Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Did you know....

that painting walls burns some serious calories? Yep! It sure does!

For someone at my weight and for the time I painted today (roughly one hour), I burned around 400 calories, at least according to the online calorie-burning-calculator I consulted. Two words: Believe it. Okay, technically one site said 407 calories per hour. Another said it was 384 calories per hour. Yet another said it was only 235 calories per hour (to which I say "Oscar Meyer baloney!") Still, another says 389 per hour. So I can deal with saying 400 and leaving well enough alone!

I painted a little last Wednesday, and mentioned to one of my fellow choir members what I had done. Gary said, "You are gonna hurt tomorrow in places you never imagined." He was right -- I woke up Christmas morning wondering how in the world my calves could be that sore! I had used my arms, not my legs...... Today, it didn't hurt my arms as badly, nor did I hold the roller handle with a Vulcan death grip (I was actually able to use a pen this afternoon, unlike last week). Tomorrow morning may be a different story.

So now I have one paint-splattered pair of jeans, a thin stream on my sneakers (or, as we say in my neck of the woods, "tenny shoes"), and one hopelessly splattered shirt (but that's why I wore it!). And I have a great feeling of accomplishment! Oh, and we have very pretty walls now too!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas joys and sorrows...

I know, it's been a while since the last post. But things are relatively good, and I've been fairly busy, too.

Shopping: not nearly the headache-inducing experience that it normally can be. I did most of it in one weekend (last weekend, just before Christmas), and I got pretty much everything I needed without stepping foot in a mall! That's now at least 8 years of a mall-free Christmas! WAHOO! I bargain-shopped like a madwoman, and came out pretty good. I also included some gift cards because I knew that's what some of my recipients wanted. So it all worked out.

Singing: oh my! The choir did a fantastic job -- not that we don't always do, but somehow it seemed to be really great this year! From where I stood/sat, we hit all our cues, notes, times, etc. and we sounded great!

Christmas Morning: I got some workout gear from my brother, PJ's from the parents, The Barbecue Bible from my brother (OMG, some of the recipes in there.... SLURP!). My dad and I love to grill and love trying new things, so I can't wait to try these out! Plus, I got a Visa gift card (YAHOO!!!). I gave my parents each a fleece pullover with matching fleece beanie cap, each a pair of PJ's and each a gift card to a favorite store (Mom got Hamrick's, Dad got Home Depot). I gave my brother a fleece beanie cap, a Circuit City gift card, two movies (Sling Blade and Stephen King's Silver Bullet), and an MP3 player.

Eating: I was extra good, I thought. I have this plan each year that I don't track on two days of the year: Thanksgiving and Christmas Days. Every other day, I track! So on Christmas, I relaxed and enjoyed myself and didn't worry so much about the food. It's kind of a 90-10 rule: I give myself some wiggle room to enjoy a meal or a day every once in a while, and I'm vigilant the other 90% of the time. After all, it's not one meal that gets us to where we are.... it's "one meal"-ing ourselves every waking moment!

So all in all, it was a nice day.......


However, one of my former coworkers lost her battle with cancer on Christmas Eve. It is all the more heartbreaking because she had just lost her husband in May after his battle with Lou Gehrig's disease. Their children are just barely adult-age (late teens and early 20s). I cannot imagine what they have gone through, having to lose two parents so close apart and to two awful diseases. My prayers are certainly with them.

It made me think of my own family. For quite a number of years, my dad's family had funerals either just before or just after Christmas. His grandmother died in December 1968 (my mother's first Christmas with Dad). His nephew (my cousin) died in December 1975 (my brother's first Christmas). There were two or three others scattered in there.

It also made me think of a friend from my old church who just lost her husband last week, suddenly and very unexpectedly. Her daughter was a couple of years behind me in school, and it made me sad for them.

I wonder why God just doesn't put a moratorium on death from Thanksgiving to New Year, all over the world. I know, I know -- death is as much a part of life as is birth, and we're not asking for a moratorium on babies being born. None of us get to choose the time of our death, but you just wish that no family has to go through a holiday with a fresh, raw loss .... and how it mars every holiday after that. True, once a person passes, no holiday is ever the same without them; it matters not if the loss happens in March or July or December. But when you lose someone right at Christmas, it clouds the whole holiday, even many years down the road........

My prayers are with those girls, and the other family, and all other families who have a fresh, raw grief this holiday season -- whether from the passing of a loved one, a child deployed to a war zone and spending that first holiday away from family, or a missing relative who hasn't been seen or heard from in months, and there are no answers. My prayer is for peace in their hearts, courage for the future, and for answers to one day come.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Yeah, it's been a while

Honestly, I've been so busy over the last couple of weeks I have hardly had time to breathe! Between work and real life and choir practice and everything with the holidays (and no, I haven't started shopping yet, but I am going on Saturday)..... well, whew! I'm just now getting a chance to write.

Life, for the most part, is good -- in spite of the crazy-busys, even with all the hustle and hubbub. I decided not to put up any fuss at all about the holidays and just to be happy with what is. Giving up the need to have it all be perfect....... and honestly, I'm happier about this time of year than I've been in a long time. I'm not all ho-ho-holiday crazy. I'm still the first to yell Bah Humbug. What I am is just happy to be in the present moment......

I did have a moment today when I looked at the calendar and said, "Holy cow! It's two weeks until Christmas! YOW!!" Hence, the shopping on Saturday. Now, come Saturday after it's over, I may come back all in a huff .... usually because so many people can be complete jackasses at the holiday. Greed and me-me-me... not my style!

We shall see. But for now, it's good. And I'm content and grateful for everything I have and am.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Great; 365 more days of....

hearing the non-stop yammering of Orange Faithful -- and trust me, some of them will yammer on and on and on.

Worse, we deserve it. We played badly. WHY, WHY, the ol' ball coach kept Chris Smelley in the game is beyond me. He should have put Beecher in, if Garcia was unable to play (stomach flu all week). Smelley stunk. After the 2nd interception, he should have put Beecher in. No question. If Beecher flubbed it, THEN put Smelley back in after a good smackaround by the coaches.

What was the deal? We'll never know.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tagged by Kate/Susan

It's that time again!!! Tagging for a fun quiz from Kate/Susan!

The rules:
  • Link to the person who tagged you.
  • Post the rules on your blog.
  • Write 6 random things about yourself.
  • Tag 6-ish people at the end of your post.
  • Let each person know he/she has been tagged.
  • Let the tagger know when your entry is up.
Six random things about me???? Okay........ but if I repeat myself from earlier posts, just bear with me.
  1. I don't have stage fright. Not to say I don't get butterflies on occasion, but as far as being absolutely terrified to get up in front of people ..... not a prayer. It doesn't bother me in the least. There was some statistic years ago that something like 2 out of every 3 people would seriously rather die than do public speaking. PLEASE! I'd rather have to give a speech on a daily basis than die!!!
  2. I actually can be quiet. Most of my friends will immediately double over in laughter and be yelling, "Stop! Stop! It hurts!" But at work, I'm fairly quiet. Not that I don't have anything to say, but most of the time (especially now) I'm trying to balance 14 plates on 2 hands. Ya know?
  3. I love sportstalk. I do not listen to talk radio, because 95% of it is WAY too conservative for me. And believe me, no broadcaster around here would dare carry Air America, and upset all the poor little Carolina people who beleive that people who actually use the brain God gave them are pinko godless commie hippie freaks. But sports talk? Now that, my friends, is another story entirely. What can I say? I love sports, therefore I enjoy sports talk radio. Now, having said that, please allow me to express my extreme frustration with the local sports station -- not because they're the flagship station of the archrival school, but just because they have no idea how to hire someone who can actually (a) show up on a night or weekend and (b) actually have the cognitive and motor skills necessary to push a button for a satellite feed. TWO nights in a row without Westwood One coverage of football is making me one very cranky girl.
  4. I'm no Adrian Monk, but.... I do not like germs, in the least. And most of all, I cannot tolerate a nasty kitchen. I honestly think a lot of that goes back to that one weekend I had a case of food poisoning. Salmonella will change your attitude about many things. You will pray for death, if you never have before. And when you survive, you will think very differently about germs. Now, I'm not saying I wash EVERY single dish, utensil, etc. immediately upon use. I don't have that much time on my hands! But I do believe in washing them as soon as possible, very thoroughly, and in the hottest water my hands can stand without being scalded. Or at the very least, putting them in the dishwasher for the next cycle. I know, I'm a little obsessive.
  5. I'm a bit disorganized. Okay, I'll give you a chance to quit guffawing. Everything is in a pile somewhere, but I can almost always get you what you need within minutes. It's odd. I can't be perfectly organized. I've tried a million times. It just doesn't work. But the pile system works. Go figure. Does "savant" figure in here?
  6. I am the worst nightmare for an Adult Contemporary PD. I'm their perfect P1 -- pushing 40, career person or soccer mom (I'm the first), female, and not really up on who the latest craze in teen music is (okay, I know who the Jonas Brothers are only because they seem to be plastered all over People but to name a song of theirs... Please.). And here's the deal: I hate the format. Celine Dion makes me wretch, and Shania's music is something I haven't enjoyed since the song "Any Man of Mine." Faith Hill is not the second coming, and Josh Groban doesn't make me swoon in the least. And ... get ready for a shocker ... I am damn tired of Christmas music shoved down my throat 6 weeks before I plan to shop. On that point alone, you will rarely catch me listening to an A/C station. Oh, and I am not a fan of either Delilah or John Tesh. Oddly enough, between the two, I prefer John Tesh's format -- he just records drop-ins and lets the station choose the music. That, at least, allows for a little creativity!

Ok, now to find six people whom Susan didn't nab already. YOW!!!!
1. Stoney
2. Cary from LOTD
3. Stacey
4. Ballz
5. Sunny
6. Toucan

Have fun! Looking forward to learning some new facts about everyone :-)

Monday, November 24, 2008

They were FABULOUS!!!

I went yesterday to our local large venue to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Not only did they not disappoint in the least, but they wowed me. I actually sat there for a few songs and all I could say was "Whoa!" or "WOW!" or "Holy mackerel!" The pyrotechnics and lights were amazing. The music was great.

If they come to your area, RUN to the ticket office and get your seats. Next year, I'm taking the whole family. My father will love it, my brother will (being a metal fan), and my mom will take a pair of earplugs. (HA!!!!!)

I'm serious, though. They are a must-see. Absolutely incredible. The only caveat is that they do use a lot of strobe and flash lighting -- so if you have a sensitivity to that at all, stay home. I had nosebleed seats (but right over the stage), and one of the floodlights near me was heavily involved in the flash lighting for one song. So I had to just shut my eyes during that segment and focus on the music instead.

And the new album -- probably next year. I can't wait. I will be getting it. REALLY good..... But in the meantime, you can get a download FREE at Amazon.com -- check out "Night Enchanted"! It's awesome -- and only good this week! HURRY!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Still got the scratchies....

Yep. Three full days of Claritin and Nasonex later, and I still have the scratchy throat. I have an awful sense of foreboding that I will be battling this all winter long. I really, truly, deeply, madly hope and pray that it goes away before Christmas and Midnight Mass. The one year that I've actually been able to practice (at least a better part of the time) with the choir ... and I would hate to miss it because I can't sing.

I think this scares me more than anything. Singing is so much a part of who I am that the idea that it can be taken away just..... I don't even want to entertain the thought. I don't want to give it any rent in my head. I will get better. I will get better. I will get better.


Mr. Maddox had himself a grand ol' time the last few days at Camp Bow Wow. Normally, I have another petsitter that I would use, but Wednesday and Thursday were going to be late nights for me anyway, so I might as well have kept him close for pickup.

Their idea is "Play All Day, Snooze The Night Away" .... and it's not just a slogan. IT WORKS! Maddox was thoroughly exhausted and pretty much slept or napped from the moment he got home. I had to take him with me to Weight Watchers the other night, and while he kind of sniffed around a little, he was far more eager to find a spot and just poop out. Even now, the day after having spent a full day playing and a full night sleeping, he is still napping!


And next on the agenda -- CHRISTMAS CARDS! I'm taking part in a card swap and I have to make some Christmas cards for it. On that note, I had best get to hopping on it and out of these PJ's. Although they are warm flannel PJ's in pink with white polar bears and snowflakes on them. Got them at KMart over the weekend for a STEAL of a price. I may just have to go buy and get myself another pair (in a different motif). These are really warm and I would love to lounge around in them all day. But I have a couple of places to go and things to do first (then get crackin' on those cards!) ......... AND I have to figure out a way to take the family Christmas pictures tomorrow afternoon before the concert. I'm going to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra and I can't wait!!

That's all that's happening in Nettie's World. WHEW!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It's baaa-aaack....

And now I sound like Marge Simpson.

I felt it starting Saturday night, the old familiar scratchy-scratch feeling in my throat. And instead of going to the Johnny Cash/Barry White end of things, it's gone Marge Simpson. So I went to our family doctor today to make sure it wasn't strep.

Whew, thank you saints and angels, it isn't. What is happening is a horrid case of post-nasal drip due to nasal allergies. Makes me remember the old Dristan commercials about "post-nasal drip" ... but that's another thought. Anyway, I'll be taking Claritin and Nasonex and seeing what progresses from there.

Makes me kind of wish I'd had my tonsils and adenoids removed as a child.....



I had a great time Sunday and yesterday with my friends, The Glecks (Tal & Sera). Sera had an entry in the National Gingerbread House Competition at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville NC. I loved her entry, precisely because it wasn't a Christmas-y entry. There's nothing in the rulebook that says "Christmas entries only" and no reason other than pure tradition to associate gingerbread with Christmas. Quite honestly, I think of it as a fall thing myself.

Anyway, there were bookoo entries, all with that overwhelming Christmas theme. I could write an entire diatribe on that, but I won't bore you. Suffice to say that while Sera's house didn't get in the Top 10, it should have, and I am proud to say that the comments I heard about her entry were very positive, and was captured in quite a few cameras.

We also got to meet actress Melissa Reeves, who played Jennifer (Horton) Devereaux on Days of Our Lives for a number of years. She could not have been a more gracious individual, and genuinely happy that her work had been received well. I watched Days for many years in high school and college, and always enjoyed her performances. She and her family live in Tennessee now, and she had a friend who was also an entrant.

As for next year, ideas have been tossed up...... (insert very evil, maniacal laugh right here).

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Sometimes, being fully armed...

........just isn't enough. Most of the weekend was spent doing my usual litany of things to do that I can't get done during the week, and speaking hoarsely. Yep, hoarseness-leaning-into-laryngitis. Nothing ached, nothing felt bad, just couldn't speak. And then.......

Yesterday morning came. I woke up and my throat didn't hurt as much, but my nose was starting to feel weird. By yesterday afternoon, I was in Rite Aid, buying more cough drops, zinc lozenges, and anti-viral Kleenex (I won't vouch for the anti-viral part, but I love the triple-thickness!). I'm sneezing. My eyes are watery. My head doesn't ache, but I do feel I'm running around 90% capacity instead of my usual 100+.

Yep. It's a cold. Almost for sure. My face doesn't ache, and I don't have that weird disconnect that I feel sometimes with a sinus infection. My throat STILL hurts and I still sound like a white, Southern female version of Barry White. Hey, at least I have my voice back, right? It comes and goes.... when it's here, I'm Barryna. When it's not, I'm Kirstie Alley during some of the scenes in "Look Who's Talking" ("What do you mean, he looks stoned? He looks PERFECT!")

And I'm still drinking hot drinks (decaf tea with a little honey thrown in, sugar-free cider, sugar-free hot chocolate, even non-iced sodas). And yes, I am still taking Granny's cough syrup at bedtime (it helps, if nothing else but to let me sleep...... HA!)

Oh well..... whomever is the patron saint of the common cold, pray for us. It's gonna be a long winter.

Friday, October 31, 2008

A warning to germs, viruses, and other little creepies.

I am fully armed.

At work, there are four different bottles of hand sanitizer at my desk -- two gel-based containers (one is lavender scented and available for use by the public, and they had best use it -- the other is just a purse-sized trial size). There's also a trial-sized bottle of the Lysol Healthy Touch foam, and a sample of a hand sanitizer spray (part of a promotion that I got last night at Walgreen's). I have sugar-free cough drops. I have plenty of Celestial Seasonings tea bags as well as sugar-free spiced cider packs -- and let's NOT forget the many packets of Emergen-C in my purse. Oooh, I nearly forgot the now almost-empty tub of disinfecting wipes on the shelf (note to self: pick up more of those over the weekend).

And at home, I have the two bottles of hand sanitizer in my purse, plenty -- PLENTY, mind you -- of antibacterial soap, more sugar-free cough drops picked up at lunch, several cans of soup plus leftover hot-n-sour soup from this evening .... which I halfway expected to really open me up from whatever is causing this, but hasn't so far .... and OH YEAH, the rock-n-rye picked up this evening from the P Road Party Shop. God bless good ol' Rock-n-Rye. It's cheap whisky but it makes one hell of a medicinal mix.

Why am I so heavily armed? Because I have a scratchy throat.

Now, I am not a nervous Nellie in the least. Nor am I a germophobe along the lines of Adrian Monk. I'm not wiping down every surface the minute people exit my office or leave my general vicinity. But I will be danged if I allow this feeling to bloom into a full-fledged.... whatever. I refuse to let the germs win. Right now, I sound like Marge Simpson. Here's the other part of the equation -- I'm singing Sunday night for Mass. Yep. I practiced a little in the car at lunch. I hit the bass notes better than the higher alto notes that I am accustomed to singing.

It behooves me to take care of myself as much as possible. And so I am, and armed to the teeth.

Monday, October 27, 2008

This pirate is looking......

So, this weekend, I turned 39. 98% of me is not bothered by that number at all. The other 2% is humming the referenced Buffett song madly.

But I have another song that sums it up much better -- for the 98% of me excited to be alive and another year wiser, and another year better, and another year happier. So, with many thanks to Darius Rucker............

Thirty-nine (39) candles burnt out on a cake
Each representin' a million mistakes
The last one still burns, there's a wish I can make
This time I'm getting it right
So I close my eyes and I take a deep breath
And I promise myself in the time I have left

I'm gonna work like I don't need the money
I'm gonna laugh like I'm not afraid to cry
I'm gonna dance like nobody's watchin'
I'm gonna love while I still got the time

Lovin' me hasn't been easy on you
I don't know why, but I know you still do
It may be my day, but here's a present for you
You're lookin' at your new man
He's sincere and sober and faithful and kind
And he's home when you need him and girl startin' tonight

I'm gonna work like I don't need the money
I'm gonna laugh like I'm not afraid to cry
I'm gonna dance like nobody's watchin'
I'm gonna love while I still got the time

No more excuses and no more me doing things wrong
Life is too short, baby, I've wasted ours for too long
And baby from now on

I'm gonna work like I don't need the money
I'm gonna laugh like I'm not afraid to cry
I'm gonna dance like nobody's watchin'
I'm gonna love while I still got the time

I'm gonna work like I don't need the money -- I know I am
I'm gonna laugh like I'm not afraid to cry -- laugh laugh laugh
I'm gonna dance like nobody's watchin' -- I'm gonna dance, I'm gonna dance
I'm gonna love while I still got the time
I'm gonna love while I still got the time
While I still got the time

So there it is -- one more year in the mirror, but so many more to go, so many more to live. Let's live 'em!

Monday, October 20, 2008

My kind of town!

So, this time last week, I was waking up from a nap in a Chicago-area hotel room.

My flight out was nice. It was on time (this is important) and we actually landed a little early. The descent gave me a slight headache, though, and I am not sure why. It wasn't a full-on migraine, but just enough of an ache to make me just-this-side of miserable. My bags didn't get sent to Pocatello, thank you little eight-pound Christchild of the manger, and came off the plane and onto the carousel just fine.

I found a cab right outside that could drive me to Glenview...... where I promptly got handed a jar of Vaseline and told to bend over. Well, sort of..... The meter at the end read $29.25, and I was told, "Well, it's actually $44.00. It's time and a half because I had to drive to the suburbs....." Excuse me? It took you ten minutes, and I have since discovered that you actually drove a mile and a half out of the way because you turned left off the exit instead of right. Fine, whatever. But I saw no notice that said anything about time-and-a-half and the suburbs. It's a shame a pleasant cab ride had to end that way.

The hotel was nice; it was one of the preferred ones from Corporate Office. We got a fantastic rate, and it could not have been a more comfy, pleasant room. And I'm being truly serious. I'm usually the type that says, "Hey, as long as the pillows don't go too flat, the a/c doesn't rattle all night, and the blanket keeps me comfy, then I am good to go, who cares what chain it is?" This one may cause me to change my mind about that. There was a nice LCD TV, a sofa and coffee table, nice desk, and very comfy bed. The facilities were very nice and spacious; nothing I hate worse than a teensy hotel bathroom.

And the staff was very nice. They were able to answer all my questions ..... for the most part. Apparently there is some miscommunication between Corporate and the shuttle service. They told us it didn't start until 9:00 AM, and we were told at Corporate, "BALONEY! It starts whenever you need it to, and you can tell them we said that!" The breakfast was nice too -- a mix of hot and cold, and the staff was very accommodating. And they had a nice workstation area, which is great for those of us in the stone age still without laptops.

So anyway, let's fast forward to Wednesday. Training was great, I learned a lot, we had fun.... a colleague and I both had flights leaving around the same time -- and he had a rental car! So we decided to head downtown and see the sights. My original plan was to check my luggage, hop on the El and go to Daley Plaza. This way, we could see lots of sights, not just Daley Plaza...... only I was stricken with a sudden case of motion sickness. AARGH!!!! I felt a little queasy at one point on the way in, but it passed pretty quickly. But just a few minutes later, a full attack. Just enough to give me a headache, and make me want to do nothing but nap. My colleague -- one of the nicest people around, by the way -- apologized a million times over, thinking his driving had caused it. Nope, just this weird thing I have.... and hate.

I got to O'Hare, got through security, and headed for the gate. There was a Mickey D's there, and I realized I hadn't had anything since breakfast. So I grabbed something quick and WW-friendly, ate it, and sat to wait on the boarding time. I had about 90 minutes to kill so I read the newspaper, read part of a book, and then.......... Delay.

It had rained all day, and the two flights prior to mine were delayed. For starters, they pushed us back a half-hour (ha.... ha ha ha). With that in mind, I called the office, left a message for my boss to let him know I'd be in even later than planned ... actually, I'd take a half-day vacation and come in at 1:00. I also called the family to inform them -- we have some serious worrywarts in the bunch.

Twenty minutes before we were scheduled to board, they THEN informed us that we were changing gates. Yep. Meaning: more delay. FINALLY, we boarded around 7:30 PM Chicago time ... 90 minutes after schedule. Believe me, the pilots made up some of the delay in the air. There were some pockets of turbulence, enough to make me grip the arm of the seat a couple of times -- and I am thinking the flight attendant thought I was sick when it took me a few extra moments in the lavatory. It was actually a zipper on my pants that got stuck. But it was enough for her to give me a free drink..... which I felt bad about!

Finally, we got in only 40 minutes later than scheduled ..... again, praise be, my luggage was the 2nd one on the carousel! I got back to my car in almost no time and on the road for home. I had already decided that I would drive as far as I could until I got tired, and then I would definitely pull over. About a half-hour into it I was feeling good. Twenty minutes later, I was looking for the first good hotel I could. I was still about 45 minutes from home, but no way could I go any longer. I checked into the hotel, got a nice room, and was asleep in 10 minutes.

The next morning, I checked out and headed home. I had had a long trip and needed to chill before heading to the office. And to see my sweet Maddox --- who was incredibly happy and surprised to see me!

And.... I have decided to save some money and go back to Chicago next spring to see the sights myself, on my own timetable!!! I have to see what I missed!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Procrastination, thy name is....

I am sitting here, doing a blog post.

What I ought to be doing is walking the dog. Then packing for my business trip. Then getting more stuff together. And preparing to go to bed a little early, since I plan to go in somewhat earlier tomorrow morning.

And I am sitting here, writing.

Okay. I'm done. I have GOT to go do things. No more excuses.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Releasing my inner country girl....

This week, and even some of last week, I've been in a country music mood. So thanks to Rhapsody, I was able to play some new stuff and old favorites. Monday and Tuesday, I played Darius Rucker's Learning to Live -- it's pretty good!!!! It's got a country feel without being overly twangy. I can definitely see myself buying this one this weekend. Really good sound.

But yesterday, I needed more country and only a dose of George Strait would do. My brother is a HUGE George Strait fan. I swear, for a time there in the early-to-mid-90s, about the only artist he ever seemed to play was George Strait. I learned his music in and out, and it's good stuff. So yesterday, I loaded up his Strait Out of the Box, and played it over and over. Good memories and even better music.

So I have decided that I will be working on a playlist for the ol' MP3 which will allow me to release my inner country girl....... okay, my inner redneck. More to follow...............

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Shufflin' Things Up

(and not the Curly Shuffle, woob woob woob).

Here's a little game:
  • Put your music player on shuffle.
  • Post the first line (unless the first line reveals the song title) from the first 30 songs that play, no matter how embarrassing.
  • Strike through the songs when someone guesses both artist and song title correctly. (Just post a comment, and I will let that serve as the record.)
  • Looking them up on Google or any other search engine is CHEATING!
  • If you like the game, post your own
Okay, either mine doesn't have shuffle or else I haven't figured out where shuffle is, BUT.... here goes:

  1. Every time I move I lose, when I look I'm in
  2. (spoken intro) "Fellas, I'm ready to get up and do MY thang....."
  3. If I said what's on my mind, you'd turn and walk away
  4. Yeah, it's been a long long time, you're such a sight
  5. You turn me on, you lift me up like the sweetest cup I share with you
  6. If you can just get your mind together, then come on across to me
  7. (2nd line) Light in your head and dead on your feet
  8. I'm feeling so tired, can't understand it, just had a fortnight's sleep
  9. (opening verse) Midnight creeps so slowly into hearts of men who need more than they get
  10. You know she likes to take me dancing on the outskirts of town
  11. Now I like taking off, don't like burning out
  12. (verse) It burned like a ball on fire, when the rebel took a little child bride
  13. We get it almost every night, when that moon is big and bright
  14. Everybody go on and dance if you want to, music makes your body move, well all right
  15. Talking about stealing the show, no one would know
  16. I've seen the bright lights of Memphis and the Commodore Hotel
  17. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!
  18. I hear songs on the radio, they might be fast or they might be slow
  19. Though I've tried before to tell her of the feelings I have for her in my heart
  20. Pariah dogs and wandering madmen, barking at strangers and speaking in tongues
  21. Long time no see, short time for you & me
  22. What kind of trouble did I get into (gotcha moving, gotcha moving)
  23. Heartbreaker, soul shaker, I've been told about you
  24. I had myself a tall one waiting at the bar
  25. This silver bird takes me 'cross the sky
  26. Feel when I dance with you, we move like the sea
  27. You've got me so confused, and there's words I could use
  28. (1st v) Nobody's right till somebody's wrong, nobody's weak till somebody's strong
  29. Cheat the odds that made you, brave to try to gamble at times
  30. I can feel no sense of measure, no illusion as we take
Have fun!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

10 Minutes, 8 Seconds

(note: cross-posted to Weighty Matters)

Today was the Race for the Cure ...... and I reached my goal!!!! I shaved 10:08 off last year's time of 1:06:34 by coming in this year at 56:26. I jogged in a few places to hit my goal, but it was worth it! I would have honestly been happy at anything around 57 or so. But seeing the actual number was fantastic. I went from a pace time of 21:24 (last year) to 18:10 this year. Holy Moses!

And this year, speaking of numbers, we had an approximate 25% increase in the number of participants..... amazing enough, but even more so in light of the very shaky economy. It's unbelievable and humbling.

Last year, I was very inspired by all the survivors. Seeing them do the walk -- especially those newly diagnosed or battling the disease -- was enough to bring me to tears. This year, there was a young lady who was walking it on a prosthetic leg. As she came down her side of the course (as several of us were walking up to the turnaround), all you could hear was "Oh my God, how awesome is that girl!" I found her after the race and told her so -- that she inspired me to keep moving, and that she amazed me. She was so gracious about it and almost seemed as if she couldn't believe all the people who told her how proud they were of her (I am betting her time was probably between 45 and 50 minutes). She was a hero to me today, as were all those who took part in the survivor ceremony.

My cousin was one of the competitive runners.... he fell a little short of his hoped-for time, but not by all that much. Instead of 24:00, he ran a 26:08 .... good enough to be in the top 225 (out of close to 900 runners!). TOP QUARTER!!!! I'm so proud of Brandon I could burst!

And I already can't wait for next year!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A picture of my baby!

This is a picture of my very sweet baby!!!

What a PRECIOUS face!!!! (Of course, it's helped by the fact that "Nanny" had treats, and Maddox is a master at the sad beggy look!)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

My busy Thursday.... and lucky Saturday!

It was so busy I'm just now getting a chance to write about it!

As you know from earlier posts, I was last year's captain for my company's Race for the Cure team. It was my first year doing it, and I enjoyed the hard work we put in. I have since learned that I knew nothing about hard work.

Thursday was Team Captain Packet Pickup day. As a member of the Race Committee (Sleep-In chair), I was asked to volunteer --- plus I could do some of the Sleep-In work at the same time. I got there at 8:30 and maybe sat for a total of 30 minutes until 6:00 PM. And that COUNTS the 20 minutes I took to drive some t-shirts over to one of the teams (I had miscounted). I helped move tables, shrink-wrapped boxes on pallets to be moved, hefted boxes once they got moved, packed t-shirts, recounted t-shirts, ran hither and yon, helped in putting together my packets for my own team, and do some of the stuffing for Sleep-In.

I also ran into my cousin's son who works at the building where we had pick-up. I'm so proud of him in so many ways, but especially since this year, he's running the race. His grandmother is my aunt who's the breast cancer survivor, so it's especially meaningful! AND I ran into a classmate of mine -- haven't seen her in 21 years (she lives around here but didn't make either of the reunions). She puts together a HUGE team ..... how awesome is that!

When I finally got to sit down at my WW meeting, it was then that my muscles finally said, "No mas!" and BOY was I sore, even the next morning. But it's the best kind of sore there is -- the feeling of satisfaction, knowing you've done something for a good cause!


Speaking of good causes..... The Witch told me that Birthright (for whom she volunteers) would be taking part in Macy's "Shop for the Cause" today. I was going to be out that way anyway, so.........

I first had to go to Burlington Coat Factory. I bought a lovely gray wool coat there several years ago, and wore the daylights out of it.... until it got way too big for me to wear. One of my WW buddies passed on two of her old coats last year, and they were fantastic. But alas, they too are now way too big, and I have passed them on. But I am also heading to Chicago in 3 weeks for training, and I have a sneaking suspicion that I will need a good coat up there by that time. I found a VERY good deal there at Burlington! It was a black wool blend (80/20) full coat, with a heavy-duty zipper, metal closures, and attached hood. Best of all, it was marked down around 22% off the original price. SWEET! There were also some peacoats on sale there, and I might (might) get one of those to use as well.

After my sweet deal at Burlington, I headed over to Macy's. I missed Witchiepoo by about 5 minutes, but bought the all-day savings pass with a donation and signed my name up for the door prizes. My mom was with me, ran into someone we knew, and then I joined them. Suddenly.......... "*BING BING* -- our next door prize winner is Nettiemac! Please come to the front to claim your prize!"

Yeah, I'd stood there a whole 5 minutes and won .... I got a pretty blue-green teardrop glass vase, a set of three crystal candleholders (for use with either pillars or tapers), and a Wedgewood Christmas ornament. I need to give away the ornament, because it says "Our First Christmas Together." I don't know any newlyweds I could give it to, but someone at work might. Ya know?

What a lucky day --- a great coat on sale, AND a lucky break on a door prize. WAHOO!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Crazy days....

Ever have those days where you meet yourself coming and going? Welcome to my world, at least for the last couple of weeks. Between my regular job, helping to coordinate the United Way campaign at work, trying to do Race for the Cure stuff, choir practice, etc. etc., well, it makes for one very tired Nettie.

In good news, I had a follow-up with my physical therapist regarding the lymphedema. The double-hosiery idea (one pair full hose with an additional pair of knee-highs over that) seems to be working. It's holding the areas to their regular measurements, which is what is supposed to be happening. I'll probably have this going on until such time that I have the surgery. After that, I'll probably just need knee highs. But even I have to admit I don't mind the full hose so much. Right now, it's keeping everything squooshed and slimmed.

If you read my Weighty Matters blog regularly, you'll see that I finally hit my 200-pounds-gone mark! Just a few more pounds to go ..... mere ounces for a personal milestone, a teensy number of pounds for yet another personal milestone, and roughly 25 to go to hit final goal. I am being as patient with myself as I can be!

All week long, I've had a very slow, soothing playlist going. It sprang from an Internet discussion among friends, and it's sort of developed a little further. My own playlist has been heavy on Van Morrison and Marc Cohn. Good stuff, those two!

Speaking of music -- I scored two tickets for Trans-Siberian Orchestra, coming to the Bi-Lo Center in November. WAHOO! Others who have seen them have told me that they are fantastic -- I can't wait!

Well, that's about it from here for now. I hope to get back into the blogging habit (I have been slack this summer, I know!)

Saturday, September 06, 2008


You know what earworms are, right? Those songs that get stuck on your mental iPod, and the skip buttons don't work. Sometimes, even the pause button doesn't work. Then, another song comes on and knocks that one out..... then repeat procedure. Worse, they're usually the songs you can't stand in real life anyway.

This morning's earworm isn't a bad song at all -- I actually do enjoy it when it hits my airwaves. Yet, I have no idea why it's going through my head: "Needles and Pins" by The Searchers (1964). Or actually, sung more like, "Needles and Pinza."

And so that you can share in my pain/pleasure:

"Needles & Pins" (written by Jack Nitzsche and Sonny Bono*):

I saw her today, I saw her face
It was the face I loved and I knew
I had to run away and get down on my knees and pray
That they'd go away

But still they begin
Needles and pins
Because of all my pride
The tears I gotta hide

Hey, I thought I was smart, I wanted her
Didn't think I'd do, but now I see
She's worse to him than me
Let her go ahead, take his love instead
And one day she will see

Just how to say please
And get down on her knees
Yeah, that's how it begins
She'll feel those needles and pins
a-hurtin her, a-hurtin her

Why can't I stop and tell myself I'm wrong, I'm wrong, so wrong
Why can't I stand up and tell myself I'm strong

Because I saw her today, I saw her face
It was the face I loved and I knew
I had to run away and get down on my knees and pray
That they'd go away

But still they begin
Needles and pins
Because of all my pride
The tears I gotta hide
Ah, needles and pins
Needles and pins
Needles and pins

(*-Yes, that Sonny Bono).

Monday, September 01, 2008

It's Labor Day and.....

in spite of needing to go in REALLY early tomorrow, all is right with the world.

College football kicked off on Thursday, made even sweeter by a Gamecock win. The icing on the cake was a Clemson loss (truly, more of a Clemson butt-whoopin'!). It's been a good day, a good weekend, with time spent with friends, family, and loved ones.

My best friend saved a box of clothing for me -- stuff I can wear at work and at home! In fact, I wore a pair of the shorts tonight on the walk, and they are SO comfy!

I'm pretty content. Content is sometimes seen as a bad thing, but it isn't really. Content is being happy with where and who you are -- always with an eye to improvement, but knowing that right now is good too.

I don't think you can beat that with a stick!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Another cool meme

I'm on an Internet project, and found this meme on the blog of a fellow member. I thought it was pretty cool.

1.Your rock star name (first pet, current car)
Skipper Taurus

2.Your gangsta name (favorite ice cream flavor, favorite type of shoe)
Butter Pecan Mules (yeah .... that's O.G.)

3.Your Native American name (favorite color, favorite animal)
Blue Dolphin

4.Your soap opera name (middle name, city where you were born)
Annette Easley

5.Your Star Wars name (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 of your first name)

6.Superhero name (2nd favorite color, favorite drink)
Pink Water (well, it beat "Pink Diet-Coke-and-Lime")

7.NASCAR name (the first names of your grandfathers)
Roy Gene (now if that's not a NASCAR name, I don't know what is: "Hey Roy Gene, 'zair sump'n wrong with this car?")

8.Dancer name (the name of your favorite perfume/cologne/scent, favorite candy)
Anais-Anais Cinnamon Button (ohhhhhhhhhhkaybe)

9.TV weather anchor name (your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter)
Simpson Seattle

10.Spy name (your favorite season/holiday, flower)
Autumn Rose (me likey!)

11.Cartoon name:(favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now)
Apple Jeans

12.Hippie name (what you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree)
Kashi GoLean Oak (I don't really have a favorite tree)

13.Movie star name (first pet, first street where you lived)
Skipper Lee (now I always thought that was how you got your stripper name......)

By the way, if you're reading this................ TAG! YOU'RE IT!

Sunday, August 24, 2008


I heard a friend mention today about taking her preteen daughter clothes shopping. Another friend remarked how glad she was that her same-age daughter has a school uniform (private school) so the gotta-haves are cut down considerably.

It took me back 27 years (it cannot have been that long ago. Simply cannot be.) ....... I was about to start 7th grade, which was high school in my town at the time. Our high school was grades 7-12. And it was right at the height of designer jean craze. And real honest-to-Pete Izod shirts, with the alligator and NOT the faux ones that had other animals.

Now picture it -- a fat kid dying for designer duds. But I had one great advantage: a mom who loved me but didn't spoil me. She didn't mind going to the nearby department stores for the Izods, but the jeans..... well, I had limited options. The department stores didn't carry my size in Jordache, Calvins, Glorias or any other designer label. Or in Chinos (the brand name) ..... so what was I going to do? I would be D.O.O.M.E.D. before I ever started.

Mom to the rescue: we went to a place called World of Clothing about an hour from here. They're still open but I haven't been there in a lifetime. We went there one Saturday -- I want to say that someone from my mom's work went with us, but can't remember which person. We shopped, and shopped, and shopped. I got a pair of Levi's, a couple of pairs of dress slacks (similar to Chinos, but not that brand. Oh well), and ..... a pair of Calvins. My mother made one thing quite clear: when they wore out, I'd best enjoy the memories I had with them, because I was NOT getting another pair.

Izod shirts were another story. I got a few of those, with the real 'gators on them. Of course the trend of it having to be a REAL alligator on it died out by year's end, as had my Calvins. I gladly stuck with Lee's and Levi's the rest of my high school career. I still love polo shirts, with or without an attached symbol. And really, when was the last time you saw a 'gator on one?

I'm sure Mom (and Dad) had some misgivings about giving in to me ..... of course, I was cheap compared to my brother who insisted on having the real-honest-no-fakes original Air Jordans. They were $85 in 1985, and by that point times were a lot tighter for us. Again, Mom indulged but not right away...... and told him the same thing: You tear them up, and you do not get identical replacements. You will get CHEAP shoes.

I had good parents. And I still don't think I've thanked them enough.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Just an old chunk of coal.....

I'm just an old chunk of coal
But I'm gonna be a diamond someday....
-- sung by John Anderson

Many years ago, our house ran on a coal furnace. Not in my own memory, because I remember the oil furnace and then when we switched to natural gas. It had to be when my grandparents were alive and living here.

The seller would bring the coal, dump it in your backyard, but it was up to you to go get what you needed or to move it closer. And I imagine that over time, the smaller pieces sifted to the bottom and got (literally) buried in the ground under the weight of the larger hunks.

Guess what my buddy boy discovered? Yep. Coal. He'd eaten some pieces before as I have discovered.

This morning at 6:20, Little Buddy came into my room and said, "Hork, hork, hork" with head bent, and coughing/not-quite-heaving happening. I promptly replied with a sharp, "OUT!!!" He was NOT gonna hork on my carpet, no matter how crappy the condition of said carpet (you'd be bad too after 30 years).

I was praying very hard that he wouldn't urp all over his doggie bed. It's a faux suede microfiber thing that I doubt very seriously can just be thrown into a washer. Maybe one of those huge commercial ones at the laundromat, but not my home Kenmore. Praise be, he didn't hit it -- but he did hit the ripped up old comforter that was on the floor next to it.

The comforter had belonged to my brother. He obtained it from a former sort of girlfreak. Maddox purloined it one day last summer and claimed it as his own. He further tore it to shreds, but then wouldn't let it go. So in order to keep him from tearing the dog bed apart when we bought it, we put the shreds of the bedding with it. He never touched either in a destructive way again.

As I was very gingerly picking up the comforter and its new contents, I noticed it looked like there were huge chunks of black plastic. No wonder he was sick! I let him out for his morning routine, and found a trash bag in which to dispose of the ... stuff (comforter and all).

I told my brother about it when he returned from his morning walk. He said, "Good! We're finally rid of that junk" (meaning the comforter), then "Black plastic?" I replied that it could have been black rubber too, but his tire toy (the only thing with black rubber) was perfectly intact.

I told my parents and my dad said, "I bet it's coal from the backyard. Bet he dug up some...." Yep. Maddox has the look of a Lab but the digging abilities of the Husky. If he can dig it, paw it, or otherwise use his hands, er.... paws to his gain, he will.

I came home from work tonight. Seems he found another small piece of it, and my dad managed to get it out of his mouth.

Oy vey. Guess I'll be spending part of the weekend digging up and removing the coal bits that remain to a safe distance (over the fence).

What won't that dog do next?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

I am still around!!

I promise, rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated. Work, life, dog, and other stuff has had me pretty busy lately. And I'm hooked on the evening Olympics coverage -- especially swimming and that hottie Michael Phelps. Yee-Ow.

I have a family reunion today, so I'm sure I'll find some more things to write about tonight..... ooh. Bad Nettiemac. Bad Nettiemac! No treat for you!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

What Kind of Cake Am I?

You Are a Marble Cake

Eclectic, inventive, and peaceful.

You are never willing to accept what's "normal." You live to push the envelope.

You find it hard to make up your mind. You prefer to have everything you want, right away!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

The "Underneefy Bits" picture

see more dog pictures

They arrived at last....

The Dog Days, that is. Hot doesn't begin to describe it. For the last few days, it's been over 95, and it's going to be at least that hot for the next week. So that also means early morning walks .... and I already have early appointments two mornings this week. Guess we know what that means .... either I skip walking those days, or get up at 4:30 to do it. We all know which option I'll be choosing too. I love walking. I love my dog. But I love sleep like a fat kid loves cake.

Even Maddox, who normally loves being outside for a good part of the morning ..... went outside just long enough to do his business and come running back inside for the comfort of a cold linoleum floor. Guess the indoors felt better on his "underneefy bits."

There have been a few changes lately, and so I haven't been around to blog as much as usual. That must be remedied! :)

Until next time, stay cool, especially on your underneefy bits!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Wow!! I feel like I'm in school again

This was cool -- copied from my friends Kate/Susan, and The Glecks (on each of their blogs). I figured, why not? Pretty cool idea!

1) As a comment on my blog, leave one memory that you and I had together. It doesn’t matter if you knew me a little or a lot, anything you remember!

2) Next, re-post these instructions on your blog and see how many people leave a memory about you. It’s actually pretty funny to see the responses. If you leave a memory about me, I’ll assume you’re playing the game and I’ll come to your blog and leave one about you. If you don’t want to play on your blog, or if you don’t have a blog, I’ll leave my memory of you in my comments.

Have at it!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Monday Miscellanea

  • Maddox has expensive tastes. He certainly liked the taste of the $5 bill that fell out of my pocket Saturday night. I was lucky to find the pieces -- "There's a green 5 and -- HEY! THAT'S MY MONEY!") It was taped back together (at least the pieces we found) and the bank was kind enough to exchange it. Needless to say, lots of jokes were made about me taking it out of his rear end and "this too shall pass." Hey, while I hated it, it was a good laugh.
  • Cold fronts make my eyes, face, and head ache miserably. I have had a headache ALL afternoon, and I know it's the cold front moving through. It's pouring rain right now (thank you, thank you, merciful God!), and I'm so grateful this front will head southward through the night! Plus, we need the rain soooooo badly......
  • Did you ever notice..... sometimes when things go well for you, there's something around the corner that's not so good for someone else? Got a little of that going on in my life right now. It's not my usual MO, but if you have a moment, say a prayer that things turn out fine for one of my loved ones. I'd certainly appreciate it!
  • Good friends make the world a much better place..... take time to tell yours how much they mean to you!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Things I Just Don't Get.

What was (person) thinking? It's a question I find that I ask myself far too often these days. And today is no exception. I have a whole list of Things I Just Don't Get.
  • There's a story in our local news about someone from my hometown arrested for sexual battery against a minor (under age 11, at that). I want to know -- what in hell makes an adult believe that being sexual with a child is okay? I mean, truly..... it's a bizarre mental twist that I will never ever understand. I know that in some cases, they cannot comprehend that they are harming a child. There are some who do and just don't give a damn, and there's a special level of hell reserved just for them. But what makes an otherwise normal person (we assume, anyway) think that it's okay to take a little 11-year-old girl to a motel room? My heart breaks for victims of sexual abuse or violence. I occasionally catch an episode of Dateline: To Catch a Predator, and I find myself wanting to go through the screen and bitchslap these people.
  • Animal cruelty is another thing I just don't get. Even before I was a pet owner, I just couldn't comprehend how someone could neglect an animal or deliberately mistreat it. Most nights at 10, I faithfully watch Animal Planet because they show a variety of "Animal Cops" from different cities -- New York, Houston, Miami, Philly, Detroit, even one from South Africa. I was speaking one day with a person from the ASPCA (they called me for a fundraising campaign), and I mentioned that I watch it all the time. He said, "WOW! You have a pretty strong constitution!" I replied, "It doesn't turn my stomach as much as break my heart and make me angry." (Of course, I signed up for this fundraising program - what did you think?) I don't get it at all --- pets are completely dependent upon us and ask for nothing but our love and care. It's hardly enough to pay back everything they give us -- love and affection, sweet kissies, a walking partner, laughter and tears, so many good things.
  • I also don't get the appeal of a lot of modern music. But that's a whole blog to itself.
Grumpy Old Lady

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A tale of two Wallys

There are two Wallys within about 10 miles of my domicile.

One is pure hell on earth. When it was constructed, it was a huge Wally. Today, it's a SmallMart. It is the place where scientists should converge to study the vast genetic mutation that occurs in mothers and children who pass through the doors. Something in the metal framing, or the glass itself (who knows), causes children to lose their minds and their common sense, and causes mothers to yell something about beating them senseless. This phenomenon isn't limited simply to this particular Wally. God knows I've seen it happen in many others. I used to shop regularly at this Wally, but I have decided the only way I will shop there now is if I happen to be driving by at 3:00 AM, with a wound so severe that Wally is the only place I can buy a dressing for it. Or I am in dire need of auto parts at that hour. Otherwise, I avoid it like the plague.

The other is one of the nicer Wallys ever. It's in a small town, but it's a nice SuperCenter. The aisles are mostly spacious. It doesn't seem to be as crowded. I can't vouch for the genetic mutation factor either -- never seen it happen. It's in proximity to two college towns and is usually home to students, faculty and the general public (where the other .... well .... isn't). That might be a factor in the decided lack of WT population there, at least as a percentage.

Any surprise why I love the 2nd Wally more?

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Don't get me (BOOM) started.

It's been one of those weeks when I have been itching for a fight. I don't know why. Some sort of brain-chemical thing either on overload or not enough ...... but I think I have a good reason.


I'm not opposed to fireworks in general. On the contrary, I love a big display of them -- done by professionals. There's something about the technique and precision of a good pyro display that's almost as cool as the display itself. I haven't seen it in person, but I have seen tape of a Labor Day fireworks show on the Ohio River in Cincinnati which was completely phenomenal -- set to music and done SO well, it was mind-boggling.

What makes me less-than-happy is the fireworks done by amateurs in their front yards, just for the annoyance of everyone around. And even those aren't so bad all the time. The problem for us this year in particular is this: we're in an extreme drought!!!!!!!!!

Our county was one of five in the entire state recently bumped up to the worst status possible. Five counties, all in a row, all the furthest inland, and all with man-made lakes which are way below full capacity. The local newspaper has had a week-long series about the drought, the water issues with it, etc. There are two major problems that people discuss here: gas prices and the lack of rain. What little rain we've gotten has been just enough to settle the dust, enough to make the windshield wet but that's it. I doubt the last two sudden showers/drizzles we've had measured a total of one-tenth of an inch. This is truly trouble.

Why, why, why the city didn't come out with a quickie ordinance saying, "Listen, this year, no fireworks. We know you'll understand" --- well, I don't know why. It certainly would have made sense. And it hits fairly close to home.... there's an unoccupied house next to ours. While the structure itself is cinder block, the roof isn't. The front and back yards aren't. All it would take would be one errant firework, and.....WOOOSH!!!! Same goes for a huge open field that abuts the entire block. It's a big gulley with nothing but vegetation -- most of it desperately dry. Again, all it would take is one bottle rocket to go off-course.......

I'm not even going to discuss what it must have been like for the dogs in the neighborhood. Suffice to say we gave Maddox a couple of calming tablets and he STILL didn't go to sleep until after midnight, when they mercifully decided to pack it in for the night.

What are people thinking? Or more to the point, why aren't people thinking?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Nettiemobiles, Through The Years

My buddy Tal has written a very good story about the cars of his childhood, and his eventual journey to Ford (there's a story there). Anyway, it made me pause to consider the cars of my driving life. I'm trying to remember the ones from my own childhood, and when I get all the details straight, I'll post about those as well.

By 1986, I had gotten my permit, and tried my hardest to drive our family car -- a very small car with a standard transmission. I was hopeless with a four-in-the-floor. I consider myself an intelligent girl, but I could not (and still cannot) get the hang of it. So Dad felt there was no choice but to find me a reliable car with an automatic transmission. And that was how "The Bomber" came into my life.

The Bomber was a 1976 Chevrolet Caprice Classic in light metallic blue. You could seat 6 people and have room for a full-court basketball game in there. When I got it in the summer of '86, it had about 90K on it. It had power EVERYTHING .... seats, mirrors, steering, brakes, everything.

I drove it my entire senior year, and it became legendary then..... I hit a tree with the car; not a scratch. A big truck bumped my back bumper on the way to work one day; nothing. This car was indestructible -- and I felt great in it. I didn't care how old it was, how big it was, or anything else. It was my baby.

I left it at home when I went to college. We were told that you couldn't get a parking permit for our dorm (the apartment complex). Massive bummer. When I moved on campus, I found out I could get an on-street permit from the City for the massive sum of $7.50 per year. So the first weekend I went home, I got a ride up from Claudy Fewell, and brought the car back with me. It stayed with me all through my college days, my first job, and my second job.

Everyone in college had the same thing to say about The Bomber .... "It has character." It did. It was hit the day before Thanksgiving 1987 and banged up badly. The body was never the same after that, but oh, it drove like a dream.

When my second job ended, due to a massive shutdown of a facility, we got very nice severance packages, based on how long we'd been with the company. As a less-than-one-full-year employee, I got the bare minimum, but it was enough to get another pre-owned vehicle. I'd had The Bomber for nine years. While it still drove beautifully, it was now 19 years old and getting harder and harder to maintain. The body wasn't holding up well either. As much as it did pain me to let her go, I did ..... My dad sold The Bomber for parts -- because honestly, it was worth more that way. I didn't shed a tear, but now, I kind of wish I had.

Dad told me about another car he found: a 1985 Olds '88 Royale in dark grey. The price was right, I could pay in cash with my severance, and it ran fairly well. All I can say is HUGE mistake. The body was fantastic -- never had a problem with it. But the engine was a nightmare. It was the Anti-Bomber. There was this problem, that problem, eventually rebuild the engine or transmission (I forget which). I sank way more money into maintenance on that car than I care to admit. After only four and a half years, the CV joint went. I was not about to sink another $500 into a car not worth that much. So I took my tax refund and used it as a down payment on.....

Goldie, the 1995 Ford Escort. I had passed this car lot at least 3-4 times a week and they always seemed to have nice, well-cared-for pre-owned vehicles. So I stopped in, said, "Okay, here's the monthly payment I can afford. What do you have?" 3 cars. Goldie, a white Olds (and I did not want another Olds!) and a hot pink Mercury Topaz. Goldie or a hot pink Topaz. The choice was obvious. I ended up walking out with a payment a little higher than I really wanted, but still manageable.

Goldie ended up being a great car. All the factory parts were still in it, and for a four-cylinder compact car, it was incredible. I first had an issue with it about 6 months after I got it. I'd driven to Savannah to see the Glecks, and coming back through Columbia, it just quit on me. Turns out I'd broken a timing belt. That was it. The real cost was the towing to get it both off the interstate and then home from Columbia (YOW!). And the only other mechanical problem I had with it was that the transmission just died on me one day. We installed a rebuilt one, but other than that, nothing but regular maintenance.

I was driving Goldie when the church job went south. On February 1, I turned in my resignation. I was lining up interviews and doing some other things during that time. On February 8, I left work, cranked the car, and it started doing this weird chugging-jerking thing, like a Magic Fingers bed gone way loopy. I called my favorite mechanic (a/k/a Daddy), and he had me drive it (as much as I could) to a nearby mechanic -- honestly, just down the street from the church. The next day, the guy called to tell us it was something where it would be about $1000 to replace. Again, I was faced with the prospect of sinking more into a vehicle than it was worth.

In five years, I'd put about 80K in mileage on Goldie -- trips to Savannah, Atlanta, Biloxi, genealogy trips all over the Upstate, just the daily grind. And now, I was soon to be jobless, possibly for the long haul. I was also deeply in medical debt, thanks to that lovely little cholecystectomy I'd had 17 months earlier. I needed a terribly reliable car in the worst way possible, at the cheapest rate possible, and for the best deal possible. It wasn't looking good.

On the way home, as I was sitting in the truck with Dad, despairing at what to do, we passed a different car lot...... I'd seen them a few times, and pondered going to them. They were just a local mom-and-pop thing, with just a few cars at a time, and their sign offered "We Finance - No Interest - No Credit Check." Okay, that was promising. I admit that faced with tough decisions, sometimes my response has been typically Scarlett: "I'll think about it tomorrow." And that was exactly what I did. I just needed to get through the next few days and worry about it -- later.

That Saturday, my dad said, "Come get in the car." And in a way that told me I had better. He'd gone by the little car lot, and found one for me to look at. It was a 1997 white Ford Taurus. The car looked fantastic, only had 60K on the odometer (not bad for an 8-year-old vehicle!), and had a nice interior. They had another white Taurus there, but Dad said he just didn't like the looks of it. When I went to talk to the people, my heart sank a little. It was a repaired salvage car. That gave me tremendous pause -- I surely did not want a lemon on my hands. But I drove it around, and some of my fears were alleviated. Apparently, the damage must have been strictly to the body. After some discussion with my Dad, and a couple of days to round up the down payment, I left work early on that last day to get it.

I haven't really given it a nickname, like I did with the other cars. It's a good solid car. So far, there have been no major problems, just regular maintenance. I've put over 100K on it-- unfortunately, having a 65-mile round-trip daily commute will do that. But it's been great! It needs a real car-wash (not just the "let me hose her down to knock off the pollen" routine), and is getting another oil-change tomorrow. I need her to last a little while longer.


Last summer, I started thinking about getting another car -- a small SUV, for that matter. Maddox fits somewhat comfortably across my back seat, but God forbid we have him AND other people in the car. I could get one person and that would be it.

There was a used-car place in Greenville where you could check out their inventory online. Great!!! So I looked, with some criteria in mind: small SUV (Ford Escape or Toyota Rav4), less than 60K in mileage, no more than 4 years old, and if at all possible, under $15,000. Much harder than it looked, but I saw a few potential ones. I even did the "contact us!" and never heard a response.

I even (God help me) called the one place I never wanted to deal with. Ever. Those of you who know me well know exactly which dealership I mean: "(BRAND NAME) OF (TOWN!!!!!!!)" yelled just like they do in their radio/TV ads. They suggested I submit my credit app online, and I said, "Oh, okay!" But I thought, "Oh hell no, I will do that in person, and you may pull it ONCE, not 19 bazillion times."

By August, a little voice in my head said, "Wait until October." Now, I claim absolutely zero psychic abilities, and I don't imagine myself to be Joan of Arc and hearing the voice of God. But my intuition is usually fairly good, and so I decided to wait. A few days later it hit me that my review is usually in October, and it might be good to see how that would turn out first. By early October, I looked at their website inventory again, and the little SUV's were hardly around -- surprising, since gas was continuing to rise. But okay, whatever. I eventually decided to hold off a little longer myself......

Imagine my shock when our local news reported a few weeks ago that this particular used-car lot was forced to close to due lack of business....... and the next day that several recent customers couldn't get their titles. And the next day when some reported that their credit reports are showing them owing the full amount (still) of their trade-ins. BIG issues. And I am so glad I listened to my inner voice that told me to wait .... and that their inventory wasn't as good later as I expected.

And as long as gas prices are hovering where they are, I'll maintain my Taurus as best as I can!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

RIP Charlie

I Am Pissed. In Purple. Donny-and-Marie-from-the-70s Purple.

Charlie 106.3 is no more. Apparently, in 10 months, the ratings never got to the level The Suits wanted, and once again, there is a format change.

About 4 years ago, it was an oldies station and pulled in nice ratings -- nothing to ever make it Top 5 in the area, but decent. Then after a corporate merger, it became "The Walk": positive country & contemporary Christian. It was a format destined for failure here. Country stations are owned by "Sheer Panel" around here, and you can't sling a dead cat without hitting a religious station. Combining the two was less of a genius idea than The Suits planned on. I refused to listen to that station on sheer principle. After that failure (though it took The Suits 18 months, maybe 2 years to finally cave) they switched to "Women Talk" with syndicated stuff, mostly from Greenstone Media. Hey, I lean liberal on a lot of social issues of import to women, and even I was bored and occasionally ill-at-ease with the station the few times I listened in. Cooterville has a large female contingent, but this was too liberal for this area, and -- dare I say it -- rather unnecessary. The ratings proved so.

Well, actually, Greenstone went belly up and so did "Women Talk" ...... so The Suits did "Charlie" (a Jack format, re-named of course) starting last August. FINALLY! There was a station to suit me. Johnny Cash one minute and Prince the next, followed by Barry White or maybe even Barry Manilow. A lot of everything. It was fantastic. I wasn't thrilled by the lack of DJ's, but I got used to it because of the music.

And now it's gone. "We gave it 10 months!!!!" Right. 10 months is more than enough time to build a station base and help it succeed. What's replaced it? A simulcast (trimulcast, really) of the AM talk radio sister stations --- Rush, Sean Hannity, Mike Gallagher, the local right-wing folks. Sweet God, deliver me. I'd rather cut off a left appendage than listen to that crapfest.

The Suits have 4 other stations (not counting the gabfest tri-stations), including a couple that I used to listen to fairly regularly. No more. I will even lift my boycott of Sheer Panel if I have to. Actually, I have another option: XM or Sirius (or if things go as planned XM-Sirius)....... and as soon as I save up enough, I'm going satellite. I'm tired of music I hate. I'm especially tired of The Suits and Sheer Panel trying to tell me what music I should and shouldn't like .... because I don't fit their formats.

I'm a P1 for most adult contemporary formats -- at least according to all the demographics. I should swoon every time I hear Josh Groban, right? Is it any wonder I've been listening to SportsTalk? I don't fit any of their demographic molds -- and I'm pretty damn proud of that.

RIP, Charlie. You were good. And taken too soon.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

To hell with Doc Brown...

To quote England Dan and John Ford Coley...

Wish I had a time machine, I could
Make myself go back until the day I was born,
So I could live my life again,
And rearrange it so that.....

The rest of the verse and song isn't germane, but those sentiments are.

I don't usually have regrets or coulda-woulda-shouldas. I joke on occasion about Doc Brown and not messing up the space-time continuum, but there is some truth there. If I were to change even one little thing, who knows the ramifications and how it would alter what I know to be reality. I honestly mean it when I say that I wouldn't even change the less-than-wonderful moments in my life, because they have made me who I am today. This morning, however, I found that I do have a couple of things to add to the CWS list, and I would give an appendage for a DeLorean and a flux capacitor.

I went for an early MLD appointment. My therapist had told me to go ahead and unwrap at home to make it easier for me, and treat my lower legs to an actual shower. Right now, I'm having to treat the wrappings like a cast -- stick my leg in a trash bag, tape it shut to avoid water (which still doesn't always help) and go from there. I gotta tell you, it felt SO good to be free from the bandages for a while. Until.......

I hopped up on the table and began to slide up my pants legs for the MLD. The area where the lymphedema is most pronounced was a violent shade of red and violet. Drainage wasn't happening without compression. Even for just that short time (about 90 minutes), it wasn't working.

My therapist was okay with it.... within just a few moments of elevation, the color was going back to a more normal tone. It's discolored anyway, but at first looked like a sledgehammer had worked on it. But she said that for the long haul, compression was going to be a necessity, either through bandaging or compression hosiery/socks. I expected it, but I suppose I wasn't quite as prepared for the finality of it. I guess in the back of my mind, there might be a miraculous chance that after just a couple of years or so, everything would be hunky-dory. But it's going to be more like the rest of my life, or close enough to it.

And that's when I wished for the time machine ..... to go back to my teen years and think when I first noticed the problem. To have gone for medical treatment then instead of assuming that it was just part of me getting fatter. To have taken Mrs. D (our librarian) up on her offer of paying for me to attend Weight Watchers way back then. To have just been smarter and wiser about things.

Yeah, I know -- it is totally impossible to redo the past (even if I could) knowing what I know now. And in this case, this condition might have been present from birth -- or certainly during my developing years (when this system didn't properly develop). That cannot be helped.

I have to stop beating myself up over what I failed to do, and concentrate my energies on what I can do now. And to make my next 40+ years a complete change from the sorry way I treated myself the first 36.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Help! Help! I've been tagged!!!

The rules: Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

What was I doing ten years ago?
Making it through each day, in a weird fog. A long-term relationship had just ended differently than I'd hoped. My job was just okay. I just didn't really like things, but wasn't sure I could change.

What are five (non-work) things on my to-do list for today:
1. Walk the dog.
2. Vote in the primary.
3. Attend the RFTC Committee meeting.
4. Pick up lunch.
5. Check e-mail.
(all DONE!)

5 Snacks I enjoy:
Pink Lady apples
Weight Watchers minibars (the peanut butter bliss are OMG)
Fiber One bars
Jolly Time popcorn minibags

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
Quit, and buy my radio station.
Give money to my old college for a scholarship. Actually, I'd set up my own foundation and do scholarships that way.
Buy some land and create a Lab rescue organization.
Pay off my parents' bills and house. Give money to my brother.

Places I have lived:
Liberty SC
*college - Charleston SC

Jobs I have had:
Computer lab assistant
Box office ticket seller
Administrative assistant
Call center coordinator
Administrative assistant/bookkeeper
Accounting clerk

Ok, time to tag 5 people. I'm going to tag:
Stacey, Bolivar, Vixen, Sheila, and Ballz. Have fun y'all!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Hey, just like my real prom.....

Last night, I went to a local radio station's "Awesome 80s Prom" (really an excuse for a party). A friend had gotten me a ticket and I was supposed to meet her over there.

I opined in another forum about trying to find a prom dress at a thrift shop on short notice. It wasn't successful at all -- so I went with Plan B. Jeans that looked quasi-acid-washed, a polo with collar turned up, and my dad's Members Only jacket (OMG, yes, he still has one). I found a cheap blue eyeliner pencil and I was good to go. Couldn't find any blue mascara ... okay, I wasn't willing to pay more than $4 for some because I was ONLY going to wear it once!

I got to the hotel, and the guy asked to see my ID. I gave him a huge hug ..... he made my night! I used to get carded regularly, but that stopped almost altogether around age 32 (except for waitstaff angling for a tip - and I'm a sucker for that).

I got there, and luckily for me, there was a wide variety of clothing styles. Yes, most of the gals had on prom dresses, but I just didn't care. I was happy and comfy and wasn't having people staring going "OMG, what's with her legs?" Of course, I realized later that I could have just worn a regular dress and slung some legwarmers on there.... DUH! Except for that pesky promise I made to myself in 7th grade that I would never ever wear them again (mine were striped -- horizontally -- red, white, and blue. Yay, America.)

I spent the next hour or so wandering around looking for my friend. I never did see her, and by 10 PM, I decided I'd had enough fun. But in the meantime I did get to dance with a total stranger......

Friday, June 06, 2008

Progress is being made!

Today was my 3rd MLD treatment, and my first measurements since treatment. SUCCESS!!!!! In some areas I have already lost inches! And I can tell the MLD is working.

This is good. Very good!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

An interesting medical turn.....

Here's a little background: I have big ugly tree-trunk legs. I do not lie nor kid. It's not just cankles. It's all over bulk, and just ugly. But hey ... that's how it is.

A couple of months back, one of my doctors suggested I go ahead and consult with a plastic surgeon about possible removal of the huge amount of bulk down on my lower legs. Okay, I'm hip to that! So I met with the plastic surgeon, who suggested waiting until I'm a bit closer to goal weight before we even consider surgery..... but in the meantime, she said to get myself a good pair of firm support compression stockings -- which would also have to be special-ordered because of the strength she suggested (and the size of my legs, no doubt).

I found a medical supply place near work, stopped in there to buy the stockings, and the lady took me to a back room for measurements. When I pulled up my pants legs, she immediately about had a cow. Turns out she has a background in people with lymphedema. She suggested that before we order the hosiery, I get MLD -- manual lymphatic drainage -- a massage that will help get rid of all the excess fluid that has built up and can't work itself out because of the insufficiency.

So, I got back in touch with the plastic surgeon to see if she would do the prescription for this therapy (since I can't just walk in and say, "HEY! I'd like some MLD today!"). She enthusiastically agreed, and last Friday was my first physical therapy appointment for MLD.
On Friday, Debbie (the therapist) gave me some interesting news, some hope, and reason to smile about my legs. Turns out that I have primary lymphedema, which means that it is something that didn't develop properly in my lymph system either in the womb or during my developing years. Upon further research, I learned that I probably have lymphedema praecox (Miege's Disease), meaning that it didn't manifest itself until after puberty but before age 35. I had told Debbie that the last picture I remember of myself with normal looking legs was somewhere around age 14. So we decided on treatments 3 times a week at least for the short term (one or two months). The only downside to all this is that even after I eventually have alllllll that extra skin removed, I will still have lymphedema to deal with. I will always have to wear some kind of support hosiery, even if it's just light hose for special events. Maybe a sleeve to sleep in, or wear during the day.

So I was in some light support tubing this weekend -- the same weekend that God decided to flip the "Hotter-n-Hades" switch across the south. But I was determined to make it work. On Monday, I had my first MLD treatment. I got to lay on a table, put my feet up on a wedge, and get worked over. Then I got wrapped after it was over --- Borissa Karloff, from the knees down. I looked like The Mummy. I had a stocking thing (like you'd put on a broken leg before they put the cast on), then some padding over the affected area, and then bandaged from mid-foot to just below the knee. Speaking of casts, I have to treat these like a cast ..... yep, I put my legs in trash bags and tape 'em closed tight.

Today was my 2nd treatment -- and Debbie was extremely pleased!! Apparently, I already have some good results on the horizon. My legs were starting to wrinkle a little, meaning all that excess fluid is finally draining out!!!!

This is just yet another interesting turn in the road of my life. I can't wait to see how it will all turn out!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memories of Great Halls....

My pal Tal has written a beautiful and moving elegy of the ASU Seminole Twin Towers, his home during his college days, and now demolished. It made me think of the many abodes I had in college -- not as many abodes as roommates, but that's another tale for another day.

First up: University Place (August 23, 1987-September 11, 1987... eek!). I was 17 when I left home and moved into my first dorm room. Housing had messed up and somehow overbooked housing, so a number of us were quickly shuffled into two off-campus housing locations at MUSC (the medical school just down the street from C of C). University Place was a private apartment complex -- still six blocks or so from my campus and just on the edge of the rough section of town.

Now, this seems like a great setup, right? Our own APARTMENT, instead of a crappy dorm. We have our own kitchen! There is no one to monitor us!!! WOO-HOO!!! Wrong. Looking back, there were two primary reasons I hated it tremendously .... one, I was still in transition from small-town girl (and super-goody-two-shoes at that), and two, I had Roomie from Hell #1. Okay, really, she wasn't, but we were polar opposites. She was brash and very curt, whereas I was far more meek and given to great emotional displays at that time. Even that first night, the other suitemates told her to lighten up. Once she discovered I had no plans to go Greek, then I was truly persona non grata. A complete nobody in her perfect little Tri-Delt world (and to be fair, I knew lots of nice Tri-Delts; she simply wasn't one of them).

I was a thorn in the Housing Office's side for the next two weeks. I went every single day, begging to be moved. I cried. I squalled. I pleaded. Finally by September 9, I had given up and just decided I was going to have to make do. The one bright spot was that I had decided to take part in a service fraternity -- which Miss Tri-Delt promptly declared "for losers" and which my also-Greek suitemate said, "Hey, listen. Shut up. It's not for you, and that's fine. But it sounds perfect for her, so Just. Lay. Off. Got it?" (I still think fondly of her to this day, and I haven't spoken to her in 20 years).

Salvation came on September 10. Solveig from Housing called. Seems a place had opened up in one of the historic houses, and that there would eventually be a third roommate moved in, but was I interested? I told her, "I'll take it." Solveig: "But don't you at least want to go over and check it out first?" Me: "Yeah, but sign me up anyway." Solveig: "Go look first, then come by Housing." Me: "I don't care. I'm taking it, and I'm coming over to look at it."

24 Bull, Room 101: (September 11, 1987-end of Spring 1989) So I hopped on the downtown trolley as quickly as I could, went to the room, met the current tenant, and five minutes later, ran over to Housing and told Solveig once again, "I'LL TAKE IT!!!" My new roomie helped me move everything in the next evening, and I was happier than forty clams.

24 Bull was one of several historic homes that had been renovated into living quarters. It was usually limited to upperclassmen only, but because of Housing's massive screw-ups over the summer, there were several freshmen and sophomores living there. I didn't care if it had been rooms full of goldfish and I'd been asked to clean all the poop. I was taking it. The reason the houses were normally off-limits to underclassmen was that there were no real restrictions. Technically, we all had the same rules as the "real" dorms .... only there were no check-in desks. No monitors. There was a security guard who stopped by and patrolled by, but no real authority figure who checked up on you. Okay, granted at 24 Bull, our RA lived with us (but she had responsibility for our house and four others on the street). But as far as following the same rules as "real" dorms, BAH! We laughed at them.......

24 Bull #101 was my home for the next two years. And that first year -- in spite of a few things -- remains one of the most wonderful times in my college memory. There were nine of us on the first floor -- 3 in Room 101 (the third roomie moved in the first weekend of October), 2 in Room 102, 3 in Room 105, and 1 in the private "senior suite" (Room 106), which had private access. She didn't socialize much with the rest of us -- freshmen and sophomores -- but we had a large time with the 8 of us!!! We were in and out of each others' rooms like they were our own. We developed some good relationships which withstood some pretty weird things ..... such as having a kleptomaniac on our floor (which turned out to be the original occupant of our room). Stacey moved in later that spring (having had a problem with her roommate, in another of the houses up the street), and a friendship was solidified. The next year wasn't so hot. Of the original 8, only 2 of us were there the next year. The entire dynamic changed, and a new RA came along who was definitely not Dawn (the previous RA). After the end of that lousy 2nd year, I decided a change was in order. And to continue the regression from apartment to historic house, I went from house to "real" dorm. And I picked the coolest one on campus.............

College Lodge, Room 608: (Fall 1989-end of Spring 1991) Let me backtrack a little. When I lived at 24 Bull, we were under the auspices of the College Inn. The Inn (as it was known) was an old motel that the College had purchased many years prior and turned into a dorm. It was a dump -- but a dump with character. If you moved into the Inn, you never wanted to leave. And indeed, there were some who were 4-year-residents at the Inn. But they paved Paradise and literally put up a Parking Lot (I think they called it "S" Lot). The Lodge was similar -- a high-rise hotel with an incredibly small parking deck that the College had turned into dorm space.

Like the Inn, the Lodge was also legendary. While not quite inspiring the same loyalty as the Inn had, it was nonetheless a great place to live -- if for one reason and one reason only: private bathrooms. See, at 24 Bull, we shared a hall bath. You try coordinating 9 girls and their bathroom time. That first year worked great, with no arguing. That second year... not so well. We made a schedule of who would take morning showers and evening showers. It was that crazy. But in the Lodge, there would only be two of us sharing that bathroom. And those bathrooms had tubs -- perfect for lolling (it was showers only at every other dorm). The only other possibly cooler dorm on campus was Rutledge Rivers -- apartment-style dorms with a living room, and those were impossible to get into unless you just got lucky.

Oh, the Lodge, how I miss thee sometimes. You were a dump but by God, you were my dump!! I had the corner room facing the back of Maybank Hall and the side of the Simons Art Center, on the top floor. It was truly almost heaven. And for a time, there were 5 rooms in a row all filled with fraternity connections, plus other frat people in the Lodge. There were also classmates, coworkers, etc. It was the coolest place on earth. And especially that first year -- when Roy was our RD. Roy was the coolest grad student RD who ever lived. Roy appreciated that we were students, young and eager to test our limits. During our dorm meetings, I lost count of the number of times I heard, "Now, come inspection time, I can check every place except your closet. We cannot go into your closet no matter what. And not saying I'm looking but if you have something you need to hide, remember: I can't check your closet."

Unfortunately, the next year, Roy had gotten his Master's, moved on, and we got a new RD who was as uptight and rules-heavy as Roy had been easygoing. When he mentioned the closet rule, he sounded almost disappointed that he couldn't check the closets. I swear, part of me wondered if he would have been happier in the military, doing quarter-bounce checks on cots. However, I'll give credit where it is due; he got me a visitor's pass for a friend who came for a during-the-week visit, when he didn't have to (technically, I was supposed to give a week's notice). Plus I had some other very serious stuff going on in my life.

At the end of that Spring '91 semester, I was tired of school and tired of dorm life. I decided apartment living was the way to go. So I put my name on "roommate wanted" at the Housing Office, and let it go from there.

Had I known how things that semester were going to go, I should have stayed home and never gone back!!! But that too is another tale for another day.