. Hubby took my SUV to Mississippi, and the guys who rode with him left their cars here. And Sweet Girl's car is here. And Hubby has TWO vehicles all by himself. It looks a little like a used car lot at our house.
  • Parking in our usual RV tailgating lot, but NOT in our usual spot where we know exactly how to set up the satellite, because Maurice thought he blocked off our usual spot, but an RV slipped in sometime during the night and took our spot. 
  • Getting frustrated because I couldn't get the satellite set up. I didn't want to watch television that badly, but I desperately wanted to be able to accomplish the feat.
  • Stewing about the satellite for a while, then moving it to the front of the RV and picking up a signal almost immediately. 
  • Leaping over the curb in jubilation because I was able to set up the satellite.
  • Setting up the television outside, which is what I've wanted to do every. single. week. since we started tailgating, but Hubby always puts it inside and then sits inside with the air conditioner on and we may as well be at home watching television.
  • Taking a picture of television sitting outside the RV and texting it to Hubby, not only to let him know I was successful at setting up the satellite all by myself, but also to let him know that when he isn't here, I will basically do whatever the hell I want to.
  • Despairing when our team quickly fell behind 10-0 to a team that hasn't beat us since Jimmy Carter was President, then proceeding to win by a final score of 37-10. We were afraid the whole team was asleep at the beginning of the game.
  • Cheering loudly when the sun finally, mercifully dipped below the line of trees.
  • Choosing (inadvertently) to return to the RV lot by the darkest, scariest, spookiest route possible. Hubby and I don't even go that way when he's with me. What a dork.
Yes, any or all of those would have been photo-worthy. No wonder I can't call myself a photographer.

And I'm almost embarrassed to say my camera was clipped to my belt loop.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Storms, Super and Otherwise.....

Sweet Girl and I watched the fundraiser concert on television tonight to raise money for the victims of Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast. I promise I didn't JUST watch it because Billy Joel was performing. Okay, that's a lie. That is exactly the reason I watched it. But I paid attention to the rest of it too.

And I texted a donation to the Red Cross. So there.

Sweet Girl and I both assumed that Billy would sing "New York State of Mind," and we were both wrong. He sang "Miami 2017," a song he wrote back in the 80's about New York City being devastated by disaster. He considered it a science fiction song, little realizing that the devastation mentioned in the song would visit New York not once but twice. And I'm guessing when he wrote it, 2017 seemed like a long, long, long way off. 

I'm intrigued by the use of the term "superstorm," as if giving hurricanes names and then retiring those names isn't enough. I'm not CRITICIZING the use of the term, I promise. I do wonder, though, what term the weather folks are going to use when the next superstorm comes along, especially if it's superer than this one. Superduper storm?

I certainly don't want to fall into the trap some people have, specifically the folks I overheard at the blood drive today. I'm paraphrasing, but they were implying that more attention is being paid to THIS hurricane because it happened to New York City, and that there wasn't nearly this much attention paid to the victims of Hurricane Katrina when it hit New Orleans. (Hello? Did they even WATCH television for the last 7 years?)

I don't think that should be anybody's focus. I don't think we need to compare the two storms, even if one was super and one was just a plain old hurricane. Loss is loss, devastation is devastation, death is death. I'm glad they held a fundraising concert this soon after the storm, and I hope the response is beyond anyone's expectations.

I am also glad they have canceled the New York City Marathon this weekend. I originally had mixed feelings, but after seeing pictures of the damage to the city and surrounding areas, I think canceling it was absolutely the right thing to do.

Besides, canceling the marathon frees up my Sunday for football.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Workings of the Human Brain....

I am fascinated by the field of psychology. Not fascinated enough TO STUDY it in any depth, you understand, just fascinated on an amateur level.

Specifically, I'm fascinated by a particular facet of psychology as it relates to human behavior.

Is that a specific facet of psychology? See, I don't even know enough to talk about it with the correct terminology.

Even more specifically, I'm fascinated (is there a limit to the number of times I can use that particular word in a single blog post?) by the psychology of human behavior as it relates to playing computer games.

I've been playing a game on my iPad that is free and involves building a farm, harvesting crops, baking pies and cakes, making syrup and sugar, baking bread and cookies, feeding and taking care of animals, collecting milk and eggs, and generally doing a lot of the very same activities I avoid like the plague in real life. (It's NOT the game on Facebook with which everyone else on the planet was enthralled a while back.)

The game is free, but it provides many, many "opportunities" to spend real, live money in order to achieve more, faster, better things on one's farm.

I've been just a little obsessed with this game, playing it ALL. THE. TIME. I don't mean I've neglected to shower or take care of my (admittedly rudimentary) chores around the house, but any time I'm sitting in my recliner, I am also playing this game.

Thank. You. Katydid.

I came to a point where I didn't have enough "play" money for some achievement or the other, but I could PURCHASE these "diamonds" for real money. It was only $5.00, I told myself when I clicked on the button.

The next day, I told myself I could NOT afford to play this game if it was going to cost me $5.00 a day. So when I ran into the next roadblock, I clicked on the button to buy $10.00 worth of diamonds.


Then I came to my senses and made a pact with myself that I would only continue playing this game if I could do so without spending real money. I said if I found myself tempted to click that dollar-sucking button even one more time, I would delete the game from my iPad. So far, so good.

It's not just that part of the human brain that makes me go "Hmmmmm....." though. In this game, one can put items on sale for other players to buy. Sometimes one needs certain products to produce certain other products. For example, one can only make a blue sweater if one has two units of wool and one unit of indigo. It is also possible to set the prices of items, and I felt guilty if I raised the price above what each item's default price was. Then I realized that other players were raising theirs to the MAXIMUM amount allowed, and they were still making sales. So much for feeling guilty. And after I started jacking MY prices up, that's when I started being able to reach milestones and achievements without spending real money.

I almost just erased this entire blog post because it embarrasses me greatly to admit that a college-educated, mostly sensible adult woman would spend this much time (and mental energy) playing a silly computer game.

And thinking about what makes her want to do so.

Carry on.