Monday, December 31, 2007

Looking back at 2007

'Tis the time of year to reflect on 2007 and to plan for 2008.

In January 2007, there were lots of things I never imagined coming to pass throughout the year:
  • Embracing changes at work -- switching jobs within the department, getting two new bosses (and seeing our CFO leave), and looking forward to parts of corporate culture again. I gained more confidence in my abilities, and learned not to fear the unknown so much ... it might just turn out to be a good thing!
  • Looking forward to my 20th high school reunion. I always have ambivalence about those days, but I think I've finally made my peace with the girl I was all those years ago, and loving who I am today. I enjoyed speaking with my classmates on an adult level, not reverting back to the old patterns. A lot of my online friends told me that the 10th was miserable for them, but the 20th was better because everyone was settled. They were right. It was fun and I can't believe I'm actually looking forward to the 25th.
  • Becoming a pet parent. Maddox came into my life needing a good home. I've given him that, food, medical care, others who love him ... but he has given me far more. I love my "little buddy" and can't imagine my life without him. All of us love him dearly -- and he returns that love every day.
  • Doing "Race for the Cure." Sure, I'd planned to do this, but I wondered if I actually could do it. Having Maddox to walk really helped me train -- another of the wonderful serendipities placed in my path. I harbored a hope that I could do it in an hour, and I was only 6 minutes over that. But that's okay -- I have 10 months to work on my timing, and get it under an hour for the 2008 race.
  • Reaching both my 100- and 150-pound milestones. I was amazed to hit that 100-pound mark after 50 weeks on the program, and even more astounded to hit 150 pounds gone in just 6 more months (Thanksgiving week). I still have a good way to go to hit my final goal -- and a year to accomplish it!
2008 is going to be good, and I'm going to do all in my power to bring that end about.

And to all of you, my very fondest wishes that all your dreams come true, and that you have enough resources to meet all your needs (and a few of your wants)!

Much love to you!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Meme from Kate/Susan

Best Album: Raising Sand, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss. Yes, while I have completely enjoyed Long Road Out of Eden (the Eagles), something about Sand has kept me coming back for even more. I'm not sure what.

Best Non-Fiction: Well, I don't know if it counts as "reading" (since I listened to it on Radio Reader), but it's John Grisham's The Innocent Man. I am also going to read Too Late to Say Goodbye (Ann Rule), also heard on Radio Reader.

Best TV Series: You know, I just haven't done that much with TV. If it wasn't football, baseball, "Dog Whisperer" or something else on Animal Planet or TLC, I pretty much didn't watch it. Except for my old fave, L&O:SVU.

Best Fiction: Tie -- Silent in the Grave and Silent in the Sanctuary (both by Deanna Raybourn). And I'm not just saying that because she's on my messageboard. They are actually the best books I read this year.

Best Kids’ Music: I. Don't. Do.

Best Movie: I don't go to the movies. I can't see spending $7 for the probability of getting sick in the cinema.

Best Sign of the Apocalypse: Dustin Diamond actually thinking we'd be remotely interested in him. Period. Oh, and he sucked on CFC IV.

Best Come Back of the Year: Led Zeppelin. Even if it was for just one night.

Best Old TV show you are just getting into: I haven't really.

Best grocery store: My very own Ingles, right here in town.

Best (Summer) Vacation: I didn't go on summer vacay. I took the time but stayed at home for some needed rest.

Proudest Accomplishments this year: Losing ~80 pounds (154 total since May '06). And doing Race for the Cure.

Goals for Next Year: Enjoying each day. Finding something good to celebrate. Looking for goodness wherever it may be.

Most Exciting Sports Moment of the Year: Out of all the ones I've watched? No idea. I've loved so many.

Saddest moment of the year: I don't know.

Happiest Moment of the Year: Spending time with my godchildren, and having them enjoy my company.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The quiet of a Christmas morn...

In December 1993, the "traditional choir" at Santa Bovina church (my old parish) sang with Peatown United Methodist's choir in a two-evening concert series. One of the songs we sang was a gorgeous piece called "Carol of the Manger," which still makes me a little teary-eyed to this day. The final verse (if memory recalls) goes like this:

Mary in the morning, beside the manger
All the shepherds gone, no more angel choirs...
And the future in her arms.

One does have to wonder what happened when the sun came up on Christmas morning -- what Joseph and Mary must have thought. Here they were, a teen mother and her betrothed, with a miracle child announced to them separately by angels. Here they were, stuck in a cave at best, a crude barn at worst, and laying this precious little bundle in the feeding trough because nothing else is available. And in the midst of all this miracle stuff that they're trying to process, here come shepherds -- simple, poor, country people -- wanting to see their baby.

Can you imagine what Joseph might have said at that time? "Our baby? But why? Wait, wait -- you were on the hillsides with the sheep and the skies opened? Great light came through and an angel -- Mary, what IS it with these angels? -- an angel told you that you would find the Messiah in Bethlehem? Swaddling clothes ... lying in a manger? Well, yes, that would be us. Oh, and there was an angelic choir alongside? You know, given everything that's happened over the last year, it doesn't surprise me at all. Yes, please, come in ... here he is."

And once the shepherds were gone, and the sun was up, and it was just this tiny little holy family. The hubbub has died down, and it's just them. The first day of life outside the womb for eternity-stepping-into-time and boundlessness-into-physical-space (thanks to Fr. Sandy for the phrases). Reality sets in and the quiet of regular life comes tiptoeing in. A baby who does cry, who pees and poops and yawns and does everything else a baby does.

Of course, there's more to come in the story ... much more. Spread across two Gospels, and the timing is still not quite known for sure. We can take guesses. We know that they were in Bethlehem for a while. We know that he was circumcised on the eighth day, in accordance with the Law. We know that forty days after, because he was a boy-child, Mary was to go to the Temple for purification and to present him. We know that at some point, they were in a house -- so they might have stayed in Bethlehem for Joseph to do some work to earn enough money for the return trip to Nazareth, but who knows? And while they were in this house ... perhaps when Jesus was even around 18 months old or so ... astrologers from the Orient came to find him, unwittingly stopping by Herod's to inquire about the new King. Rut-roh!!! They found him, and gave gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Myrrh? An embalming spice? What the...? Oh well, it brings lots of money.

Mary & Joseph were going to need it. Once again, angels intervene, to both Joseph and the Oriental sages -- Get out now, Joseph -- head toward Egypt. Trust us on this. Hey, magi: Go back home a different way! Herod, in his madness and anger and fear at losing his kingdom, orders all males under age 2 in Bethlehem and the few surrounding hamlets slaughtered. Rounded up and killed for no other reason than insanity.

But before all that happened, it was a quiet morning in Bethlehem. A little cooing, a little stirring, a couple of changes of swaddles, and probably a lot of napping. And lots of pondering. In the quiet, lots and lots of wondering just what all the events of the night before meant, and how it would all turn out.

***

Every major religious festival in this time has a similar theme: light triumphing over darkness. Whether it's the lights of the menorah, the fire of the Yule log, or the light of Christ, it all shares the universal hope for peace and justice.

During this time of celebrating the light, enjoy the quiet of the Christmas morning. Best wishes to you and yours.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas in Crackerbox Palace

A few years ago, one of my friends had read Grisham's Skipping Christmas, and passed it on to me to read. We both were pretty much tired, over, and done with the "Canned Christmas Spirit®." She said to me, "Does this not sound like a wonderful idea in theory?" I loved the book and understood every bit of sentiment in it -- including that desire to "fit in" (when they're hounded by the neighborhood to put up Frosty).

As for me, Christmas really hasn't been the same since about 1981. Oh, the traditions stayed the same, but the location and ambience changed, and there are moments I'd give anything to whisk back to around Christmas 1977 or 1978. For much of my life, until the mid-90s, Christmas Day consisted of getting up, opening the presents, having breakfast, and then taking one present with me and going to my grandmother's for the day.

At that time, my grandmother lived in this little townhouse-style apartment. It was like a crackerbox -- just a small screened-in front porchlet, a teensy foyer next to the stairs, two medium-sized rooms downstairs, a very oddly shaped kitchen (long and narrow). Upstairs was the lone bathroom, and two bedrooms. Now imagine roughly 30 people crammed into this space. The kitchen barely had enough room for two people to work in -- there was no hope with 4 or 5 people all needing to warm stuff up. The downstairs rooms weren't huge either -- and with Granny's huge Christmas tree, there was even less room. But it was warm, loud, and full of love.

When it came time for dinner, all the adults and older grandchildren ate in the main rooms downstairs. We younger grandchildren ate on the stairs, in age order -- turning in opposite directions so that we could at least see each other. My brother and youngest cousin were always at the bottom.

In 1981, we had it at my uncle's house. Granny had had a stroke earlier that year, and wasn't up to maneuvering in her apartment just yet. In 1982, she had one last Christmas at the apartment. Then my uncle found a nice, one-floor, spacious apartment for her in an elder-complex in his town. My grandmother made sure to nab the activities building for our Christmas celebration each year. That continued until 1994 (if memory serves). That was after Granny moved to the nursing home ... and my aunt used her church's social hall for the dinner.

Granny died in October 1996. We had one last dinner there. It didn't seem right not to have it. We decided to make it the Sunday after Christmas, which was probably one of the smartest things we'd ever done. We had the largest crowd ever. I met some of my cousin's children for the first time; he's in the military and it was the first Christmas he'd ever had a chance to come down to the family dinner.

Then, as things go in families, the good will fell apart, and for the next several years, we had no Christmas gathering. At all. Nothing. In 2001, several of the cousins closest to my age were talking at my cousin's wedding, and we realized how much we missed our Christmas gatherings. None of us really wanted to do anything on Christmas Day itself -- especially given that so many of the cousins are married with kids and have other obligations. But something to mark the season.

So I came up with the idea of meeting in January, once all the holiday hubbub was over. I also figured if we had it at a restaurant, there would be no muss or fuss over who was bringing what, and who would be responsible for whatever. This way, you would show up, bring your money and your appetite, and that would be it. If you couldn't make it, we understood. If you could, fantastic! I'm working on #6 of the January Dinners. I look forward to those, because they're fun, they're drama-free (for the most part), and I love seeing everyone! While I miss those home-cooked meals, I enjoy the family time more.

But it's not the same as the days in Crackerbox Palace.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Of truckstop cafes and other surprises.

Here it is, the weekend before Christmas. A limited amount of Christmas spirit, at least as the retail industry would see it. I did some shopping -- for others and myself. And I have a little more to do tomorrow, and then I am DONE! But you know, I'm having a better Christmas even without all the hype and hoopla.

Today, I went to Atlanta to pick up some citrus fruit from a friend. On the way down, I stopped at a truck stop to pick up some water. I was fairly well impressed. This particular one (part of a national chain) was very clean, didn't smell like forty ashcans, and even had (are you ready?) fresh fruit at the checkout. That's a concept completely foreign to our area's largest convenience store chain. From what my friends tell me, several chains in Georgia carry fruit at their checkout. So I got my apple today too! I plan to write a letter to the owner of the local chain and ask him if that's something he'd consider implementing in his stores.

On the way home, I got in a mood for meat-and-three. If you're not sure what that means, "meat-and-three" is when you get some entree (usually off a list of about 4 or 5 options) with up to 3 sides -- can be veggies, but not necessarily. Well, there's always Cracker Barrel for that type of food, and there were a couple on the way home, but I just didn't want to stop there -- especially given that one of them was located at the Commerce exit.

Commerce, Georgia is home to a buttload of outlet centers. Any other day, it's fairly congested, but for the weekend before Christmas? No way was I even considering getting on that road. So I saw a sign for a couple of truck-stop restaurants a short distance away. One was a different location of the chain I'd visited that morning. So that gave me hope that I might get something fairly healthy.

My father drove a truck for about a year when I was in my teens -- and he loves truckstop cafes and Waffle Houses. Awful Waffles have their place, but not exactly my favorite eatery. It has to be before 11 AM or after 11 PM before I'll consider the Waffle. Daddy loves the places that aren't normally on everyone's list of must-eat-here --- not dives, mind you. Just overlooked places. He always said, "You know, if you're ever on the road, you can get a good meal at a lot of the larger truckstops...." I would smile politely and roll my eyes in my head.

But then a few years ago, I'd had a rather nice experience at one. Some friends and I decided to have a late breakfast before we went to an amusement park. The only place that we could find was at a truckstop (a large chain). We were pleasantly surprised -- they had great omelettes! So today I figured, "What the hell? At worst, I can get a salad, right?"

That's exactly what happened. They didn't have a meat-and-three, and the buffet touted on the sign existed no more. But they did have a nice selection -- nicer than you would think. Mel's Diner it was not. Color me very pleasantly surprised! They had a nice variety of appetizers, salads, grilled items (beef and poultry), sandwiches, breakfast stuff, even a good listing of desserts (more than I would have guessed). Even a sugar-free cheesecake -- say what? I ended up getting the grilled chicken BLT salad -- a nice grilled filet, salad mix, tomato, a couple of slices of bacon, olives, onions and even fat-free dressing.

I'm not sure why I was so surprised. Sometimes those off-the-beaten-path places can be the very places you need to be -- and so it was with me today. I did a little shopping but not as much as I'd planned. The mall exit was backed up to the interstate -- there went that. And the outlet exit was not as bad but traffic there is always nightmarish. I would have just about lost my mind today in those spots. Instead, I ended up in a place where I could slow down for a few minutes and enjoy the simpler things: a kind word, good food, friendly conversation.

And one of those little, off-shot places is part of the story behind this season: "But you, Bethlehem-Ephrathah -- too small to be among the clans of Judah -- from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel; whose origin is from of old, from ancient times." (Micah 5:1 NAB) The little places -- exactly where we need to be.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Innocent Age, indeed

Both Talmadge and Bolivar have written beautiful thoughts about the passing of Dan Fogelberg. I have pondered his passing all week, especially since a friend's husband is battling prostate cancer himself (and if I recall correctly, had surgery this week).

As my own tribute, I've been listening to a nice playlist of his music I put together on Rhapsody. The initial track is "Longer" (which Tal mentioned that I sang in his and Sera's wedding). It was one of my favorite songs anyway, so it was a joy and pleasure to sing that for them. The whole list has been great -- and surely beats the endless barrage of holiday music!!!

I admit that I haven't always been an album person -- I love singles to death, but only about a third of the time am I intrigued enough to get the full album. And so we come to The Innocent Age. Forgive me if you've heard the story before .........

It was spring 1982. WANS-FM came to "Freedom" High School (grades 7-12) and showed a film about the music industry. Lou Gramm of Foreigner was one of the persons featured -- primarily because 4 had been such a HUGE success the previous year. Anyway, I don't remember much about the film except that it highlighted "Jukebox Hero" at the end. And then the DJ said, "I need four people for a trivia contest!" I threw my arms as high as my short 4'11" frame could take them. Other people around me started pointing at me -- "pick her! pick her!" And so they did -- I was the final contestant.

My question: which of these groups has never had a Top Ten hit? My choices .... I forget the first two, but I remember the final two: Van Halen and the Grateful Dead. Okay, I figured that Van Halen had recently (off Diver Down; didn't they?).... so that left the Dead, and I knew somehow that they hadn't. I remembered reading something about it. So I said, "Can you repeat the question?" (quite the little pro, wasn't I?). Everyone laughed, including the DJ and myself. After the repeat I replied, "The Grateful Dead?" ..... AND WON! WOO HOO! My prize: the double album The Innocent Age, on VINYL, by God!

A couple of my friends were like, "Oh girl. You got the booby prize." I knew they were wrong and that I had a treasure. I took it home, and listened to it. I was right -- I listened several times through over a few weeks. I was scared to death to damage the vinyl further, so I put it away and didn't listen except on special occasions. And most of those times, I went back to the singles that I loved -- "Hard to Say," "Run for the Roses" (I'll like it for you, B & T), and "Same Old Lang Syne."

Until this week. In addition to my own playlist, I listened to all of The Innocent Age for the first time in about 25 years. It was as good as I remembered. I also re-discovered a couple of songs that I had liked back then -- the beautiful "Only The Heart May Know" and the title track. I also cyberspun Phoenix a couple of times. Completely beautiful, and I think I'll get the CD of that. I also will be digging out the copy of The Innocent Age that Tal was so kind to burn off my vinyl for me.

And this year, when I decide to take part in "Freedomtown Idol," I'll audition with the song I wanted to use last year anyway ... "Hard to Say."

In pace requiescat, Mr. Fogelberg. Your music was a part of my formative tween/teen years, and I am appreciative of the gift you shared with our world. Like you sang, "I thank you for the music....."

Monday, December 17, 2007

One week to go...

And one gift purchased. One. That's it. Okay, not counting the stuff I bought for the dog last month, but I wasn't counting that. One gift.

So today I took a vacation day to do some much-needed shopping, and to have some work done on my car. I had plenty of days to spare, and as it is, I'm taking one more day and cashing the rest in. I could use it, that's for sure.

We'll see how much shopping I can do once the car repair bill comes in.....

I'm still not subscribing to the Canned Christmas Spirit®. Instead, I'm just going to enjoy things as they develop. I'm not going to go crazy over what I can and cannot do. I'm just going to give gifts with a spirit of love and gratitude, and happiness over being together, when so many other families can't say that this year.

Isn't that what it's supposed to be about anyway?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The season is here.

Brag-n-Gag®, that is.

Now, I personally don't mind most yearly-update Christmas letters, because most of the ones I get are from my college friends. We're spread all over the state and sometimes cross-country. So those, I look forward to, and enjoy reading. I also send one out to them, and to a few other friends that I don't get to see or speak to regularly. And I include it to certain friends with whom I do converse on a regular basis.

But Brag-n-Gag® is a kind all its own...... they come straight from Lake Wobegon. Because you know that "all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average." It's the "oh look how WONDERFUL we are, how PERFECT everything is in our world, DON'T you wish you were US!" mentality in the letters that just make me howl and hurl.

There's the older relative that sends one, detailing all the wonderful things their grandchildren are doing and all the mahvelous places they've been (thank you, Lewis Grizzard; God rest your soul). This year's letter was no different .... the "highlight" was when they flippin' listed the various degrees and numbers obtained by their offspring, offsprings' spouses, and the grandchildren. And naturally, they mentioned all the mahvelous places they visited. Skzzzzzzz-snore.

I also get a yearly B&G from someone I knew in school (haven't gotten this year's yet.... can't wait). I apparently have been in the presence of the most perfect children since Christ himself walked the earth, and didn't know it. Academics? Sheer geniuses. Athletics? Leading scorers; team couldn't do without them. Other extra-curricular stuff? Nothing to it. I have a lot to say about that particular family and its dynamics, but not here.

Now, my best friend sends one that has me howling. It's intentionally funny, and worth every moment! I aspire to have one that funny!

I enjoy the updates, just be honest in them. So little Billy was suspended for four days for punching out the school bully -- GOOD FOR HIM! So little Jessica dropped out of ballet -- FANTASTIC! What difference does it make?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

My religious beliefs are being tested.

I'm the type who believes that silly prayers just irritate the pee outta God. You know: "pray for my stubbed toe" or along that line. Now, I admit to sometimes having my moments, usually during a migraine .... but praying, "Oh God, please make it stop" is not the same as "I bind these headache demons and demand God do something about it." And before you laugh, there are groups who do this "binding" stuff, and it freaks me to no end.

I figure God can't solve the problems of world peace, war, etc. because we're too busy bombarding him with silly requests. Not saying God doesn't care for our welfare, but I figure he says, "You know, instead of praying for that mashed toe, how about hauling your carcass to the doctor at the very least, and check to see if it's broken? I'm busy trying to keep the Sunnis and Shiites from killing each other."

Well, my beliefs are now being tested -- and with my dog, of all things.

Maddox had his yearly wellness checkup along with his vaccinations on Saturday. Routine drawing of bloodwork, easy-peasy sendoff. No big problems expected. Except.... Monday, I get 3 frantic phone calls from my mom telling me to call the vet ASAP. I spoke to the practice manager, and he was as dumbfounded as I was. Two panels came back elevated -- both connected to the liver functions. The thyroid panel (which just SIX weeks ago was normal) was now below the low end of normal. We were going to switch his diet immediately and keep him on some sulfa that he's been on for six weeks for a skin infection.

I went to my car at lunch, called my mom with the update, and we both cried. And she said, "I have cried every time I've looked at him. I've even prayed for him. I called (my cousin, also a dog owner) and told her and she's gonna pray too."

There went my religious theories on prayer, right out the window. Serious prayers went up to God, St. Francis, and whomever else was listening.

As it is, this morning, I spoke to the practice manager again. After some further research and consultation, the doctor is thinking that a different approach might work. Boost the thyroid with medicine, back to regular food, and hope (and pray) that the liver functions come back down normally. Test again in 30 days. See what happens.

If it means I give him a thyroid pill every day for the rest of his life, fine by me. I just want him here with me for many years to come!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

How flippin' hard is it?

There's a local radio station that's all-sports 24/7 or so they claim. Guess they're not counting the 4 hours of religious coverage on Sunday mornings, but that's not germane to this discussion. On the weekends, pretty much everything is satellite feed, with the exception of the local Sunday services.

So how come for quite a number of Sunday evenings, their Westwood One coverage of NFL has been replaced by dead air? Is it that hard to find someone who can push a flippin' button? Who can hang around the station to actually listen to what's happening on-air? Student volunteer? Satellite button-pusher having his girlfriend over for a turntable quickie?

How. Flippin. Hard. Is. It??????

At least he got me back on schedule...

Sort of.

Normally, my body clock is wired for me to go to sleep around 11:00 PM or so, and wake around 6:30 to 7:00. This is a minor adjustment from my usual 11:30-7:00 ideal. Okay, 30 minutes, big whoop. I was back on that 11:30-7:00 routine during my Thanksgiving break ..... last night I drifted off around 11:15, but hey, that's fine, right?

Maddox did not agree. This morning around 5:45, I got up and .... er, TCB. Went back to bed as usual, and Maddox said to himself, "Hmm, something is wrong with this picture. She should not be back in bed. HEY! I know! I'll have to go outside and TCB myself. YEAH! That's it!"

Nose, nose, nose. Yep, okay, no biggie, I can go outside and go back to sleep. I noticed that in the dim moonlight and backyard security light, and without my glasses, Maddox was looking like a miniature polar bear in the backyard. Finally he came back in and I got him to lie down. That didn't last long either.

CLANG! CLANG! Maddox was pawing at the doggie-gate. He was thinking, "Okay, something isn't right here. That big guy isn't up and getting ready to go wherever he usually does. This is not good. I have to check and make sure he's alive. I have to." Whimper whimper, clang. FINE. Whatever. Get up and check.

So he does the headcount and make sure we're all alive and accounted for. Dad was getting up anyway so no biggie. I went back to bed, got in about 30 minutes of blissful REM (really! I did dream!) ..... a strange dream where I was in some sort of Irish countryside, and Maddox was on the hill below me and couldn't get to me, and one of my coworkers was there too. Anyway, then Maddox decided, "Oh no! We can't have this. She's not up. This isn't right. Wake up, nice person! Wake up!"

He is now sacked out in the middle of the living room. I'm almost determined NOT to let him sleep. Would that be mean?

But at least I'm back on schedule for tomorrow, as long as I don't nap this afternoon. Please, little baby Jesus in the manger, don't let me snooze. Don't. I won't be worth killing.

Friday, November 23, 2007

And no, my heart is NOT three sizes too small.

It's the Friday after Thanksgiving, and I am avoiding stores like the plague. I need to go to the grocery store, and make two other quick stops -- including a quick run into Staples to make some copies of my holiday newsletter. Mercifully, the cards are mostly DONE, and I plan to get those out by the middle of next week. Just some labels to run, and one more detail to iron out.

I do admit: there were a couple of BF deals that made me look more than once. It had me thinking just ever-so-slightly about shopping on Black Friday. But honestly, the deals weren't quite all that and a bag of chips. Had the offer said "FREE TO (NETTIEMAC)" then I might have considered it. Plus, I didn't really have the available cash on hand for it anyway. I am determined NOT to go into debt this Christmas -- and especially for something for myself. After Christmas sales, well..... it depends on the deal.

Christmas itself, I enjoy. What I dread most of all for the next few weeks is the Canned Holiday Spirit (TM) -- you know, that phony incessant cheeriness piped into all retail facilities. The drone of the Christmas music designed to make us open our wallets -- it merely inspires me to invest in some of those noise-cancelling headphones. The (ahem) dulcet tones of children screaming, "I want! I want! I want! Mamamamamamamama!" which just makes me want to run out screaming myself.

I hate manufactured holidays. Not saying that Christmas is manufactured -- don't get me wrong. I just hate this phony "Christmas season" -- it's all backward. They've turned the peaceful preparation of Advent into the frenzy of SpendNowHowCanYouPassThisUp, WhatAreYouSomeKindOfCommieHippieFreak, Don'tYouLoveYourLovedOnesEnoughTo... Oh, it just goes on and on. Not that I don't love my loved ones, and not that I don't want to get them something. But I am tired of the constant barrage that feeds the beast. I hate that parents feel pressured that if their children don't get the latest gadget or toy for Christmas, then they are "bad parents." Or that if I spend less than $1000 per person on my loved ones, then I'm a bad consumer.

So call me a Grinch or a Scrooge. I don't think it's my heart that's three sizes too small.......

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The O'Malley Twins??

Today, while lunching at Applebee's, these two guys at the bar were engaged in some rather loud conversation. Apparently, they grew up knowing some of the same people back in Jersey (or wherever), and were good-naturedly arguing over whether Bobby had a '44 model or a '43. It was almost comical --- reminded me of this old joke:

This guy was sitting in a bar, and said, "This next round's on me, it's my birthday!" The guy next to him said, "Wow! Mine too!"
The first guy said, "Yep. Born and raised right here in town at St. Joe's Hospital." The second guy said, "Holy cow! Me too!"
This went on and on for a while -- first guy had a factoid, same thing with the second guy.
Finally another bar patron asked the bartender, "So, uh, what's the deal with those two?"
The bartender sighed, shook his head, and said, "Ah, the O'Malley twins are drunk again."

At one point, the place got kind of quiet, and I think they realized they were louder than they should have been. I had just finished paying the check, otherwise, I'd have hung around to watch this version of the O'Malleys.

YEEEEK!

What's wrong with this picture?

I have nothing to blog about.
I must think of something. Soon.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Strange irony.

I am 38. I still battle occasional volcanic facial flare-ups. Usually just one or two spots, but they are there.

And I am about to battle wrinkles as well.

I discovered the first inklings of said wrinkles back when I was in my mid-20s. I prayed it was just a fluke. I moisturized daily. I took pretty decent care of my skin (not great care, but good). And time was kind.

Time no longer is.

There they are -- the big 11's staring at me from the starts of my eyebrows, right at the nose. The little vertical lines that say, "I have stared at this computer screen WAY too long, and nothing makes sense anymore."

I told a friend about this tonight. She is about to turn ..... well, she's celebrating another anniversary of her 29th. She is a tiny bit older than me, and she laughed, saying, "Welcome to my world!!!!"

This is some kind of strange.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

They. Are. Morons. And must be stopped.

Dammitall, if both of the adult contemporary stations aren't in the middle of "Christmas Preview" weekends.

What's the deal with that? PREVIEWS?????? Who's the genius who thought that up?

Idiot 1: "Say, Bob........ I'm betting most people around here would love to hear this stuff we have back in my old market."
Idiot 2: "Really, Tim? What's that?'
Idiot 1: "Christmas music!"
Idiot 2: "I'm.......... not following you. You mean they have special music just for Christmas?"
Idiot 1: "That's right, Bob."
Idiot 2: "WOW!!! Now that's a refreshing concept. But let's make sure people are gonna like it. Let's do a 'preview' weekend....."
Idiot 1: "Capital idea there, Tim!"

Me = pissed x infinity.

Not that I regularly listen to these stations, but if you're scanning the dial, you can't help but come across them. This makes me so glad I keep my MP3 player converter in the car. The next car will have a satellite receiver put in, too.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What Color Crayon Are You?

Somehow, I'm not the least bit surprised by this...........

You Are a Purple Crayon

Your world is colored in dreamy, divine, and classy colors.
You hold yourself to a sky high standard, and you are always graceful.
People envy, idolize, and copy you without realizing it. You are an icon for those who know you.
And while it is hard to be a perfectionist, rest assured it's paying off!

Your color wheel opposite is yellow. While yellow people may be wise, they lack the manners and class needed to impress you.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The reunion was over, and my friends were right...

Just got back from my 20th reunion - it was pretty good after all!!!!

I walked in and a few people were like "Oh my God! Look at you!!!" One of my classmates whom I see in town fairly often said, "Hey! I didn't recognize you without your dog!" The ones who still live here and see me out and about were still in awe at how much I'd lost -- some of them hadn't seen me in a few weeks (except the regulars). Even my cousin was like, "Dang girl!!!!"

There were several people I hadn't seen in 20 years who were there -- and it was fantastic to see them! A good many of us still live right in the area ... the ones who are parents tend to see each other more often than those of us who aren't parents, but it's all pretty cool.

They had a memorial table with four pictures -- including Tee's. That part made me sad and yet proud that someone had remembered her. And the classmate that I wasn't sure earlier this summer if he had died or if it was just someone with the same name ... well, it was him. That made me very sad to know that my fears were confirmed. Chris was a nice guy and it's awful that he left us too soon.

The truly "Pretty Cool" moment of the night: Right after the blessing of the food, George (one of my classmates) came up and hugged me and said, "You look good!" I said, "Aw, thanks George." Well, later that evening, he sat next to me and said, "You look good!" I relayed my thanks again and began to explain that I'd lost all this weight..... He stopped me and said, "I don't give a damn about that. What I'm saying is that YOU. LOOK. GOOD. You look happy. It's not the clothes or their size or any of that. Being happy makes you look good."

I nearly cried. And I'd had a similar conversation about an hour before with the classmate who became an attorney -- with a practice here in our hometown. He said, almost apologetically, "I know I'm never going to make a ton of money, but it turns out that's not what I wanted after all." This is the guy who thought Alex P. Keaton was a great role model ....... and his buddy, the developer/businessmen/politician -- same thing.

When I got home, I talked to a girl who I thought the world of in high school.... she wasn't able to make the reunion ... but is planning to come to the picnic tomorrow. I'm going to stop by for a few minutes before going to Stacey's house because I've not seen her in 15 years, and would dearly love to see her.

We're all better people than we were in high school. We're all better people than we were ten years ago. My friends were right all along. And I'm actually looking forward to #25 (which they're already talking about).

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Is The Universe trying to tell me something?

Okay, so this is the weekend of my high school reunion. As regular readers and friends are aware, I always have ambivalent feelings about my high school days. Had I known then what I know now, there's so much I would want to change. But there's no way to go back, so ......

I honestly haven't stayed in touch with too many of my high school classmates and friends. It's partly due to my self-imposed isolation. I had a new life after high school, and I felt that to have stayed close to all but a few was somehow bad for the new me. Over the years, I have stayed in touch with very few.

Anyhow, a couple of weeks ago, one of my friends e-mailed me on the Classmates site. I was glad to hear from her; I'd lost touch with her after she and her husband moved to Texas. Then (as I mentioned earlier), my new next-door neighbor is a classmate. Tonight, on my walk, I ran into someone else from my class, whom I probably hadn't seen since graduation (if memory serves).

So .... just what is the Great Vast Universe trying to say to me?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Strange things happening every day....

(with apologies to Sister Rosetta Tharpe for that title).

Speaking of Rosetta, you must check out the new Robert Plant/Alison Kraus CD. No, that's not a typo. I've been listening to a preview of it for days on end (online subscription service), and it's phenomenal!!! If you're a fan of either, then it's interesting. If you love both, it's a slice of heaven. Favorite tracks so far are "Killing the Blues," "Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us," "Gone Gone Gone," and "Let Your Loss Be Your Lesson." I'm telling you, you're gonna want this CD.

Other strange happenings: my next-door neighbor is one of my high school classmates. I had no idea. She and my mom were talking today, and she asked my mom, "What's your last name?" Mom told her and she said, "Do you have a daughter Annette?" Mom again replied yes, and she said, "Oh wow! She and I graduated together." I hadn't seen this classmate in well over 20 years (since graduation) and she's now my next door neighbor.

Speaking of 20 years, the reunion is this weekend. I have a snazzy hairdo, and I appreciate the girl who's become my sub stylist. She is very nice, and very gentle with my hair. I also had my eyebrows shaped for the first time ever. It only hurt a teensy bit. She waxed here and there, and plucked a few. YOW!!! The plucking was no fun. Beauty knows no price but tears, my ass...... There's got to be a better way.

And for a final thought: Ulta is the DEBBIL!!! At least to my debit card. Damn them!!! (I can't imagine how much more the damage might be with a Sephora in the neighborhood)........

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sleepy Sunday mornings....

I took Maddox for a walk on our usual jaunt through town. Sunday mornings are my favorite walk times with him. During the week, and sometimes on Saturdays, we walk at evening/night. It's pretty much either that or walk him in the dark in the mornings. Summers, yes, but not in the other 3 seasons.

I like the Sunday morning walks because the town is still asleep. The traffic is almost non-existent. It's peaceful. Saturday mornings are busy with people getting breakfast and running errands. On Sundays, they're all at home, getting ready for church (not that this is a bad thing).

Sunday is nice. It's just me, my dog, my thoughts, and me talking to Maddox ("good boy!"). It's good.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Vote for Colbert!!!

If only Jon Stewart were also running on the ticket -- homina homina!!!!
Colbert is trying to run in SC (his home state). Frankly, we could do worse. We already have!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Speaking of grannies and church....

Kate/Susan's latest blog entry prompted our pal Seraphim Gleck to ask me to tell the tale of the Caterwauling Grannies...... and so I shall.

For most of my life, my paternal grandmother went to a small Pentecostal church within walking distance of her apartment. In fact, she remained a member there, even after she moved to another county because she wanted to be buried out of that church; and, she was. At any rate, one of my clearest memories of going to church with Granny (whenever we would visit her on Sundays) was their choir.

In the Pentecostal tradition in which I grew up, there was no such thing as a choir as I know it now. The choir consisted not of the same 20 people, week in and week out. Instead, anyone who wished to join in during any given service was welcomed to go up front and sit in the choir area. There was no formal choir practice or anything like that. Now granted, most of the time, it was the same old people, but not necessarily. I might sing in the choir on Sunday morning, and skip it on Sunday night.

Anyway, at Granny's little church, the choir was almost exclusively women. So was the church, for that matter. There were men, but they did not sing tenor or bass harmony parts. They merely sang the melody, an octave or so lower. No biggie -- same as my church. But there was one big difference between our church and Granny's: we had altos. My mother was one of them, as was I in my earliest years. I only became a soprano after 9th grade and moving to mezzo-soprano in concert choir at school.

And the women in Granny's choir were ..... how shall I say this? Um..... mature! Yeah. That's it. They were "mature" women, a few men, and all singing melody. These were also more or less "country" people (although the church was in town). Any by country, I mean people with thick Southern accents, even when they sang. They were all sopranos -- meaning, they sang the melody no matter what the range was. In short, they all sounded like cats caught in a lawnmower. Shrill, high-pitched, and slightly off-key. Hmm, a lot like Celine or Mariah (sorry, K/S). Now, don't get me wrong -- these were sweet people who were always very kind to me, and I love them still. But they can't sing their way out of a paper bag.

The last time I heard the Caterwauling Grannies was at my grandmother's funeral. Granny had long had her funeral planned to a tee, right down to the music and whom she wanted to do the singing and piano playing. You guessed it, some of the caterwaulers. I knew the music. I'd known it since the 70s, and frankly, I was dreading the whole thing.

They did the first song, which if memory serves, was Squire Parsons' "Beulah Land." Oh, how I hate that song. I grew to dislike it intensely over the years, and this particular usage was no exception. At one point, my mother wished that for her own funeral. She will not be listening to the music, so that is one wish that will go unheeded. She can haunt me for all I care. Anyway, back to Granny's funeral ..... I bowed my head, and shook it. I was about to crack up laughing at the Caterwauling Grannies and yet try so hard not to cry. Or scream.

After the 2nd preacher, they got up again and did another song .... another country/Southern gospel from the 70s. At this point, I'm not laughing anymore, and not yet crying. I'm more on the lines of "Dammitall, this funeral is going on waaaaaaay too long and I want to stand up and stretch and do something. I need a liturgy. I need a funeral liturgy like I know them as a Catholic. Not this crap."

By the time they did the 3rd song, I was just numb and wanting the whole thing to be over. The Caterwauling Grannies ... um, caterwauled on. Le sigh. Was it EVER going to end?

It did, and mercifully, I haven't heard the sound for real in 11 years now. Nor do I want to hear it again, ever. They were and are sweet people, but I can't take the mewing, the rowww-rowww-rowwwww sound again. Oy vey.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Dr. Hook, Granny, and the evils of the flesh...

I honestly could have sworn I'd written about this one before, but it appears that I haven't. So if you'll indulge me........

My paternal grandmother was many things: mother of seven; a hard worker; a Bible-thumper in the extreme; a real piece of work at times. This particular time, she was our summer visitor for a couple of weeks. Now normally, when grandparents come to visit, a joyful time is had by all. As you well know, there's nothing normal in the least in my family.

You see, I'd more or less already figured out that I needed to turn a deaf ear to my grandmother's preachings. Ministers would have told me I had a rebellious heart, and quite honestly, it would have been music to my ears. I was hardly a rebel in anything else. I was so squeaky-clean it was sickening. The worst thing I did (at least in my strict church's eyes)? I listened to rock and roll.....

Yep. The devil's music. Satan himself dragging us all to hell by the ears. And my grandmother thought so as well. Never mind that she listened to country on occasion -- and this was back when country was all cheatin', drinkin', honky-tonkin', etc. But mostly, she listened to gospel. Fine, whatever. We listened to it too. But I preferred to listen to it on Sundays, at church, and leave it out of the rest of my week (horrid little sunbeam for Jesus that I was).

So ..... Granny was visiting. And I had my collection of K-Tel records out, and listening to them. Yes, vinyl. One such collection was called "Together" and it was love songs of the late 70s. "Reunited" was on there, as the opening song. Anyhow, somewhere on side 2, if memory serves, was Dr. Hook's "Sharing the Night Together."

Okay, I was around 9, and while I was a bit sheltered from stark reality, I wasn't completely naive either. I easily got that he wasn't asking her to stay up all night to play Scrabble, ya know? But it wasn't something that I gave a whole lot of thought too, either. It was simply a song I enjoyed.

About 2 minutes into it, Granny decided she'd had enough of just idly sitting by and having her granddaughter corrupted. So into a sermon she launched about rock and roll's evils, and how the radio was full of nothing but raunchy trash like this song, blah blah blah, wah-wah-wah-wah-wah, yadda yadda.

Hell if I remember the rest of it. Shortly into her tirade, I tuned her out until she stopped the chatter several minutes later. But there, I made my colossal mistake: I more or less rolled my eyes, sighed heavily as if I were explaining things to a younger child, and said, "Granny. It's JUST a song."

DOH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There went a few more minutes of sermonizing, and my own internal dialogue. Did my mama and daddy know I listened to this trash? (I sure hope so. They bought it for me last Christmas.) Did I have any clue that this wasn't an entirely innocent conversation? (I'm not THAT stupid, Granny. Hell, YOU had seven kids. If you don't know how it happened, I'm certainly not going to explain it all to you.)

Eventually, she saw she wasn't going to make headway. By that point, she'd already talked through at least two other songs, and it was time to flip the record back over.

Things I learned that day:
1) Granny was an old fart.
2) My parents were cooler than I thought.
3) It was only rock and roll, but I liked it.........

Oh, and Granny: I know it's been 11 years yesterday since we buried you. We're all still laughing and shaking our heads about the grief you gave us all for our rock music. God only knows the sermons you preached to Ray, Danny, Mark & Scott about AC/DC, if you were giving me this much hell over Dr. Hook. Anyway, from your vantage point, I hope you realize that your grandchildren turned out pretty damn decent, in spite of your fears that we'd all end up as delinquents or addicts or whatever because of our lenient parents....... Chew on that a while.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

After 3 days....

both fish and relatives start to stink. Or so they say. I have an online friend dealing with this situation for far longer than a mere 3 days. It's about to drive her nuts, and I can totally sympathize.

My grandmother once stayed with us 4 months. We were all ready to kill each other by the end of that time. This is the same grandmother who (when I was around age 9 or 10) gave the noted sermon on the evils of Dr. Hook's "Sharing the Night Together." Whatever, Granny. I swear I posted about that once, but I haven't found it. I'll have to share the story......

Anyway, I honestly hope and pray that somehow, my friend is able to find a solution to her dilemma. I can't imagine how grating it must be to deal with it day in and day out for this long.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

1:06:34

That was my time today in the Race for the Cure 5K ..... That averages to 21:24 per mile. That's a slightly slower pace than I really wanted, but somehow better than I expected. I was in the back third of the pack, but I did not care at all. There were approximately 6000 racers/walkers today, and everyone was very content to choose their own pace.

Our race course was all downhill or flat for the first mile, then uphill for most of the 2nd mile and a part of the 3rd. But it was a beautiful course, all the way around. A perfect blue sky. Not too hot, not too cold. Absolutely lovely! And I had stopped for breakfast on the way in, but there was no need. One of the sponsors is a regional grocery chain -- they had PLENTY of fruit, yogurt, etc. there. And Panera had brought bagels as well. There were lots of sponsor booths giving freebies -- I particularly liked Ford's. Their goodie bag had a golf towel, a scarf, and a bookmark that explained the symbols for their "Warriors in Pink" program (special car package). Also sitting there was a pretty new Ford Escape .... perfect, since I'm leaning to those when I go car shopping, or at least a smaller SUV. I liked what I saw so far.....

The moment I will remember most occurred in the first mile. There was a walker who started out near the front of the pack, and she had already made the turnaround and was working on mile 2. It was warming up by that point, and she took off her hat. There she was in a pink t-shirt with a pink hat, which meant she is a survivor. She took off the hat to reveal a perfectly hairless head. I never wanted to hug a stranger so much as I did at that point. For the rest of the walk, every time I thought about packing it in or thinking, "Why did I do this?" I looked for the Pink Ladies and Grey Gentlemen (meaning survivors). I knew if they could do this walk after all they'd experienced, I had no reason to quit. None at all.

I wanted so badly to find this lady and tell her how much she'd inspired me. I didn't find her after the race, but I found another survivor. I asked her how long she'd been one, and she replied, "Which time, and which cancer?" She'd been through colon cancer 20 years ago, battled breast cancer 5 years ago, and another round of colon cancer 4 years ago. She inspired me. I told her why I took part in the Race (and yes, I just about broke into tears). I also told her that I'm psyched for next year's Race too.

And it's true. Right now, my upper legs are pretty sore. Tomorrow morning, I might be crawling out of bed instead. But my heart is soaring!!!!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

L-town's biggest problem??

Apparently, our town fathers have now determined L-town's #1 problem: Number 2.

Crime, poverty, unemployment -- bah!!! Not in our little piece of perfection. Our biggest problem is dog doo. Or so you'd think by reading our latest town newsletter, mailed recently to all citizenry. There were at least 4-5 sentences about how our town is dog-friendly, but something's gotta be done.

I can agree, to an extent. Let's face it -- the town is also walker-friendly, and none of us particularly enjoy the piles of dogpoo. That especially holds true for those little "gifties" found on the sidewalk (arrrrgh!). As a dog owner, I want to be a good responsible pet owner. I also admit I haven't always been handy with the scooper either. And the times Maddox has gone, it hasn't been in private yards. He's a dog; neither his bladder nor the other outward digestive waste machine have the ability to hold it. When he's gotta go, he's gotta go -- sometimes, **it literally happens.

The scooper is almost like a talisman. 95% of the time I take it, Maddox doesn't have to go. This morning was an exception. I stopped right then, and cleaned up the offending mess (especially given the fact that we were about 100 yards and around the corner from the mayor's house!) I also noticed that other dog owners apparently did NOT clean up their messes. Either that, or it's those truly irresponsible ones that imagine the town is one big yard for their pets to enjoy off-leash.

And therein lies what I think is our biggest pet problem --- FLIPPIN' IDIOTS WHO OWN PETS!!! Other than the two Houdini-like incidents, Maddox doesn't go out that front door sans leash. Fenced-in backyard -- well, that's another story. That's his place, and he's definitely welcome to roam at will. But in the city at large, NO NO NO!!!! On most of our walks, though, we run into at least one dog, off-leash, roaming the town at will. I've seen plenty of dog-torn trash bags; those times, I pull Maddox away in the prayers that he won't follow suit. There's enough poo all over the grounds -- and the sidewalks too -- to tell me that these dogs are giving the other dogs in town a bad rep -- and the idea that it's okay to go there themselves. Then there's also the occasional traffic nightmare when they get out in the street; let's face it -- no one wants to hit a dog (although I'm sure the more idiotic just hope there are no witnesses if they do).

Friends and regular readers know my feelings about the "14 yapping inbreds" down the street. No, it's not really 14 dogs, but there are at least 5 or 6 (if not more) in a 10x10 covered kennel. Oh, don't get me started. I do offer a small prayer of thanks that they are not out roaming the streets. I still think their caretakers are just as irresponsible as those who allow the ones to roam at will, but .........

So. Is there going to be a leash law (if there isn't one already)? Registering our dogs with the city (I'd gladly do it)?

Friday, September 21, 2007

This time last year....

I was on my way to Savannah .... okay, actually I was still at work, but eagerly awaiting the end of the day, because I was going to be heading there to Tal & Sera's house. Bolivar was already there on his well-deserved vacation.

That was one of the most fun weekends ever. Didn't do much of anything except a little sightseeing and a LOT of old 80s-movie watching. But oh my God! That was such an awesome time! I know I talked everyone's ears off -- I am Mistress Motormouth. I own it; can't deny it.

We will have to repeat. Must. Have to. Soon.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Letting the days go by....

It finally happened. I had my Talking Heads moment where, for a brief split second, I actually thought to myself, "Well...... how did I get here?"

I had gone to get lunch. I was driving back to the office, and turned onto the street for our building. It hit me: "What am I doing here?" Not in the physical sense -- I haven't lost THAT much touch with reality. But it all was that split-second, but whole lifetime (think Picard in The Inner Light episode) stop-and-think moment. It wasn't a sad thing -- nothing that made me stop and weep and lament my place in life. I've done pretty decent, all things considered. Not perfect by any stretch, and certainly not the "When I grow up...." life I created for myself as a child. But pretty good nonetheless.

Just one of those "whoa...." moments. The ones that make you wonder if there's something else in your life that needs a good changing. I can't imagine what else ..... I've got enough changes on my plate in the last few years. As soon as I say this, and post it for the world to see, disaster may strike.

And I'm actually mostly content to let things roll, to let the Fates unfold the cloth for me and follow suit. Yeah, I've made a few detours and changes along the way which have altered the tapestry. Surprisingly enough, this doesn't bother the control freak in me.

Wow. Enough deep philosophizing for one lunch time.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A MEME from Kate/Susan

I got tagged. I now have no choice! :-)

The Rules: 1) You have to post the rules before you give the facts. 2) Players must list one fact that is relevant to your life for each letter in your middle name. If you don’t have a middle name then use a name that you like. 3) When you are tagged, you must write a post containing your own middle name game facts. 4) At the end of your post, you must tag one person for each letter in your middle name. Don’t forget to comment them telling that they are tagged and to read your post to get the rules.

I have one middle name and I go by it .... but I know this won't be as easy as it looks, because of all the double letters.

A - Apples: I eat about one a day, if not more. I love them. My very favorite kind is the Pink Lady, followed by Gala, then Fuji. I'm partial to reddish and yellow apples. Not really crazy about green ones, except for cooking. Granny Smiths are fantastic for that!

N - Nirvana: I didn't get them then. I was solidly old-school in my musical tastes from about age 19 on. I can appreciate their music now, but it's not like they were all that and a bag of chips to me.

N - Name: I am named after my mother (first name, unused) and some girl my dad knew from high school or from the "neighborhood" (such as it was out in the country). No foolin'.....

E - Eggs: Eggs and I do not get along. They upset my stomach. I'm sure a lot depends on how they are prepared -- but two of the last 3 times I have eaten eggs out somewhere, my stomach has done flips within about an hour. I don't remember about the 3rd time. If I use Egg Beaters and do it myself at home, then it's not such a problem. But I'm just not an egg fan (now the whites of hardboiled eggs -- mmm!!! No yolks, though!!!)

T - Timepieces: I don't wear one (unless I have my pedometer on). The pedometer has a clock in it, but otherwise....... Wristwatches give me fits -- the metal against my skin makes for one hellacious itch. I need a Swatch like I had in 1985. All plastic. Did have a banana-scented band until my Anais Anais took over.

T - Taurus: According to my natal horoscope, my moon is in Taurus. I'm still not quite sure what that means, exactly.

E - Easley: the town where I was born. My hometown didn't have a hospital!

Okay, now I have to tag seven...... Tal, Sera, Bolivar, Stace, RadioVixen, Ballz, and VivJ. There you go.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

When having gas is a good thing.....

Ever since I was a little girl, we've had electric stoves. In avocado green, for as long as I can remember. The last time we had to get a new stove was in 1985 or 1986 (I forget which; I do remember I was a junior). Of course, that was because I set the kitchen on fire (long story - don't ask). Even then, my mother INSISTED on getting avocado green to match everything else bought in the 70s.

Since that time we've managed to replace all the other appliances with white ones (thank God!) .... except the stove. Dad and I have long held the opinion that the next stove WILL be a gas one. We perused a few at various places and remarked on the benefits of having one.

Tonight, as we were broiling chicken, we noticed a strange glow. Yep..... the heating unit was burning itself in two. That was it for Dad. He told my mother (as he took the chicken to the grill to finish cooking it) that our next stove WILL be a gas one and will be white. Hallelujah on both counts.

They're going Monday to discuss some things with our natural gas company and go stove shopping. I wish them well, and can't wait for the new one!!!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Six years ago...

Yes, I could tell you precisely where I was when I heard the news. I could tell you how absolutely numb and heartbroken I felt all day. I could tell you of how I rushed home, and watched nothing but the news until going to bed.

Instead, what I will say is that I am proud to be a citizen of the greatest country in the world. A country which prides itself on both its diversity and its unity. A country not run by theocrats, where freedom to practice one's religion and freedom from a religious state are valued. A country which grants me every opportunity to succeed without regard to my gender, my ethnicity, or any other "definition."

God bless America.

I'm just heartsick...

And I discovered I could not be a wayward spouse -- guilt would kill me.

My hairdresser is ill. Actually, "Ellie" is more than just my hairdresser, she's a dear friend. She's been doing my hair for over 10 years now. I was one of her first clients when she opened her shop, and I have sent a LOT of business her way. In return, she has always treated me with extra kindnesses and special attention.

In July when I went for my foiling and cut, she was coughing and was going to go to the doctor to figure out why she couldn't shake it. She thought it might be allergies.

My next appointment was last Friday. The Tuesday before that, her hubby called and said, "Ellie hates it, but she's going to have to cancel on you this Friday and reschedule. She's had a round of chemo this week and..........." And I just croaked. I had no idea.

Ellie is battling lung cancer.

Today, my former coworker -- also a client of hers and still a dear, dear friend to me -- called with an update. She had talked to Ellie's husband. Ellie's voice is gone. It turns out the cancer is in her lungs and liver. It's a somewhat aggressive but rather treatable type. The oncologist has given them lots of hope for success, and that's what I'm praying for with all my heart and soul.

Ellie has been there when my godchild was born, when I suffered a horrid breakup, as I battled my way back out of that awful rebuilding year, when I quit the job, when I got the new one, as I've lost all this weight, when I got the dog ...... all the good and bad of my life over the last 10 years.

I have had to find someone to do my hair. If all the treatments go well, it would be at least the new year before she can reopen her shop. I had always said that if something ever happened and Ellie moved away, I would follow her to the ends of the earth to get my hair done. I never imagined that bastard cancer being part of the equation. It is breaking my heart, just thinking about it.

So I went to a salon last night because I desperately needed a trim. The girl who did my hair is very nice, and very competent. I still felt like I was cheating on Ellie.

Please keep Ellie in your prayers. She needs them.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Forgive this modest little gloat for just a minute....

But oh, do I love The Ol' Ball Coach:

Hey, Let's give a cheer, Carolina is here,
The Fighting Gamecocks lead the way.
Who gives a care, If the going gets tough,
And when it is rough, that's when the 'Cocks get going.
Hail to our colors of garnet and Black,
In Carolina pride have we.
So, Go Gamecocks Go - FIGHT!
Drive for the goal - FIGHT!
USC will win today - GO COCKS!
So, let's give a cheer, Carolina is here.
The Fighting Gamecocks All The Way!

Heard this the other day ---- did you know they've linked Steve Spurrier to Michael Vick? Seems both have a history of beating DAWGS!!!!!!!!!!!

It hasn't happened often -- especially between Grizzard's beloved hedges of Sanford Stadium. I live only about an hour & a half from Athens. This is sweet.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I am awful, horrible, and evil...

And I'm finding it hard to care. There are times when certain people just open their mouths to speak and you get irritated. You know that every word or phrase that comes out is just going to be one big whinefest, or one humongous complaint, or something negative.

I don't have the time or energy for such moments. I am tired of the energy vampires sucking the life out of me. Done. Over. Stick a fork in that.

And if that makes me a selfish bitch, I've been called worse.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

A strange Sunday morning in L-town.....

This morning, after breakfast, I took Maddox on a walk. Normally we'd walk first and then eat, but hey, it's the weekend, so there's no real schedule to maintain.

It was a wonderfully cool 70 degrees at 8:00 AM. This is great, because we've had some yucky, muggy low 70s most of the week. The sky is mostly overcast, with a nice breeze. For the first time all summer, I wore long pants to walk in. I knew I would get a little chilled in shorts this morning. That -- combined with the start of college football -- gets me all tingly because I know that autumn will be here soon.

Sunday mornings are rather sleepy in my town. Saturday morning, the streets had cars of people getting ready to do a few things -- be it work, errands, or whatever. There were cars all along Commerce Street, mostly the breakfast crowd at Yank's. But not on Sunday. The only cars on Commerce were the ones for Kannarney's (since they do have Sunday lunch). Everything else is its usual, almost-reverent silence. L-town still believes in Sunday as a special day (at least until 1:00 when some of the retail stores open; the grocery is 24-7 anyway). So there was very little traffic -- vehicular or human -- about.

We had walked up from my house to the business area, gone up the entire way to the first turn, and we were almost at the Liberty Bell (another restaurant, closed on Sundays), when we heard this strange squawking noise, and a voice that sounded like it came out of a bullhorn. Now, six days a week, I'd think it was the drive-through window at the LB. But I *know* better this morning; the LB is owned by a Greek Orthodox family and they take their Sundays even MORE seriously than any Southern Baptist ever could!

We turned the corner, heading down Main Street. Then I heard it -- a siren-like thing going "wonk-wonk-wonk (pause pause) wonk-wonk-wonk" ...... it wasn't a "woooop! woooop!" like a normal alarm. And it's coming from the middle school just up the street. The guy who lives next to the LB came out on his porch, looked at us, and we both sort of shrugged our shoulders and looked toward the middle school. Maddox and I kept walking ....... and we noticed a guy running down the sidewalk on the middle school side.

Now, God knows, I'm no expert, but I do believe there's something known as the classic running stance ..... you know, arms pumping at your side around waist level (or higher), spine mostly straight and a look of determination. This guy had the stance of everyone who expects to hear "Bad boy, bad boy, whatcha gonna do?" come blaring out at them. Okay, not quite that "Cops" run, but definitely not the classic running stance either --- sort of a cross between them. I got a bit suspicious, but oh well, I've been wrong before.

We continued to walk by the middle school with "wonk-wonk-wonk (pause pause) wonk-wonk-wonk" happening every few seconds. And I noticed a work crew up at an old service station just up the street. Okay -- crazier things have happened. I was thinking a transformer had blown and maybe set off the alarm at the school. Maddox and I detoured into the service station lot itself, as the crew trucks were blocking the sidewalk. As we came out, then I saw what happened. A pickup truck had hit one of the power poles in front of the station -- ah ha! That made sense --- and I also noticed at that moment that the traffic lights down the block were out. Then behind us, I heard another siren. It was one of the fire department vehicles turning into the middle school front lot ...... crazy! Just crazy!!!

So Maddox and I continued our walk, turning onto Commerce Street to go by some of our favorite stores and restaurants, and the entrance to the Sarlin-Crowe park and courtyard. It's a nice downtown renovation from the last few years -- it once was an empty parking lot full of potholes back when I used it as a shortcut walking home from school all those years ago. We turned again on Front Street and got to the corner to turn for home.........

When the Running Man suddenly showed up again! Now -- he had passed us WAAAAAAAAAAY back. We didn't see him again, so I just assumed he'd turned left where I turned right and gone on his merry way. He seemed to be in that half-Cops-escape, half-running-for-health stance again. I'm telling you, it was weird. Maddox was enthralled and wanted to run along. No buddy, Mommy doesn't run unless she's crossing the railroad tracks and hears the crossbars lowering.

And speaking of, just after we crossed the tracks ........ here it came! Normally, I can hear a train coming in either direction, and have a pretty good idea where it is --- if I need to hold up at the tracks or make a break and cross them. Most of the time, I know if it's at the Quarry crossing (about 2 miles east) or down at the "Little Mill" former crossing (about a mile west). No biggie to either -- I can cross by walking and still have plenty of time to spare. But this one was almost like Doc Brown's train. It just showed up!

On my own block, as the fourteen inbred yappers down the street barked at us (GOD, do I want to call the SPCA in on these people!), their neighbor across the street came out on the porch and said, "Hey Annette, did you notice if the power is out uptown? We don't have any..." I explained about the power pole taking a hit .... but also remembered that I'd seen a Duke Power truck at a nearby grid (just up the block). OH NO!!!!!! That meant a 50-50 chance we didn't have power either (for some reason, we're on a separate transformer from some of our neighbors).

No power at home. So I read a while, and relished the silence which is all too uncommon in this house. Just me and Maddox, who decided that a nap was in order. Then the power came back on and all was good again. No worries about what to do with the food in the fridge. And the chance to share this wacky morning with you, my loyal readers!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Getting rid of excess baggage.

I spent a lot of time on Sunday filling 30-gallon trash bags with clothes. At last count, I've now lost 129.6 pounds, and had plenty of clothing that I definitely can't wear anymore. I'm tired of it being in my closet, my room, my life.

At first, I had wanted to get some money back out of them. God only knows what I've spent over the years on plus-size clothing. Some serious buckaroos -- okay, maybe not Bergdorf Goodman ka-ching, but certainly more than enough. I wanted to get some money back out of them, especially the higher-quality items. My hairdresser told me about a plus-size consignment shop. I visited them, got a consignor number, and worked to get my stuff together. It took longer than I planned, but I finally got some of it together ....... only to find that the shop had closed.

Okay, Plan B: put it all on eBay! Yeah!!!!! There's a plan! As I was mulling it over, I realized that I had tons more clothing. It would have to be several boxes of stuff. Hmm.... better think this over a little more. As I mulled it over more, I found myself buying more new stuff to fit the smaller sizes. And I'd gotten a box of gently newsed items from a friend on the West Coast. Oh boy......

Move to Plan C: yep. The "I don't caaaare" phase. That's where I am. I no longer care about the money. I just want to dump the stuff. Now granted, I am holding back about 3 nice suit-sets where I do want to recoup something. Plus there are a couple of nicer skirt sets that I have worn literally once or twice ..... no way am I just letting those go. Those are for my ONE eBay box. Putting up a description with sizes and saying, "The bidding starts at (X) .... happy bidding." Even if it's just 5% of what I paid for it, it's something.

Most importantly, however, I'm getting rid of things I don't want ...... and helping the community. I'm helping people who want to work and want a chance to be part of the larger society. I'm helping those who might want or need nicer clothing and who can't afford to spend what I spent on clothing (and I'm a bargain hound).

I love dumping the excess. It's great!!!!!!!

Monday, August 27, 2007

October 30 can't come soon enough

Two words: HOT DAMN!

I love the Eagles. Always have, always will. And I am jonesing already for Long Road Out of Eden (to be released on October 30). In the meantime, this video will tide us over.

Let's just hope they go on tour -- and I can afford the tickets....... Last time I saw them (1995), we had "cheap seats" (at $45), but they were the BEST seats in the house -- just over the stage, on Joe Walsh's side of the stage. That whole evening flippin' rocked!!!!

Ah...... I can't wait!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

We've been 'Jacked!!!

Actually, we've been Charlie'd ........ as of last Monday.

Charlie started out long ago as a smaller station and ended up being bought by a large conglomerate. For a while, it was known as "The Walk" --- THE worst format ever. Some marketing genius somewhere decided we needed a "Christian/'positive country'" format. Oh boy, it wasn't like we didn't have 14 of each already around here. That lasted a little longer than I expected.

Then it went to all women's talk (using Greenstone Media's output with some other stuff). It was nice in theory, but even I could tell you the writing wasn't going to last very long on that wall, no matter what. I occasionally listened, but didn't really care for the Greenstone output. I mostly listened on lunch break (while in the car) to Dr. Joy Browne. I'm a sucker for radio advice/psychology. Anyway, "women's radio" pressed on, but then Greenstone went belly-up on the 17th. Oopsie.....

Last weekend, they played a bunch of different formats from some of their other stations out of our area. Then on Monday at noon, Charlie showed. If you're not familiar with the Jack format, read the Wiki. Ours happens to be called Charlie instead of Jack.

There's a part of me that isn't crazy about the Jack/Steve/Charlie format -- the part that would like to keep DJ's and other staff members employed. The part of me that prefers that the programming have at least a little method to the madness. The part of me that has read Jim Ladd's Radio Waves and wishes for every market to have a KMET and the tribal drum.

But there's the part of me that absolutely LOVES it. I love not knowing what's around the corner. I have heard Def Leppard, The Bay City Rollers, and Frank Sinatra (that's right, baby!) all in a 30-minute stretch. I've heard Johnny Cash on there. The other night, I heard Aerosmith followed by Prince ..... it was like living my best Top 40 memories from childhood. I found myself screaming at my radio, "God, do I love this!!!!" It was like WANS, circa 1983-84, all over again.......

We'll see how Charlie works out. So far, the larger part of me is enjoying it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Le Sigh....

The sweet week of vacay ends tomorrow morning around 5:38 AM, when the alarm will sound for me to rouse and start my way back to a regular day. (Why 5:38? Well, my snooze is for 7 minutes - I figure if I have to hit it once, no biggie. 5:45 is still too dang early but somehow.....)

It's been relaxing. I didn't go any further than Greenville for my WW meeting and to take Mom to the doc today (a follow-up). Most days, I didn't go any further than the "Liberty Bell" Restaurant (that's the far northeastern point on our daily walk). But the cool thing is that I'm making plans for my October getaway, and figuring what I ought to do next year (besides not waiting until August to take a few days).

I had planned to go to a nearby state park, and take Maddox and have a little fun getaway. This new state park is just across the state line in North Carolina, but butts right up to SC. It's maybe a 45 minute drive away. I opined that it might be neat to go somewhere relatively cooler. Mother Nature had a different idea -- even the mountains had temperatures in the 90s this week. We went over 100 degrees at least 2 or 3 days. No way was I going to do that to myself or my dog. So we'll have to do that park. one Saturday in September or October .... as soon as USC has an open date on the schedule (ha ha ha)!!!

So back to work tomorrow, enjoying the idea that it's going to be another short week (hee hee), but knowing that next week is going to kick my butt six ways to Sunday. The joys of month-end.....

Monday, August 20, 2007

I never imagined...

... I might actually look forward to my 20th year reunion.

Just this morning, I was pondering things while walking. I realized that I hadn't gotten anything on it, and wrote it off to "no news as good news." And then I realized I was disappointed by that thought.

Y'all know as well as anyone that high school reunions are not my thing. Here's why: I was a brainiac in high school. I was Miss Squeaky Clean, a total goody-two-shoes. The only vice I had was a smart mouth. I was also determined as all hell to get out of there and away from them. I had no idea that 5 years later I'd return to my hometown: no degree, no real career. Lots of living and lots of fun, but not what I had envisioned. In short, a failure, especially compared to my other brainiac classmates.

The 10-year was just awful. Some people hadn't changed very much since high school. In my own awkwardness, I took along The Goon as my date/conversation partner. I honestly did not know how to interact with these people -- people with whom I'd spent 12 years of my life. I was nice. I was polite. But I also found that the people in my class whom I didn't know all that well back then were the nice ones. The ones with whom I'd spent 12 years in a dog-eat-dog race..... well, let's just say I said my hellos, some of them said theirs, and we'll leave it there. A few of the people I really wanted to play catch-up with were no-shows. Dangit!

While walking tonight, I ran into two of my classmates, who immediately asked, "Did you get your stuff about the reunion?" It just went out over the weekend, so I should have mine soon. When they described what was going to happen (events from Friday night into Saturday), I found myself actually interested in going to these things...

Gasp.

I've decided to go. One, I'm proud of the person it took me 20 years to become, and especially in the last year or two. It's not just the weight -- although I am hugely proud of that. It's the whole me. It's finally being at ease with myself. It was something I didn't possess 10 years ago. It took an aching heartbreak, a betrayal or two, a humbling moment or several, and a lot of grace to get me to this point. Two, I could give forty craps if someone comes up to me and says, "So what do you do now?" There are some who will be genuinely interested, and some who'll do it for spite. God love the first group, and the devil take the second.

Does this mean I'm grown-up now?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Gene Gene, the Dancing Machine

YES!!!!! One of my favorite shows of childhood, and one of my favorite segments. Ah, the sweet fond memories!

Now if I could JUST find one of the "Growla Hand" -- that used to scare the living bejeezus out of my brother. >:-D

Friday, August 17, 2007

Vacay sweet vacay!

For the first time since last October, I am taking a few days off.

I am notorious for not taking vacation. I think it comes from my years as a temp -- a "permanent temp," mind you. If you didn't work, you didn't get paid. And while it was a nice living wage, it wasn't enough to afford me the luxury of too much time off. I needed every single hour of pay I could get.

So I got in the habit back then. I worked as much as they would allow and sometimes more. And the company had devised a way that we got paid for 40, but worked every other Friday and had every other Friday off. Hey, fine by me.

When I worked for the church, I had no idea how much vacation I was due. And my boss was good about giving us time off whenever we needed it. I was actually forced to take vacation one year. I asked for a half-day off (to travel to Savannah) and was told not to come back for a week -- since I couldn't decide on my own vacation time, he was deciding for me. Boy, was I upset about that!

My last "real" vacation -- where I had a semblance of a schedule, but easily changed if needed -- was ten years ago, when I went to Colorado. I went to Jackson, MS in 2005, but that was a little more structured. And yeah, I do weekends here and there to visit friends, but I either take just a half-day or I hustle like hell to get there after work.

I had 2 vacation days that carried over. This is the last year we will be able to do that, and so far, I'd only taken 1.5 days. One of those was for the ice storm, and the other half-day because I had a rotten afternoon (sick dog, cut tire, etc.) But not an actual do-nothing day. Even holidays aren't really holidays, because you have just that one day and everyone else is off and ..... well, it just doesn't feel like a day off.

So right now, I'm just chillaxing. I'm going to take a few more vacay days in October, but not sure exactly when yet. I do know that I'm looking forward to that!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Bacon & Biscuits, Big Bugs, and Bumps in the Night....

The bond between pet and owner is a great one -- one filled with joy, acceptance, fun, and love. It can also have its moments of frustration and wonder of all kinds.

Like most Thursday evenings, I got home around 8:30. I had a headache building behind my right eye -- probably from the heat and hunger (I hadn't eaten since lunch). I was tired but looking forward to seeing my buddy. When I arrived home, Little Buddy came to greet me at the door. My dad was in the kitchen, preparing his breakfast. He doesn't want to wake the house each morning by cooking, so he does it the night before. I finished my dinner, and got on the computer for a few minutes to check up on e-mail and other things. My dad was on the phone with DirecTV, explaining that we had cancelled the NFL Sunday package -- so why were we being billed? A few minutes later, my mother said, "Hey, what is Maddox eating?" Far be it from her to get up to actually investigate... It was a napkin. Crazy, but no big deal. He has managed on several occasions to get into our kitchen garbage, no matter which way we've configured it to confuse him.

About 5 minutes later, my dad yells, "HEY!!!!! Did you give him a biscuit?" My first thought is, "No, the dog biscuits are on the shelf; did you SEE me give him one?" And then I hear, "You crazy dog!!!"

My crazy dog had managed to stand on his back legs and pull 4 slices of bacon off a plate on a stove (with a paper towel underneath for drainage). And THEN he got ONE biscuit out of the cooking pan. ONE biscuit out of 6. How he did that, I have no clue at all. My hand flew over my mouth in shock and in trying hard not to laugh at his ingenuity. Dad was not pissed but he wasn't happy about the thought of having to fry more bacon. My mother was wringing her hands as if that would make everything better. What could you do at that point?

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!!!!!!!!!!!

About 10 minutes after that, my dad said, "Hey, he needed to go out, so I let him out. You might want to check on him in a few minutes." No biggie. Lots of times lately, Maddox has been purely enthralled with hanging out in the yard at night to chase lightning bugs and grass moths. I, on the other hand, have no desire to become a mosquito buffet for 10 minutes waiting on him. So after a few minutes I went to retrieve him. He was standing in one place, completely focused on this one section, and pawing at something there. "Here, Maddox... Here, Maddox. Maddox! Here! (long pause) Look, Maddox, TREEEEEAT!" Nothing worked. So I got a leash from the backporch and just intended to bring him on in, even against his will. I got about 4 feet from him, when I heard this hellacious buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. I realized he was pawing at the buzzzzzzzzzzzzz. My first thought was, "Holy God. He's gotten a bee." But this thing was HUGE. Monstrous. I tapped on the window of the bathroom, praying my dad was out of the shower. He was. I asked him about it... "Oh, it's a July fly. No harm."

So I walked down, leashed Maddox and got him onto the backporch. Then I heard it coming from his mouth -- a muffled "bzzzzzzzzzzz." He had the damn thing in his mouth! My dad was there and got him to drop it. It was this ghastly big thing with wings. Basically, a "July fly" is an annual (or dog-day) cicada. Gak! Gak! Gak!!! All I could think about was how many germs that thing might be carrying that would now find their way into my dog's system.

We brought him in and finally calmed him down for the night. WHEW!

BUT IF YOU HANG ON FOR TEN MORE MINUTES, YOU'LL GET AN ADDITIONAL STORY!!!!!!!!!!!

Picture it: 3:45 AM on a steamy Southern night. A girl lies sleeping in her bed when suddenly, a night light in the back foyer comes on. She sees her dog there.

Yep. Maddox was up and nosing at me. I got him to lie back down. No go. He was up again, and I thought, "Oh great. That dadgum beastly bug has gotten to his stomach and now he's gotta go poop." Off in the distance, I heard a weird noise. Almost like a child's yelp. Whatever -- my dog was going for the door. So I let him onto the back porch. He ran to the other door that leads to the yard. I couldn't open it fast enough for him. I thought, "Great. Another case of the 'doggie runs'...."

Instead of pottying, Maddox ran to the far end of the fence facing the street and barked twice. Off in the distance, I heard more dogs barking. No surprise. Within 2 blocks, God only knows how many dogs there are. There are about 10 or so just on our block. Then Maddox came running like mad back over to my side at the house, barked once at the street and emits a low growl. But there was nothing there. He ran to the door for the porch, and I swear he acted as if he were going to break the door down to get back inside. Once we were on the porch, he gave me this look that was pure fear. We got inside and he stood at the gate -- he needed to be on the other side (in the main part of the house). Not knowing what else to do, I let him through.

He went into the living room and into my brother's bedroom.... check: one body there. Then over to my parents' room... check: two bodies there. He knew I was there. It took a treat and my mother to help lure him back to his bed. It was so strange. I can't imagine what would have provoked the need to run outside and bark at something there, and then to do a headcount of the family to make sure we were all okay. I wasn't sure if he'd dreamed something, or if something told him to check on us. Who knows? There could have been something lurking in the dark. God knows, I'd gotten a little creeped out on our walk the other morning.

I'm just glad for my dog -- for the entertainment, for the affection and love, and for his watchful care over us. Six months ago, if you'd told me I'd have a dog and that he would be this great thing for us, I'd have laughed. I would have been SO wrong!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Merciful Jesus, send a breeze....

You'd think after 37 years, I'd be used to the Triple-H of the South: Hot, Hazy, Humid. I never do get accustomed to it. And right now, it is purely miserable. Temperatures aren't supposed to go below 95 until Sunday. We'll get a "break" when it drops to 92 that day! Woo-hoo. Break out the parkas.

Even the cool of the day isn't cool. At 5:44 AM on Tuesday, August 7 (today) it was already 80 degrees. I honestly cannot a time when it was that hot, that early. Maddox and I went walking, but we were both miserable. He wanted to stop and sniff everything along the path, and I quite frankly was frustrated by the heat and his dawdling. Cesar Millan could have done a whole show on us..... And it's so dreadfully hot -- even at 8:30 PM -- that I haven't been taking him on a second walk. He's been spending his days indoors for the last few days. It is truly horrid outside......

And we humans are just as affected by it. I've seen a few displays of ill temper. The worst was when I went to pick up lunch from a nearby bakery/cafe. They were having big problems with their cash register/POS terminals -- it would do one transaction and freeze. It was totally beyond the control of the cashiers. This one complete jackass of a customer asked the gentleman, "How long does it take to reboot one of those?" He responded, "Ah! It's now back up..." and the guy interrupted and said, "That's NOT what I asked you" (in a truly snotty tone). I could tell the cashier really wanted to say something ... only his manager was standing there, working on the other terminal that was frozen (mine, as luck had it). I almost turned around and said something .... but I was caught between, "Dude, that's a little harsh!" and "Listen, you jackass. They are doing the best they can in the circumstances, and really don't need to deal with your issues on top of that!"

Lord, in your mercy, send a breeze. Send some actual RAIN and not just the humidity. Send a spider to the jerk at ABC's (and lots of patience for their cashiers and managers).

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Listening Room

I haven't made any changes to my MP3 player lately. I honestly haven't been using it that much. This summer, I haven't been to the Y, instead choosing to walk my dog -- and it's not a good idea to be doubly distracted (dog and music). However, I have been listening online to a couple of playlists from my Rhapsody account......

On "Playlist 1" we have.........
  • "Lovefool" (The Cardigans). Nice little infectious bright Europop from the late 90s. I enjoy it. Can't say why, but I do.
  • "Babylon Sisters" (Steely Dan). Hello? It's the Dan. That's reason enough. I like this song a lot -- can't explain why. I just do.
  • "Hey Nineteen" (Steely Dan). See above.
  • "Remind Me" (Royksopp). Don't know this one? Yeah, you do. Think the Geico commercial where the caveman is going down the autowalk at the airport and sees the large billboard. Nice Euro-electronica.
  • "Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadows?" (Rolling Stones). Another that I don't know why I like it but I do.
  • "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)" (Hall & Oates). I love H&O. They're awesome. I could pretty much add most of their 80s hits to this list.
  • "This Masquerade" (George Benson). George Benson is awesome, and so is this Leon Russell-penned song.
  • "Late in the Evening" (Paul Simon). I like a lot of his solo work, and while the movie flopped (remember One-Trick Pony?), this song did not. At least not with me.
  • "Sweet Baby" (Stanley Clarke & George Duke). A true gem from 1981 -- a sweet song, and one I could listen to over and over again.
  • "It's All Over Now" (Rolling Stones). A damn fine song. I don't think it's played often enough as "Time Is On My Side" (which still creeps me out after seeing Fallen!). That's a shame..... this is a great kiss-off song.
  • "Janie Runaway" (Steely Dan). A parent's worst nightmare of a song; but oh, that groove gets me.
  • "Tumbling Dice" (Rolling Stones). From the great Exile on Main Street .... just fantastic.
  • "Rise" (Herb Alpert). Yes, this was the song thumping in the background when Luke raped Laura on General Hospital. And yes, I probably should hate this song. Sue me; I love it.
  • "Too Many People" (Paul McCartney). I just like it.
  • "Hour Glass" (Squeeze). While "Tempted" is probably my favorite Squeeze song, this is another one I like.
  • "C Moon" (Paul McCartney). Another one that I just like. There's a lot of Sir Paul's music that I like for no discernible reason.
  • "Hi Hi Hi" (Paul McCartney). A rocking one from him ... wish he'd done more of these in his solo career and fewer, ....er, "Silly Love Songs."
  • "You Can't Always Get What You Want" (Rolling Stones). You know dang well I love this song with a complete passion. You thought it wouldn't be on a list here? Please!
  • "Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid" (Hall & Oates). Another one of their good underrated songs from the 80s.
  • "Jet" (Wings). Another good Macca rocker. Again, wish he'd done a thousand of these.
  • "New Frontier" (Donald Fagen). A fantastic song!!!! It has long been one of my favorites, and when we got our first camcorder (a HUGE honkin' thing), I did a "music video" -- set the tape of my family and our shenanigans to this song. It will always be one of my favorites.
  • "Diamonds On The Soles of Her Shoes" (Paul Simon). Graceland was a fantastic album --- hard to believe it's now 20 years old!!!
  • "Almost Gothic" (Steely Dan). Another great song from Two Against Nature (a great, great CD!)
  • "Hard To Say I'm Sorry / Get Away" (Chicago). I truly couldn't care less about the first song. But I LOVE that coda ... the one they never play anymore. It doesn't fit in a "lite" format or a "Quiet Storm" evening show. Screw 'em all, it's the best part of the song.
  • "Bicycle Race" (Queen). Why not? This was on someone's "Tour de France" playlist and I said, "Yeah! That works!"
  • "Give Up The Funk (Tear the Roof Off The Sucka)" (Parliament). The whole post below about "the van is back" has set off a vast need to hear this song, and as often as possible!
  • "Never Been Any Reason" (Head East). Because they don't play it often enough and it's a great song!
  • "South California Purples" (Chicago). Before they hit it big, they were a brass/jazz/rock fusion unit and actually had a little psychedelic edge to them .... give a listen to this, and then to "Wishing You Were Here." (Hard to believe it's the same group, huh?)
  • "Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get" (The Dramatics). Fantastic 70s soul. Not enough of this anymore either....... :( Geez, that seems to be a running theme here....
  • "I.G.Y" (Donald Fagen). I so loved this song back in '82. I so love The Nightfly. It makes me wish for the vibe of the late 50s/early 60s and that optimism that young adults must have felt even in the height of the Cold War. I picture the early days of Kennedy's Camelot. Makes me long for what might have been.
  • "Break My Stride" (Matthew Wilder). Ahhh...... good memories of being an 80s kid.
  • "New York State of Mind" (Billy Joel). A great song that almost makes me want to go there. Not necessarily to live, but to at least visit for a while.
  • "Running on Faith" (Eric Clapton). A wonderful song, and almost prayer-like. At least I could turn it into one. I love it immensely.
  • "Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway)" (Billy Joel). This is the Songs in the Attic version, because it's the one I know and love best. Hard to believe 2017 is only 10 years off, too. ZOIKS!
  • "Reflections of My Life" (Marmalade). 70s whiny music at its zenith/nadir. I don't care. I like the Hollies-like harmonies (and melody, for that matter). That's something sorely missing these days -- truly tight harmonies.
  • "Tight Rope" (Leon Russell). Great singer/songwriter who doesn't get nearly the popular credit he deserves.
  • "Dark Star" (Crosby Stills & Nash). I didn't remember this when it was out the first time in the 70s. But one Sunday afternoon about 15 years ago, I was in a DEEEEEP nap with my radio on (big surprise there). I woke up and this song was playing. I just lay there, still trying to wake up and hearing the song, and thinking, "Wow! This is good." (I knew OF the song, but as I said, didn't really remember it). It's a favorite now.
I also have a 2nd playlist for when I need just some other music to hear:
  • "Carry On" (Crosby Stills Nash & Young). One of my very favorites by them.
  • "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" (Neil Young). This song has become a favorite over the years, and it just touches a soft spot in my heart.
  • "Up On Cripple Creek" (The Band). Can't be explained.... just one I enjoy!
  • "Life Is A Highway" (Tom Cochrane). A great song from the early 90s, and It's a damn fine song, and I will sit at my desk and silently sing along every single time!
  • "Lunatic Fringe" (Red Rider). I was in high school when this came out, and one of my classmates said something about Red Rider. I said, "Oh, the group that does 'Lunatic Fringe'?" His jaw dropped....... He didn't know that anyone else knew who they were. Ya know, I got a lot of that back then. I loved it then; I love it now. Oh yeah -- Great song, too.
  • "Never Been Any Reason" (Head East). I told you they don't play this often enough!
  • "MLK" (U2). I love it. Short, simple, prayerful, peaceful. Dr. King would probably have enjoyed it too.
  • "One Particular Harbour" (Jimmy Buffett). I love this song. I will not try to dissect why, I will just enjoy it. And dream of the day I can head to my own particular harbour.
  • "After the Gold Rush" (Neil Young). Not much has changed in 35+ years, has it? Mother Nature is still on the run......
  • "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)" (Digable Planets). HA!!!!!!! Threw you a curve, didn't I? A great song, and I wish they'd done more like this!
  • "The Shape I'm In" (The Band). They were "Americana" before that became a genre, and was just played on regular radio. I miss those days.
  • "If You Want To Get to Heaven" (Ozark Mountain Daredevils). You really do have to raise a little hell.......
  • "How Do I Make You" (Linda Ronstadt). It was panned as her attempt to appeal to a punk(er) audience -- I still like it.
  • "Broken" (Angie Aparo). I got this song on a Joe Muggs compilation CD from Books-a-Million, and it was one of the ones I'd listen to most. Really good song!
  • "22 Steps" (Andy Stochansky). Also from the Joe Muggs compilation, and another that seemed to get extra listens.
  • "Hey Hey My My (Into the Black)" (Neil Young). I like it better than "My My Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)" ..... it has the angry energy that I think of when I think of Neil Young.
  • "Heart of the Night" (Poco). One of my favorites by Poco.
  • "A Pirate Looks At 40" (Jimmy Buffett). I've always loved this ...... and with 40 approaching faster than I'd like, I can relate. My true occupation's just not around (much) anymore, either........